New Spaces for New Growth

15 03 2018

“I have, in the past, seen settling down as a deterrent to growth.
It doesn’t have to be, though. It can be the launching of new growth.”
— Jan Denise

I am adopting this perspective as we settle into our new home. Since we started this journey of putting a deposit down, packing, and moving, I have been stretched in a variety of ways—some difficult, some welcome. The stretching continues, as we settle down in a new part of town, with new roads, and ultimately new challenges.

First to the good growth. It is a pleasure to have coffee while enjoying this view. The view at our old place was supposed privacy bushes that the birds built their nests in; which alternatively attracted flies and other bugs. They still did not hide the neighbor’s cinder block wall, or block out their “tenant’s” noise.

We were sometimes bothered by the landlord’s intrusive wife, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and neighborhood wanderers—the bane of being directly off a major strip. So the shades were always drawn, which only added to my depression and the feeling of the walls closing in. I am a light and space girl, and I cannot tell you what seeing this every morning has done for my soul.

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I am thrilled that the dogs have space and comfy pillows on which to perch. Puppet, in particular, is all about the comfy pillows and is trying them out in every room.

 

And for a mold-free bedroom that also has lots of light, and that I can decorate and fix up.

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After 11 years that comforter needs to be replaced and our wood needs some help. That’s what 4 dogs will do for you, but I wouldn’t trade it!

And now, to the discomfort. We still have essentials to get: like a refrigerator, which means we are spending way more on takeout and delivery than I want. We are full-time workers, so the unpacking and the final cleaning and polish is slow. We moved in with the knowledge that it is an old space, and some things have been neglected; so it is also navigating the waiting and the logistics of having those items repaired or replaced. We have been gifted with a washer-dryer, but have to wait until our benefactor moves next month; so weekly laundromat visits are back on the agenda for now.

My challenge is not to fixate on either the pleasurable growth or the uncomfortable parts. My job is to just be present in the process, learn to be patient with the process, and take things as they come without stressing myself out and wishing for something different.

It’s also allowing for gaps, mess, and imperfection, because even that is a form of growth and beautiful in its own way.

I am also thrilled with this full length mirror so I can make sure my outfits are on point.

Today’s couture is my favorite Yoga shirt and leggings: perfect for the day’s agenda of teaching the Yoga, and training new teachers!

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All the Things…

28 02 2018

“There is no royal road to anything. One thing at a time, all things in succession. That which grows fast, withers as rapidly. That which grows slowly, endures.”
– Josiah Gilbert Holland

Ain’t it the truth, Josiah. Last week and this week have been crammed full of all the things, in a good way. I have the privilege of leading another Teacher Training with CorePower Yoga Pasadena, and my team of coaches and our faithful instructors has recruited a really awesome group of Yogis that are diverse, mature, and hungry to give and receive knowledge. We are heading into Week 2, and I am so looking forward to what I will learn from them, while presenting all that I know (sometimes, not much!)

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We are also moving. Moving is an evil word for me. Since leaving my childhood home at 19, I have probably moved about 40 times in my 51 years. Various circumstances: finances, bad roommate situations, roommates getting married or moving, the list goes on. My heart has always longed to settle and lay down roots in one place, and I thought with my marriage in 2007 and actually buying a house, that I was finally at that place where I wouldn’t have to move again for a long time.

As John Lennon said, Life is what happens when you’re making plans. Suffice to say, we lost that house, and ended up moving two times before being plopped in Atwater Village in 2011. The actual city of Los Angeles was the last place we thought we would find ourselves, and we both assumed it was a “make do” place, just a place where we could—hopefully quickly—get back on our feet.

Quickly didn’t happen. We have been here almost 7 years; but despite the hardships, fits and starts, and living among boxes and toxicity (a blog post for another day), something was being built. We loved the new Northeast Los Angeles community and all the fun haunts, events, and eating places that made this city seem less plastic and more human and community-oriented. We found a wonderful new church where we could get to know others more regularly and let them get to know us. Thanks to CorePower Yoga opening a studio in Pasadena, I found a location close to home where I didn’t have to hop a freeway to practice Yoga or to teach. So lots of wins in the midst of what was a hard season of waiting and testing.

So now, we get to move again. Another place where we never saw ourselves: the city of Pasadena! Our address is on Wesley; named after the theologian Charles Wesley, but also the name of one of my favorite nephews—so that’s a good sign.

We are further east from all that we have known in the past, but still close to some of the things that we hold dear: our church, my work, and new adventures in a new community.  It is a place of blessing, from the way it was delivered to us, to the favor we have received from the landlord, to our church communities and friends rallying around to help us in a multitude of ways, financial and physical.

It is a place that we can hopefully settle for a spell. I have no idea how long that spell will be—I learned to stop putting time frames on things after the horrors of 2008-2011. But what is true, and what I can count on, is that it is a place of space (two bedrooms and storage–whoo hoo!); a place of ease (4 miles to my Yoga studio, less than 2 blocks from the Pasadena campus of our church); and a place where we can find peace and quiet in our surroundings, yet still have the hum of community, events, and some city amenities. In the two weeks that we have been packing and moving, I am quickly falling in love with Hastings Ranch, since we’ve spent so much time there finding the things we need for the new home, as well as some of our favorite casual dining haunts.

