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Shannon Brady

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A life message found in my polar fleece.

I pulled an old favorite off the hanger this morning on my way to yoga practice. An avocado green and heather gray zip up with a distinct North Face logo on the front. I’m a dead giveaway, my husband says each time I put it on:

What is it with Seattle people and their North Face obsession?”

My North Face jacket and a pup I met on a walk

My North Face jacket and a pup I met on a walk

He says this in a spirit of love, of course, knowing that at least five other hangers are housing a variation of my North Face theme: a silver gray fuzzy number with embroidered pink ribbon that helps me remember a dear friend who lost her battle with cancer; a figure flattering black mid-weight jacket I can rock with skinny jeans and boots; a dough-boy puffy coat reserved for the wickedest New England storm. These coats have followed me coast to coast, and endured heavy downpours, my kitty’s claws, an accidental turn in the dryer, and sweaty bike rides to and from the studio. Each one is as familiar as my thousandth downward facing dog.

But today as I was zipping up, I glanced at the inner edge of my seam and lingered over the three powerful words sewn in:

Never Stop Exploring”

As a former marketing grunt, I so totally appreciate the brilliance of this tagline. But on my walk to the studio this morning, it represented more to me than just badass branding.

In regarding the phrase, the events of my life that turn the corners of my mouth up upon reflection are the ones that involved uninhibited curiosity, fascination over fear, and a gnawing hunger to dive deeper. Times when I never stopped exploring:

  • An Eastern Asian Studies professor in college who taught solely from direct experience and extensive research on the Chinese dynasties, coupled with my late father’s vast library of Asian art history detailing woodcarving, calligraphy, porcelain and architecture through the centuries cultivated in me a fascination with this part of the world. A part of the world I simply had to explore. Four individual trips canvasing China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand sparked memories I will hold dear the rest of my life. Slopping through muddy paths in flip flops to reach an authentic open market in the Tonkinese Alps to see Blue Hmong villagers sell their handcrafted textiles. Warming at the sight of a lovely young Vietnamese woman from behind – long black mane cascading down her white Ao Dai, an angel on a piano bench – play my favorite Debussy classic , Claire de Lune, while I dined in the heart of bustling Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Carving a month out of my life to settle into a small Berkshires town and step into a 200-hour yoga training immersion, the only thread of familiarity my beat up Manduka mat, which collected countless tears as I tackled fear, self-doubt, and explored all the hidden treasures and debilitating patterns swirling around inside me. My exploration into the history, philosophies, and possibility this practice has to offer has indeed left me hungry to journey further into its infinite wisdom. Wisdom to be expressed on and off the mat through my own individual interpretation.
  • I laugh now as I recall all four paws of the biggest pit bull I’d ever seen meet the glass door, daring me to enter his dog run at a rescue I volunteered at. After about five deep Ujhayi breaths to overcome my no fucking way reaction to the vision in front of me, I locked myself in (part of the procedure to get him collared up and ready to play, I was instructed). What do I do now? What methods can I use with my own body language, voice, and focus to make this possible? Dog rescue work was an entirely new form of exploring for me, and as I danced with fear, frustration, and eventual joy over calming my new friend down enough to get him out on God’s green earth to play like all our four-legged angels are meant to do, I felt that same passion and inner fire that yelled, YES. You are meant to do this. Keep exploring!

So keep exploring. Even if you have to put on your dorky Seattle fleece to do it.


One comment on “A life message found in my polar fleece.

  1. G says:

    whether SE Asia or Davis Sq, curiosity overcomes the fears of strange new places.

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