Letting them Go to Embrace the Journey

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My boys are flying to Germany solo tomorrow. From there, they will be met by their dad and then fly to Austria for a week with him and his girlfriend. I flew with them to London this past summer so my oldest wouldn’t have to navigate the airport and any gate changes AND his little brother, who can be demanding, by himself. From London, they flew a short flight to France to see their dad and I did my own vacation. We met back up in London and flew back together. I could tell my oldest was super appreciative. Clearly, their dad lives in Europe. lol. Well, this Valentine’s week, the boys are flying solo. It’ll be an 11 hour flight. There may be a gate change. There may be a little drama with my youngest. And my oldest, the super hero in my life, is in charge, yet again. It’s a lot. My oldest is 14 going on 45. He is my compass. He is more of a man than any man I currently know. His heart is huge, yet his sense of morals and strength of conviction surpasses his heart. He has helped me with his little brother so much over the past 7 years since I’ve been a single mom. I hire sitters. I try not to rely on him too much. And I hate that he’s in charge now. He will make an amazing dad some day. He may tease his little brother at home, but I know he’ll look after his little brother in the airport. He won’t let his little brother go into a boy’s bathroom solo, or wander off. He’ll even try to entertain him on the plane if necessary. For 11 hours. Wow. That’s a lot. And he doesn’t mind. Because that’s how bad he wants to see his dad again.

So, I’ve come to this place of just embracing their journey together. It’s not mine. In the past, I insisted that I fly with them and then I’d go on my own little vacation somewhere. I did this mainly so I could help my oldest. When he was 10, 11, 12, 13, I just felt he was too young to be in charge. Maybe it’s ok now? I was babysitting at 14. So this is just their journey. Besides, I have no desire to fly to Munich in winter and then fly back. Nope. I’m happy to stay here, do yoga, teach yoga, go to the beach and enjoy this insanely beautiful California weather and write. Yup, I need to embrace having a break! I need to trust that all will be ok. That no one will die on the slopes of the Alps. This will be my first Valentine’s week in a loong time not to shower my boys with sweet gifts. My mom used to do this with us, so I like to pass on the tradition. Hand-written cards, silly, inexpensive gifts, maybe a book that says how much I love them…and a lot of chocolate! So, this year, I’ll tuck some of those goodies into their suitcases and remind myself that all is well. All is working out exactly as it is meant to. They need their dad. They need more moments to feel his love.

My tea bag last night said: “Love Your Soul”. How perfect. For me, that means I need to embrace time off and my new-found contentment for who I am. I’ll spend the week with my yogis, writing, and walking on the beach. The European, frigid ski weeks were never my thing anyway. There was always too much meat, cheese, drinking, and this overwhelming feeling like I had to try to fit in, but never could. I don’t ski. I don’t speak French or German. I’d rather be doing yoga or listening to live music. And I hate the cold! My toes and fingers would get so numb it felt dangerous, so I’d hide away in my room reading and dreaming of sunshine. I’m living my sunshine. I’m living it inside an out. My healthy life by the beach, is just fine by me. It suits me. And my boys get the best of both worlds. If I flip my thinking, I can see that what many may think it a horribly sad story, is one that is quite beautiful. Maybe I needed to be hurt so badly, dropped so harshly on my ass 7 years ago, so I could wake up and start living an authentic life. I now wear the hippy clothes I like. I embrace my creative writing, my yoga and wellness, and try to be a human being and not a human doing. (As a friend reminded me yesterday!) I am now a much more centered person and in a way, it’s such a relief. It couldn’t have happened in any other way because I’m such a loyal person. I would have never ventured out on my own. So I’m realizing that I’m on a journey too. A journey to live life on my own terms.

My boys have their own journey and it’s not up to me to control it or thwart it. This Valentine’s week they get to be embraced by their dad who loves them. They get to have some fun on the slopes. They get to eat a lot of bacon and cheese and white bread–food they don’t get with me, lol! They need that. And I get to marinate in the realization that I’m living my life exactly as it is supposed to be lived. And I’m filled with SO much gratitude and joy for the authentic friends who are with me on this journey.

 

 

 

 

 

We Are One: Really?

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This past Friday evening I opened my door to find a scared young woman standing in front of me. I had thought she was my son returning from playing soccer. I smiled at her in surprise and she moved backwards, as if I might hurt her. She held a clipboard and I had to hold back my immediate knee-jerk thought of “I’m not buying anything tonight.” Something told me to wait.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

The African American woman bundled in a big coat and wearing large sneakers shifted.

“No ma’am.”

I looked at her quizzically.

