More than Flow

Imagine if you woke up each day and only ate pizza. Breakfast, noon and night. The body would not perform well. Your mind and body would start to respond to this. You would be tired, moody, restless, unable to think well and many other serious issues would start to happen. We need balance in our life and body. This is from everything we do.

So yoga is no different and yet here in the Washington, DC area so many still don’t know this. I am constantly explaining the word Yoga because so many associate it with Asana Yoga (poses or movement) and most times more vinyasa or flow. I will ask those new with me “Do you know what kinds of yoga you have practiced in the past”. Most times I get looks like “What do you mean - there are more than one style”.

YES there are many styles and that is really all you have to remember. Many aren’t interested in going into the various kinds and history. So just remember that just like eating food there are many out there and you don’t have to stick with the same thing. You don’t have to choose a favorite.

I say this because I was doing some research on the variety offered at yoga studios in the DC metro area. Many who even claim they offer variety still only offer a gentle, yin or restorative a couple times a week. Do we really think that is diverse? I have mentioned this to studios only to be told they are already having a yin class that day so they wouldn’t want to offer it again. Fine but can you please explain to me why it is ok then to offer back to back flow classes then? Sometimes that is the only style offered all day. Some studios don’t ever offer a restorative yoga class at all. What they will say is the clients don’t come. Although that may be true they aren’t coming because the style they need isn’t offered enough though.

I teach all the styles and I am not putting down movement but we need balance. This isn’t the case all over though. I saw studios in NYC who offer a restorative yoga every night. As if that was just commonplace. In DC though I can’t find studios who will offer a restorative yoga at lunchtime which is just when I think so many could use it. Or an afternoon gentle that would be perfect for someone coming from a day at the office desk Or a Yin at 7pm would be perfect right after the flow classes to balance out the practice and body and maybe some who were at one class would stick around for a double.

Doesn’t having variety make sense for a business too offer? I am not hear to teach those how to run a businesses and I’m not going to run a yoga studio. I placed my intensions in a different direction is all. But I do wonder why we can’t seem to learn this. I just wanted to put this out there because if you want a certain classes you need to speak up and say something.

Writing the studios and sometimes more than once to express your desire may help. I don’t write this for me. This is for You - the client and paying customer. You have a right to receive a balanced practice in yoga and one that offers you diversity and a feeling of being heard. You also should feel represented and included with your age, body type and needs. Please take action if you agree to any part of this message, please ask for more balance in schedules.

Hope this helps.

Squeaky Wheel gets the Grease

I was teaching a corporate class the other day. The group requested to do a sound bath meditation together. Often it is such a peaceful practice for everyone but one woman caught my attention as I looked out into the group. She crossed her arms was frowning and wouldn’t shut her eyes. I am trained to lookout for possible trauma and will often give instructions to the group first and see if that person starts to settle. In her case she would start to settle and close her eyes but then shake her head, cross her arms again and frown. She did this for almost an hour. I approached her after the class and asked how she felt? She was putting her shoes on quite fast and replied “I don’t rest”. Then left ahead of others in the group.

Interesting choice of words. She didn’t say I can’t or I try to rest but isn’t happening. She was 100% sure she doesn’t rest. She came on her own free will but more importantly she wouldn’t allow herself to rest. Now this article isn’t going into what was happening to her or how to solve it. Instead I wanted to talk about our beliefs. We all toss around thoughts of who we think we are. We have had the thought so it must be true… right?

This is a large issue to tackle because if I ask this question I’m sure many are going to quickly respond with “yes”. I think it therefore it must be true. However the belief that YOU are something vs you are feeling something is quite different. I feel scared vs I am scared. I feel afraid vs I am afraid.

Every place I teach I am looking out for that one person who is struggling. However it would be easy to get lost in that person alone. We can get lose our focus on the one person making the most noise. “Squeaky Wheel gets the Grease”. Then we think that must be the majority of the group and then we loose hope and feel discouraged.

I say this to tackle an even bigger issue. Right now we have a President of the US who is regularly using his voice to post up hurtful remarks. He gains more popularity from his negative views and it would be easy to loose hope. We have become so used to it that we fight back for a day or two and then the story floats away. Until it happens again.

We could join the same bandwagon and fight back the same way but is helpful? I’m not suggesting staying silent either. I think we have to stay on course with compassion, kindness and truth. I think that when we are dealing with a bully that we have to respond with strength. Be strong and each day respond with love and kindness; especially to those who are hurting and afraid.

I believe when President Trump talks all I hear is fear. I wonder why he is so afraid and that I don’t admire leadership qualities like this. Then again maybe he is simply using this method to market to people he believes are simply going to buy into his hate. He is using them and they are also afraid.

Additionally President Trump says he isn’t racist but I’ve never met a racist who says they are a racist. The definition of a racist is a “person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.” I think he has demonstrated this. If you question him though he will bully and simply look to squash any opposition out of fear. If President Trump can market with the phrase “Make America Great Again” then why can’t others also speak out for the same thing without having to be told if you don’t like it go home?

What is needed right now is strength. We need to be able to have conversations without having to strike back or hurt the other person. I heard a recording of John McCain today back when he was running against Obama and a group he was addressing was starting to use some hateful attacks and he corrected them immediately. That our leaders should be better than simply stirring up a hate group more.

Of course this means we too have a responsibility. This means doing this ourselves to everyone we encounter in our day. When I am met with a sharp remark I don’t have to react. I can pause and find a proper way to respond. My intension matters. In my beginning story I didn’t do more than listen to the woman’s statement and smile. “I hope you will come back again sometime”. It isn’t my job to fix or solve everyone. Just avoid hurting them.

What I’m looking for is kind leadership. Ghandi proved that everyone can take action without harm. “An eye for an eye only makes the world blind”. Karma means action; the action you take does impact the next.

One person alone doesn’t have to be responsible for saving the world. But I believe the time for ignoring Trumps hate is long past and we all need to stand up and say “enough”.

Please go out into the world and each day look beyond your fear and hate and see others pain, sorrow and joy. Others that you encounter each day.

Of course please remember that your vote counts and that 2020 is not that far away

Time for change

If you are reading this you already know that I’m using a new format for my blog. I have long wanted to use a webpage for my resource information but the time, cost and undertaking was a lot to do. When I recently did transfer my domain (thanks to my husbands help) and spent over 30 hours and $200 to get this complete it wasn’t at an easy time in my life either.

I have also decided to go back to school. Another one of my goals wasn’t just getting another training in yoga but the appeal to get my masters is something I have wanted to complete. I found a program at MUIH that does this that isn’t far from my home so I’m lucky. Still going back to school after being away from it for over 20 years is scary. Lots has changed and so much done on-line. I had so many steps to complete that at times it was overwhelming. My counselor Matt laughs because he says I’m so far ahead in the process and he totally understands my need to have things lined up since I teach workshops and schedule items over six months away.

Fortunately in the past week so much got completed. Financial aid, loans, registrations, books and then the completion of my webpage. Husband and I scheduled our beach trip and found a great condo to rent to take the dogs for a week. This of course also meant finding subs but this is complete now as well.

Of course all this and other things happened too. A rehab I work for lost all my background and drug/test forms from a year ago and I had to do it all over again. I waited over 2 hours for a drug test which was just crazy to ask someone to wait to pee in a cup and hold that long. Another new place I’m going to be working at needs TB test and other shots and then with new places I’m about to work at they also require insurance be listed with their name. One afternoon while I was getting my insurance updated the young man on the phone misspelled “Inova” Hospital not only once but three times. Each time I had to call back till I had it fixed.

