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The year of the pineapple. Stay awake and on the road.

do not choose the lesser life
do you hear me.
do you hear me.
choose the life that is yours.
the life that is seducing your lungs.
that is dripping down your chin.
~Nayyirah Waheed
 

Each year I pick a theme to guide my practice and be my lighthouse.  Usually I find imagery, poems, prose and art to help install my theme into my heart, brain and body for the months to come.  I keep it close to my chest and check on it often, noticing how it comes alive in my practice.  More often than not it comes to me by way of insight from a friend, but sometimes I just trip over it. Several things collided to congeal into a theme for 2017.

Presence.  I want to taste the year.

Here’s why:

I gave my baby boy Otis his first taste of pineapple a few weeks ago.  I dearly love pineapple, and I craved it often while pregnant with him.  Almost as soon as I leaned down and offered him the sweet fruit, I looked away and checked my Facebook feed.  Probably 30 seconds went by, and I looked back at him and his eyes were glowing and sweet juice was running down his chin.  He was elated!  And I almost missed his first pineapple.  It was in the moments following that my theme emerged.  I want this year to have 100% presence, to taste my way through the year, and I don’t want to miss a thing.

Actually, a dear friend gave me this theme a few years back, but I was sifting through a heartbreak and it seemed like the equivalent of buying a diamond ring while homeless and cold.  This is a year of feeling the details instead of inventing […]

By |January 5th, 2017|Blog|2 Comments

A specific call to action and art

In these uncertain times I feel snapped awake.
 These are some things my family has gathered together this past week to discuss and then pour into action.

Social Media Diet ~ While I do believe some important conversations are happening on social media, when I ingest my FB newsfeed I feel toxic, sluggish, and disconnected.  Matt and I are limiting our time on these platforms and replacing this empty scrolling with direct connection and quality time.  I feel refreshed as a result.  I feel wider awake.
Make Art~ What is your specialty? This is a time that our planet needs more art and beauty and human connection.   I am committed to writing more and teaching more, because I know that makes a difference in the quality of the world  I live in.  My husband writes and plays music which has direct impact on his happiness and those who choose to listen.  I am blessed to know amazing cooks, dancers, painters, nurses, doctors, engineers, and architects who make the world more beautiful by their contributions. Art is medicinal.  Movement is medicinal. Are you doing all you can?
Educate Yourself.  Read more and show up more with specific questions and ways to provide change and leadership.  Stop posting articles that you have only read the headline for and truly become the change you want to see in the world.  It begins with your home and hearth and moves out in concentric circles from there.  I vow to show up locally where I can and take responsibility where I haven’t.
Listen More. I hear a lot of talking and peacocking lately.  There is less listening because people are not willing to live in the grey areas at […]

By |November 13th, 2016|Blog|6 Comments

The night Ben died.

My mom was visiting me in Illinois the night my brother died.  I still remember everything about those first moments.  I was jolted awake by my phone ringing and I blinked into the screen to see “Dad”.  He asked to speak to mom and I padded into the guest room to find her.  She was already sitting up reaching for the phone as if she knew.  I started screaming and melting to my knees before I knew how to inhale, and I heard her say, “Jimmy, I have to go.  I need to take care of Buffy.”  I was 27 years old and her son had just died.  She knelt where I had melted and something unforgettable happened.

I looked up at her and said, “What are we going to do?”  She said, without hesitation,

“Go make your bed.”

I did.

I came back to her like an unplugged robot whose insides had frozen.

“What do I do now?”

“Go take a shower.”

These step by step directions assembled our early morning and we cleaned my apartment as we waited to fly home.  So many things strung together that day and days to follow to make a horrific story of loss.  Many years have passed and there has been hills and healing but I can still hear him laugh.  That lesson she taught me on his morning has remained as clear as a smooth, cold stone in my hand all this time.

Some time later I found out that as soon as my dad learned what happened, he shaved.  In the middle of the night, he shaved.  Then, he waited until the mall opened at 10 the next morning and went and bought a suit.  We all must do something. It’s primal, […]

By |August 18th, 2016|Blog|26 Comments

Are you tired of worrying? read this.

 
For as long as I can remember I have been paralyzed by the fear of talking in front of people~ especially when I am speaking my heart.  As a yoga teacher I do this daily, and it is a fear that has not gone away since the dawn of my teaching. Strangely, I am very good at it.  But that doesn’t stop my mindset from going into a dark and unproductive place.  It can paralyze me at times, but my commitment to these teachings keeps me coming back to have tea with my dragons.
For most of us, the same old worries have been hanging on the walls for years.  It is time to redecorate.
A common theme I have worked with in my own journey and in my teaching is to clear old patterns/reactions of fear and replace them with brave and positive patterns.  We all know this is good and helpful and a way to set yourself up for a life of great happiness.  But it is not enough just to know this and claim this and curate a newsfeed of cursive quotes about it.

