There is nothing like a mother’s love. One can’t begin to comprehend this statement until they have experienced it themselves. It’s one thing to know that your mother loves you, it’s a given in most circumstances. She is the first one to care for you – your first security blanket. She is the one that does her best to shield you from all harm. As children, and even as adults in some situations, we can take this love for granted. When we receive something so freely without having to work for it at all, it can be easy to just assume it and all of its’ unconditional glory. But once you become a mother, once you take on this selfless role, you truly understand. You finally appreciate all of the sacrifices (that don’t really feel like sacrifices) – and the joy, and the tears, and the pride and the pain and the…….well, true love that comes from only a mother.
My mother started the journey of motherhood at a very young age. I’ve always been in awe of how much she knew about life and love considering she dove into this caretaking role right out of high school. She and my dad met at the ripe ol’ ages of 18 & 19, respectively. Within just a few months, they were married and within the year, my oldest brother was born. It’s hard for me to imagine what that must have been like. That first year after high school for me was all about partying in Cancun, traveling the country, meeting new people and living free as a bird. At the same point in her life, my mama was settling into motherhood and working as a nurse – two of the most selfless acts on the planet. Although I wasn’t that first child she nurtured, I am 100% confident she did it with the same grace and ease she still demonstrates with her own grandchildren.
Mom & Dad went on to have a second boy just 15 months after the first. Two toddlers, working hard to get by, newly married and navigating life as an adult all before the age of 21. If this doesn’t deserve the top of the respect scale, I don’t know what does. There are plenty of moms out there who get married and have children young, and my hat goes off to all who are brave enough to do it. In the case of my Mama, it was a perfect success; not a teenage tragedy. You see, my Mom didn’t drink or do drugs, or later try to take the road to self discovery by abandoning her family. No, my mom stayed the course. My mother has remained true to her purpose every step of the way. 48 years later, she still doesn’t drink or do drugs, she is still married to my father and she is still that nurturing mother to all 3 children, 9 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. She is beyond my mother, she is my hero.
I remember wanting her undivided attention all the time as a kid. I would talk endlessly hour upon hour, never once doubting if she was listening. I was a shy child; one that had a hard time looking at the waitress to order my own food in a restaurant. I didn’t (and still don’t) like to work my way into conversation. It is more common for me to listen and observe than to fight for the floor to speak. It was a different story with my Mama though. I never had to “fight for the floor”. She always gave me her ear. It was safe for me to speak freely to her. I told my Mom a lot, especially during the teenage years. I’m a sensitive soul so I feel things deeply. My Mom was always that safe person I could go to with anything bothering me. If someone hurt me, that bear in her would come out, sure – but she consistently taught me to be the bigger person. Her usual words of advice were; “you just be nice and pray for them.” Those words ring in my ears to this day every time I am hurt by someone.
My Mama has greater insight than anyone I know. She is really good at seeing situations deeper than face value. She is superb at understanding the “why” behind circumstances. I like to believe that I carry some of the same skills now as an adult. After a lifetime of one-on-one coaching from her, I’m pretty sure I picked up some golden tactics in this department.
Growing up, I was no stranger to bullying. I was small, shy and somewhat socially awkward. I lived in Santa Fe, NM and was surrounded by the rough crowd. I did not participate in teasing others or ganging up on the outcast, so in some circumstances, I became that recipient of such things. There were many days I would come home in tears – but they never lasted long because Mom would hug me in her lap, run her fingers through my hair and say things like; “They must be really unhappy to treat someone like that. Who knows what is going on in their home. I bet they could use some kindness. Just pray for them.” And just like that, my world was safe and I learned to transform anger and pain into empathy and compassion.
