Tag Archives: Gratitude

Aloha yogis,

What a week. I hope you are all hanging in there. I have progressed through the many phases of quarantine life. The first week went something like this, “wow, I am actually going to be able to sit down and write my dissertation, which means I will graduate!” The second week went like this, “gosh, my back is stiff from all of these zoom meetings, and three hour long lectures via zoom; I no longer stand up to move from A to B.” The third week, was a mad rush to submit to an academic conference, and I was bizarrely productive. And this week, the fourth week, well, it was hard, in some ways.

I wasn’t prolific with my academic work, but I did cook, bake, clean, and workout. Goodness, my daily workouts turned into three hour affairs. Regularly, I run and then I practice yoga. This is standard for me. Now, I run, and then complete what I have dubbed my ‘parking lot workout’ – yes, it takes place in an empty elementary school parking lot behind my condo building.

I have this intense urge to be outside and feel the sunshine on my face, and I think this is why I became motivated to extend my run into this parking lot charade. To be clear, no one is outside, anywhere near me. It feels glorious, to be both working hard physically, and to breathe fresh air, all while outside the confines of my 500 square foot condo. And of course, the sun-drenched dose of Vitamin D helps as well. The parking lot workout consists of squats, forward and side lunges, slides, high knees, kick butt, high skipping, heel lifts, duck walks, but also lots of jumping and dynamic stretching.

After I feel satisfactorily worked, the workout continues, but the locale changes. I walk home and lift weights. And finally, I cap the night off with a juicy yoga practice. It is basically my whole evening, or so it feels. But surprise, it’s only 7pm! This week, my workouts started to creep to earlier and earlier start times. Can you relate?

Alas, the evening continues, I begin cooking up some kind of creative dinner with the groceries I bought a week prior. Who knew that all of these life modifications that we made due to a quarantine would yield so much more free time for us? I did not. I love it, in some respects, hate it, in others. I hate the unknown, the fear, the wondering – did I already had COVID-19 this January when I had the flu? Do I have it now? Does my husband have it? He just coughed…

In sum, this week, I have been a workout machine and a prolific chef/baker. I was actually feeling somewhat upset about my shortcomings in the normal sense of productivity, but I decided to cut myself some slack. As I am sure you have all been reading in every outlet, these are not normal times; of course we don’t need to read that to know that to be the truth. What does this mean for us, then?

My interpretation: it is okay to not be productive, it is okay to be sad, to be frustrated, to be scared, or even to feel grateful for the precious time you now have for other things – family, hobbies, connection with loved ones, or simply cleaning. Honestly, it’s okay to sleep more, nap, rest, or relax. All of these thoughts and feelings are valid.

As I mentioned previously, I have progressed through all of the phases of quarantine life. Initially, I thought, quarantine living fit my needs, as a self-proclaimed academic-introverted-homebody, fairly well. Now, I can safely say, I miss moving all over town, I miss walking from my office to a meeting down the hall, I miss Jacque from the local grocery store, who I used to see almost every day. I miss seeing friends’ faces, in person. The biggest adjustment, however, is feeling at peace in the present.

Once I got over my own productivity debacle, I had to put in some serious work to calm my nerves when it came to thinking about my family and loved ones, but also, global concerns. There are so many unknowns, health and financial, and it’s a little bit much to wrap your head around at one time. So give yourself the time, cut yourself some slack, ease up on your own expectations. After all, you are trying to figure out humanities issues alongside your own, that is a lot for one person to handle!

My mind oscillates from feeling this sense of impending doom to ‘wow, it’s really great to have my husband in the adjacent room – I am grateful.’ What in the heck? It is a confusing time. And it is okay, to feel joy and fear, to feel productivity in your work, or to up your sloth game for a bit and sleep more. Strange times, take some adjusting, and maybe some strange measures.

I am not prescribing sloth-ing around, I am simply saying, be more gentle with yourself. I am saying, amen, to equal part sloth-ing and producing. It is a wonderful time to learn more about yourself – your tendencies. Observe how you are dealing with the events of today. In fact, my own personal greatest insights into my handling of the COVID-19 quarantine, have revealed themselves in my journal. I shared some of the thoughts in last week’s yoga class, the theme was gratitude. This is  a big cliché, in the yoga world, but hear me out.

