Category Archives: Dating/Relationships

Can Balance Cultivate Inner-Peace?

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This Thomas Merton quote was brought to my attention this week and it makes a lot of sense. I am rarely happy, serene or at peace when my life is moving at mock-speed with demands that are out of my control. I read somewhere that one of the highest stressors in life are during times when other people’s emergencies suddenly become our problems demanding immediate attention. Maybe you have been in that sort of environment at work where a boss suddenly throws a situation at you to fix, frustrating you as you need to finish your own work? Maybe you’ve had family members or loved ones with addictions or health care issues or lots of drama that suddenly require immediate help? This sort of intensity that is injected into our lives, requiring us to stop, drop everything and run,  is a false sense of excitement, leaving us breathless, winded, exhausted, and off center. Raising children in America can certainly feel that way at times, when coaches change game or practice times and venues at the last minute, requiring parents to leave work or change plans. Kids get sick, hurt, forget their lunches, homework, etc. too, and we often have to drop what we are doing and run to their assistance. This, I don’t mind so much. But you get the idea. When I feel out of control, I feel off-center, ungrateful, out of balance, and out of sync. Some of my relationships have been this way too. I’ve had a knack in my life to choose men who don’t choose me, or don’t choose to honor our agreements. The last minute cancel; the last minute change in plans; or the worst: being an hour late for a date or dinner, has been a theme with everyone I have ever been with. It’s an out-of control feeling as it’s outside of me, reflects them, but it requires me to be inconvenienced and stressed. My past job as a full-time editor and journalist, felt a little out of control too: stories change, publishing dates get pushed back, re-edits are requested based on outside interests. I think I have become used to rolling with the punches. I think I have become a master of juggling and staying calm. But it isn’t peaceful.

As an artist, it’s super important for me to squeeze in a schedule, a routine, a rhythm that I try to adhere to every day, so I can balance my time spent writing, with time spent assisting to the needs of others: editors, yogis, children. Lately, I’m finding more balance through a regular meditation practice and sitting with my feelings as they arise and not reacting to them. Yoga, deep breathing is powerful. Walks on the beach, in nature, help to connect to beauty and God.

Art is an amazing source of peace for me. Writing, instantly drops me into that place of calm, allowing me to authentically co-create with the Universe. From a sense of calm and peace, I can feel centered, balanced and less stressed about the future, about ‘being on track.’ From this quiet place, I can allow ‘happiness’ to bubble up to the surface.

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In my youth, I chased excitement. Happiness was this unauthentic, elusive feeling that erupted from attention given to and received from others. It sprung from crazy demands and switching up venues or travel. I loved writing three of four stories on deadline and racing to get them done on time, then going for a run with tunes blasting, later meeting friends for drinks while dressed up in heels and a short skirt, maybe flirting. You get the idea. My source of happiness came from outside sources, sometimes caffeine or wine and always adrenaline. Today, it springs from time in quiet, listening to my inner guides, my intuition while I write, meditate, do yoga or listen fully to a friend, share from an authentic space with another soul. It may not seem as intense, or as exciting, but it’s a way for me to create a balance and a rhythm and an order to my life that feels closer to nature, closer to God.

Admittedly, my life has been out of control for most of my life. I can’t control a spouse leaving. I can’t control someone choosing to be violent, or those who chose to kill friends, or drunk drivers killing friends, or disease taking friends and family. I can’t control others who spiral into addiction and hurt themselves and others. But I can control my breath. I can control my schedule and get up early and meditate, giving thanks for another day. I can control whether I stay in a stressful job that hurts my health. I can control whether I continue with unloving, unbalanced relationships. I can choose to pause and not react. I can choose to eat and drink what will support my mental clarity and wellbeing.

I can ultimately choose to live a different life than what I witnessed, experienced in childhood and in my youth. Today, I am embracing this shift, letting go of the chaotic past, creating order, balance, harmony, so I can continue to create my art, my novels, while making space to forgive myself and everyone in my life.

Have a beautiful weekend.

Namaste x

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When Did You Last Have a BIG HUG?

HUG

Photo by: by ラルフ – Ralf RKLFoto

When is the last time you received a big bear hug? The kind that doesn’t release instantly? The kind where you feel accepted, supported and loved for who you are?Fake, pseudo LA hugs where a person lightly touches your shoulder-blades and releases, while looking away to see who witnessed it, doesn’t count! I mean, good friend hugs.

And when did you last give a big bear hug, and to whom?

Hugs are so healing. And when life is kicking you when you’re already down, you really need one. Amma the Hugging Saint lives her life giving hugs to relieve suffering (while also raising money to support charities working to reduce poverty and help the environment). But if you, like me, find yourself rarely hugging others deeply and authentically, ask yourself why? Or do you, like me, often pull away before the hugger is done, feeling embarrassed, or uncomfortable because you weren’t raised in a hugging, loving environment and aren’t used to letting others hug you?

I’ve come to know a few things with complete certainty. One is that if you didn’t receive hugs as a child, you need the power of hugs in your life today. Start by giving them and receiving them. Hug your children. Hug your best friend, sibling, parent, dog, deeply today. I gave my sister five hugs yesterday. It felt amazing!

To give and receive love requires compassion. In a me, me, and more me-focussed world of today, let go of yourself and your needs for just a moment and embrace mindfully, focussing on the other person with complete compassion. What a gift! To do so says: ‘I see your pain, I feel your pain, and I wish I could help.’

A big hug, like the best gifts in life, doesn’t cost a thing, and is exchanged on a deep, emotional level without the need for words.

This virtual hug is from me to you.

Have a beautiful Sunday.

Laura xo

Dating Survival Tips for Single Moms: It’s a Jungle Out There! (So don’t swing out on a vine above the online dating swamp solo!)

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This is how I feel after many of my first dates that I meet via online dating. Dating post divorce is really, really hard for anyone. And it’s especially tricky for the full-time single mom. But I’m CONVINCED, that having full custody of my kiddos has saved me from dating a slew of selfish men, or men just seeking to hookup. (I can’t tell you how many men on the first date have said: “Wait, you don’t get one weekend off? Ever? How are we going to have sex later?”

