A Mother’s Letter

My sweet boy

Today you are a senior.

With each passing year, my heart seems to skip an extra beat as I am asked to let go a little bit more. I long to read to you from the tattered, worn out, and deeply loved Pokeman Handbook. The one missing its front cover, the one tucked safely away in your box of childhood treasures, the one you learned to read from. You always knew when I tried to skip a page or two. You were always so patient with me as you guided me back to the proper page to read about Pikachu or Charizard or Exeggcute.

I long to fix your scraped knees and to watch as you dive, roll, hop, skip, and crawl to get from one place to another. The shortest distance between two rooms was never a straight line for you. I wonder if your preschool teacher ever fully recovered from your creativity. I still chuckle to think that you could hide out underneath a desk, with your best friend M.B. for over an hour, and have an entire classroom and administrative office in sheer panic trying to locate you. You taught me that life is an adventure, one to be enjoyed, played, and shared.

You have always inspired me, even though I may not have seen it that way. I mean, I did have to get over myself when you asked dad to attend your 7th grade orientation instead of me. Putting myself in your shoes, I would have done the same thing. I would have been terrified that you would have scrapbooked my locker or asked to take a picture with my new homeroom teacher. It is a gift to see you trust yourself.

There are moments when fear creeps into my heart, Drew. Did I do enough to make you feel loved?  Have I created enough space for you to step fully into the truth of who you are?  Have I packed you with enough life skills to be happy, to be authentic, and to be helpful? When I am able to sit with this fear, I realize that I desperately want to hold you, to protect you, and to shield you from life. You have helped me remember that all life experiences are necessary for growth. I have watched you experience disappointment, failure, and frustration with grace, strength, and humor.

You continue to fill my heart with wonder. I appreciate that we can communicate and understand without exchanging words. I cherish that we are still able to make each other belly laugh. I am grateful that we can frustrate the hell out of each other and still respect the other’s point of view. I am who I am today because of you. You mirror the traits I want to pass along. You expose the areas that still need tenderness and compassion.

As I sit in this moment… reflecting on a lifetime shared… I feel the most sacred of connections… one of life’s greatest treasures… the love between mother and child. As I move from fear to faith, I trust. As I look into your eyes, I see beauty and truth. As I place hand on heart, gently struggling to let go, I witness, I watch, I see you spread your wings.

I feel the same about you, Drew, “I couldn’t ask for a better son, even if I tried.”

“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”


Collecting Treasure: Part 3~ Greatness

Stain GlassOne of the most pivotal points in my life occurred in fourth grade, when I still thought I was meant for greatness. We were all sitting on the floor, girls in plaid jumpers, boys in pale blue cotton oxfords, around a short cart with a television. It was the first time I was introduced to Mother Teresa, to the many bloated bellies of starving children, and to greatness. As I sat, paralyzed in horror, tears started streaming down my cheeks. I vowed, in that moment, to work with Mother Teresa when I was old enough.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ~Mother Teresa

Although I did not end up working with Mother Teresa, over the years, I have been able to witness the many ways that greatness meets us: in large and small moments; moments of triumph and moments that lead to failure; day to day moments and moments that change who we are at our core; moments spent with family and friends and moments shared between strangers; moments that expose us to the raw truth and beauty of who we are and moments that bring us to our knees in confusion and despair.

Greatness comes in those vulnerable moments we open our heart and connect with the very essence of being human

Simple moments, complex moments, moments of pure beauty, moments that remind us this life is a gift, moments that mirror who we are and why we are here, moments that move and awaken us:

  • A teenage boy who experiments with art and is proud enough he’d like his mom to display it in her office
  • The mother who is the rock of support and spends 7 1/2 hours in the hospital for the annual check up with her daughter, who has had a heart transplant
  • The man who smiles to the stranger on the street with the sole purpose of brightening up your day
  • The child who asks if the teacher, who has made a difference in their life, can change her last name to be a part of the family
  • The mother who shares her heart ache over Mother’s Day as a single mother of a special needs child who can never appreciate the sacrifice nor love in the way that Hallmark says they should
  • The mentor who sees in us what we cannot yet see ourself
  • The father who allows his child to be who he needs to be, without worrying what others think of him
  • The BFF who allows you to melt down to a puddle of overwhelm and despair and does not waver in her love for you
  • The master mind group who laughs more than they work, supports and holds tenderly the dreams of each member in the group, and who understands that two hours is just not enough for a “meeting”
  • The mother who learns to bake a cake in the dirt so she can take her daughter on the Girl Scout Camp out (thanks mom!)
  • The marathon runners, who after completing their race, jumped in to help the victims of the Boston bombing
  • The woman who signs up for an art course, even though she is terrified, to reconnect with her inner creativity
  • The woman who hits publish on her blog post, even when every fiber in her being says, “NO DON’T DO IT. YOU WILL BE JUDGED, RIDICULED, DE-FRIENDED ON FACEBOOK, FOUND OUT”, because she knows her story could make a difference
  • The mother who makes paint from nature to teach her boys how to respect and love all creatures and beings
  • The husband who admits he is a little nervous to be put under for his upcoming surgery
  • The mother who watches her teenage son fumble, knowing that she cannot own his pain but only hold the space for him to work through it
  • The mother who wakes up at 1am 3am 4am 4:30am to nurse and teach this little being how very important they are
  • The mother who has waited to meet her own child since she was a little girl and may never get that opportunity
  • The mother who , normally goes to bed at 8pm, but stayed up past midnight to take her 7 year old son to Borders for the latest release of Harry Potter
  • The poet who will not compromise the integrity of her work by selling out and instead blazes a new trail to bring her love of words to her readers
  • The man who lost his life for the equality of all and committed to non-violence every step of the way
  • The student, who pushes past the fear of falling, and takes flight into headstand
  • The woman who chooses love of Self, even if that means being disowned by her family
  • The woman who launches her business on a wing and a prayer
  • The parents, who having lost their daughter to cancer, make it their mission to raise money for cancer research so other families do not have to experience their pain
  • The woman, who has the courage to let go of her dream to support her family
  • The friend, who having been out of contact for 25 years, reaches out to hold your vulnerability and tell you that you were always meant for greatness

Greatness is the willingness to show up as we are. Greatness is the willingness to shed our armor and live with our hearts open. These are your stories, my stories, our stories. We are all meant to heal ourselves, our world, and connect heart to heart. We are all meant to break through barriers, bare our soul, and know that we are meant for greatness.



(Read Part 1- Pieces of Self and Part 2~Glimpses of Self)

Do You Suffer From Shiny Object Syndrome?

032ae15 Do you start things without finishing them? Do you get sucked into the latest television series or exercise fad? Do you find yourself constantly signing up for the latest ecourse? Do you surf Facebook or Twitter once a day, twice a day, ten times a day, ten times a minute? Do you allow for moments of stillness or is your schedule consistently filled? Do you read the next best selling self-help book and then the next and the next?

There is nothing inherently wrong with enjoying the latest television series, surfing Facebook, or reading self-help books. The challenge occurs when we consistently search outside ourselves for peace, happiness, and “the” answers.

We perpetuate the cycle of suffering when we think someone or something else has the answer, that somehow we are lacking.

Many of us have been conditioned to think that anything less than perfection is unacceptable. We focus on what is missing or wrong. Over time, we forget that we can do anything beautiful or right. It becomes a vicious cycle that we perpetuate. This cycle undermines the trust we have in ourselves. This cycle encourages us to to seek help outside ourselves. This cycle makes us afraid to try for fear of failing. We believe the failure would validate our imperfection, our worth-less-ness.