Mom makes the best homemade soup in the world. (Here is my shameless plug to get her to make me a pot when I’m home for Christmas this year). She will argue to no end that her soup is not as good as her mother’s soup, but I beg to differ (sorry, Grandma in Heaven, but you taught your daughter too well). My mom has such ease in the kitchen. She cooks, she sings, she doesn’t have an ounce of expectation for anyone to help her. The entire family can be sitting around watching football (myself excluded since I boycott the sport) – and she will be off in the kitchen happily preparing food for her family and guests. When all is said and done, she just as happily cleans up while everyone gets back to their merriment. I’ve never once seen or heard her complain about this arrangement.
My mother describes herself as a simple person and I love that about her. She finds delight in beautiful sunsets, pretty flowers and good books. Some of my fondest memories with her include picking pinon in the beautiful hills surrounding her hometown of Las Vegas, NM, sitting on her beloved swing in the backyard reading side by side, and…are you ready for it, brace yourself for this flashback – Jazzercise. That’s right. I loved going to Jazzercise with my Mama. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world being next to my life role model while she got her groove on to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 in her leotard and sweatbands. My mom has a musical knack – both in singing and dancing and she is still a fitness fanatic to this day. I can assuredly attribute my passions for fitness and music to my Dancing Queen mama.
If there ever was anyone who believed in me, who stood by my side through every important moment both good and bad – it is my Mother. Every try-out as a kid, she was there. Every break-up with a boyfriend, she caressed my heart. Every game I cheered at (even the Aloha Bowl in Hawaii), she was there cheering me on. Every time I moved, she helped unpack. Every time I cried, she made it better. Every time I laughed, she laughed with me. Every tantrum I threw, she loved me through. Every mistake I made, she understood and guided me to correct. There is not one time in my life, that my Mama has not been readily available to hold my hand and my heart. And now as an adult, well – I’m passed the try-outs and games, and as a happily married mother of two, I see no moves or break-ups remaining for me. But I know this for sure; she is still there for the laughs, still standing by for the adult-onset tantrums, and would drop everything to be here if I simply asked. She would do the same for my two brothers, any of our children and her siblings. Hands down, Rebecca Louise Castellano gets the gold medal for the most family-oriented person on earth. Here’s to you Mom!
Today is this beautiful woman’s birthday and she deserves to be honored. If I could, I would give her Mother a single rose to thank her for bringing this angel to us. I finally realize how deep the well of a mother’s love is. God showed me His unconditional love from the moment I was born, in the form of my mother. I am everything I am, because she loves me.
Happy Birthday Mama. You truly are the wind beneath my wings.
For 20-years, running has been my primary source of fitness and I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know quite a few runners along the way. My connections have ranged from deep rooted friendships that developed through time on the pavement, to the camaraderie of local running clubs, to most recently coaching a middle school Cross Country team. My time in the laced up shoes has afforded me a unique opportunity to witness some very common characteristics we runners seem to share. I don’t claim to offer any hard science behind my observations, but something tells me that most of my fellow runners (or lovers of runners) will agree that we runners share some common threads that are undeniable.
We are deep thinkers. We analyze things to pieces. Spend time with a runner and you will doubtfully be talking about sports or the weather. We like to get down to the root of topics and ideas.
We are perfectionists. Whatever we do, we try to do right. We don’t tend to take the path of least resistance but rather take all steps necessary to reach 100% every time.
We are introverts. We like solitude and are perfectly ok with being alone with our thoughts for long periods of time.
We are goal oriented. We like to have something to aim for. Whether it be our next PR, completing new mileage heights or just achieving the accomplishment of our next race – we gain satisfaction from some type of “Everest.”
We are intrinsically competitive. We like to succeed and due to our introverted, perfectionist natures – we prefer a sport where we rely only on ourselves to reach our 100%.
We are sensitive souls. We think a lot, therefore we feel a lot. We pick up on the energy of others very easily and tend to internalize situations that may have nothing to do with us.
We are acutely aware of our surroundings. We know a car is coming before it can be seen or even heard. We inherently know if we need to clear the path for an oncoming visitor. We can even sense the mood of fellow runners we bypass on the roads.
We are hard on ourselves. How can we not be when we are constantly thinking, analyzing, setting goals and competing with our last peak?
