Create YOU, Beautiful YOU! 2014!


Ah, my last blog post of 2013 and once again I will build it around the past three year-ending posts – Posts that have emphasized transitions, growth, and adventure. Narratives that have attempted to shine a special light on all the beauty within all of those people that have interwoven their magic throughout this journey that we call, life. They have been the people who have led me, who have carried me, and who reside within me in a very deep and profound way. This last post of the year is for you.

I ended 2012, alone in my house, writing. Dazed and confused and so unsettled, unsure, unbound with what the future offered. Here it is a year later, and I am lying on a bed in a Mexico hotel room. Life is a funny motherfucker. I am still so unsure of so many things, hands outstretched, blindfold on, trying to read the brail on the walls as if they were organically painted by some distant universe, leading me this way or that, but really just continually bumping into things along the way, following light when it presents itself, taking solace in the darkness because I know that is the only way in which I can find the light.

A year ago, I quoted one of my favourite Liz Gilbert’s quotes:
We search for happiness everywhere, but we are like Tolstoy’s fabled beggar who spent his life sitting on a pot of gold, under him the whole time. Your treasure–your perfection–is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the buy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart.

Truth-be told I worked hard on this one this year. It was like a full-time job as I struggled to find the courage to be more on my own. To find my own sense of self. To find my own power in the stillness. To sit in it. To bask in my own radiance. To accept the challenge. As always, it is still a work-in-progress.

It was a year full of challenges: the 365 day Handstand Challenge, the Plank Challenge, the Core Challenge, the 21 Day Meditation Challenge and my personal favourite, the 28 Day Facebook-Free Challenge. I played along with all of these with reckless abandon as they provided a good reason to change things up, if nothing else. Yet it was the everyday challenges that continued to mystify me.

As my Yoga teaching evolved into its second year, I began the year with a focus on that most delicate of Chakras, the Heart Chakra. It would be a theme that carried on throughout the year. I wanted to move on to the Root or the Throat Chakras, but I felt that my true understanding of the Heart Chakra was amiss; that the Heart Chakra had to be in balance; that the giving and the receiving of love had to be balanced. On some days, when it felt like my heart was literally overflowing with joy and love, I had to learn to just sit in it. Enjoy it for myself. Run with it. Play with it. It doesn’t need to be given away so easily although sharing the very essence of it in everyday life is fun. I learned that I am not guarded at all and don’t want to be and if pain and hurt occur due to a more open heart than most, then so be it. At least I could feel. It is good.

Along those same lines, my Yoga practice has continued to be a huge source of inspiration on so many levels, reminding me to find my big deep beautiful breath, and breathe into each and every moment, however uncomfortable some may be. They will pass. Time will heal. Breath will flow. It always has. For this I am grateful. Every morning, I look out my window and give thanks for all those people that have flowed through my life…some lessons, some laughter, many breaths; some quick and shallow, others deep and lasting.

A by-product of this breath has been my newly discovered LOVE of running. I have never been a runner and have used it only as a means toward an end, but in the Spring of this year, I started putting on some mileage and found that my breath flowed like water from a spigot. Free and easy. One breath, one stride, until 10 kilometres had been patched together and I was looking around wondering how I had arrived here, lost in the transportation. Like Yoga, my running became a moving meditation. The more that I focused on my breath, the more miles I put on. Definitely a very cool addition to the fitness aspect of both sports.

Shoulders back, heart forward, bit by bit we chip away at the stone until we have carved out what we want. For some, this takes months, for others, decades. The key is that we keep chipping, however slow, however methodical, however frenzied. Bit by bit, we all get there.

Life simply doesn’t happen all around you, YOU happen to it. You choose, you want, you engage, you plan, you implement, and when things work out, you celebrate. When things don’t work out, you stress. This is how life works. YOU are the common denominator to ALL the good and ALL the bad in your life. That is not saying that sometimes really, really bad things occur to which we can assign no blame whatsoever, it is just saying that YOU control the majority of your own destiny! Today is New Years Eve 2013, and my thought that goes out to each and every one of you – old and new acquaintances alike is, “Make 2014 the year that you want it to be.” Get in touch with yourself, your needs, your desires, your creativity, your moxie, your determination and create your very own year for you!

It is about the journey, and riding the waves as they coast up and down beneath us. I hope to do the same in 2014 – hopefully cutting myself some slack, and learning from some of my mistakes and being kind and gentle to those around me (and myself), because everyone is fighting a fucking battle of some kind. BE THE CHANGE that you want to see (Obama-ism). Each and every single day, change one little thing, and be genuinely surprised when at the end of the year that you are so much closer to being the person that you actually want to be, and there is nothing more sexy or more appealing than watching someone who has that inner swagger going-on! That is beautiful! Namaste. Peace to all with as much love, light and laughter as I can muster. Create YOU, beautiful you!

