In this journey of life everything can change in an instant.
One minute you can be fretting about the most insignificant stuff like if the kids cleaned their rooms and the next minute be hit with life-changing news.
Today we found out that my husband has prostate cancer. Right now, the only thing that matters is him and our family.
My husband is the bravest, strongest person I know and would never ask for anything from anybody. And so in this moment where I don’t know if I’m going or coming, I find myself doing something I’m not comfortable doing either and that is asking you for something. I ask you, whoever is reading this, for support, love and prayers. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.
Teaching Yoga brings me joy. It is a light in my world that is filled by helping others and connecting with people from a very vulnerable place. Teaching has helped me grow in ways that my personal Yoga practice could not. Here are the top 10 lessons I’ve learned along the way:
- Our mood and energy penetrate the class. Regardless of how hard we try to put on our “teaching hats” – students can feel where we are at spiritually and emotionally.
- Yoga Groupies are real. These individuals latch on to teachers and create cliques. These folks put teachers on pedestals but will just as easily kick them down and replace them with the new “flavor of the month.”
- We teachers need to beware of the Groupies and avoid involvement at all costs. Even when we are on the pedestals.
- We gain just as much from teaching a class as students do from attending.
- Teaching a class is therapeutic and can turn the day around in an instant.
- Not all students are “friends”. It is ok to have a teacher/student relationship and set proper boundaries accordingly.
- Real, genuine connections can be made in the Yoga room – but it must come from an authentic place.
- Many teachers compete with each other. Even if we want nothing to do with it and know this is the farthest thing from what yoga should be about – it is real, and very unhealthy.
- Expectations are high of teachers. Because we offer guidance during the hour of class, we are often expected to be saints in every area at all times.
- We are not saints and we are not perfect. We are human beings experiencing the same ups and downs of life as everyone else.
I love teaching. I love the lessons it has taught me. I love each person who reads this and understands it is coming from a wide open space. Truth is important. I find it to be a necessity to always live and speak the truth.
Have you ever been wronged? Of course you have, it’s part of the human experience. Since we’ve all been there, we all know what it feels like – the pain, the anger, the helplessness. It’s what we decide to do with it that defines our character. It’s what we decide to do with it that determines whether it will hurt us or ultimately help us grow.
Integrity can be a bitch. That north pointing moral compass is a tricky thing to manage. We must always discern just how far we are willing to go for what is right. My spirit animal is a bear. I have that relentless fighter in me – the one that has a very hard time turning a blind eye to injustice. This can be a curse or a blessing, depending on how it is used. I’ve always know that things might be easier if I just didn’t give a damn. But that’s just not who I am. I do give a damn. That probably will never change.
And so here I am – on the other side of a string of situations that rattled me to my core. I was faced with matters that tarnished my soul and I was slowly transforming into someone I didn’t want to be. Feeling like an alien in my own skin, I slowly started unraveling – I didn’t know how to come back. So I prayed….. for direction, for wisdom for a sign – any sign!
The sign came, the wisdom came. Like a fast moving roller coaster, I started putting one foot in front of the other. My bear came out, and I fought for what I knew to be right. On the surface, it may look like I lost. The career that defined so much of my life is over. The people and places that I loved, suddenly swept away. Income, gone. I’m in the middle of what feels like a bipolar emotional episode, yet there is one thing that is very clear; I did the right thing, so I won.
Through all these crazy emotions, I choose peace. I choose love. I choose light. Do I still feel anger and sadness? Absolutely. But it’s the vengeance and retaliation that I’m steering clear of because it is THESE things that take me from winning to loosing.
So I’m ready to scream from the top of a mountain; I WIN! My integrity is something no one can take away. And you know what? I am one blessed girl. I have friends filling me up with more support and love than I thought humanly possible. I have a family holding my hand as I journey on and find my new way. I have a soul that is clearing out the tarnish and reconnecting with my truth.
And so to close this chapter, I send love & light to my former employer. I send out to the Universe an open heart for what is yet to come. I send the most sincere and humble thank you to my friends and family.
It is time for the bear to hibernate now and transcend the bullshit. It is time for this girl to be free.
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.
Check out my short interview for Sedona Yoga Festival. Planning on going? Use my name (Denise) as your promo code and receive 10% off!
Click here to view: YogiRunner Video Interview
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.
Honored to be interviewed and highlighted by Sedona Yoga Festival. Check it out:
Teacher Feature – Denise Thompson AKA Yogirunner
Mark your calendars for this magical event March 10-13, 2016!
Sometimes I want to bury my head and turn off the world. But I can’t….
- I have mouths to feed
- I have lives to mold
- I have lunches to pack
- I have homework to review
- I have groceries to buy
- I have laundry to do
- I have meals to plan
- I have runners to coach
- I have schedules to fulfill
- I have a home to uphold
- I have bills to pay
- I have calls to return
- I have texts to respond
- I have emails galore
- I have employees to take care of
- I have job commitments to fulfill
- I have classes to teach
- I have classes to plan
- I have workouts to maintain
- I have Yoga to practice
- I have feelings to protect
- I have friends and family to love
- I have thoughts and emotions to tend
- I have dreams to realize
- I have an extroverted world to adjust to
- I have a brain that needs peace
I am human.
I am heart & soul.
I am woman.
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.