Sigh. I’ve been a single mother for 9 years. My youngest is 9, do the math. I’ve had dark, dark days, I won’t lie. I found yoga, meditation and am now writing my 4th novel and teaching yoga and meditation. I don’t often write about the trials and tribulations of juggling single parenthood anymore, as I don’t like for it to define the essence of who I am. But when it comes to dating, lets just say, there’s no way that it can’t. I’ve made SO many mistakes over the years, and have comical and scary experiences under my belt that have helped me now that I find myself dating again. I’ve come up with a list of tips and strategies to help anyone—but especially the newly single mom—navigate the crazy dating process with dignity and with their center in tact. Try to enjoy the process. And look at each blind date as just one more experience to help you gain clarity. After divorce, many women lose sight of who they are, what they are worth, and what they want. We can also get mired down in the full-time, exhausting parenting process, losing our gratitude and our excitement for life. But now is your time to grow and flow. Never, EVER settle. Never think lesser of yourself or accept disrespectful treatment from any man whose view of you is that you are a handful just because you have chosen to raise children and put them first. Each guy you say NO to, gets you closer to finding what you’re seeking. And maybe that just might be your self worth and your own inner light. Re-acquainting with your dignity, your love for life, your sense of power, center and inner-goddess is  worth much more than any man (or woman). No person will bring you happiness. It’s an inside job. Let your inner light be the beacon that attracts the souls to you who will love and respect you—showing your children how women should be treated.

Here are some more useful dating tips:

  1.  Never introduce men who haven’t made a commitment to you to your children. EVER. It doesn’t matter if you’re frustrated about not being able to spend the night together. He needs to commit to being monogamous with you and you need to get to know him better before the oxytocin bliss of sex takes hold of your brain. Trust me. Don’t take a man home for your kids to discover. Your children are the most important people in your life and any man who doesn’t understand that needs to GO. I’ve made many mistakes in this lifetime, but my children have only met one man in nine years, and I became engaged to him. I’m very proud of that when I see the harm that comes from friends who introduce many men too soon.
  2. Don’t have sex before you really really know a man is kind and trustworthy and would be a good example for your children down the road. Period. Maybe that sounds harsh? But think about it. Women get addicted very quickly to men through oxytocin bonding via sex. They, however, do NOT. Once we bond, we make a slew of excuses for our slack men who aren’t treating us well outside of the bedroom and ignore red flags. (Read this interview with Dr. Pat Allen, relationship expert, author of NYTimes best seller Getting to I DO and coach for TV series Millionaire Matchmaker to get more advice that will blow your mind! She was my divorce therapist, LOL and granted me this interview to help me on my first venture out into the dating world. I wish I had heeded all of her advice!!)
  3. Before you venture onto an online dating site, write in a gratitude journal daily for a month.  That’s right. Write down what you are grateful for every day. Some days might be hard, but you can write: food, bed, water. Write down at least three things. Start to create a vibration of gratitude before you go out into the dating world. It will help you notice straight away, even on first dates, men who are mired down in negativity. Shed yours and theirs will stand out in stark contrast. It will help you move on.
  4. Meditate every morning (or night if you have very young children). Go to Headspace, or The Chopra Center (sign up for Chopra’s 21 day meditation challenge!) or DavidJi (who started Chopra’s challenges and does 40 day ones on his own!) to find free guided meditations. Start small, do a 10 minute one daily. Put on your headphones and listen. Why? It will help you connect to your intuition. And you’ll need your intuitive voice to speak to you when on dates. It will help you avoid narcissistic men and help you to break patterns, such as being attracted to men who are controlling or mired in addiction, etc.
  5. Play with yourself. Yup. Get your sexual vibes flowing. Why? Because you can. Because you’ll realize that you can satisfy yourself and it will be easier to say no to the hot man with 6 pack abs, but who would wreak havoc on your family due to his heavy drinking, or negativity or whatever. You are a goddess and deserve to be treated as one. So treat yourself to an orgasm and remind yourself. 🙂
  6. Practice mantras in the mirror. You can find many on LouiseHay.com. I adore her. Women who have been through nasty divorces can often internalize and believe the negative things said about them (men too, but this article is to help my fellow moms!). Look deeply into your eyes and say “I Love You. You are worthy of love and deserve to be happy.” There are many other mantras. It will feel silly. But do it. Feel loving and lovable before you go out into the dating world!
  7. Be honest on your online dating profile about what you want and who you are.  Don’t post pictures of yourself in a bikini or in provocative poses either. Even if you look great, try to not give the impression that you’re looking to just have casual sex, ok? Men, in my experience over the last 9 years, like to prey on single moms. The rationale is that we don’t have sex often, are probably desperate, and aren’t available for a relationship anyway. I can’t tell you how many men (including married men) have asked me over the years if they can be my friend with benefits. And that’s fine, if that’s what you are looking for. If you want to find a partner, however, and find love and respect, hold out.
  8. Talk on the phone first before meeting men who you connect with via online dating. Why? You need to feel good about this person before getting a sitter to spend more time with them. I can’t tell you how many dates I’ve had (while paying a sitter $18 / hour) that resulted in me listening to a man complain for hours about his ex or about his divorce, etc. I’ve coached so many men to forgive and forget and to remember the ex is the mother of his children and to embrace a more positive existence. It’s exhausting. You and I have spent too much time creating a positive life for ourselves. Don’t waste hours on a negative person AND pay for it!
  9. Don’t respond to every man who messages you via online dating. You may think it unkind, but don’t. Be brutal. If there is NO way you’ll go out with a 21-year-old who is looking for a MILF, don’t respond. If a man is 65 and you’re 35, don’t even respond. Know what you want. If someone brags about being in the NRA and voting for Trump, and this offends you, ignore his hot gym pictures. If you want to find someone who is spiritual, ignore those who say they are an atheist or a nihilist. You get the idea. This is the time for you to find someone you can have a soul connection with. If you don’t want to be with a drinker, say so in your profile. Why weed through all the requests from those who drink and smoke weed daily if you don’t want that in your house?
  10. Practice saying NO. A lot. Men, after the 2nd date, often pressure us for sex. Sometimes on the first date. It’s too soon. Say no and walk away knowing another man is out there. Say it to yourself: “Another man, a man better suited for me, is out there.” A single mom I know lamented to me last week that she’d date anyone at this point “because who would want to date me? I’ve got 4 kids!” My heart broke for her. Don’t make that mistake. You are better off alone, than letting in a potentially abusive man into your home. Make space for someone better and hold the space in your heart, knowing you are worth it.
  11. Don’t let ALL of your friends set you up. Even those with the best intentions, wind up making bad choices for you. Two years ago one of the producers of Queen Latifah Show put me on air. He’s a neighbor and his son is my son’s friend. He knew I was having trouble finding a man I could relate to and he wanted to set me up with a friend, but did it by having me be a contestant on Latifah’s Dating Game. See article hereThe Queen Latifah Show Season 2
    It was really funny when my friend’s friend ended up choosing the 60-year-old contestant over me! You just can’t win them all. In the end, even friends who set you up, often make the wrong choices for you. It was humbling.
  12. Exercise more and drink less. Get the endorphins going. Yoga, walking, jogging, biking…whatever works for you. Find a way to get your endorphins going and feel good. Try not to drink vino when you are stressed or alone. It might make you more likely to drunk text someone not good for you, or to give out your number to a bad boy you met online, when you ordinarily wouldn’t. It may sound like I’m being a bit strict, but you’ll feel better and get closer to what you ultimately want—a soul connection and a partner.Good luck and enjoy the ride! For more advice, read one of my most popular articles where I interview a knowledgable LA psychiatrist: How NOT to Date a Narcissist.

