Archives for posts with tag: life

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i had a really beautiful moment last saturday as i was walking down the street to go teach a yoga class. i was on 8th street, a corridor of shops and restaurants, and as i approached the corner, i saw a husband and wife and their very young daughter. she was maybe 2. dressed in her fuzzy petal pink leggings, a cropped soft wool coat, and the most impossibly tiny and stylish shoes. but the beauty of this image was that this tiny girl was stopped on the sidewalk, dancing. music was being piped out onto the street from the restaurant and she was peering into the air wondering where this music was coming from, and moving, bouncing, stomping, rocking and waving her arms. she was entranced and utterly engaged and unselfconscious.

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so as wonderful as this scene was, the thing i loved the most was that her parents were letting her dance. they were not pulling on her arms and trying to hurry her to the destination, which is all too often the case. “no, we don’t have time for you to look at cars, or smell flowers, or pet dogs, or touch the rough wood, or the smooth wrought iron, or the warm stones or the cold water, or dance. we need to get to point B. NOW!” the only time in our lives when we are constantly delighted with the world around us and we are forever being pulled away from it’s magic. her parents did not do this. but smiled and laughed and danced with her. no hurry to move on. i stopped as i approached them and told them how they had made my day, and i told her to never stop dancing and being delighted by the world around her.

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i am a pretty magically engaged person in the world around me, but lately have felt that i have been forgetting that. missing that. this was such a sweet reminder of the magic that is always there. to listen for the music and dance like no one was watching you.

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as i went to teach class, i shared this story and asked that we find our playfulness and curiosity in our yoga. we do yoga because it feels good. because we want to delight in our bodies and in our senses, not because it is a punishment that has been foisted upon us. we need to remember that. each and every day. find the joy in your life and reacquaint yourself with your inner tiny dancer.

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I have been quite taken as of late with images of flower x-rays. Last year my friend Heather, made an incredible encaustic piece for me commemorating my metamorphosis thru the cancer dance. She chose some x-ray images of flowers as a nod to the array of tests I underwent. I loved seeing the delicate “bones” of the flowers. The inner architecture, the scaffolding that supports from the inside. Remembering how fragile and beautiful and delicate this life is. Enjoy.

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I first came across the word “kintsukuroi” a few months ago in a blog that Tommy Rosen wrote. The pictures of these pieces of pottery were so beautiful, so much more interesting in every way. Not long after I read this article I had the first of several experiences that made me relate to this concept in my own way.

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Within a week, after reading this article, I was gifted a beautiful hand thrown mug by a client of mine who is a ceramicist. It is a vibrant burnt orange color, with glistening golden veins of lacquer running through it. It became my favorite coffee cup.

A few weeks later I was having an energy session with a friend and healer and we were discussing aging as women. She told me how beautiful and glowing I looked. (her words, not mine) She said, ” Although you look much younger than you are, I can see your strength and the wisdom of your years. I see your wrinkles, but your face glows as if the lines were filled with gold…”

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At Christmas, I received a most precious porcelain tea candle holder. A delicate lotus flower. Upon releasing it from it’s tissue wrapping, I discovered that a couple of petals had broken off. The woman who gave it to me was horrified, but I found it in keeping with a theme…

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Finally, a month ago, I knocked my new favorite cup over on my marble counter tops and the handle broke into three pieces. I could repair it, but not sure that I trust the handle would hold… best to just hold it firmly in my own two hands perhaps?

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If you break and repair a plate, or cup or bowl that has been broken, the surface area actually is larger wouldn’t you say? The glue adding more substance to fill the cracks.  A heart broken and reconstructed could conceivably hold more, albeit differently. 