My latest interest is to create strategy for real change so the negative patterns are not the default.  It cannot take hold in our everyday unless we move the goal into a strategy of action and get a plan.
GOAL~
remove the old and fearful patterns that cause doubt/fear/lack/smallness
replace with: positive responses that elevate and help facilitate ease and happiness
STRATEGIES~
1. Curiosity.
 Get hungry and interested and curious instead of residing in your cemented ideas of how things need to be because they have always been.  Start practicing starting your sentences with:
 “I wonder what would happen if..”  and “Let me try this…”
Texturally- curiosity is soft […]

By |July 26th, 2016|Blog|2 Comments

Ground Truth vs. Official Truth

Recently I asked a friend how her family was.  She answered, “do you want the ground truth or the official truth?”  I told her I didn’t know the distinction.  She proceeded to explain what is now one of my favorite teachings of all time.
 The ‘official truth’ is our mission statement of what we want to present and what we would like to be true, and it is beautifully packaged and carefully crafted. The ‘ground truth’ is what is actually happening on the ground, in the battle and amidst our highs and lows. The real story.

OFFICIAL TRUTH~ Today I made 3 healthy meals from scratch, wrote 2 hours of my novel, practiced yoga and am now sitting down to an evening of tea, baby and husband cuddling and a helpful non fiction book on how to better myself.

GROUND TRUTH~ I managed to eat 3 meals today while nursing my hungry baby (and dropped mayo on his head twice).  I did yoga for 30 minutes until my son needed me and my breasts started leaking milk.   I thought about my novel while I did the laundry, and now I am hoping to enjoy an evening with my family and talk about which ankle treatment injections might give me a chance at less pain.

I told my friend I ALWAYS want the ground truth.  It is our direct path to healing.  When we are honest and wide hearted we also heal something broken in others.  The part that makes us feel like no one else is sorting through hard stuff. The part in all of us that forgets we are not alone.

As a yoga teacher living amongst other spiritual seekers I am surrounded by official truth. There is a […]

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    Ways to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually clear. Start with your home.

Ways to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually clear. Start with your home.

WOW.  This nesting and deep cleaning urge pre-baby arrival is very primal and very real.  Now keep in mind I always love and invest in a clean house, but never have I cleaned the crevices of the baseboards with such attention and vigor.  And while I thought I had shaved down on stuff and extra clutter, the good-will bags have been piling up like hot cakes, and I feel more space in my body, mind and heart.

What I have become so aware of  how LITTLE we truly need to take care of ourselves.  And that actually the less stuff I have, the lighter and happier I feel.  Our home is a renovated 1926 house that has limited closet space and storage.  What’s nice about is it keeps me honest and gives me less choice for clutter and accumulation.  But clutter still sneaks in there with 7 bottles of mostly used moisturizer and 5 pairs of nail clippers.

One of my favorite stories I heard from one of my teachers points to this simple and profound philosophy.  She arrived at a private client’s home who had cancer and was looking to learn some private yoga to help with her healing process.  When she arrived,  the client’s  apartment was wall to wall clutter and had not been cleaned due to illness in too long.  Instead of practicing asana, she spent the hour cleaning the client’s  kitchen and making some sacred and clear space for her, knowing that this was the first step to healing.  The postures would come later. This is such a sweet reminder to us all.

Within the act of cleaning, decluttering, and preparing this home, I know I am creating sacred space for this  little […]

By |February 29th, 2016|Blog|1 Comment

the sun is gonna shine in your backdoor someday

the sun is gonna shine in your backdoor someday

One of my favorite writers, Cheryl Strayed, recently came out with a book of her own quotations called “Brave Enough.”  I ravenously ingested the words in about an hour flat because bravery and raw concoctions of how to expand are some of my favorite subjects.
One of my favorites:
“Believe in the integrity and value of the jagged path.  We don’t always do the right thing on way to rightness.”  
I am an advocate of roundabout and  jagged pathways, probably because I have seen my own life flourish after braving certain storms.   I wouldn’t trade my unintended stops in the road for anything. Mistakes in relationships, advanced degrees, moves across the country with the wrong man, and even money spent on branding something I no longer identify with~ they have all sourced back into the same river that I currently call home.  Each category has been and remains a teacher of significant value.
It is the cracks in the story- the ones that bring us back to assessing everything that we are giving attention to that are the highest teachers.
GIVE THANKS TO YOUR HEARTBREAKS. 
…because it is the heartbreaks that are helping you refine, define, and mold the right path for you.  They become part of your fabric, and they become your deep entry points into YOUR life, which is the only one worth living, of course.
I have a story and a past that contains some dark patches.  There were times in my twenties that I worried about how much I was drinking and smoking and abusing my body and brain~ in cheap and scary Chicago apartments that were cold and lonely.  Even before those frosty Chicago winters, […]

By |January 13th, 2016|Blog|2 Comments

Internal chatter: 6 ways to release the garbage quickly.

