Love Waves

Love. What can you do when you’re on the brink, but you’re scared to fall?

Love in Waves, Caitlin Marcoux, Blog, In Love Again, Nantucket, yoga

Love is so powerful, we can get lost in it like a shoreless ocean. It’s something everyone wants and so many of us watch slip through our fingers.

Were I to die young, at least I can say, on my deathbed, that I have loved so much. People with the most tremendous spirit, I have loved. Big and small. Male and female. Introverted and extroverted. Tall and Short. Round and long. Young and old. I have loved under dire circumstances, and loved during times of clam and peace. But for as many times that I’ve LOVED, I’ve also managed to consistenly fuck it up.

Love, Mastectomy, Surgery, Breast Cancer, Caitlin Marcoux, MGH, To love, what a privilege!

Do we recognize how luck we are to know this feeling even once in a lifetime? To just once experience a close approximation of this bliss? Let alone multiple times…

I think part of the problem, part of the reason love escapes us so often, lies in our attachments to how and what it should look like. More importantly, how long it will last.

We think if the object of our affection is the one, they will stay by our side forever; through sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. Till death do us part.

So we strangle hold love with our sweaty, hot hands.

When love evaporates from the heat of our grasp, we blame others, circumstances, and the Universe. Worse yet, we blame ourselves for the myriad of things we did wrong.

Do we consider, ever, that the love we lost wasn’t meant to stick around?

Why is our default to question whether we were worthy of love in the first place.

What if love didn’t look a certain way. What if lovers flowed unfettered, in and out of our lives, like waves of wisdom, passing onto us the lessons we need to learn in the moments we are living them. And instead of blaming ourselves and others for the waves recession from our shores, we graciously thank them for their generosity and let them go with the outgoing tide?

What if we see ourselves benefitting from each love’s imparting lore. And then when we’ve absorbed these teachings, swim back out to sea to wait patiently for the next wave.

“If you have the ability to love, love yourself first.”
~Charles Bukowski

What if our focus was on loving ourselves instead of incessantly seeking love from others?

Perhaps in our entitlement hides the biggest mistake: that somehow we can get away without knowing and loving who we are first, and simply draft feelings of love and self-worth off of others.

What if we are only entitled to love only after we know what it means to love ourselves.

Love Yourself, Heal the Hurt, Caitlin Marcoux, Yoga TeacherDo you love yourself?

Like so many, I didn’t have this kind of relationship for the longest time. I was scared to look at my wounds and forgive myself for past failures.

The last past 16 months though, I’ve taken a crash course in self-acceptance, and find myself learning to appreciate who I am. I’ve quit making excuses for who I’m not.

After two heaping fistfuls of heartbreak, I feel humble, healthy and ready to practice what I preach.

It is not love that should be depicted as blind, but self-love. ~Voltaire

 

In the spaces between recent relationships,  I’ve found the motivation and inspiration to begin a deep dialogue with my heart.  At 40, I feel wise and schooled as only one can be, after living a life full of stories and experience both positive and negative.The conversation is rich.

Although it is scary, I am ready to swim back out. After all the mistakes, the hard learned lessons, the time wasted blaming myself and others, I feel in love with my heart, my soul, my and spirit. I feel buoyant. I will not sink this time.

Resolutions.

{These are mine. As an exercise, take out your journal. Write your own. Design and commit, to the way you want to love, the way you will swim out to the line-up.}

The next time I fall in love, I will not forget how important, no, how imperative it is, to stay true to myself. To stand in my own authenticity, regardless of how it is received. I will release my grip on the outcome, on how I think the dance is suppose to unfold.  I will stay focused on bringing my best, highest self to the present moment.  I will give myself the gift of self-awareness. I will enjoy without expectation, the process. I will lovingly relax. I will nurture the space necessary to absorb the lessons being illuminated. I will be patient and kind to myself and to my partner. I will stay receptive and open. I will remain connected to grace.

Nantucket, Love, Yoga, Blog, Falling in Love

You are the one you have been waiting for.

Friends; waste no time! Don’t wait until half your luscious life is over to see your own heart as your greatest teacher. If  you allow self-love to be your personal swim coach, the next time you dive into the ocean of external love, she will remind you to take long, deep steady breaths in, and slow, smooth, steady breaths out. She will remind you that though relationships come and go, you can always surf your own breath.

Do not drowned but rather drink responsibly love’s sweet nectar, and should you feel your judgment becomes impaired, swim to shore and reconnect to Self  for as long as it takes to recover your ground. If it’s authentic love, your lover will wait.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.~Rumi

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{Some days are easier than others. On the days that are hard, guided meditations and affirmation can help. Listen to Sarah Blondin. Her podcast, Live Awake, is one of my regular tools.}

Breathe. Flow. Connect. 

Goodbye Scarcity, Hello Gratitude

Sorry, l had to learn this one the hard way, and you probably will too. No one will ever give you enough validation. At the end of the day, it’s up to you.

Caitlin Marcoux, writer

Because we live in a society that pressures us to have unlimited wants, while most of us have limited resources, many of us have a difficult time believing in our own intrinsic value.

The anxiety of scarcity permeates all aspects of our lives. We worry about our body image, our fiscal net, our standing within our community, our self-esteem as parents, our confidence as lovers, whether or not we are fashionable, driving the right car, enrolling our children in enough extracurricular activities, or taking the same exotic vacations our friends post about on social media.

