Friends! Make sure you read all the way to the bottom of the email to learn about my new, upcoming platform and offerings.
Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.
Astonished by the Ordinary
Striving has seemed admirable, but lately I ask myself more often, how about just paying attention? The world is full of absurd beauty, magical light, and outrageous curiosities. And when I’m not stuck in the prison I create when I’m stuck in my thoughts, when I get out into the world of nature, I grow a little more expansive if I remember to really be there.
Presently, I am thinking of the view from our ski lift chair. This past week, on a trip to the mountains of West Virginia to snowboard, we watched the landscape below us as we traveled by lift. My teens’ favorite thing to see? A black glove that sat alone in a cradle of white snow, sometimes coated in a fine powder and alternately blown clean. Each trip up the mountain they kept watch to see if it was still there. Why did it entice them? I don’t know but it was noticeable and kept them paying attention.
For me, the way the mountainside had turned to ice and looked like a topography map of ocean and plateau kept me grounded in observation. I watched as the pine trees lining the side changed when the temps dropped after our first 55-degree day, and became snow laden, heavily leaning closer to the ground.
We spent one relatively warm afternoon walking gingerly down icy stairs to Blackwater Falls. A light rain had just begun. All along the way, a different view of the falls appeared until we were as close as possible. The surging energy took my breath away. But my favorite part was a huge log we passed on the way back with a community of turkey tails decorating its fallen spine. Why would I want to stay small and enclosed in the prison of my own mind? Why would I ever stop paying attention?
I am a reluctant snowboarder, terrified of heights and of my body moving at speeds that seem to me far too fast to not be encased in metal. I go because my husband, who taught me over 20 years ago, and now my children, love this sport. But I often forget to look at the world because I’m mostly terrified. I wonder how often I could admit that very thing. At least once, though, when I’m on a mountainside, I try to remind myself to pause and look around. This time, as I paused, I was overcome with gratitude. There I was, at nearly 48 years old, after a long, hard year when for many months I could barely walk, soaring down a mountain with my family. Suddenly, I felt like a giddy, idiotic teenager, something in me unbeatable and perhaps immortal.
So, I took a last run with my son—who knows when or if it might come again, I thought. There’s the glove, he said. I watched the sunlight alternately glisten and create shadows off the pine trees. It turned out it was the last run of the day, he and I the only people on this trail. It was silent, except for the swish and slice of our boards. Suddenly, I saw him waving me out of the shadows toward a brightly lit spot off to the side. It was a lone, last patch of pure powder, where, for a moment, I floated on a cloud. He smiled, gave me a thumbs up. We were both paying attention. And it was extraordinary.
So, this week I shall be astonished by the ordinary, and why not? There is grandeur both up high and down low—the incredible and magical available if I train my heart to train my eyes to look. This is a world designed for wonder.
Find a way to notice the world outside. Winter is nearing its end with spring just 3 weeks away. Perhaps share with me or with someone you love what you witness. As Mary Oliver writes in her Instructions for Living a Life: “Pay attention. / Be astonished. / Tell about it.”
Join me for class on:
Friday, March 4 • 9am -10:30am
Spring is coming so this month we’ll contemplate interbeing, the understanding of how we are connected to the earth around us, and planting movement seeds toward invigorating renewal.
This class will blend yoga movement, contemplation, meditation, and conversation for a new way to explore our practice in community. Covid vaccinations required for in-person practice at the Harmony Space in Shepherdstown. Limited spacing available.
Online practice via Zoom. Video recording sent to all registered guests.
$15 Reserve your spot via text to 401-440-0279.
Advance payment required to Venmo or Paypal.
Paypal to: email@example.com
Venmo to: @Christa-MastrangeloJoyce
CMJ Yoga Presents an Online Space for Community and Connection
Welcome friends! Starting March 13, I will no longer be using this list to share my Sunday writings with you. Instead, I’ll be using the Patreon platform to share more offerings with you. I hope we’ll continue to connect in my new space, a landing pad for you to come home to yourself through contemplation, meditation, conversation, and movement; a space for us to learn together to live more authentically and joyfully.
Why the Change?
I believe it is essential for humans to find connection and peace with our individual bodies, with our communities, and with the body of the earth. This can happen through story, self-contemplation, conversation, and when we find safety, ease, and connection with our physical bodies.
I am working to cultivate an awareness of the ways that yoga has remained largely inaccessible—through the images presented in the media, through high price points, through the mindset of what it means to be “advanced,” through the ways that groups of people have been left out and made to feel unwelcome in the practice. The practice of yoga offers an opportunity to live in our essential self. This should be accessible to all. I intend to work to see the ways that I’ve contributed to its inaccessibility and to correct this, beginning with offering options for physical and financial accessibility.
What Will I Offer?
- A once weekly mailer, your “Sunday Retreat,” which includes a reflection and a creative prompt for contemplative conversation, and a recorded mini practice with movement and/or meditation to help you cultivate a home practice for your individual needs and exploration.
- A once monthly “Dharma talk” on the last Thursday of the month. Conversations will center on a selected topic or reading to encourage active and engaged participation in the way of love and peace. Short meditations and contemplations are included. Talk is recorded and sent to all subscribers.
- A recorded library of classes on Vimeo
- Weekly live Friday morning classes (Zoom and in-person options) offered at a discount to all subscribers.
Check back next week for additional information and to sign up so you continue receiving these reflections and more.