Thursday, December 27, 2007

I Did It My Way... As I always Do!

This Christmas I made all but one of my gifts. A few weeks ago on Martha Stewart one of the editors from Blueprint Magazine made very cool earrings from metallic tassels she'd found at a notions store. Her idea inspired me to go check out a crafts store. I didn't find any good tassels but I found some cool pendants, leather cord, hemp cord and some very cool heart shaped toggle closures. I perused my wrapping options and I couldn't find anything that I liked at all. As I was leaving a display of wreath ribbon caught my eye. I picked up a spool of gold ribbon with cream colored poinsettia and the idea for the little envelope bags you see above just jumped into my mind. I made the grey silk bags out of a remnant I had from bridesmaids dresses of yore and the tags are made from recycled wrapping paper glued onto cardboard from a gift box. Some of the ribbon is re-used from a previous gift.

Almost everyone in my family got a necklace in a little bag. (The guys in my family are very cool.) After I finished making all of the necklaces I had laid out to do I still had some leather cord left. On a whim I strung several different colored buttons on the piece of cord. I liked it so much that I decided to make a few more for some friends. Of course I made some more bags to present them in. All in all I spent less than $50 on 14 people and everyone was very happy with their gifts!

My dad gave me a Christmas tree cake pan just before the holiday... hint much? I decided to take on the project but with a twist. Several people in my family are allergic to wheat so I got a Gluten Free Pantry ~ Angel Food Cake mix and I used brown rice flour to dust the pan. My sister Stephanie, in particular, was ecstatic. She was so happy about it that when it came time to serve the cake I cut the top off making a mini tree and gave it to her! All in all we had a superfantastic Christmas. My gifts were a hit and I got some pretty cool gifts too. We ate like kings, we exchanged great gifts and we reminisced over old photos. It was great! I am blessed with a rockin' cool family for which I am truly grateful.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Why Ask Why?

Imagine if you deliberately paused for just a moment before choosing to take action and asked yourself why? What paths would change in your life? Today I paused before choosing angry words and instead I chose to express pain. Each action becomes more deliberate and has more meaning when we pause for even a millisecond to evaluate our choice. I choose my actions and my reactions and when I remember to choose consciously I lessen the drama and heighten the quality.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Scrub Up!

One of my favorite blogs, GlamSpirit, posted a short note about hand washing advising us to lather up our hands for at least twenty seconds to effectively kill bacteria. I decided to take her advice into the shower and under my arms. I haven't used deodorant for quite sometime because the natural ones do next to nothing and the unnatural ones are toxic. I am not a very stinky person to begin with but since I've applied the twenty second rule I've had no smell at all! It makes sense... kill the bacteria, kill the smell. Thanks Rebecca!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Yikes! Just Say No To Embarrassment.

I was conversing with a younger woman at a dinner party recently and she was telling me about an embarrassing incident that she'd had. I waited for her to finish her story and then I told her something that perhaps comes with age or perhaps it only comes with certain guidance. Embarrassment is mostly useless and it can be greatly overcome. I practice by simply choosing to continue to do silly things that make me happy even while people are passing by. Like, I walk my dog with my ipod on and I sing along to the music, granted I do this on a country road where only my neighbours are subjected to my crooning but... you get the point. It started with me doing yoga in the backyard. I love doing yoga in the grass but I was feeling a little embarrassed about people watching me. At first I tried to block the view and then it occured to me that it really doesn't matter. I also realized that if I saw someone doing yoga in their backyard that I would think they were pretty darn cool. I don't know that I'll ever be immune to embarrassment but the more confidence I give to myself the less embarrassed I feel. Try it out, it's quite liberating.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Box, A Catalog, A Gluestick & Scissors...

I needed a gift box to put my best friend Pam's birthday present in. Pam is a very creative and spiritual person and I love her dearly so I wanted the box to be special. I was also under a time crunch because I wanted to send off her gift immediately. I looked through my papers, bags etc. to no avail. As I pondered what to do my eye fell upon a catalog of meditation items. The photo on the front was stunning. So I grabbed a glue stick, scissors and a box and went to work! I not only saved time, money and gas, I also I recycled a catalog and a box! I used a few more photos from the catalog and an old card to make a new card. And on top of it all Pam will really love the personal touch. Give it a try, it's fun and incredibly satisfying.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What Are You Feeding Your Brain?

