Sunday, November 22, 2015

...for this I am grateful

Aaahhhhhhhhh………..   Two weeks of heart opening.  What a perfect way to step into the week of gratitude that lies ahead! 

Thanksgiving. The giving of Thanks.

Gratitude is an action.  A verb.  A conscious state of being.  And it all begins by bringing awareness to the heart. 

Roll your shoulders back.  Place your left hand over the center of your chest.  Put the right one on top.  Close your eyes and take five long slow breaths into this space.  Then bring to mind something or someone for whom you are grateful.  When you begin to feel the stirrings of gratitude energy (you will recognize it), breathe life into it.  Keep expanding it with the your breath until it no longer fits in the confines of the chest and you are vibrating at the frequency of gratitude.  Then send it out!  Glow.  BE GRATITUDE.

As I sit here and look around this room I feel gratitude for my books, yoga mat, the plants, and this pc that allows me to share my deepest inner feelings with all of you.  For my music, journal, rocks, oils, my plants and the small radiator that keeps me warm as the season changes.   The spectacular view from this room, my mala beads and my gnarly walking stick……….  I glow on them all.
As I look back over this one simple weekend I am grateful for the many women that shared a piece of themselves with me over the course of the day yesterday, each in a unique and special way. They are all a gift.  For the ability to rake leaves, and rake more leaves…..and more leaves, and how Phoebe allowed two dogs to play in the backyard with her at the same time.  For fabulous food, a fire which I can still smell on my jeans each time I lean over, and the moon as she rose and watched me from a crystal clear sky.  I glow on them all.
For my challenges I am grateful, for without them I would stand still.  For the sorrow I feel as I touch my heart, because without diving into its depths,  I could not fully live joy.  For those who make me uncomfortable as they are the ones who hold a mirror to my face.  Even for the coming of winter since without its stillness I know I wouldn’t make time to go within. 
But at this moment (which is the only moment that is real) I am most grateful to be me.  Exactly the way that I am.  Because I am…..just like each and every one of you….. perfect.
What is your gratitude list today?

Glowing on all of you,

Sunday, November 15, 2015

it's a's a's.........

We all know the story.  Clark Kent.  Raised in Smallville.  Normal shy awkward kind of guy, working his run of the mill job in journalism.  Fitting in with the masses, living a typical Kansas life. Not particularly noticeable.  Until……….

….there is danger.  A threat to society.  Good people suddenly in harm’s way.  He watches for a while from the sidelines but something within him stirs.  With each breath it expands, and along with it, the broadness of his chest.   Until finally he can no longer contain it – physically, mentally or emotionally.  He is literally bursting open at the seams.

His hands reach up and suddenly he is no longer Clark.  He is………
This is exactly how I feel whenever I work with the energy of the heart!

The element of air.  Our breath.  Our energy center for joy, sorrow, grief and love.  All the same.  All must be felt to be complete…to be human.  All who we truly are. They are our Superman inside. 

The heart energy is stirred when we open the upper body.  Back bending, shoulder opening, arm circles and complete full three part breaths.  Receiving breath first in the belly, then the ribs, then the chest where it makes more space for the heart.  The fire of light and heat we generated in the power plant of the belly, now rises and shines out through the heart.  Our spotlight! 

The more fully we breathe, the more fully we live. 

So whenever I do a week of heart classes I begin to feel as if the front of my chest has been removed.  That my heart energy is so vast and so bright it can no longer be contained within the small confines of my chest.  I feel like Superman…..but with a huge L for love on my chest!

I realized last night that I use my heart spotlight every Friday.  Before my bath I always hang out my bedroom window (which made me also realize that with screens, many people don’t have a window to ‘hang out’ of…….so consider having one window with no screen).  I put my whole upper body out, year round, and breathe the night air.  It feels great and freeing in all kinds of weather.  And then I spread my chest wide and send love to each of the 7 trees that encircle my backyard sanctuary.  My protectors.  Then to the animals of the night.  Then I shine on those I love near and far. Then to the Universe. 

And this Friday….to all of those in Paris. And to those who have built up so much hate and anger that they can take innocent lives without hesitation. 

We all have our Clark Kent costume. Mine is Xerox Major Account Contract Manager. Our mask. But at night….watch out. 

Be Superman this week.  Don’t let the love that lives in your soul stay safely at a simmer.  Draw the shoulders back, lift your heart and breathe with every fiber in your body so that the light becomes so bright it can’t be contained in your small self.  Reach up, rip open your costume and become love.  Shine it on everyone.  Everyone. Everything. Don’t discriminate.  Don’t judge.  Just shine.