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All of us are scarred and broken in some way. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. Broken to different degrees, in varying numbers of pieces. I believe the defining factor in whether we will be stronger or be able to hold more in our beings is what we reach for to glue us back together.  My glues of choice are yoga and love. Not that too much wine or chocolate, or macaroni and cheese or sofa sessions of “Dexter” or “Breaking Bad” might not make it into the mix from time to time… But by and large my choices are healthy ones. That will make me resilient, not disconnected and closed. Wiser, but not suspicious and wary. May I always strive to repair myself with the honey of love, the liquid gold of my yoga practice.

 

Find your own golden lacquer and do your repair work mindfully, with attention to detail. And may we all find ourselves more beautiful for having been broken, with more to give. 

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“and we are so fragile

and our cracking bones make noise

and we are just

breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys.”

-Ingrid Michaelson-

 

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Well, finally… after years and years of much masquerading and posing, I am a real yoga teacher. an RYT200 thank you very much. I do indeed say this tongue planted firmly in cheek, but it has been a fascinating experience to get here to say the least. 

I took my first yoga class 18 years ago in L.A. ( separate story to follow…) we moved back to Boise a few months later and I began my 3-4 year immersion in the Iyengar tradition. Deep foundation in alignment and anatomical precision. After a couple of years of class once a week, I took a “deepen your practice” series that met once a month for a weekend for 6 months in a row. 

Great experience. Then I rediscovered vinyasa flow, loving the dancerly grace and stamina it required. Yoga as active prayer. I went to L.A. and took a 10 day teacher training with Shiva Rea. Amazing transformative time for me. The gates were opened.

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Then more and more workshops, teacher trainings, classes. Rodney Yee, Seane Corn, Micheline Berry, Max Strom, Saul David Raye, Julian Walker, Kristy Brock, Felicity Green, Sarah Ivanhoe. I was  a yoga junkie…in the best way possible.

I started teaching children at my daughter’s preschool 12 years ago. I adored it and they LOVED yoga. Got it instinctively and to see their tiny blessed out faces after class was priceless. I taught there twice a week for 7 years.

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From that connection, a parent at my daughter’s school asked me to come and teach yoga to she and her boss at a small law firm in town during their lunch hour. I declined, saying, “but I am not a real yoga teacher. I just mess around like a dork with kids.” she was insistent and finally I gave in and taught a class to the 2 of them for an hour. At the end of it, I was vibrating and thinking “this is what I am supposed to do.” It was utterly validating.

So I began to teach them twice a week. Then a Saturday morning at a small studio. Then another studio. Then more private clients and another studio. Years rolled by and I was teaching 20 hours a month as well as taking one or two classes a week and doing workshops every 6 months. Constantly deepening my practice and yet, never bothered to gather all of my hours together and turn them in to Yoga Alliance to be certified. Never really seemed important to me.

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I am a reasonably intelligent, passionately curious (about things that actually interest me)  kind of person. I am not an academic, testing, grades and certificates kind of person. in fact, the whole idea of it creeps me out. And also, I have an extremely short attention span for that kind of thing. 10 day yoga trainings were the perfect thing for me. Not 4 years of my life, but 10 days! I could get behind that. So I did, repeatedly.

But now, Yoga Alliance no longer grandfathered in all of your previous hours of teaching and trainings, but required you to do a 200 or 500 hour program with one school. Studios were often not even allowing teachers to teach who did not have this credential. It seemed that the time had come for me to pony up and do a 200 hour program. It would be good for me to do something that was so foreign to me.

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Fortunately, I was able to do this training right in my home town. The Shanti Yoga School, run by Deb Murphy meets once a week and one weekend a month for 6 month programs. You just jump in at any time and ride the cycle through until you have completed all of the units, do your homework, asana check off, writings and tests and you are good to go.

I loved school. All of the information felt new and fresh. I never felt “oh, I already know all of this.” Was never bored, always excited, always ready to go to class, to spend the day learning and exploring. Total yoga geek. Constantly inspired by the endless conversation with the teachers and students.