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What I am enjoying now as we move boxes, paint the new house, and close out the old, is this view. The San Gabriel mountains are right at my backyard. My friend Joyce wrote on her Facebook page: “The mountains can teach us so much about our lives, our faith, ourselves. Think on what you’ve learned from your mountain adventures and feel free to share. Ready? Go!”

I replied to her post, not about a mountain adventure, but a mountain focus from Psalm 121-1-4:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”

There are no coincidences in our lives. The fact that I have a mountain view is part and parcel of God’s reminder for me to continue to look to him for help. It is also a comfort that he will keep our footing in this new territory and watch over us here, no matter how long or short the spell will last.

We still have some odds and ends and large furniture to move, and I am knackered beyond belief. Week 2 of Teacher Training begins today, so I am still on and working hard to ensure these great Yogis are set up for success. But I am grateful for God’s hand in all the things; and that despite my desire for speed and efficiency, he is building something more enduring than I could imagine.





Rhythms 

11 01 2018

“everything has rhythm. everything dances.” — Maya Angelou

My personal rhythms have always tended toward late afternoon and late evening. I have done my best work at 4 p.m. and 3 a.m.—everything else in between takes a monumental effort.

Since I began teaching Yoga, those rhythms have been challenged. I took early morning classes (like, 6 a.m.—Oof!), because 1) they were the only ones offered at the time, and
2) I figured if I succeeded in finding full-time work, I’d still be able to teach before jetting off to an office.

The last 7 years, for the most part, Yoga has become my full-time work, even though I don’t teach full time. During my 300-hour Teacher Training, part of our learning involved understanding our own personal and spiritual rhythms, and it brought me back to the realization that both of those rhythms tended toward later in the day. While I may rise early, I have little desire to interact with the world at that time. It is this extrovert’s time to be introverted; and I realized that when I am allowed space, life is more of a dance. I flowed so much better in my work and in the world.

Some of the adjustments in my schedule were made by choice; I was able to acquire later classes, and therefore was able to surrender the early ones. Five years in I realized that even if I got full-time work elsewhere, I wanted it to fit into my current rhythms, not fight against them; so any work that I chose to do would have to fit into that pattern of later in the day. Most of the freelance work I was getting did, so that helped me tremendously.

The last domino to fall was a 9:00 a.m. class that I taught at Sherman Oaks, my original studio. I had held this class for the last 5 years, and had built a strong following. So it was a tad bittersweet that due to schedule changes beyond my control, I had to surrender the class. This past Wednesday was my last time teaching it. I still maintained the 12:00 p.m. class (now 12:15 p.m.), and added a 1:30 p.m. class to the slate; so while my faithful
9 a.mers will be gone, I’ll still have a presence at our O.G. studio, which I enjoy.

In hindsight, it was God’s way to cement the rhythm I had been slowing re-establishing over the past few years. Every day except Wednesday was part of the rhythm and flowed. Wednesday was always a difficult disruption to it.

Now on Wednesdays, I don’t have to be out the door before 8:00 a.m. in order to make it across the Valley before 8:30. Now I get to have more than car time to introspect and prepare for the moment. Now, I get to dance into the day, rather than drag into it.

In this Year of New Beginnings, I am thankful to begin anew with a consistent honoring of the rhythms of my body, mind, and spirit. It’s way past time—I look forward to more dancing.

 





2018: New Year, New Soul

7 01 2018

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“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Chesterton is one of my favorite Christian theologians/thinkers. Like C.S. Lewis, he is less highbrow, and more akin to Christianity in work clothes. As intellectual as people say that I am, I relate to hands-on and sweat of the brow as much as I relate to the theoretical. But I digress…

I never share the resolutions that I make, but feel the need to put down them down online. Who knows, it may do wonders to make me more accountable:

  1. Read more books, and actually finish them. Like most of my friends, I have stacks of books waiting to be read. I started three books before 2017 (that is how pathetic I am), but never finished them. I need to complete them and track my completion of books. I used to read a book a week—it would be a good challenge to get back to that. Here are the books I need to complete: 1. Washington Spies by Alexander Rose. 2. Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace. 3. The Curse of Conservatism by Coleman G. Luck.
  2. Meditate more. It does wonders, but I need to set a consistent rhythm. Some changes are afoot in my schedule that will help that, so no more excuses.
  3. Up the home and studio practice. It was really abysmal in 2017. No excuses—I feel so much better when I practice at home, and I need to connect with my own studios and other studios in a greater way.
  4.  Write again. This dried up considerably in 2016, and died a slow death in 2017. The question is, how to feebly pick up the pen again? This blog post, and another article on my Communities Digital News page are a feeble beginning. Which leads me to…
  5. Ditch the perfectionism. I think Voltaire said it best: “Perfect is the enemy of good.” I can create the perfect project, article, meal, etc. but because I only have the materials to achieve “good”, I ditch the entire thing. Time to stop that; if I am not paralyzed by perfection, it will go a long way to my getting words on the page.
  6. Find ways to increase the voice: musically in particular, vocationally in general. Maybe unburying and dusting off the piano? Right now it is surrounded by boxes (long story for another blog post). Maybe taking another Kahmelson & Kahmelson class? Actually signing up for those songwriting expos I get invited to? The possibilities are endless, but I need to take action on just one.




