Mid-July Reflections on a Monday

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This year has been about looking forward and making moves and steps and building on from this foundation of healing and starting over. It’s been a slow road, so the occasional reminders of how far I’ve come are vital.

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In yet another round of “my body reminds me” that at this time back in 2012 put on a full coffee gig show, I packed my little Toyota Corolla full, said my goodbyes and lept into the great adventure that I thought Chicago would be.

I drove across the country, enjoying the journey, only to arrive with a sense of unease. Welcomed into the proximity of a master manipulator, following his advice, getting the lay of the land.

It didn’t take long for him to completely ruin my life and turn it upside down, but I wouldn’t realize something was really wrong for another year and a half.

And another 2 years until I had unraveled enough of his hold on me to begin to ask the necessary questions and decide to walk away.

This leaving took tremendous courage and support. But it also meant I had to trust myself and lean into my own intuition.

Finally being free and the process of recovering from spiritual trauma and gaslighting and untangling from toxic theologies that harm women has been a vitally important journey but it has not been easy.

2016 was the year I finally left the abuse and drove off in a truck and moved in and became my nephew’s nanny, and I’m so grateful for all the time we’ve enjoyed together.

I boldly declared this the year of thriving and indeed I have felt the golden glow of the sunflower metaphor. I’m happy and content. I’m still making moves and leaping into the unknown and exploring new avenues and pursuing grad school. I’m growing and honing my skills as a teacher and mentor.

I’m excited to see where the second half of this year holds and will continue to dream big and count my blessings.

My Red Sea Road Day

 

Today (May 27, 2019) is the Celebration of my Red Sea Road – Exodus day. My liberation day. My get the hell out of there day.

To know me is to know that milestones and anniversaries are a pretty big deal to me. This is one of those days.

I began putting miles between myself and my manipulating spiritual, emotional abuser.
Literally packed up a uhaul with the help my yoga teacher and some of their friends.

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A city that I loved, unfortunately, was too much of a reminder that I couldn’t be there any longer.

I had long run out of reasons to stay. The air I was breathing had become toxic ever since the day I arrived. Maybe the nerves I felt arriving were an early indicator that something was not right. Maybe the tears I cried every time we had a conversation were an indicator that something was not right. Maybe the tension and confusion that built up in my body because “do I listen to God or the pastor?” was making me sick.

Oh, but don’t worry they just wanted me to repent and recant for calling out spiritual abuse. The ugliest, most awful email I’ve ever read and received, was full of the very manipulation they were denying.

My physical symptoms were undeniable. The wear on my psyche, my heart, my soul, and my mind and body.

Just do what you’re told. Just be the good little church girl, your voice isn’t valued here. Your gifts as a worship leader aren’t needed, your skills, your training, and your church music degree. It was like I didn’t even exist.

You will be condescendingly criticized, belittled, betrayed, manipulated and gaslit.

So yeah, I know what it feels like to leave, and I know what it feels like to be excommunicated. Only, I never understood why they felt like they had to have the last word…

A Brief Timeline:

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*I moved to Chicago in the Summer of 2012
*I found yoga in April 2014 – yoga saved my life.

*Visited my sister on Memorial Day Weekend 2015 – This was beginning of the end of the spell I was under. I was criticized and warned against visiting my pregnant sister by my abuser. On my own long weekend, which I paid for. I mentioned this particular time further in this post.

short video clip of Apollo Chorus & Northwester students rehearsing Mahler for our Northwestern University performance, followed by a performance in Downtown Chicago on Sunday.

*I left Chicago on Memorial Day 2016, just like a Red Sea parted, God made a way for me to get out. The day after performing with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, a dream come true, and the best way to leave on a high note.  Pictured, my view from the stage, my Backstage pass wristband, and after the performance with a couple of my favorite kiddos, with the stage behind us.  The same stage where I saw Andrew Belle, the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, and Idina Menzel the previous fall. mahler choir.jpg

THAT WAS THEN, NOW I’m FREE

AND NOW, 3 years after leaving

I am free.
I am whole.
I am fully alive.
I am healing.