Patience. I am ok with saying I work on this one a lot. Sure much of what I mentioned I didn’t have to do. I could just say “no”. But these were all changes I was happy to see in my career as well. It just took a lot of patience to get there.

I’ve been so hot and irritated lately. Humidity and DC weather doesn’t help. I have found myself writing down a lot and trying to let my To-Do’s be on the list and not feel overwhelmed with it all. Slowly and calming working a bit each day. Then stop. Get cool. Rosewater and Coconut Oil keep me cool and using it so I don’t find myself snapping at those around me. My calendar is my saving grace. I put in notes for things to remember all the time. Just because I’m concerned I will forget things like asking for a sub at least two weeks before I need it.

Anyway I did want to put up a post here that kind of explained the changes and why I haven’t posted in a while. I hope you will look over my new webpage and my intension is to have it be a place where I can refer people to things I mention in my life and classes that may be of use to you.

May you stay calm and cool yourself this summer!

Doing what you love


I was out an an event the other night and a friend came up to me. I have known her a while but not well.  Still she knows that I have been teaching yoga and meditation full time. She came up to me and asked me a question I have never been asked.  “So how does it feel to do something you love?”

Wow – I wasn’t expecting that one.  Most times I get “how is work” or “how did you make the change”.  But really good question.

As I answered her briefly I suddenly felt a sadness within her.  That really she was not feeling that way herself.  She has taken time off from her work and is physically healing.   She can’t find answers for her hip pain but we discussed possible reasons.  I was more interested in various solutions she hasn’t explored yet.

I asked her what was her reason for looking into PT or yoga and she quickly said she wants to be able to get back to her exercise.   What is that?  “Bootcamp”.

It is really tough for us to identify reasons for our pain.   We may just be looking to get back to doing something without considering it may be the very thing hurting us.  We also may want to earn income that keeps us in the life we know but that too may be hurting us.   All to be examined.

I’m not suggesting that we must get rid of or discard but to improve awareness so we can see if our choices, right now, in the present moment are helping or hurting us.  We can start by making small changes and see how our bodies and minds start to respond; now, days from now and weeks later.  It isn’t an easy solution and we never concur our demons.  We learn to live above them.

One other recommendation I have is to learn to find happiness in the little acts of our day.   Be the reason someone else smiles may be my way of holding a door, telling someone “hello” or just being there for a friend who needs to be heard.

For me my answer to my friends question was “It feels amazing to follow my path and do what I love”  That wasn’t easy to find and I work harder now than I ever have but it doesn’t feel like work when you intension is filled with love, purpose and meaning.

Let today be enough


I can’t tell you how many times in a day I remind myself of this message.  “Now is enough”

I will get messages all day long; emails, texts and calls.  Sub requests, new opportunities, information needed.  It could be overwhelming but instead I remind myself that right now I just have to focus on right now.

I’m all for planning and being responsive but it doesn’t have to be my entire day.  I choose when those moments will be.  But this way while I’m busying teaching I don’t have to find my thoughts off somewhere else.

This takes concentration and trust me I’m not perfect at it.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t worry.   Some tasks can really make me stressed out.   But what I do is break it down.  What do I need to do first.  What really needs my attention. Why is this so important?  So I can check with my ego that loves to think I can do it all, please everyone and that is when I can stop and see that I have to let some things go.   Sometimes though my ability to organize and plan can go too far.  

Today I had a student who came to my mediation during her lunch break. She told me that she has been leaving her phone at the office and how wonderful that has been when she comes to meditation.  I admire this control for her to be aware.   Especially today.

See I had a nightmare last night.  I had a dream that I was trapped inside a hotel room.   I was safe as long as I was in the room but mean men who could change their image were waiting just outside to hurt me.   I couldn’t trust anyone – even the staff at the hotel could be the mean men who just changed into their image.  So what to do?  I woke just then and was scared. I knew it was just a dream and tried going back to sleep.   Then I did what I have done before.  I start finish the dream in my head.  Over think it, fix it and solve the dream.   Why?  I have no idea because before I knew it I’ve lost time and its time to get up.   I’m not laying there figuring out why I had the dream.   It seems that I just hate that the dream wasn’t complete and solved.   My need to have things in my life organized and complete is my weakness. So I admire that the student in my class was able to be more self aware than I had been today.

I know it is and important for me to write this not for judgement, suggestions or tips. I just like to point out that I’m not self righteous.   Realizing that I did this to myself.  Laugh at my way of solving my nightmare which really didn’t solve anything.  It wasn’t real!  All that worry just hurt myself.  I was trapped in my thoughts; I didn’t let it go.

The student and I talked about her ability to leave her phone and real life problems behind and I shared my inability to do so with a dream.   Doesn’t make either of us better or worse.  We both had a good laugh about it.   After all this is a constant work in progress.  Point is for all of us is to start over.  Its never complete.

Sorry – just called normal


I teach all over the DC area in so many different environments.   All day I hear the complaints of tight muscles, restless mind and lack of sleep.   So if the majority are saying it – does that mean you are unusual?

Don’t get me wrong, I like holding space for those expressing their doubts and concerns but I also like to explain to them that they aren’t so strange.  “Its called normal”.   Because of our social media era we live in, we can look at images and feel we are the odd ones.  So I like to help first by setting aside the negative focus.

I will have someone come into class and quickly tell me they lack flexibility.  What I feel is we don’t understand or see ourselves fully.  We think in order to fix and often that comes in the expressing of pulling on something that is tight already.  I will ask them “how has that been going for you?”  Often they have spent a lifetime stretching this way.

Fact is when you extend your limbs (arms or legs) away from the center of your body (core) the body responds.  It has done this for you since you first learned how to lift your head, arms and hands as a baby.  To keep you from falling the core has learned how to tighten up and pull away to help hold you there.   This isn’t a bad thing and certainly not something I want you to unlearn.  Yet we think of it as “I’m tight”.  When in fact it was supposed to be.   Now if you bend or unlock your elbows or knees and extend you will be pulling less muscles and extend further. You also have to experiment with the distance of the legs and arms.

Most of what we look at when we see someone do a big forward fold or backbend is not flexibility at all; it didn’t have to do with muscles.  It had to do with that persons bones; length, how many and where the opening are between the joints.   You have it or you don’t.  All the pulling isn’t going to make you go deeper into the position.  This is what makes knowing what is right or helpful so hard.  It can be different for everyone.

So as I say in my classes you can blame if you like – but that would mean being mad at your ancestors.  This is who you are and inherited; instead of worrying about being someone else lets see if you can enjoy right now as it is.  Lets focus on the positive now.

This is why for me I am less about the ascetic way of teaching poses and more about your ability to function in them.  “Space is your friend” you will hear me say.   You need to see where you can discover the space within your body to be in the pose where it is just enough.

So what is enough? That is subjective.  For me enough is where I can still take calm and moderate breaths.  I know myself though – I have a tendency to go hard.  So I pull back and wait before I just try harder.  Each of us can learn to investigate in the pose and ask ourselves is this helping or hurting.  As Bernie Clark likes to say “We can use the pose to better understand ourselves”.

Fact is the body is often sending us messages – little ones all day and we miss the message or interpret it wrong.  We are human.  We will make mistakes.  Point is to always be listening, learning and exploring.

