What do you want?

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What do you want? Have you ever been asked that question? And, sat there thinking for like hours about what is you really want.

The answer is there. It is not what anyone else wants for you. It is not what your parents, friends, ancestors, and or advisors want for you. It is what YOU want.

It is a question that goes straight to your gut and goes straight to your jugular (as my writing teacher used to say).

We all are conditioned into an answer of what others may have projected onto us starting at birth, and usually this is not what we want. I can see how my wants for Indira may not at all be what she wants in the future.

When I am asked this question I am always stunned, and sometimes have no idea what to say. Why? Because, most of us don’t get asked this question very often. So, when I was asked recently I paused. I had to get clear and connected to hear exactly what it is that I want. Sometimes, it’s unattainable in the moment. Like right now, I want a beach vacation with a book, my journal, palm trees, and crystal clear waters a la Costa Rica.

What do you want? Listen to that deep, quiet voice that rises out of the depths of your core-self. It has something to say.

Body as a Sanctuary

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“The yogi never neglects or mortifies the body or the mind, but cherishes both. To him the body is not an impediment to his spiritual liberation nor is it the cause of its fall, but is an instrument of attainment. He seeks a body as a thunderbolt, healthy and free from suffering so as to dedicate it in the service of the Lord for which it is intended.” -BKS Iyengar, Light on Yoga.

 Three-years ago, I didn’t feel confident and felt disconnected. I was in a new relationship with my now partner, and in that ambiguous stage of fear and uncertainty. I began to compare myself to a lot of voluptuous women. I was daydreaming of what it would actually be like to have curves, and actually be voluptuous. I was thinking of those old Vargas girls. I always thought of them as deeply feminine, and had wished I had that body type. One night at 1:30am I was curious about breast implants, and started doing all of this research. Luckily, I was incredibly horrified at what I found out. In the middle of my in-depth research my cup of almond milk, ghee, cardamom, and cinnamon spills all over my computer. My computer was covered in my tea concoction. I freak out, and laugh because clearly I needed to stop the madness. The divine has a sense of humor at times. I bring my computer to the Apple store and the Mac Genius dude opens my computer and looks at my computer very confused. Ghee and almond milk are crusted onto my entire motherboard. I had to buy a new computer, which is much cheaper than plastic surgery, I may add. Full of shame and feeling rather ridiculous, I came to realize that I needed to accept myself as I was and cherish my body, instead of focusing on what I didn’t have, which was causing me suffering.

When we look in the mirror we see what we don’t have, and desire a different image. We compare ourselves to the next woman. We don’t see our true essence or beauty. We end up embodying not our own body but the desire for another body, look, and image. This creates separation within us and between our sisters.

Our body is our sanctuary for our own unique divinity. Yet, so often we desire to recreate, and re-imagine our body. The body changes and will always change through age.

Give your body the food it needs to be healthy, honor your spirit’s sanctuary through positive and nourishing relationships, see and feel yourself as beautiful, remove the mirrors, remove the magazines, try to limit negative self-talk, practice self-love and self-acceptance daily, and feed yourself nourishment that your body needs to thrive and be vibrant.

 

Ritual Cures

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“Ritual cures,” he says as we light our lamps. I pray so.

Sacred practices enliven and heal us–our karma and samskaras, our shadows, our suffering, and those very experiences we wish away. Yes, ritual cures, heals, and gives us the fire to divinely surrender and continue on.

I said to him, “I am getting quite devotional these days.” I am doing the opposite of what’s comfortable–keeping a very specific ritual. And it’s all for her, and turning out to be for ALL of us.

Here we are, our daughter with a genetic condition we cannot give a remedy to that will make it totally disappear, and we can’t re-wind her mutated DNA helix. I often imagine energetically restructuring her DNA helix. The lesson—deep abiding acceptance of LIFE.

We can only do what we can do to help alleviate her potential symptoms, and give her a healing diet, supplements, appropriate doctor’s appointments, lots of love, support, and care that may help her condition. Miracles are the only grace that will make her condition completely disappear. I believe in miracles.

What do we do?

You invite ritual. You grow deeper into practice. You connect. You go into that which makes you completely uncomfortable–the unknown. You turn your life into the most sacred ritual. Life is a miracle after all.

Ritual is keeping me sane, grounded, connected. It may not “cure” my daughter but it may. Miracles come in different varieties.