“I’m not looking for a hand-out. See-”

She then began to explain that she was a single mom from San Diego and that she was going door to door in a well-to-do neighborhood to get out of her comfort zone. She had been trained to give people their space, why she backed up when talking with me. Whoever was her career adviser in San Diego wanted her to address strangers in a very different neighborhood for the experience and to boost her self confidence. She was selling children’s educational magazines for a women’s and children shelter in San Diego. They would help keep sad and scared children entertained. I was in. I bought one instantly. She would receive a little tip from my purchase.

“See, I’m doing all of this for my little boy.”

Just then my youngest came down the stairs and smiled at her and my oldest breezed past her and bounced inside and up the stairs saying “Hey” over his shoulder.

I smiled at her. She continued.

“It’s hard to do this.” She then looked toward all the mansions on the strand near my little surf shack.

“Not everyone answers the door do they?” I asked.

She said, “Nope.”

Then something miraculous happened. I sat down on the stairs and began a deep dialogue with this sweet woman.

I told her that I’d been a single mom since my youngest was 8 months old. She looked at me with wide eyes.

“We are the same aren’t we?”

I smiled at her. No, we aren’t. I haven’t been in a shelter. I have an ex who is supportive, even if far away. She is far more brave. But we are both seekers and we are both fighters and I am no better, just more lucky. But we are both deserving. She will find her way too.

She asked me for advice. I told her to know that she is deserving. To really feel that. If she can meditate to do that once a day, to do yoga if it’s offered, or do it online. No one on the strand, or anywhere else, is better than she is. She is a good mom, I could sense it. She started to tear up.

Then she looked at me and said again: “you and I, we are the same. No different.”

Nope, no different. Except, she may even be more powerful, more strong, more brave…I gave her my card and asked her to stay in touch. As she left, she called over her shoulder: “Don’t forget me!”

How can I?

Later that evening, I recalled this quote from Sri Sathya Sai Baba, an Indian guru that yogis often quote. I rarely quote him because his personal life was strife with conflict and allegations of abuse. But I’ve come to realize that the beauty of art often stands alone and apart from the artist, as if given from a Divine source. I think this quote of his represents that idea: “I am you, you are ME. You are the waves; I am the ocean. Know this and be free, be divine.”

Another favorite quote in that vein:

“I am you and you are me. We are alone, but not alone. We are trapped by time, but also infinite. Made of flesh, but also stars.” ~ Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

Wherever she is, I hope she reads this and knows that she is a divine soul imbued with dignity and the right to hold her head high and to pursue any avenue to success.

She reminded me on Friday that no matter what stress is in my life right now, I’ve been through worse, and can dig deep again. So it is with much gratitude that I write this post. Her visit also reminded me that the director of a women’s and children’s shelter in LA asked me to volunteer a yoga and meditation class once a month. I had forgotten to get back to her with so much going on in my life. So I did. It’s vital that I give back and help others realize their worth, especially after all that I have overcome. Knowing that you are deserving is most of the battle. Forgiveness, gratitude are also essential tools. So, I’m thankful to give back and help keep a ripple of gratitude and abundance flowing. We may not be exactly the same, but we are one. We are all deserving of love, of abundance, of respect, of health. This I know for sure.

Have a beautiful day. xo

 

How to Save Your Back @ Work: Part 2

Even if your company has a gym membership and ergonomically well-designed chairs, your back and neck are still vulnerable to injury. Why? Well, when you sit for hours on end while on stressful deadlines, you will inevitably fall back into bad posture habits. We all do it. These hunched-over postures put too much strain on instrumental muscles and make others weak. It’s a set-up for back collapse. I know. I’ve been there. As a veteran journalist and editor, I’ve been through it numerous times. I’ve worked for four to five hour stretches to get a deadline done and then stood only to feel extremely sharp pains that mean I won’t be able to stand or walk for at least a few days. I used to wonder how this could be. I wasn’t overweight. I ran. I went to the gym. I did abdominal exercises. But at the end of the day, I sat for hours on end absorbed in a deadline. This situation tightens the hamstrings, compresses the spine, weakens the psoas muscle of the low back, rounds and hardens the rhomboid muscle that runs between the shoulder blades, compresses the sternum and collar bones as they curl in, hardens and compresses the neck from the weight of the leaned-forward head, tightens the side neck muscles and jaw…and on and on.

Please watch my short back-saving video that gives valuable tips to lessen the damage that sitting for hours can cause. There is a way. I’m living proof! Last week I sat for hours on end editing my book. My back is safe. I took breaks. I did restorative yoga postures. I took deep breaths.