I was looking at my to-do list with a lot of heaviness, thinking I have all of these things to do. I took a lunch break to eat and read the New York Times. I read about the outbreak in NYC and the toll this virus truly takes on you, mentally and physically. I thought, rather morbidly, I better appreciate what I have right now, while I have it. Others cannot, simply enjoy an evening run, it’s not a chore, but a gift. Others cannot, roll out of bed, get ready to lecture and pop on the computer to give a lecture to 30 eager undergraduates via Zoom, they’ve lost their jobs. My job is a gift.

I started to look differently at the opportunities I had in front me, because they were just that, opportunities. From this new perspective, they looked a whole lot more like gifts, now. And I was grateful, I am grateful.

I am grateful to the quarantine period, thus far, because in addition to doing my part and feeling as though I am a contributor to the greater good (albeit in the smallest way), it has shifted another perspective for me. It has given me a no BS attitude when it comes to many things. Any excuse that you are about to give as to why you can’t complete this work, go for that run, enjoy that yoga practice, bake that bread, walk your beloved dog, or even veg out with your husband and watch that show, LM – yeah, well I don’t want to hear it.

It’s as though, we can’t fool ourselves, and we are able to get to the heart of the matter. The juxtaposition of quarantine living lessons has me confused too, on the one hand it has taught me acceptance (of productivity, laziness, sadness, happiness, worry, fear, joy, love, and hope), but on the other, it has taught me to get-er-done, no excuses.

I haven’t fully made sense of it yet, which is why my thesis to you is, to just let it be, and learn from yourself. Be honest with your why. You don’t need to provide an excuse. It’s just you - and your - work, workout, hobbies, cooking, home, life. Everyone is struggling through this funky time, wouldn’t it be amazing if we could emerge much more self-aware?

Finally, my initial hope with writing you, was oddly enough to simply drop you a note to let you know, I have a new and improved yoga shala (see the photo). My intention was simply to invite you to join me tomorrow morning, Sunday 8-9:15am (HST), for a live vinyasa yoga class via Zoom (but of course). You will be able to see me flow in full camera view, my head will make the frame now, thanks to my husband and his technical skills.

During this quarantine period, I will be donating 50% of the proceeds of each class to COVID-19 community needs. Furthermore, as we continue the fight against COVID-19, I want to support those serving on the front lines. Class is free for all first responders on the front lines, nurses, doctors, paramedics, fire fighters, and police officers. I want to thank you all, for everything you are doing, all we have to do is stay home.

I have always taught donation yoga, and it fits now more than ever. For everyone else, I know times are tough. If you cannot make a donation, please take class anyways. For anyone making a class donation my Venmo username: @LauraMary-Flynn 

Please email me if you would like to join class!

Sending you all love,

Aloha Yogis,

It has been some time since my last email to you! To be specific, you haven’t heard from me since July 2018! Wow. A lot has happened since that time, and I mean a lot. There simply is not enough paper space to give you that type of update here.

I wanted to reach out to you though! I usually reach out over my school recess periods, but the year 2019 proved to be a no-break-type-of-year. Truly, I had every intention of reaching out to you this March over Spring Break (which ended yesterday), with a very different type of update. But then COVID-19 struck.

In a COVID-19-free world, my update would have been thoroughly optimistic. I would have told you all about how my promising research study began on Saturday, and how I was nearly done with my PhD, or at least in the “final chapter” – but alas, times have changed. I am in shock by how quickly the direction and flow of life can be altered, and oddly, it’s simultaneously a reminder of life’s preciousness. For now, here I sit (writing like an old English novelist), to bring you a very different type of update. To be clear, everything from the hypothetical update is true, less the research study beginning.

The study is currently on hold, as non-emergent orthopedic surgeries are not currently happening right now, nor would I want to violate social distancing protocols and expose the elderly to me! For these reasons – along with a myriad of others – my study will take a backseat.

I now have “free” time to actually sit and write up my research. I am working on a number of papers, analyses, and a little yoga project! Let me explain. For the last year, I have been teaching one group yoga class per week (Sundays 8am at Kaimuki Studio) and otherwise my teaching has been 100% private and corporate yoga.

Due to COVID-19, my yoga private sessions have been moved to the Zoom platform! Likewise, I have also moved my Sunday morning yoga class online. Yesterday was the first group Zoom class. After class, I shared a photo of our practice to my Instagram account, and I was moved by the enthusiastic response.

Over the years of teaching yoga in Hawaii, I have seen many of my students come and go. Some lived here and practiced with me for a few years before moving back home; others are from Hawaii, but moved off island for their medical residencies in NYC, Phoenix, San Diego, and Boston, to name a few, surely I’ve missed many more of you docs (you know who you are). Other yoga students now live outside of the US, and I was lucky enough to meet them while they were on island studying. I’ll get to the point, I promise.

