Last night I found out a yoga friend, younger than me, died of a stroke on Sunday. She left behind her husband, baby son and their 2 dogs. They had a full life.
Her husband posted a tribute to her on Facebook. Through tears all I could say to him was “my heart is with you”.
I cried a lot. For him. For her. For all of us who have ever experienced heart wrenching grief. For all of us who have asked, “Why?" and "God, where are you in this?"
Death is a reminder of life. It's a reminder to ask:
Are we living our life fully? If so, what does that look like for us?
Do we have the courage to live and to love with everything we have- here now today?
Are we willing to grow beyond our comfort zone?
Are we willing to live and love fully here now today without making excuses we have to wait for some future event to happen? I.e: more time, money, that job, relationship, whatever
I sobbed for awhile. Tried to make sense of it. So exhausted yet unable to sleep. So. I do what helps me understand life. I reflect and write.
Naturally I thought a lot about the relationship with my lover/man/beloved/friend (pictured below). I think about us all the time, even still. Like a teenager in love. True. Will that ever change? Hope not :)
I pondered our journey as individuals, and as a couple. I reflected on the power of our love to both create and destroy. We’ve had many challenges in the short time since we met. Lots of change, lots of uncertainty. Yet with change, comes growth if we choose to see it as such. I welcome all of it, even when “I don’t like it”, stamping my feet and clenching my wrists.
Beautiful really. Intense too. Life. So Rich. So Magical. So Precious. every moment sacred.
I believe we are all doing the best we can. However, there’s always room to grow. By growing I mean to grow in love and wisdom toward that which brings us joy and therefore peace in our heart.
To be clear. I am not chasing happiness. That’s a prison. It comes and goes. I talk about this in my book, Reclaiming Joy.
I am hungry for life. Always have been. Always will be. Hungry for deeper intimacy in my love relationship. Hungry to stop the nonsense and celebrate love. To release the past and our ex’s and focus on what is in front of me-- the US.
Even in my sadness last night, I still felt joy.
Why? I see possibility everywhere, especially in the challenges of life. I took my rfiends death as another reminder to LIVE.
As an opportunity to do better. To be better for myself, for my relationships, for humanity.
Perhaps most humbling---even in the sadness and tragedy of my friends death, I see her husband making a promise to her that he will make her proud. Has her death given him new life?
A promise he will care for and provide for their family. That he will meet her again when it’s his time.
Love. So Powerful. Love, it’s all there is.
Tonight I was moved to finish this poem (below) I started writing on Christmas Day while I was with my family and that of my love. I was conflicted at the time. Feeling the joy of being with family- his and mine. And also the tension.
Do they always coexist? Joy and tension?
If so isn’t inner peace simply a result of skillfully holding the tension?
Doing our best to be with all of it without judgment?
I believe so.
So on Christmas Day I asked myself...
”What If I Had One Year Left to Live”... would I do it differently than I am now?
The question is a way for me to step up to the plate of life.
To hone in on what matters and commit and recommit to taking action.
Here’s the “finished” poem:
“What If I Had One Year Left To Live?”
Get up Earlier...
Linger Longer in bed with my lover in bed?
Love More Freely, without demand of that same love in return?
Let Go Harder...
Accept Allow Ask
Talk More ... Face to Face
Be Present. Like really present for myself and others...
Move As if The Divine was dancing me?
See the Divine in everyone? Yes, EVERYONE.
Laugh More- Out Loud. Deep belly laughs.
Dance. More. Period.
With Myself. With my beloved. With my cats.
Call. Visit. Show Up, unexpected.
Take time, make time.
Stop the excuses
Pause. Exhale. Inhale. Reaeat.
HUG more. The 3 second heart to heart kind.
Forgive! Myself, others. Again and again.
Say Yes. Yes! Hell fucking YES!
Say thank you. A lot more. So much more.
Lend a hand?
Give, so much more.
So so much more.
Of myself, of my heart, of imperfect me.
Cherish it... My beauty and my imperfections. My rage and my love.
Shame and blame less.
Talk softly and seed beauty.
Give the benefit of the doubt.
Have faith. Deep faith.
Pray for peace. Pray for other.
Accept that everything lives within.
Believe in magic, miracles and the power of love. Then go for it! All in.