We are full of passion. We love deeply. We work hard. We play hard.
We are committed. We are not fair weathered athletes, employees or friends. When we are in, we are fully in. This is a group you can count on.
In a nutshell, we runners are a unique breed. Some understand us, some don’t. Some think we are crazy, some admire our tenacity. I for one couldn’t imagine life any other way. Running is part of my fiber. It has helped mold me into the person I am today.
I now have the joy of witnessing my son take on the running persona, and I have to tell you – I’m one proud mama. It brings me great joy to know that he is on a journey that will help him understand who he is and where he is going.
It’s taken some time for me to recognize the common threads, but I’ve definitely had a glimpse at the runner uncovered.
The introverted mind is like an amusement park. It is a deep sea of imagination and creativity. Ever since I can remember, I found peace in being alone. As a kid, I could sit for hours in my room just thinking. Every bout of solitude would take me on an adventure – one that had no restrictions and no judgment.
My mother used to worry. She did not understand why I did not desire to be outside playing with the neighborhood kids all the time. After all, the social norm is focused on an extroverted lifestyle, so why wouldn’t a mother want her child functioning as part of the norm?
Children spend the majority of their time around other children. The average school day begins at 8:00A and ends at 3:00P. The entire day is spent in a classroom with at least 25 other people, often working in groups. Even “breaks” are additional social ventures…..tons of kids gathering in the cafeteria followed by the same plethora released to the playground to “unwind.” The amount of energy this requires of an introvert is indescribable. I remember wanting nothing more than solitude at the close of these exhausting school days. Nothing sounded better than curling up with my favorite book – alone in my room. Seemed perfectly normal to me….Until –
I realized that most kids wanted MORE interaction after school. The majority of kids in my neighborhood wanted to drop off their backpacks and hit the streets for play time! This always seemed like such a daunting task to me even though it was what I thought I was supposed to do. I often found my way out of it (faking sick was an easy go to), but many times I just ran with the pack to avoid being different. There were periods of my life when I chalked up this secret difference to just being shy. There were other periods when I thought I was just downright strange. With time, I learned how to play the extrovert game while finding ways to sneak in my ever-so desired quiet time. 2-years ago, I googled the word introvert. I had sneaking suspicions that I was one, but had worked so hard to become socially normal, that I really wasn’t sure. The book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts – by Susan Cain; came up so I bought it (oh the power of Amazon). What a game changer this book was for me. Susan Cain hit every nail on every head. Suspicions be gone….I am an introvert.
My son is 11-years young and I watch his introverted nature unfold with a sense of dignity. He has the same need to retreat as I did when I was his age. With a grateful heart I am fully accepting that this is a beautiful innate quality that will take him on inward journeys to places only he can go.
Is he still considered slightly out of the cultural norm? Maybe according to some. But studies show that an estimated 1/3 of the U.S. population is introverted. Just because we live in a culture that promotes constant social interaction as the norm, doesn’t mean it feels like the norm for everybody. There is something very freeing in this simple fact that we introverts are not alone.
I can’t say that my old cultural imbedded fears don’t pop up from time to time when it comes to my son. Every now and then a worrisome thought crosses my mind…Should he be doing what the masses do? Does he feel out of place? It doesn’t take me long to realize however, that his solitude is intentional. I find comfort in the realization that he is more than OK. He sees the world through his very own lenses and has everything it takes to be happy….right inside that magical amusement park of his mind. We talk about introversion all the time. I encourage him to do the things that make him happy, rather than running with the pack. He loves to read. He loves to write. He loves to dream. His though process runs deeper and more expansive than anyone I know.
I’m not only content with my own introverted nature, I am now grateful. I have the gift to deeply connect with someone just like me. We read together. We write together. We dream together. And now, we run together. It is on these runs that I get a glimpse of that deep, expansive thought process of his as he opens up to someone who can relate. And when we are done sharing our creative worlds, we run quietly…. side by side, each enjoying our own magical amusement park.