50 Days to 50 Years, Day 04: Breakfast at Bea Bea’s with Larry Oya

28 07 2016

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Bea Bea’s appears to be the favorite in-between spot for this Los Angeles city-dweller and my West San Fernando Valley friends. And why not? I can always go for some Thai Tea pancakes!

Larry Oya, his wife Shirley, and kids Jennifer and Allison are also longtime friends from the Congregational Church of Northridge. Larry was a pivotal part of Tuesdays with Transitioners, the career group I ran at CCN until 2014. He had weathered that particular career transition, and now he was going through another. Larry recently went through major spinal stenosis surgery, and was in the midst of rehab/recovery. He had attempted to go back to work, but corporate workplaces are all types of interesting when you’ve suffered a setback; so he stepped away again in order to continue his recovery. He had some time to come out to Burbank and hang for the morning, and it was delightful spending  Day 4 of my 50 Days to 50 Years over coffee, pancakes, and conversation.

We talked about his surgery and recovery, being on disability, and his career plans once he is able to get back at it. Larry is very wise, creative, and sagacious, and gave me some good insight into the male psyche and how to approach it.

We brainstormed about some entrepreneurial ideas that he had brewing, and I put on my Tuesdays with Transitioners/Reinvention hat to encourage him to pursue these avenues, especially since he had some space to explore.

Bea Bea’s was starting to develop it’s usual lunch crowd, and we had occupied the seats for some time. I had to prepare for one more class to teach, as well as pack for my fun weekend, so we said our goodbyes and headed to the different poles of the city.

Thanks, Larry, for being a pivotal part of my life, and helping me celebrate 50 Days to 50 Years!





In My Orbit: 2014 in Review

29 12 2014

Despite my recent neglect of the blog, viewership has still grown. Imagine what would happen if I actually posted more often? Perhaps a 2015 goal.

I am still going like gangbusters at Communities Digital News discussing politics and pop culture. Read my latest, Should Maria Shriver welcome Miley Cyrus for the holidays? For those of you who say, “Who cares?!”, It goes beyond the ex-Mrs. Schwarzennegar or Twerking Miley.
Read all about it at http://www.commdiginews.com/author/jennifer-oliver-oconnell/#xLxCEmgazVbhmx4W.99

Some photo highlights from my year, and many thanks to Sarit Photography and Yoga and Body Image Coalition for helping to make my 2014 magical!

Christmas 2014 Collage Church Collage Movieguide Awards coverage NBC Universal Collage TT 2014 Collage TWT Collage YBI Collage

It’s been a very good year–Happy 2015 to you all!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 790 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 13 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.





Reinvention

23 02 2011
Dramatic Sky
Vera Kratochvil/Public Domain Pictures.net

If there’s one thing you can count on…
if there’s on thing you can know for sure.
If there’s one thing you can count on…
things are gonna change.

Bryan Duncan, “Things are Gonna Change”

All change is inevitable, but not all change is welcome. Two years ago, I did not like the change of being downsized from a job I thought I would possibly retire from. But me being me, I wasn’t immobilized for long, using the now-free time as an opportunity to reinvent on many levels, and craft a different career path.

I’m still on that path of Reinvention, and a new part of the journey is assisting others with theirs.  Today, I will be taking my wonderfully healing practice of Yoga and deepening it through a Power Yoga Teacher Training at CorePower Yoga-Sherman Oaks.  The commitment: eight weeks of intensive physical, emotional, and spiritual transformation–an endeavor that will not only benefit my Orbit–but the worlds that orbit around me.

For the past two years, I have led Tuesdays with Transitioners, a career resource and support group. The beauty of being in the midst of such a group is seeing people transform and reinvent in terms of the way they view their lives and vocation. Some have moved on to full-time work again, others have decided that transitioning to a new career or their own entrepreneurial pursuits is the right thing to do. In all of this, Reinvention is at work, in large and small ways.  With encouragement from marketing success coach Marla Dennis, I am honing my focus and increasing the work of helping others Reinvent.

Early this year, my friend Douglas E. Welch invited me to blog and talk about this very subject at his Career Opportunities site. Give it a read or listen to “No Better Time to Reinvent“, and consider whether it may be your time!

It’s amazing what happens when you make a decision and set an intention. Those opportunities that match that intention begin coming across your path.  I’ll be writing about some of those in this space, so stay tuned…








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