Distracted by Dazzle.

How did your garden grow?

It is the season of harvesting, gathering, and sowing of all we tended over the warmer, sunnier, spring and summer months.  A good time to bring within and really look at what we actually cultivated.  Is it in line with what we thought we had intended, planted, all those many hope-filled months ago? Or do we maybe have a rouge lettuce plant growing under your deck (yes that happened).

It is time to come inside, to nestle in, to reflect, to stare at the flame.  Quieter, subtler, more internal, soother times are here with the approaching shortening days leading to the winter equinox.  Invite others inside to share this time with you.  Set extra plates at your table, share your abundance, your harvest, with those you love and those you want to know better.  The natural setting around a meal is a perfect opportunity for giving thanks, offering blessings, stating out loud to your table gathering your gratitude.  Bow your head and allow the acceptance, appreciation and graciousness to fill you.

blessed to have my entire family together last thanksgiving

As we approach the season of lights, sparkle, snazzmatazz, we too quickly can be caught like a deer in the headlights of all the tinsel and glitter literally being thrust upon us.  I love the season of twinkle, but try to not rush to it.  Don’t be distracted by the dazzle quite yet, first do the halting, reflective, grateful part.  The contemplation on your offerings are just as important as the gifting and receiving of the later weeks yet to come.   As the master Ram Das stated so eloquently “be here now”.  Lets eat!

||  Karyn Robinson, original creator/founder of Bali Malas is joyously back to writing our newsletters, blogs and managing our social media.  ||

Be sure to subscribe our blog.  Our first post on how Bali Malas came to be “Born in a Snowstorm” sets the stage!

Birth in a snowstorm.

Almost eight years ago there was a snowstorm, one very much like our recent snowstorm. Bitter cold, multiple days of snow, frozen molecules of sparkling frost floating in the air, not quite a snowflake not quite not a snowflake. Magical, halting, inward, anticipatory, hibernation, hearty soup kind of storm.

My good friend Soma, who has lived in Bali for over 25 years, and who has three sons as I do, was visiting that night. We shared a beautiful meal, wine and stories and closed tighter on the warmth of our fire. Soma unrolled a little bundle of cloth from her palm onto my wood floor, while our lovers sat in witness, the bundle exposed to us necklace strings of seed-beads with tassels. “Malas”. I recognized them because I had just purchased my very first “mala” ever that same week. I bought it because its proceeds were to fund the good works of Seane Corn, the YouthAIDS ambassador. I wore it that night of Soma’s serendipitous visit.

I reached for one, touched it slightly to my finger tip, then slid it deep into my tight fist. Instantly I felt authenticity. An authenticity similar to what is felt in an old chapel, floors worn from kneeling, vigilantly holding years of tears, prayers, dreams and sorrows spilt there. I could hardly hear her question. “would you like to help me bring these to the west?” and without much thought “yes”, I answered.

Bali Malas has done what we intended all those nights ago, to bring that sacredness, that feeling, that awareness, that Rudraksha into the world.   Though not exactly a “household” word (yet!), we have grown, strained, worried, and ultimately succeeded in spreading this seed. Soma now has multiple distributors across the globe. There are several other folks also creating their own version of rudraksha malas. Bali Malas helps to earn a living wage for 10+ Balinese women. Bali Malas choose Bumi Sehat, home to miracle angel Robin Lim, to donate a portion of its proceeds to from day one. Bali Malas created the Bali Street Children Bracelet to help keep homeless kids off the streets of Bali. All of Soma’s distributors now have a similar charter.   We have impact…

With each caress of your rudraksha mala we wish you a magical, halting, inward, anticipatory, hibernation, hearty soup kind of inner storm.   A storm filled with excitement, anticipation, crispness and the sparkle of each inhalation of that crystal air. Not quite a snowflake, not quite not a snowflake.

|| Karyn Robinson, creator and founder of Bali Malas passed on ownership of Bali Malas ten months ago to the divine Christy Wandrei. Karyn is now back supporting Bali Malas via her writings (blogs and newsletters) and social media ||

Solid Ground

‘’SOLID GROUND”

Big pause, big breath, big gap, big disconnection, big un-grounding.  Literally unstable ground beneath our feet for upwards of eight days in what is generally known as a very arid climate.  Typically here in our high desert we will pour water onto a dry houseplant to watch the water run off the dry soil before it can hold enough moisture to actually soak in.  The houseplant soil then becomes saturated, and more saturated and then overly saturated and eventually the water runs over the pot of the plant.  What we were experiencing a year ago here in the foothills above Boulder CO, was the same effect, but with the brute force of mother nature in charge of the watering.