I think I’ll write the story where miracles happen!

If you would like to know more about Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, you can visit this link for the TS Alliance.

The Why(s) of Life

Bleary-eyed I am pacing the hospital hallway at 3:30AM chanting quietly to myself and sobbing. Children are crying in rooms with closed doors. My baby is one of them, while the doctors put an IV in her little arm.  I am wondering why is this happening.

As a mother, there is nothing worse than your child being sick, hurt, or in pain. Nothing. Why is this happening? I kept asking every being I ever prayed to—why? Only to realize the answer to that why is another why with no definitive answer.

The back-story is that my daughter was having infantile spasms. At first, we were unsure of what she was doing and why. We took a video and went to the doctor. That night we were driving to the hospital. I don’t like hospitals. I don’t buy into Western Medicine. However, Western Medicine serves a purpose at times especially in this case. After many tests, ultrasounds, an MRI (I think this is by far a harrowing experience. I sat in the room with my daughter, and when I came out of there I felt like my entire being had been electric shocked and I was shaking. Maybe the best part was for the techs watching me do pranayama, braid my hair, bumblebee breath with full on digital actions, and try to not go mad in 25-minutes.), Visual EEG (They all probably loved that as I would curl up in the crib to breastfeed my baby. It was full on acrobatics.), EKG, and numerous doctors visiting until we finally received a diagnosis. My daughter has been diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis, which is a rare genetic condition that causes benign tubers or tumors to grow. Hers are in her brain causing seizures. Why would this happen to an innocent child? Why? Honestly, I am still struggling, because it is very unfair and I can’t seem to understand. Yes, I am pissed off at the divine for this happening to my little girl.

We have all been there before. Trying to find answers to why something horribly terrifying and heartbreaking is happening.  Sometimes we receive an answer and other times we do not.

My friend called with the answer. The most perfect answer at that moment. This is a divine orchestration she said, and part of your daughter’s path and something for all of you to learn.

Divine orchestration. I sat with that in silence listening deeply.

The next day my father gave his wisdom, “Love trumps all.”

In these moments it is hard to think that suffering can be divinely orchestrated. We may not know and ever be able to understand why something happens. What I do know is that no matter what happens love helps us to overcome adversity and that adversity strengthens us.

All we have is TODAY and it is divinely orchestrated.

**Prayers for my baby girl and our family are welcome. For it is the power of prayer that has gotten me through as well as breathing, mantra, pranayama, practice, chocolate, the love that is overflowing from our community, and my daughter’s smile. **

 

Everyday Gratitude

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The early winter light shifts in the Southwest to a watermelon glow. The land stays still and the light changes the endless desert into a moving meditation. As I was sitting at Thanksgiving dinner watching evening grace us, I saw the wild horses come out over the horizon. I listened to the conversation. I saw those before me. I met the eyes of the ones I loved. I rested into the silence feeling blessed to be right here.

It is easy to give thanks and extend gratitude when we are surrounded by love, and truthfully when all is going well. Earlier today, I had forgotten. I was rushing. I was and still am exhausted. I didn’t take care of myself by taking the time to meditate or practice. I was needed in many different directions. And, I missed my family that live so far away. I had simply become wrapped up in my own story that I had forgotten what today was about, and why I was going crazy making all of this food.

Gratitude is easily forgotten. I know for myself that I sometimes get so focused on everything that is happening, I simply forget to say, “Thank you.” Life is precious and miraculous. I realize this more and more everyday.

Each day, each breath, each moment is an opportunity to give thanks.

Starting today, I am going to start a gratitude log. I am going to write everything I am grateful for each day. Maybe you will share in this exercise with me.

Thank you for being present and reading my words. With gratitude and many blessings to all!

 

 

 

 

 

Dream Big!

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My daily message is “Dream big.” The reminder hangs in my kitchen where no one in the house can avoid it. I believe that the dreams you had as a child are completely possible. I believe that even the simplest of dreams can happen. I believe that all of those day dreams you had about the journeys you would take are within your reach. I believe that dreaming big and making your dreams come true takes a lot of courage. If you arrive in the midst of living your dreams, and it’s not what you expected the journey was worth it. You arrived exactly where you are supposed to be.