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A little while after I started the school, I got cancer…and then got cancer again… and then ended a relationship, and then my parents were both not well, and my daughter is a teenager and I moved and, and, and…..completing school kept getting put off. I had all of my contact and classroom hours, now I just needed to do my homework. just do my homework….just sit down and actually do the homework…

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As procrastination, flowed into procrastination, the ominous pile of books and notebooks, always in plain view, anxiety always lurking, I started to ask myself “What the hell is your problem? Just do this thing!”

Then I began to realize this low grade panic and fear lurking just under the surface. I started to listen to the whisperings, and was so surprised when I was able to hear them say quite clearly, “What if you can’t pass? What if you really don’t know this stuff? What if you really have no business being a yoga teacher? What if you are nothing but a charlatan, faking it all of these years? When you go to take these tests and write these papers, you will be found out and you will be hung from the gallows” wow…

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It was staggering to me to be faced with my insecurity around this detail. This piece of paper. I love teaching. I feel that I am a fine and competent teacher. My students are safe with me. Can I tell them the difference between abductor and adductor muscles? Not without consulting my notes….but I can tell them in perfect sensory detail how to allow their entire body to breathe as if they were a jellyfish, and when they tap into that, their abductor and adductors will operate in perfect accordance with each other.  That is my area of expertise.

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I feel less like a teacher and a bit more like a priestess holding safe space and creating a rich sensory experience for people to surrender into. To allow the breath to breathe them. The yoga to work its magic on each person exactly as they need it to be worked. Each individual experience unique. It’s not about me. It’s about the yoga. I am so very blessed to be witness to that alchemy. 

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So, I am now official! And when my daughter graduates from High School (June!!!) I will look into the 500 hour program. All I want to do now is go to school, and take workshops and study and travel to workshops,  to teach workshops and do yoga and teach yoga and give and receive massage and dance and laugh and love big every day…oh wait….that is my life…lucky me…

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It delights me that at 51, I have found my passion and my place. The college world never held any interest for me at all, and now I have found my schooling arena. That there is no end to that diving deeper and learning more . I am forever an eager student. And now I can say with confidence, “Why, yes, I am a yoga teacher. Don’t believe me? Let me show you my papers…” 

…now, if i could just figure out how to rotate photos on this site….

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one year ago today, I shaved my head on Halloween. the ravages of chemo and my “cotton candy pull it out by the handful hair “could be denied no longer. I went to my salon to have it done and ironically all of the stylists were wearing wigs. loved that. now I have a rather sweet soft baby animal growing on my head. I am told, most lovingly, that I look a bit like a who. this makes me smile deeply and I am embracing my seussian qualities. my softness and my wildness. cindy lou who and the cat in the hat…

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(me one year ago…)

last week I had my final herceptin treatment. herceptin is a drug that is specifically for her-2 positive breast cancer. (that would be me) you have to do a full 12 month cycle and then you are released back out into the wild… follow up appointments every 6 months.

interesting mixture of relief and anxiety around the end of my treatment. so grateful that I no longer have to go in every 3 weeks and have a needle plunged into the sci-fi borg port in my chest. ( I get that removed soon!) I will miss the warm blankets and the hour nap I got to take curled up in my hospital bed, but other than that, not so much.

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the anxiety comes from the thought that as long as I was having something blasted into my system that I was impervious. (not true, but a great illusion to hold onto) now I am just a free radical…:) waiting…?

there is something so trippy about the landmark of this happening around and on Halloween. my first trip to an oncologists office was 2 years ago in October. I wrote in another blog about the surrealism of taking an elevator to the bowels of the hospital, the rubber skeletons with ropes tied around their necks, suspended from the ceilings over the receptionists desk with a plastic pumpkin full of white death sugared Halloween candy…seriously….processed white sugar feeds cancer and there it is laying all around the cancer wards…ah….irony….

so here I am 2 years later….an entirely new life….my cat like self creating a new one…. by rough landmark calculations I am on life number 7 right now….or maybe 6.5….and I know for a fact that being here is a treat. a delicious, if often overwhelmingly intense, and complex treat, to be savored daily.