September 10, 2013:  I’ve been told “There is your business, someone else’s business and Gods business.”  We woke up on what was to be a typical mid week day, but realized very quickly this was to be a day like none other seen in 500 years.

Our little house proved itself over these weeks of flooding.  The honeymoon, however, did become officially over with our new little adobe mountain nest.  We had been in the honeymoon phase of our relationship since we made the commitment to each other only 101 days pre-flood. She showed us what she’s made of and did make us proud by with standing 12” deluge of rain in one night, and over 18+ inches of rain over the following three days.  As we held firm to each other, her to us by staying tight, she took on no water, us to her by aiding in exterior water flow with ditches dug.  We did our best to protect her and warm her from the belly out as we christened our semi damp kiva fireplace.  With some of the 80 mph gusts adding insult to injury, shuttering her floorboards, she held firm.  We monitored her hourly and when she wasn’t capable of sustaining her electrical power and phone connection we dug found the candles and collected the torrential rain water.   The only sustaining mark from this historical storm our home has is on our handcrafted traditional kiva adobe fireplace where we got some water seepage near the flu.  Now, a year later, I often glance at this small water mark as her scar from a fierce battle of nature and remember.   We are oh so lucky as we know too many who didn’t fare nearly as well.

Our foundation, adobe and beams all held,  but the earth around us was getting to that saturation place.  This is when the full awesome battle of water and earth unfolded.  Not often do we get to witness and record the destruction that rushing water can do to the earth in a 24 hour period.  The earth, solid ground, was beaten down in this battle, but didn’t give in without a fight.  Earth tried clogging water with as many obstacles it could throw at it, dirt, rock, trees, cars…  Us humans, we were inconsequential, irrelevant to this battle, we were innocent bystanders inadvertently, randomly, caught in the epic battlegrounds of Jamestown, Ward, Lyons, Wagonwheel Gap, N Boulder Storage, the beautiful golden field at the mouth of our main canyon road, Lee Hill, Bow mountain, boulder canyon…. These fierce battlegrounds lay scattered below us, essentially surrounding us and cutting us off from being able to leave for six days.  We were told by the first responders who came to our door that our neighborhood fared quite well considering the situation encircling us.  In a few days, slowly, and with much trepidation, the sun gathered its courage to stay out and hold strong.  The ground below us began to dry out, the battlefields began a slow repair, the bystanders began a painful rebuilding.  The new rivers and waterfalls still flow around us, however ever so subtly and carefully they begin to slowly turn down their battle cries, their volume, their intensity.  The sounds of running water, our serenade nightly before sleep gingerly placing us back on solid ground.

When it’s all said and done.

It has been over seven years since I met with my dear friend Soma Temple on a magical snowy night.  She laid out her beautiful creations on our floor, “malas” she called them.  As a fire roared, our beloveds sat on the couch and watched us as we untwisted the tags, strings, beads, laughed, giggled and began creating our future together.  It has been quite a journey since that night, we announced it to the world and then we got our first order.  I will never forget our first customer, a dear friend of my husbands, for taking the leap of faith to purchase this “rudraksha mala” as a gift for his mother in New Jersey.   Since that first sale we have sold tens of thousands of Soma’s sacred creations, we have defined, and helped others to pronounce “rudraksha”.  Through the generosity of these sales we have donated thousands to Bumi Sehat, and Bali Street Children, Wounded Warrior Project and recently to flooded parts of Colorado.   Together we have literally spread love, and let me tell you, that is a great job and something that will be REQUIRED of any other business I tend next.   It is time for me to begin the tender task of taking steps on a new path, scary, as I’m not sure what that path even looks like yet, but I believe my heart does.

