event recap: 2014 Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis

As I continue to let go of my event planning days, I’m  enjoying being a guest, attendee and participant at local functions again. No longer do I walk into a room and ask “I wonder where they rented their linens from” or “I hope there’s enough space for that restaurant vendor in that corner”. It’s hard to turn off the event-logistics monkey mind!

But in an attending the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis here in Cleveland this past weekend, I would find myself with my biggest post-event-planning-career challenge to date. But as I planned this race in 2012 and in 2013 as a former employee of the organization, I knew it would be easy to fall into the fun.

lets go grady dog picmonkey

 {Grady’s excitement just could not be reigned in.}

Our team — Team Grinch Paws — came together in full force: my husband, my brother, my friends and I joined together on Sunday, December 14th at Legacy Village. We of course started with a pre-race Starbucks pit stop.

baby j's first 5K

I was so happy that Jen from WhyCLE? and her family signed up to walk the one-mile Family Fun Run option. Baby J seemed to love every moment of his first 5K experience. He’ll be running the full 3.1 miles in no time!

As the rest of our team ventured out for the full 5K, Grady and I made up our own two mile version of the course. Grady’s excitement for the day had us power walking at a good clip! As we went along, it was a joy to come across friendly faces, even crossing paths with the event photographer, Orville from Orville McEachron Photography:

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{Photo ℅ Orville McEachron Photography — check out all 400+ of the race photos over at his Facebook page.}

Confession: In planning this event twice, Sunday was the first time I actually walked the course. (We drove it several times each year, don’t worry.) I know understand what the runners meant by this being a more challenging 5K than others in the Northeast Ohio area — there are a few rolling hills through the old TRW campus that make for a good hike!

LONG STORY SHORT: Team Grinch Paws did wonderfully at this year’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis! My brother Drew finished second in his age group with a 20:15 — such a speed demon!  Lisa — @lisasands1 over on the Twitter — rocked her first 5K after taking time to train this Fall.  My non-runner husband Hans “enjoyed” his last minute decision to run the 3.1 miles. (We’re working on our post-run stretch routine for next year!)

Photo Dec 14, 10 33 03 AM

As for Grady and I, we walked our two mile course in a little over a half an hour, making time to stop and say hi to some old friends and work colleagues along the way. It felt great to be out in the brisk December air supporting an important cause working towards eliminating a disease that effects more than 1.3 million Northeastern Ohioans. Supporting a local non-profit, getting in some exercise and having a highly enjoyable time? What a great start to our Sunday!

Want to donate to the Arthritis Foundation? You can click over to our team page and still give through this month. Thank you in advance!

Want to stay in the know for 2015?  Keep up to date with all the CLE Jingle Bell Run/Walk happenings by following its Twitter handle at @JingleBellCLE.

Disclosure: I am a former employee of the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeastern Ohio. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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on the mat: Prana Shakti ParaYoga Master Training at Flying Dog Ranch

Following my Instagram last week got you another round of vegetarian meals, yoga mats and training manuals shots. It could only mean one thing: I was off at another ParaYoga master yoga training session — this one in Carbondale, Colorado.

carbondale 2014 Collage

My yoga-teaching partner-in-crime, Kevin (pictured in the last photo in the collage above), joined me for another adventure out West. I had never spent much time in the state (other than a layover at the Denver airport), but I can now say that Colorado didn’t disappoint.

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 Our rental outfitted with our own ranch and horses. Best homeaway.com property ever.

So while we enjoyed all that the valley near Aspen had to offer, we had work to do. The 5-day “Prana Shakti” Intensive lead by ParaYoga’s founder, master teacher Rod Stryker, was just as stimulating, inspiring and educational as the other sessions I’ve experienced. (He is the same teacher who lead The Four Desires immersion we attended in Cincinnatti in September 2013 and the Tantra Shakti master training we attended in California this April.)

