Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

The inner freedom that is possible in the face of fear

I was cleaning off the door of my refrigerator this morning and found that quote tucked under the delivery schedule from my bottled water. In the last few days I have been thinking a lot about fear.
How can I include the fearful feelings I have in what I find acceptable in myself? Having fear and feeling it, although it is uncomfortable, isn't bad. It doesn't mean I am weak or that all of the work I have done on myself meant nothing.Facing fear means being willing to be present with the sensations I am having in my body. Fearlessness doesn't mean the experience of fear isn't there.
It means that in facing the fear I find freedom from the obsessive reactivity that keeps the story spinning of what could happen in the future. I notice I am afraid right now. My stomach feels tight and my breathing is shortened. I am afraid I won't express myself well enough and that I am saying the same thing over and over. As I explore deeper breathing and asking myself, "What is underneath that?" I notice the familiar core belief that I am doing it wrong.
The fear energy is that whatever I am doing I am doing it wrong.I breathe into the tightness in my chest. It is so uncomfortable to face this fear again. On top of the feeling is my ego's voice saying "Are you still working with this? Why don't you go do something important like get ready to leave the house? You know you have alot to do and you won't get it all done wallowing around feeling this AGAIN." I know this is my ego's way of helping me to avoid the experience of fear. The system got created to protect myself from fear. This ironically is also protection from facing the fear which allows it to release. The ego's voice is the fear of the fear. The most important thing for me to do is to be present with what is, whatever it is. Recognizing that, I keep writing and breathing. Taking a few moments to focus only on my breathing I can feel the tension releasing. The awareness comes to me that the fear of doing it wrong and doing it wrong are two different things. I can experience the anxiety that comes up for me without buying into making the story be true. What is doing it wrong anyway? I made it up to distract myself from being present. What is so scary about being present? To my ego it is very scary because it doesn't get to exist. The ego exists only in the past and the future. Of course it tells me I am doing it wrong, so I will stay in the story of why that is true and how that will affect me.Knowing that about my ego in this moment, I can feel compassion for the ego wanting to be in control.Bringing consciousness without judgement to my inner process allows me to be present. My ego wants me to believe we have to be separate from the source to survive. I allow myself to be present and to reconnect with my own deep sense of connection, that "I am consciousness", that is always there. This is freeing. Waiting for me is the sense that everything is going to be all right and underneath that is the sense that everything is all right, just the way it is. Fear is all right too. Fearlessness is the freedom that comes from facing fear.Is there something you are afraid of that you'd be willing to explore facing? It is very heart opening. I am grateful for the experience of writing this blog.In the year since I started writing it has supported me in growing and learning. I hope that has been true for you,too. May 2009 bring you to a deeper place of including more and more of who you are in your circle, and more fun. Happy New Year

Monday, December 29, 2008

virtual sangha

With a little openheartedness and willingness to forgive relationships can change. It is a decision about whether the relationship has enough health in it to be ressurected. My brother is home from the hospital recovering well. Things are different with us. He asked how I was doing today. I was so pleased. I am looking forward to exploring a new more reciprocal relationship with him. Thanks for all of your support.
During the holiday season I have been very challenged with my meditation practice. Often at the times I need to meditate the most is when I want to the least. Although I still sat on most days my mind was noisy and the time I spent was shorter. Last night the chanting group I am in met and my friend Val talked about the virtual sangha she had started. Sangha is a pali word for spiritual community. She wanted support from other peopple in meditating daily. She had struggled to do it on her own. She asked one friend to do it with her and then the group began to grow. People meet each morning on a free conference call and sit together for 30 minutes. She has been doing it for two months and has found that she is less reactive and more relaxed. On weekdays it is at 6:15 and on weekends it is at 8:00. You can participate in as many or as few as you want. This morning at 6:15 I joined the other people from all around the country who sit together over the phone each morning. Most of the sitting groups in the area meet in the evenings. In the winter in the evening it is cold and dark and I don't feel like going anywhere. Often I work in the evenings. This morning I could be in my robe in my own meditation room and still feel the energy joining with mine that is so supportive when sitting in a group. My day was much improved by the experience. I hope to continue. I plan to continue. I intend to continue. It is so good for me to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. I felt like I had many more hours in the day than when I stay up late and sleep until 7. If you would like to experience this virtual sangha anyone can join. E-mail me or call me and I'll give you the phone numbers. Where are you with meditation these days? Would it be useful to start a regular meditation practice or to bring renewed energy to your current practice? What would that look like?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

giving without resentment

When I went to see my brother on Tuesday they were transferring him out of ICU to a regular room. I helped pushed the cart with his things on it and he walked with a walker. He is recovering very well and will be going home on December 27th. When he first arrived in his room the respiratory therapist gave him a five minute treatment during which he couldn't talk. I told him he could just listen and I would talk. After all of my upset about him not listening to me when I had my opportunity I hardly knew what to say. I told him how much I liked being listened to and how much I would appreciate him pausing and asking me how I was doing in the usual stream of his talking.I shared some of what is going on in my life. When the inhaler tube was removed he talked awhile and then said he was interested in my life and didn't realize he didn't ever ask about me. I called him today and he did ask about me. I am excited because people can and do change. I am changing, too. My heart has been softening more and more and my anger and resentment have melted away. It's a beautiful lesson that it helps me to open my heart when I give what I can without resentment. Giving freely heals the giver.
Gary and I went to his ex-wife's house for Christmas. His daughter and her family and his son were there.I give the gift of pushing through my anxiety about this arrangement so all of them can spend Christmas together. I had a pleasant time. Growing up Jewish, Christmas has often been a challenge. I feel as if I am from Neptune and all of the stressing about presents is so uncomfortable. This year I only got presents for the two grandchildren.I created a treasure hunt for them to find their presents which was very fun and allowed me private time with each child. It feels good to be creating my own rituals instead of taking on what the culture dictates. Again I gave what felt good to me without resentment.
Giving what I can without resentment is an opportunity to see what feels good from the inside rather than believing the story I tell myself about what should feel good.
In this way I use giving to strengthen my trust in my intuition. Overgiving creates resentment. Undergiving or holding back hardhearedly creates guilt. Peace comes from experimenting to find the place where there is neither guilt nor resentment.Giving freely is unmistakenly peaceful.Each time I give I get to listen to myself and all of my various voices and make a choice.Of course it is all a balancing act and a chance to experiment. The important thing is to see it as a process of moving toward peace and cut myself some slack along the way. Where are you with giving? What does thinking about how you give bring up for you?

Monday, December 22, 2008

brother part 2

My brother Ben is recovering from open heart surgery. It went well. They had him walking around ICU the day after he emerged from the six hour process. When I went to see him he was hooked up to many machines and his mortality seemed so palpable and I felt afraid he would die before we ever really reconnect. One of my wise friends said, "Just be present with him. Let go of expecting anything." That's what I have been doing the best that I can. Gary came with me to the hospital on Saturday.It meant a lot to me to have him come with me and my brother appreciated it.When we left Ben asked us both for a hug and said he was going to start living his life differently. I really want to believe him. I have opened my heart to him. I have moved from resentment guilt and duty to concern compassion and love. I love my brother. It feels so good to me to be doing my healing work about how responsible I have felt for him and how much I distanced because of that.We both have our own distancing issues. At least we are both reaching out to each other. It's a good place to start.Having his mortality so obvious brings up my fears of aging and dying.Everyone dies of something.
All I can do is follow my spiritual philosophy: Trust in God or the universe, do my part and let go of the outcome. Breathing and embracing what is will help me to do my part. In some ways all of this illness my brother is suffering is bringing us closer together.
It's exciting to see him being presented with so dramatic a wake-up call and opening to new possibilities. I think he feels cared about by the people in his life in a deeper way.It is also forcing me to face some of my fears and own some old patterns that have kept me resentful and stuck. My brother is who he is. I care about him. For now that is enough. Is there someone in your life that you care about that you want to express that to and maybe you have held back? Happy Solstice. It's always a relief to me to be past the longest night and gaining light everyday. I love lighting candles in the darkness to ritualize opening to both the darkness and the light.Embracing both seems so much more real.I want to open to both the darkness and the light in my realtionship with my brother.

