The Send Off

Posts of dorm rooms, campus tours and babies turned into adults flood my feeds. I am not alone. My closest friends are all going through the same thing. Meanwhile, feelings of sadness, worry, chaos, and excitement scurry through me. At the same time, feelings of nostalgia are the strongest, thinking back at my curious, observant and incredibly intelligent little girl. Building her lego sets – which she disassembled to pack up her room, science creations – now her focus is on plants, marine animals, jewelry making and changing her hair color on the regular. Her plays and shows, organizing the cast and scenery all just right – skills she will apply to her new dorm room. Bossing her little sister around and the rare moment when they play nice together, these girls will miss their car rides, making fun of their parents and the comfort of knowing their sister is just in the next room. Reading, reading and more reading. So many things have not changed. She packed more books than she needs, in case she wants to give them to her new friends, always wanting to share things she loves.

She is a strong, independent, kind, loving, thoughtful young woman, who is starting the next chapter of her life learning and filling her brain with all the knowledge she can. She wants to meet new people and have new experiences and be on her own without the watchful eye and annoying questions from her mom. She knows she can tell me anything, but likely she doesn’t want to. As she grows and experiences the world she’ll spread her wings and travel and accomplish anything she sets her mind to, because that is what she does. And that is exactly what I want for her.

So often as parents we spend our time waiting until … whatever it is, until they can hold the bottle, until they are potty trained, until they entertain themselves and on and on. And now they have done all the things and here we are sending them off to do it all on their own. I never really thought about what this would feel like, now I am feeling it, and all my heart wants is to cuddle that little five year old girl with all her questions and her stack of books. I want to curl up in a comfy chair and read those books and answer her questions and watch the wonder of her mind as she grows.

Transitions are challenging and amazing. And while I might want to hold on to that little girl, I am incredibly proud of the woman she has become and can’t wait to watch how she takes on the world.

100 Day Challenge

Inspired by writer Suleika Jaouad and The Isolation Journals, I am embarking on a 100 day challenge. I am keeping it very simple and staying curious to see where it will lead. While I already take daily walks with my pup, my goal for the next 100 days (from today until July 9th) is to keep an eye out for beauty and capture it. Just on my phone, I plan to add it to an album to keep track of my progress. Maybe I will turn it into a hard copy book, maybe I will choose one photo a week to paint or make a collage of multiple photos. My hope is that by taking one photo each day reminds me to keep an eye out for the beauty in the world and build on it when I have the time.

To stay accountable, I have put a reminder in my calendar so that I remember this is an ongoing activity and it doesn’t get pushed away. I will do my best to report back and let it be a prompt for blog posts in the future.

This is my photo from today. I love the delicate pink streaks in this flower. And the brown or imperfect parts make it real. The blooms this time of year make my walks so enjoyable.

Looking for the beauty, inspiring more creativity. That is the goal for the next 100 days.

Is anyone else on a 100 day challenge? Done this before? Share your experience in the comments, I would love to hear how it went.

Wordle.

*Screenshot of my Wordle a few weeks ago, when I just couldn’t figure it out…

Wordle. This little game has added new joy to my morning routine. Not just because its fairly easy and quick to play (here’s a run down of the game if you are not familiar) but because since I started playing, my mom, sisters and high school aged daughters and nieces are all on a group chat where we share our scores each morning. I laugh when Natalie or Siena have done the Wordle at midnight the night before, that will never be me, my mind does not work well that late. I love that Micheli is always the first one in the morning to share her score. I am thrilled when Nadia chimes in with her score, but I am pretty sure she has our chat muted, but I know it brings joy to my Mom that she is playing a fun game with her family each day. And it makes me laugh to annoy my sister when I “love” all the text results as they come in.

We’ll often curse the game and ourselves for taking so long or not getting it at all, which was the case in this photo, I blamed my failed game on lack of caffeine. I played the game out of order in my normal routine for the morning. I won’t do that again!

I read one article that called it yoga for the brain, I love that metaphor, not just because I love yoga too, but because it’s a gentle way to exercise the brain and in our case it also connects us to family that are far away.

Not Perfect… But Ok

I set up my mat and blocks and waited until 10am rolled around. I was excited to be teaching my first, online, at home yoga class for the employees at Expedia. 10:15 passed and as it got to be 10:20 I realized no one was coming to my thirty minute online class. While preparing for my classes, I had been drawn to a meditation practice I often fall back on, the Maitri or Loving Kindness meditation. With my mat and space set up, I figured this was a great opportunity to take a stab at the online offerings I was hoping to post on my website.