Caitlin Marcoux, wirterCommercialism and comparison have caused a catastrophic level of insecurity within our culture, feeding a never ending cycling of fitness trends and fad diets, to say nothing of jealousy, self-judgment and resentment.

This prevailing sense of insufficiency causes us to question whether or not we are, in general, enough, and many of us end up feeling that we are, at least much of the time, not. However, if we choose to turn our attention away from what we are lacking to what we have, the suffering of scarcity lessens.

Society at large has seduced us into thinking life needs to be grandiose, lived out on a large scale, Twitter and Instagram. Even my 7 year old will tell me, with apparent admiration, that his favorite YouTuber, has 1,856,518 subscribers. (Parents go ahead and Google him, his name is Denis Daily).

Cultivating abundance starts with gratitude

ScarcityThe truth is there is so much beauty and joy in our small, ordinary lives. So many things to be grateful for. So many tiny victories, every day, to celebrate. On days like today, when I wake up feeling a little blue, lonely and anxious about the things I don’t have, I try to practice feeling grateful for the things I DO have.

Instead of dwelling on the fact that I don’t have a life partner, own my own home, or have a retirement fund, I got myself to the gym. I threw on the plates and started lifting. I wasn’t sure about my form, so I kept the weights light. I decided to be gentle and meet myself where I was.

As I worked my way through a number of different exercises, my negative thoughts abated.

It’s actually a bit crazy to think that just 2 years ago, I was still recovering from major abdominal surgery, {fully hysterectomy and oophorectomy} and three years ago I could barely lift my own arms (bilateral mastectomy}, so lifting anything at al, is actually something I am quite grateful to be able to do.

My ego, which often kicks up a ruckus of self-doubt, and pushes me to do things I’m not quite ready for, stayed remarkably quit! Turns out, Brene Brown, an author and research professor, whom I have been reading a lot of over the past year or so, is onto something: by focusing on gratitude the tides of scarcity culture can be abated.

I lovingly pushed my body through my workout saying this mantra over and over:

“It is enough”

 “I am enough.”

In the end, it was an awesome workout. I left the gym feeling satisfied and effulgent, light and happy.

Does this sound familiar?

If you’re like me; someone who {fill in the blank reason} has turned to external validation to bank-up personal validity, you may have to use this mantra over and over again.

Caitlin Marcoux, Yoga teacher, writer

A few of you might remember a piece I wrote for elephant journal on this topic some time ago, circa 2012. The photo above is probably the last picture of my chest before my tryst with breast cancer. I recently re-read it,  Unworthy, that is. Hard to believe I wrote it five years ago. Long before I stumbled onto Brene Brown’s TED Talk on vulnerability, or read Rising Strong, one of my favorite books  E V E R. You would think I’d have embodied the central message by now – what with the permanent marker I used to write all over my own chest.

But.. apparently I’m still trying to take my own advice.

It’s okay. I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I mean I could, that would go against the central idea of self-acceptance. And that old yogic adage of “it’s a practice”…. well it’s true. These things  don’t happen over night. A practice is called a practice for a reason.

Anyway, I’m beginning to realize that the measurement of a “successful” life is not the one afforded us by relationship, career, or financial status. The successful life is the gracious life. I have faith. Let’s support one another. Together I think we can do it. We can make ourselves be seen. We can accept what we are, accept ourselves for the miracle that we are, and we can evolve our sense of self into something so beautiful and so loving that gratitude is our default.

Don’t be suckered into wasting your time on what you don’t have.

Honor what you have and the abundance will follow.

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10 Practical Tips for the First 10 Days of Cancer

Inside Tips and Tricks from a Cancer Jedi

Originally published on Rebelle Society
April 3rd, 2013
If you’re reading this you probably have cancer. Or perhaps you have a friend or loved one who’s been recently diagnosed. Maybe you have a colleague who’s fighting the fight. Just look at this scary map, chances are either you or someone in your life has been affected by this undiscriminating disease.

10 Tips for the First 10 Days of Cancer by Caitlin Marcoux

If you’re like me, you’ve lost some people to the big C and now you’re getting familiar on a first hand basis.

The early days of a new relationship with cancer are tough. You’re just getting to know each other, and the circumstances around your courtship happen at breakneck speed. The following list is by no means definitive; just a few things I’ve picked up along my newbie way.

Bring a friend: 10 Tips for the First 10 Days of Cancer1. Bring A Friend.

The unveiling of a new cancer diagnosis and the subsequent myriad of information that cascades over your unprepared brain is overwhelming. Like being submerged beneath a waterfall, it can be difficult to tune into any input other that the deafening sound of water rushing over your ears.

A good friend will help you shake the water out of your head, and come back to reality. They can also take got down important information, run interference when you need an emotional time-out, hold your hand or rub your back and be in charge of those all-too-easy to loose hospital garage parking tickets. 

When I traveled to the Avon Breast Cancer Center for my most recent “routine” mammogram follow-up, I didn’t really think that cancer patient was going to be added to my resume. After all, I’m a 36-year old, green juice drinking, vegetarian yoga teacher. I thought women under-40 who exercise religiously, don’t drink, smoke or eat meat, and use only bio-friendly household cleaners aren’t supposed to get breast cancer, right?