Choo Choo – All aboard…..the Ego Train is crowded but has room for anyone who wants to join!
I remember thinking that the world of Yoga would be free from the Ego Train passengers. This practice of deep introspection surely attracts people who practice daily self contemplation and growth, and have little interest in the “look at me world”, right?
Disclaimer: I love Yoga and everything it truly represents. The deep practice has taught me so much. Lots of physical benefits, sure, but so much more than that. Through meditation and being still enough to listen and actually get to know myself, I’ve learned some of the bigger, life changing lessons. One of the biggest is the power of the ego…mine in particular.
It’s there, that ego – and always will be. It’s a human characteristic that signifies a person’s sense of self-esteem, or self-importance. In its’ truest form, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the ego. But just like anything else, when it becomes disproportionate to its’ necessity, it can cause problems.
I work very hard to keep mine in check. The simplest way? I live in gratitude. I try to avoid ideas of entitlement and pride. I try to stay in the mindset of being blessed and humble. The minute a grandiose thought starts swarming through my head, I stop and say….”Nope, I’m grateful for this and humbled by it.” And then I try to meditate on that as much as possible. Am I perfect at this? Absolutely not! It’s a work in progress, but one I’m very committed to.
Unaccepting judgment is a major bi-product of the inflated ego. Judgment in and of itself is simply the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions, but when judgment takes us to a place of not accepting the ideas of others, it becomes a negative energy source.
We all do it, myself included. We see or hear things that don’t resonate with our own thoughts or belief systems and we decide them to be wrong. We often decide the person carrying the message to be wrong, or even the enemy.
And so, social media has become quite the breeding ground for over inflated egos and unaccepting judgment. Now, I know…it sounds like I am judging social media right now (as I use it to express my thoughts), but I am not. I am a fan of social media. As an introvert, it is my preferred method of communication. I love reading other blogs and seeing people’s posts. After awhile, a lot of insight can be gained about a person’s character – and I love getting to know people.
I am often baffled though. So many “ambassadors of Yoga” have such harsh and absolute messages. So many messages that root from ego and even hate are followed up with a picture of the author meditating in meadow. I just can’t understand the mixed message. So please, if I ever send a message of hate or judgment and follow it with, “Namaste” – call me out on it!
Yoga and being an ambassador of Yoga has different meanings to different people and that is beautiful. My hope is that each of us can keep our message straight. Endless pictures in handstands and arm balances does not necessarily equate to characteristics of love, compassion and acceptance. They may just be symbolic of a self-disciplined physical practice, which is certainly admirable. But to make the generalization that someone in a handstand is a deeply rooted Yogi, may be a reach. Not to say that the “serial selfie” does not embody the deep spiritual characteristics, it is just important to remember that the nectar of our fruit is much deeper than the skin.
“To thine own self be true.” I just hope that at least in my case, thine own self is the same person displayed to others, both in person and through social media. That ego train is getting full and moving quickly, so I think I will take a deep breath, and just walk.
February 5-8 is fast approaching and I have 2 “Bring a Friend” passes to give away that take $77 off your ticket price!If you would like to be considered for one of these passes, comment on this post or send me a message on how Yoga has changed your life. #SedonaYogaFestival
I love people. I’ve always been fascinated with observing speech, body language and overall behavior as to better understand how each individual ticks. My natural response to another human being is that we are immediate friends. Without any awareness at the time, I’m usually trying to find common ground so we can be mano y mano (my Spanish roots always have a way of sneaking into my writing). I truly want to know everything about you so we can create a deep, meaningful connection.This is not a contrived way of “making friends”, this is my natural tendency and always has been. A natural extrovert?Hardly.
Every connection I make and every conversation I have needs to be internally processed. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by energy of others. This is not a bad thing, but if that energy starts exceeding my capacity, I become displaced and frazzled. I have learned through the years that it is not until I am completely alone and in silence that all of this energetic processing occurs and my real, deep connections are realized.
