Little Jersey trail meandered around Lum’s Pond State Park in Delaware offering an adventure for our morning eight mile bike ride. The route began on a narrow, sandy path that was bordered by row upon row of rye grass waving in the breeze. The scene was so reminiscent of my grandparents farm and fields. I was aware of this sweet memory from the past as I pedaled into the woods. Due to the seven inches of rain from a recent storm, the trail was challenging in places. Fresh tire marks tracked deep into the mud as we entered the forest section of the trail. I played it safe and dismounted from my bike, preferring to walk around the obstacles. What was most prominent throughout this bike ride was how changeable the landscape was. We passed tall pine forests with barely any light shining through to open fields baking in the early morning sun. Once the pond came into view, we witnessed fish slapping at the edges of the rusty colored pond water in pursuit of the bugs skittering at the surface. The bike surface was hard-packed gravel in places and other sections were teeming with tree roots criss-crossing the area. Just like life itself, the path and surrounding beauty had a fluidity of its own. I noticed my wanting the path to be the easy hard-packed, dry surface instead of full of roots or slippery with crevices of mud. As soon as I became aware of my “clinging”, I then challenged myself to notice what new experiences I could have in the other terrains. Instead of resisting and tightening my muscles while gritting my way to the other side, could I let go and flow with the changing surface? What I discovered was that there was a measure of thrill of being able to stay upright as my wheels slipped and slid through the heavy, wet mud or bumped precariously over the knotted roots. Could I meet each new twist and turn on the path and adjust my gears, my pace, and my attitude accordingly? I improved this practice as the miles unfolded and once again was reminded how when we can lean into the present moment and flow with what is around us, it makes for easier going. Are there experiences in your life that you tighten against? Would it be possible to live it a different way? You might be delightfully surprised with what you discover by adopting this new way of flowing with life.
Where is your mind right now? Without judging the findings, chances are you may have been thinking about something in the future or trying to resolve something from the past.
We are hard-wired to scan for problems and threats. Research shows that we spend about 50% of our waking hours in this state of mind called the default mode network.
There is another way though and that is with mindfulness; being present to more moments of your day without judgmentas you live them. Is this a day that you can tip the scales and be present more than 50% of the time to what is happening, as it is happening?? You may be surprised with how wonderful it feels to live more of your moments fully.
Sunlight shimmers in the early morning
As a variety of sweet-sounding birds chirped their morning tunes, my husband, our beloved dog, Oscar and I made our way around the local golf course before anyone hit the links. The 6:00 am hour is a fabulous time of welcoming in the day. The newly leafed out trees were all back light by the shimmering sun. I felt as if I was walking in a painting. The colors were illuminated by the rising sun. I could not think of a better way of waking up then strolling over the carpeted greenery with its springy feel as each tree branch seemed to reach out with a “hello”.
There are so many blessings and precious moments for all of us. The important thing though is to be present to capture them. The morning could have played out much different if I was lost in thought. My mind would have been spinning out in either past or future thinking meanwhile missing out on all the richness of the present moment. This day ahead is going to be a good one. I want to leave you with a link for video called, “A good day”, by Brother David Steindl-Rast. If you have a moment, give yourself the gift of watching this.
Enjoy your day!
“A good day” by Brother David Steindl-Rast
Spring must be here. The full running stream says so. The red buds on the maple tree say so. The melting snow says so. Can you feel winter’s thaw and Spring’s arrival? What new life inside of you is waiting to burst forth? Maybe it is to become more dedicated to your own self care? Perhaps it is to sign up for that class that will help with professional advancement? Maybe it is time to heal the fractured relationships in your life? Whatever it is, follow this deeper call to move forward. Align yourself with nature and notice how everything is beginning to bud forth, to flow, to open into new life!