Recently I had a conversation with two highly intelligent and dynamic female friends for whom I have a great deal of respect. We were talking over hot cups of organic white tea with agave and almond milk in an apartment high in the sky above Manhattan. Our conversation hit many topics and we were in agreement on most subjects. At one point the only mother in the trio mentioned that a woman in her area was petitioning to prohibit the hanging of horror film posters on blocks where there are schools. Oddly (in my opinion) she was against the petition. She actually thought the idea was ridiculous.

The specific poster that was being used as an example was a poster that I had seen several times and I'd found it quite disturbing. Each time I saw it I thought to myself that I would certainly prefer not to live with that image in my head. Since I believe in freedom of expression it's tough to argue for censorship. So, as much as I would love to never have to see another horror; poster, commercial, movie or image of any kind I will not argue for their censorship. (Instead I create images with the intention of inspiring joy and playfullness.) But I must say that a buffer zone around schools really seems like a no brainer to me.

So we discussed, and soon I was asking the question, "Why is violence more acceptable than the human form?". One of my two friends said something along the lines of, "That's just the way it is, most people in this country find violence to be more acceptable than nudity and sex." And so I pose the question, Why? Why does violence seem to be more acceptable than nudity to the general population? In fact, why is violence acceptable at all, really? In my reality that just seems totally nuts. In this day and age when science has proven that our thoughts shape our world... I mean yikes! What we put into our heads is as important as what we put into our bellies. What we let our children watch is as important as what we let them eat.

Many years ago, when I was a teen, my spiritual teacher spoke of this. She said that we should be very careful about what images we let into our heads. It took me many years to fully appreciate the advice that she gave. The understanding came in stages over time. The last thing to go were crime scene detective shows. I love figuring things out and so I loved all of the CSI type of shows. I finally realized that the context doesn't matter in the end. Violent images going into my head create fear in my body which does not go away for a long time. I am wanting to feel joy in my body. So nowadays I try to watch and read things that create the reality that I am wanting in my world. Imagine if even half of the world ingested uplifting media that offered messages of peace, love and unity on a regular basis. Seeds grow and awareness spreads!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Oprah's Incredible Gift of Inspiration!

My dvr is set to record Oprah every day so that later I may pick and choose which episodes I want to watch by reading the episode description. Recently I was baffled... an entire show dedicated to celebrities. It seemed pretty off the wall to me. So, of course, I decided to check it out and I am once again amazed by Oprah's vision, understanding and powers of inspiration. A topic that seemed at first to be trite and a little bizarre turned out to be incredibly moving and inspirational. Several people on the show were simply following their bliss and through the magic of their dreams and beyond became their reality in no time at all. It was a beautiful affirmation of the Law of Attraction. Self effort and grace will bring us more than we could ever hope for when we learn; how to truly allow ourselves to dream, how to ask for our dreams, and finally, how to love ourselves enough to allow our dreams to come true. It sounds easy but it does require a good deal of love for one's self, a plethora of faith, and a wee bit of motivation. Mix 'em up in your tummy and dreams will come true folks! And if at first you don't succeed keep on tryin' and I promise that when you get the recipe just right it really does work.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bag Free And Lovin' It!

I have several canvas shopping bags which give a nice burst of satisfaction to my shopping experience, however, I was getting guilty twinges every time I used a plastic bag to protect my greens. Now, I'm sure that others have come up with this solution before me but for those of you who have not, I am re-using my produce bags. I turn them inside out and let them dry and then I keep them in my canvas bags for my next shopping trip. Result!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Green Juice and Greener Pastures!

One of my best friends recently found out that she had a tumor at the back of her tongue and it was cancerous. Her reaction was to immediately change her diet, she went from being a total foodie to being basically vegan, literally overnight. Raw foods and raw juices instantly became a part of her daily routine. When she called me to ask if I would stay with her after her surgery to help her out while she recuperated I told her I was more than happy to do it. I ended up arriving before the surgery and staying with her through most of her two week hospital visit as well as for her recoup time. Her surgery and recovery could not have gone better, I am happy to report, we are a week out of the hospital and she's almost back to her old self!

