Welcome to the Launch of Balance & Grace!!!!

"This site is developed with the recognition that we are not alone. We are in this together. Who we are is more important than the titles we give ourselves or the labels we accept. Life is a journey to be shared, not a race to be won. Here we will develop balance and cultivate grace by celebrating, supporting, and challenging the spiritual, physical, and emotional growth of each other. We will teach each other and create a safe haven for discussion. Respond to a post, start a new topic, make a video request, or share a thought. It is here because of you and for you. So jump on in!!!!"
~Christine Grace Ivy,
Balance and Grace Pilates and Life Coaching~
www.wix.com/mamasladybug/christineivy

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Reflection

Sitting in my parent's living room, my belly full of mom's home cooking, aware of  Layla lazily sleeping on her furry side across the room,  I am half listening to my mom as she sits chatting with my brother. I note my dad watching everyone with a thoughtful gaze, and I can feel the focused energy of my sister-in law who is working on a craft project in the kitchen. The tv is off and the smattering of conversations flit in an out of earshot. Nothing all that interesting is being discussed but its the highlight of the day. Having everyone together, all differences put aside or temporarily resolved, enjoying a few shared moments away from schedules and deadlines is such a rare enjoyment that I savor this all too  infrequent occurrence.

Because at some point life got really really busy....I don't know when it happened but between education, career development, relationships status's and a hodge podge of other life happenstances spending time with my family became an oasis from hectic self-imposed demands. I didn't realize what a jewel I had been given when I was a child, this  family that genuinely loves and by-in large likes and respects each other. Not knowing any better its easy as a kid to nit pick and criticize and see the faults of your family; it takes the hard knocks of life, the punches and the curve balls, to realize that love is not a given, kindness is not around every corner, and friendships are not biological assumptions.  I do not assume that in any way I some how earned the blessed luck with which I was granted the people to whom I am related. For whatever reason God dealt me a cast of loving family members for whom I am ever growing more and more fond affection and appreciation.  Knowing that so many people can't stand their relatives, that holiday gatherings are often associated with bickering and dramatic outburst, and that avoidance of  familial contact is a common go to during this time of year only stirs more gratitude in me for the state in which I find myself,....cozy and warm in a home that is permeated with loving kindness and silly affections. A happy and blessed Thanksgiving indeed....

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pausing for a Blissful Reality Check

Hi ya'll, I thought I would share my thoughts as I'm watching the Grammy Awards this evening. To be honest, I rarely watch award shows of any sort. I'm usually too busy doing just about anything else to to bothered. But for whatever reason I'm watching tonight and I'm admiring the beautiful people admiring each other and I felt the need to remind myself that the beauty on stage is very often managed and produced by multiple concerted efforts. Many times there are concerted teams combining efforts to produce perfectly coifed hair,  perfect skin,  flawless makeup, detailed fashion, and the tight and toned tushies that grace the stages and the screen. We oooohhh and awwww but very often these visuals leave the every day woman painfully aware of how very far away they are from  measuring up to the same standards of perfection.

With that cruel reality in mind I would like to remind all of us that we are not products, we are not manufactured, and we were not created with the intention that we would spend the majority of our time wishing we were someone else or that we looked like something different. We are all beautiful creations with beautiful purpose and if we are spending more then a reasonable time on the presentation of our bodies and our external  appearances then I am curious as to how we can possiby be spending enough of our limited resources of energy and time on the purposes for which we were created and  in following the passions that bring us bliss. Because what the world does not need is more "beautiful" people. What the world does need is more people who are living in their bliss. And the funny thing is that when you live in your bliss your internal beauty shines brighter then any diamond adornment or chemical peel. A woman who lives from internal intention IS a diamond in the rough and her beauty is beyond compare.