I am allowing the energy of Spring to move through me as I continue to create new Let Your Yoga Dance playlists and offerings. In addition, Angela Mazur and I are excited about offering our first Mindful Self-Compassion workshop for clinicians on May 18th at Copper Beech. Please visit www.coppperbeechinstitute.org for more information.
Our creative juices are in full gear as we craft this day long retreat. Learning how to cultivate Mindful Self-Compassion for ourselves and others is a major step forward in healing the planet.
On a personal note, I am uncovering my desire to learn more about photography. Taking pictures has always been a passion of mine. I am excited to step deeper into the world of cameras, lenses, classes etc.
Wishing you a Springtime of new possibilities, fresh starts and ability to cherish the blooming of the natural world around you!!
Sacred moments unfold during a Let Your Yoga Dance/Meditation experience!!
This past Thursday evening, Angela Mazur and I offered a free one hour Let Your Yoga Dance/Meditation experience at the main branch of the Farmington library. We welcomed a wonderful group of seventeen people ranging in age from 17 to over 70 years old. It was the first time we had men join in the fun!
What was most special about this night for me was the unexpected surprise of having two hearing-impaired people and their interpreter join us. As I began the Let Your Yoga Dance portion, I marveled at how easily this man and woman flowed to the music. It made me realize that music speaks to a deeper part of us. Although neither of them could hear that music, it was apparent that they could feel the rhythms and beat.
As we moved our way up through the seven energy centers of the body, (the chakras) and came to the heart chakra,(4th chakra), I led the group in a choreographed dance that repeated again and again. The song was Beauty Chant and chorus went like this:
Beauty before me—— (we walked forward with our hands raised to the sky)
Beauty behind me— (we walked backwards with hands pushing behind us)
Beauty beneath me— (we bent our knees and pointed to the earth)
Beauty above—— (we all opened our our arms skyward allowing our hearts to soften)
After doing a few rounds as a large group, I had the participants break up into smaller groups. I made my way around to each group as the song’s chorus repeated again and again. As I joined the circle of this hearing-impaired couple, I was singing the chorus out loud as we moved in unison. The man was reading my lips as his body flowed in sync with mine. In that moment, I felt the deep connection with our small circle and the energy of the larger group. This is the sacred part of Let Your Yoga Dance experience. You can never plan for these transformational moments to take place but by being present and open while moving, some wonderful, heart-felt and unrepeatable moments like this can occur.
Come join us in our next Let Your Yoga Dance/Meditation offerings which happen once a month at the Yoga Center in Collinsville. You can learn more about LYYD/Meditation by reading about it on our website. Give yourself the gift of a new experience, one that may just transform the meaning of your life!
March 13, 2018
Why I Wake Early
by Mary Oliver
Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.
I love this poem. It speaks of Spring time, of the ever turning order of things; the sun, the moon, the flowers opening into the new day’s light. As I walked the nearby golf course with my dog, Oscar, I marveled at the two crows perched high in the pine trees as they chattered back and forth to one another. How I would have loved to understand their communication with each other….
The crunch of the snow under my feet, the rich, loamy smell of wet earth peaking from the bare spots, it all felt so alive in the melting, thawing and changing terrain. Even though tomorrow’s forecast threatens more snow, I could truly sense the new season about to unfold.
What do you wake to in your day ahead? Is it to claim quiet time to meditate, perhaps to savor your first sips of hot coffee or tea? Whatever your practice is, can you allow the new day to greet you with a fresh hello? As you open your senses to each new day, let the energy of kindness encircle you. Notice how bringing this to the forefront sets a positive tone for the day ahead….
MOTHER NATURE DAZZLES
On my morning commute, the scenery dazzled as one ice- covered tree branch after another bent towards my car as if to welcome me along my way to work. I never tire of the beauty Mother Nature provides. Instead of being bummed out about the icy driveway and sides of the roads, I instead focused on being in the center of such a magical wonderland. I realize that my return ride home will be a different story. The strength of the sun will surely melt most of the ice coating the trees, bushes and shrubs.
