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108 Spring

How imperfectly perfect this 1st day of Spring!

Today is the first day of spring. On the Solstices and Equinoxes, I do a little ritual. I step on my yoga mat all fired up and do 108 sun salutations.

Yep.

WON-OH-(H)ATE 108 One Hundred and Eight

Now if I were a purist it would be strict Sun A and Sun B, but I am a realist and I know that my body can’t do that many chaturangas, up dogs and jump forwards. Instead, I do my version depending on my body on that day of that month in that year. It’s my way of purifying my heart and my mind. It’s not easy. It’s hard as F–k, but I do it. I always want to stop, but I don’t. I do it because I can. I do it for those who can’t. I do it so that one day when I can’t anymore I will be able to close my eyes and see and feel my way thru it.

I use those crystals to help me keep count…

It burns. It burns so good. It burns a feeling and a hope deep into my heart.

It’s my attempt at purification. The noble act of letting go. Letting go of thought and thinking that it’s supposed to be anything other than what it is. Letting go of how it looks. Letting go of time. Letting go of the digital devil. Letting go of outer connection. I just commit to the one thing. Say yes, and leave the outcome to the fates.

In Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, he says:

In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty…in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.

This ritual of mine is my version of dancing with the Universe. I have doubts. I have hope. I have love. I have fear. But this quarterly ritual helps recalibrate my mind, my body and my spirit.

Maybe it’s not 108 for you. Maybe it’s doing the one thing that terrifies you. Maybe it’s making that phone call. Maybe it’s finally letting go of that relationship. There are so many possibilities.

And that is the point: “in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.

What will your dance be today on this first day of Spring?

Leave a comment!

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Intention?

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

~ Mother Theresa

As the muse of inspiration descended on me at the close of 2018, I laid out the themes for my life month by month for 2019. They flowed easily and it seemed to me that the order made quite a lot of sense. (BTW, this was my very first time EVER doing this kind of thing). The overarching theme for the year would be Strength and Courage. I needed more of both to speak my truth as a daughter, a mother, a lover, a leader and a yoga teacher. And then life got in the way….. I think you know what I mean.

Now, as we begin February with it’s theme of intention, I have come realize that at this moment in my life there is soooo much more to it.

As the world is slowly praying and awaiting the passing of the Father of Mindfulness himself, Thich Nhat Hanh. Things feel different.

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”~ T.N.H.

His life and legacy will be celebrated. His communities will possibly feel bereft of his earthly presence or not, depending on just how much they believe in the Buddhist tradition. When Jack Kornfield shares his conversation with Ram Das about death he admits that he “failed” that one. We are all unsure, curious, fearful, you name it about death and yet this simple monk from Viet Nam is quietly showing the world that all is well this too and he shall pass.

I awoke a few weeks ago to a strange realization. Imagine this: You have a conversation with a friend that ends in an argument. Mean words are spoken. Egos are running rampant with rage; you leave, they die or you die and the last words were unkind….. I woke up in a panic in a sweat thinking how many times have I left situations that way. How F@%$#ing AWFUL!!!

How could I go on had the last interaction been so aggressive? How would the other feel if they had been unkind?  

We only have now. ONLY NOW

And so for Thich Nhat Hanh, his followers and all of us who want a peaceful world and a life steeped in love, I would like to offer this contemplation:

Let’s be mindful. In the words of Mother Theresa to “Do small things with great love”.

Lately, I have been standing my ground against setting intentions for my yoga practice. With teenagers sifting thru/struggling to find their identity, a Mother who’s world has literally been pulled out from under her, the joys of learning to be in relationship after 10 years and awakening to my own mortality, I have decided to make my time on my mat the one place where I just let it happen. No intention. No questions. Just a space and place to wait and see. To breathe. To open myself up to myself. To feel. And when it is all said and done and savasana has arrived, I will know what I am meant to know. Then and only then. Not before with a prayer. Not during so to take my mind off of the moment. But after. The end. Amen.