Friday, December 19, 2008


As I write this my brother is in surgery in Boulder. He is having a quadruple bypass. It was supposed to be scheduled for 11am today and I just found out they didn't start until 5 tonight. I am very glad I called the hospital because now I'm not expecting it to be over anytime soon. The surgery takes from 5-10 hours. My father had a quadruple bypass also. He was 66. My brother is 56. My heart hurts. Physically it hurts because of that primordial connection that blood creates. My heart also hurst for the men in my family and how hard it is for both of them to be in touch with their hearts I hope this will help my brother to open his heart. I looked at a picture of him as a toddler today. He had so much light in his face. I know that little boy is still inside of him. My brother has been smoking marijuana daily since he was about 13. I have struggled with our relationship because he has been so self-centered. He talks compulsively and never say, "How are you?" He has pushed away most of the people who care about him. I had been communicating with him mostly through short e-mails. It was important to me to stay in some from of contact with him. When he called to say he was in the hospital with pneumonia I wanted to feel more than duty. I care about him and was holding a lot of resentment. Since that phone call I have been working with myself to open my heart so I can show up without resentment. I have talked to him on the phone regularly. When I can't listen anymore I get off the phone. Then he found out his heart was obstructed and he needed this surgery. I went to visit and we talked about how he pushes people away. I shared some of what I resented. He is starting to take some responsibility for all of his estranged relationships. He agreed to go to counseling when he gets out of the hospital.
When my Dad had this surgery it opened his heart. For six months he was emotionally available and vulnerable. It was joyous to be able to connect with him. I felt closer to him as I had always wanted to be. After about six months his heart began to shut down again. I remember feeling such a sense of loss. I am grateful that for six months my Dad let his emotions be known. Maybe my brother will have a heart-opening experience and turn his life around. I feel much more connected to him. This has been a good teaching about seeing past another's ego. I love my brother and I am glad to be in touch with that love.
I am learning to let go of my expectations and be present and show up. It seems important to know when to keep putting energy into a relationship and when it is time to back off and let go. Neither one is right or wrong. Have you had this dilema with someone in your life?
What has that been like for you? As long as we keep putting energy into our relationship with ourselves it is easier to be clear about what form of relationship to have with others.
Loving and accepting ourselves as we are means honoring that sometimes we need to set clear boundaries with others to honor and respect ourselves. If you feel like doing so, send my brother some energy for healing. His name is Ben. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Taking back the night

The people who help me to maintain my car used to own a gas station on the corner of my street. I could easily take my car in and walk home. I learned to trust them. They have taken good care of my car for the eight years I have had it. It is fourteen and still running strong. Three years ago they moved about 2 1/2 miles away. I decided to build in my exercise into the days I needed to take my car in by dropping it off and walking home and walking back after my car is done. I love using walking for transportation so the arrangement worked well. Tomorrow I have to take my car in. I wanted more exercise than I got today. I decided to drop my car off after my PSYCH-K practice group tonight at 9:30. I knew it would be very cold so I dressed in my warmest clothes and checked in with myself to make sure it really felt safe. I have always been attracted to danger so I have to be careful to be wise in choosing my adventures. I've walked at night by myself in my neighborhood before and felt mostly safe. This was a stretch beyond my immediate neighborhood. I figured I had done this walk many times and knew it well. What I didn't reckon for was all of the ice. It was a good exercise in mindfulness because I had to be very aware of where I was putting my feet. I walked briskly and paid close attention to my surroundings. It was exhilarating to be alone in the cold night. I noticed Christmas decorations in a different because I was moving so much slower than whizzing by in a car.
I didn't notice the moon or see any stars. I'm not sure if that is because it was cloudy or because I didn't notice. Walking out of my front door just now, I realized there are stars visible in the sky. I guess I was too focused on what was in front of me to look up. When we were in Mexico we spent each evening on the beach looking at the stars. It is sad to me how rarely I notice them in the city. I used to go outside and look at the moon and sometimes even howl at it. Of late I have gotten way too used to being inside. Tonight inspired me to begin to at least notice the moon. I feel a strong connection with with the moon and I call it grandmother moon. When Monnya was in India we used to both gaze at the moon and think of each other . We called it moon mail. I am home safe and sound. It'sgood to have adventures so I have something to write about. I feel as if I have taken back the night. It is mine now in a different way because I stretched out of my comfort zone. To someone else this wouldn't have been a big deal at all and another wouldn't even consider doing something like that. What we each consider an adventure is unique. Would you like to give yourself an adventure? What could it be?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reaching out

At this time of year it is important to remember to reach out to people we feel a genuine connection with. There's lots of busyness and the pace can be faster than usual. You may be involved in holiday parties where you are around people. That can feel very lonely if you aren't giving yourself the gift of connecting with the people you love. Who do you feel comfortable enough to be yourself with? When was the last time you reached out to that person? For me, it is easy to isolate myself especially when it is cold. I am learning to call and say," I was thinking about you and wanted to connect." I love when a friend does that with me. Sometimes I talk myself out of reaching out for various reasons. "It's been too long. Why couldn't he or she pick up a phone and call me? This person is way too busy and doesn't have time for me. I am way too busy and don't have time to call." E-mail is also a viable way to connect. I would rather receive a warm e-mail than have no contact at all. When we feel separate and afraid to reach out the ego is in control. At the end of life noone ever says," I wish I would've gotten more things crossed off of my to do list. People are more often regrettful about not spending more time with people they love.
Connecting doesn't have to be around mainlining sugar. Take a walk or have tea and talk.
At this time of year when it seems there is so much to do it is most important to slow down and bring awareness within. Being single and not having family around can be very challenging during the holidays, so can having family around. The opportunity is to honor ourselves in the midst of whatever. What does reaching out to myself look like?
I just watched a movie about Louise Hay where she suggested standing in front of the mirror and looking deeply into your own eyes and saying, " I love and accept myself as I am." I have been doing it today and it really helps me to appreciate myself and feel connected. That 's where connnection starts. Try it. Using the affirmation doesn't necessarily make it feel true. It just shifts the energy toward appreciation. It feels good to me to counteract my inner critical voice with a loving one. Looking into my eyes makes me feel seen and saying the words allows me to feel heard. In that way I can be more receptive to other people reaching out to me and more apt to extend myself to others.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Winter is a challenging season. Sunlight and warmth contribute greatly to my sense of well-being. When it gets dark earlier and it very cold it is easy to feel anxious or depressed. I went out for a walk as it was getting dark today. It was very hard to get myself out of the house to do it. When it is cold and dark it is more difficult to get out of bed in the morning, too. I notice that at this time of year I want to hole up and go inward. Traditionally the holiday season has been a time for running around shopping for gifts, going to parties and eating lots of sweets. This time of year is actually called "the going within time." in native american tradition. It has become anything but that. One positive result of our current financial situation is that many people are remaking the holidays to be more simple and more peaceful.
Winter can also be a beautiful time. Walking in the park, I noticed the snow covered ground in contrast to the colors of the the setting sun . Several years ago I decided to open to winter and notice some things to appreciate. I am doing a medium job which it way better than abject hatred and holding on in survival until daylight savings time comes back. On warmer winter days it is sure easier to appreciate winter and to open to accepting what is. I am working to be present in the winter even if I don't like it much. Some people have winter as their favorite season. I think those are the people who I see walking by me in the park with four less layers on than me.
So what are some ways to cope with winter blues when winter doesn't feel very beautiful at all? One way is to recreate warmth for yourself. If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace let yourself use it. Buy some tea you really like and sip it throughout the day. Take a hot bath and stay in it till the water starts to get cool. Wear thick socks or slippers and lots of layers in the house. So far I am only doing the tea and the socks. It is hard for me to take a bath. When I was doing a week long ayurvedic cleansing fast several years ago I took a bath daily. I really grew to look forward to the time to be warmed and relax and do nothing. When the cleansing was completed it was prescribed to take one bath a week. I have probably taken one bath a year. One woman I know takes more than one a day. I admire that. It is my intention to take a long hot bath sometime during this holiday season. It is so nurturing when I do. How about you? What else can you think of to recreate warmth?
Sunlight is the other commodity that is scarcer. We are lucky to live in Colorado where there is so much sunlight. When I was growing up in upstate New York there was winter from October to April and about 10 sunny days during the whole time. I think I was depressed my entire childhood. It is important to get out into the sun even if only for a few minutes. Taking vitamin d supplements can be helpful, too. Lessening sugar and caffeine and increasing leafy green vegetables supports the immune system. Cold and flu germs are airborne longer in cold dry air. I use a warm air humidifier and I think it really helps me sleep better in the winter. Whatever you do to take care of yourself remember to do it in this season even though it seems like there isn't time. Cut yourself some slack if you are sad. This can often be a time of disappointment because of our high expectations. We are wanting to have the holidays we hoped to have as children. Stay in your circle and make choices from there. Remember to laugh even if it means looking in the mirror and laughing at yourself. Check out laughter yoga for a good laugh about nothing at all. It's a great pick-up for the winter If you happen to be off from work or your schedule permits it I am leading laughter yoga on Monday December 22 from noon til one at the Unitarian church on the corner of 14th and Lafayette (Laughfayette- haha) It's free. I'd love to have you come.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

