Do Things on Purpose

I am sitting here, writing today, a changed person. Or a changing person. Or a person in transition towards growth.

Today, I want to talk about path, purpose, and trusting your instincts.

A Path. Or an idea about a path.

If you had told me six months ago that I would be sitting here today writing about my journey towards becoming a yoga instructor, I wouldn’t buy it. There is no way I would have believed that would be part of my journey.

And if you had told my friends and family that I would be working towards becoming a yoga instructor, they would have laughed.

But things change. Life changes. And we change.

And so, when I found out about teacher training this summer – I just knew. Something clicked. In my heart of hearts there was this draw toward action. And I knew it was exactly what I needed. Not at that moment. Not immediately. But when it came, it was like a calling. You know – the kind of thing you read about when you hear someone talk about faith or transitions. The kind of thing where you have this voice, or this thought, like an echo in the back of your mind that reminds you that it’s there. A suggestion. A whisper. An instinct.

On Circumstances.

Circumstances have a way of challenging us and bringing us to opportunities for growth. In the case of me, here, right now: my circumstances are mixed. There is SO much good in my life. So many things I’m grateful to posses. So many fortunate pieces of life’s complicated puzzle. And yet, there is an immense challenge ahead of me. A complicated, emotional challenge where there is no “right” or “wrong”, but rather what we have to do and what we cannot do.

I’m talking about the ongoing struggles of what it’s like to be guardian to a nephew, whose mother is my sister, and all of the challenges that come with that kind of arrangement. There is struggle. There is pain. And, while I have come to accept the terms and the circumstances, I have also come to realize that this will always be hard. That it will always be complicated. And that there will always be some level of pain.

That’s what happens when you love someone. In the best of circumstances, they give you mostly love and joy. In the worst of circumstances, they bring mostly pain and heartache.

I accept this.

Today was hard. Equally as hard as yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. Tomorrow will be hard. And so will the next day. That is my path right now. That is where I am.

I accept this.

But with that acceptance, I also have the opportunity to offer myself a path for healing. For stability. For my own benefit, and for the benefit of those around me. I don’t need to experience the pain to know that it’s there. And, if anything, the best I can do is work on matching that pain with love, with self-care, with good thoughts. To be whole. To find light. And lightness.

I know, I’m dancing around it. So what am I trying to share with you today?

Clear your mind. Meditate. Do Things on Purpose.

Just Breathe.

Today, for possibly the first time ever, I meditated. For an hour. And it was one of the most healing and self-loving things I’ve done for myself in a long time. It was also the most useful and effective way I had to bring myself back to whole.

If you know me personally, you know that I never stop. I’m always doing something. Even “rest” is an activity on my agenda. And, as you can probably guess, my brain never stops either. I’m always thinking, reflecting, processing, and planning something.

For the most part, that’s a good thing. I need time to think through and plan out my days. I need the space to work through complicated tasks. I need the opportunity to reflect and assess all of the bits of things I do every day. I need to figure my shit out. And I do.

But today is different. I’m days into a new swirl in the mix of unnecessary crap that comes with being guardian to an amazing little boy. And I think my body – and mind – just need a rest. So today, I granted myself that rest.

Just be.

Meditation, for me, is about clearing my mind of thoughts and, more specifically, words. It’s not easy. Thoughts and ideas continually invite themselves into my headspace. And it’s incredibly difficult to “just be.” But today, I was committed to getting there. To clearing my head. And allowing some space for positivity, and good thoughts, and some much-needed strength.

Environment is everything. It affects your mood, your experience, and the way you interact with the world. I know this, so I made a conscious effort to create a space that would limit any and all distractions: I shut the shades, closed the door, found a comfortable space. I played my favorite Pandora Radio station: Yoga Radio. I lit a candle, closed my eyes, and let go.

The first 15 minutes were really about getting myself settled, finding stillness, and letting go of thoughts. Each time something popped into my mind, I let it go. I thought about air. Lightness. And light. And slowly, I drifted away. For an hour.

It was a slice of amazing.

And now, I’m breathing better. I’m calm. Focused. And ready to use the rest of this day productively.

Space and Time.

So much of my time lately has been spent actively working or actively attempting escape from what I’m actively working on. Today was different. And this first pass at meditation got my mind back to a much healthier place. It gave me the mental space and clarity I needed to get to where I need to be.

And when I came out on the other side, my first thought was – this yoga teacher training is going to be awesome. It’s going to be an absolutely amazing experience. Not just because that it, in itself, is an incredible opportunity. But rather, because I am currently in a place where I need it. And I’m mentally ready for it. And the physicality, the hard work, the path, that I’ve been so consciously considering – I’m coming to realize that, while it matters, it’s not nearly as important as my emotional/mental readiness.


So, full circle, I’m getting back to the place where I started this piece: if you had told me, months ago, that I was going to take on yoga teacher training this summer, I wouldn’t have believed you. But right now, in this moment, I have come to realize that it is exactly what I need to get through. And to grow. And to find light.




Julie Love Gagen

After unexplained illness, with no diagnosis, forced me to take medical leave of absence in college, I chose yoga as a path towards healing. For me, it was a gentle way for me to get back into my body. And the experience, and practice, gave me the confidence I needed to believe I could heal. It worked. And it’s been magic ever since. In 2012, I chose to do a personal wellness challenge – 30 days of Hot Power Yoga – in celebration of my 30th birthday. The studio I picked was Baptiste Yoga in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The studio which, just a few years later, would be the inspiration and the setting for my RYT 200-hr Yoga Teacher training. The style of yoga I teach is a little different from what you’ve seen before. In my class, we focus on strengthening your core, elongating your spine, and finding the ideal position for each body, regardless of what it looks like.