Holding Myself Accountable and Terrified!

Holding Myself Accountable and Terrified!

Everyone has hopes and dreams—goals that we set for ourselves and want to be held accountable for. Starting this blog was a dream of mine, and now that I’ve reached that goal, it’s time to set another. My dream is to write a novel, and I can’t think of a better place to put that dream in writing and publicly hold myself accountable:  

She waits with anticipated breath. Waiting for her heart to explode out of her chest with pure inspiration. Inspiration she feels is necessary to write her beloved novel. When will this inspiration come? When will ideas pop into her head and organize themselves all at once? When will she be able to write her first page with wit and spontaneity? How will she know the exact words to write line by line?  

When will this happen?  

Suddenly, a voice whispers inside her head, “Little by little. Piece by piece. Creativity comes from trial and error. It’s not magical or romantic. It’s a lot of work and a lot of patience and a lot of humility mixed in between.”  

 And so she begins, terrified, as she enters into the next chapter towards her life goals….   

The Fall Equinox: A Time for Looking Inward and Letting Go

The Fall Equinox: A Time for Looking Inward and Letting Go

As the warm weather changes into cooler, crisper air and the Fall Equinox has passed, it reminds me that winter will soon be here. At this time of year, I notice that I start to look more inward, connecting with my intuition, or as some say, my “gut feeling.”  

I look to my inner soul–my intuition–to remind myself that I need to release anything that isn’t serving me or allowing me to be my best self. I guess if you want to get metaphorical, it’s as if the trees releasing their leaves to the ground remind me to declutter my life. Trees do this to prepare for winter. Trees that don’t drop their leaves are more susceptible to breakage when ice storms come early. I suppose we are more connected with our natural elements than we care to admit. If we are open to it, we can feel the connection to nature and learn from it. After all, our intuition comes from our cavemen ancestors, and those survival skills still remain within us. Our guts can tell us a lot about ourselves, how we are feeling, or what we need to do. We just have to lean into it. Focusing inward during this change of season allows us to observe and declutter.  

Decluttering can mean all sorts of things. To me, decluttering my surroundings–my home, my closet, my yard–those are all things that help me declutter what I see. I also try to declutter things I hear or read to allow my mind a break from the chaos that surrounds me every day. It’s easy to get swept away by what I watch on tv, read on social media, or hear what others say.  

As I look inward, I attempt to declutter so that I can find peace of mind, settle into my best self, and fill my cup so that I am ready to give to others when they need me most. In order to do that, I need to let go of certain things so that I can store up new energy and prepare myself for what’s to come. After all, there are always challenges that come up in our everyday lives. How we deal with those challenges is what makes us human.  

Letting go of outside elements and looking inward goes along with the practice of yoga, which teaches us to focus on breathing deeply from our gut, through our sternum, and out through our nose. This deep breathing technique is called Ujjayi breathing. We use it in the yoga world to assist in warming our bodies from within to protect us from injury. It lubricates our joints and our muscles to prepare us for what’s to come. In the same sense, relying on our inner self to prepare us going forward instead of relying on outside elements to keep us warm, is exactly the point of the Fall Equinox. The way in which we look inward with intention will reflect what we release outward into the world.  

Just as the trees let go of their leaves, the Fall Equinox is a reminder to let go of what we don’t need. This release allows us to stock up our energy and use up what we need to stay warm, both inside and out, so that we can prepare for the next season of life.  

Have You Discovered Your Happy Place?

Have You Discovered Your Happy Place?

Is there a place that makes you feel more grounded? A place that you call “your happy place,” where the weight of the world melts away and you can feel a sense of calm and connection?  

For me, it’s the ocean. In my daydreams, I can see myself sitting near the shore. As I gaze upon the water, with the sun setting in a pink and orange sherbet sky and salty wind blowing on my lips and through my long brown hair, I feel a sense of grounding. I’ve always been drawn to the ocean–not just because of the grand and majestic size of it or the soft whisper of the waves as they float back and forth onto the shore, putting me in a trance-like state. It’s as if I belong there, as if I never left. It feels so familiar to me. Almost as if I lived by the ocean in a previous life. I feel comfortable in my own skin when I’m close on the beach. Burying my toes in the soft sand, I look up and watch the sea gulls fly over me as they call out to each other, gracefully gliding through the wind. The thin, salt-perfumed air is easy to breathe in and makes my legs feel lighter, taller.  

I dream that someday I will be living on the shore in my very own beach house with an inviting beachfront. Tall windows face the ocean on three sides, so it’s the first thing I look at when I wake up and the last thing I look at when I go to bed. I imagine there will be a stone fireplace and lots of comfortable space for lounging around the ocean view with my family and friends. There are lots of sunrises and sunsets to gaze upon over the ocean–waiting for me; calling my name.  

This is my perfect dream, connected once again to the ocean. Right where I belong.  

Can We Love Ourselves Enough To Celebrate Progress Over Perfection?

Can We Love Ourselves Enough To Celebrate Progress Over Perfection?

We are all doing our best to flow through life’s challenges as we work together during this crazy time in our lives. Yoga helps me stay calm and focused as I navigate through stressful situations all around me. And sometimes it surprises me with important life lessons when I least expect it.  

During a recent outdoor Power Yoga session, I was feeling triumphant over the fact that I had found the perfect spot in the park for practice. As I lay out my mat in a spot that wasn’t as lumpy as some other spots in the park, I thought, “Wow! I finally have found the perfect spot for practice! I won’t have to worry about one side being higher than the other during Tree Pose or almost falling downhill in Downward-facing Dog! I can manage my flow and balance much better here!”  

I was feeling proud of myself, when all of a sudden, I was thrown a curve ball as my instructor challenged us to incorporate a new pose. There went my proud moment of finding the perfect flat spot in the park! As he explained how to fall into low plank from standing without breaking our wrists (yes, you read that right), I suddenly felt humbled. With a slight lump in my throat and my stomach churning, I started to panic. This was not an easy transitional pose and it would be very easy to hurt myself. I am not the most graceful, but I do know how to fall down!  

I began to inhale and exhale deeply to reduce my anxiety. After a few breaths and shaking out my arms and legs, I found myself focusing on what others might think of me. What if I couldn’t do the pose? Or what if I looked awkward doing it? I reasoned with myself–everyone else would look awkward as well and some people might not try it at all.  

I decided I would try my best. I started out slow and low to the ground, bending deeply before landing in low plank. I was in shock at how it didn’t seem bad at all, and I did it with control during my first attempt. I decided to try it again standing up a little higher and landing on my hands. I looked down and realized my hands were still attached to my body. It worked! I kept trying–starting out a little higher each time until I was almost at full standing pose before dropping down into low plank. After a few minutes of trying this transitional drop into low plank, we were able to move on through our flow and I finished with my body parts still intact.  

This was a huge teaching moment for me. I often won’t attempt to do scary, challenging poses because I’m afraid they will hurt me, or I will look awkward. I fret that it might take me years to accomplish a challenging pose and maybe people will look at me as if I’m not accomplished enough to be a yoga instructor. I worry that I won’t be perfect. But I realized in that moment that perfection was not the goal. Maybe progress was all I was aiming for.  

Ironically, I’m reading Real Love by Sharon Salzberg this month. I say it’s ironic, because in it, she explains how the idea of perfection is the opposite of self-love. Yoga teaches us to take risks and to believe in ourselves and to trust our bodies. But perfection is never taught in yoga, nor has it ever been a part of its teachings. Society has taught us to aim for perfection to appear as if we live perfect lives.  

As we celebrate National Yoga Month in September, don’t lose sight of the wholistic approach of yoga. We don’t just celebrate yoga for its physical benefits, but for the mindful connections we make along the way—the progress. This is one of the many reasons why yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. Let’s celebrate National Yoga Month together, knowing that everyone is on their own journey, at their own pace, and for their own reasons.  

Imagination Runs Wild Among Dark Times!

Imagination Runs Wild Among Dark Times!

This time of year is when I start watching scary movies and TV shows and reading murder mysteries. I can’t watch anything else until the end of October! Halloween allows me to imagine and be a kid again, with a darker, more medieval sense of wonder. But I often ask myself, why do I obsess over scaring myself for the next two months?  

I have recently realized why! We depend more on our mental abilities to understand our world and less on our sensations and intuition. Because we exercise too little, but talk and think too much, our imagination is not used and is waiting to be released.  

Halloween and creepy stories of ghosts, goblins, vampires, werewolves, demons, or even urban legends about Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster offer us many opportunities to establish balance in our physical world. It allows us to open up and see our space from a different perspective. What if we were abducted by aliens? Would we keep our priorities the same or reprioritize everything when we got back to Earth? Would we get rid of the clutter that keeps holding us back from enjoying what’s really important in life?  

But the deeper effect is letting go of the fixed mind to see the world from a different perspective–of calmly abiding in a topsy-turvy, upside down world. That may just be the most profound benefit of imagination and of letting thought and reason go.  

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One Of My Favorite Books Of All Time!

One Of My Favorite Books Of All Time!

If you are looking for a good murder mystery with a whodunit til the last page, then I highly recommend the book, Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. It’s a mystery mixed with some romance, good vs. evil, dark and eerie twists sprinkled with Mother Nature and poetry! Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite poems in the book:

“Eventide is a disguise,

Covering tracks,

Covering lies.

We don’t care

That dusk deceives.

We see brilliant colors,

And never learn

The sun has dropped

Beneath the earth

By the time we see the burn.”


I hope this excerpt drew you in as much as it drew me in! I could not put the book down!

Mental Health and Politics in the Age of COVID

Mental Health and Politics in the Age of COVID

During COVID-19, I have taken time to try to declutter my thoughts and bad feelings and to minimize stress as much as possible with meditation and self-healing. I’ve been focusing on positive thoughts and making room for creativity. However, being stuck in the middle of a pandemic can bring on lots of fear and worry about our future.  

Now take this situation and put it in the middle of an election year, and the stress intensifies. I find myself constantly trying to cope with discussions about politics and getting swept into conversations because I’m passionate about the subject. But I also dwell on the consequences of not getting my facts straight and voting for the wrong person. The wrong person in office not only will affect me and my personal decisions but will also affect every single American and what the future holds for us during and after COVID. It’s a tough burden to bear for everyone.  

This situation reminds me how deeply rooted politics is in our brain, especially during an election year. How am I supposed to stay positive and away from negative thoughts and still take a political stand when I need to? Where is the line drawn, and how do I stay above it without getting sucked into the controversy? I won’t bury my head in the sand, but I don’t want to draw up any drama that may cause a fight or negative energy. If I am trying to dismantle bad habits and baggage from my upbringing, while at the same time stay away from the drama that politics causes (as my parents and I don’t see eye to eye on the political spectrum), then how do I embrace my parents for who they are and yet still be true to myself?  

This is a tough one. I have friends that feel the opposite from me when it comes to politics, but they aren’t nearly as evasive and determined to change my mind as are my parents. With these friends, I can remain calm and positive and not feel defensive. But when I’m around my parents, I always have my guard up as they try to impose on my beliefs and values.  

I’m reminded of Deepak Chopra’s Abundance Meditation when he suggests that, “In every situation, we have new opportunities to find creative ways to solve our problems, redefine our priorities and explore other options. We begin to view challenges more positively, when we realize that we possess the power to focus our attention on new opportunities and possibilities for abundance are endless. There are no limits to what we can have. Take the time to look at each situation that challenges you and find those seeds of success that will attract greater abundance into your life.”  

So how do I keep my mind decluttered from all the negative spins and attacks on who I want as the next President of the United States while still focusing on the positive and keeping my sanity? I can choose to look at each situation that challenges me, find a way to lighten my load, and remember that I cannot change people’s minds. Instead, I can walk away from the discussions and focus my attention back onto my creativity instead.  

My time is precious and my focus is on the creative use of energy. The only way to stay creative is to declutter my mind from anything that isn’t serving me. I will be doing a lot more writing over the next few months and most likely sharing my thoughts without trying to sway political opinion.  

I am a truth seeker, and as such, I do realize that not everything I hear on television or everything I read is true. I take it for what it is and sort it out by actions and what my eyes see. As Chopra suggests, I will use challenges as an opportunity for creative growth. My mental health with thank me.  

The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room

As I start planning my next mammogram, I have found myself reflecting on last year’s mammogram appointment. If you want a good dose of sisterhood and to feel the power of feminist strength and support from a large group of women, you should sit in the Cleveland Clinic Breast Center waiting room someday.    

I recall last November, thinking how annoying it was to have to come in for my second mammogram that year. It was such an inconvenience for me to take time off from my job, just to return back to the office to deal with all the work piling up. As I sat in the waiting room in between exams, I started feeling anxious and nervous, thinking of how swollen my boobs would be afterwards from being flattened like  pancakes.    

While I sat there feeling bad for myself, I heard a woman enter the waiting room exclaiming, “I’m so tired of this place. Every time I come here, I get worse news.” The rest of us in the waiting room stopped what we were doing and looked over at her as she slumped down in a chair in front of me. With sad eyes, she stared back at us. We are all stunned. No one knew what to say. I held my breath with anticipation as we waited to hear what was wrong. She broke the silence with her frustration. “They found two more lumps today, and I’m already going into surgery tomorrow for another lump!” With tears forming in her eyes, she continued. “As soon as I leave here, I have to go to a meeting to learn about chemo treatments for two hours. I’ve been to sixteen doctors in the past two weeks. I’m so over this and just ready to get it done.”  

The woman saw the pity in our eyes as we desperately tried to find the right words to say. Suddenly, I felt like a complete idiot for worrying about my small sacrifice, a few moments of pain and soreness compared to what this woman was going through. As she shook her head, which was now resting in the palm of her hand, tears started rolling down her cheeks. I caught myself staring at her with my mouth wide open and quickly realized that shock was not the right expression to have on my face. I tried to relax my jaw as my mind started swirling with words that would bring her comfort, though nothing seemed appropriate. Finally, I blurted out, “Wow. That’s crazy!” What?! Why would I say something so stupid?! How could I be so insensitive?!    

Finally, another woman came to the rescue and said, “These are great doctors. I’m positive you are at the right place.” With her words, the tension in the room relaxed a bit.    

The teary-eyed woman proceeded to tell us that her husband and son were all going to go out with her and her girlfriends afterwards to help cheer her up and get her mind off the “C word” for just a few moments. Suddenly, a nurse called the woman over to her. The nurse was close enough for me to hear every word. “The doctors are going to act on this very quickly,” the nurse said with a smile that was hiding her fear. “They are moving their schedule around for you so that you can be in surgery first thing in the morning.”    

The woman grabbed the nurse and gave her a big hug. As she clung to the nurse, she said, “Thank you for everything.” As she wiped away more tears, the nurse responded, “You’ll be fine. Have a Merry Christmas.”    

As the woman walked slowly toward the door, she turned around looked at all of us and said, “Good luck, ladies.” One of the women replied, “I’ll pray for you.” Another replied, “You’ll be fine.” After clearing my throat and wiping away my tears, I finally spoke up with a hopeful tone, “Good luck to you too.”      

After the woman left, I couldn’t stop thinking about her and what the next few hours, days, weeks, or even what Christmas would be like for her. What if this was her last Christmas? My eyes blurred with my tears as I put myself in her situation–feeling her pain, fear, anxiety, and the trauma she would experience recovering from the surgery (and hopefully recovering from beating breast cancer). Would she have enough strength to carry on and fight after her surgery?    

I looked up at the other women in the waiting room. Any of us could end up like that woman. We were all getting tested. Some of us would be fine, but some of us might get bad news. A few minutes later, one of the other women in the waiting room finished up her test and started walking with a calm look on her face towards the door. She looked over at us and wished us all another “good luck.” In that sequence, I was reminded of how fragile life could be. I suddenly realized I was fortunate to have the luxury of being annoyed that I had to get these mammograms.    

Yes, my exams were always routine, and yes, my results had always turned out benign. But these other women might not be as lucky. Their outcome could be worse. In that moment, I felt like I knew these women. It was as if we were bonded after experiencing this woman’s story. I could feel the extraordinary power and strength of all of us sitting together in that waiting room as we waited to hear what our fate would be. As we all met each other’s eyes with smiles, deep down I knew we were all hiding hopelessness and fear. Any one of us could be the teary-eyed woman facing surgery and a long recovery.    

Last year’s waiting room experience has taught me a lot about how to lean on others for strength and support and in turn, step up for the sake of others—even strangers– in their most desperate times. The scared, desperate woman I met in the waiting room last year needed the support of a sisterhood.  Total strangers in the waiting room stepped up to the task without blinking an eye, as if they were her tribe. They knew the right words to say to this woman, and they were willing to offer a total stranger support without thinking twice, because she was one of us. That is what true courage and strength look like. Without missing a beat, these women encouraged their fellow sister to face another day.  

I wonder what this year’s waiting room experience will be like. Will someone else be facing their fears and looking for a sisterhood to lean on? I’ve promised myself that this time, I will have the courage to help my fellow sister rise up and face their fears. After all, there’s power in numbers. We’re better together.  

Are We Evolving?

Are We Evolving?

Have you noticed how people are reaching out to others more? Have you noticed how people are sharing their vulnerabilities and how others respond to those who are struggling? Have you noticed how people are checking in daily to see how their loved ones are doing?  

Yes, there are always going to be assholes out there twisting and destroying humankind, but for the most part, I see and hear more people than ever asking how I’m doing, and total strangers are offering to help if I ever need it.  

Is it that obvious that I need help? I mean, I have gained an extra 20 pounds. Maybe it’s because I celebrate National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day with a cookie in one hand and a glass of wine in the other. Or perhaps it’s just me being overly sensitive to my vulnerabilities, and people just care and truly want to know how I’m doing.  

I see humankind evolving despite how unsure we are of the future. We are evolving into more caring individuals. We are showing more vulnerability, and people are learning to step up to ask for help as they never have before. How can we see our lives as so narrow and dark if others are reaching out all the time? It’s very hard when people are looking out for you and rooting you on. 

As I begin to study Abundance Meditation, I’ve started to take inventory of all that I have and practice being satisfied with what I have. This is not an easy thing to do, and it takes time to practice, but I will give you an example of all that I am grateful for today:  

My and my family’s health  

My cuddly kitties always cheering me up with their cuteness  

The smell of summer rain  

Time and space to practice outdoor yoga  

A roof over our head  

Healthy food on our table  

Good friends I can confide in  

Meditation apps  

The flexibility to work from home  

Planning my husband’s birthday celebration Covid-style  

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!  

I don’t have to look very far to find abundance in my life. I just have to be able to open my eyes and choose to find the silver lining. With the help of my family and friends, I can do this, and so can you. After all, I am in the middle of evolving along with the rest of the world.  

We can evolve, or find the abundance, the silver lining, or whatever you want to call it, because we are all in this together and no one will let you drink alone.  

If you are looking for a good meditation app/podcast, I suggest the following:  

Insight Timer

Meditative Story Podcast

21 Days of Abundance Meditation with Deepak Chopra

Waking Up app with Sam Harris