Three for Three

Here we go!

We have the opportunity to hit the reset button the first of every month, the beginning of each new day, even the top of each inhalation, yet somehow flipping the page from one year to the next creates in us the need for an entire life makeover.

I get it. I’m in that boat. Every year. It’s the possibility of change, of an updated version of the me I already like with better features; more energy, an easier smile and less stress.

But are we just kidding ourselves? Am I just kidding myself? Again?

Maybe. Yet the exercise, the review, the hope seem like a really good thing, so I persist.

Nothing really ever goes exactly according to plan, yet we plan. This year is no different. But hopefully it is. Hopefully I will stop breaking promises to myself, stop lying to myself and trust that way more intelligent higher self within me. She’s inexhaustible and patient. She sits quietly by while all the crazy lower selves run around in circles convincing me that one more glass of wine is not going to hurt anything, that gluten is fine for me taken in small doses – like two or three cookies at a time – that sugar has been around forever so it can’t be all bad and that going for that walk tomorrow makes more sense than getting off the comfy couch right now.

She’s waiting. I’m ready to hang out with her now.

That band of lazy, chaotic pranksters needs to be put in their place. So, we, my higher self and I, are going to employ some different tactics this year.

Quick Reader’s Digest version of a familial backstory here that has led to this “new” system: My brother and I are a lot alike in our desire to be better, do better and take better care of ourselves. We want to better ourselves and the world. We chat ad nauseum about such things. And sometimes we actually do them. This year though, we decided to create a structure in which to give ourselves a better chance for success. And a way to hold each other accountable. It’s based on not a single stitch of personal research, it is instead based on our desire to improve and the subliminal messages of millions of hours spent reading the books, and listening to the podcasts of, those who seem to have cracked the personal best life mastery code. So here goes…

Three things in three months. Three for Three. To be repeated each quarter. Different goals each quarter, same system.

We each have a list of those practices we’d like to add in to our lives and a list of items or practices we’d like to eliminate. In addition, we’re both entrepreneurial so there are some business benchmarks we’d also like to hit.

We’ve learned through trial and [mostly] error that we’re not so good at this, and that attempting a clean sweep of all the bad and adding a dump truck load of all the good all at once is not only nearly impossible, but also not recommended. On the other side of the coin, choosing a moderate path just seems to find us wandering back into the same bad habits full of colorful excuses. And the ‘let it go and just be’ tactic trips us up as well. Although there is a component of that in this plan.

Let me explain. We need structure. This is a royal we so you’re included here. When we automate certain positive habits, we have more time for creative pursuits because we are spending less time stressing about what we should be doing. Think: brushing your teeth. You just automatically do that. As a kid you may have whined, bargained and drug your feet on the way to the bathroom sink, but now you get it and it’s a natural part of your day. THAT’S what we’re going for here.

To make it easier (we hope), we created three categories under which to place three of the changes we wanted to make in each three month time block.

  • Assimilate: Folding a good habit or practice into your day – pick one and commit to it for three months. Weave it into your life. Every day.
  • Eliminate: Choose one unhelpful habit or item, kick it to the curb and commit to its absence for three months. Every day.
  • Dominate: These are achievable business/personal goals. They differ in that there will be an end point; something measurable. Pick one commit to it for three months. Work it every day.

Here’s where I’m starting:

Assimilate: Morning practice. What does this look like? A combination of meditation, breath work and yoga. Some days it may be 10 minutes, others may be 2 hours. The time is way less important than the commitment to the daily practice.

Eliminate: I want to pick all the gremlins, but I am settling on alcohol. No one needs alcohol and when we hang out together we eat poorly and stay up too late. She’s fun and all, but we’re gonna take a break.

Dominate: Daily writing. Not journaling, but actual writing. Book pages, blogs, articles, etc. This is more on the personal than business side, but it’s been a struggle to get me to sit down and focus in front of my screen on the daily. Now it’s a priority. The measurable part? 1,000 words a day. Maybe that book will finally reveal itself.