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It’s not you, it’s me….

IMG_8122 I started (and finished, more or less) this blog on day 4 (/27 days today) of my Facebook divorce. It was an internal struggle for a few months, as I came to realize that all the connection and the camaraderie that I was receiving from cyber space wasn’t that real, and that perhaps the camaraderie that I truly needed was to find my own best friend deep within me.

That’s a tough one, right? We –well, at least, me – is always flitting from one thing to the next, immersed in the doing, but not really immersed in the mindfulness. And the mindfulness can be a variety of things to a variety of people, but for me, mindfulness means being present, being engaged with all that is around us. It is not merely a distraction, an escape, a way of NOT looking for the better you inside of you.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love(d) Facebook on many levels. I think that the biggest positive thing that it added to my life was a feeling of giving, of sharing, of posting something JUST for my Yoga friends, or a little bit of extra inspiration for a shitty Monday. I loved offering up research, and new poses, and new ways of looking at things. New perspectives. For this, it is a great tool.

My positivity ran through my pages like tiny rays of sunshine coming in to brighten even the darkest hour, but what about my own light. Were those rays of sunshine simply reflections off of other shiny objects that had distracted my attention?

Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) has a great quote that has always resonated with me:
“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”

The question is, does social media contribute to that happiness? Or is it merely a distraction to avert our attention from ourselves?

The world can be a lonely place, even when we are surrounded by those we love. We look for answers, we search, we look for love, and we try to find meaning to our existence. More and more, in an effort to feel important, to feel love, to find some sort of meaning, we find ourselves distracted from who we really are, and instead, find our noses buried in our phones or our computers looking for some sort of validation.

Nowhere is this clearer than on the busy streets of Vancouver at lunch hour as people rush to and fro, head down, texting, facebooking, or whatever, completely oblivious to all of the wonderful world around them, as though this imaginary cyber-world between their index finger and thumb was all that they needed.

Well, it is not. We need people. Face to face. Connections. Love. Laughter. Real OUT LOUD laughter that other people hear. Arms wrapped around a friend or lover, giggling, feeling the abdomen shake, hearing the sweet sounds, all 5 senses, sensing, in all of their glorious forms. Real sensing. So next time you feel like dropping in on a friend by way of a texting ‘hug’, invite them out for coffee instead and watch out for that belly laugh….it is infectious!

Go ahead, give out your ‘presence’ this Holiday Season. It is the best gift you can give anybody….including yourself.

** I started my FB Divorce with the notion that I would just detox for 28 days, which will be Christmas Eve, 2013 (tomorrow), and would reactivate then. I don’t think it’s going to happen.

***Two of the more non-invasive medias that I like are Twitter (@BendyGal) or Instagram (@kerryo12). As well as Hotmail: . Yeah, there are lots of way to keep a finger on the pulse without becoming lost in the fray.

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The Essence of Burning Man

It is such a delicate balance: Wanting and needing to explore the vastness of the world diametrically opposed to staying within our doorways and nourishing the love within them. Burning Man serves as a microcosm for our own restless hearts; A time to get out and explore the unknown, a time to wander aimlessly, a time to look at the world with fresh eyes, an open mind, and best of all, an open heart.

Burning Man 2013 was no different in the bigger picture complete with all the small and large trappings to entice one out of their tents, yurts, and camps, but it was also replete with just enough heart warming conversations and love to keep one glued to their chair for a day or two too.

It was my third Burn. The first one had opened my eyes to a world of possibilities – both external and internal – that I never knew existed. The second one had allowed me to explore these possibilities a little bit deeper in a meaningful and fully conceptual way. And the third one – THIS one – had allowed me to integrate these conceptions into my being. I had never been more calm. More relaxed. More open to all the wonder of the universe coming toward me and me drinking it in, like a fine wine, savoring each sip fully and completely, wanting it to last for eternity.

Five girls in a 30 foot R.V. arrived on La Playa, a little later than usual (Gates open at 6 PM on Sunday), Tuesday morning at 530 a.m. It was a nice surprise, when our greeter came to the driver side window and to my shock and awe it was a friend from back home! 68 thousand people at Burning Man this year, and we lucked out by having a friend wave us through. I almost jumped through the driver side window and into his arms!

We had 3 virgin Burners with us, so they were welcomed accordingly and received the great privilege of banging the gong followed by a roll in the dust ceremony, for entrance.