I sat on my blanket, turned on video mode on my iPad and away we went. The sound and video quality are not great, but the idea is for it to be simple, simple for me to create and simple for others to watch and practice. The biggest mistake I made was that I told my viewers to get comfortable for a short five minute meditation. Rookie mistake. Since I had never done this on screen before, I wasn’t really paying attention to time, I figured it wouldn’t take long. As I came to a close, my video was a little over 12 minutes.

Ironically, when I viewed the video after, I was completely distracted by how orange my face looked. After a week in Palm Springs, my face was a few shades tanner than usual, but my neck and lower body did not get as much sun. I was automatically self conscious of my appearance, the exact opposite messaging I was trying to convey in my meditation.

In the end, my film making daughter helped me edit out my turning on and off the camera, we set it to a black and white filter to even out the tone of my skin and I apologized in the video and now in this message that while I said it was 5 minutes it was actually 12. It’s not perfect, but its okay. The messaging, the meditation and the moments of peace are worth all the challenges that came with getting it all set up. I am giving myself some compassion for my first time.

If you have 12 minutes (not 5) take a look at the video, you can find it here on my YouTube channel which I hope to add more videos to. Or you can access it via my yoga website: www.kathygorohoffyoga.com.

I would love any and all feedback, let me know what you liked, what you didn’t and what you like to see more of!

Stay light and joyful…

Photo Credit: Andrew – Flashback to light and joyful days, December 2015, full moon off the coast of Cuba in the Gulf of Mexico

We had a full moon this week. I shared this passage from the Power Path with my class on Wednesday, “Known as the snow moon, this full moon is much about balance between being and doing, between the masculine and the feminine, between being serious and disciplined and light and joyful.”

During my break this month, I am embracing the idea of balancing between being and doing. It seems I am always in the mode of doing more. Getting more done. Trying to be enough. When we are able to balance between both these ideas, adding in more fun and free time among our serious time helps to add in more optimism, gratitude, community and support which are all themes around this full moon.

One of my favorite and relaxing past times is reading. More specifically, listening to audiobooks provides an opportunity to tune into a new world and in some cases, with the books I am listening to, hear the fun and interesting stories by someone I am curious about. I love most memoirs read by the authors, most recently I have enjoyed memoirs by: Matthew McConaughey, Will Smith, Kal Penn and this week, Rob Lowe. Rob and I had a lovely week, running with my pup, driving around running errands, getting chores done and just resting and reminiscing on all the great movies of my youth; The Outsiders, St. Elmo’s Fire and About Last Night and then moving into one of my favorite shows of all time The West Wing. Which I am now rewatching over twenty years after its release. The show is smart and funny and reminds me of my good friend, Ron, who we lost in 2021. He and I would watch the show back in the day and if we didn’t watch it together we would report back later in the week about it. Ron was a victim of the pandemic. Not Covid, but from isolation, which I learned this week in my yoga teacher training (Yoga for Healthy Aging) that isolation and loneliness can lead to an increased link to cardiovascular disease. While this isn’t exactly what happen to Ron, isolation did play a part in his suffering. It still makes me sad I never got to properly say goodbye to my friend, watching this show brings back great memories of our friendship.

This full moon and this month is providing me the opportunity to relax, connect to the past and remember what is important and what I am grateful for; family, friends and free time. This blog might be a bit rambling and all over the place today, but my point of it all is to remember to stay light and joyful and connect with others.

So, let’s connect! Tell me how are you staying joyful in your free time? What are you watching? What books are you reading or listening to?

February ReFresh

I am giving myself a little break in February. First, I have decided to pause my yoga classes on Monday mornings. I am teaching a number of other classes in the week and the early mornings on Monday have been weighing me down. While I love seeing the beautiful faces of my regular students, I need to give myself more time in the morning to ease into the week. I am still undecided if I will start back up in March. Stay tuned.

I am also giving myself a little break from my memoir. As some of you know, my family and I took a cross country adventure six years ago. While we traveled I journaled and when we returned I decided to write a memoir about our trip. I started slowly when we returned and over the past three years I have finished the manuscript and taken a ton of classes at the Hugo House to refine the manuscript. Now I am in the editing phases and trying to create a proposal to pitch to agents and publishers. I realize this is a challenging business and have felt like I have been driving around in circles for a few months without any focus on where I am actually going. So I am giving myself a break from the whole process for the month. No editing. No drafting proposals. No researching agents. Just letting it go for a bit.

Instead I am going to try and be more creative in other areas. I am taking myself on field trips, this week I went to the Van Gogh Immersive Exhibit. I am also trying to do things out of my comfort zone, so I went alone. I am going to pull out my paint by numbers and my watercolor notebooks. I will do my best to write on the blog, but you might see more poetry or fiction, maybe I will share some of the art I create.

