Embracing a 3rd Place

Embracing a 3rd Place

By guest blogger: Terese Lynch

Home & Work– the two places most Americans spend the majority of their time. I don’t know about you, but when I realize how much time I actually spend at work it makes me a little sad. By the time I get home from work I am tired and hungry, and with two small children I find my “free time” to be very limited.

When I first heard of the notion a “Third Place” I thought “Who has time for a third place?!” Then as I looked deeper I was surprised to realize that not only does everyone have a third place whether they realize it or not, but my third place made me even sadder than the amount of time I spend working.

The unfortunate reality is if you don’t have an intentional “Third Place” you are probably like me, spending it in front of a screen. The t.v., computer, phone, tablet….these are the most common default Third Places. This is where I was (and still am sometimes) spending my free time. And why not? Afterall, it fits most of the Third Place criteria:  accessible, convenient, and comfortable. Another component I found appealing about this “online” Third Place is that it is non-judgemental. I don’t have to explain myself or my choices– great, right?

Then I took a more insightful approach. Am I being intentional about my Third Place? I was choosing without choosing, defaulting to the easiest choice. Have you ever been in an interview and been asked “What do you do in your free time?” or “What are some of your hobbies?” I found myself struggling to come up with a response that wasn’t “ I watch Netflix.”

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the occasional Netflix movie or episode binge, but I could not let this be the only activity outside of home and work. I knew I wanted to get back into my pre-baby shape, and desperately wanted to get back into group fitness classes, but felt so many options were either out of my price range, time range, or driving range. I also felt guilty for not being in shape. “What will the others in these classes think of me?”, I worried.

I spent a lot of time looking at fitness classes or gyms weighing the pro’s and con’s, thinking of how I could make it work with my work and family life. The options were not appealing to me. I spent months talking, thinking, and planning…how could I make this work. If you are like me, I often get an idea get really excited about it and then I lose steam. I did NOT want this to happen again.

Then through good ole Facebook I started hearing about a yoga studio in the town where I live. It was SO close to home I could easily get there, and the schedule had classes I could go to…I didn’t know if I would fit in but a special came up and I couldn’t refuse, so I thought “I will try this.”

I started with an 8 week challenge. That was last December. It’s almost been a year, and although I don’t always make it as much as I would like, I still go. If I have missed class for a couple weeks, there is no guilt, I walk into class and am greeted by friendly faces who are happy I am there– a great Third Place quality. Not only did I start to notice a difference physically, I also noticed a difference socially. I had a community of people now, a place where I belonged. To me that is priceless.
A Third Place is relative. Maybe mine isn’t always the same, or maybe it doesn’t always fit the true criteria of my ideal Third Place all of the time, but I have something. I have something other than a screen now. My Third Place is always there, accepts me, fits my lifestyle, and helps me be the best version of myself, and that’s what I need in my Third Place. Think of your places. Even if your place isn’t the same as mine, I sincerely hope this challenges you to be thoughtful. Time is precious and life is short, be intentional and deliberate about your choices. If you are looking for a Third Place, and are hesitant to jump in, come and join me at mine, you are always welcome!

The 10 (or so) things I learned when I was a friend of Joanna Stanfield Montgomery

The 10 (or so) things I learned when I was a friend of Joanna Stanfield Montgomery

The world lost Joanna Stanfield Montgomery this past Tuesday.  Most of you probably don’t know her, although if you live in Nashville or are a part of the cancer community, or have read Huff post or watched the Katie Couric show, maybe you have also heard the news about her remarkable story.  

I’m not sure I ever knew her completely, yet even though it’s been 3 years since we’ve spoken, I took in the news of her crossing over Tuesday after a long dance with cancer with as much grief as the passing of a family member.  There is an emptiness in the world today—a palpable void, and I find myself wondering how long this vacuum will linger.  

The good part is that Joanna got to choose to leave with family and loved ones holding her up until the end.  She got to spend 3 and a half years with the daughter who, by simply coming into the world, alerted Joanna that she had cancer and needed treatment.  In those 3 and a half years, I watched her morph from afar into a public figure sharing her experience of hope, strength,and grace with so many who benefitted from her amazing voice and vulnerability.

Today, selfishly, in an attempt to come to terms with the depth of my feelings of loss and to try to put some closure on anything unfinished between me and her, I wanted to share my experience of Joanna and the things I learned from being her friend for 4 years.  

