Happy New Year!

Wrinkles mean you laughed, grey hair means you cared and scars mean you lived.

I had a spill on my bike the other day. I fell on my face, literally. My eyebrow split open and was in two places on my face. A good samaritan took care of me until Rob could pick me up and take me to the emergency room. All this man said in the face of my injury was, I think you might need stitches. His gentle kindness kept me calm even though I was bleeding profusely.

Having a gash on your face is humbling. Not knowing how it is going to heal makes vanity rear its head. It’s also an opportunity to be with what is. I will most likely have some small scar the rest of my life. I am doing all the things I am told to do hoping to not look like Harry Potter in such an obvious way. And at the same time I keep reminding myself that scars mean I lived.

As my birthday and the new year approach, my 58th time around the sun, I am filled with gratitude that I am able to lead an active lifestyle. Most days I live with an ease of well-being. Sure there are times when I feel every bit my age but not very often. I am fortunate that way and well aware that that is not the case for so many people. I have also had several reminders lately of just how precious life is.

In my birthday/new year’s blog last year, I talked about being an ageless goddess. Meaning, not attaching who you are to the age on your driver’s license. I hear many of my peers talking with a kind of resignation. Because I am this old, I can’t do this, or remember that or try this. Why let a number define who you are and what you can do? For 2022, my plan is to say YES. Yes to adventures, to trying new things and to continue to grow. And yes to babysitting! Our first grandchild arrives in Feb. and I can’t wait to see what this new chapter brings to our lives.

So cheers to wrinkles, grey hairs, scars and living life to its fullest.

New Years

Another fresh new year is here...
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt and fear,
to live and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
to live each day with zest...
to daily grow and try to be
my highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
once more to right some wrongs,
to pray for peace, to plant a tree,
and sing more joyful songs!
       ~William Arthur Ward

Thoughts

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I am not my thoughts. I repeat, I am not my thoughts. What a liberating thing! I don’t know about you, but I can have some dark, snarky, petty thoughts. Sometimes they play in my head over and over again. That isn’t the real ME. It is my brain at work doing what it does…thinking.

As Judith Hanson Lasater says in “A Year of Living Your Yoga,” thoughts are just neurotransmitters locking into receptor sites: they are not the truth. Just as “movies are flickering pictures that appear to have form; so are my thoughts,” says Lasater. Our job, if we choose to do the work, is to become the master over our thoughts. We do not have to be ruled over where our mind tends to go. We can become aware and choose a more conscious path.

Our mind and our breath are linked together. If you notice during times of stress, thoughts come quick and breath is shallow. For many of us, this is our constant state due to stressful jobs, high anxiety and fast-paced lifestyle. In this place of stress, thoughts tend to gravitate to the negative.

When a dark thought comes to mind, become aware of it. You have the power to flip your own narrative. Notice where your mind went and think of an alternate, positive idea. Rather than react to a grumpy server with anger in your mind, consider how overworked and underpaid they might be.

When I first sit to meditate, my thoughts tend to be quick and constant. Then, I take my awareness to my breath and watch the flow of inhale and exhale. I link my mind to my breath as a focus. As my breath becomes slower, so do my thoughts. I feel as if I have hit pause on the incessant tape recorder of my mind. Even if you don’t have time to meditate, taking a break to breathe consciously can be an easy way to take control back from the chatter of the mind. By the way, folks that don’t have time to meditate would benefit from it the most.

“Simply by slowing down the mind- the first purpose of meditation- much of this tension can be removed. Then we are free to respond to life’s difficulties not as sources of stress but as challenges, which will draw out of us deeper resources than we ever suspected we had. A one-pointed mind is slow and sound, which gives it immense resilience under stress. With a mind like this, we always have a choice in how we respond to life around us.” Eknath Easwaran in “Words to Live By, Short Readings of Daily Wisdom”

Fall Haiku

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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





Time to Save Our Home

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“I have learned you are never too small to make a difference.” Greta Thunberg

We have been experiencing extreme weather conditions for some time now. This hurricane season has been brutal. Polar ice caps continue to diminish. We are losing species of animals. And climate and conservation experts around the world agree that this cannot continue without a devastating result. We are slowly destroying our beloved and beautiful earth.