 

For my corporate clients, I teach a lunch hour restorative yoga class that allows the fascia, the connective tissues that clamp down on joints and ligaments during times of stress or lack of use, to open, to loosen its grip. From there, proper alignment is possible. My classes target the low back, the shoulders, the neck, wrists—providing relief from sitting too long. My classes also begin to strengthen the core muscles for posture, such as the psoas, hamstrings, abdominals, the rhomboid…that help employees sit safely and tackle their deadlines, without being vulnerable to future injury. Restorative yoga also allows the body to be healthy enough to rebound into power classes and activities such as surfing, running, skiing, without further injury. If your core postural muscles are weak from too much contact with your chair, they are vulnerable when you try to bounce back into activities you once embraced. Restorative yoga helps you do that safely. Contact me for rates. Here’s to healthy backs and joyful living in—AND out—of the office.

Namaste :-)

How To Save Your Back @ Work

 

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As a veteran journalist, blogger, editor and budding author, I know a thing or two about what happens to a person’s low back and neck after sitting for hours on end. In fact, my back blew out four times before I finally found yoga. I recall lying on the floor moaning to my husband. I literally could not stand up. I had to take Motrin around the clock (and I HATE taking anything.) I was forced to take off a vital week of work. As the editor of a publication on deadline, I just couldn’t take that week off. So, I still found ways to work with my laptop by my head, my body prone on the floor, the phone on speaker by my ear. Ridiculous.

 

I am still a writer, but I am now also a therapeutic yoga teacher with 500 training hours. I still write for magazines and am writing my second novel, but I also teach yoga each week at Torrance Memorial Medical Center to those battling injuries and with corporate clients. I help people of all ages acquire better posture and alignment, while increasing flexibility, strength and balance. My yoga supports my writing. It’s a symbiotic relationship for my health and sanity! For instance, it is impossible to sit for long stretches without causing the hamstrings to tighten and begin to grip on the hip bones. If a person’s spine is, in any way, out of alignment, such as with one hip slightly higher than the other, a person can start to feel pinches in the low spine. To add insult to injury, anyone who sits in a hunched over fashion (and who doesn’t when bending over a computer?) compromises the important psoas muscle across the low back. Added strain builds as the spine compresses and arches in an unhealthy fashion. Work your way up from this hunched over the computer position. The shoulders are rounded in (kyphosis), causing the shoulder blades to curl and the rhomboid muscle that runs between the shoulder blades and down the spine, to harden and flatten. Years of this positioning now makes it hard to sit upright. It actually feels better to have a rounded back like a tortoise shell. It’s harder to sit up straight. And, the poor neck! With the 10 to 12 pounds of weight from the head leaning forward, the middle of the back of the neck begins to ache as well. Add stress, too much caffeine, mental pressure from difficult deadlines, and likely the muscles around the sides of the neck and tops of the shoulders are tight and vulnerable for additional injury. Does this sound familiar?

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Don’t fret! Luckily, the body is miraculous in its ability to heal. Watch my VIDEO INSTRUCTION showing a simple chair exercise that really helps! Do this chair cat/cow asana 5 times a day, for 5 reps each. Even if co-workers laugh, it’ll save your low back, stretch your neck and abdominals. If you add in deep breathing, you’ll significantly lower your stress and garner more clarity—allowing for a calmer perspective once you get home and hopefully, a better night’s sleep too! If you are facing a tight deadline and know you’ll be sitting for hours on end, I encourage you to watch my video and try this asana.

If you have more questions, get in touch. If you try this, get back to me and let me know how it feels! AND, if you’d like me to come into your corporate setting to offer more tips, or to teach a lunch hour restorative yoga class targeting low back, neck and wrist relief, please contact me for my rates. Have a beautiful day.

Good Things to Make a Hectic Life Easier

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As I type this at 9 a.m. on a Thursday morning, I have already made two school runs. I have not showered. I am wearing a snow cap, yoga leggings, my thin leather Italian ski boots and a cool faux suede jacket over a T-shirt I bought at a resale store that I adore. Why does this nutty attire matter? Because it makes my life easier. As a single mom of two boys who is juggling a dual career as a writer and a yoga teacher in Los Angeles, I need to feel put together and live with more balance. It’s hard to achieve. Having a few basic staples in my closet, that also represent who I am, help me do this. Seriously! Hear me out:

This morning I was able to hit snooze and meditate for 15 minutes. That sounds like a luxury for some, but it’s a life saver for me. As I mediated, I reminded myself that I am calm. I am at peace. I am capable, patient, deserving and responsible for my own happiness…It all helps me focus before I rush upstairs, wake the boys, get breakfast on, make lunches and get out the door. I laugh more. I don’t snap. I sit down when they eat. Why? Because I know I can put on my favorite snow cap that makes my unruly hair look ok—it hides cowlicks and just shows long curls. lol!

