Super, Black and New

vulture IMG_3966Tonight is a new moon. A super moon. A black moon. Evidently this is a really powerful thing. Sounds impressive. Each new moon is a time to create. As the moon is reinventing itself you have the opportunity to do the same.

Whenever I remember this I think consciously directed thoughts toward the future I hope to create. Sometimes I write them down.

As is often the case, the new moon, the super black moon, caught me by surprise. But I had unknowingly set myself up pretty well. I had planned today to hand over responsibilities that had begun to drain my life force. At the same time I had a meeting scheduled later in the day that was in alignment with a new direction I am choosing to take.

Auspicious indeed.

Then it occurred to me; I should do this everyday. Let go of one soul-sucking, life-force depleting activity, person or situation and replace it with the opposite. Once the heavy hitters are dispensed I can get to work on letting the little negativities go and bring in the small but powerful positivities.

This way it won’t matter where, how big or what color the moon is.

Make Love, Not Gossip

path IMG_3984Today on Facebook I read a post that deflated me. It wasn’t sad, no animals were harmed and it wasn’t full of needless expletives. But it spoke of an epidemic of ignorance of who we truly are that is so pervasive in our society that I had to respond to it. Only I didn’t. Not directly. Instead I posted my thoughts about it on my own newsfeed without identifying the source or any details.

I wanted to respond but I knew it would only expand the negativity, poking the bear, rather than disarming the situation or change anything for the better.

The short of it is this: There was a video of a celebrity doing something  positive, but because this celebrity is controversial all the remarks on this person’s post were derogatory and downright mean. They were personally attacking someone they didn’t even know personally.

It may be fun and even feel a little powerful, if you can recruit others in a gossip fest, but in the end it is waste of precious life force. Making it the most harmful and hurtful to the ones gossiping.

Not that I haven’t done this. Hasn’t everyone? What I believe we’re doing is recognizing our perceived failings in another and directing our self-loathing outward as if that will rid us of it. At our lowest points, we draw conclusions and make assumptions about others all in the service of our own fragile egos, trying to elevate our self-esteem by pointing out the shortcomings of another. They are the mirror for our fear that we are not enough.

What if every time we caught ourselves in a verbal eye roll, or hissing like a snake on our keyboards or phone, we just stopped? What if we directed all that venom at ourselves? Because that’s what we’re really doing. That celebrity will feel none of that acrimony, yet those sending daggers feel EVERY bit of it.

We have the option and the power to  transmute that energy into something beautiful and real. Re-channel it. Do some art. Write in your journal. Take a walk in nature. Breathe. Look at the sky.

What would happen, do you think, if all the news media began reporting on charitable organizations and those being helped? What if celebrity magazines only photographed and spotlighted companies and individuals, and yes, celebrities making a difference in their city, town or country? What if the newspaper was full of stories about people helping other people, kittens and dogs being rescued or rescuing, or illustrations on the power of love?

Idealistic? Of course. Unrealistic? No.

I don’t think we are here to tear each other down – even from a distance – in order to lift ourselves up. It doesn’t work. We are meant to uplift one another, to make things better for each other. There is a quote, or prayer, really, by Marianne Williamson that I have always loved, “Help me remember that my job is to love the world back to health.”

How our choices and words might be so different if that were our job description.

All or Nothing

manatee IMG_3784Go big or go home. In or out. Without realizing it most of my life has been guided by these phrases. If I decide that I am going to do something it has to be every day at the same time. Gym every morning. Juicing for lunch. Walk after dinner. If I miss one day, I’ve failed. So I stop.

This is a tough one for me. Consistency equals success.

I remember hearing Wayne Dyer talk about running. For years he ran every single morning. Rain, shine, snow, illness, injury. Everyday. Then one day he couldn’t. He was too sick or injured. He completely struggled with not doing it. Until he didn’t.

I remember thinking, “Wow, that’s so obsessive.” Hello mirror.

I still do it. It shows up a little differently each time, cleverly disguised as  resolve or gumption, but it’s still a 50/50 split.

The problem is with the nothing, go home, out part. That’s the easy part. It seems to take such a long period of cheer leading and hand holding to talk me into the healthy habit and a mere whiff of fresh-baked cookies or a frigid morning or a sore foot or whine, whine, wine (oops, how did that get in there?!) to pull me out.

Then a brief stint in the corner of self-doubt and shame helps me turn things around. This process is exhausting!

After all this craziness I believe a switch has been thrown. Finally I feel ready to tackle this or that. This is the time. I just need to do it every single day for a certain number of days and then…what? Keep doing it every day for the rest of my life? Integrate it into my life as a healthy habit? We saw how well that worked last time.