Even as a teacher I do this. I don’t teach the same way I did 10 years ago.  When I first started teaching I took what I was told and basically taught that; that is what any profession does.  When I started out in accounting I spent years being mentored and taught; past the education but in the practical use.

For this reason I personally didn’t offer any training class or workshops for a long time. I didn’t see that I was ready to offer something that was coming from my own experience.  I spent over 4 years just teaching and learning from that.  Then by year 5 I started my 500 Hr training and started teaching in my classes more meditation, concentration and pranayama.   I did that for years while I specialized in specific populations.  I started workshops that I felt were unique and different by year 6.    Now with 10 years of experience I’m just starting trainings to educate others and teach other teachers.  I feel ready and know that I’m not just offering someone else ideas but my own.

We each have our own internal teacher and it takes focus and awareness to listen to it.  I’m sure you have heard the saying “with age comes wisdom”.  I don’t think that is just the case. I think that over time for sure many become more aware.  But some are young and practice awareness early on and are so wise beyond their years.

What makes it so hard is to put aside what we are so sure of about ourselves and question;  put aside our ego that wants it to be a certain way.   If we can take a daily time to listen to your own internal voice we may start to hear ourselves.  Is there any place in that statement that has a feeling of want or blame in it?  How about judgement or fear?  If so take a deep breath and see if you can explore the statement more.  Finish the internal message with the words “and yet”.   For example, “I’m tight, and yet I’m strong” or “I’m tired, and yet I’m happy”.  “I’ve had a tough day and yet it was hopeful”.

I hope this message lands where it needs to be with you and yet it helps.

Another one bites the dust


Welcome to the new year!  A time for many to let go of the past and move on to the future.

We can get caught in our thoughts.  We start to believe we are what we think.  I will catch this in my own statements that I think are fact and yet is it true? I really like getting to the truth of my statements.

I may say I don’t like spinach but the truth is it means I didn’t like a past experience with it.  I remain stuck in my habits thinking it is a perm truth.   Yet a much more correct statement is to say “I didn’t like my experience with spinach in the past”.

I grew up in a house that didn’t really eat healthy.   My parents idea of  vegetables meant something in the can or frozen.   Often meant the taste for me was bitter or sour.  When I left home I started to try cooking on my own.  In fact one of my tasks to learn was how to make a homemade Thanksgiving dinner.   I started seeing that it not only tasted better but really wasn’t that hard to do.  So over time I learned how to make spinach and learn how to enjoy it.

So why point this out?  Because the new year is often a time that many are going to try to change habits.   Knowing it isn’t enough.   Improving your awareness so you can see your habit and try to find a new pathway to relearn the experience you are having is key.  It isn’t easy and you may need help from others to help point out things you may not see.

May your new year bring you change you are seeking but also expect that to change as well.  Expect this year to have its ups and downs.   It won’t stay that way.   So by expecting it you may be able to just be present with right now.

Happy New Year!

May you be happy — Metta Meditation


I’ve heard some say that compassion is a learned behavior.   However I’m not sure I agree;  I think we are born with it.

I was watching a video recently of a Mother who told her 2 year old son they were leaving the park and had to say “good-bye”.  She meant this to mean say bye to those they were with but he starts going around the entire park and hugging everyone.   He hasn’t learned yet about fear, jealousy, doubt, blame or other things we start to build on at early ages.

At some point in our lives someone or some event brings attention to us; is often very early in life and from that moment on we start to be guarded.  It may have been the best intentions.  It may have been a parent telling their child not to be silly.  Or maybe when you came up with a creative suggestion and you were told how silly that was.  Or maybe you experienced something amazing and when you tried to share it you were ignored.   That being said, it shifted you.  All your life you may have found yourself responding to this.

If ignored you may find yourself a really good listener.  If you were told you wouldn’t be any good – you probably found yourself really good with finishing goals and achievements.   If you were taught to be afraid you may spend your time doing things others are scared of.

So my belief is that we are born with compassion.  Only over time we start to guard and build up walls around ourselves.

For me Metta Meditation helps me to notice ways that I’m blocking and avoiding; the guard or shield we have a habit of doing instead of being compassionate.  With this form of meditation we can sit and use mantras or words and notice our reactions.  We can sit with this meditation and notice if we are avoiding a feeling, experience or maybe how my body is breathing with that statement.  The homework is in noticing the reaction to the mantra or statement.  You will find many different choices for mantra but even with different words the point is the same.

For Metta we take time to notice various people and use a statement of love and kindness.   I often start with the mantra towards myself.  Then towards a teacher.  Then someone I love and then someone I may not know so well.  Finally, if safe, I will think of someone I am struggling with or had a miscommunication with.  Only after you practice this mediation for a long time would I suggest thinking of someone who caused you harm.   The point of this practice is to stop segregating each group.

Recently I was teaching at a corporate space and we were just about to sit and meditate when someone pointed out that a tiny worm was crawling near me.  “Lets kill it” was the response from the students.  So I asked them to pause a moment.   Take a breath.   “Lets watch the worm” I said.  So we sat silently to watch.  “If you don’t like watching the worm close your eyes and watch your breath” I said.  “However pretending the worm doesn’t exist is not true”.   “He is just a worm doing what is natural to him.”  We sat and watched as he slowly crawled across the carpet.   “You know he probably doesn’t want to be here either.  I bet he would rather be out in nature, in the soil where he does a lot of good for our environment”.  After we sat and watched, I asked the group what they felt we should do now.  “Lets set him free outside” said one voice.  Ok – “Would you like to be the one responsible for this?” I asked.  She agreed and took a piece of paper and got him to crawl on it and took him out.

By pausing we could stop to see our reactions.   One person asked me would I have responded this way if it was a different bug.  I said, “once had a locus crawl across the floor during a restorative class.  It had wings and made a strange noise.  I saw it making its way across the floor.  I calmly got up, got a cup and captured it to set it free.  I used to kill bugs thinking they don’t belong here inside.  Then I started realizing it wasn’t going to stop all bugs from being in my space and that really if you think about it we built space up where they once existed.  So who was I to claim the sole right to be here.”

Another use for Metta is to observe our reactions; witness the ways we suffer.  Fear is common and when scared we will want to avoid or protect. Being afraid a bug will crawl us is a big fear for many.  However by killing it you aren’t assured that others won’t approach you.  Better to see the real issue; which is how you are handling your fear, anger or over-reaction.

Imagine using this meditation yourself in your life.  In the small and large events.  It may offer you a greater capacity to see a fuller picture and how to resolve issues.  This will be swimming up stream as we live in a society that likes to separate; we like to be in parties, groups and clubs but it doesn’t offer us peace. However just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to let go of your habit and return to a place that is loving and compassionate.

This week is Thanksgiving in the US and many will be with family and friends; it will test our compassion to be together.   May we each find ways to be compassionate and loving to those we know, those we don’t know well and those we have disagreements with.  If each of us tried this form of awareness we could shorten the distance between in our language (us vs them) and see that the one thing we ALL have in common is a desire to have love and peace in the world.

What did you think it looked like?


I was listening to a friend share with me that she just experienced a second miscarriage and that she was feeling sad.  I could tell something was off from her usual spirit.  Of course she went on quickly to dismiss her feelings. Waving away her feelings and tears.   That is when I stopped her.  Just a hug, silence and she started to cry.   “I feel like I’m being punished” she said.  All I said to her was “you know that isn’t true but you have the right too all your feelings”.