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when you are a teacher and no one comes to your class, it is exceedingly difficult to not take it personally. “what have I done to piss someone off? do I smell? am I not as funny as I think I am? have they finally discovered that I am completely unqualified to teach and the “emperor’s new clothes” gig is up?”

this is usually what passes through my mind under such circumstances, but recently I have had an opportunity to shift that, and to enjoy an empty studio all to myself.

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at the beginning of September I started teaching 2 classes at a dance studio as part of their seasonal class offering. Balance Dance Co. is a pre professional modern dance company that caters to girls age 12-18. they are a marvelous company and some of the best dancing I have seen, period, has come from them. I was present at the first ever performance, when my daughter lily was 6 months old. Lily went on to dance with the company for 3 years. Leah, who is the director is a friend of mine and I have taken many classes in the studio myself over the years.  when Leah asked me to be the yoga offering, I was very excited.

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any space that you can dance or do yoga in, excites me greatly, and so to be able to teach yoga in a dance studio, was extra special. I had a Thursday and Saturday morning offering and was ready to go. my first Thursday I had a dancer and her mother, and we had a great time. they loved the class, but weren’t sure that the time would work on a regular basis. they ended up being my first and last students…

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so for 6 mornings, I got myself up, rode my bike to the studio, was the first one in the building and got to have a ballet studio to myself. after the first 2 times of the disappointment of no one showing, I began to savor my private dance time. I would warm up, do yoga, lead myself through a ballet barre series and then…I cranked the music and danced. on two separate occasions I had a friend join me and we ended up doing a specialized private session.

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the light was beautiful in there. high windows with vast open sky in every direction.  it was always warm and quiet. the sound system respectable. what a gift.

during this time frame, the entire city block in every direction was torn up, access almost impossible and convenient parking a vague notion. I am certain that this did not help my situation at all.

eventually I got the email, “we are really sorry but we need to cancel these classes due to lack of attendance.” understandable and unfortunately a ballet barre class that I was taking in the studio (me being the only student) was also cancelled. so it wasn’t just me…

so apparently, I need to have Thursday  mornings off to take class else where from one of my favorite teachers and I get Saturday mornings off so that I can sleep in, snuggle, drink coffee, and make my way to a dance class at the Y at the very civilized weekend hour of

11:30. as these 2 classes have fallen away, other subbing opportunities, as well as workshops I will be teaching have presented themselves. more time for me to take classes for my enjoyment and continued learning and inspiration. in the losing of something there creates space for something else to come in. something new and exciting.

so I am ever grateful for those 3 weeks. not only did I get to have a beautiful studio all to myself….i got paid to be there.

now, that is a bonus to my gift. thanks leah…

“slack” is sort of a misnomer…as the point is to cinch the line as tight as you can, so that you can then balance, walk, stand or lay down on a less then 2 inch wide length of nylon strap. play out all of your “man on a wire” tight rope/circus fantasies without the terror of plunging to your death. you won’t actually fall more than 12 to 18 inches, but man….is it scary! surprisingly so.

my dear friend jeffry had been talking up this experience for a long time and finally a month or so ago a couple of us met in camel’s back and tried it for the first time.

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i was surprised and (relieved) to discover that you don’t just start trying to stand up and balance, but you start by kneeling in the grass on all fours and extend opposite hand opposite leg. piece of cake, right? but then, you lift the toes of the one grounded leg so that you are balanced on your knee, and everything changes. suddenly your body is spastically trying to right itself. a move that I teach and do every day in my yoga class, became foreign and incredibly challenging, by making the smallest adjustment…lift your toes and completely find your balance in your core.

you play with that for a bit and then you try it on your knees on the line. feels impossible, but then after the umpteenth time, you suddenly find your balancing point. you find a gaze point, a drishti on the ground, you slow and deepen the breath and you find it…for a second….then maybe 2…3…

