I snapped this picture three years ago when hiking up Machu Picchu. It’s just like me to stoop down and notice ferns peaking up out of weathered, ancient stones that are stomped on by thousands of tourists. The baby ferns growing between the cracks get stepped on daily by hundreds of people clad in hiking boots as they race up to the top to see ‘the vista’ everyone comes to Machu Picchu for. Yet the ferns continue to grow, like a gift of forgiveness to those who crush them. Cracks are beautiful. And people who show their cracks to the world are a blessing for those of us who try to hide our own.
I shot pictures of wild orchids peaking out from dead tree branches too. I’m obsessed with fragile beauty. It is vulnerable. It is hopeful. It is a living example of gentle strength that I hope to embody.
An orchid blooming from a downed tree branch, is surviving—and blooming—against staggering odds. It encourages me to try to bloom where I am right now, no matter the circumstances, no matter how many times I have failed in the past, no matter the risks. To continue to bloom for a short, trying period, is an expression of gratitude for this tenuous life. It humbles me to see it. After failure or rejection, I tend to bury myself in my covers for days. I want to hide from the world. But to hide is a form of shame or fear. I can’t be seen if I hide. I can’t be rejected either. I may be safe, but I can not let you see me. There is no way you can see my flaws, or feel my love, or understand my fears, or even read my writing for that matter. Nor can I experience you, if I hide where you can’t find me.
So even though I’d rather not emerge in an authentic way—I’d rather not take the risk of failure or rejection—I will remember what nature teaches me. Every attempt to grow, to bloom, to show up, to keep going, is an act of faith, and love, and gratitude. If I can accept my cracks, and my fragile life exactly as it is right now, beautiful things may begin to emerge beneath the surface—that were likely there within me all along.
Keep going friends. And please encourage those who are striving despite the odds. Love those who show up in your life who are vulnerable and who reveal their imperfections. They are the ones who will accept you, as you are, and give your heart wings.
“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.” ~ Rumi
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie
“Beauty without Grace, is the hook without the bait. ” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” ~ Marianne Williamson
Please note my new yoga teaching schedule changes:
* 6 a.m. 1 HR Hot Yoga, Beyond Bikram Hermosa Beach
* 4:15 p.m. Yin/Yang (part restorative, part balance/ Iyengar, non-heated, all levels, seniors encouraged. Malaga Cove, Rancho Palos Verdes (dm me if interested)
* 6:15 p.m. Pre-natal Torrance Memorial Medical Center, near ER. (dm me if interested, recurring 8 week series, however, drop-in upon request.)
There is an energy in the Universe that is within you and within me and is connected to a Divine Source. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in God via Catholicism, or Judaism or Hinduism or Taoism or Buddhism or are a Muslim. Maybe you don’t believe in God and you refer to It as the Universe or Christ Consciousness or Buddha consciousness, or an HP as folks in 12 step programs do. We are each eternal and connected to the Universe that created intricate flowers, tides, sunsets, animals, stars. As I say in yoga, we are human beings, not human doings. We are linked to one another, even if you may not want to be linked to that someone who hasn’t behaved in a light-filled way. There is a time to fall away, there is a time to step up and I’m becoming increasingly aware of the need to stop judging, and to embrace acceptance in a rebellious way. IF I trust the Universe, and the energy within me that is connected to that Divine Source, and I trust it is in you as well, I can accept what happens and I can let go with love anything that doesn’t serve me. IF I can think only good thoughts of you, without trying to control or manipulate, you will feel that good energy. And this is how I can flow and move on from those who have hurt me, as they are teachers. And IF I can think that the Universe only wants me to grow and expand consciously into love, I can allow everyone in my life to be exactly who they are. I can trust that the flow of my life is moving along a path toward my Dharma, my purpose. And IF I can trust that life force and energy and love that I feel when I meditate and connect to my intuition, and IF I am brave enough to follow my purpose and not cower to my fear, life will continue to flow and continue to bring in the people who will reflect and support that love and light.