The mind is so powerful.  We sit with our thoughts and process over and over; start to believe the story or narrative there because we recreated it.  Skipping over the fact that the mind is capable of protecting and if we don’t want to see something we won’t.    It is important to notice this because we don’t have to dismiss truth.  We can learn to admit all of the feelings, experiences and actions.

However it can be scary in todays world.  Not only has our legal system made it hard to be honest but now social media gives a new platform that allows everyone to comment.  In a safe environment though sometimes just saying things out loud makes us quite aware and of all the feelings.  This is why talking to a therapist is so helpful.

Often in our daily life we don’t pay much attention to our feelings or thoughts.  We react and keep on going.  As I gave my friend some space alone I came back and we sat alone together.   She explained that this was her second attempt at pregnancy and wished more women talked about it.  I agree. I teach prenatal yoga and work with expecting Moms and there still isn’t much out there that talks about the pain women and families go through when they suffer a miscarriage.

But then she said “Oh it wasn’t so far along though; so it wasn’t so painful”.   She added “It wasn’t as if I feel it was a baby I lost.  It wasn’t like I was a Mom losing her baby”.   But we paused there.   I said “you may not have physically felt pain but you were a Mother and now you aren’t”.   She started to cry again.   See she was trying to rationalize her feelings and justify it because she wasn’t listening to the emotional pain.  So as we sat I let her express more and I got her something to eat because even that had been something she was skipping.

Finally I looked at her and said “Everything you are feeling – this is grief”.   Let yourself feel grief – this is what it feels like.

Yet it isn’t always easy to identify.   In our mind we may imagine what our feelings would look like under a certain condition.   Most often we give ourselves permission based on conditions and how that would appear.  I know I have done this – not quite sure if this was an emergency or not.  I will find myself stopping and asking myself “What did you think it looked like?  But now how does it feel?  What would be wrong with it being an emergency?”

We also do this culturally and with genders.  What we find acceptable with Men Vs Women.  If a Man cries we consider him week or wimpy.   A woman yells and she is bitchy or moody.   Underneath all that though if we can get to the root of the feeling we can stop pretending and be with what is here.  It allows us to see the truth and often I find that knowing has the capacity for shift or change.

Anyway when my friend and I parted, she felt a shift just by allowing herself to grieve.  I told her that she had so much love within her and that her capacity to love this much is going to make her a wonderful Mother – in whatever image that becomes.  Nothing will keep her from that.   Only she will have to work on letting go of how she see’s that happening and let it happen.  That doesn’t mean she was done feeling her feelings.  She may have to live with that grief her entire life.

However I wanted to share this moment because each of us need this reminder.   When we can learn to express our thoughts, emotions and reactions with LOVE we can come to a better understanding of our truth.  Through this we will find happiness, peace and joy.


Exciting times….Same Sex Partners in Yoga Classes


Although there is much to be upset with in the world today – politics in the US, the #Metoo reports of harassment, and parts of the world where people are killed for being different -I would like to take this moment to share that I’m glad we can talk about it more.  We can have conversations about it.   I like to say “Knowing often has the capacity to cause change”.  So it starts with seeing.  Identifying and saying it – calling it out and saying “enough”.

I grew up during a time when talking about same sex or gay relationships was something done behind the scenes and not talked about.  “Don’t ask don’t tell”.   During high school in the 80’s we talked about AIDS and so many responded scared and uncertain. Blame and shame took over for facts and compassion.   It must have been a lonely and scary time for so many.

Over a long time those I knew from high school started to come out and be honest with who they are.  Facebook and other media allowed me to stay in touch, see that they were honest about being themselves and then over time I could watch them stop referring to their “partner” and in many cases get married and use the term husband, wife or spouse. I never understood why same sex marriage was such a big deal to legalize.  If someone loves another so much that they want to marry, have legal rights, let them.

I started teaching prenatal yoga 9 years ago and even then I started to watch my language because some who came were those of same sex relationships. We often share in prenatal yoga classes and ask about birthing plans and who may be with them in labor.  But my language changed from assumptions to asking.  This is also because some who come to prenatal may be single as well; Maybe not married.  Maybe doing this on their own.  My language was something I was changing to make space for differences in all relationships.

Fast forward to today; I was teaching prenatal yoga and had a same sex couple who came to class together.  The expecting mother didn’t mind saying “This is my wife and we are expecting our babies in three months”.   I smiled but thought to myself how glad I am that we are living in a time where we can be ourselves.   I am so happy for this couple that they can offer so much love to these babies and support for each other.   To know that the future generation will come into the world without the fear, blame and judgement I was raised in makes me smile.  Education is key to end the hatred and fear.   I may not be able to do much about ALL parts of the world but I can tell you that in my little corner of the world – I’m glad to see that it is changing for the better.

Wanted to share.  Jai!

Contemplating extreme responses at sports games


Have you ever attended a sports game and watched the crowd go from such extreme responses?  Have you ever gone to a bar that has a game playing and you watch the team do well and how much everyone is celebrating?   How about that same bar when the team isn’t doing well?  Not into sports?  Ok – have you ever been at a concert and find yourself there but many around you are on their phones?  It is quite interesting to watch crowds of people, here in the US especially, go from such extreme responses.   In a moment you can go from incredible highs and then lows.

I will find myself doing it – watching myself stomp my foot make comments “oh no” and then feel such disappointment.  High levels of anxiety and stress.   In a flash I can go to such joy and such sorrow.  I can remember times where I would go to work the next day either so happy or sad depending on who won the game.  So much drama.

These days though I am much more aware to my reactions.  I’ll see myself and observe my heart rate – my reaction as I yell.  Notice as a shy and feel such distress.  But then pause and become  much more an objective witness.  Wait does it really matter if we win or loose? No – I mean really matter to me?  Does it really matter in the world?  Fact is that it doesn’t.  I’m not saying that it isn’t fun to win but at the same time it isn’t healthy to let your nervous system jump around and be so stressed for long amounts of time.

Some take their reactions so far that they get into fights and actually have hatred for opposing teams.   But again is the prejudice real?  Or did I buy into it from marketing and ego?  We take such great pride in logo’s and teams that we believe we are the image.   As if it makes a statement of who we are.  For some it makes a social statement who you support.

I’ve been meaning to write about this topic because I find it a perfect place to stop and pause to reflect.   To become aware of my reactions and let me respond much more appropriately.  A couple of years ago I was at a LA Dodger game where I was the visitor.   I was cheering the Washington Nats on and had many heads turning when I did yell in favor for the Nats.   Silence and glances at me from surrounding LA fans.  Mid-way through the game I noticed the person in-front of me dropped their keys and they fell on the ground under their seat.  Totally unaware of it.  I let them know and they so appreciated it – as they may have left without noticing that the keys had dropped.  They wanted to get us some beers but I simply asked them if they would take a picture of us there.  So they did this and we shared a moment of where we were from and how wonderful it was to be there in this beautiful stadium.  Suddenly all of the energy changed.  People all around us started supporting us and we were a community sitting together even though we each had a preference for a different team.  We shared with them that we had traveled from DC to be there just for this game.  We even shared with them about some Nats players facts.   It was a moment I will always remember. The Nats lost that night but it didn’t  matter because we had such a wonderful night being there either way.