After I shared the photo of my Zoom class and disclosed that next week and indefinitely, until we ride out this pandemic, I will be hosting my class online, you all began to sign up. I now have sign-ups from Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, Boston, New York City, Connecticut, Everett (WA), Ålesund (Norway), Strasbourg (France), Japan and beyond.

Point is, this was a huge burst of light in my day. Not simply just hearing from all of my past students, but knowing that you are all there and listening. I felt the pull to offer something more.

A yoga practice with online instruction, isn’t the same as practicing in person, but it gives me hope that I can stay connected to so many of you, even after you move off island. I’ve never felt the desire to platform myself online via YouTube or other streaming services (translation: I was too nervous to make the leap). Now, however, I want to. I want to share yoga with you all, in our time of need. The world needs yoga right now.

I have also been feeling the need to do something, for the world, for my community, for a cause. Earlier this week, I sent this meme out to my brother and sister-in-law...

At the time I sent the meme, I really hadn't yet done much to help. I played my part and practiced social distancing. I bought my food - not too much, not too little - but otherwise, I felt I was contributing to the general state of panic, and not much else. To be honest, I didn’t feel there was much I could do to help. I can’t simply open up the checkbook and make it happen. After all, I am a pro-student and a small (super small) business owner.

I promise, my story here will all tie together. During my run last night, I waved a dramatic hello to the bus driver. I realized, in that moment, that he was a modern day hero. I ran some more, and thought about my recent transactions at Whole Foods, because who doesn't think about food while they are running?

Kidding aside, I thought about how I had praised the cashiers and employees, for also being heroes - now I was running and smiling. I truly believe they deserve thanks for being so brave. They go to work so that we can all continue to be fed, and in doing so put themselves at risk. My small contributions of praise hopefully help a little, but I want to do more.

So finally, as I was hitting the sweet spot of my run (about 20 minutes in), I had the idea of using this online platform for my Sunday yoga class as an opportunity to give back. My Sunday class will hopefully help replace my lost income from my regularly scheduled yoga classes, which are now canceled, while also contributing to the community. Because of you, my students, near and far, we can come together on this platform and make a difference.

During the quarantine period of COVID-19, here is my commitment to you all: I will teach a weekly donation-based Sunday morning yoga class (8-9:15am HST) and I will be donating 50% of the proceeds to a local business or community need. It might be my yoga student's bar that needs to close, or my favorite vegan restaurant in town (Juicy Brew), or a community need such as PPE for our local medical doctors and nurses.

This isn’t just a health crisis, it’s an economic crisis as well. I know more people that work in the retail, restaurant, and tourism industries than don’t. If you can’t make a donation, please take class, and I hope it brightens your day and eases the stress of our current situation.

Now, if you are still reading this, first of all, respect. Second of all, if you can’t make class, here are some other ideas for you.

More thoughts from my evening run:

1) Practice gratitude: Thank you lungs, for allowing me to breathe fully, for extracting oxygen from the atmosphere and passing it off to my bloodstream, and releasing CO2 from my bloodstream and back into the atmosphere. I appreciate you so much right now. I’ve been hearing stories of COVID-19 patients finding gratitude for their lungs, and I want you to know right now (still talking to the lungs), that I love this moment of feeling your full power and health.

2) Appreciate those around you: the bus drivers, the cashiers, the husbands, your parents, your family, your friends. I know I am not alone, when I say that we have all upped our contact-game this week. On Saturday I ‘zoomed’ with my 13 best friends from home (all at once). I know you have all called your friends and family, keep it up. It matters. Your actions matter. Reach out to people, they want to hear from you.

3) Thank you, food: holy bake-athon, we have been cooking and baking and are on par to become Michelin Starred Chefs by the end of this quarantine. Let’s appreciate the simple joy of cooking and breaking bread with the ones we love.

4) Clean: yes, clean your house; if you are stuck inside your home, make sure it is clean and an enjoyable space to be in almost 24/7. If not, you will go bananas. Also, it is a fun and rewarding activity, I’ve found. Thank you to my sister-in-law for reminding me about this particularly fun and energy balancing activity.

5) And lastly, tell people you love them, because you do. <3

Thank you all for reading. Please reach out! I would love to hear from you. Also, for those of you who don’t know what I do now or what I study, the answer is biomechanics. While I am sure that answer doesn't clear anything up for you, because most folks don't know what it is, this is now a reminder to myself to update you on all that I study, in due time. I promise it won’ t be another 2 years from now, but much sooner.