The idea here is if the habit just isn’t sticking after three months I can let it go guilt-free and move on to the next three for three. If it sticks, great, it’s automated and it continues without much thought and I still move on to the next three.

The rest of the list? It’s long and includes things like no snacking, planting a food garden, 10,000 steps a day and consuming lots of water.

I’m hoping along the path of this journey I will stumble upon my keystone habit; that one habit that shifts everything and all those lists and plans simply fall into place. I’ll keep you informed.

How about you? How do you plan to love yourself back to health this year?

 

Biyee, Bee-ach

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There was a time when I would scoff at the notion of a whole year being bad. I would internally roll my eyes and externally offer Pollyanna platitudes on the unlikelihood that a whole year could be bad. “A year is just time,” I’d say as I would tilt my head just so and bat my eyelashes. “Time is neutral.”

That is true. And time, like everything else, is made good, bad or neutral by our perceptions.

My perception is 2017 is crap. There. I said it. Pollyanna is withering in the corner like a forgotten houseplant. However, with a little water and sunshine, she’ll be back. She’s tenacious. She is simply incubating, hibernating. I feel she has big plans.

To review, you may recall I came out guns blazing for the GIANT PURGE. I started the year counting all my things, tossing bags of things away, taking multiple trunk loads of things to charities and selling some other things. I was disgusted with everything I had accumulated and equally proud of my recent ‘stuff’ enlightenment.

Then a phone call at the end of January shifted everything. My mother was found unconscious in her home and had been transported to a hospital. She had had a massive brain bleed from which she could not and would not recover. Her passing was peaceful, but sudden. Her death likely caused by the medication meant to keep her alive. A known side effect.

Death is a known side effect of life, after all.

While trying to manage my grief – that’s a joke by the way, grief has its own agenda – I was also now tasked with managing her service and her stuff. She was on the edge of hoarding. She did not buy useless trinkets and appliances she would not use, but fabrics, yarn, beads, and crafting supplies she had big plans for. She owned hundreds of books (as do I) and had stacks of magazines that doubled as end tables. Baskets full of crystals, motivational and affirmation cards, CDs and sticky notes everywhere.  Now it was all mine. A two-bedroom apartment two hours away full of her stuff and some family memories. And her life.

Was this a cosmic joke? I decide to purge and now I have an additional whole house to deal with?  It wasn’t so funny. I would learn in the 11 months to follow that the Universe has a very wicked sense of irony. But it’s all for my growth, right?

To summarize:

  • A mentally ill cheeto gets sworn in as president and my mother checks out.
  • It is left to me to sort, keep, purge and organize her stuff, her service and my own grief
  • A planned trip to India to take others began with a hotel fire in Delhi. Like the hotel I was in.
  • Larry (the hubs) begins suffering from serious insomnia. It gets much worse.
  • Bills for my mother are still pouring in. I don’t have to pay them. I can ignore them. Only I can’t. There seems to be some sort of urgency to them.
  • There are countless doctor’s appointments, reiki and acupuncture for Larry that I have to schedule and drive him to because he is tired and dizzy. Nothing seems to be working.
  • My anniversary is forgotten. And I angrily don’t care.
  • He’s out of work. Short-term disability. A planned trip to Europe is looking threatened in the face of his malaise. I assemble a team of helpers and decide to leave. I need to leave. I have not had any space to myself for months and I’m at a breaking point.
  • While in Berlin we hear news of a little disturbance in the Atlantic named Irma. Shit. I did not return until two days after she marched across my state. There was quite a bit of physical and mental clean-up to contend with. I felt I had to make amends for not being there.
  • Anxiety is a new side effect of the insomnia. More doctor’s appointments, less sleep.
  • Thanksgiving is at risk, the holidays are becoming more stressful.
  • Christmas parties become the impetus for arguments and ramped up anxiety, decorations are delayed and the Christmas Spirit is hiding somewhere in the attic. I have gained 15 pounds in the last four months.