So I told my boyfriend to stay at home and brought my friend Megan with me. I thought I’d be told, just as I had the last three times in a row, to get another mammogram in 6 months and we’d be on our way to Newbury Street for an afternoon of shopping and be home in time for dinner. Man, was I wrong…

Thank God Megan was there, because when the NP came in and said “So, you have cancer.” I had to focus all my attention on my childhood friend’s familiar face to keep from disassociating my way into a panic attack. Of course it would have been just as reassuring to have my partner with me, but I have to admit there was something really empowering about having my dearest girlfriend with me. We’ve been best friends since we were five years old.

Cancer will try to break you down, but there’s no way it can’t break a sisterhood bond. We shared champagne and a hotel room that night, and my new diagnosis didn’t seem so insurmountable.

After that experience, I brought a friend to every treatment.

 

2. Don’t let anyone tell you not to look at your phone.

Smart phones are one of the greatest inventions of the digital age. These compact devices pack a powerful punch and become invaluable tools in your cancer toolbelt. Forget your Garmin? Just use the navigation system on your phone, and you call up directions to anywhere you need to go.

Use the search options to find hotels near your hospital, connect you to coffee shops, dry cleaners, laundry mats and places to eat, and with the new integration between Google Maps and Yelp you can immediately review any near-by establishment and find out if it’s really worth investigation.

Many of use already use our phones to find our way around, take photos, and listen to music, but have you ever actually used the audio recorder function? This function can be a newbie cancer survivor’s best friend. Just remember, full disclosure is an ethical imperative. Ask your Oncologist if it’s okay to record your next appointment, and stop worrying about on-the-spot note taking!

 

3. Travel smart and be prepared.

Travel smart: 10 Tips for the First 10 Days of Cancer

The right cancer gear is key: a great bag, a small cooler and a piece of rolling luggage are the perfect combo for your diagnostic visits or trips to chemotherapy.

If you have breast cancer like I do, say good-bye to your old school messenger bag. I’ve been carrying my mine around the country since graduate school, but if I wear it now it either presses on the tumor in my right breast, or drags across my newly implanted portocath on the left. There’s no winning. So it’s staying at home from now on.

Even if you don’t have breast cancer, messenger bags are best left for co-eds. Now that you have cancer (of any kind), consider yourself in the Doctoral Program of Life, and upgrade yourself to something a little more befitting of the Professor in Residence that you are. A combo of small brief case/attache bag or tote and a carry-on size roller bag are perfect for your infusion visits. I use the Patagonia Lightweight Travel Tote and the Patagonia MLC Wheelie.

In the first couple of weeks of your new diagnosis, you’ll want to be prepared for the random surprise over-night stay.

Your new wheelie should be packed with an emergency change of clothes, a couple of pairs of underwear (they take up so little space you might as well), extra socks, pajamas, and toiletries.

If you´re not traveling that far from your home to your hospital and getting all the way home is not an issue, it’s still a good idea to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste. My first couple of diagnostic visits to MGH (Massachusetts General Hospital) were 8+ hour long events. Freshening up my mouth would have felt great!

During chemo visits, bring a small cooler bag, like the PVC, phthalate and led-free bag by So Young Mother. Find freedom from down-beaten hospital food and pack your own uplifting lunch and snacks.

If you’re too tired or rushed to pack your own, call your favorite to-go spot and order a picnic lunch ahead of time. Every time I trek from Nantucket (my home) to Boston now I stop at The Green and pick up a green juice and organic picnic lunch. This way I can bring a favorite part of Nantucket with me, and feel good about my nutrition all at the same time.

 

4. Do drugs. Lots of them.

Build you team: 10 Tips for the First 10 Days of Cancer

Okay, so I’m not really suggesting you smoking a blunt. Certainly not one with tobacco. Duh. But I am encouraging you to call your Primary Care Physician for some pharmaceutical assistance, right away. Before you even need it.

I know that might be a controversial statement, especially in certain circles—but this is not the time to be a martyr, hero, or suffer through any unnecessary discomfort. You have cancer. It sucks enough already.

So there’s no point in being caught off guard, whether it’s because of a headache or an anxiety attack or an unexpected procedure. It’s better to be prepared. Take this from someone who’s been living an exemplary clean life these past few years, and rarely reaches for something stronger than an Advil.

Taking an Ativan before a full day of diagnostic procedures (bone scans, CTs with contrast, and MRIs) goes a long way towards making an unpleasant experience tolerable. It certainly helped me immensely during my first 10 days of cancer and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Just a couple of days ago I arrived at MGH for my first chemo infusion, only to be surprised by a last minute lymph node biopsy. This is not a procedure performed under general anesthetic, or even that trippy “twilight” sleep they talk about.

If I had been just as prepared ahead of time as I had been the week before, I would have not only taken an Ativan for the anxiety (which I forgot in my aforementioned uncomfortable messenger bag) but I would have also taken some ibuprofen for the torment I was about to endure. I don’t care who tells you it’s a cake walk, a needle deep in your armpit is not pleasant.

A little prophylactic pharmaceutical comfort will go a long way towards easing your discomfort and building your metal fortitude.

 

5. Build Your Team.

Build you team: 10 Tips for the First 10 Days of Cancer by Caitlin Marcoux

If you’re under the impression that you can do this alone, give it up. No man or woman should be an island, especially when it comes to cancer.