yoga for the holidays

I taught my yoga class today. I was a little nervous about being rusty because I haven't taught for three weeks. In Mexico I had the opportunity to take three classes from a gifted yoga teacher so I had alot I wanted to share. Once the class began I felt the energy of the class picking me up and carrying me and my fears into the flow. When I first started teaching severeal years ago I was really anxious, feeling like I didn't know what I was doing. A seasoned teacher told me that my students want me to do a good job. They are not there to judge me and figure out what I am doing wrong. They are there intending to have a satisfying experience in body mind and spirit. They aren't looking for the opportunity for me to get in the way of that. That really helped. It was so good to be back today. Teaching yoga is a double blessing because I get to do yoga, too. Yoga centers me in my body and brings me to the present. Today in class we focused on breathing into our bodies to bring aware of the sensations in our bodies. Focusing on the sensations in my body brings me out of my head. For instance writing this I am aware of a familiar tension in my lower back that lets me know that my automatic chair is up too high. There that's better. I am aware of tension in the right side of my neck. Breathing into the tension without an agenda to change it or fix it is comforting. Focusing on what I notice in my body in this moment, brings me to this moment more fully. Yoga is a perfect vehicle to develop awareness of the body. When I'm teaching I encourage students to draw their circles around themselves at the beginning of class. The sacred space this creates reminds them to use the breath to return their focus back to awareness of the body. Yoga is such an important part of my life. I know that a regular yoga practice contributes to graceful aging.
I started my home practice with three poses a day. Think about whether yoga might contribute to your life. If you think your body is too inflexible to do yoga that is when yoga could be the most helpful. If you already practice be sure to acknowledge yourself for the gift you are giving yourself. I would love to have you come to my class. The holiday season is such a good time to nurture ourselves in a way that really is nurturing. I teach Wednesdays from noon to one at Whole Yoga on 17th and Williams. If that time doesn't work for you there are many classes on the website. If it's too far away check out a studio nearby or go to for ideas on starting a home practice.

Monday, December 8, 2008

meditation: soother and cleanser

My computer has been testy and unresponsive for the past few days and since I am mostly computer illiterate I called for help today. I am uneasy now because even it is exhibiting similar behavior. I am trusting that I will either get to finish writing this blog or I won't. It's hard to relax and not let my sense of urgency be in charge of writing this. When I am rushing I make more mistakes and my thought process is less creative as well as less skillful. I am taking a deep breathe. I didn't meditate today. I have the kind of high energy prone to anxiety personality that needs the thorough daily soothing and cleansing that meditation provides. This morning I didn't get up soon enough before my 8:00 client came to do more than a little yoga and eat some breakfast.
Meditation allows me to sit still and is a way for me to stop my doing and just be. It is challenging when I have a lot to do to give some time to being and the rewards are great. My critical voice is quieter. It is easier for me to recognize that I am not my critical voice. I sit most mornings. I am reminded by the more frenetic quality of my energy, when I haven't made time for meditation. Sometimes before I sit it feels like a chore - something to be crossed off my to do list. Usually by the time I am finished I am grateful. I used to think that I could have good meditations and bad meditations. Good meditations would be when my thoughts would settle down and I could sustain a feeling of genuine peace. Bad meditations would be days that my mind was bouncing all over the place and I would bring myself back to my breath only to be drawn away into my thoughts again over and over until the time was up. After many years I realized that judging myself for my meditations was pretty amusing. It was a function of my ever-active ego's resourcefulness at finding opportunities for me to feel like I am doing something wrong. I decided that whether the meditation was satisfying in terms of my evaluative standards would be a moot point. That I meditated would be enough. Since then meditation has been more rewarding and even more fun. It's funny how removing the judge and letting the witness
come off of the bench and play makes for such a better game. I have been thinking about what is fun for me. To many, fun is about moving consciousness away from the present with alcohol, drugs and entertainment. I have my share of compulsive behaviors which sometimes feels like fun. I have been doing way too much window shopping on e-bay which is one reason my computer has been protesting. I want to find a balance between rigidity and indulgence so I can do what I need to do and enjoy my life more. Meditation is a way for me to more clearly know what feels ri9ght to me to do with my time. It slows me down enough to look at my choices in a more conscious way. It looks like I will be able to finish writing this blog. It certainly has been helpful to look at my sense of urgency and to recognize it and set it aside. I am going to meditate before I go to sleep. I know I'll sleep better. Where are you about meditation? Could it be useful to you to start or restart or reenergize a regular meditation practice?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

ocean ego

I am glad to be home. I am also in shock because yesterday I left the ocean and came back in my hoodie to twelve degrees and snow. I hadn't driven a car for ten days because the town in Mexico has none. This year they did have about ten ATV's doing business on the narrow cobblestone paths. I know it's progress and much easier to be building a house with the noisy little machines to help carry the load rather than using only burros.
I had a great time and am very grateful to have had such a lovely vacation. One highlight is the wonderful yoga teacher who teaches in a studio in the middle of town with a gorgeous ocean view. Another was swimming in the ocean with Gary almost every day. It also was worth getting wet crossing the river to get outside of town to meditate to the sound of the ocean waves crashing on the rocks. Each night we had a ritual of watching the stars and listening to the ocean. My spanish has progressed to the point where people who live there are actually correcting me. When you are beginning people just appreciate you trying at all. I can order in a restaurent with all of my food allergies and carry on completely rudimentary conversation. The best thing is that after going to the same place for three years I can easily relax there. That is such a blessing.
I want to share what happened on my last day. I had the decision about which water taxi to take to get to Puerto Vallerta. The ride takes an hour and is the only way to get to the pier where there is transportation to the airport. I had two choices. The later boat was cutting it quite close to my flight home. I decided to risk it because it gave me four more hours of paradise. I was practicing yoga and my ego was berating me telling me I was doing it wrong and that I would miss my flight. I listened for a while, getting more and more scared. I then told my ego that what it was saying might be true and if it was I would listen to it more. If it wasn't true I wouldn't listen to it. I asked it to back off until I was done doing yoga and moved my attention to my third eye. After yoga and one last time meditating on the rocks to the crashing waves I felt very joyous.Instead of "hoping for the best and planning for the worst," I could trust that everything would be OK. As I've said many times before, that can only happen when my definition of OK is very broad. I got home safely and smoothly. I learned that my ego gets loud and tries to use fear to move me out of the present. I think it would rather merge with the flow, it just isn't used to it. Bringing my attention to my third eye really helps, too. So today when it started being the voice of doom about several clients cancelling I was on to it. When I realized what was going on I breathed deeply into the fear and released the story. Then I went to meditate and focused on my third eye. What if there is no such thing as doing it wrong? What if there is only me making a choice to do what I am doing with a willingness to take responsibility for the natural consequences of each choice? Would it be useful for you to notice your ego talking to you today and respond to it by saying, " that might be true? Then focus your attention and your breath on your third eye bringing yourself to the present moment where the ego doesn't exist.
I am so glad to be writing again. I missed writing. I am glad to be sharing this with you. Thanks.