I am a vocal advocate against spiritual abuse.
I help women reconnect with their bodies.
I sing regularly and am a valued part of my worship team.
I am writing songs, and finding my sound. I hope to have some coffee shop gigs later this summer or early fall. I hope to one day record music for television and get paid for it. I want to compose a choral piece for my women’s choir to sing. I want to write an orchestral symphony or suite.

I celebrate and savor life, delighting in the beauty found in each new day, and practicing gratitude. I practice nonjudgment and self-compassion on hard days and allow myself to feel, and go at my own unique pace. I journal and reach out to friends. I am connecting with old friends and new and building new relationships that are rooted in wholeness, being fully myself.

I am creating art, words, music, and resources for healing, spiritual agency, and wholeness.

I am a yoga teacher, integrated soul mentor, songwriter, and auntie.

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Harmonizing and drawing from my background studying art, music, worship, theology, and yoga, I teach gentle yoga classes and empower women to love their bodies in the present tense.

Interwoven with my passion for social justice, peacemaking, and spiritual agency, preventing spiritual abuse and speaking truth to power, paired with my personal story of awakening, departure from, healing and recovery of spiritual trauma by employing spiritual and personal agency.

Synthesizing contemplative Christian practices to help you live an integrated faith & embodied spirituality, rooted in love, free of religious platitudes, spiritual bypass, or legalism.

I believe deeply that we are not powerless. My desire is that you would feel less broken, more empowered, and discover your own inner wholeness. Loving our bodies is a vital element of a healthy, integrated soul.

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I am just getting started. I have risen from the ashes, and will not be silent.

My sacred calling is to create, nurture, and heal. Making space for other women to embody and integrate their faith, find healing, and embrace the sacredness that is within.

Will you celebrate with me? 

the feminine wound

I didn’t even know it had a name. I didn’t even know if other women felt the same way. I have done a lot of my own healing and acknowledging of this wound before I knew it was a collective wound. Centuries worth.

There is a feminine wound and it can’t be healed in a masculine, patriarchal setting. It begins by acknowledging that religion and empire harms and hurts women.

Keeps us bound in corsets of their choosing. Suffocating and unable to take deep breaths, we think it’s all there is. Because some people decided to interpret holy words in one way.

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Author of Eve’s Revenge calls it the original sin of being born female.

Did you hear that? The guttural ache? The knife through the heart?

That so-called church fathers gathered to debate if women even had souls. (Are we infuriated yet?!)

This is why I created Your Flesh is a Poem. Because before we can heal and find wholeness we must acknowledge the ache. We must recognize that which has hurt us so deeply to have affected centuries and decades of women.

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We address, acknowledge and dismiss what insults our very own soul. Unravel, reexamine what we’ve been told and conditioned to believe and shake free and cut the ties of these awful, suffocating corsets. Reclaim our god-given sacredness, lives, agencies, voices, bodies, and power.

And we will do this with art, journaling and creating self-expression pieces to process the wounds and the hurt and the anger we feel about this. We will dialogue and talk and think out loud, and share together as we begin to heal.

Then we get to reclaim and rediscover what is life-giving and what gives us true nourishment for integrated wholeness and embodiment and loving our whole selves.

Because I truly believe that your flesh is a poem and that the sacredness of your body and soul is not conditional.

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Full details are available here: bit.ly/yourfleshapoem.  The 5-week creative journey includes mentoring, a workbook, journaling reflections and prompts, weekly teaching, meditations, and yoga. On sale now for $59, or with a sliding scale. A $250 value, includes a 1-hour mentoring session valued at $50. You are welcome in this space and I want to remove any barriers keeping you from joining. Begins June 3rd and I’m so excited to invite you to this journey of healing and wholeness.

For a walkthrough of an outline of the 5-weeks, watch this video here: https://www.facebook.com/lorijoanneyoga/videos/433835430515376/

And part two with more logistics what to expect / time / cost etc.

 

 

Your Flesh is a Poem

your flesh is a poem course logo

Your Flesh is A Poem is an Online Course:
A Guided & Creative Journey & Integrated Spirituality
of the Body Designed to:

+ CONNECT with the FEMININE HEART of GOD 

+ HEAL the RIFT BETWEEN YOUR BODY, HEART, & SPIRIT 

+ UNRAVEL CENTURIES OF CONDITIONING

+ RECLAIM YOUR LIFE, YOUR VOICE,
YOUR BODY,  & YOUR POWER, ALL DIVINELY GIVEN


Practical, creative, expressive & embodied. Engaging the senses, your heart & emotions, your body, your spirit, & your mind. Interwoven with some of my own personal art as well as other artists & my own journey, philosophy, & theology.