So as I step away from Bali Malas I leave it in the soft, loving, capable hands of Christy Wandrei.   Christy has been working with Bali Malas for about three years as an ever present supporter and sales goddess.  You may have seen her and our products at numerous yoga festivals through the years.  We are so glad she will be taking over the running of Bali Malas and we know her passion for spreading the “rudraksha love” as she calls it, will be contagious!

So it is with sweaty, shaking hands pressed together, I humbly bring my third eye center to my finger tips and bow to you.  You’ve accepted my typos, my stumbles, my failures.  You’ve always held me accountable, and kept me to the highest integrity.  Another lesson I will certainly be taking with me to my next journey.  You’ve all seen me through some OMazing transitions, a son going off to war, watching our community struggle through devastating floods , immersion and yoga teacher training, travels to Bali, mala bombs and motherhood and so much more.
I deeply bow to my teacher Shiva Rea, my numbers and business advisors Cheri Violonaand Vinaya, the loves at White Swan, Devi of the details Jennifer Rives, my media maven Tali, Soma and all the Bali angels, and my beloved sherpa and supporter Jay.

As ABBA states: Standing calmly at the crossroads ~ No desire to run ~ There’s no hurry anymore  ~ When all is said and done.

Terima Kasih my dear ones, Selamat malam.
2014 blessings to you this new year.
In grace,
Karyn

 

Pax Um Biscum.

Peace be with you.

As I gaze out at my view of 200 acres of stillness covered in white, I try to calm the turmoil that rushes through my mind.  I try to reflect the cold quiet of the external world outside my window into the buzzing, spinning hot restlessness of my internal mind.  It surprises me sometimes when I find myself particularly “wound up” or moving at 100 mph inside our home, to just look outside for a moment at the undisturbed, tranquil, peacefulness in nature, right outside my door.  We recently moved to this “retreat home” in the foothills west of Boulder CO, after 28 years of living in the “thick of it”.  I had been longing for quite some time for space, for quiet, for a place to be able to truly retreat to.  Towards the end of the journey of raising four children, owning several businesses, countless volunteering, and multiple careers, I believe at this time in my life (being 49 1/2 years) it is a time of going inward, to be more with myself.  I am working to have my day to day reflect the hush of whats outside my windows.  I am trying to simplify, to cut down on my to-do lists, to pull back from being “out there” to being more “in here”.  Sometimes I do get the pangs of guilt, I’m not doing enough, I’m lazy, I should be out changing the world, writing the novel, doing more, making more, being more. This season in particular, I am working on embracing the quiet contentment of less.  With the holi-days upon us, I am taking the opportunity to strive for more peace, at a time of year that can sometimes be, well, not so peaceful.

On my soul’s Christmas Wish list this year is this beautiful definition of peace:  freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.  Over the years the best way I have found to cultivate this definition of peace is through meditation.  ANY kind of meditation, prayer, sitting still, focusing on breathing, mantra, yoga, walking with determination and intention.  Being present.  Being conscious.  Noticing.  Smelling. Touching. Stopping. Feeling.  All of these help to refine our inherent, essential nature of peace.

So this year I want to focus my celebrations around peace, through peace, being peaceful, giving peace, wearing peace.  If we tap into what is all around us, the snow, the going inwards, the lighting of candles and fireplaces, the lessening of the light, it all lends to ourselves finding a more peaceful way.   Take the breath, go on the walk, slow down your movements, single-task.  As I slip on my Sorels, zip up my coat and head out with the dogs into the serenity of white, know I am sending to all of you my soul’s Christmas wish of “peace be with you”.

Castaway vs. Refugee.