With love and gratitude,

day 1 - gratitude list

 

#AugustLifestyleChallenge, DAY 1, August 1st - Write a gratitude list. In the words author Melody Beattie, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Today, the challenge is to write a gratitude list. I want you today to begin a gratitude practice. Here is how:

  1. Write down 5 people in your life to whom you are grateful. Imagine their faces as you think about them.
  2. Write down 5 positives in the negative. Life is one big choice, success seeds disruptions, loving risks loss, creating risks failure. For example, adversity powers transformation. Look at your struggles as necessary hiccups or full-on face plants placed in your life to help you grow. What went right when things when wrong?
  3. Write down 5 pieces of gratitude in the mundane. This could be your comfy bedspread, the palm trees outside, 8-hours of sleep, or the aroma of your morning coffee. Cultivate gratitude for the simple things.
  4. Say thank you to 5 people who seek your help. By asking for your help, they improve your self-esteem and it encourages you to act with virtue. Also, research suggests it improves our physical and emotional well-being. Loved ones can be counted twice, because it’s a reciprocal relationship of giving and receiving love.
  5. Write down 5 aspects of your life that you are blessed to have...for millions of others don’t have what you do. Think...food, clean water, children, friends, eyesight, a job, teeth, a healthy heart, a car, or a roof over your head. If these aspects of your life were taken away what would life be like? Fill up with gratitude.

***Be as specific as possible gratitude works best when you are able to find something tangible and real. Be grateful for your significant other for the lovely flowers they gave you on your birthday, for your coworker who greeted you with a smile yesterday when you needed it the most, the list will go on and on. Have fun!

Don’t forget to tag me (@lauramaryyoga) and #AugustLifestyleChallenge and your local supporters: @lululemon, @drinkjugolife, @noelanihawaii, @poweryogahawaii, @corepoweryoga, @bananbowls, and @dreamfloathawaii. Happy Day 1 of the challenge, I will post daily the night before!! Reach out to me with questions at info@lauramaryflynn.com.

A gratitude practice does not mean that every day from now on is going to be roses and butterflies, no. It means that you will notice the abundant blessings around you and by doing so you will feel contentment (santosha) in the moment. Each of us has a happiness set point to which we will gravitate towards throughout of lives (Brickman & Campbell, 2013).

No matter how much we acquire or whatever feats we reach, you won’t feel lasting happiness. Our brain is wired to continue acquiring more, researchers refer to this as the hedonic treadmill. Others propose a model of happiness as a thermostat, where after we acquire something, our expectations adapt to the new state, and happiness falls back to the same level as before. Though research also suggests that this fleeting happiness has the benefit of keeping people motivated to incrementally seek higher goals, a gratitude practice can enhance the whole experience.

Practicing gratitude for what we have (even as we acquire more) helps your mind, moment-to-moment find happiness. Most strikingly, 40% of the variation in happiness is determined by intentional activities (Diener, Lucas & Scollon, 2013) aka a gratitude list. One of the simplest and most rewarding intentional activities you can do each day to increase happiness is...a daily gratitude practice. On an even more awesome note, happiness that originates in gratitude makes your loved ones happier (Amit Sood, 2013). Your efforts will multiply the effect for your whole family.  

What are you waiting for? Start your gratitude list today!

With Gratitude,

laura mary

Hello November,

I am not quite sure how you arrived so quickly. Let’s not talk about how long it has been since I’ve posted!

Life can get busy. We are all guilty of rushing from one thing to the next, always piling more onto our ever busy and overwhelming schedules. Even if you love what you do, sometimes, you need a break. When an unexpected break is handed to you, take it! Whether that break is a sweat session on your yoga mat, a trip to the gym, to your meditation cushion, to the beach, or to a coffee shop … s.a.v.o.r the time. We don’t allow ourselves enough breaks, where we can truly pause in soak in the feeling of treating ourselves and clearing our mind of all the clutter of life. Pausing to feel grateful for even being here in this world and to truly enjoy our lives.

This week, I had a few unexpected breaks; the universe will hand you ‘me time’ for a very important reason, so when it happens, enjoy it. Go bury yourself in a good book, write in your journal, go for a run, fold/twist/bend/handstand on your yoga mat, and smile as you enjoy some sacred time for yourself! That’s right, I think you should go nourish yourself! No, it isn’t selfish. In fact, by devoting time to yourself the time you spend with others becomes that much more valuable to both you and them.