Sunday, November 8, 2015 it hot in here?

The Universe is always keeping me on my toes…..and keeping me entertained.  As I lay in bed late Friday night my day flashed in front of me and I suddenly laughed out loud.

You may recall I made mention of the fact that when I jump into fire I have this tendency to go a little too far…….and I had made that observation about myself a mere week ago!  You might think that would have kept me mindful.  Oh no.

Our focus has been on the fire element for two weeks now.  A strong practice including work on the ever dreaded Chaturanga, several arm balances, leg lifts, standing split and of course a good round of screaming.  Finding our core and inner strength, and awakening that ‘I CAN’ energy….. and working up some good internal heat in the process. Over the last 14 days I have done that practice probably 15 times between teaching and my own personal practice.

In those very same weeks, it seems I also took a giant step forward in the transformative process of menopause.  The nightly hot flashes have begun in earnest.  Waking up mornings groggy with a slight headache.

So I taught my final fire class on Friday morning, which then turned out to be a freak 80 degree day in November.  Leaves falling and the need to change out of that long sleeve shirt.  An hour long warm lunch time walk in the sun with a good friend.  Five hours later finds me at my hot yoga class working on standing up from wheel pose in a 95 degree room.  Of course then followed by my Friday night hot bath.

By the time I was done I was engulfed in one long hot flash with the internal furnace roaring and my face flush with sweat.  I stood there and couldn’t imagine even putting my light cotton pajamas against my skin.  Window open wide and blankets removed, I lay down and see my day flash before my eyes.  Yes indeed, I had done exactly what I predicted.
Will I ever learn or is that ‘just how I am’?  I think I can learn…..and I believe these hot flashes are going to be one of my guides.

Saturday I take it easy since I will be hosting the 27th annual Lobsterfest dinner that evening– 10 of us who met when we were young and carefree that absolutely love to gather once a year.  I want to feel tip top.  Sleeping in, a leisurely walk and a cup of my red clover infusion.  Watchful as I get the house ready not to fall into that frantic running around phase, but instead moving slowly and mindfully.  Enjoying setting the table and reminding myself to exhale fully.  Feeling the cooling effects of being present with exactly what is.

Everyone arrives for our evening of great food, lots of hugs, catching up on the year and then some no holds barred dancing.  It is a blast.  At one point I step back to observe with the beat of the music pulsing through my body.  I  see everyone spread across our great room, arms in the air, feet and hips moving…..and once again we are young and carefree.  Completely open to that moment. Pure fun. Grounded and relaxed.  (So relaxed in fact, that I had forgotten to put the plates out on the table…..)

As I lay down Saturday evening, the hot flashes, although still present, were more of a simmer.  I was able to lay back this time, spread my arms wide and receive the gift.

This evening while the sun set I watched the fire I had built in my pit and it showed me that I am learning.

I’m hot,

Sunday, November 1, 2015

....a steady flame

I love when we work with the water element. It pulls me out of the day to day grind to experience more. Dropping from the thinking mind deep into the feeling mind. Moving my hips and tasting life.  It just plain feels good!

So it is always bittersweet for me when it is time in class to move up to Manipura, our fire center.  Once I begin to work with fire I tend to push. I get going and start doing too much, giving it my all until I am overheated, dry and tired. Trying to ‘make things happen’. 

But that is a fire that is raging and isn’t balanced and is so easy for us to fall into. Our true fire energy when it is refined and confident is a steady flame. It is sensual, bright and warming to the soul. When used properly it is our vision and intention sent out and then ‘allowed to happen’ because we have such a solid sense of self that we don’t feel the need to push.
I have never been comfortable with building fires. I always worried that either I wouldn’t be able to get it going or that it would roar out of control and cause damage. I didn’t trust it and would sit back and always let someone else take charge. I didn’t want to get burned.

But over these past two years the Universe has nudged me to place a fire circle on my property.  First I noticed the special energy I would feel whenever entering the area overlooking the woods. Next I had the vision of a circle there. I selected the rocks and began with a small above ground fire pit a neighbor was leaving behind. Then this year I felt drawn to have something more permanent and had a stone in ground fire pit built. Oh, uh.  Now I had to learn to build fires…..

I decided I needed to practice as this pit is about 3 feet deep.  Trying first by building the fire right on the stone floor with a lot of smoke, but little success. Dragging out the grate from the inside fireplace and using various log configurations. Walking through my woods with Phoebe to gather kindling and climbing inside the pit to place everything just so and observe from various angles. Stepping outside of my comfort zone.