Friday, November 21, 2008

shoe drama

What is up for me tonight is embarrassing because I think it is trite. I like to think of myself as unique and I had a very ordinary dilemma today. I have had the same teva sandles for twenty years. They have served me well. They have been especially well suited to hiking and walking in the water in Mexico. Today when I went to look for them they were nowhere to be found. I poured through my house and my car several times. I realized I could go on my typical blame binge that I have often done when I lose something. I visited the place of urgency and panic when something seems to have disappeared into the black hole of the universe. I decided not to take up permanent residence. I remembered I had just lost my favorite black fleece jacket two weeks ago. I tried on the idea of considering myself a spacey loser and decided to put it back on the rack and cut myself some slack. I am leaving for Mexico on Sunday and it is very challenging for me to find shoes that fit me. I have small very wide feet that look like little bricks. Regular women's shoes rarely fit me. When I buy shoes I usually wear them for a week inside my house to make sure they fit well. I learned my lesson after buying shoes that seemed like they were wide enough and then discovering after wearing them for a while that my feet felt like they were being squeezed in a juicer. I went to meditate and got clear that I could release all of that and go look for shoes. I was willing to see my story about my shoe drama as a story and go out and look for sandles and see what happened. I decided to use my shopping adventure as an opportunity to tune into my inner wisdom about what feels right to me from the inside, to work with my breath to stay as relaxed as possible and to make sure I still went for a walk in addition to seeing my clients. In my late morning shoe excursion I realized that buying sandles in November is like buying warm furry boots in July. They are few and far between. I visited four stores and called one. All I found were several pairs that didn't fit and one possibility of red $90.00 sandles at the place I called. I was disappointed and annoyed that i had spent so much time. Before I saw my last two clients I surrendered to wearing my tennis shoes. Earlier this week I had purchased swimming goggles and noticed I would have rather had a different color. I blew that off in lieu of returning to the store.
When I was done working I decided to return to the sporting goods store, exchange the goggles and check out their sandles. On my feet right now are my new sandles and I have the goggles I wanted. My shoe drama story may be leaving for parts unknown. It hasn't packed its bags yet. Maybe when I leave for Mexico it will leave by separate transportation. What past story have you told yourself that you would be willing to challenge? What would challenging it look like?
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I am so thankful to have all of you to share my soul with. I will write again when I return from Mexico after Wednesday December 3rd. If you have a hankering to read my blog between now and then go back to the list and read one whose title jumps out at you. Love to all of you, Andrea

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Amy Purdy

I just finished watching a Spiritual Cinema movie called Speed of Life. It is a documentary about Amy Purdy's life. She is a young woman who was a snowboarding champion and suddenly contracted a strange illness. None of the doctors knew what it was and her mother was told her daughter had a 3% chance of surviving. Her body parts turned purple. Amy remembers leaving her body and then realizing she was dying and wasn't done. She screamed " No" and was whoshed back into her body. She had both of her legs amputated. What was so inspiring was her attitude. She said that she doesn't think of herself as disabled but rather as adaptive. She thinks of herself as adaptive because losing her legs proved to her she could adapt to anything. Five months after her surgery she was back on her snowboard using her prostheses. She met her boyfriend snowboarding and together they created Adaptive Athletes, their organization to teach athletes with challenges to snow board. Amy has a vision of supporting people in moving beyond their limitations to be able to do what they want to do. Her vision is well on its way. She has moved beyond what would be insurmountable challenges for some people. Amy showed the viewers her two pairs of legs. What she calls her pretty legs which look like regular legs and even have veins and wrinkles and red painted toenails. She said she is uncomfortable in her pretty legs because she doesn't feel like herself. She is more comfortable in her titanium legs which she said are different and feel more real to her. What a powerful young woman.
She sees what some might see as limitations, not as limitations but rather as an opportunity to do what she came here to do. It motivated me to look at my hearing loss in that light. How is my difficulty hearing enabling me to do what I came here to do? I have learned to listen more deeply and to be more present than a nomal hearing person. Also my inner hearing has developed to balance my challenges with outer hearing. It is part of what makes me a skilled counselor. I want to remember this in the midst of my next bout of frustration. Often I do. What is a challenge of yours that you could see as an opportunity to do what you came here to do? It is important to have our feelings and not judge ourselves. Sometimes I am very sad, or mad or scared about my hearing. I don't have to like it. I only have to accept it as what is.
Amy Purdy went farther. Not only accepting what is but celebrating what is and who she is. I am grateful to her for being on the planet and for doing the good work she is doing. Tonight I am also grateful for her inspiration to be all that I can be.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I am leaving for Mexico on Sunday for 10 days. I feel very grateful to be going. It is a chance to relax, do yoga and enjoy myself. I often get anxious before a trip. I like my routines and change is often unnerving. I like sleeping in my own bed and I love doing my work. It is a challenge to be in a different place and to spend way more time than usual with Gary. On the other hand the place I am going is familiar now and I am comfortable there. Gary and I have worked hard on sharing our own truth and honoring each other's truths. That helps us get through anything given enough time.
It's good to write about my fears so I can release them. I am afraid of running out of underwear. I am afraid of not being able to get healthy food. I am afraid of giving myself up and feeling trapped and resentful with Gary. I am afraid of being so afraid I won't be able to relax and have a good time. I am afraid I won't be able to sleep. I can now be with myself about my fears. As each one surfaces in my mind I can choose to fuel them with my ego's story or breathe into the sensation of the fear. As I breathe and validate that I am afraid, solutions float up. When I validate my fears first, hearing the fear and telling myself it is OK to be afraid, the solutions actually seem helpful. Whew! That felt good.
Now I will say what I am looking forward to.I am looking forward to doing what I want to do when I want to do it. I am looking forward to the awesome yoga classes. I am looking forward to this gorgeous waterfall hike that Gary and I do. I am looking forward to slowing down and being with the ocean. I am looking forward to plenty of time to do my spiritual disciplines. I am looking forward to being in a different culture in a place that has no cars. I am looking forward to practicing Spanish. I am looking forward to finding a balance between being with Gary and being with me. We have two good friends that I enjoy spending time with that we met there who will be there for a few days,too. It is rare to experience four people who really enjoy each other's company. There is a lot I am looking forward to. It feels good to release fears and follow it with what I am looking forward to. What I want is to spend this week being as present as I can and to trust that I will get everything done in a good enough way. My ego seems very active today so I want to be aware that it will be distracting me with what I am doing wrong and saying wrong. When I am feeling very afraid or negative I know my ego is active. I don't always know it at the time. Sometimes it feels so real that I suck, or Gary sucks or my life sucks. What I want is to recognize that that is what is going on and disengage. My ego goes to town before a trip letting me know how I must rush and get everything done and keeping my to do list in my face in a way that distracts me. I decide where I put my attention. Where I put my attention, either on my higher self or on my ego will determine my state of mind going into my vacation.Will i arrive there exhausted or energized? My intention is to remind myself to awaken whenever I fall asleep and move into automatic pilot and do my vacation preparation with a sense of urgency. Awaken Awaken Awaken. Is there anything you are feeling anxious about? Would it help you to listen to your fears so you can validate them and release them? Is there anything about what you are anxious about that you are looking forward to?

Friday, November 14, 2008


I am making progress with handling the stress of feeling out of control. I had a great opportunity yesterday. Qwest screwed up my phone bill and I called to rectify that. I was passed on to four different people and sent to Verizon and back. The entire process took an hour and a half. The worst part was that every time I was put on hold a recording of this guy extolling the virtues of Qwest
babbled into my ears. One of the customer service women I talked to told me she couldn't shut him off and that they had to listen to it all day long too. At first I was really angry that it was taking so long and that I was being passed along again and again with noone having the authority to figure out what I was asking for. By the time we got to the decision making layer we were both put on hold for twenty more minutes. I was gnashing my teeth until I realized that I had no control over how long it would take or what the outcome would be. I started holding the phone away from my ear, trusting that I would know when the person came back, and reading my new issue of Yoga Journal. The first article was about dealing with fear. It suggested you move out of the story that the fear was telling you(you are going to spend the entire afternoon on the phone with these people and nothing will get resolved) to the sensation of the fear in the body. This was a familiar sensation. I was aware of a tightness in my chest and stomach and difficulty breathing. I remembered the day before when I was afraid of missing the plane and revved up into my story and how awful it was physically and mentally. This time I chose to be with myself and experience what was going on inside me. As I brought my attention to my experience I could step back a little and witness what was going on. As I breathed the charge attached to the feelings began to release.The tension lessened. I let go of feeling like a victum and of my attachment to the outcome. I realized that just the day before I was thinking I wanted more time to learn some new things about yoga to enliven my classes. Although the form wasn't fitting my pictures here was my opportunity.During this phone call I had the chance to read most of the magazine. I learned about poses to deal with stress, poses to do in the winter,and an explanation of bridge pose that I found very useful.As I was passed on I explained to the new person how long I had been waiting and how frustrating it was and how I didn't want to take it out on them. They were all sympathetic and apologetic. Finally the last person I dealt with was able to solve the problem. By that time I was amused and enjoying myself.I got off of the phone feeling like it was actually a positive experience because of how I had handled it. It's funny how anything can be used to support the part of us that knows that everything will be OK or the part that wants to let us know how awful everything is. Consciously choosing to disallow my critical ego to run the show by being present with what was going on in my body, felt great. It doesn't even matter how much what I am bringing my attention to sucks, it's the act of consciously choosing to be with what is that begins the healing.I got to see how different it is to be with myself than to freak myself out with worst case scenario stories as I had the day before. This is progress. Can you bring to mind a time when you were willing to be with yourself as a compassionate witness in the face of suffering? Would you be willing to acknowledge yourself for both doing that and noticing it again now?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