So I hope this message reaches you and that while you are out you may stop and notice places and people; see if you can take a step back to take in the moment.  Little ways that you can be more present.  You may find yourself much more aware and be able to use that to help others as well.


What I mean when I say “I’ll meditate on that”


Wow this summer has flown by.   I try to post monthly but this has been a very busy summer.  I often sub and take on ways to help those teachers that are away.   Finding balance is hard because I often want to help when I have time open on my schedule.   Having open time though shouldn’t mean I have to fill it.   So to help me, I often make appointments on my calendar where I tell myself “don’t book anything here”; knowing that the time is open but that days before or after are also busy and I’ll need to be off.   My husband has gotten used to seeing me post these appointments.  For me it is helpful because I receive many emails a day from teachers who need immediate help.   I check but then again I have to get into the mode that not every open time means I can help sub a class.   I teach full time and my schedule is different each day and week.  I have to admit that my schedule is pretty full – teaching often 3 to 4 regular classes a day.   Then if I sub that can mean 5 in a day.

I have been working out my fall class schedule lately and it includes more workshops at some new spaces.   Teaching occasionally at these spaces is much easier than having weekly/daily classes.   So my plan, yes I have a business plan, has been to teach less classes and more workshops.

Last week I was very sick and it required me to stop and find subs myself.  I don’t teach just at one place so while sick I had to manage the places that needed canceling and those that needed subs.   Waiting for responses while sick feels like forever.   I was out for days and so many stepped up to help me which I appreciated knowing I never take off and my students knew it must have been serious for me to be gone.   It made me really think about the fact that I never have a single day off to myself.   The only time I have off is when it is a holiday.  Most often I plan my errands and appointments in between teaching.   So I meditated on this situation.

I thought about solutions for days.  While thinking about it I thought about my intension, which was to have an entire day off.   I could see when my reaction would drift into thoughts of pleasing others.   Then it would drift into someone being mad or disappointed.   I would see my thoughts drifting negative and say “yes but that shouldn’t hold you back after all my intension wasn’t out of anger”.  Then my thoughts would drift into “they will take it personally or think it is because you have another job”.   Ok now back to my intension.   Then I made myself think about a choice that didn’t worry about anyone else and notice how I felt.   I thought about my Friday classes; I only have two right now.   I would go back to thinking about the students – oh how I like them.   Oh wait that isn’t my intension right now.   Ok – back to imagining – now imagine having Fridays off.   As I did that my heart and chest felt better.  My breath became softer.  Just imagining a day off to make appointments, go visit friends and maybe go out on date with my husband.  I immediately knew this was the solution.

So this is am example of how I meditate to find clarity in my decisions.   My reactions are going to pull me into doubt, fear, shame, judgment and worry.   “What about the missing income!”.   “Can you afford this?” – All good thoughts to have but again finding solutions means considering ALL factors.   Once I knew the choice I had to make I did look into my budget and schedule and it is balanced.   I can do this.  So come September I will have Fridays off and work hard to keep it that way.   The studio owners and students have been so supportive and understanding.  None of the fears I imagined happened.   I have already blocked off my calendar to say “Don’t even think about it girl!”   Now I’ll have a full day of self-care each week.

I know it sounds like what’s the big deal?  “Of course you should take care.” Before you even message me, believe me I get the message and feel shamed enough. Yet I wanted to write it because I’m in a business of self-care but I can tell you I’m not the only one.  Every business has its hypocrisy.  When I was an accountant we used to joke about how bad accountants are with their records.  Accountants are also the last ones to take care of their finances or taxes for themselves because they are often taking care of it for someone else.   I know of health care professionals who are the worst with their health.  The list can go on and on.  Point isn’t that a good teacher, dr. or accountant is better for not failing.  By being honest and upfront they are often able to apply their own lessons to help others.  We are all imperfect.  That is called “being human”.   What my practice did for me was allowed me to recognize it, allow for it, investigate and without judgement listen with clarity and see if solutions are there.  (R.A.I.N.)

So I’m no different than others and will make plenty of mistakes in my self-care but I did want to write this message and explain how I use meditation.  I often use the words “I’ll meditate on that” and I’m asked what I mean by that.  So I thought I would offer a real life example.  When you start practicing the steps mentioned above you will start to do this in little ways in your daily life as well.   What shall I eat for lunch?  Which way will I drive home?  How should I handle an email?

I do hope this helps if you are struggling with finding solutions.   Meditate on it and try to find some clarity.  Jai!

Difference clear thinking makes


“What a difference it makes when your head is in the right place” – Lynn, a yoga student I have been teaching for over 2 years, said recently. I had offered her a suggestion of where to place her neck and head in a pose. One slight difference can change a lot. So as soon as said this we all laughed knowing how well her words applied to life.

It can be so hard to know direction to make. Life will send you places where you may react and often hurtful ways. But I have always believed checking to make sure my reaction wasn’t based in fear, doubt, anger or sadness. When I make impulsive choices they usually aren’t helpful. I make better choices when my head is in the right place. From there I can respond with kindness, truth and honesty.

I’ve done this with the little and big things in life. But recently I’ve had this challenge in my job search. I had some unexpected changes in a couple of yoga positions. At the end of 2017 a few contract jobs ended. I had no plan and yet I knew what I wanted to do. I started out teaching in yoga studios or gyms and when I started teaching full time I wanted to expand where I was working. So years ago I set out to make sure that I teach in a variety of places. I also did this because I wanted to be a better teacher and expand my experience to a larger audience.

So once again here I was at a crossroads; knowing what I wanted but it was there for me. Plus I risked making a fast and impulsive decision. Each and every day I had to remind myself to be calm; Wait and let myself be guided to where I will be next. Don’t take short cuts.

Short cuts never work. It takes discipline to trust yourself and stick to it. Do it with truth and honesty with a good intension. Never stealing or blaming.   I know I’m not the only person who took a job that turned out to be wrong. I’ve done it a couple of times in my life. I knew I just wanted out of one place and took another. I took the new job knowing that from the initial start something was wrong. But I still did it. Not long till promises were broken and it wasn’t the place and job I was told it would be. Lastly when you do leave that job there is a backlash from those who are mad you left and want to crush you from ever doing well and rumors are spread. I’ve seen what jealousy does and the only solution I’ve ever held firm too is to learn from it, try not repeating it and that time always reveals truth.

So having been through some tough job journeys I am so careful to listen and be tolerant of the job process ahead of me. So I took my time to find myself where I am now. Taking this new job also meant I had to leave or move around my schedule at other jobs. I had to make a choice and leave some I will miss teaching. This is just something I have to do. I’m so glad I waited because when I agreed to this new position, I somehow knew that all the past jobs, good and bad, lead me to this position. I needed all that had happened to arrive here. So now I find myself teaching at a different kind of rehab to help an entirely different kind of addiction. Of course I landed here. I just couldn’t see it when I was busy holding onto other positions.

I still spread my schedule to various places but it is good to see my entire schedule is spread out just like I wanted it with a healthy combo of places of studios, corporate and rehab. This latest change made me think about going outside my comfort zone as well and pleased that I will have some new places in the summer and autumn where I will teach workshops outside of studios I teach at already.

To the future I look forward to teaching the awareness that comes from practice. I plan on still making mistakes but knowing that I can fall of track and come back – touch back and start over.  That we can all learn to let go of harmful actions we do that hurt ourselves and often backlash with anger towards others. To remember in those times there is always more than one way in life. Remember this when you are faced with being hurt, scared or afraid; find your own solution that isn’t harmful. Be patient and respond clearly.