So this is how my day began. It continued to offer priceless moments. As I met with my first psychotherapy client, I had just begun to teach him about the Two wolf story when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed this massive bird fly over the river. We both jumped out of our seats to witness an eagle soaring towards the South. It glided over the river with its massive wing span stretched out to full capacity. Wow, what a special sighting indeed! I believe in coincidences and having an eagle appear just as I am about to share this sacred Cherokee story gave me goosebumps. For those of you not familiar with this story, I want to share it with you.
An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life…
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.”
“One is evil- he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt and ego.”
“The other is good- he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”
“This same fight is going on inside you— and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf will win?”
The old chief simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Living in the present moment creates the potential for such wonderful surprises. May you be open to the magic around you.
The deep silence of the marsh
After the morning hustle of tidying up our home, packing the car and traveling over three hours, we have finally arrived at our destination; a lovely home set up on a hilltop overlooking the marsh lands of Wellfleet, MA. Due the the unusual weather pattern this past week, the marsh is graced with frozen salt water chunks, some small and others rather impressive. From the comfort of the living room, the large windows provide quite a view of the landscape below.
Soon, we will take a walk and be able to get up close and personal with this marvel of Mother Nature. What I most appreciate about this step away to the Cape is the total peace and quiet. In order to get to this rental, we have to travel down a sandy, rutted road. For any of you who knew Cape Cod over 50 years ago, this feels like a step back into the simpler life on the Cape. What a blessing to be able to slow down, breathe, relax and soak in the goodness around us.
What are your plans for this upcoming weekend? Is it possible to take a walk in the woods? Perhaps you can find a special spot to watch the sunset and with it the glorious multi colors that paint the sky. Give yourself of slowing down and noticing the goodness around you. We can sometimes be in such a hurry that we miss the blessings around us.
Last weekend my husband and I spent a quiet and relaxing time on Cape Cod. We rented this large windowed home which overlooked the marsh area in Wellfleet. Although we were within a mile’s drive to the Route 6, it felt like we were tucked away from the world. Friday night, we were graced with the magic of fresh snow falling outside around us. As we nestled in for the night, each stretched out comfortably on opposite couches, we watched the light snow swirling around outside. The magic continued on Saturday morning when we bundled up despite the raw and windy day and headed to walk along the ocean side. No one else had braved the brisk weather. We headed South on the beach noticing some large headed seals peaking at us as they bobbed on the surface of the ocean. As the wind pushed us from behind, I noticed the unusual swirl of snow lift off the sand, become air bound and then disappear in ethereal wisps. The energy of this snow felt more than just snow. It had a presence of its own. Instead of trying to understand what was happening, I allowed myself to be in the experience. I felt held by a higher source as I realized our lives are like the wisps of snow. We are each here on earth and then when it is our time, our spirits soar. As this year draws to a close, is it time to lighten your grip on how you “should be” and instead allow yourself to simply be present to experience all of the wonder around you?
Tis the season……..
Can you fill in the blanks? For so many of us, this time of turning into the holidays can be met with a heap of expectations along with memories from the past. Our mindfulness practices can truly help navigate this high time of stress with more ease. In this first full week of December, keep noticing where your mind is taking you! Is it a walk down memory lane? Is this a pleasant experience? Perhaps there is a fair amount of sadness and pain. Can you bring compassion to be with these feelings? Perhaps your mind is thinking about this holiday season and holding expectations for the family gathering. What would happen if you could release these thoughts and allow the celebration to unfold moment by moment?
Now is a great time to keep bringing awareness into each and every moment enjoying the sounds, sights, smells of this season of light and love. Give yourself the biggest gift each day and make room to enjoy what is here right now.
Happy Holidays to each of you! May the light of consciousness shine bright….
Karen Drucker’s moving song, “I’m so grateful”, is such a powerful and appropriate song for this time of the year. The chorus of the song is:
Gratitude before me. Gratitude behind me.