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I put on  yoga pants, slipped on my ski boots that I bought in the Italian Alps AGES ago and covered my T-shirt with a cool, mock suede jacket I found in a hippy boutique in my small beach town.

I put on a little lotion, donned sunglasses, and I was able to not feel ashamed as I chatted with the other moms who’ve showered and put on work clothes & makeup (and who probably got much less sleep) and even talked with the principal at school without feeling embarrassed.

Little things—or special items—help me live the way I want to, with a bit more style. I love finding unique items that also benefit the environment or support an artisan or small business owner. You’ll see me wearing my favorite mala bead necklaces that I either made or a friend or yoga teacher created for me. As far as clothes go, I don’t mind spending a bit more for high quality, original and well made pieces. My boots came from Courmayeur, Italy when I was on a special ski trip. They are water proof and I was able to go up the Alps in them. They are also so comfortable I could run in them, yet fitted so they accentuate my long, thin legs. They help on days I need to feel put together in a pinch! My jacket was hand sewn by a sweet man in Hermosa Beach. His shop closed. It’s a one of a kind and I adore it, even with the cracks that are now showing on the back. My T-shirt I found in a resale store and is as soft as a baby’s butt. I’ve never seen another like it either. These things make me happy. Unique items can  transform a basic ordinary outfit into something cool, hip or just ‘me.’ It helps start my day on the right footing.

 

So, my typical morning starts nutty like this, and then I’m able to go home, do some yoga, shower, and begin whatever it is I need to do. Some days I have writing deadlines. Others involve teaching yoga classes—or both. Today, I have to teach 3 classes back to back at the hospital. Last Thursday was the same, except I had a date afterwards. I refuse to give up on love. My life may be busy, but I must find time to date if I want to find Mr. Right, right? Elegant items in my closet help, tremendously. Last Thursday was literally saved by my cashmere sweater (‘jumper’ in the UK!) from LondonW11, a boutique European company that employs seamstresses in Italy and Scotland to sew each piece.

 

Here’s what I mean: Last Thursday I finished my yoga class in Palos Verdes, knowing that my blind date wanted me to meet him at 6 p.m. at a restaurant a 30 minute drive away. I was excited. The catch? I found myself at the studio, still wearing a braid in my hair, still wearing yoga attire, and it was 5:30 p.m. A few yogis wanted to chat afterwards. And in yoga, chatting after class can be incredibly deep. The topics range from health issues to broken hearts. I never rush anyone who wants to open up to me. I’m honored by it. I know that the flow and the breathing help many tap into an area of their lives that needs healing. So, I always stay for my yogis. My date would just have to understand. Luckily, I threw my W11 sweater in my bag. Its simple elegance is classic. I adore how it fits as well, accentuating curves but not too clingy.

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Yes, it’s somewhat expensive—like my Italian ski boots were—but they both add instant elegance to an outfit, even over yoga clothes. I had a feeling that I may not have time to really freshen up for my date. I threw on this sweater, pulled on boots over my leggings and added a pair of dangle earrings and dashed out to the restaurant. Finding balance is key. If I had decided to rush my yogis in order to speed home, shower and try to look perfect, my entire night would have taken on a frenetic energy that I no longer want in my life. What’s even more funny? My date loved the sweater, the boots and thought my braid made me look like a teenager. What a bonus! :-)

 

So, if you are a woman who is juggling a lot, my advice to you is to assess what is really important to you. Find ways to carve out time for loved ones, time for self care and time to manifest your dreams. Then, invest in a few key items for your wardrobe that will help you live your hectic life with more style, more grace and hopefully allow you to feel sexy and playful at the same time!

Here’s to a stylish and balanced New Year!

 

 

 

Meeting Diana Nyad

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This week I met Diana Nyad, a champion swimmer who amazed the world with her epic swim two years ago from Cuba to Florida—at the age of 64. That swim would be treacherous for anyone, at any age, with its shark- and box jellyfish-infested waters, that are also known for unpredictable currents, swells and extreme weather. I stumbled upon her engagement at Pages Bookstore here in my little home town of Manhattan Beach, Calif. I was in the bookstore earlier that day and someone who worked there kindly suggested that I come back that evening, even though it was sold out. I did and they let me slip in under the radar once I bought her book. What a deal! I sat in the back beside 1984 Olympian runner Cathy Caplener. Yeah, we have that kind of town here in Calif. Another Olympian was in the house, as well as Kelly Dixon, who swam the English Channel twice and is now preparing for her 3rd swim.