So long story short: this months theme is intention. Yes.

But not on the mat. In life.

January got us clear. Now February is the time to live into that clarity by intending to make that clarity a reality.

If you dreamed it, then go on and life it!

Use a mantra, a post it, a tattoo, a fridge magnet (do they still make those…)

Whatever it is.

In the words of Mary Oliver “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Clarify it. Set the intention. Now do it!


What is yoga to me?

What is yoga to me anyway?

Lately I have been struggling with the true meaning of yoga. Is it a workout? Is it a choreography lesson? Is it meant to be fed to me? How do I feed others if I’m not clear about what it is? Where the hell is yoga going in 2019 in an America that is so divided? Why do people feel like they have to belong to one studio only and not another? What’s more important, the safety? The number of people in my class? The tone of voice I use? The color of my mat, my hair, my heart?

What the hell is happening to the yoga I fell for, the yoga that saved me, the yoga that stopped me from hating my differences and helped me love my beautiful messy artistic life?

SO here is what I have discovered.

Yoga for me is not about anything. It’s really about nothing. No goals. No #yogagoals. It’s about having a sacred place to lay it all down. Period. Lay. It. All. Down. Put the insanity aside, find a modicum of clarity and let the truth bubble up. The pure naked truth of who I am, where I am, and what I am and then sit with it a while. Just be with myself with no one looking. It’s one big messy dance of discovery. A dive into the depths of whatever is taking up space in my cerebrum, cerebellum and prefrontal cortex and then determining what stays and what goes. It’s a long slow walk into my own egoic humanity to uncover whatever happens to be there. In that moment.

I have gotten caught up in the daily dance of do-this, now do-this, now try-this and then throw my ass in bed at midnight, going over my gratitude list rapidly and begging all the Gods for more hours to manage all the mindless necessities of life.

Is that yoga?

For me the real yoga is about NOT setting an intention for my mat time.

For my life, yes, my mat? No

My mat is my sanctuary. It’s my place of willful worship. I get on my mat when I’m so churned up I can hardly breathe. I get on my mat when I am peaceful and prayerful and grateful. I get on my mat to find whatever the universe has for me that moment of that day. I get on my mat to find the connection that gets lost by overthinking, overdoing, over scheduling, over anything-ing. I get on my mat to bring it all home. To connect the dots of who I am. Heart. Soul. Spirit. Voice. I get on my mat to find out who I am. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Me thinking way too much!

Do you feel like your yoga has gotten out of hand? Is it turning into a space for fitness goals?

I’m interested in hearing where you are on your mat these days. I wanna hear about you, yep, sweet little you! So please leave a comment and share!

Now I’m getting on my mat! (oh, after I go to the dry cleaner…)



Holy Hella Holiday

A few thoughts about handling the mayhem

I have no idea how in this crazy world to get all of it done.

Actually, I know that I can’t. So basically I feel like I’m starting with failure as the end game… but I may have a plan.

Being present with a teenager…

The theme this month at the yoga studio is “presence” or “belonging”. Somehow in my addled mind I see the two as similar sides of the same situation, and here’s why:

When you are fully present you feel belonging. You feel good in your own skin. You feel your breath. You get repeat reminders thru your day of how lucky you are. Gratitude flows and all the little pesky poop that holds you back somehow mysteriously fades into the ether. Flow state. Samyama. The final performance, not the tech rehearsal.

Yet when you are stuck back in the traffic jam on I-26 profanity flying because you didn’t make that last stop before you had to showed up for your brothers daughters childs’ 1st birthday party, you can hardly be present. You definitely don’t feel like you belong there… because you know that you really belong somewhere else, anywhere else. You feel me?

