Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Shift

The past several weeks have been a whirlwind of growth and intensity as 6 months of training towards my 200 hour yoga teacher certification culminated in an amazing and beautiful graduation ceremony for my classmates and me and our receiving our Certification Diplomas. After another 23 hours of intense physical and mental work on and off the mat this past weekend, including athletic yoga asanas, vigorous sun salutations, and each student's practice teaching for a facilitator, we enjoyed a lovely reception and delicious food. My mother, one of my best friends, Walter, and the owner of the yoga studio where I've been teaching, Decatur Yoga and Pilates, who is greatly responsible for sparking my yoga journey all came to share the evening with us all. I even received lovely fresh flower bouquets!

Several of us, including myself, not wanting to end the celebration after the friends, family, and food was gone, went to see a sold out show at the Variety Playhouse of Michael Franti and Spearhead. Franti is an activist, a musician, a filmmaker, and a yogi...not necessarily in that order. He writes about love and peace, accountability, empowerment, and speaking up for what is right and against what is wrong. I'm in love with this man.

Here's my little amateur video of a minute or so of the show.

Well, those who know me know that I rarely go out at night, often choosing to be in bed by 8 or this was an exception for me. I figured I'd go to the concert, stay for a few songs, then leave so I could be in bed before 9 or 10 that night. It didn't happen. I found a seat early on, and once the music began, I hopped up and danced for the next 2 1/2 hrs. The positive energy was overwhelming, and I got caught up in it. I simply couldn't stop! And this is from someone who has proclaimed to not care for live music...afterall, I went to concerts all the time in the late 70s through the late 80s...I was done. But this concert was rocked, yes, but it was about being active and positive and having the power to change not just yourself, but the world. Idealistic perhaps, but why not? Can't hurt.

This week has been anything but anticlimactic. Perhaps I am still on a pink cloud. Perhaps my dedication to abstaining from sugar and caffeine for a solid period of time has given me physical strength and mental clarity and focus...whatever. I see and feel the possibilities so much clearer now. I see that the end of this training is only the beginning of more growth. I see that while the intense work has subsided in this area of my life, yet more intense work and growth is needed in other areas. I also see that my greatest actions are those that give service and compassion to others. Staying present and calm and still are such gifts. I'm still human. I still forget all these things at times. But the training has caused a shift. I have taught several classes this week...more than usual...stepping up to substitute teach when I've been asked, even at last minute, and I see the yoga room and the students differently. I know now that I have my own special contribution to offer and it is enough. I know also that each student is a gift and that I am still and always will be a student as well.


It's all good.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Endings are only New Beginnings

In the summer of '93, a couple of months before my son turned 4 (and I was to be 28), I bought my current home in downtown Decatur. It was a dream to be in a neighborhood that was not only safe but also a real community with friendly neighbors and a great shops and restaurants within walking distance. ...much different than the inner city war zone I had lived in for 7 years prior. I figured that within a few months, 6 tops, I'd have the house organized and fixed up just like I wanted it.

It's early 2009. My son is in his 2nd semester as a freshman at UGA and will be 20 in September. My home is nearly "there". I'll be 44 in September. This summer marks 16 years since I moved into my 1954 brick ranch. Lots of changes have taken place from renovations, additions, and decor, to my own personal changes with boyfriends, housemates, careers, and inner growth.

As I work towards putting the finishing touches on my own personal home yoga studio, 800 square feet of clean, fresh, open space, I can't help but be on the verge of tears (of joy) everytime I walk downstairs and see the evolution which has taken place. After nearly 6 years of my basement being an extra-large doghouse, filled with all the lovely (and yes, I am being sarcastic) aromas of big hairy mutts, what began as a "easy" job of removing some carpet and painting the floor turned into a huge project. Two layers of ooky, stained, yucky carpet, a layer of deteriorated padding and the surprise layer of old asbestos tile attached with thick black mastic glue later, and now I have an ecologically sound acid stained marble-like floor. Some small area rugs, artwork on the walls, a small library of yoga and health books, yoga props and mats, and a sound system, and I have my own little nirvana.

While decorating, I came across a dream board I had put together several years ago, and I decided to display it. I think it was about 3, maybe 4 years ago when I sat around with friends, magazines, glue and scissors, and made my collage. I got so into it, that I did both sides of the poster and then began some smaller ones. A common them was yoga, health, and nutrition, along with positive affirmations as to my own personal strength and abilities.

And here I am..mid February 2009. Things seem to always take longer than I had envisioned, but the visions are coming through. I've been teaching yoga now for over 3 years and this Sunday I will be graduating from my yoga teacher training with a 200 hour certification. I am about 2/3rds of the way through my holistic nutritional consultant program and should be finished within about a year. I am healthy and strong. And I'm even somewhat sane.

Oh yeah...I'm humble too. While the basement is finished, my yoga training is nearly over, and I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel regarding my nutrition studies, I realize that all these endings just make way for the beginnings that are yet to come. Once I achieve my 200 hour certification, I will more than likely begin taking workshops in pursuance of my 500 hour yoga training. And once I finish school, I'll have to focus on my direction as a health counselor and direct my energy in a way that can best serve my clients. And of course, once the basement appears "finished", I'm sure some other changes will be in store as I begin to use the space in a productive way for the first time in many years.

Before I know it, Alex will finish college, marking the beginning of a new world for, career, graduate school...who knows. And I may end up selling my home afterall, though with my basement finished and all the new beginnings ahead who knows.

My mantra for today:
Inhale possibilities; exhale fear.

Life is good.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Cash for Gold Scams

You've probably seen them.the commercials with famous dudes, like Ed McMahon telling you how much dough you can make by cashing in your old gold.

Well, in case that little voice popped up in your head and said, "RIP OFF!!!"...


I knew it.

Read THIS:

If you have old gold, like broken chains, old ring settings that have no real antique value or attractiveness, please, find a reputable dealer who will give you a fair price.

First, go online to see what actual gold value is on the open market. There are many sites that list the current fair market value. Many of these sites also offer online calculators to determine the value of the gold based on the carat content. 18K gold is 75% pure gold, 14K is 58.5%, 10K is 38.5%, 9K is 33.3% and so on.

Second, make some calls to some local pawn shops and ask them what they are paying per gram weight for whatever carat you have. 10K and 14K are generally most popular.

Third, stay away from the phone book ads or TV ads. Instead, call a reputable jeweler and ask him or her if they are buying gold and what they pay. Often they will pay much more than a pawn shop.

Fourth...finally, unless you are desperate, shop it around until you find someone willing to pay you at least 90% of the current fair market value. A simple google search found this:
(I am not suggesting using them, only their online caculator...and note, they charge a $100 processing fee on any request, as do many and most places. The more you have the better as far as minimizing these "smelting" or processing fees)

Be aware, though, that in desperation, the bottom feeders are likely to come out and that you will most likely get a small fraction of what your gold is actually worth. As of this morning, gold is about $913 an ounce...there are about 28 grams or 20 dram weights per ounce.

One final suggestion. If you have gold in the form of a Victorian brooch, an old watch chain, an art deco filigree ring, or any other piece of vintage or antique jewelry and it is NOT damaged and IS still wearable, do NOT scrap it..its antique and collectible value is generally MUCH higher than what even the best paying scrap dealer will ever pay. If that is your situation, and you want to sell or consign a piece of fine jewelry or estate stuff, just give ME a call and I promise you an honest and fair assessment!