But, hold on. Maybe it did work last time. Maybe the time between the last 21 day challenge and this one was necessary for me to find those mirrors and hit those bumps and head smack myself a little into returning. Maybe it created enough of a recognition that it’s possible. That I don’t have to create an unrealistic schedule to succeed just to set myself up for failure.

Life happens. All of these things I’ve added in consciously, the writing, yoga nidra, gym or yoga – which by the way I’ve been to the gym 3 times this week and done yoga twice, thank you very much – are supposed to be about supporting my best self. They are supposed to be about loving myself. If I fall back, shouldn’t I just love myself back into action, rather than abuse myself? Yep.

The new challenge program has my deepest desire to show up as my biggest, bestest, most authentic self. That’s all. Now that’s something I can get behind.

That’s the switch. Make the choices that clear the path for ME to show up. When I show up clear and open, I allow others that same opportunity. It’s a win-win. And I like those odds.

[Photo: While playing hooky from blogging yesterday I scampered off to Blue Springs Park to be lulled into a state of waking meditation by the slow, gentle ballet of the beautiful manatees. Best reason to play hooky!]

Look What I Can Do

me on ringsIt appears the treadmill is a good teacher and the second best place for aha moments – the first being “the chamber of insight” or as you may know it, the shower.

Walking has always been a head-clearer for me. If I’m walking in my neighborhood I don’t wear headphones, I like the sounds of birds, children, cars and the wind. When I’m at the gym, I’m definitely plugged in. And the music is loud. It propels me forward, because lets face it, the History channel, reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Fox News just don’t really inspire me to break a sweat.

As my heart rate is rising and The Black Eyed Peas are encouraging me to pump it pump it, my mind is free to wander. Have you ever thought about how amazing that is? How we are able to do one thing, think another, look at something that has nothing to do with the first two and be aware that we are witnessing all of it? Pretty special, we are.

The most recent treadmill insight came as a nice energetic head slap. Don’t you just love it when you think you are a certain way, you are sure of it, you know yourself, then the tiniest thing flips everything upside down? You begin to question everything you believe to be true about yourself. Or at least I do.

I honestly believed that I no longer cared what others thought of me. Right? We all have that inner diva who still wants attention on some level. I noticed that as I was pumping away on the treadmill I couldn’t help but let my eyes wander to the heavy sweater next to me. At what speed was his treadmill set? Was I faster? Did he notice? Look, I’m faster. And I’ve been on here longer.

Out of left field. I wanted him – a random, middle-aged, slightly chubby man – to be impressed by my speed. Ignoring the fact that there were at least 10 people actually running that were way more impressive. I have no idea what this guy even looks like. I don’t know his story. I didn’t care. Did he notice and was he impressed?


Of course I let that realization ping all over my frenetic mind coming up with all sorts of conclusions and ridiculous speculation. Who was I now, if not the strong, confident woman who didn’t care what others thought? But the fact remained that, of course I care what people think of me. It’s the human condition. If we don’t care what they think we look like, we want them to think we are smart or funny or have some other unique skill or trait that makes us completely unique.

The way we dress, talk, spend our money and our time all tell others something about us. This does not necessarily make us narcissistic, but human. How we look, what we say and how we say it is how we find each other. It’s how we relate.

The less we get caught up in the story we’re trying to convey to the world, the more likely we are to find those whose energy is a match for our own. Trying hard to convince others we are a certain way covers our authenticity and creates false impressions. The more we relax with who we are, the more peace we have. The more our true selves and authentic uniqueness can shine.

Dropping the masks and facades takes time. Lots of time and lots of practice.

For me, the realization was helpful. In truth, they all are, some are just harder to swallow. It showed me there is much work to be done. Continuing to let go through practices like yoga nidra, yoga and meditation. Continuing to be aware of these realizations and allowing space for them.

And apparently continuing to use the treadmill. At any speed.


SHC IMG_7067It was recently suggested to a group of yoga teachers I was with that it is our calling to help liberate others. Many are called. They become yoga teachers and scholars, yoga nidra facilitators, Reiki masters, counselors, ministers and leaders of all sorts. But when you are told this and it hits your gut with such a fierceness that it brings tears to your eyes, you know you are on the right track. 

Let me clarify. The liberation spoken of is from our preconceived notions about ourselves, our negative self talk, our victimhood. And while I believe no one can really free another, I know it is possible to help lift the veil of illusion just enough for someone to see their own perfection. I have seen it over and over again.

The rub for me has been a disconnect. I get it. Intellectually. My mind loves this stuff, it nods vigorously in agreement. Then it sets about to disprove it or pick it apart to  try to really understand it. To get it. There must be more. It creates problems out of this one principle just so it can solve them. And when it can’t solve them it takes me to the couch with a bag of potato chips and the remote. There must be a hole in the theory. We’ll figure it out from here.

I get it. And then I forget it.