Joanna and I were thrown together in a group of people trying to figure out our shit.  In our “real” lives, our circles never touched and we never associated much at large gatherings or events.   From that small group and those shared experiences, we seemed to form a bond of friendship that transcended the normal getting-to-know-you trajectory–there was never any small talk or awkwardness, we always got right to talking about the heart of the matter, whatever it was at the time.  Because of that, I got to experience real, true, equitable adult friendship for the first time in my life.  Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to see her go—-SHE was the one who really taught me how to be a friend.  Here’s how:

  1.  Joanna had magnetism.   She had these arched dark eyebrows, pale skin, and dramatic lips.  Most of the time that I saw her, she looked aloof, cool, regal, and serene all at the same time.  She appeared to have had her shit together, even though I knew we were both in a place where we were supposed to allow all our shit to fall apart.  I don’t know if she practiced appearing this way or if it came naturally, but it was something I really wanted to be around—hoping maybe some of that “togetherness” of self would rub off on me!
  2. Joanna was generous—with all kinds of things.  As a paralegal, she gave me all kinds of advice for free as I was going through my divorce and dealing with single parenthood.  She was my maid of honor when I finally found my forever husband. She threw me a great wedding/baby shower.  She watched my kid from time to time, and always made HER feel special as well–including that one time when we were pregnant together and when I went into labor Joanna came to the hospital to pick up my older daughter and make sure she got safely to a friend’s house for a few days while my husband and I navigated the whole newborn thing.  She bought my Embrace The Wobble stuff when I was just ramping up my business.  She followed my blog.  She traded cars with me when I moved so I could haul more stuff in her SUV.  
  3. She never judged.  And this woman was privy to pretty much everything in my past—all the stuff I have been ashamed of, all the mistakes I’ve made, everything crazy or messy or funny or painful—she knew it all and still wanted to have lunch with me now and then.
  4. She was honest–with herself and with me.   
  5. In her honesty, she was always kind.  Holding up mirrors for me gently, but truthfully, saying what she observed and allowing me to see things I sometimes did not want to see.
  6. She had boundaries.  She pretty much never answered the phone when I called her.  I think this was something she did with more than just me.  She would call me back or email when she was ready to respond, and then would truly be present and available.
  7. She was human.  She usually changed our lunch plans a lot before they happened.  It seemed like she was more comfortable as the helper than the helpee in a relationship, and then would feel irritated about being around “black hole” people.  She had a talent for isolating herself sometimes.
  8. She wore short hair like a boss.  Every woman should do this at least once in their lives.
  9. She had a definitive deliberate style for work and for play.  Another thing every woman should explore.
  10.  She chose herself.  We parted ways three years ago because of two things:  I and my family were trying to “blend” with a newborn, a stepchild, and a new marriage.  This was not always a pretty process, and it took me awhile to find my voice and redefine myself in that role.  I think Joanna felt the changes in me were too much to be comfortable around during that time, AND she had a new baby and a cancer diagnosis to deal with.  She pulled in to her inner circle of family and friends as well as finding her voice in the cancer community.  She and I just couldn’t make our friendship feel comfortable again, especially not having the benefit of a ton of history to fall back on. She did not need or want the stress of trying to hold a challenging friendship together. I get it and applaud her for it.  At the same time, I will always feel sad about this.

In the end, the loss I feel is far outweighed by the gifts I got from having someone like Joanna in my life.   In the last 24 hours, I’ve read a lot of posts online from people who gave condolences, announced her death, and expressed their sadness at her passing—people who never even knew her personally.   How lucky am I to have had 4 years of close, profound friendship with this amazing woman?!  The friendship example she gave me lives on because now I know what to cultivate in myself and look for in others, and have found so many of the same gifts in my own inner circle of friends.  And, having come through a parting of ways with someone so special, it teaches me how to better value and hang onto my current besties—-and how to let them go with honesty and grace if the time ever comes.  

So, thank you, lovely Joanna for existing and sharing some amazing time with me while you were here.  I will never, ever forget it.  Go with God and live on in peace.  Maybe if you think about it, let me know you’re around and remind me how cool you still are.

A Wobbly salute to all the good men

A Wobbly salute to all the good men

In this age of renewed and redefined feminism and our angst about the political push and pull over rights for women (a battle that is both encouraging and maddening), I thought some nice words about good guys would be a great way to finish the weekend.

