Best Friend

Finding the answer to the meaning of our lives is an age-old quest.  The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell is just such an account.  Every day we come to this place of wonder. Oftentimes we think we have failed, or we believe in our magnificence.  The truth is we find our way for a while, we stumble, we brush ourselves off and get back to our journey again and again.  Over thinking can be a chronic problem for many of us, and I place myself at the top of that list!  Yoga and meditation have provided a great outlet to quiet my monkey mind, but it still exists and requires daily tending.  Today while taking my beautiful best friend for his grooming appointment I happened to turn around and catch this image of him. He was grounded in the simple joy of the moment.  He was free.  Free of the pain that I imagine racks his 13-year-old body, and feeling the wind in his face and shining his light out into the world.  I love all that he is in his pure loving form. Thank you sweet Chesky for reminding me once again to come into the moment and exist in pure love, joy, and simplicity.  You are my best friend.



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Change is an ever constant, in fact it might be the only constant in our lives.  Lately I have noticed some big changes in our beloved dog, Chesky.  His back legs are starting to give out, his breathing is labored most of the time.  He can no longer join me on my forays into the mountains for hiking.  I don’t like it at all, and yet today when I read these beautifully crafted words by Roger Housden it gave me hope that even in change, all is well.

My memory is not what it was. My face is not what it was. I am changing before my eyes. I didn’t used to look like this, but then they don’t make mirrors like they did. Three years ago I had money. Now I have no money. This morning I was peaceful, at lunch I was impatient, this afternoon I was joyful. Tomorrow will not be a repeat of today, nor will next year be like this one. We are walking, all of us, into the glorious unknown of the rest of our lives. Only two things are certain: it will keep changing, and sooner or later, it will end.

Change happens in every moment. Not just the events of our lives, but the cells in our bodies, our thoughts streaming by, our moods shifting with the tides, even our sense of who we are and where we are going. Sometimes we ache for change and sometimes we dread it. We harbor notions of what is good for us and what is not, and try to organize and strategize accordingly. We like to be in control.

We need to know who we are and where we are going. We like to have structures in place — a family, an income, a job, a place in society — that tell us who we are and give us a sense of worth and meaning. Of course we do, this is hardly a neurotic need for stability and control over our environment — it’s a normally adjusted way of being in the world.

But if the ego, healthy or otherwise, is the only avenue through which we have experienced life, then we will cling to our familiar structures by our fingernails when they are threatened, as they will be, by change. We will desperately want to steer our ship in the direction we want it to go. When the ego won’t let go of what it knows, it becomes hard and brittle. There is no space for any larger view. A brittle ego cannot bow to the larger truth of change.

The ancient Chinese had a saying — ride the horse in the direction it is going. It was an attitude that encouraged cooperation with life, with its variables and unknown quantities, rather than trying to control the outcome in advance. It didn’t mean you merely drifted through life like a leaf in the wind (you were still riding the horse, after all), but it implied that your intention is best served by an open, attentive mind — one that is inclusive of the larger forces of life around it, whatever they may be.

No one wants their life upended. No one is free from fear. But life has scant regard for our control needs. The show goes on, like it or not.

The Chinese saying urges us to join what is already happening; to align ourselves with the fact of change, to flow with it rather than struggle upstream to try and keep things the way they are or to make happen what doesn’t want to happen. It doesn’t mean you need to be a wet rag. You and I are immersed in life; we have a say in it. We have agency, just not all the agency we might like.

“Pour yourself like a fountain,” Rilke says in his Sonnet to Orpheus XII. To pour yourself like a fountain, to ride the horse in the direction it is going, is to choose willingly to cooperate with what is already so. When we struggle against the way things are, we suffer. When a knowing emerges in us that comes from beyond our binary reflex, beyond opposites altogether, and when we have the courage to follow that knowing, regardless of where it will take us, we are riding the horse, out of the reach of either hope or fear. Then everything, no matter what it is, becomes part of the adventure. Knowing this is more than enough to inspire faith in our life, wherever it takes us.

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This moment is all there is. ~ Rumi





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We must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. ~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

Making space for new, clearing away what no longer serves us is always a valuable action, however, in the last few days of the year as we approach the New Year, we have the perfect opportunity to do some inner housekeeping.

One way that I have found and often teach to individuals in journaling classes and/or grief workshops is to hold a practice of gratitude. One can do this by writing in a journal every day for 30 days, perhaps at the end of the day, three simple things that one is grateful for that happened during the day. Taking it a little further, if you write about gratefulness for 10 weeks it has been proven by experiment (Emmons & McCullough 2003) with hundreds of subjects to show an increase in happiness and joy.  Participants in this experiment also exhibited:

  • Fewer symptoms of physical illness
  • Spent more time exercising
  • Were more optimistic and satisfied with their lives
  • Reported an increased positive affect and decreased negative affect
  • Were more likely to offer emotional support to others
  • Felt an increased sense of connection with others
  • Slept more hours and with a better quality of sleep each night

Not bad for a simple shift in focus!

In a 2011 study, Rash, Matsuba and Prkachin found that grateful contemplation resulted in increased physiological coherence, suggesting increased activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (the relaxation response) and decreased activation of the sympathetic nervous system (the stress response). Their research indicated that being grateful reduces stress and increases wellbeing.

Make a list of things for which you would like to be and feel more grateful in the coming year. These can be:

  • Aspects of your life you would like to stop taking for granted
  • Blessings you want to keep in your daily awareness
  • Privileges you want to be sure to leverage for the greater good
  • Opportunities that appear even in challenging times
  • Daily gifts of the body and being alive, etc.

Invite some room into your life as you close out this year and see what shows up. Create that space to honor your soul. Richness can be found when one has the courage to peek inside and sit with whatever comes up. For me it has been a year filled with many personal accomplishments, and yet I still see my insecurities strongly being fueled by fear. Knowing I need to release that fear in order to bring more light into my own life, I need to create some space for it all to change. I invite that into my life.

Happy New Year! With deep gratitude I wish you all peace, unity, and serenity.

When the waves close over me, I dive down to fish for pearls. ~ Masha Kaleko


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Going nowhere. . . isn’t about turning your back on the world; its about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.

~ Leonard Cohen

Nowhere, yes, I have been nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Joyously reading all your beautiful writings for the past couple of months, I have been renewed time and again with the grace and poetry of your writings. Thank you for sharing your beautifully crafted words.

These months have been both difficult as well as rewarding in my personal life. Passing yet another milestone of the loss of my late husband, 12 years, having my son and his wife return home from an extended year of travel all over the world, only to have them leave again to spread their wings elsewhere, and to the place that brings me here this morning to these written words on these starchy white lines of paper.

This week brings to conclusion a step on my pathway to study yoga deeper with the completion of my 200-hour RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher) Certificate. It has been a journey for me, one I began with a small voice in a class bursting with the effervescence of youth. Writing about finding one’s voice, there I sat without much of a voice, lacking confidence in my entire being partly due to age and many other constructs I scripted in my mind. Last night I taught a full C1 class and stood comfortably with my age and used my voice to bring forth all I have experienced in life to hopefully touch other’s souls and empower them to stand in their own voice in not only their yoga practice, but in their life.

Life is a journey, and every now and then we have to go away by going nowhere in order to step back and experience big magic. Today as I sit in this picturesque cold, snowy environment having had this beautiful experience of being able to teach something that I am passionate about, yoga, I feel love much more deeply. Namaste.


(photo credit:  Kurt Hayden)

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