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?