You need a solid team.These teammates are the family and friends who are going to be fighting with you, on the front lines. Choose them wisely, and appoint them well.

Having an inner circle of cancer ninjas will give you strength. Appoint a Secretary, Treasurer, PR Manager, Insurance Guru, Domestic Goddess and Hand Holder. Your PR manager can help you send out a cancer newsletter to the people in your community you care about but don’t have enough time or energy to reach out to personally. Websites like CaringBridge.org  allow you to do the same thing while also becoming networking opportunities that protect your privacy more than traditional networking sites like Facebook.

Of course, the very most important person on your team is going to be your Secretary of Defense & Homeland Security; your primary healthcare advocate. This person is typically a spouse, partner or family member. They should be willing and able to take charge of your “situation” at a moment’s notice.

They possess a no-holds-barred imperative to speak up for you and your well-being. This person will not apologize for getting the job done by any means necessary. They should be able to give amazing hugs, find organic fruit in a hospital and make you laugh when an IV is being stuck into your arm.

Internet savvy friends can be charge of organizing food donations or childcare support online. One of my friends used SignUpGenius.com to schedule meals for me and my family and my other friends used Rally.com to start and handle financial donations. Your web advocates can drive traffic to your fundraising website via Facebook and Twitter, or help you set up a widget for your own site, or your employers site.

 

6. Get organized.

You will be inundated with pamphlets, brochures, prescription printouts, discharge papers, authorization forms, and information packets. Designing a way to organize all your cancer materials can be empowering and will streamline your mission: getting healthy fast.

Print up a list of important phone numbers, emergency contacts, volunteer babysitters, and even plant waters should you be unexpectedly away from home for more than a couple of days. Make a calendar with all your doctor’s appointments, tests, infusions and follow-ups. Color code things, use stickers, be creative. Chances are you’re going to carry this thing around with you for a while, so you might as well make it nice to look at.

Many hospitals have all kinds of resources for cancer patients but it’s not always easy to find them. The posters and flyers hanging on your oncologist’s cork board will have a way of blurring over while he’s discussing the best way to attack your invasive tumor. Information reaches critical mass, and you might find yourself blowing off other wellsprings of guidance.

An Oncology Social Worker can help you navigate your way around your assistance options. My hospital, Mass General, offers financial counseling, fertility counseling, the PACT (aka Parenting At a Challenging Time) program, Palliative Care, support groups, a Networking for Patients and Families program, Chaplaincy, and classes in Chemotherapy, Acupuncture, Yoga, Music, Nutrition, Art, and Caring for Yourself.

Additionally your social worker can give you information about discounted hotels and travel assistance. My social worker hooked me up with PALS, Patient AirLift Services, a volunteer organization which arranges free air transportation for individuals in need of medical diagnosis or other “compassionate needs.” Last week, PALS coordinated with Cape Air, who generously flew me from Nantucket to Boston for Chemotherapy.

 

7. Clarify your intentions.

Decide how personal you want to be about your illness before you start posting it on Facebook. If you’re in a relationship, discussing this with your partner beforehand is a good idea too. Be on the same page, it will spare you drama and frustration.

If you decide to go public with your diagnosis and story, Facebook can miraculously put you in touch with other people who share your challenges.

Just this week I’ve met three other women who have survived breast cancer, and without so much as talking to them on the phone, I now feel like we share a deep common bond. When my chemo side effects kick up the cancer sisterhood is only a PM away.

But try to avoid the pitfalls of wasting too much precious time on pointless threads or status update voyeurism. It will zap you, tax you, and may even create jealousy or resentment. You need your energy now more than ever, don’t fall down a social media rabbit hole. 

8. Practice Yoga.

Grace & Fire: Using Yoga and Mindfulness to Navigate Cancer

Some combination of meditation and asana, or just meditation or just asana will serve you well in your fight. If you approach your practice the same dedication you use for brushing your teeth, you can make your practice a vital part of your treatment and healing plan. Focusing on your breath will help you stay calm under stormy circumstances.

Sitting tall in meditation or getting grounded through your legs in standing poses will help you slow down and stay focused on the present moment. Twisting will help you detoxify. Opening your heart through backbends will help you use your illness to cultivate deeper compassion for yourself and others.

Not feeling well enough to get to class? If you have an iPad, tablet or laptop, get yourself to a virtual studio. There are some amazing teachers out there who offer their classes online. In fact, since the original publication of this article on RebellSociety.com in 2013, I have created just such an online class for you. The meditations and Yoga for Chemo practice on Grace & Fire: Using Yoga and Mindfulness to Navigate Cancer can be done in a chemo chair, with earphones on, and no one else will be the wiser. I am thrilled to be able to add this content, available with a small donation, to the offerings on CaitlinMarcoux.net

 

9. Create a sacred space.

10 Tips for the First 10 Days of Cancer by Caitlin Marcoux

Chemo rooms are nothing special. Creating a sacred space for yourself can soften the sterility of the hospital experience and can be as simple as bringing a few special personal items from home or as involved as setting up a mobile alter.

For my first infusion I brought a small statue of Ganesha (the Hindu god and Destroyer of Fear/Remover of Obstacles), a rose quartz heart (a gift from my teacher), a beautiful aromatherapy eye pillow, my journal, my Lotus Wei Quiet Mind Energy mist and a few cards from friends I had saved to open for strength on that day. The intentional placement of each item helped me to feel in control of my surroundings and participatory in the healing that was about to take place.