    Here’s to Love & Light & Enjoying the Journey,
    Laura x

The Heart: Submerged in Mystery

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Photo by Toni Frissell

“You were a risk, a mystery. And the most certain thing I’d ever known.” ~ Beau Taplin.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” ~ Albert Einstein.

“Love is the way Messengers from the Mystery tell us things.” ~ Rumi

***
Underneath the surface of our daily lives—concealed beneath a hundred smiles and practical choices—its faint heart beat lingers, quietly pulsing and pulling us back into its orbit of truth. The mystery of love: for all its impractical, unwise, and disruptive qualities, contains an element of the mysterious, surviving in an eternal space beyond the physical realm. It is a timeless, yet terrifying space, that intellect strongly neglects, and the heart fully embraces and recognizes. It is the ‘Ah, it’s you,’ feeling upon the first hug, the first touch, the first scent that lingers at the nape of his/her neck. It tells you you’re home. It belies logic. It lives within the waters of intuition. And it exists within you long after the physical experience or relationship ends.

Australian poet Beau Taplin captured its essence for me with this line: “It’s a frightening thought that in one fraction of a moment, you can fall into a kind of love that takes a lifetime to get over.”

Maybe not everyone experiences this kind of love in their lifetime? But I’m convinced they know if they have. That’s been my experience. When it ends, it’s shattering. The idea of never touching, seeing, or being with the other person is brutal. It’s hard to go on. And what happens within that space of misery, is also a mystery. Trying to avoid pain, many of us can try to make intellectual ‘safe’ choices, like being with people we don’t love in the same insanely passionate way. Or maybe some choose to be with someone because of what they can do for them, or because they would be more accepted by family, or it just feels like a safe bet. But it could be farther from the truth as it short-changes your heart. Not taking the risk for love, over time, haunts us. Memories of our true love, or the longing for this love, will linger within us and bubble up to the surface eventually. Even if our safe relationship lasts a lifetime—think of the married couples who are miserable, treat each other with disdain, yet stay together for the sake of the children, or due to financial fears. What lingers underneath the surface? Who do they think of at night when their partner barely touches them anymore? Love will find a way to survive. It resides deep within us, like a longing whisper.

This mystery is what I write about in my novel Between Thoughts of You. An old man on his death bed, finally admits to his hospice caretaker, who happens to look like his true love, that for 60 years he has never stopped thinking about a Japanese woman he fell in love with during World War II. Riddled with guilt for leaving her, the old man, now in the final stages of lung disease, keeps having lucid dreams of his true love, forcing him to face the truth. Here’s an excerpt from my novel, that I’ll be sharing with agents and publishers this weekend in San Francisco (wish me luck!). In this scene, the old man recovers from a vivid dream and reveals his secret to his caretaker.

Excerpt from Between Thoughts of You: Chapter 3

忘れられません

Wasure raremasen: Unforgetable

“She’s here. I mean, I smell her. It’s so God damn real. You know what I mean?”

Lulu thought of her sweet Lani’s smell. The scent had been so real in her dreams that it often lingered a few seconds after she had awakened.

“I might,” she replied softly. She started to take his pulse and placed the oxygen reader on his finger, ensuring that his oxygen levels were OK. The old man began to cough, too.

“Take it easy,” Lulu advised, sensing that the conversation might rile him up. When she reached for the nebulizer, Pops put a firm hand up saying no. With a sense of urgency on his face, Lulu decided it could wait a few minutes.

“My dreams of her are so real, I can even feel her touch as I’m waking up. I feel her soft hand on mine. She had the softest God damn little hands. They were like doll hands. Light as a feather. And I smell her. Jesus I smell her!”

Pops closed his eyes and breathed in. Lulu couldn’t help but smile in response to his dramatic energy.

“She smells like goose down. I know, odd. But that’s her smell. Soft and innocent. I wake up needing her so bad.”

The old man’s eyes looked searchingly into Lulu’s. 

“I even heard her voice this morning, calling me Yuki. She called me Yuki,” he explained with a sheepish smile.