The intensive description from the ParaYoga website: “Prana is the force of life. In yoga it is everything essential. Without its grace, transformation would literally be impossible. The science of Prana (Prana Vidya) is the knowledge of awakening the fullest potential of yoga and life.“ 

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The time spent at the Flying Dog Ranch (pictured above – from my IG) were more than just a “yoga retreat” even though it might sound like one: every morning started off with some sort of grounding practice (meditation and/or chanting mostly), followed by a lecture then an extended practice with asana, pranayama (breath work) and meditation.  Our lunch break — which was catered by Rod’s wife’s catering company — was filled with some of the best vegetarian meals a yogi could hope for, plus plenty of opportunity to connect with the rest of the ParaYoga community members (something I greatly appreciated and felt a tad bit lacking during our visit to Berkeley this spring). We’d then come back for another four or so hours of lectures, group work and more practices for the afternoon. As you could imagine, there was a lot of information to soak in.

Five days and thirty pages of handwritten notes later, I put away my notebook (vowing to bring my MacBook next time), considering all the lessons of what this practice of yoga, tantra and ancient teachings meant for me at this time in my life.

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As you can imagine, it’s hard to figure out which of those many lessons to start with after completing a training like this. You want to come home and implement everything immediately. That awesome sun salutation variation you learned during a kundalini practice. The various ways to manipulate the breath to help move energy. How you can take your rekindled excitement for your own personal practice back to Cleveland with you.  

But to start, the lesson from this training that will be easiest to implement/recommit to was that thought follows energy and energy follows thought.  That would be a #whatyoubelieveyoucreate FTW.  Change your thinking. Change your world. It’s that simple. But first, let me start with Northeastern Ohio. Watch out, Cleveland — I’m coming for ya…

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it’s time for a change (an update on an evolving career)

My yoga practice and teaching path might have started elsewhere, but it made its new home here last twelve months ago.

In the fall of 2012, I returned to full time employment. With going from freelancing back to a full-time job, concern worried me. How would I fit in a regular practice to this 40+ hour a week schedule? But then I got word that Evolution Yoga announced it was reopening  – and in the same plaza as my full time job — it felt like the Universe was opening up to say, “no worries, Alicia — here’s a vinyasa yoga studio and enjoy.”

In October 2013, the studio opened and I had the opportunity to audition to join the teaching staff.  I dove right in, picking up two classes on the regular schedule, trying to learn as much as I could from Sandy, the studio owner, and the other EY teachers. This new community accepted me with open arms as my previous yoga home closed it doors, allowing me to thrive in this new-to-me setting.

The past twelve months have been a journey in understanding myself: as a teacher, as a student, as a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend. But in all of it, a few things kept me focused:

  • A deep down desire to serve others.
  • A need to make more space in my life for positive energies.
  • A want for more opportunities to grow my yoga career while utilizing the skills I developed an event planner and community builder.
  • A goal of accepting myself for exactly who I am.

But to do all of that, I had to change. And DRASTICALLY. It was crystal clear that it was time to do what was necessary to achieve what I wanted to become.  And lucky for me, the community surrounding me was there to help make it happen.

This month, I start as the Director of Development for Evolution Yoga School & Practice Space. I’ll be able to use all the skills I’ve learned so far in my professional career to help the business thrive. This new role also gives me the opportunity to grow as a yoga teacher (including adding more classes to my teaching schedule!) – something I’ve dedicated myself to for the past year.  I’m so excited to dig in.

To Sandy and the entire EY community: thank you for welcoming twelve months ago with open arms. You’re all about to get a lot more hugs, savasana assists and playlists filled with John Mayer slow jams.

File this one in the #whatyoubelieveyoucreate folder, kids – sankuplas (and dreams) do come true.

So maybe do me a favor if you haven’t already? Like Evolution Yoga on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter at @EvoYogaCLE and Instagram at @evolution_yoga. Visit the studio’s website to learn more & check out our MINDBODY page to see the schedule of classes.

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