Gratitude for... This physical body that houses my unique spirit. This life force energy that propels me through the day. This mind that has thoughts both spacious and focused. These senses that absorb the world around me. These hands that work with dexterity. These feet that feel solid underneath me. This heart that has felt the spectrum of emotions, from complete desolation to boundless joy. For this life, I am grateful. I am complete.
- F fun, focused and fair
- A active, aware, and accepting
- T thoughtful, talented and tenderhearted
- H handy, hard-working, and hilarious
- E encouraging, eager and earnest
- R realistic, respected and responsible
I have been blessed with amazing dads in my life. My dad, my father- in- law, my step-father and my husband all set the bar high for what it means to be a positive male influence. While the descriptors above may not apply to each of them specifically, they each know how to play to their strengths. This year we have added a new dad to the club. Our son-in-law is a new dad and it’s been fun to see how whole-heartedly he has embraced his new role.
We all benefit from paternal energy. Fathers are pillars in a child’s emotional well-being, and involved dads have been linked to better outcomes in nearly category of a child’s development. Celebrate the dads in your life this weekend. Happy Father’s day, dads!
"Enlightenment is when a wave realizes it's the ocean." ~Thich Nhat Hanh
I have just returned from a trip to Mexico. It was lovely in so many ways. Time near the ocean feeds my soul. My eyes are constantly drawn to it. I sleep to the sound of it. I walk along it and feel its immense power. Each night I watch the sun fall over the edge of it and am reminded of its vastness.
I am but one person, at this one spot, singular and unique. I am amazed by the contrast. The two words, vast and singular, kept coming to my mind all week.
Our lives can feel this very same way. We all see what transpires in front of us in our own unique way and yet we are all a part of something much bigger than ourselves. I think we forget that perspective sometimes. We are all part of something so vast we can’t even comprehend it and at the same time each of us is the only version of a human being to look, feel and live this unique, singular way.
I think we can all gain this perspective when needed. Some days the world can feel as if it’s closing in on us. That is the time to take a moment and look to the ocean or find the horizon, the night sky, or some other focal point that feeds your soul. Take a moment to remind yourself that you are both vast and singular.
A change in the air Leaves turn and cascade to earth Signs of fall's entrance Sweaters, boots and scarves Darkness comes earlier now Wet leaves under shoes Apples, pumpkins, squash Chilly days and cozy nights Football and tailgates Cycle of seasons Transition to turning in Earth's prep for Winter
I recently finished listening to the audio version of the NY Times bestselling book called “Breath, The New Science of a Lost Art,” by James Nestor. It is one of the most interesting, informative books I have read (listened to) in a long time. As one reviewer said, “If you breathe, you need this book.”
I have always loved the sister practice to yoga called Pranayama. It is the study and practice of harnessing the breath to create more vitality in the body. I enjoy the effects that thoughtful breathing has for my well-being. This book includes the wisdom and practice of pranayama and then adds in modern science.
James Nestor does a 10-year deep dive into all aspects of how we breathe and how this breathing has changed and evolved or, more accurately, devolved over the centuries. He bravely uses his body as a guinea pig to learn more about his sleep apnea and other breathing related problems, which also affects so many of us. Hypertension, depression, anxiety, sleep apnea, snoring, stress and auto-immune diseases are all problems that could be helped by breathing better.
“The ability to breathe so efficiently in a wide variety of ways-consciously and unconsciously; fast, slow, and not at all-allowed our mammal ancestors to catch prey, escape predators, and adapt to different environments. It was all going so well until about 1.5 million years ago, when the pathways through which we took in and exhaled air began to shift and fissure. It was a shift that, much later in history, would affect the breathing of every person on Earth, ” says Nestor.
Nestor includes practical breathing advice for everyone, no yoga practice required. How we breathe day in and day out truly does matter. Simple changes can be made to great effect. If I could, I would make this book required reading for everyone.
I had the honor of being on a podcast with my dear friend Kay. Here is the link below:
Happy Fourth of July from the Yoga Goat! As my teacher, Tias Little, said yesterday at the end of class…Happy Interdependence Day! We are all dependent on each other for our well being. While this holiday looks different for most of us this year, let’s not forget the connections of family and friends that support and lift us up.
Back in March I was fortunate to enjoy a free webinar from one of my favorite teachers, Judith Hanson Lasater, and her daughter Lizzie Lasater entitled “Love in the time of the Virus.” It was a great experience and, as expected, I was able to pull several nourishing nuggets from the session.
One that has really stuck with me is a visualization technique to help quiet what Buddhists refer to as the “Monkey Mind.” Monkey Mind is a state of being where your thoughts are swirling and rapid, so much so that they become your focal point. These intruding thoughts could be fear or stressed based, oriented in the past or future, and can make you feel consumed and agitated.
The technique starts with simply taking a moment to see that you are breathing diaphragmatically, which is taking slow, deep breaths that allow the belly to expand with the inhale and release with the exhale. Do this a few times and slowly shift your focus and awareness to your skull. Notice the front and back of the skull. Then notice both sides of the skull. Then shift your focus to the center of the brain, and rest there. Deep in the center of the brain is the basal ganglia. They are neurons responsible for movement, emotion, learning and complex motor activity. With your awareness here, relax and try to feel as if you are uniting and quieting all of these activities.
When I practice this, I feel an almost instant quieting of these swirling thoughts. Try this technique as part of a meditation practice or when you just need that moment of zen during the day. Maybe it’s while you are making dinner, or standing in line at Trader Joe’s. Shift the focus back to yourself, find the center of your brain, and bring some calm into your world.
A poem by David Whyte, from the book "Songs for Coming Home" That day I saw beneath dark clouds the passing of light over the water and I heard the voice of the world speak out. I knew then as I had before life is no passing memory of what has been, nor the remaining pages in a great book waiting to be read. It is the opening of eyes long closed. It is the vision of far off things seen for the silence they hold. It is the heart after years of secret conversing speaking out loud in the clear air. It is Moses in the desert falling to his knees before the lit bush. It is the man throwing away his shoes as if to enter heaven and finding himself astonished, opened at last, fallen in love with solid ground.
“Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel. Things are gonna be much better if you only will,” sings iconic musician James Taylor.
My husband and I recently celebrated a wedding anniversary, and spent part of the evening listening to James. His songs remind us of the wonderful times we spent listening to him while we were dating, and are a nostalgic balm.
Earlier we had received a gorgeous bouquet of flowers from my in-laws. My mother-in-law, Libby, makes the effort to send us calla lilies each year in remembrance of the flowers I carried on my wedding day. She is someone who knows how to shower the people she loves with love. She has the ability to raise other people’s positive vibrations just by her presence. It starts with her southern charm, and is then fueled by her generous heart. She has the gift of truly listening, understanding what someone is needing, and finding a way to give it to them. To say that I scored big in the mother-in-law department is an understatement.
Now more than ever it seems like the time for us all to try to lift each other up and provide positive vibrations. And not just friends and family, but everyone we encounter. We are all feeling pain. It started with the coronavirus, then the layoffs and closings, and has deepened with the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Like others, I have seen normal encounters become angry exchanges much too quickly these last weeks. Now is the time to not only shower the people we love with love, but to shower ALL people with love. It’s time to take a deep breath and try to feel compassion for the person in front of you before acting or speaking. You don’t know what pain they might be feeling. With each interaction you have think to yourself: how can I leave this person better than I found them? Give a kind word or bigger smile to those we encounter. Leave them better than you found them with the kindness that lives in all of our hearts.
Things are gonna be much better if you only will.