As I look at my baby girl, I think about all of the dreams she will have. I think about all of the possibilities she doesn’t even know about yet. I think about all of the dreams that I want to come true for her. As a child they all seem possible. Yet, as adults we forget. We think of the practicality of our lives and create excuses as to why our dreams cannot and never will happen.

Why do we give up on our dreams? When do we stop dreaming? Why do we stop believing?

We can work towards making our dreams happen. Yes, it may action on our part and even a plan. The lesson I learned is that I can sit and dream all day long;  yet, if I don’t put any effort or energy into making it happen those dreams are like clouds rolling by drifting away.

 

 

Stories, Karma, & Choice

photoDuring this pregnancy, I have often thought of the stories of my life. They are stories like all great fiction with awesomely unforgettable characters, a juicy plot, and gritty drama. As I think about these stories, I think of how we all have our own unique story. My daughter she will have her own. She will arrive with her own consciousness, and karma. She will make choices. She chose us to be her parents so that we can teach, love, nourish, and support her in this lifetime.

Our stories–the ones we have lived, the ones we dream, the ones we sell ourselves, the ones we create–are all part of one human story. We can write any story about our lives, and we can edit, rewrite, and reinvent each story we are about to write. Some stories in our lives are karmic, yet we have choice. We have been given the gift of aligning with choices that suspend us into connection with our souls truest purpose.

As I was thinking of this post, I was thinking back to when I was a special education teacher, and how my students’ stories, karma, and choices played out in the classroom. You could see the attachment to a particular story they had, the karma they were born into, and the choices they were making. (I am very slowly writing a book about this time in my life–so stay tuned. )

One particular student I think of is my student Alex* from Chelsea, Massachusetts. Alex was in my Learning Center English class, which was a class for students that were below grade level and diagnosed with learning differences. Alex was from El Salvador, bilingual, and was being raised by a single mother. In my first days of teaching him, I struggled to find exactly what learning disabilities he had. He was a fluent reader, and writing near grade level. I didn’t understand why he was in my class, and I felt we were doing him a disservice. I suggested that he be removed from my class. He stayed in my class for the remainder of the year. The following year Alex was moved to general education classes. Alex had choices. He could have gone the way the rest of his peers were going succumbing to the pressure of gangs, violence, dropping out, or drugs. Those choices were very much available to him. He made different choices. Alex ended up in Advance Placement classes, in the National Honor Society, and received several scholarships to many colleges and universities. He will be attending Boston University in the next year.

I asked Alex what inspired him to make different choices. He said, “Growing up with a single mom who struggled to give me a better life and my sister took a wrong path…my goal was to be different from my sister and make good choices. And, struggling without a dad made me choose to be better instead of taking the wrong path.” Alex later went on to say, “It doesn’t mean you have to give up and make bad choices.” Alex is one of the most inspiring young people I have met. He has the ability to make a difference in this world, and I know he will.

What’s your story? What story do you want to write? What do you want read about your life? How can you heal your own story? What choices will you make today that will align with your soul?

*Name was changed to protect his privacy.

It’s OK to not be OK.

“When things fall apart and we can’t get the pieces back together, when we lose something dear to us, when the whole thing is just not working and we don’t know what to do this, is the time when the natural warmth of tenderness, the warmth of empathy and kindness, are just waiting to be uncovered, just waiting to be embraced. This is our chance to come out of our self-protecting bubble and to realize that we are never alone. This is our chance to finally understand that wherever we go, everyone we meet is essentially just like us. Our own suffering, if turn toward it, can open us to a loving relationship with the world.” –Pema Chodron from her book Taking the Leap

Are you or were you like me responding to every “How are you?” with “I am fine,” “I am okay,” when you are clearly not okay, not fine, not well, and may even be falling apart inside, but to keep up the facade you simply say, “I’m fine.” What if we all chose to say the truth of how we really were? What would happen?

Saying that you are doing okay when you truly are not is trying to keep up a facade that all is nice and great, even if it’s not the truth. In the yoga, healing, and wellness communities I see this all of the time. We see bright, shiny, happy people plastered all over Facebook and in ads doing asana, meditating, etc looking like all is great. Is it the truth? If you want to attract clientele and students, you have to present yourself in such a way that you have to make it look like everything in your world is peaceful, happy, and great even if it may not be.  Every time we create this “I’m okay,” “All is fabulous,” facade, we are lying to ourselves and contracting our emotional body.