“So he does have a secret,” Lulu thought. Most of her hospice patients told her at least one secret. Some might be small, such as secretly not liking a cat that a daughter had given her. But some were huge, like being gay and never telling their spouse. She had gotten used to hearing and keeping secrets. It was part of the job as a hospice nurse; to listen and not to judge.

The old man’s head fell back slightly onto his pillow, as his right hand instinctively lifted. His index and middle fingers straightened and touched, rubbing back and forth like he was rolling a cigarette between them. Lulu imagined that he often had long conversations with friends, while smoking cigarettes and drinking cocktails.

“Who are you talking about?” Lulu finally asked, demanding more clarity.

For more than 60 years, he had not said her name. Not once. When he did, it came out as a whisper: “Kiyomi.”

A sense of relief seemed to wash over the old man’s face after he spoke her name aloud.

“She was the one. I mean, no one has ever come close. You know what I mean?”

Lulu blinked, wondering if Akoni was her one and only, then decided not to go there.

“Of course, when you’re young and with the ONE, you’re just, you’re-I mean, you’re so God damned young and stupid you tell yourself that there will be other women like her. Like they’re just waiting for you everywhere, on every street corner and bar. But they aren’t.”

Pops looked contemplatively over Lulu’s shoulder, out the window facing the driveway lined with cypress trees. He placed a cloth up to his mouth as if he would cough, but just cleared his throat politely.

“I was so stupid to let her go. I mean. I knew. Deep down I really knew she was the one the moment I laid eyes on her. It didn’t matter that I was only 20. She was like this Japanese princess. I laid eyes on her and just couldn’t breathe. Like now,” the old man laughed a little. “Like God damned now.”

The conversation was riling him up. Pops started coughing so violently, his shoulders crashed up and down on the bed frame. Lulu had no other choice but to give him his nebulizer and to leave the room to finish making his breakfast. If she stayed any longer, he would just keep trying to talk.

It had turned out to be a gorgeous morning, so after his treatment, Lulu decided to wheel Pops out to the patio for his favorite brunch: eggs benedict and orange juice and toast. Apparently, on Sundays Pops liked to re-create the regular brunch he had in New York. The old man adored traditions. Yet, Lulu noticed that he hadn’t seemed to miss his homes in Rome or Manhattan—or his boys, or his wife—much at all. That perplexed her at first. Now that she had heard his heart was with another— and for nearly sixty years—her curiosity was peaking. 

Once the old man settled into the patio area and ate at least half of his meal without any signs of distress or coughing, Lulu leaned in. “I have to hear more about this Japanese princess. Where were you? Who was she? I thought you had been married forever?”

So, the old man started to tell his long love story. But in his fashion, he began telling it a bit lop-sided. He started the tale of his greatest love affair, after it had died.

“I married the boys mom, but I didn’t love her.” Pops looked around like he was at his favorite restaurant in New York or Rome, fearing someone might overhear his confession.

Lulu instinctively placed a hand on top of his and said, “You can trust me. I won’t tell a soul.”

Pops smiled and blushed. He really loved Lulu. He couldn’t explain how or why, but it felt as if he had known her before, or in another life. Or maybe he was just old and dying and needed to finally tell someone? Either way, he knew he was safe with her, so he continued:

“I mean I liked their mother, but Fran didn’t hold a candle to Kiyomi.”

Lulu wasn’t able to hide her quizzical expression. She just never understood why or how any man could ever marry a woman he didn’t love.

“See these were different times. I returned from the war and suddenly was making money. I mean, Real money. That’s a long story for another time. But, see, my mother was very patriotic. You’d think she’d been born in America, the way she acted.” Pops began to giggle, then continued in a high-pitched voice, imitating her: “‘No son of mine’s marrying a Jap! Just get over her.’ She had said that to me so many times it should have painted it on the kitchen ceiling!” The old man sighed.

“See, I made the mistake of telling my mother, after I returned to New York, that I was in love with this Japanese girl. My mother went Bofo. She went crazy. It took her less than a week to start rounding up pretty Italian girls in the neighborhood for me to date.”

The old man rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders, like what could I do?

“I was only 22 then and making a lot of money and really stupid. I mean, the boys’ mother was a looker. I’ll give her that. But nothing made me want to hold her. I mean, she was bossy and flashy. And LOUD. So loud. Key could barely whisper and I’d always hear her, or lean in so I didn’t miss a word. Fran was always yelling. I don’t know.” He shrugged his shoulders again and then took a sip of his orange juice that Lulu had poured into a champagne flute to be festive.

The old man then shifted into a more serious mood and looked off in the distance, as if sizing up how to best explain what he’d say next.

“If I could do it all over again I’d change everything. That’s why the boys can never know. Never. See, I’d marry Kiyomi. I still love her so much it hurts inside. Isn’t that crazy? It’s been what, 50, no 60 years. Nuts.”

The sun had risen, getting too bright, causing the old man to squint. Tuscany in September could still be hot. Lulu helped lift Pops out of his chair and handed him his walker. “Lets get a little exercise around the property, before going back to bed,” Lulu suggested. Walking on the gravel would be tricky for him, she had decided, but it would also be a good way to provide a focus for the old man. He’d have to concentrate fully on exactly what was before him, and not behind him. Lulu loved the moments that were fully present, like dancing or painting—neither the old man could ever do again. This little treacherous walk would require all the focus he could muster.

They stopped in the shade by the pool, so he could catch his breath. The old man had been panting and trying to hide how hard the walk had been for him. Lulu wondered if she had pushed him too far.

The old man leaned into an old knotted olive tree and looked up at Lulu with such love in his eyes it caused Lulu to blush and look away. Although he hadn’t told her, Pops had been thinking that if he had married Kiyomi, they might have had a daughter, or granddaughter that would have looked like her. The old man touched Lulu’s face gently, turning her gaze back to his, before asking an impossible request:

“I want to die smelling my Kiyomi. Feeling her hand on my hand. I know you understand. I can feel it. I don’t want the boys here. Just you, me and Key, OK?”