On the way to see my Mom last weekend I screwed up and made Monnya's reservations as Monnya Silver. When Monnya was in first grade her teacher called me and told me that Monnya had changed the spelling of her name from Manya to Monnya. She was tired of people mispronouncing her name as man ya. Her father and I said it made sense and was fine. By then we were used to her strong willed decision making.I forgot that her license was still in her given name and that when she travels she uses Manya.

The security people at the airport didn't take it lightly.They considered it a different name and not a different spelling of the same name. Monnya was interrogated for ten minutes.I felt a little guilty for messing up and putting her through this.She said it was kind of scary but wasn't upset. We still had plenty of time to catch our plane.They suggested we handle it at the airline counter when we got in to avoid hassles on the return flight. When we got in we went directly to the airline counter and they said they couldn't do anything.
On our way back the ticket counter people flagged her boarding pass. We only had thirty minutes till the plane took off. I had been anxious on the drive to the airport because it took longer than we had anticipated. Monnya told me to relax and trust in the universe.

I guess I taught her that so she could reteach it to me when I forgot.When we got to security she had to go through a second check. First we had to wait for an available female attendant. Then she was searched and all of her belongings were searched with a special probe and a machine that registered whatever they were looking for. I was getting more and more anxious. I kept trying to breathe and be in my circle. Luckily for her I was behind the gate and she didn't have to deal directly with my rising anxiety. She was feeling achey and stuffed up. I felt responsible that she was going through all of this because of my mistake on top of feeling bad physically.The whole thing took twenty minutes and I had it in my mind that travelers had to be at the gate twenty or thirty minutes before the plane took off to be allowed to board the flight. That assumption was making it hard to breathe and creating lots of stress in my body and mind. I really did not want to be stuck in El Paso because Monnya had to fly to Toronto to a performance the next day and I had clients scheduled. Part of me always knows that everything will be OK if my definition of OK is very broad. That knowledge was very hard to access in the moment. When she was done I ran to the gate and breathlessly asked if we could still board the plane which was taking off in ten minutes. The women looked at me like I was some strange overreacting being and said sure.The story I had created led to an assumption which led to extreme stress. Monnya handled the whole thing gracefully.The flight was uneventful and she slept the whole way. I got to contemplate on what I had created and by the end of the flight I was finding the whole thing more amusing. We raced across town so that Monnya could get to her doctor's appointment in Evergreen on time. When I got home I began to have cold symptoms. Getting sick is one way I allow myself to rest and take it easy. I sleep more and do less. Next time I would like to be kinder to myself about my mistake.I would like to give myself a break and know that it's Ok that I don't handle things with equanimity.I will recognize that that level of urgency almost always signals that I have given my ego free reign to let me know how much I have done it wrong and the dire consequences which the future has in store for me. Then that conscious awareness that my ego is running amuck will enable me to be kinder to myself about not being kind to myself. Then it would be possible to comfort myself and include my mistake and anxiety about my mistake in showing up for myself. I will now kindly take my stuffed up sinuses and go to bed, grateful that I have an easy day tomorrow. I will also consider giving myself an easy day without having to be sick. How about you?

Monday, November 10, 2008


This blog is purple in honor of my mother. Purple was her favorite color. She had a bumper sticker on her car when she was still driving that said, I Love Purple. Now she says she doesn't really have a favorite color anymore. The fact that she thought about the question when my daughter asked her and responded thoughtfully was part of the miracle night that the three of us spent together. Up until the last night Monnya and I were visiting, my Mom was very unresponsive. She had trouble staying awake and would nod off in the middle of a meal. I had resigned myself that she had reached the stage of Alzheimer's where she knew I was someone she knew but wasn't sure who I was. I had accepted that hanging out with her was an opportunity to be present with myself and grieve because she was rarely awake. The first afternoon I took a nap with her and had a good cry that was cleansing and helpful. The second day I read a story to her and she listened but wasn't able to respond. When Monnya and I arrived on the last night we accepted her to be in a similar unresponsive space.
We sat with her while she ate dinner. She was very clear that all she wanted was applesause and dessert. I tried to encourage her to eat the main course even though I could completely understand why she didn't want to eat it. The soggy gravy on white bread and runny chicken salad sandwich didn't look at all attractive to me either. She was firm in her refusal and when I honored that she began to calm down. She knew she didn't have to fight me. She began to see that Monnya and I saw her and valued her opinion. I can't explain how it happened that my Mom came back to be with us. We went to her room and hung out for several hours. We sang songs and Mom remembered the words. We read three books and she was much more with it in her responses. We played a game where each of us said something we were glad about and then sad about. My Mom participated and thoughtfully responded. She even remembered the meaning of some yiddish words that I thought were lost to me forever. It was as if she had come back so we could have this magic evening with the three of us. It was a gift of grace that I will always be grateful for. At one point Monnya was crying. Mom turned to her and sweetly and sincerely said, "Let me know if you need anything." That made both of us cry harder. She knew who we both were and was interested in our lives. I feel so blessed that Monnya was there with me to witness this heartopening event. My Mom, before Alzheimer's, was a vital, opinionated, caring person who could be extemely loving and also extremely critical. At one point Monnya had her foot up on the couch and Mom told her to move it off. Monnya told her she only had a sock on. My Mom looked at her directly and said, "I'm sorry" in such a sweetly sincere way. At the end of the evening I felt complete with my Mom. Even If I never see her lucid again, even if she doesn't recognize me at all the next time I visit, I will know that the three of us shared a conscious moment together that Monnya and I will always remember and treasure. In the parking lot we held each other and cried. As my daughter becomes more of an adult my mother becomes more of a child. Watching my mother regress and my daughter feed the other adults at my mothers Alzheimer's home I was struck with love for these two women that I am sandwiched between. I am the peanut butter between their two slices of bread. Tonight it feels like a good place to be. Where are you with the members of your family? How is that satisfying and unsatisfying?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I am so very happy to be writing this blog. My heart expanded with delicious joy waking up this morning and having my first thought be that Barack Obama will be president. We did it! Oh Goody!
Yesterday when I was canvassing I was exhausted and as I neared the end of my list, I wondered if anything I was doing made any difference.Last night I could see the impact of all of our energy on the outcome of this election. An idea starts with a possibility. Someone says, "What if Barack Obama could be our next president?" Some of my friends recognized his potential at this stage. I did not. I never thought he could win and I wanted someone who could win. The committment of the small group of people who believed in Barack from the beginning began to grow.Collective energy begins to build and with enough support the possibility becomes an idea.Then it takes more and more people and more and more energy and more and more money to bring an idea into reality. Whether you forwarded e-mails worked for the campaign, voted or provided a different truth, we all made this happen. I am so glad to be an American today.Listening to Barack speak last night I was struck by his respectful attitude toward other people. He carried this attitude with him throughout this campaign. He was advised to be tougher, which in this political arena means more competitively negative about the other guy. He wasn't. He let who he is shine through and allowed people to recognize him for the merits of his character. In his acceptance speech he said, A government of the people, by the people for the people shall not perish from this earth." The founding fathers had high hopes for this country. I have high hopes tonight. Listening to Barack acknowledge his wife I was moved to tears at the depth of his love and respect for her as his best friend and the love of his life. I am as excited for her to be in the white house as I am for him. Together they can model a relationship of equals.
Last year when I went to Mexico I felt ashamed of my government and eager to point out that there were plenty of Americans who didn't agree with George Bush. Later this month when I go to Mexico again I will feel proud of being from the US. I will share my excitement about our new president to be and the fact that we elected him. There is a lot of work to be done and today is for celebrating. What does it take to move a possibility to an idea? Are there any possibilities brewing inside of you that need a voice? My daughter Monnya and I are leaving to go visit my Mom and my sister in New Mexico Friday morning very early so I may not write until Monday.