The world is full of people who are existing in jobs they hate, in relationships that are unhealthy but that are socially acceptable or worse yet convenient, who are following another person's idea of what their life should look like and who are trapped in pursuing the things that someone else told them would make them happy. I want to remind all of us that success and happiness is not attached to anything external. I want to remind myself that other people's opinions of me do not equate to the peace of mind that I find in pursuing the God given passions that bring me joy, bliss, and purpose.What is my bliss? What is your bliss? Ask yourself this question: What is that one thing that when you do it time simply melts away and you become beautifully unaware of anything else but that singular thing....that, my friends, is your bliss. Pursue that and the money will follow. The success will come. The joy and waves of peace that wrap themselves around you in those moments far surpass any other kind of  external reward. The beauty that you discover in yourself is a natural by product.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

ENJOY THE RIDE

I love my life. I could almost pinch myself when I think about how blessed my life is....beyond my basic needs I find myself blessed with opportunities to grow as a creative artist, I enjoy the benefits of a partner who challenges me as much as he supports me, and, although I sometimes forget, it is beyond description to convey how immense a blessing my parents and brother really are in my life. This life is so very short and time goes by oh so quickly. Our realities are based in perspective and reflection and so, for as much as I have still to learn this much I lay claim to know this through the testimony of experience... There is never so much pain or despair as to eradicate God's plan for a life. There is never a tragedy in which Love and Grace do not have a place in which we can rest our burden. And even when our grasp grows weak Gods mercy and compassion never let go. And so, though I am enjoying this season I know that another will soon come to take its place and there is no guarantee as to whether it will bring more laughter then tears. Seasons come and go and joy and disappointment are just flip sides of the same coin. You cant have one without the other. But, by recognizing that nothing in this life is really ours to which to lay claim to  and that all things are really just temporary gifts to be stewarded, we can discover freedom. And in this wonderful freedom we can enjoy the beauty we experience and yet also discover a new level of strength  to grow and thrive beyond each pain. Life goes on with or without our permission. I didn't create this adventure, and I don't always know what the next page turn will bring, but I do choose to enjoy the ride. Anyone else with me? Let's go.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Change your Perspective, Change this Life


There is very little in life that is within our control. Even the things that we think we govern such as jobs, relationships, careers, and status are elements over which we have flimsy control at best. Although I am an advocate for hard work, goal setting, organizing, and dedication, I recognize that most of my "achievements" were/are/will be heavily shaped by variables far out of my reach. If I have anything it is a stewardship to which i have been appointed governship and responsibility. I dont believe in ownership. I dont believe in the accumulation of stuff. I take comfort in knowing that my peace of mind is based in the faith that there is a greater force at work in life and that my Creator holds the strings, guides the wheel, and opens the doors that I need to walk through. I dont feel comfortable which the idea that this is "my" life. I prefer to think of it as "a" life and that my spirit is enjoying this mortal journey as just that, a journey that is finite and imperfect but which will teach me the things I need to learn, and which will serve to teach others the the things that they need to learn, in order to enter the next journey more completely. I relish this journey and i am grateful for all of the many blessings which favor me and comfort me physically but I recognize that it is but one small piece of a far greater picture. And that I am a part of that greater picture, that I am part of the masterpiece and plan of Love, brings me the most joy of all.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

LEMONS =TART FACE or LEMON CAKE?