All of this can feel overwhelming. I agree with the experts…if we all pitch in and be more thoughtful , it can make a difference. We are reaching the point of no return, where our planet will not recover from our choices. So why not try to add a few more “green actions” into our daily lives. I think we all want to save this place we call home for future generations to enjoy. I have listed a few things below that are simple to employ and might have the trickle down effect for the planet.

Use cloth napkins. Rather than one time use of paper napkins, why not use cloth napkins at your kitchen table? They can be used for several meals and then throw them in the laundry with a load you are already doing. Why save them for special occasions when you can reduce the use of paper by employing them daily.

Swedish Dish Towels. Same idea as cloth napkins. Swedish dish towels are reusable paper towels that can also be thrown in the washing machine. Utilizing them can replace dozens of paper towel rolls per year.

Cloth “make-up remover” pads. These are soft flannel pads perfectly sized to help remove make-up. They too can be washed and re-used.

Dryer Balls for your clothes dryer. Rather than dryer sheets, why not employ dryer balls instead? They actually improve drying times by separating large clumps of clothes, which allows air to circulate more evenly and shorten the time needed to dry the clothes.

Use non-bleach coffee filters or re-usable coffee filters.

Keep the bags you get at the grocery store and take them back and re-use them.

Walk or bike to errands that are close by. Cluster errands into one trip out. Carpool when possible.

Make use of the library for your books. When I see a title I want to read I add it to my request list. I have enough requests on my list that I almost always have a book to read. Or just explore the shelves and find a hidden treasure.

Use re-fillable water bottles or canteens. Limit the use of one time plastic water bottles by refilling re-usable water containers. You can even add lemons, limes, or hydration tablets to give your water more flavor. This might have the side health benefit of drinking more water.

Avoid using styrofoam packaging whenever possible. If it is what your favorite restaurant uses for take-out say something to the manager. Styrofoam is one of the the most harmful types of waste that exists today. It breaks down into small pieces that can choke animals.

Re-use receipts and other paper as scrap paper for grocery and to-do lists.

Shop Goodwill or other resale stores for casserole dishes and left-over sized dishes rather than using plastic. When sharing food with someone, say at a funeral, use these repurposed casserole dishes. That way they don’t have to return your dish and can keep it for themselves or re-use for a time when they might be bringing food to someone in need.

Adjust the thermostat by one or two degrees. You might be surprised that your body will adjust to this slight change pretty quickly. Sleep with the windows open when possible.

If we all chip in just a little, it can make a difference.

“You must take action. You must do the impossible. Because giving up is never an option.”

Greta Thunberg

Some green companies to explore:

Marley’s Monsters (https://www.marleysmonsters.com/ )Re-usable eco-friendly non-paper products for home and beauty

ARA water bottles (https://www.giveara.com) For every re-usable water bottle you purchase from this non-profit company, one is donated to a homeless person. The water bottle donated is insulated and 64 ounces. This is the amount of water that is considered the healthy amount that should be consumed everyday. This charity was begun in the Phoenix area where there can be as many as 300 deaths a year due to the heat.

Dear Human

Our lives are built on myths and wounds
But we are not our lives
We are made of sun and moon
Wave and particle and desire.
Bound up in silver thread
Each disabled heart
Winds back to its original spool
Where love becomes unfurled.
~Kay Eck

My dear friend, Kay Eck, has written a beautiful love letter to humanity. When I read this book it felt as if she was telling my heart everything it had always wanted to hear. Or rather, what my heart knew at some point but had forgotten. It’s a reminder to all humans that we are all born of love and can tap into that universal love at anytime.

Eck says this book was inspired by the lessons she learned while writing her first book entitled, “Divorce: a love story.” She took the context out of divorce and into her broader life so that more people could be supported by it. She found the same universal truths hold for both.

