I woke up this morning with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I contemplated everything that the last year has been, and when I was done, I found myself dwelling on the gifts the year brought me.

2020 was full of so much. I had so much hope… I left my very steady job to embark on a full time yoga career, just as the pandemic started. I was suddenly putting all on my plans to the side to be a full-time homeschooling mom instead, fitting in my yoga work where I could. I admit, I grieved and had an overwhelming sadness of having to let go of my plans to partner in a thriving yoga studio that lifted people up as part of it’s mission. In person yoga just wasn’t a safe option. Still, I showed up for my students via zoom, and you showed up for me. For that I am GRATEFUL. We were able to continue our connection and heal together as we moved through new schedules and routines for everyone.

As I thought about being grateful for this community, I thought about how far it stretches. Across the country to many states east, west, south, north, even as far north as Alaska. I am so grateful for the connections and re-connections that the pandemic has brought. Because we’ve been isolated and unable to do all of the things that normally take up our time, we’ve been reaching out and renewing old friendships across miles and miles with the help of technology. I never thought I’d be so grateful for a program like Zoom. Yes, it gets frustrating at times to live life and see each other online, but I am grateful for it.

I am grateful for awareness.The tragedies that brought the social unrest and protests this year brought about global awareness to the inequalities that are suffered in the US. The awareness has crossed racial lines in a way not seen before and people are standing up for the rights of others. I am grateful for this awareness and the action that has come and continues to come from it.

I am grateful that my heart is open. In the sadness and isolation, I had to dig deep and reach out for supports so that I would not feel so very lonely. Because I did feel very alone. It brought about this feeling that if was feeling alone, so were so many others and I started to reach out and open my heart so that we could go through this journey together. Through this, I started my Women Coping with Stress and Anxiety during Covid-19 facebook group and Peace Shala program that helps us to support each other right now. It is also why I continue to write to you every week.

I am grateful for learning. Despite being totally exhausted from trying to keep my business going and help my son through his own trials of distance learning, social changes, and being his main playmate, I was able to carve out time to expand my own learning. I got certifications in teaching meditation, yoga nidra (yoga sleep – deep relaxation), and yoga for trauma so that I could not only deepen my own mindfulness practices, but also help others to do so. It is what has allowed me to keep coming back to a calm place when I needed it.

I am grateful for compassion. Seeing so many suffer through job losses and homelessness has been overwhelming. When I do drive out in LA, there are tents set up in every place imaginable – under over-passes, in parks, along the side of the freeway – and I was able to reach out to friends and collect items for my local shelter, Hope of the Valley. There is so much more to do to help, but knowing that so many others feel compassion and contributed to helping those in need made me grateful.

I am grateful for ingenuity and those on the front lines. Scientists and vaccine makers saw a call to action and we have several vaccines rolling out to help immunize people and start bringing an end to the pandemic. At the same time, those in the health care industry have been putting their lives on the line daily to help save others. I am so grateful for all of the essential workers from those in the health care industry to our local grocery store workers doing their jobs all so that everyone else can stay safe.

Finally, I am grateful for boundaries. Above is a picture of me doing a version of the abhaya mudra, the mudra of fearlessness. I am not afraid to move forward with strong boundaries, yet still maintain an open heart. I am not afraid to be compassionate when confronted with difficulties. I am resilient. I choose joy, even when I might want to close off and escape. Sending you all a bit of fearless joy and love as we move into 2021 together.

May you have peace within,

Julia anjali mudra hands

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