Once through the gates, we found our camp fairly easily and parked the mammoth unit temporarily, while we got ready to hit the Playa for the first time.
The walk out to the Man was beautiful – crisp pre-dawn light as the billowing sun to the East began to rise.

Our first interaction was with a Mime sitting in one of the Art Projects: Two Giant hands pointed toward the sky. One of the girls thought that he needed company in that hand and climbed up to officially greet the Sunrise with him, and for her efforts, she was treated to a back rub.

I couldn’t help but reflect on all the hands that had held me over the past few years, and how those hands had elevated me. And definitely how Burning Man 2013 would be no different in that sense. Complete strangers, from different backgrounds and ways of life coming together to try and elevate others. This, to me, is the true essence of Burning Man.

The morning was magical as we watched the Playa come to life, rode in an Art Car or two, and made it back to camp just in time for breakfast. It was great to say Hello to all of our friends again.

A little relaxing after breakfast, before we realized that it was Tutu Tuesday! Everyone gathered their gear and got dressed and we were off to Explore the Playa by bikes this time. The magic continued as the art of the day began to take shape.

The many beautiful interactions of the week unfolded as I popped in on some Acro Yoga at Center Camp, and revisited some of my favourite places, Spanky’s Wine Bar, The Distrikt, The Pink Mammoth etc. to reconnect with old and new friends alike.

By far, the past 3 Burns have been highlighted with my pilgrimage to The Temple. This year’s Temple did not disappoint. It was elaborate and beautiful and even more of a story this year, as it was made only with wood and glue. While the architecture, alone, is magnificent, it is the stories that line the Temple walls that make it truly a humbling and deeply meaningful day.

The day the Man burns is the party night of the week, and I think that I managed to make it to 10 PM since we had watched the sunrise after a LONG Friday night of dancing. It was still fantastic to see all the people come together and watch the fireworks and the Man burn to the ground. Ah, the big ‘meaning’ of Burning Man, to let go of the past and always start fresh with new eyes and an open heart and mind. How metaphorically easily done, right? And one of the big reasons why my Yogi principles can fit so nicely alongside the 10 Principles of Burning Man.

If the Man burning is about the letting go, then the Temple Burn on the following night is more of a somber experience on a smaller stage (a lot of people leave after Saturday night). We sat VERY close to the Temple Burn, and could feel the extreme heat that goes with the letting go, the fire of our passions, the ways of our future, the beautiful camaraderie of our fellow humans.

We hugged, we protected each other, we shared stories and we were totally content with where we were, right now and the tremendous peace that it brought. Whether traveling the world or enjoying our own worlds within our doorways, being full of gratitude at all we are, and all we can be, is what it is all about. Namaste.

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Ninja Star

Ninja Star

A little ad-hoc piece that Clint and I pasted together on the fly. There is no greater sense of teamwork than when the base and the flyer come together and make something work.

My Acro journey has taught me many things – so similar to Yoga in the dedication, persistence, practice and perseverance with one big addition: Trust. Never before have I had such a deep insight into the phenomena of trust and the profound way that relative strangers can shape it.

In Acro and in life, the biggest strength that one will ever have is in the letting go. Ah, the sweet irony of that sentence and so, so true for each of our journeys. Namaste.

ClintKerryNinja from Kerry O. on Vimeo.

Shot on my Nikon D7000 in high res. Great vid quality. All natural light.

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A little more Acro – Ghetto Star

Always like to post a little progress. After several wipe-outs over several different days, we finally were able to spin. And Spin we did.

We are young ghetto star

Or from Vimeo…

We are young ghetto star from Kerry O. on Vimeo.

*shot on my Nikon D7000 propped up on some Yoga blocks. Great res, imho. Definitely another plus of this Nikon.

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Another circle round the sun…

Ah, birthdays….always a time for reflection. Or maybe a time to search for more eye cream. Whatever time it is, all we know is that it goes FAST.

I don’t place a lot of emphasis on horoscopes or the like, yet I have to acknowledge that I am a TRUE Cancer the Crab (July 20th). Some folks say, ‘oh, you are right on the border with Leo.’ And I have to quickly shut that quirky thought down because it is the water by which I feel most at home. It is the ocean, the lake, the pool, where I can actually feel calmer. More in touch with my life. More authentic. I feel like the water allows me to be me more than any other part of the planet. AND that feels strange to say ‘aloud’.

So, it is no foreign concept that my beach runs have become more regular, more calming, more fluid. My often-repaired knee, sore off-and-on for many years, has grew accustomed to the runs. In fact, it doesn’t even wince now. I forget about the 6 surgeries that have made it what it is….STRONGER (with most of the cartilage still in it!). Each run has become more settling. My mind too has settled. One breath, one step. Yoga has flowed through each stride that I have taken as my breath has gotten into the rhythm of the moment and my mind has totally and one-hundred percent calmed-the-fuck down. How did this happen? How did someone who used to grimace all the way through any run suddenly transform into a person that so needed running in their life that they became notably cranky if a few days passed by without it.