Embrace the effort required to build a beautiful life.
Celebrate the effort required to build a love filled life.
Let go of all effort and realize “effort” is only a word. It’s our attachment to it that causes us pain.
Have more fun.
Play in the sun.
Raw Vulnerable Sexy Sweet
Have the courage to speak up, ask, and turn it over to God.
My answer to all of this is YES.
I would love it all - Live it all.
With gratitude and grace.
Because yes, life is a one time race.
If I had one Year To Live, I would surrender my life to love, in all its forms.
At the end, I would have no regrets.
This is how I wish to live.
This is the prayer I give.
Where are YOU on the List?
In previous writings I shared with you how to begin creating your goals for your year ahead and told you one of my goals is Adventure!!
As we close the month of January in a new year my goal stays the same -- adventure with a twist --rooted in DEEP INFINITE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
Today I encourage you to stay committed to YOURSELF, no matter who, and no matter what you are currently facing.
PS: Why do you think I will continue to plan retreats?
SO....Why is this my message today?
In my life and my work I continue to support loved ones and clients with all types of extremely difficult challenges from addictions and abuse, to anxiety, depression and overall lack of clarity.
Upon reflection, I notice there is one thread that runs through all of the struggle. And it is this thread that will determine their ability to "overcome".
The thread you ask? The ability to put themselves first.
I trust many of you who are reading this understand what I mean...even if you have not yet mastered this feat.
Think of the oxygen mask on the airplane.
You must have oxygen for yourself first, before you are able to help the other. Without your own source of oxygen, you will both...end up dead.
Same with life. Yet we RESIST we RESIST we RESIST! And guess what? Whatever is trying to get our attention, whatever is asking us for love, PERSISTS.
Unless we uncover, honor, advocate and then act for the life WE want (OUR own oxygen supply)-WE will end up with whatever WE get. A slow and painful death indeed.
Based on personal experience, the ability to save ourselves first is an on-going practice.
Perhaps hard at first because we've been told it's "selfish" and therefore lack the tools/support required.
In fact, not taking care of ourselves is selfish!!!
With practice, saving our self first becomes a way of life. As such, it gets easier.
Eventually, we realize there is simply no other way to live.
We must save our self first because the other way is hell on Earth.
Ready for my Reclaiming Joy Retreat now? I am!!!
Last week I spoke about how we are entrusted with this body- it's a gift and we are entitled to nothing.
This week as some of you are embarking on the 3 Day Refresh with me, I want to remind you to pay attention. To what?
Pay attention to what makes you come alive!!! Meaning, what makes you feel good, peaceful, grateful?
Yes, sometimes it's getting on a plane and going on a sweet retreat (PS: 2018 Tulum Retreat dates have been set!).
However, most often it's much simpler. When we stop and pay attention often we realize that feeling good results from choosing to see and fully experience "the good".
Make a gratitude list.
Take 5 minutes to feel the sun on your face while you inhale and exhale.
Plan that breakfast/lunch/dinner/movie/comedy show/musical/massage.
When we "do" things we enjoy - and remain present - it makes us feel ALIVE. Feeling alive results in feeling good. When we feel good, our state of being is enhanced and we make better choices. As we repeat this cycle, we "need" less and less to feel good. Each moment becomes an opportunity to say, "yes, thank you". And we realize it's not so much what we are "doing"...it's how we are "being" in the doing.
Ahhhh...being and doing is what I speak about in my book, Reclaiming Joy. For most of us it's a lifetime practice...
Last week I spoke about spiritual mindfulness and why it's important if we want to thrive.
This week I am still singing a sweet song from our retreat in Tulum. So, I want to keep it simple by helping us remember that life is how we see it.
Life is either a miracle or not. Life is either an opportunity to thrive, open, go higher or not. Life is either a magic carpet ride full of experiences that make us say "WOW, how sweet it is", or not. Get the idea?
Life, and therefore our experience of being alive, comes down to what we choose to see. Yes, that choice word again. Isn't it empowering? Maybe frightening too once we understand the responsibility we have to live the life of our dreams.
An example of what we choose to see and how it impacts our experience happened divinely in Tulum while we were on retreat.
Picture it: Our group was scrumptious: loving, kind, peaceful and so positive!! Very high vibe, cool and fun. So...