The idea is to invoke a bit more of my creative side, pull in the qualities of the goddess Saraswati. Since the beginning of the year I have been enrolled in a yoga teacher training class focus on finding our winter dharma using the principles of Ayurveda. This week’s class focused on the goddess Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, speech, wisdom, and learning. My goal this month, instead of beating myself up for not working on my book or telling myself my edits aren’t good enough, instead, I am going to sit quietly, call on the wisdom of Saraswati and give myself the freedom to create whatever comes up.

In Honor of Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh was an amazing poet and an influential Zen master, he died this week at 95. His poetry and writings are inspiring, below is one of my favorites.

Poem by: THICH NHAT HANH

Our true home is in the present moment.

To live in the present moment is a miracle.

The miracle is not to walk on water.

The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment,

To appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.

Peace is all around us-

In the world and in nature –

And within us –

In our bodies and our spirits.

Once we learn to touch this peace,

We will be healed and transformed.

It is not a matter of faith;

It is a matter of practice.

“Nhat Hanh taught that you don’t have to spend years on a mountaintop to benefit from Buddhist wisdom. Instead, he says, just become aware of your breath, and through that come into the present moment, where everyday activities can take on a joyful, miraculous quality. If you are mindful, or fully present in the here and now, anxiety disappears and a sense of timelessness takes hold, allowing your highest qualities, such as kindness and compassion, to emerge.” Time Magazine

Self-Observation without Judgement

I wanted to share this poem that I offered in my yoga classes this week. It’s a beautiful reminder of how we might move through the world, using mindfulness, to observe ourselves without a harsh and critical eye. It also ties in perfectly to one of my words for the year: Compassion.

My suggestion for some self-observation combined with some self-care: Read this poem, then lie on your back (like our final resting pose in yoga, Savasana) or any comfortable position, find stillness and take 10 deep breaths and offer yourself some deep love.

Self-Observation Without Judgment By: Danna Faulds

Release the harsh and pointed inner
voice. it’s just a throwback to the past,
and holds no truth about this moment.

Let go of self-judgment, the old,
learned ways of beating yourself up
for each imagined inadequacy.

Allow the dialogue within the mind
to grow friendlier, and quiet. Shift
out of inner criticism and life
suddenly looks very different.

i can say this only because I make
the choice a hundred times a day to release the voice that refuses to
acknowledge the real me.

What’s needed here isn’t more prodding toward perfection, but
intimacy – seeing clearly, and
embracing what I see.

Love, not judgment, sows the
seeds of tranquility and change.

2022: Hope, Dedication & Compassion

*Photo credit: Siena – Snowy Christmas Morning*

It’s a new year. And while it might feel like we have been stuck in the same story for the past two years, the new calendar can bring hope and possibilities. The past few years, I have moved away from making resolutions and instead focus on a word (or words) that help me stay focused for the year. This year my words are Hope, Dedication and Compassion.

First, I am hopeful for health in the new year for my family, my friends and the whole country. I am hopeful we will move on from this virus. As we move into the third year dealing with it, I want to find something else to talk about, I want to let go of worry and concerns. Predictions and number of cases and hospitalizations, I want to find something else to read about in the morning news.

I am hopeful that this year I will find dedication and focus for the projects that are important to me. I will also give myself a break and compassion when things don’t always go according to the plans I set. Being flexible is also just as important as being dedicated.

I am hopeful my daughter will find the right school for next year. I am dedicated to helping her find her way and also stepping out of her way. I am scared, nervous and excited all at the same time for for her. I can’t imagine what it will feel like to have her space become empty. I know she will thrive and do amazing things, but I also know she will have struggles that I won’t be able to help with. I will have compassion for myself and her when things get hard for both of us.

I am hopeful about the changes to come. I am hopeful that the story will change and we will have new topics to discuss. I am hopeful that there will be adventures, travel and connection without the burden of disease or worry before, during or after.

I will remain hopeful for the future, dedicated to the practice and compassionate for myself and others no matter the outcome.

Happy Holidays to YOU!

Tis the season to be running around busy, trying to get it all done. I mentioned in my last post that I am trying to enjoy the season, relax and take it all in. One of the things I do enjoy about the holidays is giving. While I might pack my schedule shopping and cooking, I try and remember that the end result is something that does bring me joy and honestly, the cooking and wandering the stores for that something special is also enjoyable, if I can do it on my own schedule. The main thing I am trying to remember is to take care of myself, if one day I feel busy, overwhelmed and in constant motion, I am learning to plan the next day at home, with less to do. This is how I make it through the holidays.

And in an act of self-care, I am posting today to say Happy Holidays and see you in the New Year. I haven’t been posting as consistently as I’d planned, but I hope to add a weekly post once we arrive in the New Year and the holidays have settled. For now, I am taking the rest of the month off and will start back fresh in 2022.

I hope you all have a wonderful season, however you celebrate, making sure to find joy in the simple moments and taking care of yourself!