I heard a story recently about an interview question and I think clearly makes my point. This is my interpretation of the story.  The question was there to see how you solve problems.

“You are driving your car and only have one seat available. You come to a stop and see three people there. One is the person of your dreams. The other is a friend who once saved your life. The other is an elderly person who needs medical help.

Who do you offer the one seat too?”

The person stops thinks about it. Faced with the question proposed but then clearly responds “I get out of the car to sit with the person of my dreams. I hand my car keys to my friend who I trust to take the elder to the hospital.”

A solution is found that is outside the box.

Dreams communicate messages


Recently I had a dream that my Mother called me from heaven to complain about being there.  I woke from the dream and laughed.   I spent a lifetime, over 48 years to be exact, with my Mothers bipolar issues.  Felt more like I raised her than the other way around.  So it was quite normal to have her call me almost regularly and have some sort of complaint.  One moment she can like something and the other hates it.  In her final years she lived in a nursing home and I would often get a call from a social worker that she didn’t want to live there and wanted me to move her.   I would have to explain to them that if you give her till tomorrow she will change her mind again.  And of course she did.

So needless to say I found this dream quite funny. I could just imagine my Mom getting to heaven and finding a problem with it.  In my dream she didn’t like the people there.  She and Jesus were having problems.  Also the food was bad.  So like my life she called on me to fix, but in my dream I remember just saying “There isn’t anything I can do about it”.

Which brings me to an important point.  Dreams often surface from the deep part of our mind.   I lost my Mom back in September but still this dream reminded me of the relationship I had and to practice patience.

My practice has taught me to slow down my reaction and pause.  To be patient requires practice over and over.  Many times I get it wrong.  Other times though I am glad when I remember to use it.  Patience has helped me to see all sorts of views and solutions I didn’t see in the fast instant response.  I also believe I don’t need to always have an answer. Sometimes it is enough to let someone express their thoughts and hold space for them.

I do this all day long in the little ways of life.  Not just the big moments.  Patience to my life requires me to watch, listen and observe life in the present moment.  Try this next time you are just moving through life –  ie walk slower.  Turn off the phone or music and listen.  Look around you.  Listen around you.  Maybe even smile at a stranger and say “hi”.

Don’t just get to where you are going but actually enjoy the journey there.  You won’t be able to solve or change everything in this world but you can start with how you live in this place.

Be a part of the solution – not the problem.

Just a thought to consider.  Thanks for listening.


Date which will live in infamy


No I’m not talking about Pearl Harbor.  For me a date which I know lives on with me is January 25.   For me that was a life changing day.   Five years ago in fact.   I found myself teaching yoga and suddenly falling over.  Took days for anyone to discover that I had suffered a spontaneous  dissection in my neck on both sides.  Cutting off blood to my brain and in a few days it was swollen and then caused a stroke.  (You can read about the journey in prior postings.)

VAD is what they call it.  I found a Facebook group for people with VAD and those under the age of 50 who suffered a stroke.  Many going through different stages but all able to help and offer hope to those who are just coming home to find out that things are different.  Many in pain and uncertain of directions to take.  Many who find themselves alone and with spouses or family members who don’t understand.   Many are trying to figure out how to get back to “normal” and return to their work.

I have had many read my posts here and write me directly and I’m so glad that they shared with me their story.   Recently a woman wrote me from Russia and wanted to know how I managed through it.  Another woman I used to teach in DC but she moved back home in Europe found herself having a VAD.  She is still on leave trying to manage the pain, extreme tiredness and lack of ability to move like she used too.  I check in with her from time to time just to offer her words of hope and encouragement.

Some comment how lucky I was and believe me I so know that I am lucky.  However luck had nothing to do with it.   I am glad I have a community around me and a loving husband who still continues to support and nurture me when I have continued physical issues.  (He is the best head massager when I have a pounding headache.)

What I have found is that each person has different symptoms with brain injuries.   It will depend on the part of the brain effected.  For me my entire right side still has issues but I feel that my yoga experience allowed me to stop trying to fix it and comparing it.  Yoga has an ability to work into the neuropaths of the brain; how we learn, move, communicate, remember.  So when one path isn’t working the brain finds new ways around it.  It doesn’t mean it is fixed or returned but can be different.

I heard a lovely statement that basically said we don’t put the body into yoga poses; instead we do yoga poses to understand our body.  Yes that is the point.  Each part of me is different and changing.  When I move or sit still I turn inward to notice my body, breath and thoughts.  To notice my actual truth and body in this moment.  I allow the pose to bring up reactions in my body but the power is in the awareness.  To let me be aware of my reactions.

For example I could go into tree pose – a standing balancing pose.  I could beat myself up for what isn’t there and how awful balance is on my right side.  Compare it to the left.  Or I could start to see what is there – what is going quite well without comparison.  I may have to place my foot differently than I did on the other side.  Why do I consider this a bad thing? Is it really bad?  Or just what my body needs from me right now?  It isn’t forever.  In fact I try it again and see how it changed.

This for me this is an example of how yoga allows me to see the entire story of right now.  I would have missed this thought process going into reactions, feeling down, criticizing my right side, or blaming it for not being like it used to be.  Instead the choice is to let go of that thought for a moment and see the tiny things going on so well on my right side.  Gratitude, compassion and kindness start to grow and expand in my brain and development occurs.  New ways to do things and be.   I can let go of the only way I thought it could be and see that in the end it may have been a good experience to go through this if it showed me this expanded way of being.

So luck – no – had nothing to do with it.  I had to make a choice to let go of what was and see what else was there.  It wasn’t easy.  As a matter of fact I spent almost 2 years holding on.  Hiding the symptoms, not talking about it and acting like all was as it used to be.  I used be in business and going out to late night networking events was fun.  Yet I found myself 2 years since my stroke walking into a big noisy networking event, hardly being able to concentrate, was very dizzy from all the activity.  This way of working wasn’t for me any longer.  In fact I found out it is quite normal for stroke survivors to feel strange in crowded and over stimulated situations; something I never had a problem with before.  Yet it was there that I discovered I would have to stop pretending.

I had been teaching yoga part time for 5 years and after some time off, I  turned to it full time.  It was supposed to be a temporary solution but as I kept teaching it kept growing.  Also I found the flexibility in my schedule was better for me. I work a bit, then rest.  Work a bit then rest.  The challenge of teaching a class also helps my brain.  Thinking about various right, left, repeat etc.  Saying and speaking vs thinking the words is helpful to my stroke side effects.  Having places to be pushes me to get up and go as well.

I guess you could say I was lucky to have had this part time job expand into full time but what I was doing the entire time was trusting.  Letting go of what I wanted to see happen and let the universe or God take me where I needed to be.  I find when this happens I only end up asking myself what took me so long to see this.  It was always there right in front of me.

Anyway I am so glad for this journey and those I have heard from that had a VAD/Stroke 10, 20 and 30 years ago.  I do hope to pass on the love and support to others just starting out on this change.  It is scary.  You are not alone.

May my words help you even if you aren’t suffering from a major injury.  We are all injured in some respects and when we can learn to let go of the past or what we want from the future and just enjoy right now we may find ourselves much happier.