Enter another yoga group who was there at the same time who were behaving "not quite as scrumptious" as us. By the 2nd day, our group was getting triggered by these people and starting to lose its high vibe...or as I say, we began colluding with the negative.
I used our experience of the "other" group as a divinely timed teaching moment to bring us back to the idea that life, and therefore our experience of life, is how we choose to see it.
In this case, we could continue to focus our attention on how the other group was behaving...and therefore bring down our energy and vibe. Or, we could accept the fact we disliked the other groups behavior, and seek to understand them. Meaning, the other group was there to enjoy as well, and perhaps the way they were going about it was not how we do...and yet, we are all one. We chose to send them love and to continue focusing our energy on our group.
Guess what happened?
We learned the value of staying vibrant and positive even in the midst of negativity. We released judgment and sent them love instead. We felt better...empowered...moved from negative, low vibe back to positive, high vibe.
Remember, when we are in control of our attention, we are in control of our choice. Where our attention goes, our energy flows. We must choose wisely based on how we wish to live --- because life, and our experience of life is how we see it.
"You can see the glass half empty, or you can see it half full. You can focus on what's wrong in your life, or you can focus on what's right. But whatever you focus on, you are going to get more of. Creation is an extension of thought. Think lack, and you get lack. Think abundance and you get more." - Marianne Williamson
Is the battle in here...or out there...?
Last week I encouraged you to stay true to what matters to you, especially when faced with challenges. I invited you to lean in to these challenges in order to reclaim your power.
I am fascinated by power. I love playing with power and studying it. In my shamanic practice I have learned to respect power immensely. Power is neutral. It becomes "charged" when we decide how to use it. Meaning, we are either using our power to help/heal or harm/hurt.
The interesting thing about power: some of us don't even know how powerful we are; others of us feel so powerful (ego) that we are oblivious... and still others think we are using our power to help, when in fact we are actually causing harm.
One example of being unaware of our power is when we get stuck for long periods of time in the frustration of how things "are". Perhaps we are frustrated with the outer world...or maybe it's our inner world...or some combination. Whatever the case, when we use our power for prolonged periods of time at the energetic of "frustration", we are doing harm.
Instead of focusing on why we are frustrated, we lose/leak energy to the lower vibrations that come with frustration: sadness, depression, anger, hopelessness, etc. Over time, these emotions cause harm to us and to those we touch.
When we focus on the frustration itself rather than the "root" of the frustration, we miss the gifts our frustration has to teach us.
What to do?
Get to the root!! Dig deeper by using reflection practices such as writing and meditation and/or get support by engaging in shamanic practices . When we commit to getting to the root, in the process we usually notice we are stuck/slowed down for a reason. And that reason is our teacher to help move us forward. In essence, the frustration is an invitation to lean in.
To be clear: I am not saying it's bad/wrong to have emotions. Quite the contrary. What I am saying is to live for prolonged periods of time in the lower/negative emotions is a misuse of our power as human beings.
If we want to use our power to help, we must first help our self (think airplane oxygen mask). By helping our self, we learn how to come into Ayni (right relationship) with power and we free up energy to help others. Isn't that the point?
In the process we learn one of the greatest gifts of our frustration is our freedom.
We begin to realize we are powerful human beings who are free to act in the direction of that which brings peace, love, joy and expansion...or not.
"Of this I am certain: something happens every time I stop fighting with the way things are." -- Geneen Roth
Last week I spoke about rising up and how our perspective influences our life by telling you the story of the 2 wolves.
This week I want to continue encouraging you to stay true to what matters to you especially when faced with challenges. More specifically, I invite you to lean in to these challenges or that which seems to have "power" over you.
My shamanic practice has taught me to respect power. We all have it- power that is. How we use power (to harm or heal) results in our experience of life. And-- so often, we unknowingly give away our power and therefore the direction of our life.
One way is by avoiding/minimizing the sometimes chaotic/highly emotional energy that comes from the uncertainty that arises when faced with big life choices/changes. And blaming others is also a form of avoidance/minimizing :)
Avoiding/minimizing happens because we are afraid to engage honestly with the feelings that arise from uncertainty: confusion, fear, anger, sadness, etc.
What to do instead?
Lean In and become masterful at managing your emotional energy!!!