My bedroom altar is a much more involved version with many symbolic pieces I’ve collected both BC (Before Cancer) and AC (After Cancer) and it gives me positive energy, courage and joy.

For a beautiful audio meditation on making things sacred. Listen to Sarah Blondin of the Live Awake Project here.

 

10. Stay stylish.

10 Tips for the First 10 Days of Cancer by Caitlin Marcoux

This can be a tall order, but I’ve learned the hard way, that putting a little effort into your appearance can go miles towards helping you feel more confident and self-assured. During the diagnosis phase of cancer you may simply not have the chance to freshen up. But as you embark on treatment you have an opportunity to uplift yourself every time you get dressed.

On my first trip to Boston for chemo, I was possessed by the Easter Bunny. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to put on a pair of bright pink terry cloth Juice Couture track pants, a white cotton t-shirt, a pink om scarf and my Uggs.  As I was running out the door I traded in my full-length black down coat for my lighter jacket—which incidentally was bright green! I was so caught up in getting to the airport on time for my flight I didn’t even brush my hair. Not a good look.

Even though no one else at the hospital gave me a second glance, I felt disheveled and awkward. I vowed to myself that in the future I would dress elegantly and project outwardly the inner strength and confidence I was hoping to harvest inwardly.

Dress the way you would for an important date with destiny. Whether it’s your favorite pair of skinny jeans and some cowboy boots or a beautiful dress and smart blazer, wear something that makes you feel rich.

Even if you can’t be bothered to put on make-up you can always bring a small stick of mascara with you. And remember, If you pack your roller bag wisely, you can bring a cozier, more hospital bed friendly pair of sweatpants or jammies, should you need to change.

So far cancer is a wild ride with one hell of a learning curve. May we all stay open and receptive to the lessons is has to teach us.

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Yoga with a Harbor View

Get in the Flow with Prana Vinyasa; a rhythmic flow class to raise your vibration.

Enjoy the beautiful light that streams through the windows of the Harbor View Room and connect to members of the community in the heart of downtown Nantucket, at the Dreamland Theater.

Dreamland Yoga, Caitlin Marcoux, Saturday Special Yoga Classes, Harbor View Room, Nantucket, Nantucket Yoga I’m thrilled to be able to return to the Dreamland, on this once a month basis, and create some sacred space for you to
enjoy a full-spectrum practice. These 75-minute classes will be open to students of all levels, and will introduce the basic concepts of Prana Vinyasa, created by my teacher Shiva Rea. While structural alignment is always important, Prana Vinyasa puts it’s primary focus, on the pulsations of energy in within the body as a means of becoming more embodied; more present, more connected to the life force within us all that creates unity, community and tribe. Working within the idea that we are all part of a cosmic consciousness, how we move on the mat, becomes a metaphor for how we live in our lives. There is no higher achy of postures within Prana Vinyasa, and we honor both the lunar and solar tides as they express themselves within everyone at different times in our lives. Come explore. Bring your curiosity, and move into a place of self-realization and receptivity.

Tickets will be available for purchase online at the Nantucket Dreamland.

Every heart has value

Practice and all is coming…

Speak from the Heart

That’s what Shri Pattabhi Jois said anyway… and I think much of the time, he’s right.

Public speaking for example. I used to be deathly afraid of it. I remember dreading giving presentations in grade school and speeches in middle school. In high school and college, it would often take me minutes to get up the courage to raise my hand to respond to a question – even thought I was positive I had the answer.

As someone who speaks in front of a class on a daily basis, it’s gotten a little easier over the years.  Lucky for me I get to practice a lot. I also try to pay close attention when listening to an inspiring orator, to the ways in which they light up a room. Usually, for me, it comes down to authenticity. If a speaker is talking about something they feel passionately about, their enthusiasm is contagious. You can feel it come through their bodies through their words. Their energy fills up the space around them and you find yourself leaning into the feeling of their voice. It doesn’t matter if they are speaking to a small group of students or an stadium packed with spectators, everyone feels held in captivation.

That is the kind of speaker I aspire to be. I don’t think I deliver on this level………. yet. But I’m learning. And I’m practicing. And I’m grateful to have students and followers, organizations and studios that give me the chance to practice this part of my craft.

I’ve learned that the most effective speaking comes straight from the heart, that no amount of organized note cards can substitute the integrity of direct, honest communication. To that end, I don’t force myself to speak about things I haven’t experienced first hand or explored on a personal level. I only tackle the philosophical tenants of traditional yoga if I have a personal anecdote which makes their application feel relevant to me – and so hopefully to my students.Speak from the Heart

It’s taken me living through an overflowing cup of human suffering to feel like I have any perspective of value to share with others. Some might think that for a young person I’ve had more than my fair share of trauma, but I choose to think that I’ve only given what I can handle. That perhaps it is part of my karma to live though this pain so as to better serve others. In any event, I’ve survived an abusive grandfather, the death of a husband, a divorce from another, the potentially terminal diagnosis of a parent, and my own plight with aggressive breast cancer. These are some of the things that have shaped me into the person I am today.