Untangle yourself


Well it is that time again for many of us.  Time reflected and remembering this year – 2017.  Some have fond memories and others it is an unhappy time.  I’ve known many with some terrible and unexpected losses.   I too had it with the loss of my Mom.  I spent years with her health in decline but that didn’t mean I was ready for the feelings of loosing her. Still I found myself realizing that I didn’t have to live in my thoughts and feel only the loss.  Fact is that with terrible loss is also a lot of love and peace.

We often live so much in our thoughts.  Worry, plan, be prepared.  Then start all over again.  I work with many who get very little sleep.  Instead they keep pushing, planning and worrying about what is to come.  Impacting all ages which hurts their health – mind and bodies.  It is so much more than just than the need to take a break, vacation to rest.  Our brains start too loose the ability to focus and make good choices.  Soon the thoughts are unable to stay focused and move faster than our focus and brain can keep up.  Very much like a drummer that is off one beat from the rest of the band.  It means that while you think you are making good decisions you very well may not be.  How often do you have to ask someone to repeat themselves?  How often do you have to apologize or do projects over because of error?

The daily decisions are impacted; like stopping our car sooner in traffic, a presentation for work or listening to important issues your family is having in their life.

Ok – seeing it is one thing but it is time to take action.  Sure it won’t be easy.  But try.  Find times over the holiday especially to try out some things.  Like put your computer or phone away more.  Less time on posts to tell everyone about your event.  Instead be at the event.  Fully present.  When someone is talking to you just listen more.  Make eye contact and when your thoughts start going elsewhere stop, take a breath and look at them again.  Listen to them without thinking about your response.

There is a story I heard about a man who was all tangled up in a thorn bush.  Another person came by and saw him in pain.  Suggested ways he could untangle himself and he did this and finally came out of the bush.  “Oh that is so much better.  I’m free! Thank you so much”.  But then he saw a person looking at the thorn bush he just left.  “No” he said.  “You can’t have my thorn bush.  That is mine” and he rushes back into the bush to be tangled up again.  Now you may think this is a silly story but we all do this.  Afraid of someone else taking away our identiy and grab back onto it and hold it like a warm blanket around us.  Notice it when you are asked who are you?  Do the things we say about ourselves keep us tangled?  How about when we have an injury?  Do we identify with it only?  Or can we ask for help and find ways out of the thorn bush we were in?  The hardest part is not going back to it.  For it is our comfort even if it is painful.

I’m not perfect with this either.  But I am seeing some changes in my own mind and ability to focus more on the present.  Additionally when I was dealing with the loss of my Mom I found it so helpful to listen to the signals my body was sending.  Be still more.  Stop fighting with myself and then let go of my grip.  When we can let go of the way I thought it would be, so much more can happen.

Pausing helps us to see the fuller picture.  That even with one thought there is so much more going on.  Therefore when it is easy for me to feel sad about my year I can also feel so grateful for it as well.  For at least it means I am here; alive and so glad for all those I got to meet and know this year.

If you are reading this I am so glad we connected and I hope that in some small way my message has helped you.  Thank you for those that write me to let me know about your journey and feedback.  May you find time for yourself to untangle yourself from your thoughts and find peace and happiness from within.


Using posture to be aware


‘The study of asana is not about mastering posture.
It’s about using posture to understand and transform yourself’ – BKS Iyengar

I read this quote and immediately thought well there is how a message gets lost.   I feel many of the great masters lessons are lost and we miss the bigger picture.

So many classes I find so focused on alignment and correcting someone.  It is one thing to help someone see their potential but what I often witness is a student unhappy with themselves; unable to do something and the teacher showing them the horizon, and giving them instructions to keep practicing so they can get there.  Never once suggesting how to be with the present moment. Oh sure teachers will suggest to breathe right now but our thoughts are still busy and being anywhere else but here.

My position is and has been for some time about using the tools and techniques of yoga to be yourself.  Many hear this and think I’m saying give up.  No I’m not –  so listen to it again.  See your true self right now as you are. Because in truth you aren’t broken. You don’t need fixing. You probably don’t believe it.   Kind of like when someone tells you how nice you look; see how quickly you push away the compliment and find some excuse.

Ok you say but what about when I do have an injury?  Aren’t I hurt?  Yes you are but you are also more than that.  Kind of like when you get a cut, it is normal to spend time helping the cut.  But the real healing comes when we can let go of the focus on it.  We put some ointment on it and bandage it.  Surprise comes when we stop putting all our thoughts into it.  The power of the mind is amazing.

Our conditioning in life has us this way.  Watch or listen to commercials and see how much subconscious thoughts are used to make you feel like you need to improve or be more than you are.   Often we spend so much time grasping for a place within our thoughts and we rarely spend time be content or satisfied with where we are now.  Did you ever work hard for some goal in life and found yourself hardly enjoying the conclusion?  Moving instead to the next task.  That is very common because we spend so much time “there” instead of “here”.

The other day I had a young woman come up to me after class.  It was her first time with me and she said “That was quite unexpected.  I think I’ve been doing the wrong yoga for my life”.  I was teaching a yang/yin class but more important she picked up on what I was saying about our negative thoughts and how they hold us back from our potential.

She explained that she works full time and has a part time job and is back in school getting her masters.  Mid-terms are coming up and she is stressed.  She would beat herself up then for not making time to work-out and when she could fit it in, she would do a powerful yoga class hoping to work out the stress.  But it didn’t work out that way.  Instead she isn’t sleeping well and she has anxiety.   We talked about her mid-term and how she could be with her stress.  Stop avoiding being with this moment even when it is tough.  “What is the worst that could happen”?  Maybe some things happen to show us and if let go of trying we release the grip that has been hurting us.  This is very hard because we have to often let go of our ego in this process.

Then we talked about “letting it be”.  Before you can let something go you have to see it.  Being aware of your thoughts is the path to being with yourself right now. Not correcting the thoughts.  Being with them – even when we are hurt, angry, sad or upset.

For example stop right now and for 60 seconds just notice what you are thinking about.

Believe it or not but by pausing to notice, your busy mind just slowed down.  Once you start this practice of awareness start to notice how your thoughts jump to negative places; judgment, fear, blame.

Instead of judging or correcting the thought, you can redirect the negativity by noticing your breath or feeling your hands.  This is a yang way of directing into the present moment into a positive way so we can really see this moment clearly.  Another option is redirecting towards loving kindness by being grateful for having the capacity to be here today.  This is a yin way of being present in the moment.

When I suggested this in a workshop recently I had a woman who has been practicing yoga for a while come up and tell me that she never once took the time to do this.   “I never noticed that all my thoughts are so judgmental”

So back to the quote I have at the beginning of this message.  If we aren’t connecting or “yoking” (the translation of the word yoga) our mind in the posture, and just simply moving around in positions, then we are missing the transformation that yoga can provide.

Just a thought I wanted to share.

Loss Of My Mom – time to let go


I lost my Mom last month.  I was asked by many if it was expected or not.  I always found myself stopping, pausing thinking about that one.

My Mom had me when she was young, 22, and then married.  Almost two years later she had my sister and was raising two kids while my Dad worked at the VA Administration.   It was the time of the Vietnam War and I hardly knew it was going on.  I would walk the halls at the VA and see a room called “agent orange” and had no idea what that was.  It was the 70s and when I think about those times it is scary.  My parents didn’t have guides or instructions.  This was a time when you drove in the front seat of the car without belts. You ate food high in sugar all the time.  The idea of spanking kids was normal in schools.  Years later when I was almost 8 years old my parents left me in-charge to babysit my brother and sister.  8!  I remember at that age being scared to be left alone.  What if someone tried to break in? What would I do? What was the plan?  I slept with my tennis racket by my bed till I was about 17 years old just in case.  It wasn’t until I was 19 that I learned how to make food from scratch.  “What do you mean mashed potatoes don’t come from a box?”