The truth is one of my deeply nurtured patterns was to say that everything was okay, until it wasn’t and I could no longer lie. My students were very observant and survivalists. They knew. It was in my last year of teaching in Chelsea, and I was in the middle of my life proverbially falling apart (for the better) before me. I was trying so hard to show up everyday with a smile and pretend to be the strong, resilient teacher I had thought myself to be. I failed. I caved before them, a classroom full of teenagers.  I told them I wasn’t okay, and was crying before them. It was an awesome moment. I remember their faces, their compassion, and their complete empathy, and understanding. Why did I wait so long to tell the truth? What was I so afraid of? Was it that I was actually afraid that if I admitted I wasn’t okay that somehow I’d be rejected or unloved? Then, my friend said to me, “Beth you always say everything is fine and ya know what I know you are not okay and what you are going through is not okay.” That was that.

I made a promise after some time spent falling down to not hide anymore, and to tell the truth. I can’t lie, because it hurts my heart too much. Luckily, my partner in life sees me completely and knows when I am lying. He knows when I am not okay, and makes me communicate. At times, it’s downright uncomfortable, and I want to crawl back into my hideout, but it’s not an option.

Telling the truth to myself and those I’m in relationship with has brought me peace, greater acceptance of myself and others, a deeper knowing that we are all in this together, and in telling the truth I healed what was not okay in my life.

Start with YOU. What if you simply told the truth to yourself first? Then, it may be possible to open up to those in your world in a deeper more intimate way.

May all be healed.

 

 

Sticky-Love-Note Practice

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“You can search the whole universe and not find a single being more worthy of love than yourself. Since each and every person is so precious to themselves, let the self-respecting harm no other being.” Buddha

In my own self-practice when I have not felt so great about myself and have gone to beating myself,  I have used what I am calling my sticky-love-note exercise. This is where I post sticky notes to my mirror with little love notes to myself. Things like ‘I am strong,’ ‘I can…’ ‘I am love,’ or ‘I am grounded.’ It’s a powerful exercise, and it takes me completely out of my head-story and into love. You may find that after you do this a couple of times that you become sticky-love-note obsessed, and keenly aware of all of the ways that you are precious. This week buy some sticky notes, lots of them, and celebrate YOU!

Make a list of all the ways you shine. Create a special night just for YOU. Treat yourself with extra special care. Show yourself how precious you are. Take a break from all of the ways you don’t love and accept yourself. Let this practice become your everyday!

In class today we focused on this very theme, and this is the very yummy asana sequence we practiced. It’s about being in your body, and taking the time with your very divine self.

1. Meditation. Bring your awareness to whole your body. Inhale love to your whole body. Exhale. Sit for 10-minutes in this way.

2. Adho Mukha Svanasana (hold for 2 minutes)- use hands on blocks and rest head (3-rd eye region) on bolster, or block with blankets to the right height for your body.

3. Uttanasana (hold for 1 minute)-rest top of head on blocks to the appropriate height so that the legs will extend straight.

4. Utthita Trikonasana

5. Prasarita Padottanasana

6. Parsvattonasana

7. Parighasana

8. Virasana with eyes closed

*Hold all forward folding asanas for approximately 1-2 minutes.

9. Dandasana to Gomukhasana with forward fold

10. Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana

11. Triang Mukhaikapada Paschimottanasana

12. Upavista Konasana in forward fold

Hold all supine asanas for approximately 5-7 minutes.

13. Setu Bandha over a bolster-strap thighs, place block under feet

14. Supta Badha Konasana

15. Extended Svanasana

How Pregnancy Happened

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I haven’t shared much about this, but I am now 6-months pregnant. This is my story.

We had just moved into together. I had moved from my one-bedroom apartment into my boyfriend’s house, which he had been sharing at the time with two other roommates. My apartment was my sanctuary, and one of the best gifts I had given to myself. And, to leave my little one-bedroom-zen-like-sanctuary-across from a river that fails to flow was at first like dropping the ice cream off of my proverbial ice cream cone. I knew it would be replenished with something more nourishing and richer. And, so I remember unpacking and completely freaking out. Temper tantrums were being thrown, because I had no idea where my belongings were going, and I wanted us to have our own home together. Well, reality was showing a different scenario.