So this Friday as I pack up and move into a house that is smaller and cheaper and will allow me to continue with my writing and my yoga, I am filled with happiness and gratitude. My boys are learning that their happiness is not based on how big their rooms are or how much STUFF they have. Happiness is based on living our lives with purpose and joy and in the flow of our inner voices. So we are simplifying and all three of us are really filled with peace about this next move, this next chapter.
Happy first weekend of summer! For more inspiration, watch this video by one of my mentors, Wayne Dyer (who did hot yoga every morning of his life, btw!). Love & Light!
Last month I graduated from hot yoga teacher training at Haute Yogi Manhattan Beach, and am now teaching 60 minute Bikram and Hot Fusion classes—a big shift from my Vinyasa and restorative background. The owner Tiffany, who I admire greatly, casually suggested that I’d ‘like it.’ Taking two 105 degree classes a day throughout training, and now teaching, I am simply amazed at how my life is shifting in powerful ways. I was intimidated at first by the 105 degree temps and the little clothing. In hot yoga, with sweat pouring down and mirrors, there is no where to hide stretch marks or imperfection. It is remarkably honest, challenging, strengthening and humbling. And it will get you out of your head, razor focussed on the moment and on surviving, like nothing else. This training, this studio, came into my life after tragedy hit my family. Other forms of yoga that I taught and practiced wasn’t quite getting me through the stress. Without this intense focus, I may have slipped into a dark place, bad habits, and a spiraling outlook. Hot yoga forces me to stay strong, healthy and channel my passion, frustrations, stress in positive ways, like no other form of yoga. But there is so much more to it.
Here are the top five benefits of a hot yoga practice:
Strength: If you can handle hot yoga, you can do anything! Twisting, balancing, stretching in 105 degrees, while keeping calm and breathing deeply, shows you are stronger than you know. You have the ability to handle extreme situations calmly and with determination.
Confidence: Wearing next to nothing in a hot room full of people and mirrors is intimidating at first, and then liberating. There is no way to hide flaws. Traditional yoga clothing weighs you down. Heavy make up will run in your eyes. You may feel extremely self conscious and vulnerable in your first class (I did!), but the more you look in the mirror, noticing stretch marks or scars as you move, the more you accept them—as you feel the love and support and acceptance from others who are practicing boldly, flaws and all, in front of you. It is raw honesty, acceptance, and a path to self respect and love.
Grace: Balancing in extreme heat is like a delicate dance. When mastered, it reflects elegance and an inner grace that you embrace within.
Healing: Heat opens up the connective tissues and allows our muscles to stretch more easily. This aides in injury recovery. Anyone with a torn hamstring or rotator cuff, for instance, will feel immediate benefits of increased mobility and flexibility from the heat. Inner healing comes as well, as a heated flow is a moving meditation that requires fierce concentration, placing the yogi in the moment.
Healthy Habits: To practice hot yoga regularly, one is nearly forced to reduce or quit bad nutritional habits. The body doesn’t handle the heat well when dehydrated or filled with carbs, sugar or fatty foods. It’s nearly impossible to drink a lot of caffeine, smoke or drink alcohol heavily, for instance, and work out without nausea or dizziness. (Clearly, people with high or low blood pressure, or heart conditions, should be cautious. Studios like Haute Yogi are key to maintaining optimal health as all teachers are trained well and encourage breaks and hydration.) What happens off the mat, however, is where the nutritional magic happens. Hot yogis often change their habits to perform better in the heat. It’s so beneficial when people reduce consuming fatty, fried foods, meat, sugar or alcohol because their body just feels better, performs better, without it. Another perk? Hot yogis sleep well and are more relaxed the days they practice.
Every sun salutation series I teach in my yoga classes reflects my lifeline: gratitude. We end each sun salutation reaching up with our hands together, arms straight, stretching, reaching past imagery clouds to find light, inspiration, that we then bring into our heart space as we bow our heads and pause. We breathe in what has brought us joy, peace or even just a smile that day. We do this over and over until we have put together a list that is nearly 12 long of moments, people, projects, things, pets, events that we are grateful for that day. At the end of the series we pause longer, with our hands over our hearts, heads bowed, as we shift our vibration by thinking about what works. We focus on what is good, positive, flowing, beautiful, inspiring, supportive, comforting in our lives. It’s a powerful choice. And it has saved my life.
