Be Bold. Begin Now.

As we examine our life, no matter how far we are into it, we can see in retrospect Beginitchoices or opportunities that seemed to change our course. We made agonized decisions or we dove unthinkingly into coincidence and instinct, but either way we look back and see certain moments as pivotal. More often than not we over-think decisions that in retrospect seem to not matter at all in the long run. On the other hand those places where our heart drew us against conventional wisdom or without much consideration of pros and cons are often the treasured sparks of inspiration and alignment that we can identify as essential to our stories. For myself I can look back and finger certain experiences as key to my personality – the second time I watched Star Wars (I was a too young the first), my first experience living abroad, my fatigue with academia at the exact moment I should have been applying to grad schools, that part-time job in a wine shop that led to a fulfilling 18 year career, meeting my exquisite husband, and Yoga teacher training. They almost all had this in common: they were not forgettable events at the time, but they also didn’t have an exponentially greater sense of importance than other happenings in my exciting life. In other words, in the moment I was not fully conscious of the shift that took place in me and how it would change my life. Yoga teacher training was different.

I was aware during that first weekend of training that my life had changed. My
sensory experience was different, my attitude was different, my relationships were different, and I knew it right away. I sat at the dinner table with my husband and told him that I moved through the world with a fresher understanding, one that made so much more sense than any of the ideas I had explored up until then. You may say I was on the cusp of some of the realizations that came to me. I had been reading, listening, talking and thinking in terms of spiritual and ethical considerations since I was a teenager. (It was not until later, by the way, that I welcomed the body into these contemplations. The mind and body were quite separate things to me at that time.) Not everyone’s experience is guaranteed to be so dramatic but I have never met anyone who regretted embarking on Yoga teacher training, even those who don’t formally teach Yoga.

I had two “yoga moments,” within a short space of time. For two years I had been 11390118_910716748990247_702657078241727207_nputting my honest best into a job that offered financial rewards and prestige. In my heart though, I dreaded going through what I saw as ethically bankrupt interactions. As part of Yoga class one day, my beloved teacher and friend Toni Gilroy quoted Seane Corn that “Being inauthentic is exhausting. Being true to your self is effortless.” I started crying and couldn’t stop. Downward Dog with tears in my nose – not feeling pretty I can tell you. A few weeks later Toni announced Vinyasa teacher training to be held in the same facility where I took classes. I didn’t know what Vinyasa was! I didn’t care. My heart absolutely doubled in size and I teared up again (like I do every time I think of Han Solo shooting Darth Vader’s tie fighter out of the trench so Luke could blow up the Death Star).

Without knowing what would come of it, I committed to become a yoga teacher. I
would learn how to pass on what my teachers taught me. I would learn how to be something different than what I had been– something I believe I was meant to be. Of course I had my moments of doubt, of being too much in my head. Occasionally I equivocated that I would only teach part time, or that I would only study to deepen my own practice. These are both outstanding paths that completely legitimize teacher training.  But for myself I knew from that first weekend that taking all the skills I had used to other aims in prior occupations, and adding to them from the bottomless well that is contemporary Yoga would help me continue a Dharmic path that looking back would seem inevitable, led as it was by my heart’s true desire.

I have several times now thrown everything up in the air, and trusted that things would fall into place when I needed them to be there. The first time I did it, a friend shared with me this quote by W.H. Murray, and it has inspired me ever since.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, alwaysYFAB_TT_postcard-01 ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.  A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!’ ”
Yoga For All Beings teacher training starts September 2015. Be bold! Begin. Join us..

Faith in Peace

Maybe this has happened to you. Your Yoga teacher is cueing something really hard WI sunset 2– an arm balance, inversion, big back bend or one of those ‘put your foot behind your something’ asanas -something definitely out of your usual range of motion or strength. The teacher says that maybe instead of actually accomplishing the pose today, you get yourself going in that direction, close your eyes and imagine yourself doing the pose. Maybe you think it is a joke, and a dark one. Yeah, right! Isn’t that the same as failing, or just denying the fact that you’re not able to do something? What good is it to just visualize yourself?   And yet, I am often that teacher. I assure students, for example, in attempting a handstand, that if they do not believe they will go upside down today, they assuredly will not.   What we believe matters sooooo much in terms of what we can accomplish. I was thinking about the other night as I listened to Sakyong Mipham, the leader of Shambhala in a lecture titled “Making Peace Possible: The Shared Wisdom of the Human Heart.”