Truthfully, I was afraid. Afraid that it wouldn’t work out, afraid that it would be like last time, afraid that he’d want to leave me, and as I unpacked it seemed like each emotion was being unpacked and unwrapped. The brat in me was quite active. She was very difficult and fiery. After, breathing, I decided to surrender and actually take what I learned from life coaching and all the rest, and tell my brattiness and expect the worse fearful thoughts to shut the f’up, and realize the gift that was unfolding. And, the gift unfolded in such a way that I sometimes still can’t believe that it is real. He’s still here, he loves me, I love him, we are growing, we love, we are happy, wow, who knew…pinch, pinch.

After moving in together we were invited to dinner with a well-known Vedic scholar and his wife. I had made rice pudding, which to this day, I think I could have made a little bit better. In my opinion, it didn’t come out pudding-like, as it is pudding. This was my concern. I didn’t use the traditional jasmine or basmati rice, but brown rice. And, the pudding wasn’t pudding, but a sweet thick rice experience. It was good, but maybe not exactly what I should have brought, maybe I needed to consult the stars on an appropriate dish. Well, self-doubt is like this. When you are invited to someone’s home whom is well-known and it’s a very special invitation, you are nervous. I was nervous. I had no idea what to wear, what to bring, and what to talk about. My yogic studies didn’t encompass knowing each passage from the Upanishads, and I had only begun to study Vedic Astrology. My boyfriend assured me that all would be fine. It ended up being a divine filled evening with Kali Ma watching over.

On a side note, I am a big fan of Kali, the goddess of creation and representation of the divine feminine. This obsession appeared after this fated meeting, when I began to realize how much the Goddess informed, inspired, and imbued my life with the play of creation.

At the end of the evening as we were leaving, Vedic scholar asked, “Are you pregnant?” which perked my inner knowing. I thought, “Did he channel something, was there a halo of pregnancy around me.” Truth was, I was bloated from eating wheat chapatti. I said to my boyfriend, “Watch him predict something.” I probably needed to keep my manifesting-lips-sealed, because five days later we conceived.

I tracked my period to the moon, and I used this handy app on my smart phone to determine when I was fertile and when I was in the clear. It has pretty pink flowers, green dots, and a cute little way to enter your period symptoms. Genius, I thought. Genius until the app had an oh shit factor. See, what I didn’t know that my doctor-boyfriend knew was that I was technically fertile two-days before my app said I was fertile and two days after. Oops. In the moment, on the night of conception, my boyfriend asks, “Are you fertile?” I say “No, not until tomorrow.” It was almost midnight apparently that counted as being fertile. My green fertile dot said I was fertile the next day; however, according to my boyfriend’s app, we were already fertile. I didn’t think anything of it, and who can truly rely on a green dot anyway.

For about three weeks before I had any idea I was pregnant, I was a hot mess. I was an emotional basket case, was bloated, had teenage-like-acne from out of nowhere, and I even began to take some functional medicine supplement called Hormone Protect to see if that helped. And, well it didn’t, nor did the Ayurveda compound called Blood Cleanse, a mix of manjistha and more.

I remember going to a journey group a complete wreck, saying to my friend Lynn, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. We were sitting in my car. I’m crying, and angry because I had just gotten in a heated conversation with my boyfriend. And, I’m about to go journey into the other worlds. Hmm. Maybe, not a good idea for today. Shamanic journeying can be healing, yet it helps to have your emotions in check and be completely centered properly to the ground. None of which I was at that moment. I’m sitting in the group and we are asked to say how we are feeling. And, you have to speak not from the brain, but your body. I blurt out I feel pregnant as if I am about to give birth to something. I had no idea what I had just said. My friend Lynn just looked at me, and perked her one eyebrow up as she does. And, journeying I went. Then, I proceeded to have a visionthat involved mother Mary, and I saw a little girl in a white dress. As the journey was ending, I had my hands on my abdomen, and my body was receiving Reiki in my abdomen throughout the journey. I knew then that something in me had changed, and yet, my conscious mind had not figured it out yet.

I was as regular as the moon, like the sun and moon, regular, always. When, I missed the first day. I said to myself I’m fine it will come tomorrow. I said that for four to five days in a row. I waited for my period to come. And, it didn’t at all. The day that we took the test, a white cat appeared in our driveway, like an omen. I was pregnant. And, on my way to Burning Man to Fertility 2012.