This past summer I made the decision to have my website professionally redone. More importantly, I committed to getting it done. In doing so, I reached the conclusion - along with the website designers to whom I spoke - that I needed professional photos.
I had put this off for a long time, and cringed at the idea, especially with all the dialogue about Instagram and Facebook selfies. And to be completely honest, there was some chatter in my mind that I needed to be better, stronger, thinner, etc. before these important photos were taken.
As this conversation continued in my head, I was given the opportunity to work with Robert Sturman, an artist whose work truly touches so many people. I could not pass that by. Collaborating with him gave me confidence, clarity and inspiration , so that when I was asked to get a few more shots for my website I was able to move forward with Julie Hove Anderson and Claire Sheprow.
I did get the photos for the purposes above but I came away with so much more - including an appreciation for the art of photography and a deeper compassion for others and also for myself.
My transition to the DC area after living in NYC for 15 years and teaching there for almost 10 was really challenging. And humbling. After about 2 years of teaching in DC I began to find my footing and felt very welcome… But I also found out my dad was extremely sick. We lost our family home on the New Jersey shore in Hurricane Sandy. And during this same year (2012 - 2013) I had gone through medical procedures, and a bad fall that left my soul sad and my physical body bruised.
My knees both were badly hurt. I put on weight because of the medications I was on, and also because I had to limit my physical activity. I continued to teach, but I was very private about what I was going through. The word I used to describe how I felt during this time: raw.
Many of us begin our journey in yoga with the physical body, and it makes sense to start there. In Tantra we see it as a vehicle in this life to connect with spirit. It is not to be ignored. My strength continued, however, when my injuries and my medical treatments presented the opportunity for me to turn inward, and to find out personally how powerful and valuable a meditation practice is at a time when the physical body seems to be failing.
When I decided that yes, I would take the slot with Robert, I was nervous but excited as it felt like a step not only toward a new website but also in continuing my own healing process. As Staci Amend explains in an article she wrote for Elephant Journal, “you don’t know her heart…and every journey matters.“
These photos were, in a way, a gift to myself – a piece of my journey and a reminder of how much stronger I am now, even if, physically, I am unable to do as much as before. The photos are also a reminder to me that just as no one else can really see what I see in those photos, I cannot fully know someone else’s story, least of all from a photo or a post.
And so when I collaborated with these incredible photographers and artists, and I saw the end result, I felt strong, I felt in control and more comfortable with things out of my control. I felt compassion. And I also felt like many of them captured my connection to spirit.
I’m not sure what others think about the photos or feel when I post them. We are all entitled to opinions. But only I truly know my heart… and my journey matters.