Last week was my big test. I hosted a fire pit party after a yoga workshop. I was able to get the fire started and keep it tended for the whole three hours. I ‘can’ build a fire!

I came out first and got it lit and then watched as everyone was slowly drawn away from the house and toward the flame. All sitting around the circle to catch up and share stories and food. People I knew and some I was meeting for the first time. Drawing us all together. Tending with just a small poke here and a log added mindfully there, just at the right moment. The fire providing the light and the warmth while we finished off the evening by roasting marshmallows.    

I am learning.  My fire circle is teaching me how to ignite my own flame and keep it tended so that I too can be the light and warmth that others are drawn to. Not needing to throw on lighter fluid because too much heat will send everyone away and burn me out. Letting my dreams, just like the fire, happen without pushing, because I am strong enough to know that they will if I simply keep looking and stepping forward. 

If I can build a fire, think of all of the other things I can do,


Sunday, October 25, 2015

.....riding the current of life

When I was little I loved the swimming pool.  I was like a little fish.  Diving to the bottom, hanging upside down from the side, and having tea parties with my friends deep below the surface.  I would glide through the water and could swim two full lengths while holding my breath – always winning in that competition.   It all felt free and effortless.  I was in the flow.

But put me in the ocean where the current was stronger and it was another whole matter.  One too many times I was grabbed by a wave and tumbled, being held under water for only seconds…..but it felt like hours.  That feeling of being pulled downward and me struggling to go upward and ending up with a nose full of water and a bathing suit full of sand.  Gasping for air as I broke the surface.  Intellectually I knew to let go to the current, but I definitely wasn’t able in those critical moments.  I resisted.  I was not in the flow.

Just like life…………………….
The water element is our flow.  The fluidity in our joints and our spirit that allow us to move through life with ease and grace. 

The Universe has a flow.  A rhythm.  I call it the ‘hum’.  When you get quiet and still enough you can feel it.  And when we swim with it, we find our own flow.  Life feels free and effortless, like riding the wind.  When we fight and swim against its current, life becomes awfully hard and we end up with water up our nose.  

The moon is the keeper of the flow.  Her cycle of seemingly appearing from nothing one night in the sky as the slightest sliver and expanding for two weeks until she is completely full and whole, the peak of the inhale.  A time of heightened energy and light for diving into your passion, stepping beyond boundaries, fertility and growth.

Followed every single month of every single year by the two weeks of a gentle gradual darkening…the long slow exhale.  A time of slowing down and moving inward to reconnect with what is right here.  A shedding of the outer world to delve into the inner work.  Letting go to the flow.

The lightness of spring is followed by the long hot days of summer where the Universe reaches new heights and bursts at the seams with aliveness.  Followed always by fall where the trees go through the process of dropping all they no longer need to prepare for the rest  and quiet of winter.  Each season with its own ‘hum’ eager for you to join in.  Neither hanging back nor rushing ahead.  Just in tune.

You can hear it in the raining down of the acorns and taste it in the smoky air of a campfire.  You can feel it when the house is covered with a thick blanket of snow and see it in the decaying log as it rests, at ease, next to the rushing creek. 

The breath flows in and the breath flows out.  We are born, live life to its fullest, slow down and eventually return to the earth.  The sun rises and it sets. 

Let go and listen for the flow.  Lie back and ride its current.  Free and effortless.



Sunday, October 18, 2015 secret lover


This week we dove off the solid banks of earth into the watery realm of Svadhisthana …..our sacral chakra.  The element of water.  Our creativity, moisture, fluidity, desire and sensuality.  The feminine.  Interestingly enough, the Post ran two articles this week on the impact of aging on women’s sexuality.

Yes, as the years go by, and life piles on, women tend to want sex less often than men.  Sometimes dwindling to the point where the urge can feel nonexistent.  Usually we are told that it a “known fact” that women’s libido decreases, which has led to the development of medical treatments and the pink pill. But do we really need more medicine?

One of this week’s article stated that older women’s wants were different and that intimacy became more important than a good orgasm.  PLEASE.  Are they serious?  Since when did I have to choose one over the other?  I want a deep soul connection and an earth rocking orgasm, and that isn’t too much to ask. But when it isn’t happening we begin to believe that is just how things are. 