I spent two hours today in my new-found happy place:  Dance Church.  This is a big dance studio in a local neighborhood that holds space each week for a rave.  In the daylight and with old people and children and everyone else.   It’s amazing and has become the source of my smile for a number of reasons, chief of which is that I love to watch the men who come to dance.

Before my husband has a coronary, let me explain myself.  Today, I watched a father and his toddler boy.  The little one was clinging to his dad for dear life as Dad danced him around in joyful circles all over the room.  They both had the most gleeful expressions on their faces—looked like pure bliss for both.

In another corner of the room, a tall gentleman glided smoothly in geometric patterns of rhythm, stopping every now and then to shake hands with some of the more senior movers and shakers passing him by.

Another older man wears one neon orange sneaker and one neon pink sneaker, and spends the time giving little kiddos “slide-rides” across the floor on some of the large scarves available for all to play with.

There are several other men who are just there doing their thing—looking totally comfortable with themselves, enjoying their expressions and explorations, keeping to the corners or soaking up the energy in the middle.  I imagine these men to be gay, straight, artists, accountants, saints and sinners, fathers, sons, brothers, and friends.

My husband is another (and my favorite) of the men I watch—mostly because I was completely surprised he came with me in the first place.  At first he joined in because it was Mother’s Day and he volunteered because that’s what I wanted to do.  Fast forward to several minutes into the music, and this man I married was out in the middle of the floor, hands up, eyes closed, smiling and grooving like the bad-ass Irishman he is.

My point in telling this story is that I think men have a confusing path to walk today.  I am fully engaged in being a powerful woman and I love the new evolution of feminism.  The gender landscape can change in a hurry as we women further define our power and step into the confidence it takes to wield it wisely.  I am so grateful for men who embrace these changes as both genders learn more about what it means to be men, women, or somewhere in between.

So thank you from the bottom of my heart for men who are willing to be vulnerable and emotional and joyful and playful as much as they are strong and masculine.  May we all continue to dance with joy around and with each other and teach our sons and daughters how to do the same.

Dance your Wobbly dance, and have a great week.  

Open Space: A weird and irresistible way to lead a retreat, and why you should come!

Open Space:  A weird and irresistible way to lead a retreat, and why you should come!

So this retreat thing.  I’ve been struggling for 2 weeks trying to explain to everyone what the Fall 2015 Embrace The Wobble Yoga retreat is about.  Then in a conversation on Facebook a thought occurred to me:  just explain it!  Tell your story about it!

And now, my Open Space story.

When I was 22, my mom invited me to go to a conference.  She had been to the one the year before and had a good time.  Basically, I was thinking all these freeze-dried hippies got together at a nice resort on Lake Superior and sat around in a circle and sang Kum Ba Yah all weekend long, with incense and tie dye.  Since my mom was paying the conference fee, lodging, and meals, I figured, “What the hell?……It’ll be nice by the lake at any rate.”

So, on the first day, we all (around 60 of us) get in this big circle, and the King Hippie (A very cool man named Harrison Owen–wearing a hat but no tie dye) begins to explain the weekend, and how beauty and order come from chaos, and how a little of that is a very healthy thing in our lives, and when we are willing to put our issues and challenges out there for others to see and collaborate on, we get a whack load of shit done in a very short amount of time  (my words, not his, and PS, there were some very high-powered people in the room, I learned later, and they were more deep thinkers, business moguls, and wonderful artists–with a touch of hippie in there too).

So then, we were all invited to put down topics of interest, concern, passion, or struggle on a sheet of paper and tape it to this big blank wall called the “Marketplace.”   A bunch of papers went up.  Then, we were all invited to take a look at the papers—the topics—and put our names down on the papers of interest to us.  There was a unifying theme to this whole bizarre thing, but for the life of me I cannot remember what it was.  I just put my name down on some of the topics that looked fun to talk about.

What happened next was this:  I remember not a thing, really, about what was discussed.  It was 18 years ago, after all.  What I remember is the way I felt.  Every group I joined welcomed me fully and cared about what I thought.  Some of the talks ended up being about my stuff and the group focused on helping me work through thoughts, ideas, solutions, etc. to whatever we were puzzling through.  In other groups I mainly listened and helped others where I thought I could.

Not once did anyone pat me on the head for being one of the youngest people there.  Not once was I asked to leave a group or given the once-over, or non-verbally told I wasn’t welcome at the cool kids’ table.  Never was it implied that my thoughts and views weren’t relevant or important.