Pages Bookstore was packed with locals, many of us athletes. The question and answer session afterwards was amazing. The questions dealt with motivation, sticking to a routine of grueling training, blocking out negativity, and team-building and preparation tips. But as Diana said, her message of inspiration and her gripping come-back story isn’t one just for professional athletes—many of whom already have a champion mentality and a team to guide them. No, she wants to reach anyone who may feel as if they are giving up on their dreams.

“Are you living a life of purpose?” she asked the audience. “I asked myself this after 30 years of being  a sports commentator. It’s not just what do I want to do—but who do I want to be?” She then told the audience about her favorite poet, whom she also quotes in her book, Mary Oliver. Oliver’s line: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” spoke to Diana. As she turned 60 and lost her mother to Alzheimer’s, Diana said she began swimming again and training to go back. She said it wasn’t because she was haunted by not making the swim earlier in her life, she said it was just a whisper inside her that she ought to give it another go.

Diana is clearly the perfect athlete to reach a wide audience. Not only is she extremely humble and engaging—introducing herself to everyone in the room before speaking—she is one of the most positive and inspiring people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. As I walked away from our chat at the end of the evening, for instance, she said this to me: “I’m going to see one of your books on these shelves soon!”

Wow. What an inspiring person. I’m only half way through her new book Find a Way, but I can tell you this–it is not just a sports memoir. It is a thriller and a self-help, motivational book that reads as well as any Oprah book club picks. If you are dismissing it because you aren’t an athlete, you are missing the entire point of her book.

Maybe you aren’t trying to train for 15 to 18 hours a day to meet a physical challenge. You certainly don’t plan on swimming without a shark tank in dangerous waters where one box jellyfish sting could be lethal. Of course you don’t need to plan against severe dehydration, salt imbalance and extreme physical fatigue and digestion that won’t allow you to digest even  one sip of Coca-cola while every muscle begins to feel as if it is tearing from your joints and bones. No, you don’t plan to swim in the pitch dark continuing to stroke all night long while you wonder if any shark or box jellies will find a way to get to you. Her story is one of a warrior and one that many may just feel doesn’t apply to them. But that’s where the metaphor gets lost.

 

After her talk and book signing last Thursday, the two of us chatted about her goals with the book. She even asked my opinion of the book cover as she wants to reach an audience beyond the extreme sports athlete, Mount Everest Climbers and Olympic hopefuls. When I told Diana that I’m a journalist, novelist and a yoga teacher, she didn’t bat an eye. She clearly embraces mind, body ,spirit integration. I let her know that I work with cancer patients and seniors at a hospital and that her words would really resonate with them. I was going to suggest they read her book for inspiration to not give up after multiple surgeries or setbacks.

“Exactly,” Diana said to me with a smile. “There are people out there fighting things so much harder than my swim. I want to speak to them.”

This woman beat all the odds, even after two failed attempts and after experts and colleagues told her to give up. She didn’t. And here’s what her message (paraphrased) says to all of us, no matter what our goals are:

-Never, Ever give up.

-Be present, in the NOW.

-Let go of regret.

-Let go of doubt.

-Let go of the past.

-Let go of trying to force the future.

-Focus on the task at hand.

-Reach for your dreams one step at a time.

-Prepare and train every day, focussing on that day’s training or work only. So, if you’re a writer, focus on that one page. If you’re an athlete, focus on that one days training. You get the idea.

-Find a team to help you get there. We all need support.

-Don’t accept skeptics, haters or doubters. Surround yourself with positive support.

-If you fail, it doesn’t mean you are a failure. It means it didn’t work this time. What did you learn from it? How can you do it differently? How can you better prepare?

-Try again.

-Be grateful for every breath, every friend who supports you and for the journey.

-When lost in doubt, ask yourself these questions: ‘Who am I? Why am I doing this? Why do I want this dream?” You’ll come back to center.

Here’s Diana’s interview with Oprah after her epic swim. It’s surprising and inspiring as she discusses her dreams, from a young age, and how she knew she wanted to be a professional athlete and was aware there was only a finite number of years on Earth to achieve her dreams.

Her documentary The Other Shore is also an amazing, gripping way to see her story.

So what’s in the future for Diana? As she said to Oprah, she just wants to live a life that is worthy. A life that makes a difference. A life that helps others find a way to reach their highest potential. So, she plans to walk across America to end the obesity epidemic in America and aid children with Diabetes. Here’s an article that outlines this next venture.First Lady Michelle Obama will walk the last five miles with the group. I plan to walk with her while she’s in Los Angeles later this year, and will try to get my boys to join in!

I hope you enjoyed this post. And, more importantly, I hope you buy Diana’s book, watch her Oprah interview, or her documentary and feel a small spark to try again.

