Midsummer, or Summer Solstice, is said to open the magical doorways of Nature. Ted Andrews said the physical and subtle bodies of humanity are aligned at this time and for those working with these energies, (like those of us who practice yoga), a new and more stable alignment can be established, bringing even greater growth the upcoming year. What a perfect day to ALSO be International Yoga Day!
This relationship between the physical and subtle bodies is what yoga IS to me. Working with the physical touches and works on the subtle, and vice versa. They are inextricably interwoven. Beautiful, isn’t it?
This is why emotions are stored within our body, sometimes waiting for us to be better able to handle them perhaps later, sometimes lodged so deep we don’t even know they’re there. Yoga enables them to find a peaceful untangling and release. At least that’s been my personal experience.
The longer I’ve practiced yoga (going on 30 years or more now), the more personal it becomes. I am in a continual conversation with the subtleties of my body’s language. Sensations become “familiar” like an old friend. They always have a message.
It’s taken me this long, with the additional help of my most recent Chronic Pain YogaFit two-day training, to gently remind the sensations of pain that I am safe, secure, centered, and at peace. Sometimes I even repeat the movement that just sent the pain/danger signal (because that’s what pain is—a signal of danger). And as I repeat that movement I am saying “See? —safe. I am safe. This is a safe move. See?” This one thing alone has been HUGE for me. I can literally feel the pain subside with each successive repeat of the movement. Try it! I’ve been working on many old injury muscle imbalances, scar tissue, etc that have found a home in my body from various injuries.
Creating a safe haven within your body—that’s what yoga means to me. Happy International Yoga Day!
You may be wondering if you are hypothyroid or know of someone who is. There’s a current upsurge in interest in this subject and using diet and lifestyle to help balance this condition. I was diagnosed over ten years ago. Typically the MD’s will check your TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) and if that’s within a given range, they’ll stop there and tell you your thyroid is fine. When I was increasingly tired, the MD I was going to at the time suggested checking my thyroid. She said if it’s your thyroid, no problem, you start on Synthroid® (brand name for levothyroxine) and you’re good to go—simple solution. She made it sound like it was quite common. “Take a pill and you’re done.” (Sadly it IS quite common. Synthroid® is the most prescribed medication in the US.)
Over the past 10+ years I’ve painstakingly discovered many things about hypothyroidism. What I’m about to share is my own research and my own decisions made for myself. The list is NOT exhaustive, I’m sure. They’re not meant to be your blueprint or to make your decisions so much as for you to be aware of areas you might want to research for yourself. This is my way of saying I don’t even play a doctor on TV! So do your research and talk to your doctor!
Here’s what I wish the MD would have done and/or told me at the time of diagnosis:
It took me well over eight years to decide to switch doctors over another matter—my regular doctor left the practice and the new one thought my “outie” bellybutton was a hernia! This was after she asked why in the world I’d want to check my vitamin D levels? (Inside I was thinking—what rock have you been under and where did you go to medical school? I’m always reading how little nutrition education MDs receive, but by this time Vitamin D’s importance had gone mainstream. Mental note to self, this doctor is dangerous to my health.)
Guess what? I had Hashimotos Hypothyroid disease and low vitamin D levels. Yes, my previous doctors knew I had outgrown Juvenile Rheumatory Arthritis (another auto-immune disease) when I was younger so the increased odds of other auto-immune diseases were there. Why didn’t my first doctor wonder if I had Hashimotos Hypothyroid disease vs. just hypothyroid disease? Did you know up to 90% of all thyroid problems are autoimmune in nature—the most common of which is Hashimotos?
By the time they diagnosed my Hashimotos, my thyroid had been under attack for over the eight years it took me to get that tested. I had no idea of the above until I began researching. It’s much more difficult to correct the damage to the thyroid after a longer amount of time—a duh.
Sadly the current fix of prescribing Synthroid® only works on balancing the hormones (T4 and T3). It does nothing to address the fact that your immune system is attacking your thyroid! Which is probably why they don’t check the antibodies early. They don’t have anything in place to address this.