Gratitude to the left of me. Gratitude to the right of me.
Gratitude above me. Gratitude below me.
Gratitude within me. Gratitude all around me.
I’m so grateful, I’m so grateful,
I’m so grateful, I’m so grateful ( repeat)
Could you imagine allowing these lyrics to encircle you in your day ahead? Cultivating gratitude helps keep our inner critic quiet. In raising up our gratitude meter we are actually helping regulate our physiology. Living in a state of gratitude aligns with our “tend and befriend” part of our autonomic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system. As humans we are hard wired for survival. Throughout the day the other branch of our autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system, is getting activated by any number of triggers. Unlike the cave people before us, we aren’t under threat of being eaten by the saber tooth tiger. Instead our sense of self and how we are doing, how we are perceived, how we are fitting in, is under attack.
So as we prepare for our Thanksgiving gatherings, perhaps we can let the words of Karen Drucker accompany us. Showering ourselves with words of gratitude will help create a more positive inner experience no matter what is happening around us!
The magic of connecting through dance, moving yoga and meditation
Angela and I launched our first Movement and Meditation event this past Sunday at Chi Healing in Canton. It was a terrific maiden voyage with 22 in attendance. As the women trickled in for our gathering, you could feel some hesitancy in the room. This was a new experience for all of us. Creating safety wasthe first order of business followed by permission to honor our bodies and move in accordance of our abilities. The entire two hours was devoted to claim a new way of simply being in the present moment either through dancing up the seven energy centers of the body (the chakras) or deep in loving kindness meditation. How often do we claim a piece of time to nourish ourselves in this way? Not often enough, that is for sure. At the end of our time together, the energy in the room had transformed. There were smiles and looks of joy as we all made our way out into our lives.
Come join us in one of our next Movement and Meditation events. Our November 5th one is almost to capacity. We have spaces left for December 3rd and January 7th.
Movement and meditation both help create more integration with our body, mind and spirit.
The morning mist
As I meandered around Bar Harbor’s shore path this morning, a thick grey mist shrouded the harbor. Offshore an enormous cruise ship was anchored and ready to bring patrons ashore. Momentarily my gaze shifted to the seagulls bobbing on the water and then returned to the massive ship. Much to my surprise, the boat had been engulfed in this mass of fog. It seemed like a ghost ship, one minute fully visible, the next completely gone from sight. It made me think about life in general and how quickly things change.
My study of the chakras is helping to anchor me to my “roots” with claiming firmer ground underneath my feet. In this way, no matter what kind of mist or winds of unthinkable magnitude or other outer or inner disturbances arise, I can stay anchored inside myself, ready to weather whatever swirls around me.
Perhaps you are curious about how a more aligned connection with all of your seven chakras can help you claim a more grounded, happier life? Come join us in one of our monthly meditation and movement workshops to be held at Chi Healing in Canton. More info is listed on our website.
Mindful Eating blog
One would hope as time moves on and we all become more aware of the obesity crisis in our country, that we would all take more interest and attention in what we place in our mouths throughout the day. Unfortunately for so many folks, eating is such a automatic habit, one where there is no indication of belly hunger at all. Be honest with yourself, did your stomach rumbling indicate that is was time toeat your last meal or was it something else? Perhaps an advertisement on the television, boredom, being with others who were eating? Mindful eating is such a powerful antidote to the unconscious fill- our- face with whatever food is at the ready.
So, I get it, you might be thinking you hardly have time for all the demands in your life. How could there possibly be time to tackle this longstanding relationship with eating. The good news is that it can be accomplished in small steps. I often recommend my clients to start small. Perhaps they select one meal a day to slow down, notice the level of hunger before eating, get curious about what they are hungry for and then sit down with their selected food to savor the experience of eating. Our culture is fast paced and too many of us grab and go when it comes to our meals.