Instead of releasing all my stuff to create more space, both physical and mental, I was given more. More actual things to go through, more situations to navigate, more challenges.

Be careful what you wish for.

But here’s the thing: there is always beauty and magic. One year can be defining, it can be difficult. One incident in the year cannot define it. The beating down every time I got back up, the ground shifting underneath me as soon as I felt stable – that can define a year. But more importantly it can define me.

Growth is messy and hard. It sucks. Can I just say that? I’m in the business of growth and self-development and it sucks. And it’s necessary. And it’s beautiful.

Here’s the other side:

  • I am reminded of my abundance by the things I have in my home. I am grateful for all of it even as I release it.
  • The loss of my mother brings with it the love and appreciation of so many whose lives were touched by her. I am able to be with her things and in her home and to take as long as I need thanks to an understanding landlord on her end and amazing business partners and friends on mine.
  • I get to go back to my spiritual home with my friend Karin, and actually take new people to share it. I meet a Vedic astrologer named Mustang Jack who told me what I already knew but was afraid to embrace. I get to see my Indian friends and be soothed by the rush of the healing waters of the Ganges.
  • After India my journey continued with Karin to Spain where we drank delicious wine, watched flamenco dancers and took trains to amazing places.
  • A little overnight trip for my birthday took the hubs and I to a remote island with white sandy beaches where we sat silently together to witness a stunning sunset.
  • The insomnia and whatever else was going on created space and opportunity for real, honest and meaningful conversations between Larry and I.
  • I boarded a plane to Switzerland alone and spent three glorious, healing days finding my own way through two cities and wandering along riverbanks before joining a friend.
  • My friend Sarah met me in Zurich and we traveled to Berlin, Prague, Salzburg and Munich taking in the culture, architecture and food. I got to see the Fred and Ginger building live and in person!
  • My brother booked a flight to come for Christmas.
  • People are coming out of the woodwork that have suffered through insomnia or anxiety or both to offer support and advice to Larry. He’s not alone.
  • Friendsgiving. Amazing food, awesome friends, laughter and intimate conversations under warm low light
  • My brother, niece and son were all here for the holidays. We drank a lot, ate a lot and played reindeer games.

All in all it was just a year. The waves were higher, the water more turbulent. But stormy skies make way for the best sunsets. I learned more about myself through these challenges and some of it was not pretty. At all. But I believe I did purge. I was able to peel away some of the layers of pretense and armor.

I didn’t often ask for help, mostly space, but everyone I considered a friend offered so much support and love and even those I didn’t know that well became little lights in the darkness through their kindnesses.

It was just a year. It’s all perspective.

As I write this on January 1, 2018, it is raining, cold and windy. That feels somehow appropriate. Cleansing. Preparing for the journey ahead that will be this year.

 

Lone Wanderer

  
Today after a 12 hour journey or so I landed in the gray and rainy Swiss metropolis of Zurich.  During those long hours on a couple of flights I somehow relaxed enough for all the stress I had been so valiantly suppressing to  gush forward in the form of a perpetually running faucet of a nose. No matter.
Upon arriving at the airport I was to find my way to the Stadelhofen train station. Ok, was my response, I’ll figure it out. And I did. I have come to learn that the bonus side of my sometimes troublesome curiosity is awareness.

I. Notice. Everything. 

I dutifully followed signs to train/bahn, then found the info lady and finally the ticket man. I guessed at the right track 4, asked a woman who only spoke Portuguese a question she did not understand, therefor couldn’t answer about the train currently idling on the track and took my chances hopping through the open door, while swiping at my nose. I confirmed with a suspected heroin addict that this particular train went in the direction I intended and took a seat. 

Four stops later I was spat out into the wet, cool air. My Airbnb host was there awaiting me and even took my bag. A carry-on only if I may boast. For two weeks. We walked a few blocks, took an elevator better suited for one small child with a chihuahua to the fourth floor and entered the apartment.