1. Accept what you are feeling with compassion (you don't have to like it)
2. Ask yourself what is at the root of the feeling (i.e. anger from feeling taken advantage of)
3. Action- do something about it!! (i.e. speak up, say no, set boundaries, get support)
Life is short. What we can't be with, won't allow us to be. The path to peace comes from owning our power and leaning into that which is trying to get our attention so it can be "healed". And yes, often it comes in the form of a "challenge" we are facing.
Try it! Let me know what you notice.
Last week I encouraged exploration into YOU, also known as self-discovery with the question: do you know who you are?
What are you noticing?
This week I want to keep it real simple. As you continue to make the most important investment of your life-- exploration into yourself, I offer these 2 quotes as a way to help you return to peace...when all else seems to "fail".
"When you really pay attention, everything is your teacher." -Ezra Bayda
"Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint." -Henri Nouwen
Last week invited you to play with another concept: do what makes you feel good!
How is it going? Do you know what makes you feel good?
This week I encourage exploration into YOU, also known as self-discovery with the question: do you know who you are?
In my coaching practice, this question is one of the first things I ask clients. Do you know what I usually hear as the reply? Prolonged silence. Then, " I don't know" which leads to, "I am a parent, spouse, worker", etc.
These replies lead to my next series of questions that do not include our roles and responsibilities. Those questions lead to replies such as, "I am a lover, peace maker..." See where I am going? It's beyond what we do in the world.
So, why do I ask you this question? In my experience, knowing who we are beyond what we do gives us peace when our roles change and shift. Who are we when our children grow up and no longer "need" us the way they use to? Are we able to let them go or do we hold them too tight because of our neediness? This can also happen in intimate relationships when one person is growing and healing and the other is seemingly "not". What then? Do we stay? Or go? Or learn new ways of being? Hmmm....
And, who are we when we retire, change jobs, move, get divorced, experience loss of any kind?
These are deeply powerful life transitions that naturally shape the foundation of who we "think" we are. It's not a bad thing. It's simply something to be aware of so when we find ourselves lost in the fog of doing life, we are able to return being life.
How do we return to being life? By asking "Who Am I" without all the labels.
And by taking the class, reading the book, getting the support we need to navigate the new territory.
In exploring who we are, and perhaps more importantly, who we are becoming, we must allow our defenses to ease a bit. We must stop fighting with our self!!!
Fighting our way back to who we have been is depressing, dis-empowering and won't work. Instead, the empowering path forward is the one where we accept who we are.
The past several months have been a time of major transition for me on all levels so I am having lots of practice at this!! When I accept who I am, and who I am becoming: a change maker, instigator, provoker of truth, passionate lover, peace maker, risk taker, intellect, inspired action oriented person, then peace prevails. And yes, I also accept the challenging/shadow parts of my personality which also make me who I am: impatient, controlling, complicated, judging, highly sensitive. These shadow parts create the polarity that makes me be me. I can't "delete" them. I can only be aware of them and balance them out. Many of you are nodding :)
When I resist who I am because I am afraid to be myself or I am afraid of making someone else uncomfortable, I feel depressed and dis-empowered. Trying to fit into someone else's idea of me, quite frankly, has not ever worked. Yet at times I have lapsed and fallen into that dance since I am human too. Sometimes reality bites and yes, loss hurts. Bad. And yet...
In the dizziness that comes with big change, having the courage to be who we are ultimately puts us exactly where we need to "be" in order to "do" that which we were born for. It's freeing my friends!!
We step into the fog and eventually move through it...until the next phase of self-discovery returns and the fog rolls in yet again. It's a cycle we experience often when we accept.
A final note in case my writing isn't (yet) clear enough. A movie, "The Last Word" with Shirley MacLaine speaks so beautifully to this idea of how much of our life we spend fighting who we are to realize at the end, it is exactly who we are that was the most blessed gift to those around us and to our selves.
Perhaps the key is to realize this before "the end", you know? Or perhaps not? Some of us, perhaps myself at times, thrive on the polarity and the dance of dark and light. Meaning, my challenging traits of wanting to be in control enable me create massive movement in the direction I desire. Not good or bad. Simply is...and I am aware of it.
Know thyself. Be true to you.
Upcoming Events to Explore YOU!