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you can then balance on both knees, sit on the line with one leg extended, lay on your back, sit in lotus ,etc… and then eventually you stand with one foot on the line, the other on the ground and you push up and stand on one foot on the line…..yeah, right…..

the first day in the park I spent most of my time either kneeling or sitting. riding the waves of body jerks as you wildly try and right yourself. it is like riding a bike, you cannot think your way through it, there is nothing to figure out, you can only breathe and feel and when you slide into that effortless space (for a moment or two) it is incredible. it is amazing watching other people do it. every single muscle in their body is twitching and jerking trying to find the balancing point. it is a constant evolution, because the point of balance keeps changing….over and over and over again….

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what a genius practice this is. absolute presence. absolute focus. only the moment.

by the end of the time in the park, I was having moments… you begin to feel the possibility.

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this weekend I went to sun valley and spent a day with jeffry and we set up a line between two trees near a Frisbee golf course. this was only the second time I had been on the line. revisiting the moves I had played with before and discovering how quickly they came back. then I attempted the push off from the ground with one foot on the line. the very idea seemed utterly impossible. fruitless. line shivering out of control. then steadying and slowing the breath, focusing on a spot on the line and pushing up, saying to yourself, “I’ve got this…” you try and try and try and then I fell. pretty hard, which was great, because you realize the ground is not that far away and it is not that big a deal and suddenly there is a shift….and then you push and you hang…for a moment and you realize that this impossible thing is actually possible….and that feeling is really something. and each time you discover some new tiny adjustment you can make, a new way to access the balance. how to let the balance just happen. just allow it.

It was beautiful to watch him as he has been playng and practicing for quite awhile. he walks the line, turns, sits…you see what can be done.

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it was a very powerful and playful experience. it is like being a kid and learning to ride a bike again and finding the freedom, ease and expanse that comes when you find that sweet spot of balance. and again, and again, and right now and right now….a transferable life skill for sure…

give yourself some slack why don’t you…

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(painting “mountain lake” by kristin eames) 

she was painted by an artist from mccall, Idaho. it was the first time I had ever seen her work, and this piece struck me hard. I loved the colors, the light and depth, the lone figure submerged to her neck in a deep cold mountain lake and most importantly the perspective, that ¾’s of the painting is seen from under water. I ended up receiving her as a chirstmas gift, and at the time I did not realize what a pivitol moment in time it was that she came to me. 

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she was alone and most of her environment she was unable to see at all…she always struck me as someone who had just swam all the way across this vast, dangerous expanse and had only just reached the other side. but…not quite, as her feet were precariously close to the edge of the boulder and she was not yet at the shore, and she wasn’t really quite safe…almost, but not quite…

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she hung on a chartreuse wall in a light flooded living room, where the color of the rocks changed with the time of day. she hung in a sunlit stairwell in my first house that was just mine. then above my bed in a tiny dark nest of a room, in a living room again and now to the right of my bed in my new bedroom. my cozy small room with dappled light like some secret forest glade. the shadows of the trees outside dancing thru the blinds and onto the walls. 

during the summer, I noticed there was a window of time, early in the morning, when the sun was just rising and aimed directly through one of my bedroom windows that this brilliant play of shadow and shadow from the blinds was cast onto the painting. it looked like a portal, a doorway, a membrane that she was passing through. another demension. another chapter.

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water, the source of all life, the domain of the goddess. the lady of the lake.

deep emotions, immense creativity, life giving and death and renewal. her primary functions. 

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for the longest time I only saw her as having made this dangerous crossing and she was almost to land. as the years have gone by, it struck me that she was perhaps getting in to the water and preparing to swim across. to embark on a journey. to cross a channel. now I see that she just endlessly swims back and forth. she keeps her eye on the distant shore, but swims breath by breath, stroke by stroke. feeling the temperature change in the water depending on the depth, that she cannot see beneath her. she has no idea how deep in she is… calming the terror that something huge and evil and monstrous will devour her, drown her, pull her under….“just keep swimming, just keep swimming….” and then pause and tread water and catch your breath, calm your heart and don’t fight the current and find that you wash up in a different place than you had imagined that you would and explore that stretch of beach and turn and see where you came from. sit down be still. savore. feel the sun on your skin. eat. drink. have a nap under a tree.  and then, take a breath,  wade back in, and  strike out to see where you end up next….