Lulu touched the old man’s hand with her own, tears welling in her eyes.

“I promise,” she said, making a promise that she had no earthly idea how to carry out.

###

 

 

Let Him Go — Thought Catalog

I love this post so much. … Had to share 🙂

Felix Russell-Saw Let him go not because you don’t love him but because you deserve to be loved back. Let him go not because you didn’t try but because you deserve someone who tries harder. Let him go not because you weren’t enough but because he should have never made you feel that way. Let…

via Let Him Go — Thought Catalog

Sneaky Depression & Forgiveness

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I’ve been teased and complimented (equally) on my smile. I am often smiling, even when I’m faking it till I’m making it. I smile to fool my kids when I’m sad. I’m smile to keep striving, to keep working toward my goals, to keep working, when I’d rather stay home in bed. I snapped this picture on a day when someone stood me up for a date. Yup. It’s happened three times in the past month that I’m tip-toeing out into the dating world again. I’m determined to not take it personally, keep a sense of humor, and not let them have another chance. SO rude! I’m glad I heard Marianne Williamson tell her story (over New Years weekend) about being stood up and saying over and over again “I forgive you, I send you to the Holy Spirit” until she no longer cared and of course, the guy called again and she said NO. That happened exactly the same way with me three times with three different men and when they all called later asking for another date, I was able to laugh and say no thank you! LOL That is really for a story about online dating, but I snapped this pic to remind myself to keep smiling, to keep laughing, to keep taking care of myself, to keep connecting to my inner light, to stay trusting, yet to set firm boundaries that represent self love. But trust me, that smile was not a super joyous one, LOL.

Why am I fessing up to my inconsiderate potential dates? Because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about depression and its causes, roots and the difference between clinical depression and blues. Why? Because depression runs in my family AND some dear friends suffer from it. Plus, one friend was a bit upset about my last post, where I outlined Marianne Williamson‘s best quotes from her New Years Eve retreat on forgiveness. Specifically, he didn’t like this quote:

“You must have already decided to not be joyous if that is how you feel. Recognize you actively decided wrongly. So choose again. Ask God to help you. HE will listen to your slightest request, your slightest willingness.”

It felt too simplistic to him. He was convinced that the person who wrote this, said this, must never have lost a child, lost a spouse, endured a major illness, tragedy, attack, war, etc. Clearly, we can’t be joyous all the time. When I had a seven month old baby to care for all by myself, after losing my job, losing my dog (seriously, this was the biggest loss), losing my mother’s mind to advancing Alzheimer’s and losing my husband…lets just say I could barely function. Was I joyous? Hardly. But I recall looking into my baby’s eyes as he smiled a wet gooey post breastfeeding grin, and being humbled by how much love was between us, and how pure his light was. I shook with the realization that that moment was perfect and precious and exactly as it was meant to be. Of course, moments, days afterwards, especially when I was severely tired and not taking good care of myself, mindless, negative and pity-party thoughts ruled, triggering me into the blues.

Why am I sharing this? Because life throws us hard balls and sometimes we land on our asses without anyone familiar to comfort us. We aren’t supposed to be joyous all the time. But I’ve come to accept what Marianne Williamson meant by that paragraph (and she has certainly experienced many losses in her life). I think it means to let go, to surrender, and to allow more light in by focussing on the present moment—while also taking responsibility and accountability for our roles in each situation. Maybe you didn’t cause a specific situation, like a family member with cancer. or a death in the family, but what can you do to get through to the shores of peace again? Can you reach out for help? Can you pray? Can you drink more water? Can you take deep breaths and eat healing foods? Can you get more sleep? Can you find something meaningful to do to give to others? Can you take long walks or say no to obligations? Can you say kind and loving affirmations to yourself?

I read in a blog post recently the ego is behind all depression as when we are in our ego, we are in alignment with separation from God and separation from others. The ego embraces criticism, fear, cynicism, the belief of lack, the belief of not being worthy, the belief in a punishing God, the belief of sin and loss of innocence, isolation, confusion, permanent death, disease, pain, … etc. As I read this long list, it hit me that really the ego is just the mindless voice of criticism in our heads, like a bully on the playground. It is the voice of fear. And fear always lives in the past. Always. To be in the present requires letting go of the past with forgiveness right?

It is radical to forgive. It is also radical to believe that God loves you so much, He/She put a bit of GodLight inside you. That GodLight exists in everyone. Not just some people, but EVERYONE. Not forgiving, or bad-mouthing, is not forgiving yourself, or badmouthing yourself. That’s a hard concept to embrace, I know. Nothing you do. Nothing you say, takes your light away. It is the same with others. When I am in fear, I am not loving to myself or others. If someone ‘wrongs’ me, it represents their unloving choices, not their lack of light. So if love is the only thing that is REAL, if I am unloving by not forgiving and holding onto grudges, judging, or talking smack, I am participating in more unloving nothingness. Think about it. Depression is connected to this concept. According to experts, depression’s roots come from a lack of enthusiasm for life, a feeling of isolation, a belief in the inability to stop chaos or out-of-control situations or pain from entering our lives. It is connected with a lack of love for ourselves, God or others. It is connected with a lack of purpose too…Therefore, negative thoughts—especially obsessive looping thoughts of lack, of fear, of criticism, of re-playing past conversations or past events—has to be especially damaging. If they trigger bad choices, like letting in people who are not loving, or trigger negative habits like drinking, or isolating, or eating fattening foods, or not exercising, being hyper critical, etc. it can have the powerful domino effect of creating bad physical feelings in the body to springboard more sadness, confusion, feelings of emotional lack. It’s a cycle that perpetuates the myth of unworthiness. It hijacks from the present moment. It re-iterates the mindset: “Why bother? It won’t work anyway.”

I know, I’ve lived it. For me, it ALL boils down to forgiveness. Forgiving myself. Forgiving others. Then finding ways to ‘feel good’ in my body: yoga, walking, dancing, listening to music, eating fresh, healthy foods, etc.