The Sakyong answered the question “Is peace possible?” by saying we needed to focus on the word “possibility.” As he addressed a crowd of about 400 people of varied faiths and backgrounds, the Sakyong repeatedly spoke with compassion to us as individuals who were certainly interested, if not deeply involved, in peace programs in local and global communities. Despite “preaching to the choir,” he acknowledged the challenge to stay faithful to a vision of deep human connection independent of commodity transfer, and gentle loving-kindness in the face of systemic violence and injustice. Citing his own Tibetan roots, he reminded us of his father’s response to violence and oppression in his homeland.   Instead of becoming bitter, vengeful or angry, he instead confirmed our shared humanity and greater need for powerful love.   He took his message of compassion and justice outward to form an international organization based on mindfulness, meditation and active peace-making. It is easy to lose momentum, to become apathetic and view the world’s problems as too big and too complex. We are coming up against something outside our usual range of motion and strength. The pose feels insurmountable. We sometimes bury ourselves in distractions or the temporary dulling of our senses, or lose our faith entirely in the shared wisdom of our hearts.  But this leads to us feeling like we are dying of thirst, sometimes for something we can’t even name.

He compared this challenge of keeping faith to the challenge we might face during meditation. The practice is to return again and again to the focus of attention. If we repeatedly notice that our mind shifts, and repeatedly allow it to resettle onto the object of meditation (the breath, mantra, feeling, etc.) then it is a good practice. Speaking of Yoga asana, he says the intention is to come up against resistance and respond with breath and mindfulness — over and over. He suggested that very inflexible people might have a better chance experiencing Yoga, because they have more opportunities to come up to an impediment against movement and respond skillfully. The super strong and flexible in this scheme do not get as much “practice.” Weylon Lewis, the founder of Elephant Journal reminds us we should value our meditation practice even when we feel it “goes badly,” just as in our physical practice sometimes we feel we are losing ground or strength or flexibility or our sense of balance and ease of breath. The point of meditation, of asana, of challenges in our world, is to simply keep showing up and practicing. The first part of that “showing up” is believing that our visions and our deepest, highest intentions are indeed possible. Point your heart in the right direction, and keep practicing. The answer is “YES!”

Bryan Kest’s Powerful Approach to Being More Gentle

Bryan Kest is the founder of Original Power Yoga, a unique style of physical yoga that he developed over the course of his yoga training, which started at an early age.  After taking up the practice of yoga at the age of 14, Kest soon discovered the profound physical and mental benefits derived from an authentic and dedicated yoga practice.  One of the most interesting, and perhaps encouraging, things I’ve learned about Bryan Kest is that even as a power yoga teacher, where classes are physically challenging and often times to his dismay, competitive Kest himself believes that yoga is not a physical practice.  He says that we can certainly make yoga a physical practice, but that’s not what’s important.  Kest is on a quest to bring more gentleness into the practice of yoga.

I showed up to Bryan Kest’s workshop at Moksha Yoga in Chicago on a late September night in 2013 without ever having met the man or experiencing one of his classes.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear this western yogi talk about the lack of importance on the physical aspects of yoga.  Power yoga should mean powerfully meditative, Bryan told us.  That made complete sense to me.  As a yoga teacher who tries to convey this very message to her students, it was comforting to hear a popular, western teacher talk about how yoga is not about what you can do physically but about how you can train yourself to be mentally.  Kest explains that all of the physical stuff we do in any given hatha yoga class is just a warm up for the mind to get quiet.  The goal of yoga is not to look better naked or to be able to twist ourselves into a pretzel.  The goal of yoga is enlightenment.  We have to approach this ancient practice gently but with a strong mind set, Kest urges.  We have to pay attention.

So often we go about our lives mindlessly, without paying attention to the things we say, do and think.  Our minds wander every second we are not present.  Science has proven that getting too caught up in our minds can destroy our health.  Research shows that 88% of diseases in the body are psychosomatic.  Holistic health expert, Deepak Chopra explains that, “Inner silence promotes clarity of mind; it makes us value the inner world.  It trains us to go inside to the source of peace and inspiration when we are faced with problems and challenges.”  Kest fortifies this notion by reminding us that yoga is not about how strong and flexible we can be but how calm and peaceful we can remain.