I’m certainly not saying that only people who have endured personal drama and trauma are the only ones who should be given a microphone. Nor am I saying that the sunny side of life: the love and laughter, successes and triumphs don’t have their own significant influence on the people we become, but I do believe there is a certain type of wisdom forged in the fires of pain. There is a deeper awareness the universal consciousness that binds us all. We begin to see that our hurt is not so different from our neighbor’s hurt. We start to feel our humanity as same, not singular. Through suffering, our compassion is amplified.

Be In Love with Your Life

While it’s true that some individuals are born into this life with clear purpose and passion, for many of us it takes a life-altering event to find the gratitude and mindfullness we need to lead an exemplary life. Once we surmount the insurmountable our hindsight is sharpened and we can look towards the future with clarity. We realize the value of being totally in love with our lives.

It was a privilege and an honer to speak at the Nantucket Historical Association yesterday. I enjoyed illustrating some basic yogic concepts with a few personal stories. I hope that my enthusiasm for my craft was evidenced both in my words and through the energy I tried to bring into the room.  I know my delivery was a little rushed. That I stumbled over myself a few times, and that there were several moments when I simply could not find the words I was searching for. But like one of the fathers of our modern day yoga moment says, “practice and all is coming”.

Food for Thought at the NHA

I promise to keep working on communicating, with authenticity, the things that feel personally and universally inspiring to me. In the mean time you may want to check out these more experienced and inspiring speakers on yoga, spirituality, creative expression, love and living an exemplary, miraculous life:

Seane Corn on an Enlightened Planet

MC Yogi on Yoga at TEDx

Michael Stone on a Deeper Materialism

Shiva Rea at Burning Man on the Origins of Movement

SUP Yoga retreat: Puerto Rico March 2015

SUP, Yoga & Surfing Retreat in Puerto Rico with Caitlin Marcoux & Jessica Bellofatto

March 2015 SUP, Yoga & Surfing in Puerto Rico

Just Add Water

March 18-22nd, 2015

Rincon, Puerto Rico

Seasoned teachers Jessica Bellofatto of Kama Deva Yoga & Paddle Diva in East Hampton and Caitlin Marcoux of Nantucket SUP Yoga & The Yoga Room in Nantucket, are thrilled to be teaming up for the first time to offer you a truly special experience.  Join them for daily yoga on the deck of our private home with incredible ocean views, stand up paddleboarding (SUP) lessons & tours emphasizing stroke technique to increase speed and efficiency, SUP YOGA on the water, daily runs or walks, delicious, organic, locally sourced meals prepared by an amazing local chef, massages, relaxation, and more!

Both Jessica and Caitlin are long time traditional yoga teachers who have both taken their yoga practice beyond the conventional studio and onto the water. Each share a passion for paddling, SUP racing and meditating on the water. While Jessica, who is a Boga Yoga Ambassador, has been one of the pioneers in the now booming field of SUP Yoga, Caitlin owns her own SUP yoga studio on the island of Nantucket. Each of these fabulous instructors teach at yoga festivals and lead workshops and retreats around the world. Both women are former dancers, mothers, SUP racers, and life long yoginis. They each bring their own style and unique flavor to both the mat and the board. 

Yoga teacher, Caitlin Marcoux

Yoga teacher, Caitlin Marcoux

What’s SUP Yoga?

All of our SUP yoga classes are designed to help students find the peace and tranquility they’ve come to expect from a traditional yoga studio class, but will challenge them to navigating the dynamic and constantly changing environment of the open ocean. The fluidity of a SUP Yoga practice can help students find a deeper connection to themselves as well as cultivating a reverence for their natural surroundings. With stunning tropical Rincon as the backdrop, students will feel strongly connected to the land and sea. 

Rincon, Puerto Rico

The beach in Rincon, Puerto Rico

Can I get a couple sides of Yoga with that?

Yes! With two classes a day taught by two different teachers, plus SUP yoga, students will be exposed to a range of traditional and contemporary yoga flows, as each teacher will structure classes based on what you need, crave and love. Vinyasa-based classes may included Dynamic Flow, Slow Flow, Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga and even mini Asana Clinics focusing on alignment and technique for entering and finessing more advanced poses, should that interest you.

Daily Activities

There will be ample down time. Participants can choose to do as much or as little as they desire. The early morning can be set aside for running or walking, a dip in the ocean, or a lazy morning of reading pool-side. Later in the morning, practice yoga with Caitlin or Jessica, and then spend your afternoon surfing or stand-up paddling. Jessica and Caitlin will offer a second yoga class in the early evening to further unwind before everyone sits down at the spacious outdoor dining area to a locally sourced and beautifully prepared dinner.

Yoga teacher, Jessica Bellofatto

Yoga teacher, Jessica Bellofatto

Optional Activities

Other activities that we can pre-arrange prior to the trip include hikes in a local rainforest, mountain bike tours, snorkeling trips, SCUBA diving, sailing, horseback riding on beaches and trails, parasailing, fishing charters and you can also learn to surf or hone your surfing skills!

This retreat is limited to 10 participants, ensuring a lot of personal attention for both deepening your yoga practice, getting yourself on a SUP for the first time, or becoming a stronger paddler. Spots have begun to fill already!