Now I must give a little back story here. Fifteen years ago I did seva (selfless service) in what was then called a 'living foods' kitchen. I NEVER ate the food because it looked scary and it just was not my thing at... hmmmm, twenty four years of age. Several years later my brother and his wife owned a health food store where they sold raw green vegetable juice and swore by it. I simply was not interested. Patooey! Not for me! I don't like nasty things! Eventually I finally made the switch to buying organic and locally grown products but was still completely turned off by the whole raw foods/living foods lifestyle change idea. Too much work and I like to enjoy my food, for the love of Pete!

Okay, in walks my old friend. So we are in her apartment and I am complaining about bags under my eyes and she tells me that perhaps if I stopped drinking my one Coke a day and switched from coffee to tea I might lessen my baggage, so to speak. I really couldn't argue with her, so I just did it. It was so much easier than I thought, really. The next day we were at a store waiting for her raw green vegetable juice (with a single green apple added to take the edge off) and she encouraged me to try one and see how it felt. I took a sip of hers and, bleghch! I tried a second sip and it was not as bad but I still opted for a nice fruit drink with acai and apple. However the next day I did order the green drink, a small one, and while it didn't cause my taste buds to sing with joy, it didn't make me gag either. Later on that day I looked in the mirror and, lo and behold, the bags under my eyes were almost completely gone!

What was truly amazing was that the next day I actually looked forward to my green juice. I had a craving to feel the healthy burst that I'd gotten after drinking it. It felt so good to know that I love myself enough to have such a craving. I thought about it and I realized that enjoying food does not necessarily mean being a slave to your taste buds. The first taste of the drink turned me off, the second taste intrigued me and bucking it up and just drinking the darn thing created a new understanding of yumminess. The other fantastic effect that it has had on me is that I no longer enjoy really unhealthy drinks and foods. I used to love a particular brand of turkey bacon that I'm sure is packed with chemicals. It simply does not taste good to me any longer. I went to a restaurant with a friend recently and ordered a lemonade. It was obviously made from a mix and full of sugar, I just could not drink it. Now I wholeheartedly enjoy my green juice, flavor and all, down to the last drop! I am retraining my unruly taste buds, it can be done!

The book that my healthy friend gave me, and I feel that I can really work with, is 'Raw Food Detox Diet'. It allows one to enter the world of raw food on there own terms which I find refreshing. I think part of the reason that I could never go there before was because it always seemed like an all or nothing lifestyle change. Giving myself permission to start small has opened the door to those changes and they are no longer so terribly daunting. In fact they are quite exciting! So, drink up gang, drink to a healthy and well oxygenated future you! You will not be disappointed.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Power Animals! Who'd A Thunk It?

I have been a creature lover since... the beginning of time! I love all creatures except for mosquitoes (sorry mosquitoes!). Once, when I was very young, I was strolling down the street with my family in Provincetown, MA when suddenly they realized I was no longer walking with them. (In those days this was not quite as alarming as it would be today.) My family backtracked and found me in a biker-y bar hugging a Great Dane. I saw him and just walked right in and latched on without so much as backwards glance! Also, I have always talked to creatures. Not like an animal communicator, I just talk to them. I like to think they get the drift but, if nothing more, I suppose that they feel my respect and love. It is my wish that every creature feel these things. Anyway, as usual, I digress and digress and...

If you've followed either of my blogs you will note that eagles come up quite often. I have a whole mess of em living near me and flyin' around above me. I see them pretty much every day now. I find that I actually feel incredibly strong feelings of love, gratitude, peace and joy when I see them. I also feel power surging through my being. Not wild raw power but what I can only describe as graceful liquid power. Often times I will see them when I am doing my yoga practice on the grass and it's like drinking a power drink. Seriously. I am not certain if my words do the experience justice. Alas! I only have my words to convey my feelings!

So, the other day several eagles came flying across the lake and I stopped to gaze upon their glory. I was pondering my infatuation with these majestic creatures and it occurred to me that eagles really and truly are my power animal! My mom had a boutique for many years that sold Native American art and 'stuff' and I've read plenty of books that include references to and stories about such things, so power animals are not a new concept for me. However, until I had this experience I honestly never really understood how real they actually are. I do indeed get power from seeing them. Whether they are 30 feet away or a mile I get the same intense jolt every single time I see them. It's very difficult to take my eyes away from them. Now, as much as I love creatures, I've never had this reaction before. I mentioned my revelation to my dad and he said that this had occurred to him as well.

