Taozi Tree Yoga

The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


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Africa Consensus Forum in Beijing

SERENDIPITY! Yesterday I was asked to speak on a panel at the Africa Consensus Forum held here in Beijing at the Norwegian Embassy. I was able to share about the amazing things happening with Musana Community Development Organization and Taozi Tree Yoga to some incredible influencers in African governance. They loved it and didn’t want to stop hearing about it! Why? Because Musana and this project are tangible evidence that big things are happening in the world and change is indeed possible.

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Honestly, one of the primary topics of the forum was how to make sustainable business models in Africa work. I was able to share with them Musana, a project that has actually changed an entire community. With “The Yoganda Project”, we are trying to make grassroots business more sustainable by creating quality products that foreign consumers will want to buy, rather then buying products because it is charity. This is a huge deal. If it works, it will act as a business model that allows for sustainable income from foreign consumers in these vulnerable communities.

We would so appreciate your support for “The Yoganda Project”-  making the future for international trade with grassroots African community projects more sustainable. With out your help, this would not be possible. If you have not seen or donated yet, please check it out and help if you can! It is a miracle project. Please visit Indiegogo: “The Yoganda Project” and if possible, please make a donation to make the project a success! Every little bit helps. With a $100 donation you get one of the first “Yoganda” bags made! Not only that but you become a part of the project and it is indeed a special one.Emily 2

 

I look forward to sharing more with you about the project! We leave in less than 2 weeks! :) Ahhhh! So exciting.

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Like a Child

After 5 years in Uganda… this past Tuesday… she left. It was heartbreaking for her but she knows it was the right thing to do.

This is a very special post by my dear sister, Leah Pauline. She wrote this as part of our “Adventures Abroad” series. It is a moving piece about walking forward with faith…Enjoy. 

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Like a Child…

     First of all, I am not a yogi. I like yoga. I respect people that do yoga. I once committed myself to doing yoga for a week and loved the way I felt so physically aware of my body, but again, I would never call myself a yogi. When my incredible spiritual yogi sister asked me to do a guest post on her yoga blog, I had no idea what to write about. In fact, I was confused why she would even ask me. She is convinced that I am a yogi at heart. In Theresa’s post ,Welcome to Yoganda, she talked about how the people in Uganda are yogis in disguise, maybe perhaps that makes me a little bit more of yogi than I thought? After all, these yogis in disguise have been my greatest life teachers in the last five years, as I have made their home my home. I have learned so many life lessons from them on a daily basis from patience, simplicity, unity, humility, confidence, the list goes on and on. The latest thing I have learned is PRESENCE.

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 A couple weeks ago, after the kids got out of church a few of the older girls asked me to teach them my favorite church song. I chose, “Like a Child” by Mercy Me. Later that day, we sat in my office and sang the lyrics over and over again.   “They say that I can move the mountains, and send them falling to the sea. They say that I can walk on water… If I would follow and believe… with faith like a child.” While we were singing, Musana’s five youngest girls ran into the office with the biggest smiles and joyful spirits imaginable. They started jumping around, laughing uncontrollably.  I listened to the words we were singing, and watched the pure bliss of the three-year old girls in front of me. I envied them. They exemplify the words, “faith like a child,” perfectly. Nonchalantly and naturally, they live in the moment. They have this never failing faith and belief in everything…. It is so refreshing. It makes me rethink where my mind has been recently… worrying about the future.

Right now, I am living in Uganda, where I have lived for four of the last five years. I have a job that I love. I have a new house that I love. I have a boyfriend that I love. I am surrounded by kids that I love. This foreign land is no longer foreign, it is my home and I love it. However, I am on the verge of moving on. In four months, I will be moving to a city that I have never been to with people I have never met. Four months after that, I will be in another foreign city. Four months after that, I will be in another. And four months after that, another. I am about to start this huge adventure and I am terrified. I am leaving a life that I feel blessed to have and I have no idea what my future holds. Terrified. On a daily basis, I worry about it. I worry about leaving my job, my house, my boyfriend, the kids, everything. I worry that I will regret my decision to leave. I worry that I will be forgotten. I worry.

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So I am sitting in my office, singing about how to have faith “Like a child” when these three-year old girls run in, living fully in the PRESENT, without a worry in the world. I have suffered very little compared to them and yet I am the one that worries. The giddiest and happiest of all these little kiddos is Irene. This is her story: her father died around the time she was born and her mom who is HIV+ abandoned her. Irene started living with her uncle deep in the village. He was caring for multiple other kids, completely neglecting the needs of three-year old Irene. We found Irene in this village, and recognized her as the neediest, dirtiest, sickest of all the other impoverish village kids. This is saying a lot. She had a terrible skin rash, and jiggers ALL over her body. She was dirty and malnourished. Her state of being was to the point that nobody wanted to be around her, in fear of also getting sick. A month later, here I was envious of the joy that Irene has, envious of her ability to live in this present moment of singing and dancing, with no worry of her situation or where she would be tomorrow… she was completely content.  She lives day by day, trusting that she will be provided for. She has inspired me to look at my own life and challenged me to live in the today and be content. She is my teacher and with this lesson, I have started a ritual.