When the fates conspired to drop an unexpected obstacle right smack in the middle of your path, it takes all your Zen resources to remember that “the obstacles to the path are the path”. And when you’re busy working all your spiritual mojo to Be. Here. Now. you certainly don’t feel like you belong. No Flow state here. You feel more like an alien zombie medusa who’s only task is to beam down all the ghosts from your past that make you feel like you have seven heads and roll them across all of your perfectly laid plans at the most random intervals just to make you even more certifiable!

But wait…

Plans mean I’m thinking about the future. Thinking about the future means I’m not present. Not being present means I think I belong somewhere else…Not feeling like I belong leaves me feeling alone. Isolated. Unimportant. Unnecessary. It’s all an intertwined organic mess of life and feelings and people and beauty. {this is why I think belonging and presence are besties or worsties…}

So this time of year CANNOT be about getting it done. The greatest gift to give anyone is time. Honest, earnest time. Your time. Your precious time. Your precious limited time on this earth. Y.O.U. That is all the present anyone needs. Your full present moment presence. People need you and me slow the eff down and be with them. Not long. But long enough so they can feel that they belong.

Helping others helps us belong. Helping others shows us how even the smallest gesture means our presence has value. So when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the cultural societal posture of gift giving I’m going to stop the shopping and start the sharing of presence. Everyones deserves to feel that they belong. Everyone deserves your presence. Even you 🙂


I am wrong (alot)

I discovered something interesting. It’s nothing new, but it’s the steadfast practice of yoga and meditation that has created this new “awareness” for me.

Whenever I let my ego out of the gate first, well, I am wrong. Yep. Plain and simple. The epiphany came to me as I was brushing my teeth tonight. I have this horrible shameful secret. I am so insecure that when I am faced with new situations, new people, or just about anything that makes me feel uncomfortable, I pre-judge and I am always wrong. Somehow my ego thinks that everyone is out to get me. Me. Me. Me and only me. Right? Because that is how big my small self feels it is. Can any of you relate to this? When someone approaches me about something that my ego isn’t prepared for, the moat fills, the gates draw down fast and the archers are ready in the turrets. I cannot possibly deign to help you or anyone else until I know all the facts. Let’s not forget that before I can consider answering, I must have time to contemplate the outcome for me. Me.

I keep having this theme run over and over in my Life. I am always wrong in my prejudgement. The person rarely if ever has it in for me. What could have been simple gets turned into an epic the likes of the Twilight Saga. Wasted time, wasted energy and “bad seeds” that will take a lot of good seeds to stop from germinating. One would think that after all these years I would get it. I don’t. I keep sitting on my cushion. I keep practicing my yoga. I keep teaching yoga. I keep on because that is what I must do. I have to learn this strange dance I have choreographed and change the beginning. The end is always better than my small self could have imagined. It’s time for me to start with the first step. As they say in the ballet world, “it’s how you start and how you finish.” What happens in between the audience will forget if you don’t start strong and finish solid. I love to dance. It is in my blood and bones (and bunions). It’s my passion. What I need to learn is that passion is fueled by love. What would happen if in all those ego-driven moments I went back to love………. after all that is what dancing is actually that’s what Life is.


Alvin: What a man, what a name! Is 90 today

Alvin. With a name like that you have to be pretty special. He is and so are all the other Alvin’s in my Life.

Some days Life just catches you off guard. You are expecting an easy  ride through the day and then something takes a hold of your heart and sends you somewhere you never dreamed. Today is one of those for me.

I have a big family and I love them all dearly. Three brothers, rockstar sisters-in-law, six pack plus of trouble (that’s the nieces and nephews). All unique and incredible in so many ways. My youngest brother is quite generous and allows me to use his elliptical at a moments notice. So kind. As I dropped in unexpectedly this morning, he casually tossed some photos my way as he left for work. They were precious shots of his daughter, who is expecting the 1st great grandchild in our family!! At the bottom of the stack was this:

 

Dad and rach

 

 

