Before my mom passed away I had the presence of mind to know that her physical being would never grace this earth again. I recall now, sixteen years later, taking the time to memorize her hands, her hair, her smile so I could harvest that memory forever. When Chris, BYSJ Manager, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, I went right back to that tape and again had the presence of mind to BE with Chris and absorb whatever gestures, images, and conversations came up so I could harvest those moments forever. This was the motivation for the celebration of my 50th birthday. Thank you EVERYONE as I had the presence of mind to create an opportunity to teach, host a party, have family out, really read and relish the words of cards written, and soak in some big hugs – all of which have allowed me to now retain these memories forever.

When you hit the half century mark, it is not unusual to be asking yourself questions like, “What have I done with my life,” “Am I taking care of the things that I care about,” “Am I on the path that I want to be on” and “Have I been awake for most of it?” As I reflected on my 50 years, I noticed some common threads that weave through the tapestry of my colorful life. Two things showed up loudly: I have always been late! (I can hear every single one of you laughing right now.) Late to classes at school; late for special events, late for appointments booked way in advance; I even eat late. Oh dear. But, another attribute I signed up for that shows up throughout my life is the enthusiasm of my heart. Look up the meaning of enthusiasm and you will see that it means “in God.” Enthusiasm in my work – In God in my work; enthusiasm in my relationships – In God in my relationships; enthusiasm for my yoga – In God with my yoga; enthusiasm for all of you – in God for all of you.

A good friend of mine who turned 50 a few years ago, told me that at 50, he demanded life come to him now as if “life” was a person that he was waiting in line to see. Interesting. Is that what happens at 50? Mr. or Mrs. Life is now ready to see us and we truly awaken to the life we want to have? Is the shock of that meeting enough to cause celebration or mid-life crisis? Or both?! I don’t know. But what I do know is that 50 years is a good amount of time to reflect on who you are and what you have become. If you are close to my age and do your yoga like I do, then you might be smiling at the notion that you’ve done a good job of taking care of your health. I did not get into yoga to reduce the effects of aging but now, at 50, I couldn’t be more thrilled of this gift! I will celebrate this. I am clearly doing what I want to do with my life. I love that I get to guide and inspire many on a path of self-realization through this yoga practice. It’s an honor to wake up every day and assist people on becoming their best in every facet of their lives. So no mid-life crisis there – I’ll celebrate.

But, let’s dig deeper. I am reading some great books right now: Oneness by Rasha; Undefended Love by Jett Psaris and Marlena Lyons; Book of Awakenings by Mark Nepo (everyone should read all three!) and each one – though so different – carry a common theme on who we are NOT. Oneness will take you on a journey of recognizing patterns that hold you back from your true authenticity. When you choose to become aware and stop perpetuating the same experiences over and over, you ascend to higher levels of being through having mastered these fragmented parts of yourself. Only then can you begin to manifest the life you desire. According to Oneness, it takes trust, surrender and detachment. And by the way, you can’t outline or strategize a process to help you ascend, as the point of the book is that this ascension comes in YOUR time having LIVED out YOUR beautiful story to the fullest in YOUR way.

Undefended Love’s point of view lies in how we deal with our partners but the revelations are individual. Cracked identity is a term used to describe a wounded identity that ALL of us develop in the initial stages of our life. Without discovery, we will surface a negative self-image or worse yet, negative self-concepts that we unconsciously USE in all our experiences. Yikes. When we can dismantle this cracked identity, “we can live in the truth of ourselves, meet life face-to-face, immersing totally in every experience and bring to it a sense of vitality.”

Hearing Pastor Jay speak last week at Westgate Church on Hope, he stated a couple of disturbing statistics: 75% of our ailments are stress related, and 63% of us are not getting our sleep needs met due to stress. He attributes this to Burn-out. And relating back to the point of his message, Burn-out depletes Hope. According to Jay, Burn-out consists of three things; Exhaustion – just can’t get the energy to change things; Cynicism – no ability to dream anymore; and Inefficacy – what I do won’t matter anyway (or you are defeated even before you begin.)

As we age, we are more invested in being who we really are. As I read each of these books and listen to messages and lectures, I feel tuned in to the development of myself so that I can live out the rest of my life in the highest most conscious way. Like yoga, you may hear something over and over again, but until you are ready, you won’t hear the very thing you need to hear. Then when you do, undoubtedly, you say, why did I not hear that before. When the student is ready the master appears – you could say.

What am I hearing in these paragraphs I’ve outlined is to put away the old and RUN for the new. Drop the drama by detaching personally and notice YOUR triggers and rise to new vibrations of experience…says Oneness. In Undefended Love, go to your very essence which is full of radiance and love that is attainable just beyond the experience of the cracks in your identity. And it won’t be more lists that gets you out of Burn-out, but rather stillness and letting go of control that can open you up to something larger and more satisfying.

Confused? Well, cutting to the chase, each of these says one thing to me as I look ahead to new chapters of my life: Stop. Yes, slow down. Make space. Allow for process. Connect by being still. Go within. Quiet yourself. Go to your heart center detaching from external “noise.” Sink deeply into the presence of your God. Hand it over to the Universe. Surrender. Okay – I think you get my drift. I say these things over and over because I am the girl (okay, woman now I guess, at 50!) that likes “to do.” I have been the first in line to jump on that treadmill yet again, and yes, make a new list.

And one of the best ways to “slow down” in the context of what I am describing is with yoga! Most of you reading this are ahead of the game as you already practice. Through this blog, I’ve just illuminated another reason why. If you are not practicing, get off the couch now and sign up. It will be THE way to not only extend the one life you have but allow you to LIVE the one life you have. You may not know it, but you’ll be slowing down through conscious breathing, stillness, concentration and the meditation from the repetition and the heat, while reaping the benefits of becoming more connected to your true essence and bypassing some of life’s road bumps these books above describe. And for me, as I reflect and look ahead, through the path of yoga, and this practice of slowing down, I will have the best chance to be what is most important to me in the next 50 years – that is to be FULLY ME!