Thanks for reading my meandering thoughts this Sunday, six months since I’ve been off ALL social media by the way! I’ll end with the beautiful Maya Angelou:

“Forgiveness. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody. You are relieved of carrying that burden of resentment. You really are lighter. You feel lighter. You just drop that.”

XOXO

 

Offline & Off Alcohol … What?!

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Good morning. I’m feeling raw and authentic these days, so why not post a naked face pic? ha ha … So here I am, no make up, early morning cup of joe, my last lingering vice. Five months ago, as some know, my 15-year-old dared me to go off all social media. I did. He did. We are both more productive—although his gaming time has gone up, LOL! I finished my 3rd novel, Between Thoughts of You (link to except on title), and sent it to an agent on Monday. Woohoo!! Fingers crossed! The day after Thanksgiving I gave up alcohol. I did this at the request of a dear friend. It was a good request. Alcohol didn’t serve me. There were too many times when I found myself around drunk friends and the chatter became negative or gossipy. Then there were the mornings after when I would still have to teach hot 105 degree yoga. Ow! Plus, I want to be someone my boys can look up to. Someone who still has fun, still enjoys her life, is healthy, vibrant and joyful—all without alcohol. So far SO GOOD. I don’t miss it at all. I enjoyed my 2nd New Year Eve at a yoga (last year) or meditation event where we all ended up dancing for hours and hours! A dear friend I met in Peru, when I attended Mike Dooley‘s retreat, (yeah, the source of Notes from the Universe and SO much more!) flew in. Beth and I attended Marianne Williamson‘s weekend retreat on forgiveness, miracles, finding your voice, vision, taking calm, yet powerful steps toward peace, etc. It was inspiring! We met people from all over the world and via her livestream folks tuned in from Israel, Syria, Egypt, Palestine—talk about powerful! Here’s a pic, post-midnight, of us dancing with Marianne Williamson, her party-goers and the Agape Choir.

Post midnight dancing @ Marianne William's NYE event!

I adore Marianne, a 65-year-old who looks 40 and whose powerfully strong light is feminine, strong and passionate. (I hope she runs for office again!!) I did The Course in Miracles a few years back and in my first yoga training four years ago, was given one of her quotes:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.”

**

It felt natural that I should attend her event, held here in LA instead of her usual New York venue. What I took away that was new, however, I will share with you. Pray for Donald Trump. Pray for all your ‘enemies’ and know that they have a light, a direct link to God, just as much as you do. AND, the only thing that is REAL, is LOVE. So what they are doing to hurt you, doesn’t represent them, their true essence, their higher self they were born intrinsically with (like you) and nothing they did or said that harmed you is REAL. As Einstein said: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

It’s easier to forgive those who hurt me (or who I allowed to hurt me, it is the same) when I think this way. Maybe it will be for you, too? BUT, Marianne warns that talking smack about what they did, or even thinking negatively about what they did and/or ‘who’ they are, will hurt you too—as you enter into the negative illusion that isn’t REAL. LOVE is REAL. LIGHT (GOD LIGHT) is real. And it takes strength to embody both. Letting go of the baggage, forgiving and loving ‘enemies’, ourselves, and then doing something to change our world, takes courage.  I’ll leave you with some of the best quotes by Marianne over the NYE weekend:

“Everyone we meet will either be our crucifier or our savior, depending on what we choose them to be.”

“Get off the cross, we need the wood.”

“The warden, just like the prisoner, can’t leave the jail.”

“You can have a grievance, or you can have joy, you can’t have both.”

“Those who act in a loveless manner (who hurt us) are not being Real. They are love, but have forgotten, or fell asleep. Us attacking them, or criticizing or not forgiving them makes us asleep with them. We must stay awake and forgive.”

“You are reborn in the instant you do NOT bring the past with you.”

“The EGO mind is like a scavenger’s dog, seeking your brother’s guilt. The Loving mind wants to see your brother’s innocence.”

“Forgiveness is a Radical concept. Drop victimhood that the EGO uses against you, against your sense of peace.”

“Jesus said, ‘I don’t have anything you don’t have. I just don’t have anything else.’ Remember to look at your problems, but deny their power over you. Fall in love with positive possibility.”

“Our potential is infinite.”

“The EGO wants suffering. The SPIRIT wants joy.”

“You must have already decided to not be joyous if that is how you feel. Recognize you actively decided wrongly. So choose again. Ask God to help you. HE will listen to your slightest request, your slightest willingness.”

So, I am signing off with one last thought. For me to forgive those who have hurt me in the ‘illusion’, I’ve decided to think of their beautiful light that shined inside of them when they were young children. I see their giggles, their little pudgy hands reaching for their mom’s necks. I imagine the way they must have looked wide-eyed at all who came near and smiled gooey smiles and stared deeply at the strangers with so much love, some had to look away. They still have this innocent light. I love this light. And I forgive them for behaving unlovingly or harmfully toward me because that wasn’t the essence of who they are. I love their essence. God loves their essence. And I love and forgive me for allowing them to hurt me, as I wasn’t protecting myself. Yes, only LOVE is REAl, so anything not loving, must be released with LOVE.

Here’s to Love, Light, Healing & Joy

Laura xo

The Gift of Goddess Wisdom

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I promise you this isn’t going to be an essay from yet another preachy yoga teacher espousing spiritual truths or pretending to have it all figured out—while confusingly showing off a sexy body. I’ve literally had it with all of that. I don’t have it all figured out. Not by a long shot. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve been so depressed that I didn’t know how I’d continue on. So I share my truth: I know, with all my heart, everyone has a struggle that you may not understand, or realize, so BE KIND. Compassion is the greatest gift any of us can give. And it doesn’t cost a thing.