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This 5-week online course is truly a creative, art-inspired journey,
including mini art assignments, art appreciation including poetry, literature, fine art, photography, sculpture & more.  Journaling prompts, group sharing in a small intimate setting, spiritual practices, & embodiment practices to bring healing & wholeness & freedom,  live fully alive, & love your very own body.

BEGINS JUNE 3RD. SIGN UP TODAY FOR $99*

*$24 discount available for Lori’s Letter subscribers & sliding scale available based on need. 

DOORS ARE NOW OPEN

click here for full course details & registration

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The Soundtrack of Deconstruction and Spacious Faith: Gungor’s Last Concert at the El Rey Theatre: The End of The World Tour and The End of Bad Religion

The Soundtrack of Deconstruction and Spacious Faith: Reflections on Gungor’s Last Concert at the El Rey Theatre: The End of The World Tour and The End of Bad Religion and the past Ten Years

A walk down memory lane, a timeline.

How do you put words to something that has been the soundtrack of ten years of your life? Not only the soundtrack, but I am grateful to have seen them many times over the past ten years and the way they have been woven into my own story. I dug out these photos from shows I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy.

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Gungor releases Beautiful Things February 16, 2010

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May 7, 2010  – Costa Mesa, CA
Beautiful Things at Rock Harbor for a Worship Central Conference. The first time I heard them in their full splendor with a full band. I was completely blown away by their musicality, skill, musicianship, and beautiful melodies & harmonies.

I was inspired as a musician and as a songwriter. I had several charismatic type experiences during these two days, altar calls, tears and snot and prayer, and beginning to embrace songwriting as a spiritual calling. I’m not really sure what to think about that experience in hindsight…it was positive at the time. Though my memories are unfortunately marred by my abuser’s presence that weekend.

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March 3, 2011 – Irvine, CA
One year later, Michael, Lisa, and a cellist played at Catalyst West and I heard Michael chat on a panel on Creativity with Amena Brown & Jo Saxton. I still remember he shared that he went into music because it was something he couldn’t not do. That really resonated, and I felt similarly while connecting with his musings as a fellow music student.

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Ghosts Upon the Earth – Album released September 20, 2011

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March 10 2012, The Observatory, Santa Ana, CA
Ghosts Upon the Earth Tour – Amena Brown and The Brilliance opened the show.  A black umbrella and a chandelier draped over the stage as Lisa opened with the song “Let there be Light.” As the music built the lights came bursting aglow.

Behind the scenes, I was weeks from deciding and in the middle of begging God for confirmation about moving to Chicago.  I spent the weekend prior in San Diego at a hotel, on my own for a mini prayer retreat / and a bit of a vacation and I ended up feeling like I was saying goodbye to San Diego. One month later I committed to making the move.

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Creation Liturgy Live Album with Recordings from the Ghosts Upon the Earth Tour
Released October 9, 2012

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I am Mountain –  Album Release – September 24, 2013

gungor march 19 2014 with steph

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I am Mountain Tour – The Metro, Chicago IL (Just a few steps away from Wrigley Field)

At this time I was living in Chicago, in the middle of losing my job, which was confirmed with about a week, and right before I began going to yoga every week (yoga saved my life). My friend from L.A. was visiting and joined me for the show. In a lovely full circle turn of events, I saw her again last night, right before going to the final show in Los Angeles at the El Rey.

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One Wild Life:
Trilogy Released in 3 parts, respectively: August 7, 2015, March 25, 2016, & September 30, 2016

This also became the soundtrack to my yoga practice as well as my departure from Bad Religion.

 

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Almost entirely due to the recommendation of Gungor, I attended a Premier showing just north of downtown Chicago of the film Last Days in the Desert with Ewan McGregor, and it was a fascinating film. I really enjoyed it. Gungor opened with some music and conversation, just as they advertised and set it up really well.