Em-Path Workshop, Bronxville, NY on THIS Saturday, Sept 16th 2017
Sweet Retreat: Tulum, Mexico, October 31st-November 5th, 2017
Last week I shared a simple and practical paradigm for understanding what it takes to move from thinking about something to taking inspired action toward that something: Rest Root Rise
This week I invite you to play with another concept: do what makes you feel good!
What do I mean?
Many of us force ourselves to "do" things that don't make us feel good. Something or someone else is the CEO of our life. You know what I mean?
We engage in behaviors that either don't give us energy or even worse, dis-tress and drain us. These "behaviors start with our thoughts and end with our actions (or non-action). It happens in all areas of our life from relationships and personal health to hobbies and career.
Why/How does it happen?
Many reasons. Often it's because we have seen others "suffer" and perhaps we feel it's how life ought to be. Maybe we don't know what makes us feel good!! And sometimes it's simply that we don't value our self enough to find out and promote our self to CEO of our life!! In short, we are afraid to fully be our self.
Doing what makes us feel good is actually so simple most of us miss it.
I am a prime example of missing it at times
How? My tendency to over do: over think, over analyze, over complicate; and sometimes the over doing is me putting someone or something else in front of what makes me feel good.
Are you relating?
While this way of being has certainly reaped its rewards for me, it doesn't last and it really does not make me feel good!
A good example of this happened over the summer. Some background-- I love teaching group yoga. Since splitting my time between NY and IL earlier this year, the logistics have been a bit challenging and I haven't been teaching as much. I miss it! It makes me feel good. So, after exhausting myself trying to figure out how to teach in one place every week, I came up with a short term solution. Teach yoga every Sunday on the beach in NY. I knew I would be at the beach July and August and I was able to commit. I decided to make it free, and spread it by word of mouth. All that was needed: beach towel, water bottle, good vibes...simple. Well, it was an amazing experience (see picture above). Teaching yoga on the beach combines everything I love!!! Hence the upcoming Tulum Retreat with me :)
What to do?
Reflect on an area of your life that doesn't feel good. Perhaps you are working really hard or feel dis-engaged from your work and you want/need to take time off yet feel unworthy/afraid to ask, etc.
Perhaps the time off will reap big rewards like re-connecting you to your life purpose. Or maybe you simply need rest and relaxation to feel renewed. Whatever it is, go for it.
Commit to doing what makes you feel good in one area of your life. It doesn't have to be a big thing. Start small if that is your comfort zone. And like me, maybe it's a short term solution that will lead to a longer term one. The key is to choose something, one thing, and do it. Remember, the universe rewards action.
Watch, "Hello My Name is Doris". This movie made me feel so good!! It was a reminder that whenever we say, "Impossible", what we really mean is "I'm possible". Believe in you, I do!!
Last week I talked about the "criteria" for creating your council.
Have you made/ tweaked your list of who/what?
I'd love to know where you are at with this. I understand it takes time for some of us to accept the notion that perhaps we need/want support. Feel free to email me here and tell me how I may support you.
This week I want to share some suggestions on how to engage with your council.
This includes method and frequency of communication. By breaking it down to small, manageable steps, you are creating a foundation for your success.
Assuming you have your list (it doesn't have to be final/complete), think about the following:
Method: How will you engage with your council? Will it be in person, phone, email/text or some combination? Think about the ways you prefer to engage. Be open to new ways. More than ever it seems people crave high touch connection- meaning in person or via phone. I know I do! And yet sometimes a morning text from a member of my council totally uplifts and inspires me.
Frequency: How often will you engage with your council? Certainly this will depend on who makes up your council. For example, if part of your council is a mentor who is helping you write your first book, and you have a deadline to self-publish in 6 months, clearly the timing will dictate frequency. I have a variety of support I give and receive on a daily basis before my day even gets started such as reading from my gratitude book (remember I said books are great assets to your council) and sending/receiving a check in text to/from a member of my council.
As you consider the method and frequency by which you will engage with your council, remember to be flexible. Play with it. Explore. Have fun. If it starts to feel like work, pause then connect back to why you are doing this in the first place. Your why will always drive your inspired action. And if your why doesn't make you cry, meaning, it's not powerful enough to keep you moving forward, revisit your WHY.