While, yoga is not about competition, comparison or vanity these characteristics might be found in many western yoga studios today.  You mightl find people practicing yoga to try to change something about themselves.  And here is where Kest makes a very clear and powerful statement:  “Yoga doesn’t want to change you.”  He explains that yoga doesn’t care what you look like or how much money you make.  Yoga doesn’t think you’re fat or ugly.  Yoga accepts you, exactly the way you are.  This is the beauty of yoga.  It’s so simple.  And yet, many of us have made it into something so complicated.

After about an hour and a half of discussion we moved into the physical portion of the workshop.  Bryan Kest is a power yoga teacher and is known for leading challenging and physically demanding practices.  So here I was, ready to bust out all kinds of difficult arm balances, inversions and contortions but instead, what I got was straight-forward and simple poses.  And with that, I also got a hell of a workout.  My body dripped with sweat as I held plank for what seemed like minutes at a time.  My arms trembled as I rested in downward dog and my legs quivered from long held chair poses and lunges.  Kest joked that he should change the name of his studio in Santa Monica from Power Yoga to Grandma’s Yoga because there was nothing he had us do in class that our Grandmas couldn’t at least attempt.  He presented hard sequences and a physically demanding practice but the poses were not complex nor did they require immense flexibility or range of motion to execute.

I also really appreciated the way that Kest brought a sense of gentleness into his teaching.  He delivered the class sequence in a clear yet permissive way.  Kest teaches as though everything he is asking you to do is totally optional, and he makes you believe that opting out of a pose or variation in no way makes you “less.”  In fact, he calls this way of tuning in to your body one of the smartest and most important things we can do to stay safe and healthy while practicing asana (physical yoga poses).  Kest allows everyone a chance to attempt each pose, but only if they want to.  He constantly reminds the class that he is offering suggestions and not commands.  This brought me back to one of my favorite yoga teachers from Arizona, Maredith Schroeder, who would always give the instruction for a challenging pose followed by the comforting reminder, “and that is not a command.”  This is the kind of yoga teaching that has always spoken to me so perhaps that’s why I try to teach my classes with the same permissive tone.

I find Kest’s style of teaching very similar to my own as he encourages students to “do it, if it feels good” and to “don’t do it, if it doesn’t feel good.”  Physical pain has a purpose and that purpose is to signal us that something is not right.  In a society that tells us to ignore pain and push past our limits, so many westerners have this mentality that stopping or backing off is a sign of weakness, when really it’s a sign of intelligence.  Kest would say things like, “If you’re strong enough, put your knee down.”  He’s attributing strength to integrity instead of physical prowess.  As Kest so beautifully explains, if we are measuring our progress by our physical prowess, then we have no choice but to digress.

By the end of our 2 hour sweat session, Kest had us sit quietly in meditation for 10 minutes before taking final rest in Savasana.  He called everything up until this point “our warm up.”  Now was the time for the real yoga.  Now was the time to integrate body, mind and spirit.  Now was the time to get our minds to quiet down, to turn off our judgments, to let go of comparisons and to be free from attachments.  As I sat in the stillness of that room, surrounded by 75 others who had made their way onto their mats just as I had, a quiet inner peace took over my entire being.  I thought to myself, this is yoga.

What it all comes down to, according to Kest, is self-love.  We don’t need to push further.  We don’t need to touch our fingers to our toes or jam our head to our knee in yoga poses.  What we need is to cultivate awareness and have the intelligence to recognize what we are feeling.  If you get to a point in a pose and you feel something, that’s it.  You have arrived at your destination.  And that might look very different from the point at which your neighbor on the mat next to you has arrived.  Maybe their hands are flat on the floor as they fold over their legs, but as long as they are experiencing a feeling that isn’t too much or too little, then that’s where they are supposed to be.

We have a tendency, in western society to over-do things.  Kest warns us that the harder you are on something, the faster you will wear it out.  You can apply this logic to everything from marriage to cars to your own body.  So, what we need is less aggressiveness and more gentleness.  And in order to be gentle, Kest explains, we have to pay attention.  When we are paying attention, we are fully present.  When we are fully present, we can turn off the thoughts, turn off the judgments and turn off the vanity.  When we are fully present we can recognize the qualities of mind that harm us, and we can take action to stop feeding those harmful qualities.