Several years ago I was listening to Christine Northrup MD, an expert on women’s health issues and menopause, and she commented that the best cure for a stalled sex life is a new partner.  It stopped me in my tracks.  What, as my ears perked up?  She then went on to say that the new partner can be you.  It makes perfect sense.  If I don’t clearly know what it is that I want, how can I expect anyone else to fulfill my desire?

I offer yet another angle to this threesome.  That the new partner can be the Universe.  A secret, juicy, wild, messy love affair with all that is……..

Sensuality blooms from within.  We ourselves need to feel free, wild, open and untamed, in order to share that with another.  And the Universe is eager to help.

But somehow the old 9-5 job, carpool, emails, meetings and chores pull many of us away from our primal nature.  Our attention is spent on matters of the mind and doesn’t venture down nearly enough to our pelvic floor where the Shakti energy resides.  Our breath becomes shallow never reaching the depths below where the spark waits patiently to be lit. 

The Universe is a willing and available partner.  Make a standing date to keep the pilot light burning.  It can be entire evenings, lazy afternoons or stolen moments during the day. 

As you sit reading this  note, spread the knees away from each other, and notice where your attentions goes. Take a bath with lavender and salts by candlelight.  Turn on your most sensual music and move to its rhythm.  Get drunk from the smell of roses and warm from the blaze of the fire.  Stand under the full moon and draw down her power.  Look up to let the stars sparkle in your eyes.  Face the sun spread your arms wide and shine back with all of your heart. Let the beauty of the sky at sunset bring you to tears.

Get dirty….really dirty.  Wear what makes you feel sexy, or nothing at all.  Close your eyes and feel the full body embrace of the wind.  Let the hoot of the owl touch you at your very center, and the bitter cold make you shiver.  Let the night noises lull you to sleep.   Lie down spread eagle on the floor in the middle of the room.  Place your hands on your belly and send the breath down ….down….down.   Notice your pelvic floor often.

Life is to be lived.  Felt.  Explored.  Swallowed.  Tasted. 

Make love to the Universe.  Only you will know……


Sunday, October 11, 2015

......the planned pause

Do you find it irritating when you drive up behind a car that is stopped because the driver is asking directions?  Begin to tap your foot when the person in front of you in line has to run back to grab one more item or can’t find their coupons? 

Does your heart quicken when  the person you are with says they have to stop for one small errand, or mumble under your breath when the receptionist answers with ‘can I put you on hold for a moment?’.  And how about when the internet goes down?

We hate to pause. 

We move so quickly through our days that any yield sign in our path can set us off.   It’s that old natural law of ‘a body in motion wants to stay in motion’.  And we are all in motion.  Stop signs, red lights and traffic….oh my.

But it is in the pause that life unveils its depth and brilliance.

So over this past month of classes we have been practicing the pause.  Yes it does take practice!  And it isn’t easy.  For some, more difficult than others.

In yoga we do a pose leading with the right foot or arm, and then repeat it on the left.  Bringing balance to the body.  But just like the highway of life we become programmed to move from right immediately to left.  Auto pilot.  We “know” where we are going and head there. 

But I have been inserting a pause.  Not a slow down like cruising in at low speed toward a red light hoping it changes before we have to stop…… but an actual landing in stillness and being there, for a while, before moving on.  Closing the eyes and landing.  The pose of stillness.  I think I will name it ‘stop-asana’ and it is definitely a level 3 pose.

Fidgeting.  Taking that moment to readjust clothing.  A quick sip of water.  Wondering why the heck we aren’t moving on to the other side.  Irritation.  A waste of time.  Why are we stopping?  I have things to do!   Aaargh!!

… happens in the pause.  When we become perfectly still all of our senses heighten.  We feel, hear, see and smell more deeply.  We suddenly awaken to what is right here and what is right here is pretty amazing.  Floating in the sea of stillness - the container that holds everything we do. 

This week watch how you react to unplanned pauses and plan some conscious pauses (stopasana) in your day.  Perhaps whenever you get in your car and close the door, you sit still for 10 seconds before turning the ignition.  Or after you finish brushing your teeth  you simply stand at your sink and breathe.  Stay seated at the table in silence for 15 seconds after you finish your meal or when you check yourself out in the mirror after dressing, stand still and hold the gaze longer than usual.    

At first it can make you feel anxious, just like the car driving 50 ahead of you in the fast lane.  But as you land and breathe a letting go will begin to happen.  Eventually your energy slows and sinks downward.  You become rooted and centered.  You have arrived.

This is the earth energy………………..

My conscious pause for today was an hour massage,