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On a daily basis, I take time and go to one of my favorite spots around Musana or in town…. My absolute favorite is on a balcony that I climb up to that overlooks the busiest, craziest part of Iganga town- the market. I go there and I just sit. I use the time to reflect on my life, meditate, and simply BE PRESENT. It is amazing how I have overlooked such a simple necessity of being content… presence. I watch, I listen, I live.  I soak up the African sights, smells, and sounds that surround me- People everywhere. Businessmen and women walking home from work, Children walking home from school. Hundreds of local men and women, sitting under bright umbrellas selling fresh fruits and vegetables from a long season of labor. Cages and cages of live chickens, being sold for tonight’s dinner. The African mixed aroma of fresh fruit, body odor, and garbage overwhelming my nostrils with its unique freshness. Trucks passing with loads of green banana being dropped in the market. The sound of motorcycles passing, cars honking, vendors making a sale. Total chaos. However, for me, it is where I find peace. It is where I grasp the life I have been blessed with. It is where I can pause and take a look into the world I live in and appreciate it. It is where my physical and spiritual presence becomes one.

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The lesson: Yes, I am leaving. Yes, it is terrifying. What I need to do is be like Irene… like a child. I need to remember my favorite child hood phrase and a common saying in Africa, “Hakuna Matata.” I can’t worry about the adventure. I need to embrace it. I need to open my mind, ready for anything that comes believing that everything will be okay. At the same time, I need to live in the moment and enjoy the today. I need to soak up the sights, hug as many kids as I can, close my eyes and remember the smells, the sounds, the people, and the feelings of where I am.  I need to laugh until I cry; I need to cry until I laugh. I need to be completely PRESENT. I need to do so with faith like a child because tomorrow will be exactly how it is supposed to be and when it comes I don’t want to regret not living my life to the fullest today.

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*** Please visit Taozi Tree Yoga on Facebook for more on Taozi’s travels, inspiration, and yoga pictures!***

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Hello Love, Hello Future…

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Tears. Stream down my face with Gratitude. Oh what a trip this has been. Seriously… The time of my life. Thanks to the things I have learned and done during these few months, I genuinely feel I have more love in me. It feels…good.

Sadly, this portion of the journey is ending. So, to Uganda, Tanzania, The United Kingdom, and Sweden…Goodbye.

 I wanted to give a proper goodbye to this pivotal time and take a moment to reflect on the highlights. Simply put… I fell in Love. Well, I fell into deeper love, and that is all that life is about… I believe.

I fell in love with my family, I fell in love with Irene, and Ross, and myself. My chest just feels swollen with happiness.

It is hard not being able to HOLD on to these things forever, they are simply times, places and experiences that are fleeting, but oh how beautiful have they been.

Highlights:

In Uganda… This girl… Irene… oh man…. tears. I fell in love with her brightness, her love, the miracle of her being. Gratitude. I  feel so blessed to have had these moments with her, though it pains deeply to not be close to her now, I smile at the fact that she is my little Irene… 😉

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The wall. My sweat and blood went into this mosaic on the back wall of the church at Musana… 2 months of creative energy pouring into it, I discovered a deeper understanding of myself, my own capabilities and the beauty of my unwavering faith that things will turn out alright in the end. This wall… it helped me love more things about about myself, and that is beautiful.

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Andrea my next youngest sister got married to the gorgeous Haril at Sippi Falls in Uganda. What an experience for our family. We were all together on the other side of the globe and it was spectacular. We laughed, and played, and honestly… the time of a life time.

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Handstand… I’m not there yet, but the fact that this started happening is a big personal…yay!

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Friends unite. During this trip we met up with so many different friends, spending time with them and catching up. What a blessing it has been. 

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And Ross.

This picture was taken of us in Scotland and I love it because, we are happy, playing, and it is gorgeous… we are enjoying the time together but separate, and loving the environment. During these last few months, I have really fallen more in love with him as we have learned to be together, while taking in the experiences as our own.

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So… Wow. We are getting on the plane in a few hours and this chapter is officially closing.

 I am going to put all the memories and moments into my pocket and take them with me wherever we end up going, whatever we end up doing. They have helped me to grow more into the person I want to be. Full of love… Though what comes next is unknown to us…I am not scared. It is a blank page and it is wonderful. Hello Love, hello future…

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