I remember reading with total dismay on the Synthroid® drug fact sheet that the side effects of the drug worsen as you age and the longer you’re on the drug. So, I thought, what’s the game plan here? My step-mom’s Hashimotos had progressed to Sjögren’s syndrome—another auto-immune disease also associated with Hashimotos. I had no desire to experience what I saw her go through (loss of teeth, loss of enjoyment of food, difficulty eating due to little saliva in the mouth).
Just a couple of years prior to my thyroid diagnosis, my chiropractor (yes you heard that right) diagnosed me with gluten-sensitivity via a muscle test. My knee had swelled up and it hurt to walk, let alone go up steps. I was going up steps one at a time. An MRI showed nothing to be addressed really, save a small tear on my cartilage that “really did not need surgery”. He sent me home. I was like… “Hello?! My knee is swollen here? Do you see that? I’m not making up the pain.”
Two weeks off gluten and it was night and day, black and white difference. I wanted to kiss my chiropractor but we didn’t know each other that well. So I suspect going gluten-free helped my thyroid function for a bit longer before the TSH levels no longer measured well.
Gluten-sensitivity is associated with joint pain but so is hypothyroid disease. I personally don’t think this is a coincidence.
I had cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers for lunch every day—that was it. And breakfast was a gluten free cereal with skim milk. Dinner was usually chicken with a starch and vegetable. Yes I snacked, but not excessive junk food. I prided myself on how well I ate as well as my disciplined exercise regime. If you know me, you know that I am not overweight. Giving diet suggestions was, to me, insulting. (Now my breakfasts have more protein, I eat salad daily and have less empty calories at the end of the day like chips (although they are my weakness). Dark chocolate is our dessert of choice when we indulge.) The controversy of cholesterol readings would be another blog.
It is sufficient to say being told the two are related would have gone a long way toward making me feel less inadequate. Your thyroid function affects your cholesterol measures.
Do you know how important Vitamin A is for skin health? Do you use retinols in your skin products? I’ve had cystic acne my whole life—complete with scars, tears and embarrassment at times (I know, I know—poor baby, right?).
Another chiropractor I went to a few years ago suggested I take a thyroid support supplement. Once I started to take this supplement, my cystic acne went away. This was only a few years ago. I’m 57. I wanted to dance the jig when I noticed this side benefit. I noticed the supplement contained Vitamin A vs. Beta Carotene. This concerned me so I pulled out my thyroid books (of which I had way too many) and researched it some more and realized the conversion of Beta Carotene to Vitamin A doesn’t work well for people like me.
I should mention here that earlier, I had started using a Vitamin B cream on my areas of concern in lieu of clindamycin (which is an antibiotic) for my acne. I was trying to be more holistic overall. Vitamin B cream helped tremendously but the cystic acne was still occurring. I could just treat it a bit better and ward it off with the “B” cream. FYI, a sluggish thyroid can also make you deficient in certain B vitamins.
You might try an auto-immune paleo diet. It’s helped some extremely.
Some suggest avoiding night shade vegetables (potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant). Remember the lunches I was having when first diagnosed? I think the sensitivity to nightshade varies per person, as do most of these recommendations. I try not to overdo it but still consume them because I decided these foods are healthy and I refuse to avoid them all together. That’s my personal choice. You make your choice after consulting your doctor or dietician. I’ve tried avoiding them with no change in symptoms, but truth-be-told I probably didn’t avoid them long enough. My husband and I muscle test pretty much everything now though. Night shade vegetables can also affect arthritic joints.
You shouldn’t take your prescription medicine along with calcium supplements or coffee. So for most of you taking your prescription meds in the morning means waiting to have your vitamins and coffee. (I take my prescription later in the day. Some research suggests taking your prescription later in the day is more effective.)
Excess fat and sugar is never good but remember I said diabetes and hypothyroid disease are associated. So are gallbladder issues and hypothyroid disease. So breaking down fats can become an issue. Personally, I eat plenty of healthy fats like ghee, fish and coconut oils. I’d add avocado here but I’m allergic! (It’s a common allergen.) That’s my choice after my own research. You do yours and consult with your doctor!
You may want to avoid soy foods, which includes edamame, tofu, and miso. There’s some controversy on this one. Do your own research.