Lately I see eagles almost everywhere I go, so far, in about a sixty mile radius. I see them pretty much every time I drive. Two or three times I've had one pause for like five to ten seconds directly above my head. They truly are masters of the wind! Sometimes they fly through the yard only twelve feet or so off the ground which is very cool. Finally, I'm sure this is not as fascinating for y'all as for me, one time I had one land on a tree close by. Amazingly I'd remembered my camera, which I grabbed and walked as closely as I could get to him/her (there was a fence between us). I talked to the beauty and snapped photos for about ten minutes. (That's him/her to the right.) I figured that eagles must be making some kind of a massive comeback but I looked online and so far I've found no information supporting an eagle boom.

I decided to write a little something about my experience so I jumped online and googled power animals and found a lot of interesting info. My favorite site is Shamanism ~ Working With Animal Spirits Core. They have a list of animals and their particular wisdom. It's a beautiful site and quite informative as well. Here is what the site says about Bald Eagle;

Bald Eagle's Wisdom Includes:

It's pretty cool. I actually do have really keen sight. When I go to the eye doctor they tell me to read until I can't read anymore and then they always stop me and tell me to stop showing off! I've been told my insight ain't too bad either! And as for the rest of the list, well, I definitely have the capacity for all of them and I would certainly like to cultivate those qualities and fully realize and embrace their potential in myself! What a truly wonderful life!

Through my further research on the subject I found out that we may have several power animals looking out for us and they can change over time. When we disconnect from one we may form a new bond with a new friend! I remembered having feelings similar to my eagle 'infatuation' with Pelicans, oddly enough! And at that time a Pelican landed about a foot away from me and just sat there for about ten minutes. I felt so incredibly privileged but I did not consider the possibility that he was a messenger or helper. Duh! So, today, I clicked on Pelican and here's what it said;

Pelican's Wisdom Includes:

I was going through a very difficult time with my (now) ex-husband when Pelican came to call. We were having some money troubles and I was beginning to see that he had some very serious personality issues that I'd not realized before. It's hard to explain but when I read this list the whole Pelican experience made sense to me. I still love Pelicans and I hope that they will always be here to help me out! So there you have it, gang, power animals are very real... So if you see a creature and have a strong emotional response, check out Shamanism ~ Working With Animal Spirits Core. They might have something very interesting to convey!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Transcendental Ornamentation!

The other day I went to the Harvest Festival at Bethel Woods (at the site of the Woodstock Concert) and there was a lovely woman with a very cool tent giving henna tattoos. Michelle Dawson is the artist of this beautiful tattoo'd hand, her card reads Henna Body Art by Michelle. She offers private appointments as well as parties and special events. In India women get henna tattoos for their wedding and it's soooooooo beautiful! If I get married again I think I will give Michelle a call! Check her out, she's a very cool woman!

Early in my teens, as well as off and on in later years, I worked in a record/paraphanalia /punk clothing and accessories store in Montpelier, Vermont. The store, Buch Spieler, is still there. The owner, Fred Wilbur, remains to this day my absolute favorite boss of all time. I could write several posts about my times at Buch Spieler. So, anyway, most of my friends at the time were either 'punks' or 'hippies' and I was probably somewhere in between but I was always a little too fashionable to be considered either. (I've always loved fashion.) Many of my friends got tattoos and piercings but I never had the desire to do either, beyond the three holes in each of my ears which I'd already had for several years. I've always loved body art but it just was not something I wanted for myself as a teen.