Have a beautiful day! L. xo

 

Points of Light

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LACMA @ Night Photo by Laura Roe Stevens

On the first day of 2016 I meditated outside of LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) with a Zen Buddhist monk and my dear friend Lydia. The two of us giggled as we approached the monk who invited people via his Meetup group to a New Years Zen meditation between the LACMA lamp posts. There were two 30 minute sessions. I made it only through the first. Seikan, the monk, settled in immediately. It was impressive. He was as still and as straight spined as the lamp posts. His stillness could be felt. Immediate. Unwavering. Powerful. Lydia and I sat down near him, in this place close to the street and in front of the museum. It was too sunny at 2 p.m. It was hot. My feet were sweating inside my Uggs. Typical California winter. It had been cold that morning. Now it was hot. I hadn’t exercised yet, so was restless. I hadn’t journaled, so had too many thoughts that needed settling or releasing. I wanted to flow, run, dance, work out some wiggles first. Children were running around and in between the posts. I wanted to play with them and help the parents who were yelling in exasperated tones at them. I could feel their stress, their sadness and their frustration. The holidays were almost over. Relief would come soon. I could feel their need for that. I could hear car breaks squeal. The occasional horn beeped. Couples flirted as they walked past. Their energy was like a soft wind or delicate whisper of hope. Some people took pictures of us. I could hear the camera shutters or people up close whispering, probably with iphones. A man walked up and sat directly behind me and joined in. I could feel his presence before I actually heard him. He had been watching. Thirty minutes is a long time to meditate. After about 25 minutes, both my legs completely fell asleep and tingles were shooting up from my crossed ankles to my thighs. I tried to ignore it. Another shuffle behind me and the sense of someone’s energy jolted me as I realized my purse was in plain view. I moved it to the front of me and heard this person walk away. My left leg, the one with the pulled hamstring, started aching. I didn’t bring my meditation cushion, but rather my bolster, thinking it would be easier to carry around the museum later in my yoga bag. It wasn’t high enough, however, to allow a straight spine or a good distance to angle my knees downward. I caved. Within minutes of moving my legs into a straight position, I heard the bells chime. Our session was over.

It was an interesting way to start the new year. Am I a Zen meditator? Probably not, if I’m honest. I prefer mantra, kundalini or visualization-types of meditation. I like my eyes closed, not half closed, as Zen meditators do. For instance, on New Years, I listened to all the noises, felt the energies around me, and then silently kept saying to myself: Trust, Love, Accept…all things I need in the New Year. Zen meditators let go of everything, including themselves. Maybe I have too much ego? lol! Plus, I exercise a lot, so when I meditate, I want comfort. I want to slouch, or to lay down, or lean back against a wall. Seikan shared that he once sat in zen meditation for 20+ hours while in Japan with his master. That’s amazing!

What I truly enjoyed about the day was learning from this man, listening, and then silently recognizing my own needs, my own preferences. Lydia and I walked around LACMA afterwards. She gravitated toward the architecture exhibit. I loved recognizing models of buildings that I had seen in Spain, France and Italy, but overall, the little models of buildings didn’t move me. I gravitated toward the audio/sensory exhibit. I couldn’t move from Diana Thater’s Delphine room for a long time. Lydia left me and came back. It was like being dropped into the waters with a pod of dolphins. Multiple streaming videos of dolphins swimming and playing were on every wall. Lights shown through in a way that made me feel like I was swimming with them, but also in an angelic dream. Joy bubbled up to the surface and I wanted to play. I wanted to swim with the dolphins again like I did in Costa Rica and in Hawaii. I took picture after picture.

When I was a little girl, my godfather bought me a record of whale and dolphin sounds. I listened to it over and over again for an entire year. The mom whale called to her child differently than she did to family members. The dolphins flirted with one another, warned each other, called out. It was fascinating. Probably because I didn’t speak to anyone outside my immediate family until I was 11. And even within my family, I mainly watched body language and waited for an outburst or drama that I didn’t want any part of. I understood the subtle language of energy and behavior exquisitely at an early age. So of course I gravitated toward whale and dolphin family interaction and language! And suddenly I was in this room, remembering how I played the dolphin and whale sounds over and over when I was a little girl. (My Grease and Heart albums finally bumped the whales & dolphins! ha ha). I got so good I could tell the difference between joyful and sorrowful calls. Remember in Finding Nemo when Dory does all the different whale calls! Yup, I get that. So hilarious. (Here’s the Dory whale VIDEO of it for those in need of a laugh!!) I’m that nerd.