What kind of relationship do you have with food and your body right now? Are you always struggling to eat less, keep away from certain foods? Do you criticize yourself constantly for how you look, berate yourself for not having more willpower. Do these thoughts lead to an easy relationship with food? Or does just the opposite happen? The more you battle with yourfood and your body, the more you find yourself grazing through a concoction of food that isn’t really all that appealing. It is time to stop the madness and relearn how to nourish ourselves with food that satisfies.
Jan Chozen Bays writes about the seven kinds of hunger which include eye hunger, mouth hunger, nose hunger, emotional hunger, mind hunger , cellular and stomach hunger? We need to tame five of the hunger gremlins and eat from a place of stomach and cellular hunger. Food is so closely equated with comfort and love. For many of us, if we were upset as children, our caregivers gave us something to eat. If we were celebrating an occasion, chances were good that food would be a central player in the gathering. Actually from birth to death, can you think of any gathering that does not include food? So the goal of aligning with our true hunger can be quite an accomplishment indeed. On any given day, we all have been bombarded with co-workers’ treats up for grabs in the break room, the constant food ads at night on tv while we unwind after our full days of work, errands and the like. So what does it take to rise above the constant onslaught of mouth savory choices being touted about all day long
Mindfulness is the solution. The simple or not so simple task of bringing awareness into the present moment with non-judgment. As we begin to pay attention, we may be horrified at how much time is taken up with thinking, planning, avoiding, and succumbing to the food traps that we each have to maneuver every day.
So, bringing onboard the spirit of compassion along with the willingness to develop a healthier relationship with food and our bodies is essential. I can pretty much promise you that if you slow down enough and let your taste buds guide you, you find a natural shift away from the fast foods of highly processed ingredients to a wholesome list of nourishing staples. As I write this blog, we are in the middle of summer in CT. Farmer’s markets are the best way to stock up on the freshest local produce. If you have time and space for a home garden, nothing beats plucking a red ripe tomato off the vine and biting into its fresh and savory goodness
Our quick fix social norms are not going to serve you in transforming your relationship with food. Rather, a patient and slower approach helps create lasting change. Decide which meal of the day you have more time to spend on. Then take it day by day, but commit to a week of paying daily attention to your food choices, your hunger, your beginning sense of fullness at this one meal each day. Choose foods with various textures, colors, aromas and tastes. As you sit down with your plated food, take a moment to silently thank all the hands that were involved to getting your food to your table. These include the grower, harvester, trucker, grocer etc. At your first bite, take notice of the burst of flavors. Place your fork down between bites if possible. Enjoy…
MINDFUL SELF-COMPASSION PRACTICE IN ACTION
For the first two decades in my life, my inner critic ruled. She commanded center stage with a vengeance! Her rantings and ravings were a composite of generations of fear and negativity that got passed down to her. Little did I realize that I had a choice if I listened to her or not. After graduating college with a Bachelors Degree in Human Development and Family Relations, I thought it was high time to escort this critic off her mountain top perch. I entered my own therapy and uncovered a plethora of beliefs and behaviors that I had incorporated into my life which were really not about me!
Fast forward to having been in the field of Social Work for almost 40 years and I can honestly say that the learning about how to be kind to myself is an ongoing journey. What has helped immensely is my Mindful Self-Compassion practice. This programwas created by Kristin Neff, a researcher and an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin along with Chris Germer, a clinical psychologist in Boston and a founding member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. Both myself and my colleague, Angela Mazur went through the training program to become Mindful Self-Compassion teachers. This program works! It offers both informal and forma Mindful Self-Compassion practice meditations. What I love about the program is that you don’t have to sit 30 minutes a day on your cushion to benefit by this practice. Bringing MSC on board where ever it is needed throughout the day can change the quality of your mind and your life.