I can recall a time when what didn’t work would drive me crazy. And I’d focus on that one nasty comment or the inconsiderate actions done, or the hurt from real sorrow. But instead of finding the lesson in that pain and letting it ALL go, I became filled with resentments and a need to fix, control, make it better, understand, or be understood—which is another way of focussing on what isn’t working, instead of just allowing, accepting and letting go of what doesn’t serve and focussing on where the love is, the light is, the support is, the friendship is, the compassion is. These beautiful things and souls are in everyone’s life. It takes mindful effort to focus on them and not obsess on the negative, the toxic, the unhealthy, unloving people or environments. But once I do focus, and give thanks for, and give more time to the people, events, jobs, activities that fill me up with joy, acceptance, love, support, I suddenly find more of that in my life. And then giving feels like receiving, because I want to give to those who bring me happiness.
I’m welling up with tears by the sweet texts and notes from my dear yoga students this past week. Happy Mother’s Day wishes, thank you’s for classes they enjoyed and meditations that moved them, etc. My work feels like play. I’m in another yoga training right now with such an inspiring teacher and women. The focus is making me stronger, too, at a time that could tip me out of gratitude and into sadness or anxiety if I let it. But how cool is it that instead, I have to take two hot classes a day (that kick my tush), attend training and teach to my teacher. At night I memorize dialogue, in between all my mommy demands, and I love every minute. Sometimes I need to have a distraction in order not to worry about what I can’t control. Can you relate? I can’t control disease. I can’t control violent events. I can’t control the president, geez. I can’t control what will or won’t happen to people very close to me who are fighting for their lives. I can only love them. And when I take care of myself, I can love them better. I can be more mindful after yoga, and be present with them without letting fears race. I can trust the Universe more, and trust their journeys and my own. I’m so grateful for the calm and trust and strength that yoga and meditation brings. I can love and accept others and even let go with so much love, trusting that we are all on our own paths, our own journeys, that are exactly as they are meant to be, for our highest expansion.
My heart is full this week. Yes I miss my mom who passed away this week last year. And yes I’m scared to lose anyone else close to me. I know death is an illusion, but damn, you can’t really talk with, smell, hug easily from the other side can you? It’s still a painful loss anyway you look at it. Choking away the fear is hard. Hot yoga classes, meditation, sweat, no alcohol, makes it so much easier for me to float back into a space of gratitude.
And having the best boys on the planet doesn’t hurt either! This Mother’s Day my 15-year-old got up at 5 a.m. (he thought I was taking a 6 a.m. class) and walked into town, bought me a mocha with coconut milk and a huge bouquet of flowers. My 8-year-old gave me an adorable picture and hand-delivered a chocolate cupcake and a juice box to my bed for breakfast. And you know what else? My ex-husband texted and offered to buy us brunch. How lucky am I?
So lucky. When I think about going to Hawaii this June to finish my next book—AND my yoga & writers retreat I’m leading in Greece this August—I’m BEYOND grateful. It’s amazing where life can lead me if I let it. If I’m open to allowing my dreams, and the right people, to float into focus, and then focus on them, the miraculous bubbles to the surface.
Here’s to letting in—breathing in—more: peace, calm, light, love, compassion, joy, adventure, strength, patience, friendship, acceptance—and a little wiggle room for fun.
(Dedicated to my friends on the verge of divorce.)
What if, just for today, I loved you for exactly who you are?
What if, just for today, I decided that my joy was my own to create, and not connected to you at all. Today, my joy does not depend on your mood, your smile, your behavior, or you doing the dishes, or any other chore for me. Just for today, my joy, my bliss, is independent of you.
What if, just for today, I decided my job wasn’t to fix you, control you, or try to get you to be more like me.
What if, just for today, I asked for help, but without any conditions or any criticism.
What if, just for today, I decided to give myself to you, with such reckless abandon, that it leaves you breathless and without a clue as to what you did to deserve it.
What if, just for today, I decided that you didn’t need to ‘do’ anything, or ‘be’ a certain way, to deserve some reckless, playful love.