I love to teach. Almost anything. But I especially love to teach yoga and yoga nidra. I love the way people look after a class. They have accessed something so deep that most of them aren’t able to articulate it. But they know where they got it so they come back. It’s not me.  I didn’t do this for them, I just held the space for them to explore. They allowed themselves to drop into that place where the veil got a little more transparent.

This is all beautiful. But I have been moving away from teaching lately preferring instead to work on my art. A fine choice. I love creating art; painting, photographing, cut paper designs, jewelry, coloring, it doesn’t matter, I love it all. The problem lies in the reason behind the shift from teaching to art.

I wasn’t even really aware why or what that was until this past weekend. Several very skilled teachers were able to help me with that veil thing. The disconnect for me is this: How can I teach yoga and yoga nidra if I’m not practicing it? Up to now I always thought that meant physically getting on my mat striking a couple of poses then lying in savasana for yoga nidra. Part of it. Maybe.

What I got while I was salsa walking on the treadmill to Gypsy Kings yesterday was this: How can I teach liberation, how can I help free others when I am still in a cage imprisoned by my own negative self talk? By my own lack of respect for the vehicle, the physical form that I was given? By the act of self-flagellation on an energetic level?

I have gotten this concept before. It’s an old, worn idiom: Practice what you preach. But now? I. Get. It.

I do not have to be a size 2 to teach yoga. I do not have to be pious to help others find peace. I do not have to juice and starve myself to help others get healthy. BUT, for me, when I am physically practicing yoga and yoga nidra; when I am at the gym early in the morning revving my metabolism and shining my sparkle; when I am eating clean; I FEEL free. I am an expression of that which I am teaching. I am a clear channel. And people get it faster. They don’t have to work as hard.

So in the first day of this new challenge, this ginormous truth has been revealed to me. My goal, yes goal, is to dissolve the cage by being what I am teaching. It is a prison of my own construction so there is no need to look outside of myself. The journey is inward.

Rising Again

forest IMG_3750

I just completed an intensive training the trainer training (got that?) for Yoga Nidra. It was amazing, intense, awesome, beautiful, grueling, revealing and a tremendous gift. Out of this training an unspoken challenge was issued: “Do yoga nidra everyday; it will change your life, you already know this.” And so I am prepared to accept this challenge because it has in fact changed my life. The effects are undeniable. I’m relaxed and I come from a space of peace rather than reaction perched white knuckled on my edge. I am able to be highly productive without stress. It’s magic. And I’ve let it go.

Let’s recap. Back in October I issued myself a 21 day challenge to live a more enchanted life and I identified 5 activities needed to clear the way for this to happen: yoga, yoga nidra, writing, photographing all once daily and the gym a couple times a week. I nailed the challenge then let it all go the next day. Yep. Moment of truth. I could speculate on all the reasons why, but the fact is I just stopped. As much as I wanted it to be a lifestyle change and not a “goal,” it turned into the latter. I achieved it. Done. Slowly one by one I’ve added them all back in. First the writing, then the yoga, etc. And that feels good.

In addition to Yoga Nidra, I have been asked to assist in another yoga teacher training and another 21 consecutive days of yoga has been requested of me.

Then there is a little memoir contest I have decided to enter so it seems writing daily would be a good idea.

On top of all this, I will be heading to India in, ready for this, 21 days and the Swami guiding the tour has asked all of us to commit to a daily yoga and meditation practice so we are prepared for the same once we’re on the other side of the globe.

Here’s the thing; when I did this challenge the first time I basically let go of EVERYTHING else. I went to work, I taught, I did what was asked of me, but 99% of my focus and energy was on the challenge. I was on a little vacation from my life and it was awesome! When I completed the challenge I had to play catch up, putting me in the same situation I was in before: not enough time for all of it. Or, more honestly, maybe a misguided assessment of my priorities.

So this time, and yes I will be doing this again, it feels different. I will add these things in, on top of the work that I currently do, rather than replacing it. I will create priorities out of some aspects of the challenge and allow space for others. I know it’s possible.

Here’s the challenge: yoga nidra  and writing daily. Yoga and Gym as often as I can. Which is to say I will do some sort of physical exercise daily, I’m just not going to be militant as to what. As I write this I don’t feel the same sense of urgency or excitement I did before, and I think maybe that’s good. Instead, there’s a quiet determination and a sense of calm confidence. I’ve got this.

A few days after the last challenge when it was clear to me that I had slipped into the to-do list abyss, I was feeling a sense of failure and berating myself for undoing it all. But I didn’t undo anything. I simply stopped doing all of it at once and brought each component back in as I felt the need. All the work I had done was valid. It helped. It was time well spent.

My life is still enchanted, magic happens everyday. I didn’t need to do all those things daily to create an environment for enchantment to arise. I did need to do the challenge to reveal to me that I already had an enchanted life. I only had to recognize it.