I came to Bryan Kest’s workshop that night to learn more about Power Yoga and the man behind the brand.  What I got was a guided realization that the true teacher is within, that the truth behind physical practice is the quest for inner peace and that the key to being more powerful is to approach things more gently.

Fear of Falling

Finnish CartwheelI once wrote a piece called “Ladders to Where?” about an experience hiking in Australia. The hike involved climbing a ladder up a rock outcropping overlooking a breathtaking expanse of forest. It also involved gusting winds that made the climb very frightening. I compared the courage it took to climb that ladder to my earliest memories of learning to balance in ardha chandrasana, half moon pose. Indeed, the skills that I learned in that pose helped me to get up the ladder to enjoy the amazing view and divine experience at the top.

I was remembering that episode recently when I fell down. Actually, I fell down dozens of times – purposefully! I attended a workshop on falling out of inversions and arm balances with Nolan Lee, a Chicago yoga teacher, martial arts enthusiast and chiropractic physician.

Nolan started the session by asking us if we were afraid of falling, and then why. We were afraid of getting hurt, but we also had fears of being embarrassed, of calling attention to ourselves, and even of being hurt long term in ways that would negatively impact our lives, our jobs, our families, and so on. Our minds can dig in, exaggerate, defend and rationalize our aversions in ways that make our thinking appear to be conscious, chosen, and wise. Really, we are just scared and usually without need. He suggested that once we got used to falling, skillful in our falling, skillful in rolling out of a fall, then the greater risk was in not challenging ourselves to do new things. So we practiced falling with skill. We started practicing while we were sitting down. This looked a little silly. We felt a little silly. We began to have fun and laugh. Our bodies loosened up, and so did our minds.

Next, we fell from a low squat, and then from standing. Over the two hour period, we fell sideways, forwards, backwards, from our crow poses, from handstands, from headstands, and from fledgling entries into these. True we got a little bruised and, for a couple days, I felt a bit jostled. But there was no blood shed, concussions, broken bones, nothing strained. Even our egos stayed intact. We started to feel pretty pleased with ourselves and left on a definite high note.
It’s true I am a little bolder now about going upside down and do start my inversions farther from the wall but I think the workshop offered greater insight than that.

Our fear about falling from an upside down hand balance becomes habitualized and manifests as a fear of falling from a squat eight inches off the floor. Our terror of falling off a cliff becomes fear about climbing a ladder in a state park. Our worry both of being stalked and rejected prevents us from casual conversation with strangers. Our dread of embarrassing ourselves (note, even TO OURSELVES) as we learn and practice a new skill prevents us from trying new things. Our disinclination to experience anything not familiar and pleasing gets in the way of finding new pleasures. Our fear of being adrift impedes our willingness to reach out. Our fear of loss becomes a fear to love. Abhinivesa is the last of the yogic klesas, the five hindrances or obstacles to enlightened living. It is translated both as the fear of death and at the same time the fear of life, for these are intertwined.

Foolhardiness is not celebrated here, nor is fearlessness given real credence. We are wired to avoid danger and stick closely to routine and safety so that we can survive and procreate. Our evolution did not favor happiness, but our evolved consciousness entails the potential for liberation. Our journey involves hazards and hurts, some of them avoidable and some of them not. Courage is cultivating awareness and steadiness in the midst of fearful situations so we can respond skillfully, dodge the danger, roll out of the fall with enough velocity and forward trajectory to land safely, ready for the next moment.

Jenni Antonicic Padangusthasana

In Celebration of Vinyasa

By Jenni Antonicic

Jenni A HappyThere is a vision of myself that I treasure.  It’s from one of my first Vinyasa classes at a new studio.  The lights were dim, the music and teacher were exuberant, and things had gotten pretty sweaty.  We were cued to “flip our dogs,” taking one foot high in adho mukha svanasana, bending that knee, stacking our hips and then bringing our foot to the floor behind us, pivoting hips and heart and throat up towards the ceiling into an arcing backbend that felt like flying.  My front-body open, grinning chin lifted to the ceiling, free hand reaching for the horizon – I was in euphoric expansion, anchored firmly to a solid foundation.  This experience was reinforced by a friend who walked by the studio window at just that moment and said to me afterwards “Wow, you looked like you were having the time of your life!” This vision and its emotional and spiritual components encapsulate what I love most about Vinyasa – its joyous and creative expression, its element of deep play, and its emphasis on stillness and connection attained through movement .