And this is the expression of an introvert.
For so long, I thought that because I truly loved people, it also meant that I should always want to be around them. It just seemed that the two were supposed to go hand in hand. I never understood why I had such an internal struggle after being around groups of people (large or small) for an extended period of time. At first, conversations reel me in like a fish on a hook. Once I start learning about someone, I want more and more and more – until……..just like a candle burning to the wick, I lose all energy completely. It is almost like going on a long run, hitting the wall (translated to feeling like you’ve been hit by a train) and then needing some good, solid recovery time.
It is often difficult for an extrovert to understand why an introvert may be fully engaged at times, yet seem to “hold back” on other occasions. I had a friend in high school who described me as weird because I was able to give my full, undivided attention at times (which made her feel like the center of the universe), but at other times I was what seemed to be, stingy with it. It made her feel deserted and even confused, although this certainly was never my intent. She had an expectation of me (that I lended hand in creating) that I just couldn’t live up to. I agreed with her observation and it hurt me to think that I was letting her down. But no matter how hard I tried, I just didn’t understand why it was not within my capacity to give that full engagement 100% of the time. I pondered this concept for years! I actually started buying into the idea that maybe I was, in fact, weird.
So….. I developed some mechanisms. I learned to just muscle through this apparent “recovery time” that I felt I needed. I desperately wanted to be fully present and fully engaged all the time for everyone I came into contact with. It was exhausting. So much so, that by the time the weekend hit, I would either drink, sleep, or do both. I had to find some way to recover from this energetic overload – so checking out in some way was just about the only solution I could find. Not the healthiest coping skills I could have developed, but they certainly provided many lessons and opportunities for growth.
Needless to say, this approach just didn’t work.
During those “non-enlightened” years I soared through activities and careers that were well suited for the born extrovert. I was a cheerleader for 10 years and went on to teach cheer camps (to huge groups of screaming high school girls) throughout college. I was a Group Fitness instructor for a couple of decades and worked in the ever competitive field of pharmaceutical sales. I was pretty much surrounded by people 24/7. Was I good at these things? Sure. Was I well suited for these things? I thought so. Were these things nurturing the best version of me? Not even close.
While working on my MBA, I was tasked with taking the Meyers Briggs personality profile. Low and behold, the strongest characteristic trait that came through was that I was an Introvert! Wait, what? But I love people! I’m extremely social! I work in SALES for goodness sakes! Isn’t an introvert the shy, reserved person that doesn’t like to be around people?
The more I looked into the characteristics of an introvert, the more I realized how much I fit the bill. Plain and simple, I need to be alone to recharge my battery. I need quiet and stillness to recovery from the massive amounts of energy I intake with every personal engagement I make. Ha! So there is the answer…..Maybe I’m not so weird after all (although that is yet to be fully determined).
Running and practicing Yoga have helped me better nurture my introvert nature and maintain my overall sanity. I am now fully aware and accepting of the fact that this girl needs recharging on a daily basis. I no longer muscle my way through constant interactions. I do my best to make the interactions I have deep and meaningful.
I still work with and around people, teaching Yoga. By far, this is the most well suited career choice I have made to date. It allows me to deeply connect with people energetically but in an environment that is conducive to self-realization and stillness. I now get to tap into all of the beautiful energy expressed in each person’s practice while maintaining a comfortable boundary that allows me to “go introvert” when needed.
Although it took me several years to put the whole story together, I now get it. I understand and accept myself for exactly who I am. I also have a better understanding of my extroverted brothers and sisters who get their recharging from people.
So what does this have to do with you? Maybe you relate to some of what I’ve shared. Perhaps you had a light bulb moment that you too might be an introvert. Or maybe you know someone who seems “weird” because they can’t always quite give you their all. If either happens to be the case, smile, accept this individual for who they are and try to release the expectation of them needing to be 100% all the time. Chances are good that they may just need to escape into their inner world for a little processing. Give them the space they need to recharge their eternal flame.