 “Time rules over us without mercy. Not caring if we’re healthy or ill. Hungry or drunk. Russian, American, beings from Mars. It’s like a fire, it could either destroy us or it could keep us warm. That’s why every FedEx office has a clock, because we live or we die by the clock,. We never turn our back on it and we never ever allow ourselves the sin of losing track of time. -Castaway with Tom Hanks

Would you rather be a castaway for a refugee?  Never thought about it, never thought I’d have to think about it.  Well the Colorado Flood last week made me think about it.  We choose castaway.  We seriously considered refugee, and many of our neighbors choose this option during our voluntary evacuation order.  We’d rather be in our home than not, really, that was the bottom line.  Even if being in our home meant not being able to leave it or return to it because of deteriorating roads, intermittent power, which also means intermittent water, no phone service, and watching helplessly the rain come down….. and down again.  So once our decision was announced first to the OMazing first responders who came to check on us, then to the tad more intimidating FEMA guys, our mailbox was tagged accordingly.  Red ribbons mean evacuated, yellow ribbon means staying.

The first few days of isolation flew by, lots to do, lots of neighbors to help, lots of friends to check in on, lots of email to tell our friends we are okay.  Plus the digging of water trenches, collecting rainwater for drinking, and taking food inventory.  After day five beginning to feel the isolation.  Knowing there is major destruction at the bottom of our mountain, knowing there are neighbors stuck, literally, by mud in their homes at the base of our canyon.  Keeping the fire burning, keep an eye on the food supplies, watching the homes of the neighbors who have evacuated and changing out the wet towels left to sop up the water.  After days of watching our main road deteriorate we decided to move one of our vehicles across the failing road while we were still able, hopeful, in case it fails completely we can wade across the “river” and still be able to evacuate.  And so time goes…

Wednesday night when I was teaching, during savasana I heard the pounding of rain on the roof. Thursday, the storm arrives in full. Thursday night we received 12 inches, flooding began, roads began to wash away  Friday – still raining, a bit of a blur, main road out begins to crumble Saturday – still raining, but with spots of hopeful sunshine peaking through, news of Lyons and Lefthand Canyon complete destruction  Sunday – still raining, could hardly look outside, so depressing as it just poured and poured  Monday tags on mailboxes, moved truck across failing road  Tuesday – first excursion down in six days, very surreal, destruction beyond compare, landscape changed forever.  Had to stop myself several times to allow the tears to flow.  Wednesday – stuck again, road crews have closed the road again to begin major repairs  Thursday – the days just go by don’t they?  A week since the storm, and road still closed, passable only during certain hours.  Access only to residents. Oh and still no phone.

We are safe, we are dry, we are grateful, we are beginning to lose track of time.

Inspired.

“I am not perfect now nor have I ever been. I am growing, learning, moving forward in my journey and in exploration of this earth. Always striving to be perfect, but never achieving. Because I am human.”  –Alex Minsky
(see full article and photos here)

Inspired.

in·spi·ra·tion

/ˌinspəˈrāSHən/
Noun
  1. The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative: “flashes of inspiration”.

I had my blog drafted and half written, already into the format I wanted and was beginning the edit when I stumbled upon this article on this young man, Alex Minksy.  Yes, the photo got me interested, his story kept me reading, and he inspired me.  Sometimes you just have to change course and go with the direction your heart steers you.  Sometimes you just are inspired, moved, and HAVE to take a different route.  Inspiration to me is an emotion, a feeling, it moves you.

There are times when we just can’t help but listen to inspiration.  Inspiration often gets me out of my rut of thinking, the deep gully I have forged in my day in day out, same behavior, same thinking pattern.  I will often see an image, read a story, listen to a song, experience something beautiful, and if I can truly see it for what it is and allow it to move me, this is my definition of inspiration.  Pintrest is a great place for inspiration, especially for a visual person like myself. Allowing myself to feel inspired by even the smallest of things can often subtly shift my perspective, my outlook, my self-imposed pity party.  I think the biggest part of being inspired is first to allow yourself to be inspired.  So often we walk on by, ignore, don’t notice or won’t allow ourselves to open to the inspiration.  It can be a bit heart wrenching, it can be a mirror reflecting back to you things you may not want to see about yourself and the world.  You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable, open yourself up in order to allow yourself to feel and be inspired.