I also believe anytime I am moving a little farther down the continuum of  self care and self love; honoring the vehicle I have been gifted, it is always a win.

So I will rise to the challenge again with curiosity and an appreciation of the experiences. I’ll post daily as before for those who want to follow along or create their own challenges. Please share your challenges and ideas with me, and we can grow together.

[Photo: Salt Springs, Florida. Deep in the Ocala National Park where pine trees sing like running water.]

Foggy Hawk Tawk

Hawk IMG_3544

I thought I was going to the springs. The manatees are usually lolling about in large numbers in January and I love to capture their grace on film. But it was foggy, and I love fog, so I set out on foot through my neighborhood instead.

There’s an area of green space on my way to the duck pond that the deer sometimes frequent. It was too late for that, but the fog that hovered over the tiny creek that bends around a stand of palms looked mystical and poetic. I could imagine whole stories springing from that one little scene.

As I approached the duck pond it was close to deserted. A pair of mallards and a single snowy egret had it all to themselves. Over time a few more ducks, a loon and a red-billed black bird with the most enormous yellow feet showed up.

Pretty standard fare made a little more magical with the fog. I snapped a couple of photos then began to meander back.

“It would be so great to see a hawk” I thought. Just then, seriously, just then, I notice something swoop from one tree to another. It’s a hawk.

Hawks and I have a thing. They show up when I ask them to and even when I don’t. At times the appear because I need them to, but didn’t know I did. They will pose for me as long as I don’t impede their mealtime efforts.

Today I was gifted two. I think they were mother and child because they perched briefly together on the same branch and seldom do birds of prey do that unless there is a lesson in progress.

As I slowly tiptoed around underneath them to get the sun at my back, the mom flew a short distance away. She chose the top of the tennis court fence. The hawklet remained on the branch to pose for me.

The mother began to squawk, shortly after I watched the little one perk up and begin to respond. No one moved, including me, although I kept shooting away. There’s nothing quite so powerful as the call of a bird right in front of you.

Once they finished their conversation I attempted to get closer to mom. I was able to capture her in mid-sentence once or twice before the pair of mallards let out a huge quack right behind me sending mom away.

I turned my attention back to the hawks in time to see mom just clear the top of the branch where her young one had stayed perched, as if to say, “Come on, let’s go.” Together they flew off to continue the lesson with less human involvement.

As I walked home I could hear them across the street, hidden skillfully in a large stand of trees. I smiled in their direction, thanking them for sharing their time with me and delivering the message my soul was longing to hear.

According to Native American medicine, hawk is the Messenger. It is the big picture seer. I have always been a big picture person, preferring to work backwards from the grand vision to fill in the details.  When I am feeling churlish or agitated it is usually because I have lived too long with the minutia. I am mired in bits and pieces that often seem unrelated and messy. Hawk is a reminder to let the details go for a while and look up. The sky is the ultimate big picture, open and full of possibilities. And every now then I get lucky and a hawk soars through it.

Future Self

Dragonfly awesomeIMG_7743

It was sometime during the afternoon yesterday that I met my future self. Not the perfect, slim, wrinkle-free, jet-setting, rich one of my over-fertile imagination. I met the settled, comfortable in her own skin, deep smile lined, glowing with a secret, one. I much prefer her. She’s the type of person I’d like to have coffee with. She was in a word: Enchanting.

She told me a million magical things in the nanosecond she was before me. It was all familiar. I already knew it all, I had simply forgotten.

I had forgotten that the weight of the world does not depend on the tiny little decisions I make every day. That my path was strong, that I knew the way and it was okay to deviate and explore because all roads led back to that path. That I am beautiful beyond measure, not because my eyes are blue, not because I have expensive shoes but because in spite of those things there’s a radiance that, if I let it out, cannot be articulated or seen, only felt.

She reminded me that all people are made of energy so we are each the same. At times we take the energy of another; at times we give our energy to those in need and when we meet someone we resonate with on the same frequency we are shown our own magnificence and we are duty bound to recognize it. To deny one’s gifts depletes one’s energy. Embrace that which makes you shine.

Above all she reminded me to stop struggling. Allow the pendulum to rest. Bask in just being. Allow the world to enchant me. If I wait patiently a dragonfly will land on my dress, the wind will blow.

And finally she shared her deepest, fiercest, unconditional love for me, for where I am, for who I am and for who I would become. She reminded me that she is me. That without love for myself, unconditional love, it is impossible to love another unconditionally. It can be no other way.

To recall her, what she looked like, would be a struggle, but her light was undeniable. My light. She was probably somewhere in her mid to late seventies. I was. But it was not her age or any identifiable features she wanted to share with me. Her message clear.

All I have to do to get there, is be here.