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two years ago last Sunday I was told that I had breast cancer. one year ago today, I had a mastectomy. and now on this same day, my dear sweet friend Carolyn, who spend a week with me after my surgery, feeding and taking care of me,  is having a service for her father who passed a week ago from cancer. and the wheel turns…

incredible how all of my stuff seems like life times ago. multiple life times ago, not just a calendar year.

have been reflecting on all of the change that has come for myself and those around me. it all feels fast forwarded and like it is picking up speed…keep wanting to say, “stop! can I just catch my breath for a minute? just WAIT please before anything else happens in my life…”

when I gave birth to my daughter it felt like that. the relentless, endless contractions. I was sure that if they would just stop and I could sleep for a couple of hours and then we could get back to it, and then I was sure that I would be able to give birth, no problem.  but to quote a friend of mine, “be ready. like life. once it starts it doesn’t stop….” 

a surgery. the ravages of chemo. healing. moving. reunited with a brother I had not seen in 15 years and feeling out that relationship as advanced adults. babies born to friends and new ones on the way. relationships I thought would always be there, shifting and drifting. some that had been periferal, being pulled to the forefront. climbing out of serious financial stress. losing clients I had depended on for a long time, other opportunities slowly manifesting. leaving a yoga studio I have been with since it’s doors opened and building my student base at 2 others. both of my parents with serious health issues I learned of within the same week. watching my parents get frail. watching my daughter move into her senior year in high school. college apps, financial aid paperwork, class schedules for the year. teaching thai massage trainings. exploring acro yoga with a dear friend who has been in town all summer. his third summer he has been here for. celebrating his birthday on the river. my daughter getting strep and having all 4 wisdom teeth out in less than 10 days. having most unexpected healing love appear in my life. 

the full spectrum of living, ever in play. there is nothing unique about my experience. this is being played out everywhere on the globe by everyone. birth and death, grief and love, change and possibility. relationships ending and beginning.  old ways of living and being, blown apart at the seams. hands forced to incite healthy change. second chances at a new life and sometimes just the inevitability that that life is ending and all you can do is make peace, give thanks and exit with as much grace as possible. nothing unique. it is a shared universal human experience. but by sharing, we all take a breath and say, “yes, I know that. I am not alone and we are all Alive.” 

I love you my friend Carolyn and you are not alone and I am so very sorry for your loss. I am so sorry that I cannot be there with you right now. He was such a beautiful dear man. It was a treat to spend time with him. You two were so blessed to have each other. You will always feel him with you.

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greetings.  i have not written in quite awhile and wanted to just write to say that i will be writing soon. well, soonish…

i went through a time a little while ago,  when i thought, “no one is remotely interested in your sophomoric, navel gazing ramblings and your stream of consciousness. you delight in your writing and perhaps it is just a written form of masturbation, better left to you alone.”

then i hear from people about how much they identify with what i wrote. how it has helped them negotiate some difficult time, understand something in themselves. to gain strength or perspective. and so i decide to keep writing. it seems selfish not to. and it’s kind of a win/win. creative/emotional outlet for me and somehow, support for others. 

SOOO much to write and just no time to do so. but soon.

mexico. portland. dance. music. surprises. moving. work. summer. babies and friends and teenagers and parents. yoga. workshops. my heart. my health. it’s all headed your way. in chapters. one at a time.

thank you for reading. thank you for your kind, positive feedback. makes my trials feel more purposeful some how. like i have no choice but to share my journey. isn’t that how we all help each other on this planet, is by sharing our stories? knowing we are not alone.

it’s all so life like…stay tuned…