What if, just for today, I remember what drew me to you, what I adore about you, and I tell you what I still see, what I still respect, and what still drives me crazy about you.
What if, just for today, I don’t interrupt you, correct you, or keep record of any past wrongs.
What if, just for today, I let myself be vulnerable and raw? Instead of getting mad, shutting down, turning away or stomping off, I will pause, breathe and say: “I need you. Hold me. I’m sorry. I love you.”
Today, I will not fight with you.
Today, I will focus on being a better me and let you figure out your own journey.
Today, I will respect you enough to make your own choices.
Today, I will love you without worrying about tomorrow, or what ifs.
Today I will breathe deeply and be present.
Today I will be patient.
Today I will listen to my heart and quiet my mind so that I do not feel the need to ‘do’ anything, or react, or panic.
Today I will be grateful for you, for this journey, and for all that we have created: the good, the bad, the frustrating, the joyful, because it is teaching me something valuable.
Today I will try to realize that I chose you, I chose this journey, this lesson, this experience so that I can grow. You loved me so much that you let us have this, have all of this.
Today, I will hug you because no matter what, we are blessed.
This post is dedicated to all I have a hard time with letting go. Even those that I just mentally hang on to, maybe especially for them. 🙂
So, I find myself on this Tuesday morning in my house alone. It is quiet, except for construction workers getting ready for a day in the sun building the beach mansion across from me for a wealthy Sketcher family member. (I try not to get angry about it, but it’s blocking my view of the ocean as I live in an original surf shack, one of the few, sigh.) And then of course, I can hear the ever-present surfers slamming car doors excitedly, filled with energy, ready to run to the surf and tackle waves. I love them in a way I can’t explain. No, it’s not for the abs and sexy shoulders gals. It’s because they remind me, that every day is new. You’ll see excitement in the old guys and the young ones who can’t wait to find out just how tough or soft the waves are that morning. This spot in front of my house is never the same. It may look the same, but underneath is magic. A full moon appears and the ocean responds with so much energy you can feel the electric pull along with all those trying to ride. The sun sets, especially in winter, and it’s exploding apricot and violet and cinnamon just at its edge and I’m filled with gratitude with my neighbors who watch with me while sipping their wine. (I sit in the sand, they sit on the balconies of their mansions, but we are all the same in that moment.)
Why am I sharing this? Because lately, I’ve been away and my mind became cluttered with negative energy and fear. I’ve missed just watching these daily rituals in my hood that remind me that every day is filled with raw potential and it demands that I get in that flow and out of my house and my head. (a hard task for a writer!) This morning I find myself writing in my empty house and listening to the world outside that is asking me to join in. But I stay inside as I find myself hold on mentally to those I love. How are my boys, now away and with their dad for the first time in what, five months? How is my friend who is suffering from depression? Why hasn’t another dear friend gotten back to me? Is he ok? Is he mad at me? Am I a good enough friend? And then there is this, that I’ve been hanging on to for years…why do I still want to hear from that person who is clearly wrong for me? Sigh. These thoughts swirl in my mind. So instead of going for a run on the beach, or doing my yoga routine or the 22 pushups I’m doing every day for 22 days as a challenge, I’m sitting with my thoughts, my worries, and allowing them to just be. Today, I will embrace them. Then I’m going to let them go. (And really let them go, as I have to leave to teach some beautiful souls fighting cancer. It’s hard to not be in the present moment with those who are acutely aware that today may be their last.) But back to my lingering, looping thoughts of those I just won’t let out of my heart and mind…When it comes to my friends and those who I need to let go, I will see them in a golden light. I will see them as free and happy and I will mentally lift them up to the clouds. When it comes to my children, well that’s a bit harder.
For the longest time I thought letting go meant I was a bad mother. But in reality, I don’t own my children. I can love them and give them guidance, but then I have to let them follow their own path. I adore this passage by Kahlil Gibran:
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.”
When I hold on it takes the mental form of worrying or being filled with regret or longing or what ifs. It’s a form of fear. It’s a form of distraction, as it’s keeping me from embracing the new day, the new potential, the new chance to ride my own wave and get into a flow with the Universe.