We left the museum after dark and as I drove away, I stuck my phone out of the side window (yes, as I was driving 10 mph) and snapped the amazing picture of the lamp posts. I somehow captured this Crazy beautiful last minute moment that would have past me by unnoticed. How often do I do that? Not recognize a moment or a person or an event or an activity that lights me up? Not until much later do I realize that that person, activity, event, etc. was in fact, one of my points of light?

And once I truly recognize what lights me up, what is my passion, what makes my life joyful, I can gravitate and lean in for more (or to give more.) So maybe I’ll never slow down enough to sit for hours on end as a Zen meditator. But I am finally slowing down enough to recognize my points of light. They are my authentic friends on a similar journey who accept me exactly as I am. They are my senior yogis I teach weekly who teach me more about how to embrace true youth: who are filled with more life and more gusto than most people half their age. Other points of light in my life? My sisters and brother, my children. Music. Yoga. Dance. It’s writing this post. It’s letting go.

What lights you up? What really brings you joy? For me it’s both connection and movement. It’s connected to literal lightness as my life has been way too heavy. It’s connected to playful moments. It’s part emotional, verbal connection and authentic friendship, but then again, it’s playful, silly connection with no need for words. I get that the most. That’s why I couldn’t move away from the audio/sensory exhibit. Having dolphins swim and play and twirl all around me, while listening to the water and feeling light swaying across the walls…drew me in. I wanted to jump in. I wanted to twirl and squeak and flip over and swim over and around each of them. I wanted to explore. I wanted to swim fast. And then crash on a beach and sleep lazily for an hour with a bff. Am I Zen meditator? Probably not. But here’s to exploring more points of light in the New Year! :-) <3

Faith, in a Bubble

Bubble-In-The-Sky

Lately I’ve been visualizing a bubble when I meditate. It’s sort of like this one. I imagine it crossing an ocean, like an airplane. I can’t see it. I feel it. It’s on a planned trajectory, a mapped journey, straight toward me, wherever I am. A bit like Glenda’s bubble in the Wizard of Oz, I admit, but within this bubble is all that I want to manifest in my life. My number is 3, and I have just 3 main goals at the moment: to garner a book deal,  to reach others as I expand my yoga & meditation practice, and to attract a healthy love.

I breathe deeply and visualize this bubble floating toward me. I tell myself that just because I can’t see it, or always feel it, the bubble of manifestation is still working. It is still on its way, floating toward me, as long as I believe. And that’s the tricky part. Having faith when there are no signs that something is on its way. Sometimes it feels impossible to do. And what I’m learning is that belief is only part of the process. After taking Mike Dooley’s course, Playing the Matrix, I’ve discovered a major roadblock—the main reason why previous attempts to manifest haven’t been so good. Discovering this roadblock then revealed another one to me. If you are focussing on your intentions and goals in the New Year, maybe these tips will help you too.  Here are my two biggest road blocks to manifesting, which reveal the best ways TO manifest!

First: I have to stop attaching. I attach to details. I don’t just want a book deal, I want a specific agent or a specific publisher. Oh, but what if the Universe has other plans? What if those specific people and companies aren’t the right fit for me? What if my insistence blocks the right agent and the best publisher to flow toward me? I need to get out of my own way. “Let Go and Let God” is a popular phrase. You’ve likely heard it and agree. It’s easier than it sounds to put into practice! When I attach to details, I may just get what I want— and often that’s a bad thing. My Higher Power knows better. Mike Dooley, who I adore as much as Louise Hay (and my good friends know how much I love her!) advises to manifest with big picture goals only. So, I can imagine an agent signing or a publisher signing me, but not a specific person or publisher. Same goes for love, I can’t attach to a specific person or even specific descriptions such as height, hair color, job, etc. as it can block the perfect person, agent, yoga studio, etc. from appearing—and its appearance may not be what I’m expecting. Again, I need to get out of my own way. God knows best who and what is right for me. I can, however, ask for many other big picture items such as abundance, joy, a creative career, health…not specifics. There is so much more to Mike Dooley’s course, I’m such a big fan… everyone should take it! Seriously, my mind lit up like a strand of Christmas tree lights. He is beyond brilliant.