Yoga teaches us a method for overcoming shiny object syndrome. The fifth limb in Pantanjali’s Eight Fold Path is Pratyahara, withdrawal of our senses. We gather information about the world around us through our senses. Often, they carry us from the next best thing to the next best thing, keeping us distracted. We remain entrenched in the dance of seeking outward for peace and happiness.

By tuning our senses inward, we begin to catch a glimpse of that place of stillness, of purity within.

Withdrawing the senses, mind, and consciousness form contact with external objects, and then drawing them inwards towards the seer, is pratyahara. ~The Yoga Sutras II:54; Pratyahara results in the absolute control of the sense organs. ~The Yoga Sutras II:55

Pratyahara sets the foundation for turning our awareness inward. By withdrawing from the external environment we begin to open the door to our internal wisdom. When we learn to cut off from our impulses and need for instant gratification, we witness that place of authenticity, beauty, and sacredness within.

Three tools to exercise your pratyahara muscles:

24 waiting period
Whenever I am going to make a larger purchase, I make myself wait 24 hours. This gives me time to explore my thoughts, to ask myself: Do I really need this purchase? What is my intention with this purchase? What do I think I will gain with this purchase that I don’t already have now, in this moment? Sometimes it is a legitimate purchase. Often times, however, I have gotten sucked into the latest e-course promising me eternal happiness and money flow but I have to act now or I am going to lose out… I have saved hundreds of dollars by waiting and pulling back, listening to my intuition instead of my impulses.

30 minutes of daily quiet time
I have just offended a few of you because I don’t know how busy you are. You don’t have 30 minutes in your day to do “nothing.” We have to shift our perspective. It isn’t doing “nothing.” It is learning how to unplug. It is learning how to quiet the fluctuations of the mind. It is learning how to return to that place within each of us that is perfect, whole,  and complete. It is learning how to access the wisdom that each of us carries in our heart. Start out with 5 minutes if that is all you have. Slowly, over time, make your way to 10 minutes…

Sama Vritti w/Kumbhaka (Breath Retention) Pranayama
Bringing our awareness to a single point of concentration helps to withdraw our senses. In this technique, we learn to quiet the mind by focusing on the breath.

  • Come to a comfortable seated position
  • Begin to lengthen your breath, three times the length of a normal breath. Explore 5 breaths
  • Hold your breath for a count of 2-5 after inhalation only, none after exhalation. If it feels comfortable, over the next few breaths, increase  the duration of retention after inhalation; Three parts of the breath become equal ~inhalation, retention and exhalation
  • Begin to introduce retention after exhalation. Hold your breath for a count of 2-5 after exhalation and inhalation. If it feels comfortable, over the next few breaths, increase the duration of retention after exhalation; Four parts of the breath become equal~ inhalation, retention, exhalation and retention
  • You can increase breath ratio up to 10 per part
  • Return to breath, three times the length of a normal breath for 5 breaths
  • Return to natural breathing

Did you find one of these techniques particularly helpful in overcoming shiny object syndrome? Do you have a different technique that you use to stay focused and on track in your daily life?




Yoga Teacher Training

Gilbert Yoga Teacher Training 200 hrs w/Carrie Hensley & Ingrid Ortega
Summer Intensive Session July 20th-August 4th, 2013

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For more information email carrie@carriehensley.com or info@gilbertyoga.com

I apologize for not posting yesterday but… I do have a good reason…

I was waiting for a few more photos so I could share the AMAZING news. My heart is singing. I will be reconnecting with one of my sweet soul sisters, Ingrid. We are coming together to offer a two week Yoga Teacher Training 200 hrs through Gilbert Yoga.

Cabin FIThis beautiful experience will be shared in a gorgeous cabin in Pinedale, Arizona. (15 minutes Northwest of Show Low). The owners have put their heart and soul into this sacred space and it shows. Due to the intimate nature of this experience, space is limited to 10 students. As if two weeks submerged in yoga and nature wasn’t enough, Patty Van Herpen will be sharing her exquisite talents and love in the kitchen.