Jack Kornfield, renown Buddhist author and monk said in his article Letting Go:
“In the end we discover that to love and let go can be the same thing. Both ways do not seek to possess. Both allow us to touch each moment of this changing life and allow us to be there fully for whatever arises next.”
And I’ll add that allowing ‘whatever arises next’ is not in ANY way a form of disregarding or disrespecting the love you have for others. For a few months now I have been letting go some very dear souls and it is a loss. A deep loss. But they need to follow different paths and I want them to be happy. It’s that simple. If you love in the truest sense, you want everyone to be happy. Not happy doing what you envision. Not happy being there for you always. But happy in the way they define happy. So I love them and want them to do what makes their hearts sing, even if that is without me in their lives.
Once I start letting go, others come in. But for whatever reason, when I start to let others in, I feel a bit unfaithful to those who used to be such a big part of my life. It’s silly. It’s another form or getting in my own way and stopping the flow or current the Universe wants me to be in. This weekend I’m meeting some beautiful souls. They are even staying with me, although I don’t yet know them. They are yoga teachers from the East Coast who are dear friends with a new friend of mine I met in Peru. These guys have started a clothing line and need a place to stay as they go on photo shoots, etc. to promote it. Every time we speak or text, it’s quite funny as we are in sync. Both have to go to meditate and get more sleep after being in or teaching a class. They are definitely sweet souls and new friends with viewpoints I get and a positivity that is infectious.
My friends from my TUT trip to Peru are coming in as well this week. One of my yoga students has given us her house in Topanga—only one of my favorite places in LA or the world! How lucky am I?? I’m beyond excited to hike and practice yoga and just reconnect with these new girlfriends that I adore. And on Monday, my soul sister I met last summer in Barcelona is coming in. She is a new friend, yet an old one. It’s hard to explain. It’s like we knew each other before or have been friends a very, long time. So she’ll be here visiting till Wed. and may go to classes with me, hang on the beach. I’m so very lucky to have such soulful friends. The connections are pure and deep and it’s what I’ve always wanted.
So, I pause today, feeling my feelings of loss. I will accept that I miss some people who are precious to me, still very important to me, yet aren’t in my life right now. I accept that I miss them. I accept that they still have pieces of my heart with their names on them, pieces that will always be theirs. But I do not own them. And they do not own me. I will accept these feelings that I have. Even the ones where I worry that I’m being unfaithful by embarking on new friendships. I am not. I just miss them. But they are on their own journey. I respect that. Love is free. Love is simple. Love just requires us to love, accept and let others be happy on their journey. The only crime is when I don’t love myself enough to let myself be free, fly, flow, and seek out a new day with new opportunities, new friendships. So to love others freely, requires that I love myself with as much compassion.
My habit for the past year, every day when I wake up, is to mentally say to myself: thank you for this new day. May I love well. May I live presently and please God, let me let go.
I don’t own this life. I am only passing through. I don’t even own this body. So just because I love my children or love family or friends doesn’t mean that I own them either. My love isn’t a chain. It doesn’t mean they are forced to DO anything. They are free to live how they choose, even if that way hurts themselves or shuts me out or goes down a path that I never considered. I let go with love. I wish them well with love. Because in the end, love is all about letting go. It is all about acceptance and not just validation or meeting my needs. If I truly love someone, anyone, then I want them to be happy. It’s as simple as that. And only those who are wild and free and following their dreams are truly happy. Those who feel chained or trapped out of obligation can never truly be content.
Just my wandering Tuesday morning thoughts, straight from my heart, filled with love.
I wrote this post two years ago and looking back on it, it seems more important today, for my daily life, than it did then. I love ah-hah moments, but only when they resonate so loudly they alter my vibration permanently. I don’t always act lovingly or say loving things when I am frustrated. My thoughts aren’t always loving and forgiving toward myself or others when I’m hurt…but I am aware. I do take deep breaths and I do say I’m sorry when necessary, lol! On Valentine’s Day, I’m reposting this as a Valentine to you, my friends, and hope your day is filled with moments of authentic love for yourself, your friends, your pets, your children, your family … and life. 🙂
This I know for sure: Love isn’t defined by what someone can do for me or give to me. And it certainly isn’t a prize for being pretty, or smart or playful or wealthy. Love can’t be measured by how selfless I become either. Giving till it hurts, or putting someone else’s needs always above my own, isn’t necessarily a good marker of true love. (Maybe we have no choice with our children, though :-)!) But in romantic love, we have to remember to love and respect ourselves too, right?