Unfortunately, on my way home I received a troubling phone call to learn that one of the pastors was asking some questions, and so instead of getting to reflect on the movie I had just seen, I spent a couple hours before bed finishing up a 6-page document that I had already begun drafting, naming symptoms of Spiritual Abuse and how they were affecting me and calling out Spiritual Abuse and Bad Religion, and lastly, naming my abuser. Feeling a sense of urgency as a result of that phone call, I sent the email.  I blew the whistle. I wanted it to be clear what was and wasn’t going on. And within hours of my departure from the city, I received the most awful, abusive, manipulative email in response, I stood there shaking as I read the email on my phone. Let Bad Religion Die. Indeed.


Back in 2017, on August 22nd, I played the song Brother Moon on repeat for my nephew who snuck out for juice past bedtime, and he picked up on this gorgeous ethereal line as I sang along. (super short video).  Would you listen to that adorable baby musician? So sweet.


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June 26, 2018
Last year, Lisa released her book, The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen. I was able to get a copy from NetGalley and this was my review:

I’ve just finished Lisa Gungor’s memoir, The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Ever Seen. It is beautiful, lyrical, and cinematic. I highly recommend it, especially to Gungor fans and to those who have difficult family tensions, and those with whom we don’t always see eye to eye. It’s poetic and eloquent, evocative, insightful, and a true work of art. Super judgy, analytical readers may not find it appealing. It is a stunningly, achingly beautiful memoir. I especially loved the way all the threads were woven together: giving color and nuance and context and expression and experience.

I loved reading how as she told her own story, of her childhood, as well as their love story, and their journey making music adding more color and nuance as well as gravity and ache to the small pieces that had been shared with fans and readers of their blog, and on social media. It really was very lyrical and cinematic the way she told the story, and I loved it so.

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Archives – Album Release – March 1, 2019
I’m so grateful that the Gungors decided to release this archive full of music. There are so many songs on here that I am loving so much.

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The End of the World Tour – May 6th, 2019 – Los Angeles, CA
And so we come to the end. The End of the World Tour. Gungor, the musical collective’s last tour, and very last show at the El Rey in Los Angeles, CA.

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  • IMG_1648I was joined by a group of friends who met online as a result of loving Gungor and/or the Liturgists Podcast which was started by Michael Gungor and Science Mike. How in the world does that even happen?! A group of us created a subgroup as an offshoot from the main group and started a new group to discuss our lives as single people, navigating the (already) confusing dating world in our various stages of deconstruction and reconstruction. We have regional meetups, and love getting together and bonding over this One Wild Life.IMG_1559.JPGIMG_1598.JPGI honor and thank Lisa & Michael Gungor for all their blood, sweat, and tears and the pure and honest artistry and musicianship that they have poured into the Gungor Collective. For sharing their lives and their journey with us. It has been ONE WILD LIFE. For sharing their family, their stories, their hearts, their spirits, and for their music. I grieve the ending of something that has been so profoundly meaningful, been the soundtrack to much of my own journey for these past 10 years. Thank you. And looking so much forward to what comes next. Thank you both. I could not have asked for a more perfect show, the setlist so lovingly curated and joyously. This yoga teacher is so grateful for the breath meditation moment that Michael led.

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    Some favorites from last night’s show:
    Woman (Fierce & Feminine) by Lisa
    I am Mountain
    Please Be My Strength
    This is Not The End
    Oh, What a Beautiful World
    We’ll All Be Free

    Hearing William Matthews, Israel Houghton, Propaganda, and The Brilliance, the Younger Gungors, and everyone else who joined them on the stage that night was such a delight. Two cellos, two drummers, simply amazing. Truly, a musical feast, full of heart and soul, and full of the honesty of humanity.


*For more on my story, if you felt like I left you hanging…it is a long story, I didn’t want to make this longer; if you would like to know more, follow the bread crumb trails here on my blog, here are a few places to start:

  1. An Odyssey Moment
  2. Loved Back to Life: Redemption
  3. One Year Ago | A Uhaul & Unforced Rhythms
  4. Taking My Voice Back | One Year Later
  5. Surprise, it’s a Podcast!
  6. Integrated Soul Podcast Ep. 2 & 3 Shownotes

Befriending My Body: A 5-Day Series

befriending my body lead magnet page blog version

Loving my body is healing for my soul.