While “Divorce: a love story” was founded in self-exploration, she believes the topics in “dear human” will speak to not only those starting out on their spiritual path, but also those who might be feeling a bit lost or “pulled toward the idea that there must be something more.”

“If there were only one way to be winning as a human, it would be through the love you lavish upon yourself. The difficulty of that task will teach you everything you came to learn. Mastering it will take you everywhere you want to go,” she writes in the book.

Eck is a great cheerleader of humanity. We first met during yoga teacher training at Prairie Yoga in Lisle, Illinois. A few years later, I worked for her when she opened her own yoga studio called Shine, in nearby Batavia. She is someone who has a gift for nurturing other humans. Her podcast, “Alive and Kicking with Kay Eck” is a great support to those who are in a time of breakdown/breakthrough. Her guests are ordinary people who are leading extraordinary lives. As Eck so eloquently says in her book, “We are human – a little ho-hum and profoundly marvelous.”

“Dear Human” will rest on my bedside table to be read and reread as an amazing reminder to myself to “let life love me back.”

The Pregnant Pause

We are going to be grandparents! It is a moment we have hoped for but didn’t dare assume would happen. Since I learned this joyous news, I have been filled with so many emotions.

This time before our sweet grand baby is born is full of potential, anticipation and excitement. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “pregnant” as “full of meaning” and in use dating back to the 15th century. This goes along with the definition of pregnant pause. The pregnant pause is a “silence full of potential in the way a pregnant body is full of a new human being. A pregnant pause leaves the listener full of anticipation, just like a pregnancy is full of excitement and the forthcoming baby.”

This news officially takes us to a new stage in life. Yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar talks about the four stages in human life in his book “Light on Life.” The first stage is called Brahmacharya in Sanskrit. The translation suggests self control and discipline. This stage is our childhood and adolescence. We go to school and channel our childhood energy into learning. Our parents inform and discipline us to be able to conform to society.

The second stage is called Grhasthasrama in Sanskrit, meaning “house.” This is the householder stage. We have finished with school and live on our own with potentially a home and a spouse. Books and school work are now replaced with the joys of family life.

The third stage, Vanaprasthasrama , or “transition” is the stage that Rob and I have now entered. This is a time to transition away from work and career, and focus on a deep involvement with one’s family. It is a time to continue to learn and grow but to let go of goal driven activities. In other words, letting the ego soften. It’s also a time to share the knowledge that has been acquired over the years.

The final stage, if one is lucky to live long enough, is the Sannyasa stage or a time of renunciation. It is the stage of ultimate detachment and a time of preparing for death. There is deep rooted wisdom at this stage learned from a long life. It is often referred to as the “old crone” period.

Being in our current stage, transition, fills me with joy. I find myself thinking back to the days when our children were little. I have lost the memories of the day-to-day care and stress of family life. Now what stands out to me is the joy of what children bring to life. I think this is nature’s way of guiding us into our new role. It’s our turn to help our kids see the big picture. We can support the new parents in the way that our parents supported us. Rob and I have had such great examples of this in our own parents.

In particular, Rob’s folks were there in ways that were so valuable to us. I don’t think they ever said “no” to anything we asked of them. This included leaving our eight month old baby with them so we could vacation in Mexico for nine days. The kids loved being in their home. “Vanilla Milk” was invented there to make our daughter feel better about not liking hot chocolate. One of Grammy’s favorite things to say to our son was, “let’s see how much trouble we can get into.” That usually meant getting two toys at Toys R Us instead of one.

As new parents, they soothed us with their gentle wisdom. There was never judgement, just support and love. In their minds, our kids and all of their grandkids were the most special people ever born. And they still are the best cheerleaders for us all. They are the example that I keep in my heart as we wait in this special pregnant pause. In six months our new grand baby will arrive and it will be our turn to see “how much trouble we can get into” as we love, cherish and support this brand new family.