So, as many of you know, after three weeks of debilitating injury I am almost ready to jump back into the full swing of things. I'm not quite up to full capacity, but I'm getting there. And many of you also know that it was quite a challenge for me to go from being a physical hurricane of momentum to spending days on my back with my legs up on a couch. Quite frankly, it really sucked. And it took more than  a minute to re-determine how I was going to define productivity and personal assessment and goal orientations. But, as I look back on the last few weeks I can see that I was able to utilize the "down time" to do a plethora of things on that never-ending "to do" list that I had been keeping at procrastinations door for weeks! I did my taxes, addressed important files, did some re-organization, caught up on e-mails/research/etc., re-set some goals for the year....I actually accomplished many things that I had been desiring to place attention towards but had been up till then too busy to address. In some ways I've been the most productive since Ive had to slow down a little.  Isn't that funny? It hasn't been fun, but it has been eye-opening.  And here's one of the things I learned from this abrupt lesson: Habits follow you wherever you go. If you are in the habit of gratitude, it will find you, even in your darkest hours. If you are in the practice of productivity, it will lure you out from being trapped in the pool of  self-pity. And if you are in the diligent mindset that every day is a fresh start with fresh opportunities just waiting to be tapped, then those opportunities will find you. Life will bring to you those things that you expect you will find. If you expect love and community and blessings and harmony, then you will dedicate yourself to living in such a way till those things begin to naturally weave themselves into the fabric of your habits and relationships. If you expect failures, sadness, disappointment, rejection, and negative outcomes, those too will find you.  Expectancy = Outcome. As the Bible defines it, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen. Our expectancy determines our actions which become habits which become our lifestyle which ultimately determines our destiny. Don't you see?, You already have all the tools you need to determine the kind of life that you want to be living. It definitely isn't always easy, but its really not that hard.  And although I am still learning how to incorporate this philosophy more fully  the truth of it rings clear and I am ever more encouraged to bring all the things that I truly desire out of life, like real relationship, love, acceptance, passion and purpose, to the table every day. I'm still a work in progress, we all are, but I hope that you will be encouraged to do the same.

Here's an example of acting in expectancy of a positive outcome. This little dog teaches us all what we can do when we believe in something bigger then our current situation.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Falling Down and Choosing to Look Back Up

Its not hard to feel grateful when life is on the upswing. The challenge to choose gratitude in the face of pain, injury, disappointment, and tragedy is a true test to one's inner rudder. When life steers you down and you obstinately choose to continue to look up; well, THAT, my friends, is a sign of the inner practice of Gratitude manifesting itself in its truest sense and at its greatest hour.  I can attest that in the last 48 hours I have experienced a small measure of this test myself.  As a member of Lucent Dossier Experience, an internationally known cirque troupe based in  Los Angeles, I had been preparing for our recent show at the Palace Theatre all month. Fast forward to the dress rehearsal the night before and, because even the best plans can not plan for everything, I slipped on an oil spill onstage and severely sprained my right ankle. With the love of family, plenty of R.I.C.E. and a heavy dose of prayer mixed with ibprofin, I was able to perform the following night. But  despite my resolution to continue to defy the physical limitations of a sprained right ankle, another physical injury beset me in the middle of the same show the following night. If you can imagine, it was the second to last number in the last night of the show and, while being onstage, with the lights shining, the audience mesmerized, the music pounding, the other dancers throwing down their souls with fervor all around me, my own heart racing with the pulsing frequency of the passion that only develops through the fusion of multiple souls on a rollarcoaster of shared humanity...it was in the middle of one of these final magical moments that I felt a gripping pain envelop my left leg and, were it not for the power of the love of my family onstage and off of it, along with a fierce pride in finishing any given task, I would have crumpled on stage that very second. Instead of  assuming that logical response I quickly tried to assess whether or not I had torn my achilles tendon, decided I hadn't, determined that quitting at the moment was not an option on the table,  gritted my teeth into an even wider smile, and forced myself to finish the dance number.  As soon as I was off the stage and safely in the wings I fell to the ground....hours later I made it to my couch and have been there for the last two days (and am still there now as I write this).

 Now I've shared with you my sob story, not because I'm looking for more sympathy but because it is my own response to my own injury by which I have been fascinated.  The night of the injury I was in complete denial. I didn't want to accept that I'd injured myself even more intensely then I had two nights previously, so I joked about it, did not follow R.I.C.E protocal, and continued to hobble around the afterparty with my friends when I should have been laying down at home.  The next morning, as I realized my true state, I was struck with frustration and anger at my situation, which quickly emerged as an awful irritated demeanor of which my sweet Cuban felt the brunt. The irritated frustration then melted into a pathetic pity party of tears and sadness as the realization sunk in that my daily goals of world domination would have to be pushed back to the following week or weeks or possibly even month ahead. And then sadness became resigned acceptance, as I determined that crying wouldn't solve anything and that the only thing left to do was to pro-actively speed along my recovery with mindful attention, patience, and a positive outlook.  I turned down a gig, canceled clients, gathered every balm, and bandage, and ice pack i could gather, and settled in for a long engagement on the couch for an extended stay. 