Spacious, comfortable, on a park and a fraction of even the least expensive hostel. Switzerland is pricey. He showed me around then left. 

I arranged a few things, poked around the kitchen then fell into bed with the windows open and the rain pounding away outside. An hour later I was refreshed enough to cross the street to the grocery store. I wanted to explore more but the rain and this annoying sieve of a nose caused me to pump the brakes. For an hour or so. 

As I was getting ready to leave again, I heard the familiar sound of pedals striking strings. Piano music was seeping through the walls giving me that delicious feeling of being part of something. Life was happening here. Cities have always been my comfort zone, I like the idea of knowing there are stories happening all around me simultaneously and maybe even intertwined. We are all connected after all.

As I made my way down the wide concrete stairs that belonged more to a 1930’s office building than a 5 story apartment building, I noticed other bits of stories. The occupant directly below me had two umbrellas leaning again the wall next to their door, a little further down one occupant had placed a big lace heart on their door and finally at the bottom, a chiropractic office.

Outside more than a dozen bikes sat in a row unlocked and unconcerned. The park was glistening bright green and a mother stood by while her child rode a hobby horse even in the rain.

I wandered to Starbucks. I know, but it’s a little bit of grounding that feels like a permission slip to explore freely. After that I took any side street that interested me with the intention of making my way to the water. I watched the good citizens of Zurich for traffic and street crossing clues, wished I had an umbrella and took note of stores and restaurants to explore later. 

The waterfront was beautiful and mystical shrouded in low hanging clouds. Solitary joggers and residents on bikes passed me by on the walkway arcaded with these magical trees. Occasionally a pair of friends would stroll by peeking outfrom under  their umbrellas to be sure the other understood the point they were trying to make.

There was a bridge in the near distance that was pulling me but I had to resist. I had to get into dry clothes and blow my nose. I had to check my powers of observation and recall to see if I could find my way back without soaking my phone to check Google maps. I did. No problem. Even managed to duck into a different grocery store for a medicinal bottle of wine.

Day 1 in the books. Tomorrow promises the same weather but I think I may find my way to Lake Lucerne. Back to the train platform to the train station to navigate farther south then hoof it around the sweet lake town. But we’ll see.

White Space

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I have become a bit obsessed with stuff.

The mountain of papers, journals and other bits of detritus left behind by my mother has me wondering what compels people to keep what they do.

Both my husband and I have spaces in antique shops. His is full of books, lots and lots of books, as well as cool old ads and a few chatchkes. Mine is the result of some of my mother’s stuff. Nothing really of much value, but I couldn’t just toss it. In truth, most of her things ended up staying in her apartment for her neighbor or at a thrift store close to her home. What was left that didn’t occupy a sweet spot in my history went to the antique store.

To furnish these spaces we often attend estate sales and sometimes garage sales. I can tell a lot about the owners of these collections of things. What’s important to them, what fads they succumbed to, how old they likely are, where in the world they have been and of course their personal taste.

And I often wonder why they kept what they did. And why they bought it or how they got it.

What makes our stuff so important to us?

Every antique store I have been in has been stuffed to the rafters with memories left behind. Yet we are still manufacturing stuff at an alarming rate. Furniture is no longer meant to last longer than the trend that created it. Appliances and technology have built in obsolescence. There is no restaurant without a to-go option that usually requires materials that never bio-degrade. And everything needs accessories now.

It’s all just too much stuff.

Part of this year was to be about counting my things and releasing what I didn’t need or no longer used. I was hoping to get to a sort of baseline of things. X number of shirts and shoes, the perfect amount and blend of furniture, only books that are used for reference or are waiting to be read, nothing other than holiday decorations in storage. And even those are to be pared.

I don’t know that I’m truly up to the task. It all just makes me so tired.

My intentions are solid, but my resolve waivers from time to time. Part of the process I guess. I hope.

I don’t want to leave behind cryptic notes and journals filled with repetitive and never resolved thoughts, but I’m afraid I’ve already failed on the journal task.