After a life of being on the fringes, struggling to find my place, and feeling awkward in groups, I found acceptance and welcome.  I felt powerful and expansive and humbled and grateful all at the same time.  I felt extreme joy and the freedom to PLAY with these other weirdos.  Maybe sort of like ComicCon, only existential and sans storm trooper costumes?  I don’t know. I DO know during the celebration party and dance, I found myself playing DJ and getting the whole room to get up and move.  People were asking geeky ME to show them how to dance like I did.  Holy shit.  How is that even possible?

Needless to say, this was a life-changing experience to say the least.

I went to another such conference a couple summers later, and the theme was different.  This time, as a fledgling manager in my job, I came away with all sorts of tools for people skills, leadership, training and facilitation—-everything that has been a springboard for where I am now.

And the same feeling of personal power, importance, acceptance, love, and value permeated the whole weekend.

Fast forward to now.  I want to host a retreat because people need escapes that do not require airplanes and four thousand dollars.  I want to throw a little yoga in there (duh), but really, I want to create the space for the same feelings described above to occur for a group of 50 of my newest friends.  I want to create the opportunity for expanded community and turbo-charged problem solving.  I want to create a memorable experience in the beauty of nature with folks who want to go deep and laugh long.

So, if this all sounds good to you, I hope you will come play with me in September.  I don’t know exactly what will happen, but I know it will be good.  And if there is one thing we all need more of, it’s goodness.

See you in a few months at Dancing Yarrow, Wobblers.  And, here’s some early-bird incentive.  Register in the next two weeks and save fifty bucks.  I REALLY want you to party with me.

To sign up visit our site here: Embrace the Wobble Retreat

Take care and have a great week!

When Yoga Doesn’t Work…

When Yoga Doesn’t Work…

This week has been a little tough.  There are many deadlines to meet for an upcoming yoga conference, the studio and classes and clients to serve, and a first-in-our-history retreat to finish planning and begin promoting.  Also, it’s been a week of injury for me as well, which leaves me feeling tired, in pain, frustrated, and sad that my regular activities are on hold till I heal.  (I’m kind of used to this by now, it’s chronic arthritis that flares up from time to time, especially seasonally.)

My go-to way of coping with weeks like this is to deny, deny, deny that anything is hard.  I’m trying to “use” my yoga tools—-detachment, gratitude, smile, breathe, stretching gently, etc.  None of them are really working at all to make me feel any better.

So, I’m here to say that yoga does not always work to fix life or to transcend challenges or rise above circumstance.  Sometimes it really does do all those things.  Just not all at once and not this week.

I’m sitting here right now writing and struggling (again) to admit that I cannot do everything and sometimes I need help.  I hate that I’m beginning to come around to the thought that maybe I need these weeks to remind me of those facts.

I’ve been reading a lot of articles on Facebook today about people who have problems that are way worse than mine—-even a very good one about Keanu Reeves and all the heaps and tons of loss he has suffered in his 50 years.  More than anyone deserves to experience, for sure.  Even THAT does not make me feel any better about my current place.

I think, then, the only thing to do is allow and admit that I struggle too—that I am struggling now, right this minute, and yet I am okay.  I will struggle for as long as I do and then life will move through a new rhythm and it will be my turn to not struggle for awhile.

I don’t write this article to garner sympathy or have a pity party– rather to serve as an example that it is okay to be in the group of “other people who have problems”  once in a while and sit there for as long as you need to.

It’s nice sometimes, just to let others into your struggle.  I can’t think of anything specifically that I need (other than for my back to stop hurting—but I have a great chiropractor) right now…maybe just company.  So, Wobblers, keep me company while I sit here in the soup.  What is going on with all of you this week?  What is your high?  What is your low?  What are you doing this weekend?

Be well and tell those who keep you company through the struggles AND the triumphs how much you appreciate them.

Oh, and here is a link to a lion and a tiger keeping each other company.  This video actually DOES make me feel a bit better.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9je3P-_NmU


A completely shameless plug!

A completely shameless plug!

Hi, Wobblers.  I’m terribly excited about this Saturday, so I’m going to talk about it in my blog—because it’s mine and I can.

This Saturday, we are going to hang out in the studio for a couple of hours and talk about bodies.  Their shape, their size, their abilities, or lack thereof.  Our feelings—good and bad—about them.