Befriending My Body is a FREE 5-day email series of affirmations, simple embodiment practices, creative assignment, printable journaling pages, and breath meditation. Designed to bring heal the rift between body & soul and help you befriend your body.

Sign up today to get day one. Emails will be sent over 5 consecutive days following that.

You can sign up for the 5-day series here:

 

What people are saying:

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Virtual Vision Board Workshop

How Do You Want to Feel in 2019?

Envision 2019 and Embody How You Want to Feel. Unearth goals with soul as you give voice to your dreams and desires for the coming year.

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Join my Free Group on Facebook where I’ll walk you through the process throughout the month of December, in just a few sessions. If this is a busy month for you, this will reprise again at the end of December and the beginning of January, so please go ahead and sign up!

Join Today: Virtual Vision Board Workshop

Doors are now open. Stay tuned for the date and time of the first Live Session & Meditation. Jump in now to make sure you don’t miss anything. 

Join me as I walk you step by step through a Vision Board process that will help you curate an intentional, deeply meaningful, motivating, tangible creation to revisit throughout your year. Together, we’ll talk about what brings meaning to our lives, any directional shifts we want or hope to make, tapping into our desires, and paying attention to how we feel, find new affirmations that resonate, and get inspired and excited about the new year. This will be a month long process, done in a group setting, to share, bounce ideas, make connections and you are invited to jump in when you have a few minutes.

 You can follow along in the group as you have time, and enjoy these three sessions:

Session One: EMPOWERED to Dream: Full Permission to Dream.

Bonus Meditation on Desire: Desire is not a dirty word.

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Session Two: ENVISION & EXPLORE: It’s All About the Process

Reflecting to unearth and rediscover, explore and uncover.  

Join Today: Virtual Vision Board Workshop

 

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Session Three: EXPRESSEMBODY: Make it Happen, Live it out, Feel Alive.

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Join Today: Virtual Vision Board Workshop

 

What’s included in the Free Facebook Group?

  • 7 Live Facebook Videos: Practical Tutorials, Meditations, and Reflections
  • A Resource list
  • A short Materials list (make use of what you already have: things like cork or poster board, glue, scissors, any magazines, markers or paints, photos, quotes, cards *not exhaustive)
  • A 17-page Full-Color Printable Workbook see below for workbook contents
  • A special Live Interview on Vision Casting with my guest, and very dear friend, Rachel V. from Order Your Lifestyle, a Time Balance Coach.


Here is a snippet from Rachel:

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Vision is EVERYTHING! It's that time of the year where we began to look back and evaluate our progress. It's also that time of the year where we begin to look forward in anticipation. Personally I look forward to taking off the last two weeks of the year and focusing just on Vision Casting. Technically speaking, I believe having awesome vision is an ongoing, daily practice, however, I also believe that it is important to take a big pause, a big step INWARD and allow for the creation of quality vision in all areas of life. It's easy for me as a mompreneur to see vision for the business, but setting, maintaining and balancing goals for multiple areas of life takes practice and time. As 2019 quickly approaches, #whatcanyousee ? #yearend #lastquarter #itstime #twentynineteen #time #balance #coach #mompreneur #entrepreneur #wahm #wahmlife #lifestyle #stressless #planner #blogger #vlogger #leaders #vision #passion #family #thankful #business #priorities #orderyourlifestyle #purpose #success #christmas #newyear #organize

A post shared by Order Your Lifestyle (@orderyourlifestyle) on


Workbook

Journal Prompts and Reflection Questions to guide you as you prepare.
  • Workbook: Full-Color 17-page print it out or view digitally as PDF
    • Journaling Prompts & Reflections
    • Desire Meditation and Further Reflections
    • the difference between intentions & goals

journaling oils

If you have any trouble accessing the Facebook Group, go to my page FB / @lorijoanneyoga / Click on the Groups tab, and you’ll see it there: Virtual Vision Board Workshop. If you’re unable to access it from your mobile device, please try accessing it from a computer, just to log in the first time. 

I look forward to Envisioning & Dreaming alongside you ❤ Lori

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*Just to be clear, I do not currently sell oils, just because they’re pictured, but I do LOVE to SMELL them. 😉 No hidden agendas here. I may ask for a small donation/tip if you enjoy the workshop, but that’s it! (and fully optional, no pressure)