When I travel abroad, I often stay in Airbnb apartments. Recently I rented a tiny two bedroom flat in Madrid. It was done entirely in Ikea with the exception of the rustic wood doors that covered the French doors. Everything was white with clean lines. There were maybe 8 “things” that served no real purpose, otherwise a small sofa, a tiny table and two chairs, a TV stand, a lamp. That was kind of it. It may sound more like a cell than an apartment but to me it was refreshing.

It was breathing space. Room to think. It helped tremendously that I was six time zones away from my stuff and the projects that await me, but it was also a glimmer into the way things could kinda-sorta be. To not have that tug that I should be doing something or something else other than what I’m doing. Just this. Just space.

Now whenever I am confronted by a box, or a pile of papers or even the garage (THE GARAGE!) I close my eyes and let my mind rest on all that clean, white, simple space.

It helps. The work continues.

Speaking of the Dead

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I was sitting in the back of the room with the other yoga nidra facilitators listening with half an ear to the teacher in the front. I can’t even tell you who it was. I don’t remember. In my distracted state, I cut my eyes toward the giant picture windows to my right – I do this often – and between the lush, old stately trees I could see the lake sparkling. A small hole between branches provided the perfect view of a cerulean blue sky and in that tiny hole a vulture soared.

Another one.

They are everywhere in Florida. They are everywhere, period. But they are in my awareness more than almost any other creature.

During this 10 day training I have entertained hoards. At one point, I was peacefully rocking myself back and forth on a swing, enjoying the breeze coming off the lake, lost in the lapping of the water against the shore; I leaned forward for some reason and when I looked up dozens of vultures were making their way across the sky above me. They were low enough for me to see the holes in their beaks and hear their wings flap as they gained purchase against the wind.

They kept coming. I was awestruck. I have never seen so many aloft at once.

I stood, as much as a salute to their humility and grace as to close the gap between us by another foot or two. I longed – long – for one to swoop down and sit beside me. They are clearly my animal totem and I simply adore them.

No matter when I looked up, during this ten-day training, they were there.

As I sat in the back of the room watching my friend soar effortlessly, I thought, “What are they trying to tell me?”

“Clean up your dead.” It was as if that single vulture had stopped, looked me in the eye with hands on hips and said, “Clean up your dead.”

The meaning simultaneously accompanied the words, yet I tried to analyze it, figure it out. It was an opportunity, in that moment, to simply say, “ok” and let it all go. But I needed to know more. I needed to figure out what my dead was. Which relationships, beliefs, habits was I supposed to let go of? How should I clean them out, how will I know if I have?

This gift that was handed to me became a light that revealed a pattern that doesn’t always serve me. Planting a thought in my brain then attaching a million other thoughts to it. Trying to figure things out.

Sometimes I just have to say ok. And so I did. Sort of.

I am using this command, ‘clean up your dead’ each time I find myself hooking into a thought pattern that isn’t serving me. I won’t catch them all and it will be a process of recognition and repetition until finally it’s not. But I’m committed.

And if I hold on a little too long to the dead weight, I have plenty of airborne friends around to remind me.

Just Do You. That is the Work.

 

17 Camel IMG_4050Daily Prompt: If money were out of the equation, would you still work? If yes, why, and how much? If not, why would you do with your free time?

I was asked this question a million years ago. And I have since turned this question on others. It’s a good one.

About 8 years ago I decided to put it to the test. I quit my job – one in a succession of failed career starts – and decided to become a holistic health coach. That lasted just a few years. But what it did for me was show me that I could do what I wanted and the money would come in. Or as Joseph Campbell said, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Sounds magical and all together impractical.

At the risk of sounding woo-woo, I now allow myself to be guided by – dare I say it? – the Universe. I have come to see all situations as teachable moments and guidance in one direction or another. I have never lacked food, housing, or transportation. In fact, I own my home, shop at Whole Foods (not every time, let’s be realistic) and drive a nice little Honda.