AND for those struggling in silence this holiday season, find the courage to ask for help. You are a gift upon this Earth. Even if no one has ever told you that. You are. Even if you have been in environments where others treat you lesser than, they are wrong. You are a gift. Even if you are stuck in victimhood, you can get out. Find the strength to be compassionate toward yourself. Set boundaries with those who have hurt you in your life-or who you allowed to hurt you, it is the same. It can be as easy as just not texting back, not reaching out, not being available, without any drama. The Goddess wisdom I received in Greece this summer during my first yoga & writers retreat, came from simple thoughts, simple messages, while I meditated: Be love. Be compassion. Be open. Drop judgement. Be honest. Be yourself. Be playful. Be strong. Be consciousness. Be patient. Be creative. Dream. Dance. Jump. Swim. Stargaze. Sit in silence. Be grateful. Be more grateful for the lessons. Laugh. Hug. Kiss. Cry. Let go. Accept. Love harder.

So even if you’re doing all the right things and someone unloving enters your life and is hurtful, yet again, just know this is a loving nudge from the Universe, sending a growth challenge: do you accept this treatment? Or can you bless them and BLOCK them? We teach people how to treat us. Even family members (later in life.) We can choose compassion and choose to go where the love is. Love isn’t saying I love you. It’s compassion. It’s encouragement. It’s showing up. It’s presence, not presents. It doesn’t put you down. It doesn’t feel bad to be around. It doesn’t say you can’t, or you aren’t worth it, or you aren’t enough. It’s not constantly trying to change you, or lie to you, or use you, or impatiently push you to do things you don’t want to do. Love never physically hurts—EVER. It’s not frightening. It isn’t unconsciously abusing substances either.

Make an intention this holiday season or New Years, like I have, to receive (or create) the gift of only allowing in those who are loving.

If the idea of Goddess wisdom seems too far-fetched for you, or too narcissistic, fake it until you make it. You are worth others making an effort for you. Don’t you make an effort for those you love? Why should the scales be so unbalanced? We have to give AND receive to balance our Chi. You are worth others being kind and honest and considerate and loving toward you. And if they aren’t able to, the Universe will send along others, if you block the unloving ones and LET THEM GO.

With Love & Compassion this Holiday season ~

Laura xo

 

 

 

 

 

Offline a Month, and Life’s Good

September 24, 2017 marked a full month without ANY social media. Not even one peak. Not one news feed scroll. Not one ‘like’ for a picture marking an event or moment in my life. Not one announcement made to a wide group of ‘friends’. Yesterday, however, I had a moment that felt very odd. A beautiful model who was taking hot yoga with me, after class, posed half-naked for a selfie in front of our mirrors.

(Here’s a fun article in HuffingtonPost: The Phenomenon of the Selfie and Look at Me Duck Face.)

The woman, who had her camera aimed high so she could have her entire wet body beside our mirrors in the picture, giggled and said ‘bear with me, I have to do a social media photo bomb.’ I literally stepped away and out of the camera’s view laughing nervously. I suddenly didn’t like the fact that there’d be thousands (she is a model) of her ‘friends’ in our yoga class and possibly seeing me sweaty and tired. Yoga isn’t about sex. It was a knee jerk reaction of mine to get as far away from her as possible. See, I had forgotten about ever wanting to invite in hundreds of strangers into my day to approve of me or ‘like’ a post-workout sweaty body. Was I ever like that? Probably. And that worries me. Of course, her pic will probably garner attention for our studio. Maybe. Will any of her ‘friends’— likely men, lets face it, she’s gorgeous and posed half naked and wet—come into the studio or take one of my classes? Not likely. No harm was done though. It’s just funny how I reacted. A month earlier I would have likely friended her and ‘liked’ her picture saying “great workout!” or something to that effect. Yesterday, after a month off, I just wanted OUT of the picture and didn’t feel comfortable having strangers injected into that moment which for many was about pushing themselves into a positive mindset and healing. Yes we wear little clothing in a hot class, but that’s because of the heat. What a shift in my thinking! I’ve become much more private. That’s clear. I’ve become more selective about who I share information with and who I share myself with. That’s the biggest shift. I care more about the vibration of a person I encounter face to face and whether that person makes me feel at ease or makes me smile, or is kind and having a bad day. When I feel that natural attraction to someone like-minded, I make a point of speaking more or reaching out more, or doing something to lift their day. I’ve become better friends with certain yogis at my studio, for instance who are going through challenges and are facing them with courage and laughter. We have long chats. We’ve known each other for nearly a year, but now I’m even more mindful and pay attention to their lives and we share a lot with each other. These relationships mean more to me and I don’t really want to invite strangers into our moments, as silly as that sounds.

As for my 15-year-old son, who is also off social media now, he’s had moments where he said he felt isolated from friends—you know, no more snap chat or Instagram. But we’ve also had heart-to-heart conversations about what he doesn’t like or miss on social media. Like the fake accounts where kids post pics of drunk hookups or drunken or pot-filled moments. And before he quit social media, he witnessed some bullying by a popular kid calling a girl names, making fun of her appearance and it bothered him. I love my son. He’s an old soul and he knows what he likes and what he doesn’t like. So this offline month he stared an ebay business, opened up a checking account and also created a website that is really gorgeous. He’s also learning about investing, so all the money he makes, he can invest. At school, he’s made a point to sometimes sit with, or walk with, an autistic kid who gets shunned. He knows he’s popular and his kindness might inspire others to be nice to the kid too. I’m really proud of him.