My Father with Rachael some 20+ years ago. It stopped me dead. It slayed me. In one instant I recalled all of my days just like this one with my Dad.  When he carried me to the ocean after my foot surgery. When he helped assuage my fears of big waves and floated me out past the breakers. All the feelings of love and support he has given over the years. The unwavering strength and gentleness. What really knocked me off my feet was the time. Time has gone by so quickly. He is 90 today. I am still his little girl but now with grown up challenges. And yet, he is still seems quite captivated by my Life. He still listens closely and tries to advise when needed. We have both grown and changed. Life has presented each of us with new challenges. Our time is limited. It never seemed that way before. This photo reminds me of that so clearly. It stabbed me in the heart. It woke me up. Words can’t express the feelings that wash over me when I look at this picture. But somehow I need to find them and tell him. Maybe it won’t be with words. maybe something like this:

photo-62 photo-61

 

Those hands that have held mine through love and fear, pain and hope. Those hands that packed the car so expertly. Those hands that landed the bomber with one engine. Those hands that spanked me that one time! Those big warm hands that hold all of me with unconditional love at any moment. Those hands that have never denied me the encouragement I needed to carry on when all seemed lost. Those unbelievably strong  90 year old hands that will always keep a hold of my heart. Happy Birthday Dad. I am so blessed to have you as my hero.


Ode to Our Gorgeous Planet

Nelson_Mandelas_Favorite_African_Folktales_300_451_85Today is Earth Day.

Yep, I am a tree hugger because they hug me back without asking. It’s an unconditional love that keeps me sane. It reminds me of how small I am and how grateful I am to be so small.

When I was a ballerina, during performance weeks we rehearsed from 12-4 had a dinner break and went back underground from 6-11. I spent the afternoons and evenings cloistered in the safety of my dressing room and the stage. I did not experience the evenings like most people. I ran out, grabbed a bite, put my feet in ice while I ate, “beat” my face (ode to dear Danny= put on the makeup), warmed up again, meditated, visualized, and became someone other than myself. I lived in the ultimate world of make believe and I did it for a living!

When I retired I longed for the late afternoon to be my own. I wanted to watch the day turn to night. I wanted to experience the feeling of living the seasons. Not the performance seasons. I used to watch the trees and flowers on my walk to work every day and every night. I heard someone say recently that they couldn’t wait to leave NYC so they could see trees again. Don’t they know about Fredrick Law Olmstead?  Didn’t they know that Central Park is an amazing testament to the human souls need for nature. How about Boston’s Emerald Necklace? How could they miss it!

Driving towards downtown at night, my parents would often comment on the sky. As a child I didn’t want to hear it, I wanted to talk. In my 20’s and 30’s, I would have preferred discussing the latest news on NPR. Now I finally get it. No matter how trying the day when I  stop to look at Mother Nature she soothes my soul. Going through some of my most challenging moments over the last few years, the walks around the block and the grand view of the smallest blossom have eased my burden. The dance of wind in the trees, the light in the branches, the smell of natures birth and decay all keep reminding me of the beauty of our planet Earth.  No matter how aware or unaware I am, she is always standing in her glory to remind me of Life in its fullness.

On a recent drive to the beach, my daughter and I listened to Nelson Mandela’s favorite childhood stories. It’s a collection of African folk tales. My favorite by far is “The Mother Who Turned to Dust.” It’s about a star who gives up her shiny and bright Life to go and live on the green and blue planet because its beauty calls to her. She longs for many children to raise and to take care of her. Over the years the children fight and destroy each other. Helen Mirren narrates. We listened, I cried. It’s worth the time to hear this story today. My soul weeps for all that we take for granted.  She waltzes around the sun year after year. She gives birth in the Spring, dances wild in the heat of the summer, slows the rhythm in the Fall and dies quietly in the cold protection of winter. Our Earth is the most glorious planet in our galaxy. I can’t run around and hug trees all the time, but I can find a quiet moment each day to be grateful for her unconditional love. I am devoted to her, but her devotion to all of us out shines the light of the star that she once was.