Then suddenly in my mid twenties I had the desire to get an Om tattoo. I was living in an ashram at the time and the idea would just not leave my head. I sat on the desire for about six months to make sure that it wasn't simply a passing fancy. When I was certain that I would not change my mind I asked an artist friend of mine to design my tattoo for me. He searched in books for inspiration but nothing was jumping out at him. Finally, one evening we were talking on the phone and for no particular reason I casually picked a book up off of my bookshelf. It was an old chanting book that I had not used in years. As I picked it up a small gift card fell out. It was a card from a gift that my spiritual teacher had given me when I was about twelve years old. My spiritual name, Nitya, was hand written on the front and at the end of the 'a' an Om was drawn with great flourish. I had never noticed the om before! I could think of no better inspiration, so I rushed over to my friend's apartment and showed him the card. I got my tattoo shortly after in Woodstock, NY at Pat's Tats.

I have never regretted getting my tattoo and I have been ruminating on another for several years now. I have a design that I actually created for that came from a tattoo I had wanted to get. I had given up on the idea because I couldn't find the right design. Until, one day, I stepped back from the design I had done and realized I'd drawn it myself! I hadn't thought before that I could draw something so detailed... Eventually I will get my Phoenix/Feng Huang! (You can see the design in the August post "Aaah! The Power of Wisdom and Intention".)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Need A Boost?

I was feelin' a tiny tad blue this morning... no big thang, it happens. Anyway, I turned on my computer and opened a photo that my brother had sent me yesterday. The photo is of me and my nephew, Sundar. It boosted me right up! I am incredibly blessed with a wonderful family and superfantastic friends. When I think about it I feel such beautiful gratitude and joy naturally ensues. So... No more blues! Gratitude works everytime, without exception.

Another favorite mood booster of mine is Coldplay mixed with nature. I put on my iPod, cue up Speed of Sound from Coldplay, go outside, sit down on the grass and look up. Luckily for me I have about seven eagles nesting near my house. If I sit tight for a wee bit o' time I usually get the awe inspiring experience of an eagle or three soaring above me. Once I had the good fortune of having one land in a tree next to me. I adore eagles. I never knew this until I saw them in 'person'. So go outside and look up! Who knows what you might see?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Feelin' Groovy!

Yesterday I was waiting in line at a pharmacy with my dad. There was a woman at the register apologizing for taking so long because she was paying with cash. She reminded me of a commercial on television that I do not like. It is the exact same situation. Everyone is moving like robots quickly and efficiently in a line to pay for... whatever. Suddenly one person dares to search in their wallet for some cash and everyone stops and glares at them as though the inconvenience of waiting twenty extra seconds was just unbearable! Someone please tell me that I am not the only person to find this ad disturbing. So yesterday, as on many occasions, when the woman apologized for holding all of us up I told her that it was okay, that we were not in a hurry and to please take her time. Every time I remember this and tell people this I feel so good. As my dad and I left the pharmacy I sang out loud some of the words to 'Feelin' Groovy'.
"Slow down, your movin' too fast. You gotta make the morning last now! Kickin' down the cobble stones.Dah dah dah, daah dah dah daah, feelin' groovy!"

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Finding My Inner Yogini

I had my first Hatha Yoga experience somewhere around the age of eleven or twelve. I was visiting my father at the ashram where he was living. My cousin had introduced him to her Guru and he never looked back. From that time on he lived primarily in ashrams, in the United States as well as in India. Slowly family members began following his lead and soon my entire family were living at the ashram. The clothing in the ashram was extremely modest in those days, the Hatha Yoga teacher would wear a floor length skirt and a long sleeved blouse and the demonstrator usually wore a punjabi. I remember most clearly the guided savasana and the powerful effect that her words had on my body. I actually still use several of that teacher's phrases in my own relaxation. I can still hear her soft reassuring voice in my head as I guide myself into Savasana.

I have spent most of my life traveling and moving around, first with my family and then on my own. The longest time that I've spent living in an ashram was a little over two and a half years, I am the exception in my family. Anyway, it was during that particular time that I trained to be a Hatha Yoga teacher. For a brief period I taught my own classes but I preferred giving private lessons and adjusting for other teachers' classes. I do not really enjoy public speaking and simply feel more comfortable working one on one with people. At that time I was living in India and the rooms the teachers were given to practice in were in a beautiful small house surrounded by Plumeria trees. If you are unfamiliar with Plumeria trees they are flowering trees and the blooms are gorgeous and fragrant! It was a heavenly experience to be sure!