Yoga Teacher Training is the ultimate opportunity for personal growth. In my own personal experience, with each training I was able to brush up against limiting thought patterns, challenge my fears and insecurities, and peel back the layers that prevented me from connecting to my inner most authentic Self.

To learn more about the two week summer session program, including expectations, program details, and pricing, click here.



10 Signs I’m Hooked By Old Beliefs

592d76d06e553f8b06697f0fc46d5106I have been hooked lately. I can feel it. Chris can feel it. Drew can feel it. You can probably feel it. lol. How do I know I am hooked?

  • Tendency to take things personally (big red flag for me!)
  • Irritable (did you really just say that… to me?)
  • Over eating (“rewarding” myself with a treat everyday for I don’t even want to admit for how long…)
  • Compassion and loving-kindness, towards myself and everyone around me, feel like four letter words (and not like love…)
  • Shrinking back into myself at warp speed
  • Watching t.v. (I rarely watch t.v. except when there’s a “need” to escape)
  • Obsessive/compulsive thinking (how many times can one replay the same scenario over and over and over and over and over in her head!?)
  • Forgetful (sure tale sign that my mind is re-hashing something from my past or anticipating something that has not yet unfolded in my future)
  • Projecting (asking everyone around me if they are okay. Do they need anything)
  • An underlying feeling that something is off or wrong but I can’t quite put my finger on it (the apocalypse is really going to happen tomorrow, isn’t it?)

Tara Brach, in her latest book True Refuge (which I highly recommend!) tells us that the above techniques are false refuges. I may feel temporary relief with dark chocolate almonds, or if I’m in deep~ a box of Entenmann’s glazed donuts, but long term my inability to journey into the underlying pain and emotions will bring more suffering.

The only true refuge is presence. It is our ability to stay present to the pain, emotions, underlying causes, and triggers that we gain clarity and freedom. Through out the last few weeks, I have worked with the R.A.I.N technique. This is one of the most beneficial techniques I have learned to staying connected to strong emotions. With R.A.I.N, we learn to recognize, allow, and investigate so that, ultimately, we learn not-to-identify with the emotions. While I have had mini successes, I still felt the overall tension and resistance to being home in the present moment. I have still sought peace through the many false refuges we all turn to.

Yesterday, I continued to sit with my experience. Where do I feel this resistance… pit of my stomach… What does it feel like… heavy, like a bowling ball… Where else do I feel it… throat… chest… heaviness in chest… lump in throat… What’s the overall feeling… sadness… What is this feeling, I asked…fear… Fear of what… being rejected…As I continued to sit with my experience, with the sadness, the ache, I began to notice the heaviness lift in my belly… the ache dissolve in my shoulders. Without pushing the fear away, I gave it space to be. This is one of the most difficult aspects of being human as it is our nature to seek pleasure and avoid pain. However, in allowing ourselves space for the uncomfortable, we open ourselves up to the gifts of grace and compassion.

This morning, in the middle of teaching my class, I had the thought, “I don’t trust in my goodness.” Ahaaaaa. That’s been the underlying need to escape (medicating the issue means we don’t have to feel the pain of feeling like I’m damaged in some way), in being irritable (if I push you away, you won’t see the truth of who I am), and in the need to shrink (I won’t be rejected because you won’t even know I am here). In allowing myself to remain present to what is, I was able to tap into the pain, sadness, and shame of not feeling whole.  Tara tells us that accessing the pain is what cracks our heart open.

In my own experience, when I stop resisting and instead allow the thoughts, emotions, and beliefs an opportunity to surface, I can observe how they have kept me feeling separate, from myself, Chris, Drew, and everyone else around me. In connecting to the hurt and pain, I can connect to the hurt and pain we all feel at times from being human, bringing us closer together in our shared experience. In staying present, I can trace the root cause of my suffering, the belief, thought, or emotion and hold myself tenderly with compassion, change the thought, or reach out for support.



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