Sample Schedule

7:00-8:00am Breakfast-granola, yogurt, fresh fruit, bread, hard boiled egg and smoothies
8:00-9:30am SUPYoga, surfing, or free time
10:00-11:30am Yoga with Caitlin or Jessica
12:00pm Lunch provided by us at the beach food stands, or we will take a run up to the deli
2:00-3:00pm SUP clinic with a focus on technique, SUP Yoga or surfing
5:30-7:00pm Sunset Yoga with Caitlin or Jessica
7:00pm Happy Hour: relax, unwind, meditate, get a massage
7:30pm Dinner at the house: locally sourced and prepared on premises: healthy vegetarian and meat options. (one dinner out on the town – not included in price)

Rates

triple-  $1750 per person
double $1900 per person
single  $2250 per person
*We have three singles, 2 doubles, and one triple available.

Reservations and Flights

We recommend Jet Blue flights to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

Register for This Retreat

STEP 1: Please click here to pay the $500 RETREAT DEPOSIT. If you do not already have an account with Jessica Bellofatto Yoga you will be asked to create one.
STEP 2: Contact Jessica Bellofatto to secure your rooming preference. Please note that accommodation types are limited, and will be granted on a first-come first serve basis, but are not secured until paid in full. Rooming preferences changed at a later date may still be liable for the full cost of the room initially reserved. Email: jessica@jessicabellofattoyoga.com

Cancellation & Refund Policy

The $500 deposit is non-refundable. The full balance is due 8 weeks prior to the retreat date. Cancellations prior to 8 weeks will receive a refund of monies paid, minus the $500 deposit. Cancellations within 8 weeks of retreat date are NON-REFUNDABLE.

Since last minute injuries, illnesses, work emergencies, or deaths in the family unfortunately do happen, we HIGHLY recommend travel insurance. Check out the website Travel Insurace Review, which gives an overview of travel insurance needs and companies with an option to review quotes from different companies. You have the option to purchase travel medical insurance in the case of getting injured while on the trip.

Electrifying Nantucket: one yoga pose at a time

On September 18th 2012, I taught my first yoga class at the newly reopened Dreamland Theater. Accompanied by the internationally acclaimed yoga spin master, DJ HyFi and buoyed up by the visionary production stylings of my partner, Burr Tupper, we put together a great night. 44 Nantucket yogis and yoginis packed the Harbor View Room and I think we all felt a little high. It was a chance to come together in a new space, over looking the harbor we all love, and try something new. By the time the evening was over our hearts were deeply entrained and smiles had spread like wildfire across our faces.

I knew we had to do it again.

I’ve always thought fondly of my fellow NHS alum, and music aficionado, Pete Ahern. So after watching his career as a DJ build steadily, especially in the last few years with steady gigs at Pazzo and the formation of Audio Architects, the production team he and Billy Desmond spearhead, he seemed like an obvious choice to collaborate with. I especially liked the idea of working with someone else local, someone who had roots here as well, someone I knew I could build an ongoing partnership with.

Pete was game, and on December 4th, 2012 Electric Flow was born. Once again, I rented the Harbor View Room at the Dreamland – and 39 yogis showed up for a challenging 90 minute practice. And again, my always supportive and artistically inclined partner came up with a few visual surprises. Burr enlisted the help of local filmmaker Kristen Kellogg, and they put together a black and white montage of vintage yoga footage and an animated beating anatomical heart. The footage played on a makeshift screen, Tupper had created seemingly out of thin air, at the beginning of the practice, and as the beat of the heart faded into the distance, Pete’s electronic grooves steadily built. It was magical.

Electric Flow: December 4th, 2012

I knew right away Pete and I had a great chemistry together. Even though it was our first time collaborating, I felt we got each other. Clearly in tune with bodies in motion from years of spinning at parties and in clubs, Pete had an immediate knack for supporting the yogis during their vinyasa practice. We came up with ways to communicate to each other silently (hand gestures for take the tempo down, take it up, cool us off, heat us up, etc.) but mostly the evening flow took care of itself. I took queues from Pete, he took queues from me and the crowd was buzzing.

Due to overwhelming demand, two months later we decided to try it again – this time with a little help from our friend Floyd Kellogg.

Maybe you know Floyd from You Scream, I Scream, the band he heads up with his partner Audrey Sterk. Or maybe you know Floyd from the Brewery, where he plays in the crazy punk rock/rockabilly/alterna comical music  duo Lance Mountain Dance Party. OR maybe you know Floyd because his new project, Violent Mae is awesome, and now available on iTunes. In any event, Pete and I met up with Floyd, who had collaborated with Pete a few times at Pete’s regular Pazzo gig, and asked him to play percussion. The resulting three-way was killer. The guys played off each other and the yoga nearly took care of itself. with 40 beating hearts in the room and the thumping pulsation of the music I thought the roof might blow off the theater. And just to be clear, I’m not talking about volume, I’m talking about vibration. It was epic.

Students lining up for Electric Flow: February 6th, 2013

 

Electric Flow: February 6th, 2013

It was so much fun working with Floyd and Pete together we almost immediately booked the next gig. Then I got cancer

I thought at first that I should cancel our April 25th reunion; after all I was getting chemotherapy ever week, my hair was falling out, I felt sick as a dog, and part of me wanted to hole up in my house and hide. But then I realized that if I was going to survive, I had to keep teaching. Cancer takes so much away from you – it is one big practicing in non-attachment – that teaching more than ever helped me to stay present with myself. So after much debate about how’d I’d hold up, we decided to go for it.