When I was younger I wanted certain things, specific markers of success: To live in New York City. Or maybe California. To travel the world, especially Paris. And have several homes. One definitely on the beach. All these things required a healthy salary, a particular status. I had to WORK for them, EARN them.

Then 8 years ago I decided to take my passion for natural health to the next level. I attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York. I went just for me, but came away with an optional new career and possibly a whole new life.

I became a holistic health coach. As a health coach many of my clients inquired if I taught yoga when I suggested they try it. I did not. But that changed. I now saw the next step on my path.

When I began to study yoga, the philosophy in particular, I felt I had finally found the belief system that contained within it all that I had cobbled together for myself from various religions and philosophies. Now it had a name. And I was home.

In its teachings I learned to  lean back. I have learned to trust the process of life. I have cultivated compassion and I am free to look at the world through the lens of enchantment and wonder.

Now, when I reframe all those markers of success, I see that I have achieved them all.

– While attending IIN in New York City I had to be there 12 weekends over 16 months. I rented an apartment with a friend for just those weekends. We shopped for food, ate in the apartment, went out to dinner, wandered the streets. I lived in New York City.

– My brother has lived in southern California for over 10 years. I visit him a few times each year. I drive his car. I pick up groceries. I take my niece to the park. We go to the beach. I have made friends there. I have lived in California.

– During all this yoga stuff, the guru I was studying with (and still am) was taking a group of people to India. It was never on my list of places to go, but suddenly I had to go. He was 80 and I didn’t know if I’d have another chance. I went for 3 weeks. Then I went back the year after with a different swami, and on the way played in London for three days. Then this past July a friend flew me on a private jet to the Bahamas where we played on the beach. I have begun to travel the world.

– I have several friends with houses on the beach and I am free to stay in them whenever they’re not occupied. I have a friend with a cabin in the mountains, same thing. I have several homes.

When I let go of the need to work for these things and just leaned back, everything that was to be materialized. Everything I had asked for showed up. Just not as I expected it. I could have missed it completely.

Today I own a yoga studio – another gift – and I write and I take pictures and when I have free time, you know, between 3:15 – 4:45 AM, I make some jewelry. My life is truly enchanted.

I haven’t worked a day in the past 8 years. I do what I love – all of it – and I am taken care of.

 

A Different Kind of Light

 

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Daily Prompt: You’ve been given the ability to build a magical tunnel that will quickly and secretly connect your home with the location of your choice — anywhere on Earth. Where’s the other end of your tunnel?

Less than two years ago I found my soul’s home. It may not be its only home, I am a Gemini after all. But when I stepped out of the bus onto the streets of Udaipur, India, something in me shifted. I was at once grounded and lighter.

The town itself is built around a huge man-made lake. There are whole buildings; hotels, restaurants and palatial estates rising up from its center. The narrow streets can barely accommodate a car, causing pedestrians to press themselves against a building or duck into a store. A foot bridge crosses the lake at  a narrow point, a welcoming café at either end.

There is Indian life here, dogs roaming the streets, temples full of devotees to various deities, open air markets and street food. But there is something else at work. There is a presence, a light.

I suppose my tunnel would place me at the bottom of an uneven staircase leading to a rooftop café, four or so stories up. Here I spent several days both at dusk and at dawn, sipping chai, deep in rich and sometimes frivolous conversation. The whole city was within my 360 view, the white buildings shimmering as the sun began its decent, the warm glow of interior lights taking its place.

During sunrises those same buildings turned light pink and purple until the sun made its way high into the sky. Its whole purpose to dance on the water below.

Even writing this I am transported back to that rooftop. I can see the foot bridge, I remember the chai wallah who took order then sat down with friends, seeming to forget about us. I recall the walk there, the people we’d ask for advice or direction, the easy smiles and gentle ways.

Yes, this is the other side of my tunnel. It’s where I would go every morning for tea and as the sun rose over the lake I would close my eyes absorbing the Muslim prayers broadcast throughout the city.