Monday, November 3, 2008


This blog is in honor of focusing on the present and releasing worry. Worry focuses on the negative events that could or might happen in the future. It is useful to be aware of what I am afraid of underneath the obsessive thinking of worry. Right now I am worried about the election. I have been entertaining the possibility that it won't turn out how I want it to and worrying about that. My stomach gets tense and it is hard to breath. Being aware of my fear and feeling it with the intention of releasing it really helps. Space in my body gets created by breathing into the sensation I am having right now. I breathe into my fear and show up for myself with it. I say, "I am here for you with your fear." Embracing myself with my fear, the part of me that can witness the fear and disidentify with it as who I am, gets brought to my awareness. Being present with what is moves me back from the future. As I breathe my stomach can begin to release and my breath becomes deeper and slower. There is something about bringing compassionate direct awareness to fear that allows it to release. Clamping down and resisting the fear often looks like worry. Worry is fear with a story. By going underneath the story that the worry tells, my attention can shift to comforting myself with conscious awareness. It's OK to be afraid. Being with the sensation of the fear allows me to move beyond it to the place where I know everything will be OK. When I know everything will be OK regardless of the outcome I can be less attached to the outcome. That gives me space to focus on what I want to happen without desperation. Desperation is worry with a stronger story. So when I feel the web of worry spinning, I can bring my attention away from the story and go down into my body to focus on the experience I am having. I can focus on centering myself within my circle and bring life force to myself with my breath. That allows me release my fear and to remember my vision. I then have space to focus on seeing my vision of how I want this election to turn out from a place that isn't fear-based. From that place I know that the outcome isn't in my control. I can want what I want and envision that and it builds my trust that my being out of control is actually a good thing. What a relief that I'm not in charge. I am only in charge of where I put my attention and discerning the difference in my quality of life depending on my choices. May the awareness of the force of the present moment be with you. What are you worried about? Would you be willing to go under the story?

Thursday, October 30, 2008


The days when I write seem to vary. Sometimes I write Monday Wednesday and Friday and sometimes Sunday Tuesday and Thursday. I know that consistency has never been my strong suit. I bet you don't care what days I write this. You probably read it when you do. So, what I can say is that I usually write three times a week, except when I don't. Thanks. It always feels so good to speak my truth and stop pretending that I don't need to. When I speak my truth something relaxes in me. Pretending keeps me from being present, whatever I am pretending about. Often when I am pretending it is because I think that what I am feeling about something isn't OK. Then I project that on to other people and think that they will be judging me as I am. Often this is not the case. Other people rarely judge me in the same way I judge myself. If I am close enough to be safe with the person I think is judging me and do a reality check with them like this," I'm making up a story that you are judging that I am a flake because I keep changing when I am writing on this blog. Is that true?" Often the person I am projecting to be judging me, isn't thinking about me at all. Letting go of pretending and being willing to be present sometimes scares me. I feel afraid of being out of control. Somehow I have it wired together that if I keep myself tense and in control I will be safer. In reality when I am pretending not to be feeling what I am feeling, I am anxious and drained. I am very blessed that most of the people in my life are people I can be truthful with if I am willing to find a skillful way to express myself. I am very grateful. Telling the truth allows me to breathe deeper and relax. It takes so much less effort to be who I am than who I am not. It is more difficult when my truth involves being mad or sad or scared or some derivitive of that. Having the courage to speak the truth has created a deeper connection enough times that I trust it more.
Sometimes it's fun to experiment and tell the truth to a new person. It doesn't have to be a monumental truth. Only the kind of thing that I would think, "I can't say that!" Like the other day I talked about politics with my dentist. I didn't get the outcome I thought I wanted and I felt good about speaking my truth. It was an opportunity to open to someone else's different truth. If I hide my truth I don't get to widen my viewpoint to different truths or feel validated for my own. In this election I have been able to talk about politics more openly than before. If I can validate my truth from the inside rather than looking for external validation, it is safer to tell my truth and easier to discern who is an appropriate recipient. It seems important to begin to recognize pretending. In my case, my mouth feels pursed, my breathing is shallow, I feel rushed and tense. Sometimes it is also important not to tell the truth and to keep pretending. A conscious choice supports my growth the most. What do you pretend about and when? Would you be willing to notice? Who do you feel safe telling the truth to? Would you be willing to acknowledge yourself and them?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Do you remember hearing the saying "you can't see the forest for the trees?" It never made sense to me. I was thinking about my experience the other day at the Obama rally and the saying suddenly came alive. The trees, were my expectations about the rally. The forest that I didn't fully see because I was so focused on the trees was the miracle of over 100,000 diverse people taking the time from their lives to come out and rally behind Barack Obama. Barack has often said that this movement isn't about him. He is the vehicle of the movement for change that has awakened in this country. We are this movement. I realized that my focus on being able to see him made it all about him. As I read others' stories the experience of being in that big a crowd with all different kinds of other people who care about this country and want it to be freer to change shines through. Focusing on Barack obscured that from my vision. So, I accept myself for my expectations and my subsequent disappointment. In forgiving myself I let go of the trees and I notice the forest. In the forest of the rally there was a sense that we are all in this together. Our energy is feeding ourselves and each other. We are feeding ourselves hope that we can feel good about the leadership of our government. When something doesn't work out the way I want it to it is easy for my ego to get really loud and tell me that nothing will ever work out the way I want it to again. When I believe what my ego tells me and act as if it is the only truth all I see are the trees. The forest of the bigger picture doesn't even exist. I forget when I buy what my ego tells me about myself and my life that it is a vehicle for awareness of my higher self. The opportunity is presented to me every time I recognize that it is my ego dissing me.
Then I can focus in my circle and breathe into my heart or my third eye and ask for help from my higher self. My ego isn't the bad guy it's only a messenger. The message is,"use me to open to all of who you are." The ego's message of fear and separation is only an invitation to a bigger party. The oneness party beyond fear and separation where we are all divine beings linked together. So, my FGO is about using the ego to grow in awareness of Oneness. Such a deal. Can you relate to this? What is your forest and what are your trees that are keeping you from seeing it? How can you use your focus on the trees to see the big wide forest in all of its spaciousness? In what area of your life do you have an example of already moving from seeing only the trees to an awareness of the vast forest?