So what have I been doing this month? A little of the same: writing, yoga classes, juggling the demands of my boys. But I’m not on social media listening to hundreds of voices and feeling like I need to get involved in the chatter or be seen. I’ve had heart-felt conversations with yoga students, started a cleanse with one, and have heard from a few old friends. I’ve had a Saturday night date with my youngest, walking on the pier, going out to eat and not once did I scroll my feed or snap a picture for my ‘friends’ to like. It was just the two of us and I even forced myself to pay attention to his Star Wars and MineCraft rants. 🙂

Now that I’ve detoxed and no longer miss my social media addiction, this next month ‘should’ be even more productive. I’m hoping! I have big plans. I’m editing Between Thoughts of You, my next novel, and am teaching even more yoga classes and will be going to Vegas with my boys for a huge soccer tournament, visiting my sister who now lives in CALIFORNIA! and will be throwing a party for my youngest who is turning NINE on the 24th. It’s hard to believe. Life is still as busy and as challenging as ever, but it’s more mindful. It’s more peaceful too. When I tune out all of the noise, I can tune into my own voice, my own heart, and listen more carefully to the voices that mean the most to me: my family, my closest friends. I play more music too, that’s been fun. I’m still not cooking however! I hate all the cleanup late at night, but we do sit down at the table and chat over my awesome salads and Trader Joes meals. lol

Life is Good offline.

My Son’s Challenge: No More Social Media

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So my fifteen-year-old son says to me earlier this week, while watching a tapped recording of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet chatting about success and the importance of reading: “I think I’m going to take a year off.” Earlier that afternoon he had been watching a video about how the brain works and how to strengthen it, you know, during his break from homework. It’s only the second day of school, so I’m thinking he means, after graduating from high school, he’ll take a gap year, like some of his friends in London do.

“Where do you want to go?” I ask.

He looks up with a smirk.

“Off social media. Think about how much more productive I’ll be. You’d be.”

Wait, what? I’m hearing this from my snap-chat addicted teen? Ok, that is all I need to hear. I. AM. IN. Starting Monday, August 28, 2017, my son and I will no longer be scrolling feeds or posting pics and checking who ‘liked them’. Not even to promote my classes or my articles. Nope. Not even to brag about my sons. Not even to say happy birthday. (Sorry buds, I wish you happy days, but not via a written message on Facebook or Instagram, for the next year anyway.) I’ll still write here in my blog and will update my yoga class schedule and may publish a few scenes from chapters of my latest book.

But my son is right. We both spend too much time online. He snapchats like mad, the minute he’s in the car, even while walking to the dinner table. And I spend far too much time on traditional social media when I need to focus more on what I’m trying to manifest: getting my next novel edited and getting both books published. My yoga classes are also my passion, (I’m such a Gemini) and I need both the silence and writing and the rigorous exercise  in a room full of yogis to keep myself sane and able to deal with the heavy demands of being a full-time single mom. I really don’t have the time to get side-tracked by seeing pictures of what friends are doing, sometimes creating anxiety within me about what I am not doing. Everything is happening exactly as it is supposed to, even when it feels overwhelming. Especially then. Social media makes me question that and waste time when I could remain fired up about my life and my goals and reaching them.

While I was in Greece earlier this month, hosting my first yoga & writer’s retreat, I nearly finished my 3rd novel. Wifi was iffy and I focussed on writing and yoga every day. I had no desire to scroll feeds. But I was also not working at the yoga studio, schlepping to schools or soccer practices or taekwondo or grocery shopping or cooking or cleaning. It was a luxury to have so much time. Coming back has hit me hard. But there are so many ways to cultivate and manage time. Dropping social media may just be my, and my son’s, ticket.

According to SocialMediaToday.com, teens often spend 9 hours a day on social platforms, with 30% of all time spent online and 60% of social media time spent via a mobile device.

The average adult will spend nearly two hours (approximately 116 minutes) on social media everyday, which equates to a total of 5 years and 4 months spent over a lifetime. Experts expect that number to grow and add that “currently, total time spent on social media beats time spent eating and drinking, socializing, and grooming.”

Wow. Sad isn’t it? And that’s me. I may post a pic to promote a yoga class and then get sucked into my feed. I can lose track of time. Social media is soooo enticing isn’t it? Who doesn’t want attention or positive notes from friends? It provides another way of reaching out to, or attracting others too, which can be very addictive—especially for those of us who just don’t get out much.

But here’s the rub: when it becomes a big distraction, keeping me from my purpose or my focus, then it needs to go. At least for a year. All I know is that when I’m at the yoga studio or teaching a class and I have my phone off, I love how truly connected I feel to my yoga students and how much more alive and engaged I feel. True connections, real conversations, are what matter. If I better manage my time, my focus, my intentions, outside the studio, say when I’m spending time with my boys or writing, just think how different things can be? Who knows what I’ll accomplish this year off? Definitely my taxes. (I know, not very sexy, but hey, I don’t want to get arrested!) Perhaps I’ll write a 4th novel after editing and sending out my 3rd. I plan to add more yoga classes to my weekly schedule. I’d like to master holding a long handstand and paddle boarding, (if I can convince someone fun to teach me who can also help keep me warm, since the Pacific Ocean is TOO cold for me!) … And I need to take small get-a-ways over weekends, like camping with the boys when they don’t have soccer. A trip back to Hawaii, my happy place, would be amazing too. Most likely, I’ll go back to North Carolina with a UHAUL and bring back my mother’s piano I inherited and give dear friends and old neighbors who have lost a lot recently a very big hug.

My oldest son is planning on making straight As, even in his AP class, and learning more about investing while he makes small ventures into that world. He wants to play soccer more competitively on his club team and hopes to land an awesome girl (he’ll hate that I said it, but it’s true!) He will continue to perform in the symphony, playing violin and wants to also learn how to play piano, get his driver’s license and start a summer business for Manhattan & Hermosa Beach goers (details top secret!)  His energy is infectious.

My youngest son wants to compete in taekwondo and write and illustrate his own book about a robot to be published and given to his elementary school library. He also wants to camp out with me and maybe paddle board and see a dolphin or whale up close. 🙂 Both boys are hoping I’ll allow them to adopt a dog, that they’ll have to help walk. … So we’re all on board for this year off social media! Isn’t that a kick? Wish us luck!

If you’ve kicked social media, chime in with your thoughts. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us. And for those whose birthdays I miss online, happy birthday. 🙂 Family members who want pics of the boys, send me a text, call me, and pics will be coming your way!

I suddenly feel untethered. What a Cool feeling.

Love & Light ~

Laura x