At that time I had a truly fantastic and wonderfully motivating teacher. His depth of understanding the body and the postures as well as his conveyance of that knowledge into his students' bodies is truly phenomenal. He has his own school now and I could not be happier or more grateful to have worked with him. Digressing! Since then I have moved numerous times and arisen from many an ash pile as the Phoenix reborn! Hatha Yoga pops in and out of my life like a good old friend that doesn't need constant attention to stay close to my heart. Also my old teacher's voice has never left my head. His words and his principles were so firmly planted in my body that every time I practice, if I focus, my body practically self adjusts!

About a year and a half ago I began to recreate myself yet again! I started keeping a gratitude journal, taking better care of my body and mind and meditating regularly again. I also started playing with my dog as a form of exercise which I highly recommend. After awhile playing with my dog opened out into really just spontaneous playing. I started skipping around and doing cartwheels and somersaults, like a young girl! In the winter, my precious pup and I would tumble and roll around in the snow. I learned that I could actually enjoy cold weather, which I never had before. It was amazing and inspiring and it helped me to open up my heart to my own self! Wah!

Finally this Spring I was playing with the dogs outside when suddenly I just felt like breakin' into Surya Namaskar... so I did. Now I do my yoga practice outside, right on the grass, nearly every day and I have never enjoyed Hatha Yoga more. At 39 I feel more connected to my body, the postures and the shakti than I have ever felt before. I am also stronger and more flexible than I've ever been and people tell me I look fantastic, which isn't neccessary but it certainly feels good. Through the ebb and flow of my ever-changing life, I will always have Hatha Yoga to come home to. I've found my inner yogini this summer and though it's likely that she will disappear again I know she'll always be there when I truly need her. Sadgurunath Maharaj Ki Jai!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Meditation in Motion

Recently I started listening to my mantra on my ipod while doing Surya Namaskar and it's made such a difference in the quality of my yoga practice as well as the way my body feels. I highly recommend listening to whatever helps you to meditate while doing whatever exercise routine makes you happy. I feel the energy of the mantra penetrating every cell in my body. Fantastic!

Aaah! The Power and Wisdom of Intention

I first watched The Secret a little over a year ago. After my first viewing I watched it every day for over a month. I tried creating a vision board but ended up with a collage of a magical garden with a hummingbird and my teacher and Lakshmi hanging out with me and my best friend Pam. It's quite beautiful and everyone loved it so much that I made one for my mom for her birthday. I actually didn't really feel that I had accomplished what I had set out to do but I loved the collage and that was great.

At the same time I went through some magazines and picked out a few pages with photos of things that I wanted to change in my life. I only remember two of the pages one was a woman doing yoga and one was a photo of some healthy looking organic food. Lastly I wrote in a gratitude journal every day for a few months and then off and on for the past year or so. In my gratitude journal I write about the love that I feel radiating from inside and out. I express gratitude for my healthy, strong, lithe and beautiful body mind and spirit. I say thank you for the ease with which I walk through this life. There are other things but those are the constants.

Here I am about a year from the first time I watched The Secret. Let's see... I am doing yoga every day because I feel like doing it not because I feel I should be doing it. Also I feel stronger and more present in my postures than I ever have and I actually taught yoga many years ago! I eat almost entirely organic and my diet in general is much more healthy, again because I crave these foods now. I do my yoga practice in a garden where there are, I'm not kidding, two or three hummingbirds buzzing around and occasionally alighting on a branch near me. There is a baby bunny who pops out once in awhile and has actually fallen asleep near me. Majestic eagles soar above me almost every day. One day two baby deer were laying down in the field next to me quietly watching. Could this garden be any more magical? I find heart shapes everywhere. If you want to see a couple more of them go to this posting from my other blog TempleGreen. You will likely be surprised. I still get these hearts all the time.

I am more relaxed and calm than I have ever been. My family and friends have all noted and praised the change in me. More importantly I have noted the change in me. After many years of being told that I must first love myself... I DO! I really do feel incredible love for myself. I still get the old crap rearing it's head occasionally but it has so much less power than ever before. I might listen for an hour or so now and then I just go outside and reconnect with myself and get back to creating my beautiful life. I am happy and grateful to be manifesting love, joy and magical gardens. Oh yes and, of course, a healthy, strong, lithe and beautiful body, mind and spirit!