Magic Wand Optional

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The Daily Prompt: A literary-minded witch gives you a choice: with a flick of the wand, you can become either an obscure novelist whose work will be admired and studied by a select few for decades, or a popular paperback author whose books give pleasure to millions. Which do you choose?

Does anyone write to become obscure? Certainly not in the I-want-to-be-published kind of way. Obscurity is earned by spending tormented hours hunched over journals made of parchment, struggling to get the thoughts to coalesce on paper. Obscurity is found work, not intentional.

Yet secretly all who journal or write for themselves, have the fantasy of their heart’s pourings being found and made into an art film, I suspect. Or maybe that’s my notion alone.

My mission with my writing and photography is to ‘Share the Magic.’ It’s not that my point of view is so fresh or that my word combinations are unique. It’s not that my photos are technically brilliant. It’s just that I write and that I take pictures and then I share.

At present two books are hovering in fieri; one on finding the magic in the every day and the other my quirky recounting of two trips to India. I am so enjoying the process that it becomes unthinkable at times to finish either one.

I am inspired to drop everything and go look for dragonflies or how the ripples on the lake catch the sun as I tweak and retweak the magic book. Diving back into India is like crawling into crisp cool sheets and leaning back onto a nest of comfy pillows; I am immediately transported to the dreamlike existence of the mother land.

These distractions do not necessarily speak to the eloquence with which I write, but more to the ideas I am choosing to foster and bring forth. I am in love with these projects.

It seems that neither category offered by our literary witch would suit my endeavors. Although paperback does not automatically denote fiction. Perhaps a popular paperback author could fit. After all it’s my intention to share the magic and why not to millions? If millions of people could stop for a moment and consider the beauty and enchantment that surrounds them every day, might they make different choices? I hope one day soon I’ll find out.

Read other’s responses to the prompt here.

Feeling Groovy

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I have not yet fallen into the groove of my life. You know, that comfortable, yet active, relaxed state. Leaning back into life, open and ready but not anxious. Available for the next moment by being present in this one.

I feel it must exist. I have friends who seem to be there, but then that’s my perception. I think I’ve even been there, dipped my toe in on occasion, only I just recognize it as somewhere I’ve been, I don’t catch it in the moment. Perhaps that’s by design. If I notice I’m in it, will that take me out of it? Yearning to recreate it, missing the present once again?

My imagined groove goes a little something like this:

I wake up smiling and refreshed at 5 am. I brew myself a cup of organic free-trade coffee, add a dash of organic cinnamon, raw sugar and organic half and half. I take mug, that I purchased from an extremely talented struggling potter, full of this morning brew, on the deck of my modest ocean front home, or the balcony of my 12th floor upper west side apartment in New York City. Of course I could be traveling, probably I am, so maybe it’s a chai on the rooftop of a 5 story walk up somewhere fabulous in India or a steaming cup of tea in a coffee shop in London. Whatever the case, I am armed with gentle caffeine and settled into a chair, facing east, with my journal and pen, ready to watch the sun rise and let go of thoughts that may be bouncing around creating havoc.

Then I go work out, because I love to, usually dance or some other high energy sweat-making movement. Come home, shower eat a breakfast of organic goat’s milk yogurt with organic granola and a banana from my own tree (why not?).

Refreshed, fed and ready to go, I am at my desk at 9 AM ready and waiting for inspiration to flow through me, which it always does. Sometimes I write, sometimes I edit photos or create photo cards, other times I make jewelry.

I stop for lunch. Something delicious, nutritious and organic, no doubt.

Ok, so this is my groove. The rest of the day just naturally unfolds into a glorious evening of meaningful conversations with great friends back on that deck or balcony. We talk about consciousness and ways to make the world a better place. We share what we’re working on creatively and our processes. We plan to go to gallery openings and take trips together. Maybe we’re drinking naturally decaffeinated organic tea grown since the 6th century, that someone has just brought back from their recent trip to China. Or perhaps a new Malbec from a friend in Argentina. Jazz plays in the background. It’s a band we know personally. Or maybe one of us is sitting quietly plucking the strings of an acoustic guitar, creating on the spot.