Nature in all its glory is a magnificent way to stay centred. I can look out of my office window and see the ocean. I can walk down to the beach in mere seconds and touch the water with my hands. Yet the most brilliant part of nature is actually “feeling” it on your skin for a prolonged period of time and this is where taking off your shoes and socks and letting the sand squish up between your toes can become so epic. When one is dodging seagulls, running through tide pools – clear at times, slimy with seaweed at others, jumping shells in bare feet, feeling the salt water kicked upon the thighs during a sprint, a jog or simply sliding through the water, this is where the heart becomes one with the world. This is where you know that you are simply a drop in the ocean and that this idea is okay. That this moment is NOW.

Google Earth did a nice job of displaying my 8.5 kms today. I would encourage everyone to get out into nature and let yourself flow with it….

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Tour de White Rock Road Race

The festivities of the Tour de White Rock continued on until Sunday, with the Men’s Road Race starting at 9 a.m. and the Women’s at 9:05. The heat of the weekend continued on as well, and I am sure as the Men approached their 130 Kilometre mark, and the Women approached there 80 KM mark, many had pulled out and were searching for some cool Gelato on Marine Drive.

On the Men’s side, Canadian (Watson Lake, Yukon and now, North Vancouver), and two time Olympian, Zach Bell pulled out an impressive +4 minute victory:

1. Bell, Zachary 3:31:38

Champion System -Bib # 3 Category Pro

UCI_Code CAN19821114

2. Schweizer, Michael 3:35:43

NSP Ghost / Team Germany – Bib # 30 Category Pro

UCI_Code GER19831216

3. Knauer, Florenz 3:36:25

Team Baier Landshut – Bib # 31 Category Pro

UCI_Code GER19890108

On the Women’s side, team Novartis continued to dominate, as Kathryn Donovan of the USA (Los Angeles) pulled off almost a +4 minute victory as well. It was the first time that team Novartus didn’t sweep the podium over the course of the weekend.

1. Donovan, Kathryn 2:20:49

NOW and Novartis for MS – Bib # 202 Category Pro

UCI_Code USA19820129

2. Albrecht, Lex 2:23:34

NOW and Novartis for MS – Bib # 207 Category Pro

UCI_Code CAN19870406

3. Glaesser, Jasmin 2:23:34

Team Tibco – Bib # 276 Category 1

UCI_Code CAN19920708

Tour de White Rock Road Race

***Creative note, I shot all of these shots just slightly underexposed to capture more of the true colours of the day. What are your thoughts, should have I corrected the exposure in Post Production?

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Kits Acro Freestyle

Shane and Kerry Freestyle from Kerry O. on Vimeo.

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A little speed to get ya going…

The Nikon D7000 is also a great video camera – in fact, one of the best in it’s class, and as the Nikon website boasts:

Breathtaking Full 1080p HD Movies with Full Time Autofocus and external stereo microphone jack to record cinematic-quality movies up to 20 minutes all enhanced by NIKKOR interchangeable lens quality and versatility.

This is just a quick little sampling of what the D7000 can do while in video mode. I used Videopad to edit it quickly from 4 or 5 clips. For a free video editor, Videopad works great.

Tour de White Rock Criterion from Kerry O. on Vimeo.

Tour de White Rock Criterion Snips for the big screen

Tour de White Rock Criterion Snips for the little screen

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Tour de White Rock Criterion

It was a stellar day for the Tour de White Rock Criterion on July 13, 2013. Not a cloud in the sky, a balmy 26 degrees with a refreshing breeze off the ocean.

The Crit started at Roper and Johnston, circled down around 5 corners, up Fir Street, and back to Johnston. A one-kilometre course, set to 60 laps for the men and 30 for the women.

It was full of high speeds, elite athletes and unbelievable scenery.

After shooting the Giro di Burnaby with my iPhone, I amped up my coverage a bit, snapping over 600 pics in a 2 hour period; this time on my Nikon D7000 (18mm to 105 mm).

The D7000 is a mid-range consumer camera that has proved to be the RIGHT choice for me. It is light. It is responsive. It fits in my hand beautifully, and the dials are all easy to adjust with the camera body against my cheek. It took me over 2 years to decide on which camera I was going to buy and I think that I made the right choice for my ever wandering creative eye.

Tour de White Rock Crit

***leave a comment or email me if you would like any of these photos.

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