The second key aspect of inspiration is to take action on the inspiration.  To be inspired without acting on it is like watching a movie, seeing moving, beautiful things, then going home and being no different for the experience.  A recent example of taking action on inspiration, was me backing up on a deserted road to get a picture of an amazing house I had just driven past.  I could have kept driving and hoped I had remembered the image, instead I was inspired by the beautiful color of the trim on the house to go back and get the photo.  Now I have a perfect color of blue to create something new.

Open up, let things move you, expose your heart, feel inspired, then, take the action.

Wear Peace is so inspired by Alex Minsky, we are offering a coupon code (see below) and will be donating 5% of our proceeds for the month of August to the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Move.

My Red Chair.
After 28 years of living in essentially the same six block radius of western/central Boulder, CO it was time for a change.  We have been pondering a move for a few years now.  We seriously considered Europe, but too big of a change for right now.  How about a modern prefab on land somewhere?  Or build our own new home?  We’ve been collecting information and scanning websites and MLS.  We have loved Boulder but sometimes there is a need for a new view, a different perspective. I began to really listen and pay attention to the words I was using when describing what I wanted in a move.  Space, different view, a bit removed.  I narrowed it down to wanting a home where I couldn’t see another house, where our dogs could run free, I could play my music loud and sunbathe without worry of the UPS man popping in.  A few months ago my daughter and I began the hunt in earnest. One lazy Sunday my daughter and I drove out to see several different properties.  Each one was a bit too run down, or too far out, or too something.  The last one on my list that day was in the foothills.  Now, when you live in Boulder you are either in the city or in the mountains.  I have NEVER been a mountain gal.  I love visiting them and camping in them but to MOVE to them, ahhh no thanks.  However, it was a beautiful day, and we were out and about anyway, so we decided to take the winding road up the mountain.  Twisting, turning, then dirt, then more swirls, then a  private road off the already dirt isolated road, and there it was, our new home.  We both knew it from that moment.  There perched on the side of rock outcropping was a stucco adobe styled home with a view, oh the view!  Space!  I took my husband up to see it that week in one of Colorado’s renowned freak spring blizzards, figuring this was a good test of the roads and what it would be like in the winter, and success! The inside of the home is spacious, all open with a huge sun room spanning the entire west side of the house and uninterrupted view of Bald Mountain (see insert at right).  The handcrafted mud Kiva fireplaces sits regally at the center of the open living space.  The traditionally crafted handmade mud and straw brick walls surrounding it, with convenient little nooks for my “special treasures”.

It has been like moving to another state, it is so different than living in the city, but with (finish reading)

Memorial Day.

Warrior:  (Tibetan: “pawo”)  
From my understandings of the teachings of Shambhala Buddhism, the essence of warriorship or the essence of human bravery is refusing to give up on anyone or anything.  The warrior rests in the state of warriorship, rather than struggling to go to the next step.  The warrior experiences a sense of relaxing in his unconditional confidence.  This describes my son.
MEMORIAL DAY, has gotten me to thinking of Virabhadrasana, warriors and my son.

My sailor son has been in the US Navy for almost five years.  When he is home on leave I try hard to be in the moment with him, hold him when I can and not allow that deep soft part of my heart trigger the tears that flowed uncontrollably when arrives and when he leaves.    Having him home with our entire family reminds me of that place of bitter/sweet tenderness.  That place some Buddhists call the  genuine heart of sadness.

“By simply letting yourself be as you are, you develop sympathy toward yourself,  awakening this genuine heart within yourself. … Your entire being is exposed – to yourself, first of all but to others as well. … If you search for awakened heart, if you put your hand through your rib cage and feel for it, there is nothing there except for tenderness. You feel sore and soft, and if you open your eyes to the rest of the world, you feel tremendous sadness.   Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others.”