We are all wired for survival. As advanced as the world is with technology, our reptilian brains can hijack us in a moment’s notice. Now, however, unlike during the caveman era, it is our self concept that is under threat.You probably know that voice all too well. It may say something like this, “I can’t believe how stupid you were just now” or “when will you get it” or maybe, “you have really let yourself go, look at Mary or Joe, they sure look good”. Sound familiar? Without realizing it, this voice may claim the backdrop of what buzzes in your ears all day long!
How do we counteract this oldest part of the brain that believes it is being helpful? First and foremost, we need to become mindful of the inner critic. When we can notice this part is present, we have a chance to let go of this voice and draw in a more life giving voice of Mindful Self-Compassion. The informal practice called The Self Compassion Break is a great place to start. The first step is to notice that this is a moment of suffering (mindfulness). Second is to realize that we are not alone in our challenges. We all struggle at times (common humanity). Lastly, we replace the inner critic with a soft, gentle voice of compassion and kindness to help tend to whatever is occurring in the present moment (kindness/compassion). This informal practice could happen while stopped at a red light. It doesn’t take much time to experience the benefit. On a physiological level, we are replacing the “fight or flight” mode of the reptilian brain into “tend and befriend”. This practice quiets the reptilian brain and allows the prefrontal cortex (our highest functioning part of the brain) to remain active and engaged.
Imagine waking up and instead of that pesky inner critic, you now have cultivated a kinder, my compassionate inner presence? Wouldn’t that make life so much easier? I know it has for me. Yes, life still happens with the misunderstandings, the feelings of loss around life changes, the unexpected events. However, my kinder, more compassionate self has gotten much stronger and she can now be the one that takes center stage, that reminds me life can be hard, that I am not alone and that I need to keep bringing gentle attention to the distress I feel inside. Just like the crashing wave on the shore, the distress does pass and I am not left with the feeling of being beaten to a pulp. Mindful Self-Compassion works and I will continue to work it until my last breath.
May you discover the benefits of this practice and help dissolve the cruel voice of your inner critic. It is life changing and well worth the effort!
The early morning awakens to the magic of 29 colorful hot air balloons
My husband and I rolled out of bed at 4:30 am this morning for a very good reason indeed! We were determined to watch the sunrise lift off of 29 hot air balloons in Norton Park. With our golden doodle, Oscar in tow, we drove into the parking lot and headed to the dewy fields. I had envisioned all of the balloons already in their glory with bright colors creating an early morning glow. Much to my surprise, there were only a fewtrucks with their balloon trailers. My first thought was, “why did we get up so early?”. I could feel irritation begin to bubble up within me as I noticed how chilly the fresh morning air was on my face and hands. I readjusted my mindset and within 30 minutes the field was transformed by busy teams setting up their balloons. As the air began to fill into many of the balloons at the same time, the field was awash in stripped colors of yellow, purple, blue and green. I will post some pictures on our Mindful Moments. One by one, lift off took place. A moment of applause resounded as each balloon made its way up into the sky. It was truly a magical experience. I am so glad I got up and stayed once we arrived. Life is worth the effort. What new experiences are on the horizon for you?
MSC in Action
Not sure if anyone can relate, but much of my life I have been riddled with a crippling fear. This isn’t the mild kind of fear, this is fear in capital letters!! Currently, I am bumping up against this capital letter beast with full force. Thankfully, I have my MSC tools at the ready. First and foremost, I need to keep breathing as I bring attention to my feet and the solid ground that is underneath me.
A little back story is important here. As a young girl, from age five to 12 years old, I took a variety of dance classes ranging from tap, jazz, modern and ballet. I loved it! My body best expresses itself in fluid movement. What I didn’t love though was the performing on stage. Before the recitals, my mom and I would practice for hours in our kitchen. She would play the song over and over again on the small portable record player as I learned the words to the song along with the steps.