 I'm about to venture out today but this is the whole point of this whole blog entry.....Gratitude and a focus on the positive assessment of the situation are key ingredients to any recovery and although I went through my own series of negative emotions and responses, I wound up back at gratitude because I've been practicing it long enough that any other response no longer fits well for very long. Negative thinking is like a dress that is two sizes too small and is too tight, too limiting, too restrictive. Negative thinking terminates the opportunities to experience community, love within and beyond yourself, and it imprisons true potentials from reaching in or out of your own spirit and soul. It was perfectly normal and natural to feel anger and sadness to the physical pain I was enduring but, because living in a mindset of gratitude has become a daily practice, I was not, and am not, able to stay negative for long before gratitude reaches back out and pulls me back up into a place of greater perspective and vision.  The idea that our belief systems will control our destinies is very eloquently and concisely voiced in one of the movies I watched during my couch stay. In The Iron Lady, based on the stalwart life of Margaret Thatcher, the stubborn determined grit of  Thatcher relays a philosophy about the importance of thinking over feeling. She conveys  that what we think becomes the words we speak. The words we speak become the actions we do.  The actions we do become the constitution of our character. And our character ultimately creates our individual and collective destiny.

So well spoken....choose to believe in the greater picture and the greater picture will one day save you from yourself.  For me that greater picture is Love. And Love never fails. Despite injury or pain or chaos Love always comes through with a greater plan.  There are people all around me, and all around you, who are presently in the throws of heartaches and rough roads. They may not tell you how broken they are but if you listen long enough they will show you.  Perhaps your ability to live within the greater vision and the broader strokes of a life of Gratitude will woo them towards daring to lift their heads up as well. There's a universe above us, what lies below only goes so far.  It is a fact that life will throw you down but when it does, my friends, even if it takes a minute to get your bearings, don't get stuck mulling at the mess you are in. Take a second, even take a minute, but then dare to look up. You will be amazed at quickly you then rise. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love beyond the Script

So....Valentines Day, hmmmmm.....I have to say, today is NOT what I would consider a REAL holiday. I agree with the slightly jaded sentiment that Valentine's Day often feels like a marketing campaign to separate you from your hard earned dollar in exchange for paper goods and corn syrup products. HOWEVER, any reason to evaluate love in your life is a good thing and today's slightly fabricated hoopla shouldn't get in the way of a very real opportunity to evaluate the love that is or isn't in your life. First of all, the very fact that you are here and alive is a sign that Love is invested in you. If you are reading this, its another sign that Love has blessed you with time and resources and education. If you just finished a conversation with someone or are about to speak with a friend then you are the beneficiary of Love's gift of community and sharing. The next time you feel the sun shine on your shoulder or feel the whisper of wind on your neck know you might notice that nature is another avenue of Love's revelation.  Love reveals itself in many different ways and it is constantly trying to show you that it is present, it is available, it is waiting for you to recognize it and embrace its power in your life.  Love aches for you to know that you are worthy, you are important, you are enough, in you lies the gift of which the world is in need. The presence of a boyfriend, girlfriend, or lover in your life is a rather short barometer by which to measure Love's presence or affirmation.  The middle school love script that we play in our heads about what love looks like is a detrimental habit. That "one boy + one girl = love" is a rather outdated and pubescent equation and one that ought to be re-evaluated. Because love is everywhere. It is in everyone. It is in everything. It defines every decision we make and the need for it is at the heart of every intention that rings true. Don't sell yourself short. Love is calling out your name and every day you awaken you have the opportunity to recognize how blessed you really are.  Every day is full of Love...and regardless of whether or not you are aware of its power doesn't change the reality that Love is available to you. And here is the amazing thing about Love...when you are ready to receive its transformational energy into your life it will be there to revolutionize your trajectory forever. Every day of your life can be full of Love if you only let it be. So, Hallmark cards aside, I wish you all the very sweetest day of Love today and forever after. Its yours for the taking.