My entire life was spent watching out for my Mom. Parents fighting and cops or first responders coming was quite the norm.   I was looking over her belongings recently from her time as a teen.  I looked at her yearbook, comments and wondered what happened to that girl.  She didn’t have parents herself to guide her and too see what raising a family is like.  How to be a loving person.  She didn’t have family encouraging her to be anything she wanted.  I found some flyers in her things she must have picked up at a job fair.  Late 60’s and she was looking at flight attendant or the Navy.  The navy flyer was addressed to the ladies.  Do do desk work and wear lots of lipstick and call it ‘serving your country’.   That was it for her options as I woman I guess during that time.

She found refuge in alcohol and prescription drugs and being “high” all the time made her both physically and verbally abusive to her kids.  One time she was driving us while drunk and she hit someone and knocked herself out.  They thought it was their fault and yet instead of any of them getting the police, they drove us home.  I sat in the back and placed a cold key at her neck to keep her up.   I was 9 years old.

Till her last moments she never overcame the pain pill addiction.  Without going into a lot of the details though, her health problems have been mounting for the past 9 years.  Before this though she managed to live on her own and had decided to move up to Harrisburg, PA; over 2.5 hours away from me.  One time back around 2004 she had fallen and the neighbor had figured out how to reach me to let me know.  All she could tell me was she was taken in an ambulance the day before.  I called every hospital in that area.   Even one I called said “We are a mental hospital.” I said “Yeah – check anyway”.  When I finally found her she was in Hershey hospital and was treated for a broken wrist but they were holding her longer because they suspected something else was wrong.  She was diagnosed bipolar; which she probably was all her life.  Her life of doctors and therapists and never once was this a conclusion.   She returned home and battled broken wrist, trying to figure out medications, and most of the time taking the wrong ones at the wrong times.  9 years ago though she got a bigger blow.  Her kidneys were failing and she had to start dialysis.   Still smoking and eating a poor diet, she would go three times a week.  Then her colon exploded and had an emergency colonoscopy.  Going home she couldn’t manage on her own and she found a nursing home that was supposed to be temporary but they called me and said “she can’t take care of herself”.  So I started handling her things as her POA.  Sold off her things, cleaned out her home, got her set up at the home.

Finally this summer it got so bad that she decided to start hospice and stop with kidney dialysis.  She couldn’t even sit up on her own.  She was down too 80 pounds.  Still it took a month from that choice for her to pass.  She couldn’t swallow or eat and just withered away to skin and bones.  The person I knew and remembered looked so different. Was frail and hurting.  Still in her last couple of weeks I sat with her and we played songs.  My sister and I just kept thinking of songs from our past and Mom knew all the words.  I knew that this was such an important moment because instead of hating things in the past, we just sat and remembered the good.   It was time to let all that go.    The people at Hospice and the Home were so helpful.  A guitar player came to play for her and he called me one night just to ask about her favorite songs.  “I started crying. I think what you are doing is just amazing” I said.  A Chaplin called me and I finally got someone to offer her a communion which was important to her.   In her final hours my sister, brother and I got to her.  Sitting with her was a volunteer. A stranger who goes to the bedsides of those passing to sit and be there so they aren’t alone.  All I could say is “Wow”.  There are angels here walking around us all the time doing good deeds but you have to look for it because it doesn’t make the news.

I came to grips with the fact that my Parents were kids themselves without much guidance and they made mistakes; like all of us do.  They didn’t know how to be there for me because they didn’t love or like themselves.  My Mom had her own way of trying though.  There are memories of her and I dancing in the living room to musicals.  Her taking me to shows, art galleries and making sure I had my own library card so I could read as much as I wanted.  I think my Mom wanted to do so much more in her life but never did.  Maybe she had regret for having kids so young.

My Mom’s last wish is to be placed with my Dad at Arlington Cemetery and we are waiting to have that scheduled there.  With that private ceremony I hope to place a letter to my parents where I will just forgive and say “good-bye”.   Right now her remains are here with me and I have her by the TV – one of her favorite things to do- watch TV.   My Mom didn’t leave her kids an estate.  I didn’t get to inherit anything.  In the end my siblings and I are sharing the final costs of my Mom burial.    Still I know Karma has provided me so much from my community of love and support.

During my loss so many people showed up for me and I’m forever thankful.  When you are grieving it is a lot to feel and deal with so asking for help is not easy – at least not for me. So many people just showed up.  Put food at my door.  Flowers. Cards.  Would grab me and hold me in a log hug.  Would just call me to say “You are in my thoughts.  Remember Your Mom knew you were a good loving person. She was proud of you”.

This is true.  Although she never showed up to my events, she was always proud.  In the end she was so happy that I was helping others who were addicted or dealing with injury.  I could help others but never get her to see that mild movement will slowly help with the pain and discomfort.  She would try PT but in the end get the nurses to give her medication.

Knowing isn’t enough though.  Why some overcome addiction and others don’t, I may never know.  It isn’t as easy as declaring it is a choice.  There is a lot of hard work and commitment but still I think science has a lot to understand with the mind and its power. Still I hope and won’t give up trying to help those I can and be there to offer support to those still trying.


Pain + Resistance = Suffering


I live just outside of the Washington, DC area and started noticing last week, during August, that the weather was changing.   Instead of the hot humid days of summer there was a smell in the air.  I looked up and saw bits of leafs falling and this week noticed the colors just starting to change. I watched squirrels gather nuts and run off to store them.

Of course mentioning change is hard because as soon as I suggest it I’m met with responses that suggest fear or disgust of this.  Even though we know it is coming, I still get those who frown and say “no – I don’t want summer to end”.  Yet it will end though. I can resist it or be with what is happening.  Enjoy the here and now.

I mentioned the beautiful day to a neighbor and she responded that she heard that this winter will be “the worst one yet”.  Ok – so why all the worry about the future or holding onto the past. This is where I am glad for my practice.  Just take a long breathe and remind those responding to come back to now – right now is where we are.

At Kripalu we had a saying “Pain + Resistance = Suffering”  I can’t do much about pain but I can let go of resisting.  If I can lessen that maybe my suffering will be less too.  Just something to consider even in the small acts of responses.

This labor day may you take the moment to reflect on the positive.  It is so easy to get caught in a negative response.  It takes practice to pause and think of a kinder way to be with ourselves and then towards others.  May you feel gratitude for all you have right now.  Jai!


Fear of Transformation Reading


I was reminded yesterday of this reading and just wanted to share it with you.  I remember first hearing about this story when I was going through some major career changes.  No matter the transformation, big or small, we each resist and this lovely story may remind us that we us suffer sometimes just by in holding on tight to where we are and that if we learn to release we may just enjoy floating in the air, even if we miss the next bar or don’t have an idea what we are doing.  I’ve learned to do this a lot in my life now.   Uncertainty and not having a plan all the time is ok.

As I sat to have tea with a friend and we discussed what may be next in our life – we just laughed and said “I have no idea”.  Were just between the trapeze bars.  Floating in the air with the greatest of ease.

Enjoy this reading: