Sunday, February 27, 2011

Heading over to Tumblr

http://nakedinbed.tumblr.com/

Come on over!  I have no idea where I'm going, but I want you there with me!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Art of Humanness

In wrestling with a complicated situation recently, I found myself complaining to a friend about how I am having a difficult time with the way people communicate with one another.  (This isn’t really a new thing, I’ve had my battles, loves, hates, elation to frustration and everything in between, with all forms of modern communication over the last few years.)  My friend was quick to tell me that I am one in a much smaller percentage of people for the way I think.  What exactly is it that I think?  Basically, for me it all boils down to this:  when the mood is good, any form of communication, really, is good.  A text message to say ‘I love you’.  Good.  A longer, more detailed email to tell someone how much you appreciate them.  Good.  A phone call just to say hello or hear his voice.  Good.  Tell her face to face that she looks incredibly beautiful today.  Very good.  Makes sense, right?

Conversely, when the mood is bad…pretty much any form of communication that does not allow for as much human interaction as possible is bad.  Your good friend’s grandmother/friend/or even dog just died and you send them a text.  Bad.  Your girlfriend just lost her job and you email her.  Bad.  Ending a relationship via text message, Facebook status update (it happens!), email or even a phone call.  Bad.  Very bad.  And cowardly.  And not very manly (or womanly) at all.

Because it feels like I’m fighting against the current so often on this, I’ve sometimes wondered if it’s me.  Maybe I’m expecting too much.  Am I just not adapting to the evolution of communication?  Am I holding on to some very old-fashioned ways and slowly sinking into the quagmire of frustration and disappointment in my fellow friends, lovers and even casual acquaintances?

Turns out...I’m not.  Or at least I’m not the only one.  I stumbled upon this blog the other day called The Art of Manliness and immediately felt a sense of ‘Thank God!  Someone out there not only feels the same way I do, but they're sharing its importance with others.’  Not to mention the countless comments that come after the article(s) from BOTH men and women stating the importance of human interaction, body language, seeing someone’s face no matter how horrible the news is that has to be delivered.  The idea and the desire and the need for this aspect of communication is not completely lost…although it seems some people are desperately struggling to find it…or get it back.

             
            Excerpt:  Man Apologizes to Wife in Text Message…

            Q:
My wife and I got into an argument the other night about how many hours she has been working at her job. I would like her home more. I let things cool down a bit and did not speak with her again that night. The next day, I thought I would apologize to her for getting into an argument. But when I texted her, she responded with a snide remark. As hard as I tried to make things right, it just turned into another argument. It seems like no matter how hard I try, she is not willing to make up. Should we go to counseling?
A:
Hold on, let me get my police issue bullhorn. Testing one two. Okay. “PUT DOWN THE PHONE. REPEAT, PUT DOWN THE PHONE. IF YOU VALUE YOUR RELATIONSHIP, STEP SLOWLY AWAY FROM YOUR TEXTING DEVICE.”
Call me old-fashioned (believe me, it won’t be the worst thing I’ve been called) but I just don’t believe that all of our problems can be solved with technology…or pharmaceuticals. Some things should be handled old school. In this case, we’re talking about…well, talking.
If you care about her, AND you’re dealing with a touchy topic, do not text, do not email, do not Twitter. Really, don’t you think your relationship deserves more than 140 characters?
If everything is just peachy, then sending an I love you is swell. But if you’re wanting to apologize, explain, plan, express feelings, offer support, debate or disagree, DO NOT do it electronically. If you must, pick up the phone. But this old guy’s advice is to do it face-to-face.

            Relationships are complicated. Most men don’t do complicated very well. That’s why we need         to keep it simple. Now - let me know if I’m going too fast for you - when we…talk…face-to-beautiful-face with our women, we can see them and they can see us. If they seem to be misunderstanding us, we can change our words, or adjust our eyebrows, to alter our message. When we talk in-person to those we care about, all of the complicated nuances of interpersonal communication happen naturally.



Face to face.  I have to, as in I MUST talk to a person face to face – especially when it’s something difficult I have to say.  I need them to see me, my emotions, my face, my tears, my worry, whatever it might be.  I try desperately to not even do it over the phone if I can help it.  There’s too much lost and I feel like it’s an injustice to the person on the other end.

In a related AoM blog, How to End a Relationship Like a Man an article that I believe, while it is posted on a website geared toward being a better man, undoubtedly benefits both sexes as I think neither one is immune to the temptation of hiding behind technology or completely avoiding the responsibility altogether of being gentle and compassionate with another's feelings.  The summation of the entire article is: 

If you can't handle the prospect of ending a relationship in person, you shouldn't start one in the first place.

This is something I have always placed into the “common sense” file of my gray matter.  I can’t change my mind about it.  Quite frankly, I refuse to change my mind about it.

I will never try to deny that technology benefits communication tremendously. The swiftness and conciseness that comes from being able to cut out the wait, the superfluous ‘stuff’ that just confuses things or wastes time, money, patience…etc.  But we are not machines, the difference between us and the computers, the robots, is that we have feelings and emotions and compassion and empathy.  Why are some people becoming so afraid to use these tools?  Because that is what they are.  Tools for living and being human.  All that extra ‘stuff’ that we can openly convey is what makes us...exceptional.   

At the end of the day, I can't change anyone else, I guess at the very least I can lead by my own example.  Therefore, I choose to always be exceptional.  Even though it’s the hard thing to do sometimes.  Even when it hurts.  Even when I have fucked up royally (because I’m human and I’m bound to fuck up several thousand more times in my life, I’m guessing) and I owe you an apology and a hug and so much more.  I promise, I will do it face to face.



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Thank you Sir Ken Robinson

You could not be more right on.  
Celebrate the diversity of talents.
It is absolutely vital to our existence.


The Only Thing I Want Sugar Coated Are My m&m’s...

(...or, why I am drawn to Bikram Yoga…the short version)



"The trouble with most of us is that we'd rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism."

- Norman Vincent Peale, author of "The Power of Positive Thinking"




Why I am drawn to Bikram, his teaching, his yoga, his discipline, his attitude, his confidence. 

Simple, it’s his honesty.

Bikram doesn’t lie to you.  I wrote in a previous blog that he told several people in our training that they were overweight (did I mention that he said this out loud, into a microphone, in front of the other 300 students in training?)  It was certainly not easy for them to hear, but it was not something they didn’t already know, either.  Bikram is so unbelievably right when he says that people have learned (falsely) to lie and cover things up to save face and avoid the truth whether it’s about ourselves or someone else.  He makes you face your demons so that you can get on with the task of GETTING RID OF THEM.  And everyone, everyone, everyone has them.  You cannot send them packing if you keep them hidden and/or deny that you even have them in the first place.

I have never been one for sugar coating.  If you get into astrology at all, I’m a Sagittarius.  If you really get into it, Sag traits are always listed as follows:  Loyal, spontaneous, love to travel and BLUNT – to the point of (completely, but unintentionally) offending people.  And while offending said person, we are entirely astonished they are actually angry when we answer “Yes” to the question “Do these pants make my butt look big?”  And more over, we are even less hesitant to say, “Actually, I have to be honest, I think it might be your butt that makes your butt look big.”

This is not mean.  It is blunt.  But it is not mean.  It is honest.  If you don’t want an honest answer, don’t ask the question.  Why would I answer like that?  a.  because you asked and I love you.  b. because you asked ME and if you know me even a little, you know that I will tell you the truth.  I respect the truth – even when it is unpleasant – way more than a pretty, candy-coated lie.  The truth, a difficult truth, can be conveyed with love and compassion, even though it is not delivered with sprinkles on top.  Therefore, I treat my neighbor as I would like to be treated.  If I ask them a question, I expect they will also tell me the truth.  The end.

"I love you, and because I love you, I would sooner have you hate me for telling you the truth, than adore me for telling you lies."   ~Pietro Arentino

I had a friend tell me once that she loved the fact that I talk the talk and walk the walk (her words, not mine).  She thanked me for giving her the peace of mind that I would always be honest with her, no matter what, even if it that truth was difficult to say.  If ever there were times in the past that someone was none too pleased with something I’d shared in the name of honesty, it was when she spoke those words to me, that I knew I had been doing the right thing all along.  

While on the subject of honesty, I honestly have a very hard time respecting people who respond with answers like “No, no you look great” (when meanwhile in their head they know they think otherwise) I have no trust for them, not to mention they are doing their friend a huge disservice.  Oh yeah, and there’s the small fact that they are flat out lying.  Sugar-coating, posturing, covering up how you really feel to look good or not feel bad or to not face a situation is lying. No ifs, ands or big butts.

Smiling and pretending only goes so far.  Not to say positive thinking isn’t helpful, influential and certainly necessary to live a great and powerful life, but positive thinking in no way equals the denial of plain and simple Truths.

I’ve always thought that if you can depend on that one thing from your friends, family, lovers, in a world too full of surprises and let downs, then there’s one less thing - and a huge thing at that - that you have to worry about.

I will tell you there is something in your teeth – even if I don’t know you – so that you don’t walk around all day like that, come home discover it yourself and wonder why the f*ck everyone you smiled at today didn’t tell you...damn it! 

And here’s another truth:   I do not like being called a “goddess”. Nor do I ever call anyone that.  I have never been inspired or drawn to that word in any way, shape or form.  Nothing against anyone who is or does.  As a matter of fact, I have lovely, lovely, incredible people in my life who use it all the time, (and coincidentally they don’t use with me).  It’s almost as though they know that it’s just ‘not me’.  And I like that.  Totally cool.  And PS, stating this out loud does not make me a bad person or some kind of anti-new age scrooge, it also does not make me less of a woman or an inconsiderate friend.  It makes me honest.  It's no different than me saying I don't like hot pink, or broccoli…or…Gwyneth Paltrow’s acting.  I don’t.  Sorry.  Actually, I’m not sorry.  I’m simply and truthfully not a fan.

Just as there are those who totally, one hundred percent do not connect at all with Bikram Yoga, and they’ve stated so.  They gave it a fair shake, and it just doesn’t resonate on the same frequency for them…that’s totally cool.  Why, because they are being honest.  No harm in that, at all.

One of my favorite people that I've never met is the late Carnegie Mellon University Professor Randy Pausch.  In his incredibly poignant and awesome speech, the Last Lecture (which I’ve read and watched countless times over the years), he states:

"If I only had three words of advice, they would be, 'Tell the Truth.' If I got three more words, I'd add, 'All the time.'"

He also says:

"You may not want to hear it, but your critics are often the ones telling you they still love you and care about you, and want to make you better.  When you're screwing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they've given up on you."

The truth does hurt sometimes.  But the truth really does set you free.

Bikram Yoga tells me the truth.  All the time.





Thursday, May 6, 2010

“F**k Bikram Yoga, that’s not real Yoga.”


An actual statement uttered by someone, to me, a few years ago.  Sadly, I’ve continued to hear similar statements over the years.  My response is always the same, I offer to pay, out of my own pocket, for the person behind the bold statement to do an uninterrupted month of this apparently ‘fake’ yoga they seem to be so knowledgeable about.  No one has ever taken me up on the offer. 

Not even once. 

I can’t seem to figure out why.

Article after article always blather on about Bikram’s cars – his Bentleys, Rolls Royces…sometimes highlighting that subject more than what the article is supposed to be about…the Yoga.  Just as the media likes to do, spin a great story, make it interesting or controversial to get tongues wagging.  (not unlike my blog title…that got you going a little bit, didn’t it?  Especially perhaps if you are a teacher reading this.)  Well, here’s a little tidbit to complete the report.  If you were to read even just a few pages of Bikram’s book, you would learn that Bikram’s obsession with cars started when he was very young.  Do you have anything that you’ve been obsessed with for as long as you can remember?  Maybe it’s films, rock-climbing, dancing, acting, you name it.  Or how about music?  Perhaps you sat alone, locked in your room for days on end, strumming a guitar, writing and playing tirelessly and endlessly.  Maybe every penny you made went to buying that guitar you’d been coveting in the window of the music shop you purposely passed every day on your way home from school.  Music was and is the one thing that made you feel truly happy.

Even if music isn’t your obsession, you could read the previous few sentences and say “Ok, I get it.”  Right?  Well, Bikram’s obsession was and is cars (and yoga, of course).  Bikram learned how to repair cars in India when he ran a garage, while running his first yoga schools.  And here’s another fact, the cars he owns now were bought as (quote from his book), “near hopeless wrecks and restored with [his] own two hands.”  That might put a little perspective on the whole flashy car thing, huh.

So, back to the real subject:  Yoga.  Yoga has been at work for 5,000 years.  FIVE THOUSAND YEARS.  What other form of discipline carries with it such a distinguished reputation?  Martial arts perhaps?  Let’s talk about martial arts for a moment.  I’ve never taken ANY sort of martial arts class in my life, but I know that the minute I were to walk into any Dojo or even be in the presence of any Sensei, Master, Teacher, I would show complete and utter respect to them as a teacher for their knowledge and the discipline that they were about to instill in me.  Why do I know this?  The idea of that respect, focus and discipline has long been told in tales and stories and movies.  Hello, it started for me as far back as Karate Kid!  Miyagi didn’t mess around.  Paint the fence.  Wax on, wax off.  When Danielsan started getting pissed that he felt like Miyagi’s slave, The Big M knew better than him that all that work, pain, crying, soreness, piss and vinegar would BE the discipline Daniel needed.

This is what many people fail to see that Hatha Yoga…Bikram Yoga…is.  It is a discipline, it is fucking hard.  Yes, I said fucking.  It’s fucking hard.  And unlike what most people believe, you don’t get your ass kicked…you kick your own ass, which is why you appreciate and love and respect yourself a million times more when you walk out of that room.  Because YOU did the work, no one did it for you.  Even with all the riches in the world, it is impossible to buy, from someone else, what this yoga rewards you with.  You must---must---must do the work yourself.

“It’s bullshit, you do the same postures over and over again, and how can you meditate without chanting first?”

This simply is not the Peace, Love and Light Yoga class you went to last week where you chanted Ohm Shanti, Shanti before you even did one posture.  Nor should you expect it to be.  Make no mistake, peace, love and light…all great things…we just arrive at the destination driving a little bit different of a vehicle.  Did someone tell you that there would be music?  Sorry to disappoint you.  Really, I mean that.  I love music.  It just has no place in a Bikram class.  Did someone promise you you’d get a Hatha Yoga class?  Good, because that’s what it is.  Period.  End of sentence. 


“I’m not going to tell you what you want to hear.  I’m going to tell you what you NEED to hear.  I’m going to tell you the truth.  I’ve got balls and I’ve got guts, so I say and do things I think my students need, whether or not it hurts their feelings.  But along with all my yelling and rough talk, my students can see the love and compassion I have for them as well.  They can feel that they’re healing.”               
~ Bikram Choudhury


**********************

EXCERPT from Bikram Yoga by Bikram Choudhury

Because I was a noisy and energetic little boy and used to disturb my mom all the time, she had Ashim and Jayanti take me with them to the club so that I’d be out of her hair and she could cook in peace.  While the others were getting their lessons, which lasted for about three hours, I would sit on the old guru’s lap.  Afterward the guru would say, “Your friends, your brother and your sister all study Hindi and do the chanting, so they all get candy.”  We had a sugar candy then that we called prashat.  “You didn’t do anything , so you are not going to get prashat.”

I said, “Are you kidding?  For three hours, I sat on your lap quietly---that’s the hardest thing I ever did  in my life.  So I deserve candy.” 

Even then, I had a big mouth.

The guru said, “Well, rules are rules.  You’ve got to do something in order to earn a reward.”
“What do you want me to do?” I asked him.
He just smiled, grabbed my feet and hung me upside-down with my head touching the floor, which is called Sirsasana, or Headstand.  He also used to hold my hands and feet, and lift me up in Bow posture; at the time, I didn’t realize that he was teaching me yoga asanas.  So, every day, seven days a week, he used to hang me upside-down and make me practice various postures.  It all seemed very strange to me---and, it turned out, I still had to learn the chanting.  But I  didn't really mind:  I did it all for the candy.

Right after I turned six we moved back to Calcutta, to a house next door to a playground and gymnasium where all the neighborhood children played.  In a club upstairs from the gym, I saw all these bodybuilders exercising.  I was interested; you know how boys are naturally fascinated by muscular men.  One day I went there with my friends, walked upstairs and saw them all practicing the same things that old guru had taught me in Bihar!  I bragged to one of my friends, “Hey, I can do much better than that---they’re not even doing a good job.”  I was never a bashful person, even as a kid.

“Oh yeah?” said my friends, “show me.”  So I took off my shirt, and started doing the exercises with the friend.  There was a man sitting on a bed at the front of the room, and he said, “Hey, come here.  What’s your name?”
“Bikram”, I replied.  As I got closer I could see that he was a very short man; I also noticed that he had the most penetrating dark eyes I’d ever seen.  They were black, and his gaze immediately struck you when it fell upon you.
“Where did you learn those things?” He asked.
“From Punditji”, I told him (Punditji means Master.) “In Deoghar.
“Show me more”, he commanded.
So I showed him all the postures I knew.  “A little boy doing all eighty-four postures?” he said, very surprised.  “Come every day; I will teach you more.”

This man was Bishnu Charan Ghosh, the youngest brother of Paramahansa Yogananda.  Widely considered the greatest physical culturist to emerge in the last 500 years, he became my guru and the greatest influence in my life.  I remained at his side, studied with him, and learned everything I know about yoga from him for the next 20 years.  If you ask me today what it is that I do, I will tell you, “I practice my guru’s wisdom.”

**********************

How fortunate I feel to have stumbled upon this yoga and have it resonate with me so strongly that I decided to become a teacher myself.  And then, to be taught by Bikram himself for nine grueling, tiring, killer, extraordinary, life changing weeks.  And then someone is going to tell me that what I've gone through in my training, what I teach and what I witness changing the lives of students (all over the world, no less) every single day isn’t real?

You know what, they're right, this isn't real.  This is a dream!





Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My continuing love affair...

...with the iPhone.  I mean, seriously...how cool is this?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

If Everyone Leads, Then Who's Going to Follow?

I've seen the subject of this talk ages ago. The home video is so good I watched it a few times in a row. Puts a smile on your face instantly to watch the progress of a purely spontaneous movement, both literally and figuratively. However, I LOVE what Derek Sivers has to say regarding this very same video in a TedTalk.

A movement may take only one person to initiate it, but someone HAS to follow. Otherwise the leader, as Derek so eloquently puts it, is just "One lone nut."

So, if you're feeling like you're just not "doing something" or "doing enough" and you're not busy standing up on your twitterbox dedicated to inspiring everyone and committing to change the world, take pride in and be happy to simply follow someone who is. If everyone were to lead, then who's going to follow? Supporting a movement is equally important as starting one. And PS. in this age of internet and celebrity and reality television proving that countless people are aching with desire for some part, no matter how small, of fame, recognition and/or validation...being "unknown", being anonymous is actually okay too. Not everyone has to be a star. If everyone were, then there would be no audience.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Paramahansa Yoganada...is rad.

How our magnetism works from the immortal Paramahansa Yogananda (and his Facebook Fan page!)

We exchange magnetism with our associates

We must be careful with whom we associate because we are continually exchanging magnetism with people through our thoughts, shaking hands, and our eyes.
We become like the people we mingle with, not through their conversation, but through the silent magnetic vibration that goes out of their bodies. The stronger person gives his vibration to the weaker.
For example, if a reformer of weak character endeavors to influence a confirmed evildoer, it is quite likely that the reformer will draw evil qualities. Only in a very limited way will the evildoer draw good qualities.(See Developing the Right Kind of Magnetism, below)

The right kind of magnetism

"The right kind of magnetic power has expanding, uplifting, spiritual qualities. Some people are so magnetic that they vibrate kindness and you love them immediately. This is the sort of magnetic power we should try to develop."
"Try always to be dressed in the magnetic qualities of calmness, fair-mindedness, firmness, wisdom, and understanding. Wherever you go, scatter kindness; let your eyes and heart be charged with God. That is what Jesus meant when He said: "Be ye fishers of men."


One can develop spiritual magnetism through will power, regular meditation, and thinking of God and saintly people. By visualizing and meditating on saintly people, one attracts their spiritual magnetism.


Use your time to develop spiritual magnetism to attract the Imperishable. When you have developed the power to attract the highest, you can easily attract all lesser things.


Developing the Right Kind of Magnetism


* One strongly good individual plus one weak evil individual--the good magnetism will be predominant.


* A strong spiritual power plus a strong business success results in both a strong spiritual magnetism and a strong business magnetism.


* A strong failure plus a strong success can result in either a strong failure magnetism or a strong success magnetism.


* A person of great calmness plus a person with a slightly angry disposition--the magnetism of calmness will be predominant.


* A strong intellectual power plus a weak intellect--the strong intellectual power will be predominant.


Monday, February 22, 2010

A Step in the Wet Direction


Yoga studios go through a lot of water...there's no denying it.  Doing something good for your body comes with a necessity to keep it hydrated as well.  Besides offering filtered water here at the Wellington studio for students to fill their own vessels, Life water is sold here (the bottle is made from plants and will compost somewhere between 4 days and 8 weeks, depending on the composting temperature!  Pretty cool, huh?)



This is available outside of Moore Wilsons Market.  Pure local artesian water for you to fill your own container.  What you may not be able to read in the photo is the smaller type which states that a voluntary donation of one dollar is suggested and the proceeds go directly to the Wellington Free Ambulance.

Did you know that not that long ago gas stations would charge people if they needed air or water for their vehicle?  Someone (in a few states anyway) came along and decided that these two things were vital for the safety of drivers in an emergency, thereby making it illegal to charge for either of these two necessities. 

It's important enough to be free for our vehicles. 

My hunch is it should be important enough to be free for every person on the planet as well.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Twenty Fingers and Twenty Toes!



If ANYONE were to ever dare say to me that Ray and Johnny couldn't be incredible parents (not to mention a super amazing and exemplary married couple), they would promptly get a knuckle sandwich from yours truly.


I hope that one day I am fortunate enough to be in a relationship that is even half as outstanding as theirs.  And not one, but TWO little girls will bless their life in March (they don't yet know that they are already the two luckiest girls in the world).

Don't Stop...


...Believin'.

I didn't take this photo, I found it online.  But it made me smile and now I've got Journey stuck in my head.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It really is THIS simple...






Follow instructions carefully.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat....

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Script, fonts...letters...

Which one do I like best...so hard to choose.

Number 5 coming soon.   (I can already hear the buzzing of the gun...)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

SHANTARAM

Run.  Run right now to the store and buy this book.  It is a nine hundred and thirty three page work of extraordinary proportions.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mandi. Being her usual self. Overflowing with love.

A letter my friend and registered nurse, Mandi has sent out recently regarding volunteering in Haiti.  Any donation, large or small, would be appreciated.  Thank you so much.

Hello beautiful friends and family,

I know you all know about the earthquake in Haiti and the devastation it has left. Being an RN, and really just a human that loves, I feel so strongly that I can help there and that I have something meaningful to contribute. I volunteered with National Nurses United to be sent to Haiti with other teams of nurses from around the country. This morning they held an emergency briefing to discuss the plan with the nurses that have volunteered and the press. Right now they are mobilizing the first group of nurses to try and head out via Miami by Saturday. They anticipate the need for nurses lasting for months. I don't know how soon I will be asked to go over but I am preparing now.
So I am asking you to contribute in whatever way you can to help cover travel and vaccination expenses. Also, if you have a private jet you would like to fill up with nurses that would be great too! Once those expenses are covered I will donate any left over money to National Nurses United, as it will go directly to getting more nurses into Haiti.
I am already inspired by your generosity!!
Being Love,
Mandi

p.s. Below is a link for donations that is connected to my paypal account and feel free to forward this :)

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=11183220
--
Can you surrender to how beautiful you are?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sand. It's not just for castles.

Unobtainium


Unobtainium. n. any substance needed to build some device critical to the plot, but which does not exist in the universe as we know it.

While we always find ourselves drawn to the story of good vs. evil and we love to cheer on the good guys and/or the underdogs, the reality is the only solution we ever seem to come up with to “win” is fighting. Fire with fire. Force with force.

Avatar is the talk of the universe lately. What’s the story? Probably one you might be somewhat familiar with…evil, greedy somebody taking something that doesn’t belong to them from somebody else. In this case, evil greedy humans have pillaged Earth to no end, so jet off to rape the planet Pandora to get what they need, unobtainium. When met with resistance, they would take to any level of force necessary. Meanwhile, us good guys in the audience are appalled. This can’t be! Leave the lovely blue people alone…they’re not hurting anyone!

And what could the Na’vi do? Well, based on any worth-talking-about story, fight back of course. Though they didn’t have remote controlled robot fighters, they had their connection to the animal kingdom to help them achieve the very same goal that the humans were also accomplishing. Kill. We cheer them on because we label the humans as evil and callous, lacking compassion and deserving to ‘lose’ the battle. But why is the answer and the solution always warfare? Does it make it any better that as we watch our feel good movie, we’re happy for the Na’vi who ultimately win and effectively destroy the earthling forces, yet, all things considered they do the same thing that we would condemn the humans for doing – taking life in order to protect their ‘right’, killing to try and prove that someone else is ‘wrong’.

“Force always creates counterforce; its effect is to polarize rather than unify. Polarization always implies conflict; its cost, therefore, is always high…it inevitably produces a win/lose dichotomy; and because somebody always loses, enemies are created” From Power vs. Force by David R. Hawkins

So, at the end of the movie the war is over, the good guys win (sorry to spoil it for you).  Everyone leaves the theatre 3D glasses in tow, high-fiving strangers all the way out of the cinema. Believe me, I wasn’t immune, I was doing it too. But in real life, all of that force doesn’t just stop when James Cameron’s name rolls up on the screen.

Going back to Pandora and the Na’vi for a moment, how could they have possibly continued to stand up for what they believed in, not to mention their own homeland, without resorting to violence and force? Is this the only way…fighting bullies with bigger bullies, or outsmarting the big bullies, but still with what boils down to brutality and aggression? My question is, when is that NOT the answer. Is it EVER not the answer? Is there ever another solution? It seems to me the actual unobtainium here is true peace.

Why can we discover and create and accomplish so many extraordinary things, but yet the story remains the same:

Good vs. Evil. A fight to the death (of many). Good prevails. For now.

(until Avatar 2 perhaps?)

“The way to finesse a high-energy attractor field solution is to seek the answer that will make all sides happy and still be practical.”

Now, I know that doesn’t sound like it makes for a Hollywood blockbuster, exciting action, edge of your seat – and in this case 3D --movie. But what if it could? Would we want to hear that story? Would we be running to the theatre in droves to see that tale on the big screen? Would that bring some originality to the story that the critics are tearing apart for being “Dances with Wolves or Pocahontas with blue people”?

Not trying to be all Debbie Downer about the whole thing, by the way. I really did enjoy the movie immensely. I’m just wondering if there’s ever another way. Is there a way to practice creating win-win situations with something more Powerful rather than Forceful?

I don't claim to have the answer, I wish I did. Suggestions welcome.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

After the frustration...came even more...

But then, I stumbled upon something today that fit just perfectly into the space I was attempting to create.


Love extends naturally from you when you tap into It, no matter how slightly. It overflows from the center of your Being to color your perception without you even trying.

Simply make the choice to see God’s Love here despite what is appearing to the body’s eyes and you will find yourself flooded with Love and Peace and Joy. If you are unable to touch the Love within you and let It extend in your perception you can bring Love to your awareness by visualizing Light – or some other symbol of Love that works for you - around what the body’s eyes are seeing, no matter what it is. This is how you demonstrate your willingness to experience Love and because Love is the Truth it rises up to meet you and overflows your little willingness. The physical world will recede in value to you and the Love that you are experiencing will expand within you. You can do this any time you think that you are unhappy because of what is appearing in the world and you will teach yourself that what you experience is your own choice.



~ Excerpt from Liz Cronkhite's blog – ACIMmentor.com


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Love is Stronger than Death

A few years ago I set out on an adventure to the middle of the jungle Peru. No electricity, no hot water, no comforts of home (except my pillow). The jungle is the pitchest of black when there’s no electricity, add to this, tripping your nads off from drinking the sacred concoction of ancient Shaman…life and the meaning of it gets interesting, real quick.

I was drawn to the particular area because of an article I had read in a National Geographic magazine and the specific (and mostly horrifying) details of the Ayahuasca ceremonies that were described in the article only fueled, much more intensely, my need to go. I was certain that I had to go. And more importantly, I knew I had to go by myself. No friends, no family. I wanted the whole experience and all five ceremonies that I was going to partake in to be completely me and my shit, with no distractions. I’ve detailed the experience of the ceremonies in past entries, so if you’re interested you can read about it there. Tonight’s carrying on comes from viewing that experience three years later.

I had come down to South America to do some serious work, spiritually, emotionally, mentally – turns out, even physically. I was seeking solace, forgiveness, relief from the torment of depression and unspeakable guilt that had a relentless stranglehold on me for the previous 8 years. The agony and grief revolved around my father’s suicide. The regret I was experiencing came from my failure to return his call before he did it.

(I’ve never written about my father’s death until right this very moment. I’ve spoken about it to friends and family sure, but to ever consider posting it publicly, simply was not an option. I’m not even so sure about posting it right now as my heart races while I type these words. But since I no longer feel the need to hide something, whatever that something was, it just seems it’s time to write. Not too many details for now, baby steps.)

As far as I could see, I was serving a life sentence for my crime, and my punishment was…being alive. I found myself incessantly wishing to find a way to leave this god forsaken existence. But how can you do that to your family when your father took his own life?

Since I was still alive and even slightly dumbfounded that I was actually in the middle of a jungle holding onto the tiniest fragment of hope, with the help of a translator I asked one of the shaman what exactly I needed to do to find the reprieve I was so desperately searching for in my life.

The shaman spoke in his native Quechua, and the interpreter translated sparingly. “Always love”.

I took this to mean quite plainly, always love (as a verb). That seemed pretty straightforward…difficult as it may seem, don’t stop loving just because you feel broken or unworthy. Our limited conversation continued for a few more minutes and I deduced enough to comprehend that you’re not only punishing yourself but punishing everyone around you when you halt your life at a crossroads or obstacle. And what does that accomplish? Successfully robbing people of the gift of your love. And what else is there really? Everything else is fleeting. Money, fame, beauty – while coveted by some, doesn’t really mean much in the grander scheme. Plus, the simple fact remains, not everyone has access to it in their lifetime. Unquestionably though, every person on the planet can love – without money, without fame and without beauty. This power is generously bestowed upon each and every one of us, without question, without limit, without prejudice, without expiration. Without exception.

By the sixth day and the third ceremony I began to feel the inspiration for my next tattoo, I had quietly pondered the short phrase that had now fixed itself in my head. Now, it’s no secret that I’m so not cool enough to pull off the full sleeve, dripping with colors and dragons and busty babes kind of tattoos, so when I decide to get stamped, I need to be sure of what indeed I really want to “say”.

Since this trip proved to be such a significant point in my life, it seemed apparent to me that I would seek out the proper spelling of those two words in Quechua and have myself inked sometime when I got back to the U.S. For some reason, this didn’t happen. As more time went on, I actually lost the translation, went about trying to figure it out again, doing research and discovering how many different dialects exist in the Quechua language, thus becoming increasingly worried that I was going to inadvertently end up with something like Hairy Llama scrawled on my body for the rest of my life.

It wasn’t until recently that I found myself again contemplating those two words. I suddenly distinguished the phrase in a whole new way (thanks to another experience which I will write about in a separate entry). Love: described as a noun, could be acknowledged in a zillion different ways. I flipped the words around on my tongue, backward and forward, playing with the different undercurrents of this simple, simple statement. One could always recognize love, one could always practice love, one could always be love, one could always see, share, live, cultivate, participate, send, embrace, embody, declare, receive, reward, dedicate, offer...love. The list is endless.

No matter what the question or uncertainty, “always love” seems like it is the unmistakable, viable answer.

This also means that despite my history and my story with my father, I could continue from this point forward to create love around it by doing just that. Loving in every way possible. All ways.

You don’t stop loving because of an obstacle in your path. If you give up on love, what chance do you stand then? Hell and a snowball come to mind. What you do is love even more...and more intensely than before. Don’t let anyone go even one day without the benefit of your love. What better way to help deal with your past than to change your future about it.

And what better way to remind yourself than inscribing it on your bicep:






P.S. Blog title comes from a The The song by the same name. (always loving lyrics, I am)

Love love love
Love love love

Me & my friend were walking
In the cold light of mourning.
Tears may blind the eyes but the soul is not deceived
In this world even winter aint what it seems.

Here come the blue skies here comes springtime.
When the rivers run high & the tears run dry.
When everything that dies.
Shall rise.

Love love love is stronger than death.
Love love love is stronger than death.

In our lives we hunger for those we cannot touch.
All the thoughts unuttered & all the feelings unexpressed
Play upon our hearts like the mist upon our breath.
But, awoken by grief, our spirits speak
How could you believe that the life within the seed
That grew arms that reached
And a heart that beats.
And lips that smiled
And eyes that cried.
Could ever die?

Here come the blue skies here comes springtime.
When the rivers run high & the tears run dry.
When everything that dies.
Shall rise.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Have you ever had to make a split second decision?

Like when the light turns yellow and you’re driving maybe a little faster than you should be and your mind goes, “Slam on the brakes? Step on the gas? Hurry….chooooose!!”

I live in a large high rise, with a gated parking structure underneath the building. I was walking outside earlier this evening and decided I wanted to go to the store, therefore, I needed to get to my car. Realizing I didn’t have my gate opener with me, I could have simply gone back INSIDE the building and down the elevator to the underground parking structure, and all would have been well in my world. But noooooo.

I was about to turn the corner on the sidewalk, at which point I'd be a just a few steps away from the garage gate entrance to my building . If I'm a lucky person, it will be open from a car having just gone through and I will be able to effortlessly stroll into the garage and down to my car. As I made the corner, I heard that familiar noise, the metal and springs creaking and the motor kicking on to begin moving the gate. It had been opened only moments ago, so it was now beginning its descent. You might see where this is going…

Can I make it??!! Is there enough time? Calculate!! If I sprint, will I make it or will I simply end up the not-so-proud recipient of a 2009 Darwin Award?

No decision.

Only another split second of hesitation.

That hesitation cost me. My choice was now doomed from the moment I heard, “Run!” in my head. My wavering prompted an erratic, frantic, completely hysterical dash toward the rapidly closing gate. Arms flailing, legs moving, but as though they were not connected to my body or even to each other for that matter. My heart pounding in my chest, the gate was stopping for no one! All of a sudden, my knees buckle…

...and I fall.

Half in and half out of the garage, I lay sideways on the concrete, my life flashing before my eyes as I watch the metal bars coming closer and closer to terminating my very existence. (Well, at least I’m wearing my favorite sweatshirt.) The rattling and screeching of the moving parts pressed on and seemed only to grow louder and faster as I decided that I really didn’t want to die (or be horribly mangled) today. And, just then…as in every single action movie ever produced...when [insert name of action hero here] is mere centimeters away from being dismembered by a gate…drawbridge…spaceship hatch…big rock, I fling my arms and legs long (my flip flop flies off in the process) and I barrel-roll to safety into the garage!

All was suddenly quiet. The gate had descended to its resting place. I mustered the energy to barely sit up. One shoed, I looked around for the other one. And. There it was. On the OTHER side of the gate. I crawled back to the unmerciful barricade, grabbed a bar with one hand, reached my other arm through as far as it would go. JUST out of reach.

Humbled, hobbled, exhausted from the adrenalin rush, I picked myself up, dusted myself off and made my way down to my car another level below. Didn't even bother to take off the one shoe I still had left, I just walked like that. Flip. Flip. Flip. I got in my car and drove back up to the 'scene'. I watched as the gate opened. Suddenly seemed it was moving a lot slower than before. My very confused flip flop was grateful to once again be with its partner, I was grateful that I was driving my car with all my limbs intact instead of trapped under a gate, mumbling something about just wanting to go to the store to buy some chocolate.

Moral of the story:

Yoga is good for you. Indeed, when one thinks of yoga and its practitioners, typically words like graceful, fluid, elegant come to mind. Bikram yoga on the other hand, as I repeatedly tell my students in class…makes you a superhero. Or at the very least you feel like you could be one.



Afterword:

My iphone survived the entire stunt without so much as a scratch and I walked away with only a bruised knee. There is a chance that surveillance camera footage exists of this entire episode. One can only hope.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I really dig this guy

Being a skeptic about most things, I needed some 'proof' as to why our thoughts are able to manifest things (The Secret, while nice, didn't do enough to explain to me how those things are actually possible. Oh me of little faith, I guess. I needed to know how and why. Just like magicians...their illusions are great, but I still want to know HOW the f they do the damn trick!) This guy explains the science, the biology of how and why your thoughts really, actually, physically, emotionally, psychologically control your life.

"We are powerful and we are capable of doing things that are called miracles. Miracles are actually events that science does not understand yet. Very profound miracles happen every day. For example, some people have cancer and suddenly their perception changes and they may experience spontaneous remission. By changing their perceptions of life, they reprogram their cells. That is the expression of epigenetic mechanisms, molecular processes that give the power back to the individual. Rather than perceiving that "we are victims of the cells," the new science recognizes the power that we have to control the cells."


He also goes on to speak about harmony and another way of perceiving it, embracing it and honoring it.