The flaw in this scenario? When do I get to eat too much of the wrong thing? Where do I fit in Orange is the New Black? Where’s the struggle that make success sweet?

Truthfully I would be totally okay with this groove. I don’t need to create struggle anymore.  I know enough people who do and they don’t age well. They don’t see that they have a choice. Struggling is a choice. Suffering is truly optional – a state of mind. It’s in their perception. A wise teacher, Yogi Amrit Desai once said something like, “Wanting things to be different than they are is our only problem.”  Acceptance of anything is the key. You cannot change something you refuse to accept, it doesn’t exist.

And so, I accept that I need to move, write, be creative and tromp through wildlife to snap photos. I also accept that I’m in my groove more often than not. I have sipped excellent coffee from ocean front decks, high rise balconies in New York, Chai on rooftops in India and tea in coffee shops in London. I write. I move. I create. I have done all of these things.

It is in those moments that I feel disconnected and outside that I need only remember that this too is part of my groove. It is the recognition of the present moment that is indeed the groove.

[Photo: The magnificent city of Udaipur, India.]

Super Powers for Sale

Bahamas 04 IMG_3079

In our ever-evolving world it’s no longer necessary to be born with your super powers; they can be purchased and even financed. Once acquired it is difficult to let them go. Fortunately upgrades are usually available.

So what’s always within arms reach?

The romantic side of me wants to tell you it’s my camera I can’t live without. The ego side of me wants you to believe I have a yoga mat slung over my shoulder every waking moment. Sadly, I believe the truth of it might be a bit more mundane, pedestrian.

My super powers are in my phone. There, I said it, but before you judge (those of you that aren’t woefully nodding in agreement) allow me to elaborate.

I, like so many, rarely use my phone for actual conversations anymore, succumbing to the efficiency of the text. I am also fortunate enough to work in a pseudo-retail environment where I have ample human contact on a daily basis. And it’s a yoga studio, so it is 99.999% pleasant and uplifting.

Instead, I use my phone for other communicative conveyances. I take copious photos – it is much more comfortable in my pocket than let’s say my digital SLR with its telephoto lens. I blog – it’s true – the whole time I was in India in February I would recount the day’s events on my tiny little screen, squinting, backspacing and correcting auto-correct, just to get the memories down. It wasn’t ideal, but it was efficient and a lot more portable than my laptop.

I manage a few Facebook pages. Phone. Check.

I schedule events and clients. Phone. Check.

I have to-do lists, too many. Phone. Check.

I have passwords that need managing. When did this become a thing? Phone. Check.

I don’t wear a watch. Phone. Check.

I don’t have an alarm clock. Dogs, first, but when away…Phone. Check.

But like all super powers I too have my kryptonite: no wifi. After my brain empties completely and I stare blankly at the lovely person who meant no disrespect upon informing of such, I take a deep breath and look around. I have learned to use Notes or Evernote and pre-blog my musings, thereby pacifying my need to connect in that moment. Or, I meander wherever I am and snap photos. See? Magic. Powers restored.

I suppose if I were a recluse I could live without my phone. Or use it, you know, as a phone. But if Dorothy had never left Kansas she wouldn’t have needed those sparkly red shoes either. And neither one of us would have any stories to tell.

So, back on the road, finding every day enchantments to photograph and write about, I bring along my little digital world. But don’t worry, it’s all backed up to the cloud, so should I *gasp* lose it I won’t lose it. My super power, that is.

Writing Prompt: Object Lesson. Sherlock Holmes had his pipe. Dorothy had her red shoes. Batman had his Batmobile. If we asked your friends what object they most immediately associate with you, what would they answer?

[Photo: Sunrise in Long Island, Bahamas with my iPhone 5S – Super]