Step back and reflect on how good you really have it. You are here, breathing, living, and surrounding yourself with people you love and in some manner sharing your love through your passion(s). Fill up on gratitude for all of those goodies that you already have in your life.

I didn’t have to search high and low for my gratitude-fill this week. This has been one gratitude filled week. Even though life has been quite busy, I am incredibly grateful for my life: my loving guy, my family, my forever friends, my students, my body, my health, and beautiful Oahu.

Love List for October/November:

1) Homemade soap (thank you Tawney), the soap is way bigger than it appears in the photo, she gave me a huge chunk!

The Sacred Pause

2) Homemade vegan baked treats (thank you Jules), these were indescribably delicious. She also made vegan pumpkin donuts at the Wine'd Down with Laura Mary class that were equally as drool worthy.

The Sacred Pause

3) Homemade CDS grouped by genre (thank you Larina and Shelley), this was the sweetest surprise present.

The Sacred Pause

4) Magic Island Beach Yoga Class (Thursday at 5:30), my favorite class of the week!

The Sacred Pause

5) My beautiful and adorable niece, Catalina (the ladybug).

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6) Vacations to Maui and epic adventures and discoveries (including this tidepool on the side of this cliff) with Kaho'olawe pictured in the background.

The Sacred Pause

7) DoTERRA- I use Deep Blue rub on everyone in yoga class, it is truly amazing! I actually liked it so much that I signed up to sell it. If you want some DoTERRA products/oils, let me know and I can order whatever you want. Here is the link to my page to place orders.

The Sacred Pause

8) Ava Anderson- The most transparent cosmetic company. I use all of their toxic-free products (shampoo/conditioner/facewash/chapstick etc.). I also liked this company so much that I signed up to sell it. Let me know if you are interested in anything from my site. Here is my page too place orders.

The Sacred Pause

Have a beautiful week!

With Love,

laura mary

North Shore Sunset

Everyone has someone in their life that has transformed them and changed their life forever. I was touched to hear that my favorite Skidmore College professor is retiring. Hearing this news, has re-inspired me to reach my highest potential and beyond. Mary Ann had (and continues to) inspire me. Who can you reflect on today? Who in your life has left an imprint on your heart? Reach out to them today and express your gratitude.

A tribute to Mary Ann,

In all my time as a student, I have never come across such an influential teacher.

I feel so fortunate to have met Mary Ann during my junior year at Skidmore. I needed her signature as the chair of the psychology department, because I was applying for the American Psychological Association (APA) Summer Science Fellowship in Washington DC. During the following semester, I was placed on the waiting list for her Cognitive Psychology course, it was reserved for seniors. I was quite eager to take a class with Mary Ann, I saw her in the hallway before the first day of class and thankfully, she let me in!

Class after class, I listened to her in awe; she was (is) so brilliant. She would break down and describe scientific studies with such ease and made complex studies comprehensible to students. It was crystal clear to me that Mary Ann was passionate about her research and her teaching.

Out of all of my professors at Skidmore, I felt the strongest connection and bond to Mary Ann. I knew that she really wanted me to learn and succeed. With the help of a strong letter of recommendation from Mary Ann, I was awarded the very competitive APA Summer Science Fellowship.

I was completely honored that Mary Ann wanted to work with me on a senior honors thesis project. Mary Ann believed in me and that, more than everything I learned in college, was the most valuable lesson. By believing in me, she instilled within me a sense of confidence, that same confidence that she held while lecturing in class. She believed that I was smart and could conduct high quality research. I thank Mary Ann from the bottom of my heart.

My favorite academic memory from Skidmore was the completion of my senior honors thesis. It was hard work, but I completed it with the help of a strong, compassionate, and brilliant mentor, Mary Ann. Skidmore will be losing one of their greatest professors.

I am very excited to see what is next for Mary Ann, but more than anything, I would like to see her take time off to enjoy life in all its glory. I know that her next steps will be nothing short of brilliant, I have faith that she will continue to affect and shape the lives of everyone that comes across her path, just as she did to me.

Mary Ann and I have kept in touch since my graduation in 2009, even though I now live in Honolulu, Hawaii. Mary Ann’s interactions and emails with me were always so pleasant, she was extremely positive, and taught me that I have within me all the tools I need to succeed.

I was (continue to be) completely inspired by the fact that Mary Ann had found a life’s work that she was passionate about, and as a young graduate, I was eager to find my passion in life as well. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mary Ann!

More than anything, I would like to tell Mary Ann, I believe in you.

With Love,

laura mary