"Think about it this way: underneath your skin are fifty trillion cells living in harmony in a very closed environment. These cells are very intelligent. We have always looked down at everything less than human as not being intelligent. That is our hubris and it is going to cost us a lot. If you can look inside the body and see those trillions of cells living in harmony, recognize this: every cell is a sentient being just like every one of us. Every cell lives in a community and has a job to support that community. There are rules and regulations. Cells get services. There is health care by the immune system. The garbage is taken out by the excretory system. The digestive system delivers the food. There is a society consisting of trillions of individuals inside our bodies that can thrive when we are in good health, yet the few billion people on the entire surface of the planet are so out of balance that we are destroying our environment."

excerpt from: Bruce Lipton

Monday, December 1, 2008

Watch this...please



STORY OF STUFF

and do something, anything more than what you are doing right now.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I’m a sucker for soundtracks

My ipod was on shuffle as I drove up to the registrar's office today to drop off my mail-in ballot in person (long story). As I followed the long line of cars into the packed parking lot, I noticed all the people, all the cars, all the volunteers, the buzz, the excitement, the nervousness, the hope. As I inched along in the line, the song changed over on my ipod. An uncomplicated, sweet song by a man called Bob Schneider. "The World Exploded into Love".

There was basically a drive-thru set up for mail-in ballot drop offs – apparently, I'm not the only one who had to do this. An older black gentleman smiled a big smile at me right at my car window as I handed over my yellow envelope. He said, "Thank you!" with such enthusiasm. I said, "Thank YOU!" and winked at him (I wink sometimes). I hoped that he did not take it as any sort of nod to Sarah Palin - but more to my excitement that I was voting for the person who could potentially be the very first African-American president in history. As soon as my hand let go of the envelope, tears instantly welled up in my eyes and there was no way of stopping them.

The song continued to play and I continued to cry. I am a sappy, emotional girl sometimes. And I like it.

I drove through the pathway marked with orange cones toward the exit and passed several more volunteers who smiled and made eye contact with every single passerby. I sniffled and wiped my cheeks. My window was still down. The line of cars was moving slowly enough that a man who noticed my tears asked me if I was indeed crying. I said yes and held back what would have next become full on sobbing. He said it would be okay. I told him I was crying because I was happy – and that messed up as it seems right now, I truly believe we live in a great country.

He looked at me and said, "Yes, ma'am. We do."

The song ended and an older tune shuffled its way unto my car speakers, though no less befitting to the moment. I've always loved the way this simple song made its point (to me anyway).

The The – Lonely Planet

Planet earth is slowing down
Overseas, underground
Wherever you look around.
Lord, take me by the hand
Lead me through these desert sands
To the shores of a promised land.

You make me start when you look into my heart
And see me for who I really am.

If you can't change the world. Change yourself.
If you can't change the world. Change yourself.

I didn't care if the sun didn't shine
And the rain didn't fall from the sky.
I just cared about myself.
From this world to the next
And from the next back to this,
By our actions we are bound.
We're running out of love
Running out of hate
Running out of space for the human race.
Planet earth is slowing down.

You make me cry when you look into my eyes.
And see me for who I really am.

If you can't change the world. Change yourself.
If you can't change the world. Change yourself.

And if you can't change yourself then…
CHANGE YOUR WORLD.

I'm in love with the planet I'm standing on.
I can't stop.
Can't stop thinking of
All the people I've ever loved
All the people I have lost
All the people I'll never know
All the feelings I've never shown.
The world is too big.
And life is too short.
To be alone.


Happy Changing the World Day, everyone!!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Life. Death. And all that gray matter in between

My grandmother passed away last week, her name was Anna, she was 88 years old. Her husband Michael, my grandfather, passed away 10 years ago and I know that every single day of those 10 years, she wished she could be with him again. They were the definition of "til death do us part". Good times and bad times, they had seen it all. Together. They fled from the war, worked in factories, dreamed of a better life, moved to countries where they didn't speak one word of the native language just to keep that dream alive. Eventually, my grandfather died from lung cancer, my grandmother stood by him through every torturous moment.

This is Anna and Michael, when they had fled to Germany for a short time before ultimately making their way to Brazil (and later finally coming to America). I like to think that this is the way my grandparents are sitting right now. Together again at last:

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These are their great-grandchildren, my nephews, Zenon and Krystian.

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They are sweeter than candy and I find myself wishing I could stop time, just because it goes so fast. The church grounds where the funeral services were held, also house the preschool that I attended at the ripe age of 3 or 4, however old you are when you go there. I took a stroll with my nephews to show them where their Teta (aunt) went to school. The room itself has not changed one bit in 30 years. There are still the same yellow and red hooks on the wall where the kids hang their coats. The room even smells the same, and the chairs – well they would easily be considered 'vintage' or 'antiques' (possibly even 'relics' by this point). I had a boyfriend in preschool - I was on top of my game back then, I'm not sure what happened since. I distinctly remember telling my teacher that we had to sit next to one another. She smiled and said ok. I mean, how do you argue with a 3 year old on such a serious subject?

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This is Abby. Abby is a cocker spaniel that thinks she is a magician. Notice how she is able to make the ball levitate under her nose. I had already had a few glasses of wine the first time I saw her do this and promptly decided that I should maybe stop drinking. But then she clued me in on how she does it. Relieved, I poured myself another glass. She snores and likes to put her arm around you when she sleeps. And sometimes bears a striking resemblance to Gene Simmons:

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All in all, funerals suck. I've been to way too many of them in my relatively short lifetime. But they keep reminding me, just in case I forget, to make the moments…all the moments - even the seemingly insignificant ones - matter before yours gets here.