On April 25th, 2013 nearly the entire Nantucket yoga community showed up at the Dreamland and turned our Electric Flow into a fairly spontaneous fundraiser. With the Dreamland’s generous support, we were able to cross the hallway from the Harbor View room and occupy the Studio Theater, filling it to the brim with over 90 students. Pete and I were join by both Floyd, and his partner Audrey on stage. Floyd played upright base, Audrey joined him on percussion, and Pete spun the sexiest electronica and ambient grooves. To make an incredible evening even better, Burr and Kristen Kellogg collaborated on a video installation, which was projected on the screen behind me.

Electric Flow: April 25th, 2013

It was one of the most powerful, magical and profound moments of my life, and I will cherish it forever.

Electric Love: March 27th, 2014 6-8pm

This week, Pete and Burr and I are collaborating once again. This time we’ve enlisted help from local yoga teacher and mindfulness meditation instructor, Clay Twombly as well as Brooklyn-based artist Craig Anthony Miller. And like last time, this event is a fundraiser. Only this time, it’s not for me. I am 12 months into my cancer treatment, and officially CANCER FREE. With 7 more infusions to go (the last scheduled for July 17th) I am all but out of the woods and well on my way to recovery. Healing would not have been possible though, had it not been for the support of local non-for-profit, Palliative & Supportive Care of Nantucket. So this time around, we’re giving all the money to them.

In 2014, there will be an estimated 1,665,540 new cancer cases diagnosed and 585,720 cancer deaths in the US. Cancer remains the second most common cause of death in the US, accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths.

Clay, Craig, Pete and I have all been personally affected by cancer – and all of us would like to do whatever we can to abate it’s tide of trauma. Through music, art, meditation and yoga we  believe we can heal the world, and we’re starting here, on the tiny island of Nantucket.

Please help us support PASCON, an organization who’s services have helped hundreds of Nantucketeers in times of need. Whether it’s navigating  long term-illness or the death of a loved one, PASCON exists solely to help people transition through life’s more challenging times.

Spreading the Love at 97.7ACK FM

Want to know more about this Thursday evenings Lovefest? Listen to Pete and Clay and I being interviewed on 97.7ACK FM this morning.

[jwplayer mediaid=”3982″]

Electric Love: poster by Craig Anthony Miller

 

Fire Flow: Sunday, April 6th

Sunday, April 6th, 2014
3-5pm
Providence Power Yoga
51 Bassett Street
Providence, RI
 
 
 
 

Unifier Festival: June 5-8th, 2014

 

Unifier Festival

A Transformational Healing & Expressive Arts Festival
June 5-8th, 2014
Lebanon, CT

Honoring and bringing together different sub-cultures this gathering is a yoga festival, it is a tribal belly dance festival.  It is a world and sacred music festival, and dance party, a live art show, a place for ceremony, for permaculture, for  sculptural works and circus arts.  It is a place to care for the land and to eat organic food, and to be inspired and inspire our kids and our elders.

A significant portion of proceeds from Unifier Festival over multiple years will be put in a   Land Trust Fund for a retreat center and  potential eco-village to be owned in perpetuity, governed by council, and in service to the community.

Tickets available soon!

grief

Caitlin with cancer

I took a yoga class this morning and cried. I cried every time we came into a forward fold. I cried every time we opened our hips.I cried during cat & cow, child’s pose and even downward facing dog.

I cried for the last 8 months of treatments my family has endured. I cried for every needle stick, every blood test, every biopsy, injection and surgical procedure. I cried for every night spent writhing in pain on the couch, and every morning kneeling over the toilet. I cried for every time I was too tired to play with my son, or walk to the beach.

I cried  for the natural breasts I now miss; the ones I was born with, the ones I used to nurse my son.

I cried for the physical strength I once had, the endurance I’ve lost, and the muscle tissue that has atrophied.

I cried because plank is hard, chaturanga is impossible and cobra is painful. I cried because laying on my stomach pushes my implants into my chest and makes it hard for me to breathe. I cried because I’m not sure I like anything about these new appendages.

I cried because I’ve lost sensation in the skin across my chest. I cried because I cannot feel my nipples, and when my lover touches them I do not know.

I cried for all the days I have not recognized myself. I cried for the impermanence, the letting go and saying good-bye.

I cried for the medically-induced early menopause. I cried because I will never have another baby. I cried because last night I had my first true hot flash.

I cried because amputating a part of my body has been a big deal, though I have played it down.

I cried because for 8 months I’ve rarely let myself.

I cried because it was long overdue.

###

I am starting over with a new body. This body is softer and wiser. It has some big scars and a few little ones, and each one tells a powerful story. This body moves differently, expresses itself differently and even sits in silence differently. But as vulnerable as it may be, this body loves bigger, connects stronger, and is home to a depth of gratitude and appreciation I would never have found on my own in the time before cancer.

“When we become sick, we often take the illness personally and feel that our happiness is conditional upon getting ride of it. We forget that illness- along with aging and death- is a hallmark of our human existence, and we get angry at our bodies for “letting us down”. When we realize that illness is inescapable, realize that stress around illness increases our suffering, and that being sick is not a shortcoming – only than can we be at ease with, and even empowered by, illness.” ~ Jean Smith

May all we learn to hold ourselves sweetly, no matter where we are. May our commitment to practice compassion begin with compassion for our Selves. May we continue to show up, rise up and hold space for our own intrinsic value in sickness and in health.