Initially love may just spring from a feeling. A spark. Maybe even just from a look, a touch, a kiss. But to sustain love, there has to be more than attraction and chemistry, don’t you think?
Lately my mind has been wandering into existential waters. As I prepare to teach my first Valentine’s heart-opening Hatha yoga class, I find myself grappling with what love is and what love isn’t. I’ve come to believe that sustained love lies in the subtlety of how we speak to one another—much more than what we actually say. It’s about speaking kindly and respectfully, at all times, even when voicing concerns. I’ve always loved the James Taylor lyric: “It isn’t what she’s got to say, or how she thinks or where she’s been. To me the words are nice the way they sound.”
I also believe that love is tied to how gently and compassionately we live—more than by any grand gestures we make. Therefore, I’m leaning toward the definition of love as a type of vibration—a frequency—that effects how we sound and move and treat each other. It also controls how and who we attract into our lives.
So as I focus on what to address in my first Valentine’s yoga class—I realize that I don’t want to just talk about and teach poses to keep our hearts open. Yes, it’s important to trust and be open to new experiences—but without a good dose of self respect and inner core strength, we may just keep staying open to all the wrong people and opportunities. Maybe it stems back to our programming as a child, or by us feeding off of the energy of people who are the closest to us.
Maybe a lot of us may have fallen into lower vibrations due to negative childhood programming—which, if not released, feed and spiral into critical thoughts. These critical thoughts about ourselves and others just end up attracting toxic friends or partners who keep us in this status quo of a negative environment. If it sounds a bit heavy, bear with me and just think about it. How many of us as children have heard conversations from adults like: “For once, can you just listen to me?!” “Why do you always do this?” “Honestly, you look ridiculous.” “If you make it on time, it will be a miracle.” “NOT NOW! Jesus. You always nag me right when I’m on deadline.”
You get the idea. Comments such as these hurt. They place us on a lower frequency of thoughts filled with shame, low self esteem, insecurity, fear, anger, lack of respect—and these ripple into adulthood. Think about the couple who bicker constantly over such trivial things as too much hair in the sink … (Yeah, we’ve probably all been there at some point.)
So my ever-evolving definition of love starts within. How we treat each other—or allow others to treat us—triggers negative frequencies where love can’t live or last. What we mirror, or think, we attract.
I’ll leave you with these thoughts as I wrestle with my definition of love this Valentine’s day:
Love expands. Love elevates. Love enlightens. Love embraces growth. Love accepts. None of this can happen in a sea of critical or belittling comments or thoughts.
Clearly, I haven’t figured it all out. (Who has?!) But I do know that attracting someone kind, healthy and gentle requires that I be kind, healthy and gentle in my words and my thoughts—which includes how I treat and think about myself! This actually requires strength and a trust in my inner voice—as much as an open heart.
So, this Valentine’s week, I am defining love as a vibration—a frequency—that I have to tune into. Just like a violinist tunes his instrument in order to play heavenly music, I have to tune my inner strings—my inner awareness—to hear the right chords that allow me to play in a key that allows for a loving and conscious life. Do I speak lovingly and kindly to my loved ones? Do I speak lovingly and kindly to myself? Am I accepting of others? Am I accepting of myself? Am I truly forgiving? These are questions that will help me get in tune—so that I can live in a frequency of love.
What do you think? Does this resonate with you? If not, how do you define love?
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.
The sun shines down, and its image reflects in a thousand different pots filled with water.
The reflections are many, but they are each reflecting the same sun.
Similarly, when we come to know who we truly are, we will see ourselves
in all people.
amma the Hugging Saint
This month I’ve been challenged to hold tightly to my compassion for others, while allowing myself the breathing room of making loving, yet firm decisions.