After twenty years of accepting chronic pain in my body as just “part of life,” I have healed myself of back, hip, feet and wrist injuries, and certainly more that was brewing.  There is a freedom and ease in my physical experience that I never expected to feel increasing as I get older.  Alignment-based asana gets the credit for the feeling that I am in the best shape of my life.  I also acknowledge my meditation practice and a sincere effort at making ethical choices as contributing mightily to my mental and emotional health.  Harmonious relationships, enriching opportunities, and the conviction that my work is of service to others are all pivotal to my overall sense of well-being.  Soft forms of yoga like Judith Lasater’s restorative and Yin have a weekly place in my routine.  I have been blessed by teachers with a thorough understanding of alignment, and the geek in me is quickly taken in by precision.  Relatively static forms of yoga based on distinct, held poses adjusted by a teacher have an important place in the yoga universe.   I like to learn through many styles, especially from therapeutic teachers.  Nevertheless, I bellow a hearty endorsement to alignment-based “flowing” Vinyasa – a practice of movement, breath, and strong fluid transitions.  It offers intense pleasure in the body – the grossest part of our selves, but a viable portal into other aspects of our experience.  The joy of sure and rhythmic movement; the regaining of steadiness when surety is bobbled; the application of just the right amount of exertion to allow the emergence of subtle sensation; sweet trembling fatigue after an offering of energy and strength; and that precious, delicate skill of prioritizing stability over extension – all these things reward me richly.

choose happinessAt some point in my early 30s, my grandmother was expressing disapproval of my chosen life.  “I’m happy,” I said. “Hmmph!” she replied, “Life is not about being happy.” I adore her, and value every memory of her I can retain, but I think she got this wrong. We are aligned with the Divine when we are truly happy  –  anything on the spectrum from quiet contentment to supernova explosions of glee  – and that IS what life is,  about.  Dr. Wayne Dyer encourages us to “vibrate at a high frequency,” a phrase I embrace and repeat with gusto. When our energy is occupied with creative and generous love and beauty, when we offer and accept that energy by practicing strength and skill, even when we stumble, our motions are Grace-full. That flipped dog pose is still one of my favorites. It makes my body, heart and soul unleash ecstatically!

 

Jenni Pic Wedding TreeJenni Antonicic has been exploring her spiritual and physical existence with great gusto since she was a teenager.  She spent more than two decades sharing specialized beverages with fellow connoisseurs before shifting her focus to share specialized practices of body and breath with fellow students.

Shed Your Labels

By Danielle Dickinson

let go of labelsShedding our labels is no small task. As humans, we can be very prone to labeling ourselves and this can have a powerfully limiting effect on us. I often hear students label themselves as “inflexible,” “weak” or “incapable” in some way, shape or form. These adjectives most likely came from a comparison with others. Yoga teacher, Aadil Palkhivala, tells us that this type of comparison causes us to become externally referential in that we make sense of ourselves by referring to outer standards. Constant comparison with outer standards leads to feelings of inadequacy and can even discourage beginning yoga students from coming back to class because they believe they don’t fit the standard for who is supposed to be in a yoga class.

I always remind my students, and will gladly shout it from the rooftops, that there is NO standard for yoga. There is not an adjective you can label yourself with that gives you an easy out for yoga class. Yoga does not discriminate. The beauty of yoga is that this practice meets us exactly where we are in the moment… even if that means we show up with short hamstrings, small biceps and a belly that sticks out a little farther than the person on the mat next to us in class. Theodore Roosevelt urged us not to go down this road in life. As he once profoundly stated, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Not comparing ourselves to others takes effort and restraint to avoid. My recommendation when a tendency to label comes up, is to first think: it’s ok. Don’t judge yourself for the mere fact that a negative thought is entering your mind… you are human after all and comparing and labeling are natural human tendencies. Once you have successfully avoided self-judgment, say to yourself, this is what’s going on with me today and I will honor that. Thoughts are not permanent and they do not define us. Just as we can change or eliminate a thought so can we change and eliminate a label that we may have created for ourselves. Non-attachment is a huge part of the yoga practice and shedding our labels requires us to detach from them.