If someone were able to extract all of your thoughts in a day and lay them out in front of you on index cards~ what story would they tell about you?

I have begun to track my internal life more carefully, and am I discovering some garbage stuck in there that I want long gone. I am amazed at how much I give energy to people and things that are not real or relevant to my growth ~ and so much of the chatter inside is food for fear, doubt and judgment.

I was sitting with a dear friend this morning having breakfast at ‘Under the Umbrella’ in Denver (if you go—get the “Shannon sandwich”), and I was running down a rabbit hole of “can you believe she DID that to me…” and “I cannot believe she doesn’t understand compassion…” etc. Super snarky and dark, I was cluttering our time with a depleting victim vignette.

My wise friend smiled at me with that calm presence she has and said: “She is doing all that she can.” It was in that moment I remembered that we all are essentially doing what we can manage and bear this life, and it is always, of course, our choice in how to respond. This is good living 101, but I needed a refresher course this morning.

I can stop the churning, worrying, fretting, gossiping, judging and mind chatter- instantly. I can clear it RIGHT NOW and never hang onto it. I can drop the drama and wheel around to gaze at my own eyes and my perspective. What am I feeding and giving energy to and is it working to further my growth? I don’t want to spend time on spinning webs […]

By |July 26th, 2015|Blog|2 Comments
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    Are hard people your teachers….or do they not deserve that title?

Are hard people your teachers….or do they not deserve that title?

I have a long time friend who has always argued with me on one point.   She says: “Hard times/hard people/hard events are NEVER my teachers~ they are simply my lessons.” She stands by this fast and hard, and I set out today to try to unpack the difference for myself and hopefully start a good dialogue with you.

I have always (eventually) thanked the people in my life who have hurt me for teaching me resilience, fortitude and the strength of my bounce.  Yes- they are my teachers who show up without an invitation, but later I always am grateful for the sand in the oyster they provided. They were not chosen teachers but teachers nonetheless. My friend and I  have always laughed and agreed to disagree on this point.

I venture to think that she thinks it gives them too much power to deem them teachers~and I get it.  It’s an important title.  But I also think giving them this title gives ME more power to construct a positive map of what’s happening and maybe even why.

I write this from the bench.  I had ankle surgery Friday and cannot bear weight for 2 weeks.  This time and injury is certainly my teacher–unwrapping lessons every day. That’s just it.  Teachers deliver lessons, whether they were asked in the door or not.

I am wondering what you think~ and how this rolls across your desk.  If  your feathers  get ruffled–good.  This deeply reflective work is supposed to work us over and rinse us out.  It’s about perspective and how we name something, and names and words matter.  Is the word or concept of teacher reserved only for those who we choose to learn from? Are there stories too […]

By |June 29th, 2015|Blog|2 Comments

Resiliency ~ a better ability to bounce

There seems to be no doubt that the ability to let things roll off our back like a duck can develop into a happier and more present tense life.  Our level of resiliency is directly tethered to how happy we feel. And, some people seem to be born with a better ability to bounce.  But how long before we can healthily bounce after something hard happens? How can we do it and not just pretend, but also eliminate the wallowing?

One of my favorite images of all time resides in the book ” Grief and Praise” by Martin Pretchel, who is a writer and teacher from the Mayan tradition.  He talks about when someone has experienced a heartbreak, a death of a dear one, or something that breaks them open, the Mayan people of their tribe theoretically encircle the waist of the person grieving with a long rope.  The village holds onto the end of the rope, and lets the person run to edge of the sea and wail and cry and sob and feel it all.  But when it’s time, the tribe will pull the person back and not let them stay there to wither, but instead call them to task and living.  We don’t allow this in western culture as much, because people button up quickly and get back to work.  The grief gets stuck on the body and never rinses out, therefore the resiliency is pretend instead of helpful and real.

True resiliency comes with a real rinse first.  Otherwise, it will find a place to surface down the road in the form of addictions, meanness, disease, or complacency.  Notice, in Martin’s story, it takes the village to help keep us honest and steady.  […]