We all contain our own unique and direct link to God, our Higher Power, the Universe. Not one of us is more ‘Divine’ than another. We communicate, we grow, we change, we express ourselves differently. Yet Each of us is, and can be, a reflection of the same sun, the same light, the same Source we all come from. Light can’t reflect in running water easily and it’s impossible to see our own reflection in turbulent waters…we must find stillness. When I find that stillness within, I then can hear my compassion for others—I feel that light within them and me.
Each class I teach ends with me saying the light in me honors the light in you. It’s a deeply spiritual belief that I hold. I believe that we are all each a reflection of one another. Yet at times, such as this month, I had to detach, take a step back, to protect myself and my boys. We are all reflections of each other, yet some may be battling mental illness, addiction to drama, drugs, alcohol, depression…and not behaving in ways that are for their, or anyone else’s, highest good. I know I’ve had days when I’ve said something I didn’t mean—usually when I’ve pushed myself too hard, been racing around with a million activities for my boys, and have not been meditating or doing my regular practice of yoga.
I read this beautiful quote today from my friend’s organization Spirit Rock Meditation Center . I reminds me that with each day—with each conscious breath—we can begin anew. It all starts with compassion for ourselves and a willingness to let go, to forgive and to let go of our stubborn resistance to change.
Awareness is key. Where do I need to begin anew? That’s a big question, but I’d say mainly I need to put an oxygen mask on myself first, before helping others. For me, daily meditating, yoga and writing help me (try) to be patient, let go of expectations and find beauty in the present moment. As a single mom, a daily practice of self care is hard to achieve. But it’s worth it. I made a commitment on October 20th, after recovering from a crazy month and weekend that left me depleted mentally, physically and spiritually, that I’ll DO yoga every day for a month. I teach, but I’m going to practice daily. Some days I’ll just do a 10 minute flow at home. Some days I’ll just stretch with yin poses. Other times will be power yoga—which especially fills my body and spirit with the positive energy and knowledge that I do have power over my own life, my own choices.
And this month required a lot of effort to consciously choose decisions, rather than fall into default reactions or fear. It was hard, but bore beautiful lessons. For instance, I learned the following:
I can’t control whether a stranger continued stalking me daily and my family. … I can, and did, call the police, installed a security unit and borrowed a friend’s dog for protection.
I can’t control a former loved one’s sudden anger, outbursts or unkind words. … I can pray for him and distance myself.
I can’t control someone who hurt and lied to me. … But I can walk away, speak my truth and still wish that person well.
I can’t control not getting enough time off from full-time single parenting … But I can take breaks, I can meditate, I can take a bike ride, I can do yoga, I can hire a sitter, I can slow down.
I can’t control whether people I care about don’t take care of themselves or allow others to abuse them. … But I can love them anyway, I can pray for them, and I can try to not enable or judge.
I can’t control how disease ravishes my cancer yogis or my mother. … But I can pray, provide comfort, breathe deeply, be grateful for their presence in my life.
I can’t control the steady requests for myself to volunteer or activities for my boys. … But I can say no or find other parents to help with carpools.
I can’t control whether an agent gets back to me about my book. … But I can continue to pitch others and write my 2nd novel.
It’s all about finding balance and not losing gratitude. My goal is to hold myself and others in a reflective, compassionate and humbling light. When I’m hurt, threatened, or when I don’t take care of myself and jealousy, depression or a pity party creeps in—it’s a reminder to pause and take better care of myself so I can see my reflection and the light of others in the stillness of my heart. In this space, I am convinced that I will remain ever teachable, humble, (mostly) calm and inspired, determined and grateful.
Life is beautiful. Even more so when trouble hits—as the light of love and those who are filled with love for me, shine more brightly. I am so grateful to my senior and cancer yogis who teach me to live with positive gratitude and strength. And I am forever indebted to my dear friends, whose presence makes my life feel musical and in sync. You know who you are, dear friends, and I love you.
AloneTogether: Single Moms Support Group (This is a closed group, please say you found their site from me, Laura Roe Stevens, when requesting to join.)
The UCLA Family Commons: http://www.uclacommons.com/
Single Parent Housing: www.SPAOA.org
Pell Grants For Mothers: PellGrants.ClassesAndCareers.com