The eldest of my three sons, he left a pretty cushy situation as a sophomore at ASU in Tempe AZ after one of his writing assignments in a class was something of the nature of “what do you want to do with your life, what do you want on your epitaph?”  He choose to serve his country, as odd as that can sound in these times, and especially from a child born and raised in Boulder CO, raised on all organic foods and taken to nuclear plant protests throughout his childhood by his “hippie” mom.  It has been difficult having him so far away for so long and I’ve practiced with my warriorship, meditation, bravery, *Vira I and Vira II yoga poses and the occasional margarita, to get me through the tougher times, i.e. Christmas, birthdays, far off wars….

And yet, with all my practice and preparedness I still find my mind drifting to the questions.  When will I see him next?  Will he be deployed again to war?  Will he come home whole, body, mind and spirit?  Will he come home with another tattoo or with a wife?  Only time will tell and in that time it is my time to learn again how to surf through the days without him close by.  I will certainly be found often in my many variations of Virabhadrasana, including my favorite, crumbled on the floor exposing my genuine heart of sadness.

As he told me when he first went into the military, we both want peace in the world (read more)

Mala Bomb!

Recently we had the extreme fun of sending out mala bombs!  You may have heard of “love bombs” as described here, an act where you throw some love at someone who least expects it, but most needs it.  Just a little something to hopefully remind those that may not be feeling it how much they are loved.  Love Bombs are often in the form of an email, texts or phone calls…  Recently were doing some office spring cleaning and I came upon a dozen or so malas that I’ve worn over the years but no longer wear.  Being in the mala business for over seven years, you’re bound to accumulate such beauties, especially with so many new ones coming in weekly, its hard to keep just ONE favorite!  So what to do with these “previously adorned” and much loved malas?  I really didn’t want to give them up, there they sat, on my desk for weeks.  Recently our accountant  told me the story of being with a friend for tea who was having a really difficult time in her life.  Our accountant took mala off from around her neck and still warm, lovingly placed it around the neck of her friend in need, now words, just love….. mala bombed!  Historically malas are given to a student by their teacher, this student/teacher relationship takes many forms.  At the above described “mala bomb” incedent our accountant was “teacher”, her friend was “student”.  As Michael Franti says “When the hard times come, you know the teacher’s in the room”.

When we first started our business years ago we practiced this tradition often, over time I’ve noticed I’ve become quite attached and in retrospect, haven’t gifted or “mala bombed” someone in an embarassingly long time.  Enter FaceBook! I thought I’d post something in regards to a mala bomb to our OMazing followers on FB and see what type of reaction we’d get.  I was overwhelmed!  We got so many many requests from people with who and why a mala bomb was in need.  Hence we began detonation, sending out as many “mala bombs” as we had malas sitting on my desk!  Several to friends who were in brave battles with that malevolent of all diseases cancer, one to a husband who was enduring the pain of his parents divorcing, one for a daughter who was in the depths of a depression.  We will be sending out another round of mala bombs soon, keep tuned to our FaceBook page for details, but remember, you too can mala bomb anyone at any time!  Go for it, listen to your intuition, act on it and muster the courage to hand one over.   One of my favorites experiences of mala bombing was to the barista at the coffee shop who seemed to be struggling, I took it off myself and gave it to him while I was waiting for my drink!  The best best best part of these random acts of kindness is how it makes YOU feel.  It is heart opening and ego softening, thrilling, a bit scary and very touching.  Thinking of who you’d like to mala bomb?  FIRST you need to LIKE US! and we’ll let you know when the  next round will be detonated!

Mala Love from our friend in N.C. ~ “Thought you might appreciate the wonderful new use I’ve discovered for my mala. I use it to “hypnotize” ornery children at nap time in my preschool class (“Your eyes are getting veeeeery heavvvvy”). The love to watch it spin or swing like a pendulum. They close their eyes and I sweep it across the forehead or chin. Sometimes they just like to fumble the beads through their fingers. In at least one case, it’s transformed what is usually a mutually antagonistic situation into a sweet, tender, ritual. Thanks for helping to make my day a little easier.”  Got a story of how you use your mala, send it to us so we can share your inspirations!