We are going to talk about “perfection” and what that word means to us and how we frame our bodies around that word.

We are going to get educated on exactly what it takes to maintain certain ranges of body fat, and how much work it takes to feel and appear fit.

We are going to be making some personal decisions—-about what healthy looks and feels like–for each of us.  About what kind of nutrition makes us feel nourished, supported, entertained, and satisfied.  About how, when, and where we move our bodies—what our limits are and how to expand them—both in our minds and limbs.  AND WE ARE GOING TO BE COMPLETELY OKAY WITH OUR CHOICES.

Okay, and because it’s a yoga studio, we are also going to do some yoga.  (Of course!)  Finally, we are going to sample some snacks too, so you get to be a voice in deciding the products our studio may offer to it’s students and members in the coming months.  We exist because of you, so why wouldn’t we want to know what you think about our decisions?

So, if you want to join our body party, we still have a few slots left.   Register here on this link:  http://www.embracethewobble.com/education-workshops

This could be the first step to your BEST self.  Or maybe it’s your 99th step.  Either way, we want you on the mat.  Plus, several very cool people have already signed up, and you don’t want to waste a chance to be one of the cool kids, do ya?  I didn’t think so.

Take care, Wobblers.  Say nice things to yourself, and we’ll see you Saturday.


Why You Should Get The Hell Out of Dodge

Why You Should Get The Hell Out of Dodge

I’d really love to book a flight every quarter to Bali, or Tahiti, or even Florida for a week or two of blissful sunshine, luxury accommodations, and gourmet whole food prepared by the best chefs in the industry.  I’ve been to the beach before (when it was within driving distance to my house) and I fully believe that breaks like the one described above are absolutely essential to our health and well-being.

Trips like the one I described help us to de-stress, renew, fill our “cups”, and heal all of our cumulative little hurts—-the physical, spiritual, and emotional pains we endure on a daily basis.

Though someday I fully believe I will have the financial means to travel the world with my family and vacation for weeks or months on end, today I live in the real world.

Thankfully, in this real world, a retreat space exists to provide all of the benefits I just talked about, and it’s RIGHT HERE just outside of Minneapolis.  Can you believe that?!

Ladies and gentleman, I give you……….Dancing Yarrow Farm, and Dennis and Melanie, the Experts-in-Everything owners.

These people are amazing.  And their land is amazing.  And you really should just drop everything and go there.  With or without your kids—either scenario works great.

Melanie and Dennis have created a full-service, farm-to-table retreat experience complete with a running river, sauna, hiking, and Frisbee golf for those who prefer a mainstream family getaway.  For those open to a little deeper dive down the rabbit hole, Dennis provides herbalist healing, dietary consulting, and will readily share his wealth of knowledge on energized mineralization of his soil and the evolution of his journey to complete sustainable living.  It’s fascinating.   Plus, they live in this really cool dome house that is a study in energy efficiency and creative space design.

Our meals (dinner and breakfast) were a rainbow of seasonal color and flavor, despite it being not-quite-spring.  We enjoyed a local chicken, roasted to perfection by Melanie’s capable hands, fresh beets, green beans,  and potatoes.   Dessert was a German-inspired raspberry crumbly cake, finished with a coffee-esque drink called Dandy-blend, made from dandelions and other cool stuff.  I won’t even mention the TWO kinds of pancakes and egg-quinoa-vegetable casserole deliciousness we enjoyed for breakfast the following morning.

Wobblers, THIS is a retreat for real people.  You can chill out or fill your plate with activity.  You can totally unplug.  You can work (they love help on the farm, and reward you with food for different levels of work commitment during the growing season) or play, learn, sweat and swim, or even kayak on the Buffalo river.

Stay tuned, Wobble Tribe, because plans are in the works for a Wobble Yoga retreat at Dancing Yarrow in the Fall.  Meanwhile, take yourself, your spouse, and/or your kids out there for some summer camping to get a taste.  You won’t want to leave.  Find them at http://www.farmstayus.com/farm/Wisconsin/Farm_to_Fork_Retreat_at_Dancing_Yarrow.  Tell them Embrace The Wobble Yoga wishes we were there!

Even though the pics below were taken on a cold, wet, March day, there is still so much beauty and we left feeling warm, full, and renewed!  Melanie and Dennis are featured in the second pic.


dennis and melanie

dancing yarrow farm