As Aadil says, “Defining ourselves in terms of external references is a dead end because it means ignoring the desires of the soul.” So, drop your labels, embrace where you are in the present moment and recognize the beauty that lies both without and more importantly, within you.

 

Danielle Dickinson is a yoga teacher, TRE facilitator, animal lover, sun worshiper, laugh loYFAB Logo Tank (1)ver and studio owner.  You can catch both her yoga classes and private TRE services at Yoga For All Beings in Chicago.  www.yogaforallbeings.com

3 Amazing Yoga Retreats

By Sarah Potzler

January 28th, 2015 via YogiApproved.com

Yoga retreats are an incredible way of experiencing different practices in a different setting. Travel helps remove us from our environment, and take our attention away from the daily routines. When we slow down, we allow ourselves to see the beauty around us, as well as within us. Yoga retreats are a change from the norm, a shift in perspective, and a reawakening for your soul. Your yoga mat becomes a magic carpet to see the world around you and help you recognize the infinite possibilities that lie within. If you’re due for a yoga adventure, these are three yoga retreats that I highly recommend.

1. Kamalaya (Thailand)

 Sarah P Kamalaya ThailandKamalaya is a yoga retreat set on a beautiful private beach on the Island of Koh Samui, in Thailand. Kamalaya means ‘Lotus Realm’, an ancient symbol for the growth and unfolding of the human spirit. Expect to experience a completely different culture through their food, spiritual ideals and unique scenery at this award winning resort. Kamalaya offers a variety of packages, ranging from 3-7 days, with pricing ranging from $1,675 USD to $7,550 USD. All packages include: daily yoga practices, breakfast lunch and dinner made fresh from the locals, and beautifully decorated rooms or beach front villas. There are many other amenities like infinity pools, a steam cavern, fitness center and spa.

2. Amansala Eco Chic Resort (Mexico)

Sarah P Amansala MexicoTulum, Mexico, is one of my favorite beaches on this Earth. With the most beautiful blue-green Caribbean water, white sand beaches, and Mayan ruins facing the ocean on the cliffside, there is a lot of magic here. On the beach, you will find Amansala Eco Chic Resort. There are several retreat packages offered at Amansala, all of them include daily yoga sessions, along with room and board, and touring the local sites! Amansala is most known for their bikini bootcamp, a self-explanatory way to get into shape in a breathtaking setting. The retreats vary in pricing from $1,800 – $3,850 USD all depending on how many days and how much yoga you want to do!

3. Sedona Yoga Retreat (Arizona)

Sarah P Sedona

Last but not least, one of the most magical places on earth: Sedona, Arizona. A dear yogi friend will be hosting the Sedona Yoga Retreat March 5 – March 8, 2015. This retreat will take place at the newly renovated and re-named Arabella Hotel Sedona. The retreat package is a 3-day event, filled with daily yoga and meditation practices, hikes through the scenic red rocks, along with goody bags provided by the hostess. The package pricing varies from $403 – $740 USD depending on occupancy and size of room desired. The package price includes yoga, meditation, breakfast, snacks and other hotel amenities. Sedona is an ideal place to practice yoga — a place full of energy vortexes, said to have meditative and healing effects that I am sure you will be visiting during this retreat! There are so many yoga retreats to choose from around the world! My selection humbly offers a sampling of a diversity of cultures and places that I have been to and enjoyed. Yet they all share the promise of a magical, unsurpassed experience that will unveil your soul in ways you have yet to discover, much like the destinations themselves. Enjoy, and happy travels!

 

Sarah P profile photoSarah Potzler is an artist, architect, photographer, writer, music lover, yogi and travel addict. She has been to 20 some countries and 5 continents in the last 3 years. “I still am jaw-dropped everywhere I go…Some more than others. Nowhere is the same… No one is the same. These differences intrigue me, and I try to capture them in my photography, as well as my writing to show the reflective growth traveling has had on me artistically as well as a human being.”