Sunday, October 26, 2008


So this all started yesterday when I canvassed for Obama. By the time I finished it was 7 and getting dark. I took my results to the volunteer to tally, ate a quick dinner and headed to Manuel High School for the organizational meeting for people volunteering for the Obama rally today.There were thousands of people there. After they talked to us in the large group they broke us up into smaller groups. Ours was in the cafeteria. The woman in charge talked to us about how important each of us was to the success of the rally, and that no matter what job we ended up with she hoped we would do it with a positve calm attitude. Then we broke up into groups of about 15 and met with our team leaders. Ours was the ADA group. We were in charge of supporting people with disabilities coming to the rally. When we arrived and realized how close we would be to Barack I felt so grateful and lucky and excited. There were many thousands of people there stretching all the way back to the capitol house lawn from civic Center Park. When I volunteered I knew I would get into the rally but I had no idea I would end up this close. There were people stationed out of the park to assist people on line in getting in and there were those of us inside the park assiting people with seating. We were stationed within 20 feet of the podium where Obama was speaking. The experience gave me a deeper understanding that we are all one people. I got a deeper appreciation of the courage it takes to do what it takes to go to a rally with a less than cooperative body, let alone live in one every day. People were manuevering in electric wheelchairs over grass, packed in very closely. I was so glad that there is an American Disabilities Act so they would have this rally be accessable. The excitement was palpable because we all knew we were going to be so close and get to share this experience.We had been waiting since 8am and Barack was due to speak at 12. It was 11:30. The woman who had been speaking to the volunteers in the cafeteria came over to about 6 of us who were volunteering in the ADA area and asked us to go pass out placards. We went to the area where the placards were and then walked toward the back of the huge crowd where they wanted us to pass them out. It felt good to give people who couldn't even see the podium where Barack was speaking a banner or a placard. People seemed really glad to have them. Maybe it made them feel more a part of things. When my placards were passed out I realized there was no way to get back to where I was. The staffmember who had taken us to the back had abandoned us. Apparently they had other things to do.The secret service had closed everything off and didn't bend their rules for me. Another volunteer from my team and I tried various strategies to get to a place where we could see Barack. If I didn't ever think it would be a possibility to be so close I wouldn't have been so disappointed. It would have been a cool experience to just be there. I was aware of how my intense expectations contributed to my disappointment. We ended up outside the park where I borrowed a man's binoculars and I could see a tiny Barack's head between a tree. Even that was thrilling. I held on to my disappointment allowing myself to feel it. Even though I could hear my mother's voice saying dismissively"That should be the worst thing that ever happens to you." My ego voice was saying, " Suck it up. Shit happens. Is being close to Obama the only reason you volunteered?" It felt important to be with my experience and allow myself to integrate it. I went to Whole Foods and ate some carbs to console myself but it didn't really help. I took a long bike ride in the beautiful autumn colors and then sat by the river and contemplated. That did help. Telling the story to Gary who called from his Mom's in Chicago, also helped. He didn't try to make it better. It seems like when he tries to make things better they feel worse. I was grateful that he just heard me. My disappointment is passing. I have given myself time and space to be with what is. I am letting go of what wasn't. A useful lesson. Another FGO as someone I used to work with calls them. FGO stands for Fucking Growth Opportunities. Have you had one lately?

Friday, October 24, 2008


I can't stop eating. When I am tired and don't feel like I have time to rest I eat when i'm not hungry. I have been doing tasks and intermittently going to the refrigerator and stuffing mouthfuls of nuts in my mouth. I am going to write this blog now and not get up and eat until I am done. When I most need to rest is when I avoid it the most. I feel impatient and urgent about what I am chosing to do and a lack of compassion for myself. When I am overtired my ego gets very loud. It's telling me that it's my fault that I tried to sleep with Gary on a work night because he was leaving on a trip this morning. We have almost always had trouble sleeping together and it's a tribute to our commitment that we keep trying. Once again I looked the word commitment up in the dictionary. (Howmany hundreds of times have I looked up that word because I can't remember how to spell it ? That doesn't feel like a coincidence that I can't even remember how to spell commitment. Thank you for that- dear ego)Most of the time we just sleep in separate beds. When I don't get a good night's sleep it isn't pretty. I am irritable and cranky and critical of myself and him. My ego goes to town about us not being able to sleep together. It tells me that it isn't normal and if I really wanted to be with Gary I would be able to sleep with him. Sometimes I know it's OK and just part of our relationship. Other times it brings up my visions of couples with two twin beds or separate bedrooms who haven't been close to each other in decades. When I was growing up, "They don't even sleep together "was doomsday for a couple. Things have changed. Houses are even being built with two master bedrooms because couples value their own space more. We are both used to sleeping alone. When I honor how hard it is for me and don't make myself wrong about sleeping separately I don't have days like today where I am dragging and sleep deprived. I am blessed because thirty years of counseling has enabled me to put aside my own stuff and be completely present with the person I'm working with. Probably if I could just be tired and not blame myself and Gary things would be a lot easier. I am reaching down into my heart to the part of me that loves me no matter what and embracing my anger and blame. As I breathe into the blame my heart softens. So, I made a mistake and stuck with it all night. It's only because I wanted it to work out. It doesn't mean that I am a stupid fool or that my relationship with Gary is a complete mismatch. It only means that if I have to work the next day that isn't a good time to see if we can sleep together without a backup plan. If I blow up my extra bed and we communicate about who goes in it beforehand that is a viable plan B. Acknowledging what is and preparing for it is a kinder mode. I feel more gentle with myself about all of this. It can now be included in what is OK. The more I can include in what is OK, the more OK I feel. Writing this blog is very theraputic. I hope it is as helpful to you as it is to me. I don't feel a need to go stuff my face with food anymore. That is a relief. I think i will take some time to rest now.
Is there something that you are holding your heart hard toward yourself about? Would you be willing to hold yourself in love and breathe into your feelings about it? I will write again Monday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I just got off the phone with my sister. I am appreciating her a lot and I wanted to share it with you.
This morning I woke up very early worrying about my trip to visit my sister and my Mom in two weeks. My daughter is coming with me and my nephew is also going down from college to be there. My sister also invited her close friend and her two children to join us for the weekend. My sister and her husband have three dogs, two who are new puppies. The plan is for all of us to stay at my sister's house. I live alone. Peace and quiet are very important to me. Sleeping is especially important.
My sister works full time and teaches yoga four evenings a week and is the main caretaker for my Mom who lives in an alzheimer's facility in her same town.
I wanted to share my fear about being in the chaos without offending my sister and adding more to her already full plate. I didn't want to be a pain in the butt and I wanted to feel better about the trip.I thought about the possibility of staying in a motel. I knew as I lay in bed this morning that there was a way to communicate all of this to my sister that was clear, honest and direct.
I didn't understand why she invited her friend when things were chaotic enough. As I worked with myself this morning before calling her I knew that defensively saying, "I don't understand why you invited K to come in the midst of everything else?" was not a good idea. As I relaxed more I got clear that the best way to be clear and direct was to be clear and direct. It is definitely more emotionally vulerable to tell the truth about what I am feeling and own it. So, I called and asked my sister if she had time to listen to me. She said she did. I told her I had been up early this morning worrying about the trip and that I was afraid I wouldn't be able to sleep with all of the people and animals there. I asked her how she would feel about my staying in a motel. She heard me and said that I needed to do what I wanted to and that I would still have the same room I usually stay in and could take out my hearing aids and close the door. I felt heard and relieved and relaxed. I told her I wanted to know why she invited K and her kids and that I knew it was none of my business. She explained that she wanted to have everyone there because to her it felt like the whole family and that almost never happens. That made sense to me. I also told her that I almost didn't call because I didn't want to burden her with my stuff. I called because I wanted to feel closer to her. In the past I have been afraid of my sister getting angry at me. I have let my fear of her being upset with me color how I presented things to her. Defensively expressing myself is experienced as an attack by the other person. People who feel attacked defend themselves. Defensiveness meeting defensiveness creates diconnection misunderstanding and war, for that matter.
There are people I feel safe speaking my truth with and people I don't. Learning the difference makes it easier to risk being emotionally vulnerable. I am glad I called my sister.
Speaking the truth from my heart opens the space for real connection. In this conversation my sister and I were able to talk about our feelings about my Mom in a way that felt more real. I feel guilty that I am so far away and that Cynde is doing everything. She has been dealing with the day to day problems of my mother's decline including her aggressiveness. It has been overwhelming. I think this morning we heard each other and felt more connected. Maybe that is the purpose of sharing truth. The importance of moving unclarity out of the way in communication is to move away all obstacles to creating a deeper connection with another person. Then there is the opportunity to openheartedly experience the other person's reality. That gives us a chance to feel like we are connected to each other which opens up that feeling of being connected to everything. So maybe clear communication is a doorway to let love in. It's waiting there for us to let it in. I am grateful to my sister for her support and her openness. I look forward to growing old together and supporting each other in our growth.
Is there someone you are close to that you have something you want to share with and are afraid to?
Do you think that it might be possible that skillfully sharing it might bring you closer?