Second: I must face deep-rooted inner programming to persevere.
Just meditating on what I want, doesn’t help the Universe shift and bring it to me. I have to take baby steps. I have to submit more queries to agents and publishers. I have to apply to teach at more yoga studios. I may need to go out on more dates to find Mr. Right too—even if I hate dating. Taking baby steps can be really scary, especially after receiving rejection or bad experiences. Just because I received one rejection from one agent, doesn’t mean a person who said I’d never get published is right. For peat sakes! Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul received 145 rejections before his New York Times best seller was accepted! Who do I think I am?? Well, I’m just someone who received some negativity and lack of support at some point in my life. Maybe you can relate? I have to recognize that the person who belittled me, or called me stupid, or said I’d never make it, was vomiting negativity—it had nothing to do with me. And I’ve accepted that intellectually. I’ve forgiven the few people in my life who were like that. But on a deep level. Maybe even on the subconscious level, these sort of emotionally abusive comments left water marks that reveal themselves in the forms of insecurity or lack of drive to keep trying. I have to recognize that each rejection does not reflect my worth or ability to succeed, and then take a deep breath, surround myself with supportive peps and try again. I’m now writing on my 3rd novel. I’m now working at two yoga studios. I’m now officially going out on several first dates that help me realize exactly what I don’t want! ha ha. :-)  … But it’s all helping me on my journey!

Baby steps lead to amazing journeys. And sometimes the journeys go to the most surprising places.

So here’s to a New Year filled with baby steps that lead us to where we feel loved, heard, accepted, creative and joyful. And in between those baby steps, I’ll take the time to meditate. Maybe you’ll join me? Lets place our big picture goals and intentions (without attaching to specific details!) inside a bubble. Lets breathe deeply, close our eyes and allow it to float toward us, in God’s time.

 

The Peace of Wild Things

LOVE This. TGIF ya’ll. xo

Today, I Choose Peace

peace

One of my yogis in last night’s class had a very heavy heart. Her son was a first responder in San Bernardino. She chose to come to class anyway. I’m so glad I didn’t cancel class for my son’s violin performance. I felt this need to be there for my students, so we just upped the hour of the class. I am beyond grateful. I learn so much from my students. This woman knew she couldn’t DO anything about the San Bernardino shooting that killed 14 and wounded so many more that her son attended to. But she could have chosen to stay home, watch the news, drink wine and live in fear, anxiety, sadness. Of course, we all need to grieve and to feel our sadness. But she realized that if she stayed home watching the news, living in fear and anxiety, maybe drinking wine, nothing would change except her own well being. So we  held class without lights at sunset. We prayed for peace. We meditated on gratitude. With every inhale, we breathed into all is well. With every exhale we breathed out, I choose Love, alternating with I choose Peace, and I choose health. It was a powerful class and a powerful reminder to me that in times of stress, anxiety, chaos and powerfully tragic events, we all have choices. Do I wallow in my feelings of powerlessness and drown my sorrows with alcohol or food or other substance … or do I breathe, feel the sadness and pray for hope, pray for love, pray for peace?

This is know for sure: whenever someone says “It’s God’s Will” or “Everything happens for a Reason” it isn’t always true. God didn’t want those 14 people to die. Just like God doesn’t want anyone to die or be injured from mass shootings by hysterical, crazed people. I believe that God gave us freedom—the ability to make choices. We have the control over choosing love over hate. We have the choice to get help if we are depressed. We have the choice over whether we drown our sorrows in alcohol or drugs and endanger others. We have the ability to get help if we are addicted. We have the choice of taking care of our bodies, our minds, our hearts. We have choices, even when it feels like we don’t.

I’ve experienced a lot of violence in my life and I know that God didn’t wish for my dear friend to be shot and killed in high school by a crazed stalker and not me. This week many years ago, I remembered to go to detention after school and my dear friend who got in trouble with me for being late to class, didn’t. It wasn’t God granting me life and forcing her to die. I am not that special. I was lucky. The stalker was waiting by our cars parked side-by-side and shot her 6 times. The stalker chose hate. He chose something incomprehensible. It had nothing to do with God—or me.

Exactly a year ago, my youngest son’s best friend and his mother were killed by an out of control driver as they crossed the street after a kindergarten Christmas performance. Had I gone, my son and I would have been walking beside them. Did God allow me to live and allow them to die? Of course not. I was lucky, yet again. The driver chose to abuse her pain killers and alcohol. Of course she didn’t mean to intentionally kill them, but she did make bad choices by getting behind the wheel of her car under the influence.

Today, with every breath, I choose to be grateful. I choose peace. I choose to be a conscious, loving mom to my boys. I choose to take care of my health, my heart and to surround myself with loving, healthy people who make good choices. I will NOT drown my sorrows and check out this holiday season. I choose love. I choose peace. I choose gratitude. These are my mantras as I meditate today, if you haven’t figured that out.  And I pray for all those who are suffering to feel this vibration of love. There are more positive, healthy people in this world than there are those who wish us harm intentionally, or who make bad choices and hurt us unintentionally. I choose peace. I choose love. I choose gratitude—with every breath. I hope you’ll join me. Namaste.