Fast forward to recital day held at a large auditorium in the center of town. First came getting ready with both makeup and costume. Upon arrival at the music hall, I would first need to pose for the camera man as he quickly snapped dozens of pictures of me. I still have these glossy 5 by 7 pictures. When I look at them now, all I can see is this terrified young girl with a frozen smiled plastered on her face. What is so different now than back then is that I can name my fear, do one of my Mindful self-compassion practices and reach for support. Often times these actions help create a bit more breathing room between me and fear. As I child, my parents didn’t know how to support what I was feeling. It wasn’t their fault but it sure made for more fear and feelings of being more alone in it.
So why is FEAR showing up so strongly now you may wonder? Any guesses?? Let me fill you in. I have been drawn back to the world of movement, music and dance. At present, I am in the process of becoming a certified “Let your yoga dance” teacher. This journey has bumped up against the fear around performance, around perfection, around being seen. I forgot to mention that my recitals were often just me up onstage singing and dancing to a few popular show tunes. The amazing thing is how differently I am dealing with my unsettled feelings inside now then when I was a kid. As I mentioned earlier, I can now acknowledge what is going on inside me, reach out and ask for support as I find ways to be with this feeling.
Less than a week away, I am doing my last “Let your yoga dance” practice teach. I decided to go for it and have rented space at a local yoga studio. There may be a number of friends and family that show up for this offering. My intention is to feel the groundedness of Mother Earth under my feet, to look around the circle and take in the supportive attention, and to trust the way my body knows how to move as I let go and do the best that I can. If fear accompanies me, I will hold it gently and keep coming back to my realization that I don’t have to be perfect, this isn’t a performance and good enough is good enough!!
Leaning into what feels hard
As time goes on, I will be sharing much more about my new undertaking of becoming a “Let Your Yoga Dance” instructor. When I was a young child, I took all kinds of dance classes from a local dance studio in Simsbury. Miss Gloria Rossetti made quite an impact in my early life. Under her instruction, I performed at Eno Memorial Hall in Simsbury. One time in particular stands out when I was about seven years old. I was singing and dancing to two songs entitled, “I’m getting married in the morning” and “Get me to the Church on Time”. Can you picture my costume? You got it--a long, silky wedding gown complete with veil and bridal bouquet. This was a solo routine. I was a bundle of nerves but back in that time period emotions didn’t get front billing. So I stepped onstage, heart pounding wildly, and all I could remember was the words to the song. I drew a complete blank on dance steps!! Luckily, I did a pretty good job of improvising. As they say in the business, “the show must go on”.
Anyway, as I embark on this new dance/yoga training, my memories of those early dance experiences have appeared. A few weeks ago, I awoke to a crippling fear and felt unsure if I could really do this training. Well, I have leaned in, asked for help and have kept moving forward. Yesterday was a break-through for me. I did my first practice teach with a friend. I was fully present and remembered the choreography. I was connected to myself and felt the music move my soul as my joy radiated throughout our dance space. Life is all about leaning in to what is hard.
I could have scrapped this entire pursuit a few weeks ago. I could have aligned with that old fearful voice that said, “this is too hard”. Instead, I rallied support from others and embraced the learning in easy, little chunks. Here I am a few weeks later feeling proud of what I have mastered so far and ready to ownmy “Let Your Yoga dance” teacher role.
We will be launching a combined meditation/Let Your Yoga dance monthly events beginning in October. Hope you can join us. Let Your Yoga Dance is a wonderful dance experience that combines user-friendly movement, moving yoga, and music from around the world that helps unleash the chakras, the seven energy centers in our body.
A story worth sharing
Although I will be releasing the video about this story, I thought it was worth getting down in the written form as well. Do you ever have one of those experiences that make quite an impression, days after having lived it? Well, I had one of those moments over a week ago as my extended family and I enjoyed the summery weather on Cape Cod. We had all packed into two cars and made our way over to the bayside to time the evening sunset just right. We scrambled out of our cars and walked over the small dune entrance to the beach. As soon as we made it to the bayside, we were all bombarded by the sand fleas. They were out in full strength that particular night. Some of us tried to bat them away, as we ran up and down along the curving, salty water intent on seeing the summer sun dip below the surface of the earth. Most of us cut out early, driven back to our vehicles by insects that were smaller than the size of pinheads. As we were sitting in our cars, I noticed this old woman with a heavy green winter coat and a colorful scarf wrapped around her head at the porta pot. She held the door open for the person she was with. At first, I thought, “is this a homeless woman? What is she doing here?” My mind was in judgement about her appearance and how she stuck out from the rest of us dressed in our summer regalia. I watched her friend and her amble down the boardwalk and crest over the sandy path not to be seen again. My two nephews braved out the bugs and stayed until the 8:18 pm sunset. As they high -tailed it back into the car, the younger one said, “there was this sweet elderly couple sitting on a bench at the beach. They each had a harmonica and were playing Amazing Grace while watching the sun go down”. I was stunned. This same woman ,who I had so quickly judged ,had dressed properly for the occasion to salute the sun to bed. This experience taught me to watch how I can so quickly judge people around me. Is there a way you can relate to my story? I think the judger inside all of us can be quick at times to have opinions about others without having the full story.
SUMMER IS ALMOST HERE!
We have already had some ofthose lazy, hazy days of summer without the official start of this season. Summer is a great time to capitalize on outdoor activities. I find that my mindfulness deepens to a new dimension when I am outside. What plans do you have this summer? Perhaps getting your feet wet with some new outdoor activity? Maybe partaking in the plethora of outdoor music? Perhaps enjoying some of the summer fare at an outdoor cookout? Whatever you chose to participate in, see if you can bring a measure of mindfulness to your experience. Our strawberries are ripe for the picking. Their luscious red colors delight as do their sweet, fresh taste. Sample the many wonderful ways summer ignites our senses; be it the fresh ear of corn drizzled in butter, the heart stomping music at the local outdoor event; the colorful fireworks display on July 4th, the sounds and smell of the surf, the smell of fresh cut grass. Feast in all the wonder this season provides.
Lesson # 4
It ain’t always what you imagined it to be!
So after getting stuck in a five mile crawl through the final hour of travel, we arrived at our campground outside of Charleston, SC. When most of us think of campgrounds, we picture nice camp sites nestled between some lush, green foliage, right? Well, this campground felt like we were lined up in a grassy parking lot. Asphalt paths meandered through the rows of campers that were inclose proximity to one another. By this point we were so tired from traveling that we made the best of this situation and got our popup camper setup for the night. The following day we were surprised to awaken to a sizzling day of humidity and searing sunshine. We slapped on the sunscreen and brought along our floppy hats as we set out for Charleston’s downtown historic district. Did I mention before that our road trip included our 80 pound golden doodle, Oscar? Yup, we decided to have our beloved pooch join us on this trip. He is a great traveler. Always ready to go along for the next ride and mostly ready for the next adventure unless it involves heat!! So hear we are smack dab in the heart of Charleston ready to explore the area but we have to figure out how to handle the SUN!! Wherever we could, we walked on the shady side of the street. We sought out water fountains, shady park benches, outdoor restaurants under canopies of cover. Were we able to immerse ourselves in the full historical experience of this charming city? Absolutely not! It felt more like survival as we scoped out the next shady spot for a few moments of relief from the heat. While planning for this visit to Charleston, I had imagined this part of our vacation to be so relaxing. I had pictured us meandering through the streets, captivated by the intricate architecture of the surrounding homesteads. Instead, I had to regroup my expectations and deal with the reality of the situation. Once I was able to do that, I could then enjoy the wonder around us!
Are you able to regroup when necessary and bring yourself into the present moment appreciating what is, instead of living in the deep disappointment of what should be? Sometimes, we need to touch into that disappointment first before we can then enjoy the surprises and joys of the present moment.