Monday, October 20, 2008


Saturday Gary and I went to an amazingly beautiful wedding. My friend was marrying her longterm partner. They are both part of an accapella singing group called Sound Circle that performed at the ceremony. They musically celebrated the couple's love. It was heartwarming. As part of the ceremony, the guests were asked to share their wishes and blessings for the couple. There was such a moving outpouring of love, as people shared their truth from their hearts, that they passed around boxes of kleenex for all of us crying. The minister kept reminding us all to breathe because it was such an intensely emotional experience. I could palpably feel the love of the couple for each other and from the community for them. Energetically everyone was basking in this love. Creating that depth of love together, a feeling of closeness arose among the participants, even though I knew almost noone.
All of the guests were asked to continue holding the couple in love as they moved into their married life together. I have never seen two people so unadulterately pleased to be marrying each other. When their vows were over my friend said,"We're married!" as if it were the most amazing and wonderous thing that had ever happened to her. I felt so grateful to be invited to share in this joyous event.
Afterwards in addition to my sense of well-being, I was aware of the injustice that two people who love each other so much and have already created a rich full life together and are the respective mother and step mother of two children can't be legally married.
I am sad that in most states in this country loving couples are denied the right to a civil marriage ceremony because they happen to share the same gender. I thought about how freeing it must have been for the women there who were in couples to express their affection for each other in a community of acceptance and celebration. It's something I take for granted. I don't think I will in the same way again. Maybe one day everyone's love will be celebrated as the love that it is. None better or worse. Thanks for listening. I'm glad I can share this with you.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I spent the afternoon walking with my nephew. For the first six years of his life he lived in Denver. Jakke and my daughter Monnya are four months apart. My sister Cynde and I and our two kids spent a lot of time together before they moved to Pennsylvania.We used to take them to a restaurant in their baby carriers and talk and eat while they slept. Today Jakke was in Denver for a job interview for a position as an accountant.He graduates from college in May and is only interviewing for jobs that are in Denver. I am excited about the possibility of spending more time with him.We have mostly been pretty close. When he was a senior in High School he asked me to teach meditation to the members of his football team. I visited my sister's family in Alamagordo, New Mexico, went hiking with eight burly young men and shared a meditation practice with them.They were very receptive.I appreciated that Jakke respected what I have to offer and wanted to share it with his friends. Jakke is a sensitive, competitive enterprenuerial spirit.He is eager to enter corporate America fully. It is a pleasure to spend time with a person whose take on the world is very different from mine. I enjoy having a window into his world.I am grateful to have a relationship with my nephew that is evolving into an adult friendship.I'm glad I know him. I look forward to knowing him more.
Personality is the strongest when we are in our twenties. If we work on ourselves,as we age we begin to disengage from our egoes, opening more to all of who we are. I love spending time with people in their twenties. They are so different than I was when I was in my twenties.I believe in the evolution of conscousness. Each generation evolves in consciousness beyond the generation before. It is why children can be their parents teachers if the parents are willing to open to that.I admire the energy and motivation I see in the twenty year olds I come into contact with. It would be great to be able to have that energy again and combine it with the acceptance and wisdom I have now. What would it be like to have a conversation with my twenty year old self and see what she has to offer me now?
Maybe if I get quiet and tune into her she has a message for me
that will be valuable to my life now. She says, "You did good. I am proud of you. I am relieved you learned to relax." I let her know that I am grateful to her for all the pain she went through that helped me to be where I am today.I look forward to communicating with her again soon. Experiment with communicating with your own inner twenty year old. It is a way to connect with a twenty year old when there is none available externally.I will write again on Monday.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Since I sent out my new website to my e-mail list I have had an outpouring of support. It feels so good to acknowledge the caring, positive messages. One good reason to reach out to people is to remember how much I am cared about. What good is a support system if I don't use it for support. Isn't that the point?
Reaching out for support is a stretch. When I need support about something I am challenged by it is easy to minimize it or to decide that my friends are too busy. I can make up lots of stories about how what I want to share isn't important and I should figure it out myself. Then I tell myself that my friends are tired of hearing my same old story. The ego is very wiley about convincing us we are alone and separate. Reaching out to a trusted friend for help often deepens the relationship. The people I feel closest to are the ones who are the most real with me. The ones who say they are fine all the time aren't the one I feel safe sharing with when I am not feeling fine. My closest friends are people I can share my joys and sorrows with knowing they will do the same. Support is mutual interdependance. That is a good thing,
There is a difference between venting to gossip or create validation for a position and support. Let's say I am preparing to speak to my sister about a conflictual issue. I can share this preparation with a friend, letting the friend know what my intention is. My intention is to get support in clearing the way to be closer to my sister. That isn't triangulation. Triangulation is one person talking about a second person to a third person when the communicatiion is indirect and not intended as preparation for direct communication. In a lot of families noone talks to each other directly and all communication goes on through triangulation. It's like a giant game of telephone. Sometimes it is so common in families that people don't even know they haven't talked to the person directly and accept triangulation as a substitue for a relationship. They haven't talked to their cousin Edie but have heard about her from their mother. In a way triangulation actually prevents direct communication in families. Is there someone in your family or a friend you have been wanting to reach out to? Is there a venue you've been wanting to check out as a possible way to expand your support system?
I am grateful for the support I have in my life. It is a joy to share my new website and feel that support so strongly.

Monday, October 13, 2008


The enneagram, as many of you know, can be used as a psycho-spiritual map of nine personality types. Hurley and Donson, two local enneagram teachers, created a system of three centers and the enneagram. The three centers are thinking ,feeling and doing. Each point on the enneagram overuses one of these, is supported in this overusing by another of these and represses the third one of these. I resonate most with point four which is called the Tragic Romantic or the Individualist or the Artist depending on whose book you are reading. I use the numbers one through nine because that is simpler than the names. The four, for example overuses feelings, is supported in that overusing by thinking and represses doing. That means I hang around thinking about my feelings a lot and am challenged by doing. A seven in the enneagram overuses doing, is supported in their overdoing by thinking and represses feeling. Sevens spend their time doing and thinking about their doing and are challenged by feelings.
I often say that my thinking to doing time is quite long. So, several years ago I decided it would be a good idea for me to have a website. Last November I decided I wanted to have a website. I have learned to cut myself a lot of slack, setting reasonable goals that take into consideration that doing is challenging. I set the goal of having a website by December of 2008. On my last trip to Valley View Hot Springs in July I met Mike Blevins, a web designer.
I liked him a lot. It is important to me to do business with people whom I feel
good about working with. Otherwise it doesn't work. He did a great job and I highly recommend him. He was patient,creative, listened well and was willing to work with me to create a beautiful website. I think we both spent way more time and energy than we thought it would take and the result is well worth it. It was a major doing project for me to get clear about how best to express what I do. Mike is also a really good photographer. Gary, my partner, designed the logo, which is such a whimsical expression of being in sacred circle held in love. He was helpful all along the way. My friends Smokey and Graham looked over the site and gave really good suggestions. I appreciate all of the great help. My website is now complete and I am really happy to let people know about all of the work I so love to do. Please check it out at and let me know what you think. I am excited to share it with you.
So, as you look at thinking, feeling and doing, what center do you overuse, which one supports that overusing and which one do you repress? What could be a goal to bring your repressed center more into balance?

Friday, October 10, 2008

live fully, die suddenly

I did a Laughter Yoga presentation today for 150 seniors at the Senior Resource Day sponsored by the Arapahoe County Council on Aging. The event was free and open to the public. People were sitting in rows and I was nervous about how to do laughter yoga when the participants didn't have room to move around. I have done laughter yoga with seniors many times with people in independant living and assisted living and found them to be very receptive. These seniors were active people living on their own. Younger people were sprinkled throughout the audience, too. It was a hoot.
At the beginning when I looked out at the sea of faces, I had to remind myself to breathe because I was so scared. As I relaxed and got into the presentation I entered the flow where I'm not self-conscious anymore. I'm no longer thinking about what they might be thinking of me. My focus is on creating the opportunity for adults to laugh about nothing, let go of their tension and seriousness and relax and enjoy themselves by being silly and playful. It feels natural, meaningful and satisfying to be leading Laughter Yoga. Talking in front of groups has always been terrifying for me.
This fear is healing each time I present. I am grateful. I feel blessed to have three forms of work that balance each other so well: counseling and mentoring, hatha yoga and laughter yoga.
The man who presented after me talked about exercise and aging and was humorous and informative. He presented an idea that really resonated with me. It was to live life fully and die suddenly. I would love to continue living my life fully and to keep growing and changing as I age. I would love to grow in acceptance of myself and others and keep opening to ways to make a difference in the world. I would like to live for a long time.Then I would like to die suddenly and peacefully without a prolonged disease process. I wonder how much any of us has to say about how we die? I certainly don't know.We definitely have a lot to say about how we live. How are you living? Would you be willing to acknowledge some of the ways you are living more fully than you did before, however small or large they may be?