We should all avoid packaged foods and eat closer to nature. If it doesn’t look like it came from the earth, some would say don’t eat it. Do I follow this all the time? No. But I do for a majority of my diet. Hypothyroid disease is associated with blood pressure issues—as is eating packaged foods because of sodium content. Now I’m reading that both high and low blood pressure can be associated with thyroid disease.
Avoiding alcohol is recommended but red wine “on an occasional basis is fine for some people. Red wine is my alcohol of choice.
I’m currently in the process of switching from the standard treatment for hypothyroidism to a compounded formula. Without losing your interest, the standard treatment is giving you a hormone that is supposed to convert to another (T4 to T3) and fill the bill for both. Well, I wasn’t converting well. So they’re now working on a supplement containing T3 too. I wonder how many people are on the standard T4 and still feel lousy without checking further?
I think it might have been beneficial for a doctor to say exactly what she said as option #1. Many take this Synthroid® and they’re good to go, BUT if you want to investigate other lifestyle changes via your diet, here’s a good dietician and/or endocrinologist I’d recommend—option #2. AND by, the way, here’s some facts about hypothyroid disease that you should be aware of. So yes, your cholesterol is a bit high, but it can happen with hypothyroid disease. Here’s what we can do….
I’m still learning. I just read that some scientists are beginning to consider the possibility that Alzheimer’s disease is an auto-immune disease. My dad passed away of Alzheimer’s so believe me—I don’t want to go there! Keep on learning. I hope you found some of this useful. I just needed to download. Thanks for listening! Here’s to your health!
I recently had to switch doctors since my regular doctor moved on. As my new doctor was doing the routine exam, she inquired if “that” has gotten worse at all. “That”, I asked? What do you mean by “that”? She meant my belly-button! I was a bit flabbergasted. I’ve had “that” for 52 years. It’s my belly button and no, it is NOT a hernia! I have to add that my belly button is not grotesquely “out”. It is a simple “outie” button. No, I’m NOT taking a photo!
“A belly button hernia should not be confused with an ‘outie’ belly button, a perfectly normal physical feature. A herniated navel will protrude much more than an outie belly button, and it may be accompanied by pain and soreness, especially in adults.”
St Thomas Aquinas saw the navel as the “bodily metaphor for spiritual things.” The navel has been considered the “ultimate power point” in yoga and other oriental disciplines. Chi and vital breath is thought to “emerge” from the navel. Sigmund Freud thought the navel point was where a dream’s message and its psychic significance connected. My dreams were where I got the name for my business—Better Day Yoga. Hmmm, something to dwell upon for this “outie” belly-button’s significance!
Your belly-button’s significance-clincher, however, is the miraculous lotus, a symbol of creation, which sprung from Vishnu’s navel. Brahma, the creator himself, sits in the lotus “spinning endless universes out of his own sleep.” (Again the association with sleep, the navel and spirit/psychic inner world.)
If your belly-button has that much significance, wouldn’t you want it to be more than a mere indentation? Yes, 90% of you have an “innie” but 10% of us have an “outie”. I didn’t know that figure until I researched it for this blog, and frankly up until I did the research, I always thought mine was the “correct” version—I mean an “innie” doesn’t look like a button now does it? I guess I knew I was in the minority, but hey—perhaps I’m special that way.
(This post was originally posted about five years ago on a Prana Pages blog I shared with a colleague. That blog has been discontinued so I am reposting some of them as I have time.)
Last week I wrote about gathering energy emphasizing some ways spiritual energy grows. You’ve all felt this in your “favorite” spots, clothes, people. Right? There’s a reason you are attracted/attached to those favorites. Your energy resonates with that place, person, or thing. There’s a reason we use the term “magnetic” when referring to some personalities we are drawn to. Magnets attract, right?
One of my favorite books, The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield uses synchronicity as a clue that you’re on to something, because “everything happens for a reason”. As for myself, I believe it may have been this book that introduced me to the power of three. Three is a sacred number. Trinities appear in many of the world’s religions and cultures: Father, Son, Holy Spirit; Mother, Maiden, Crone; Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. If something comes to me three times—be it an idea, a song verse, a contact, etc.—I sit up and take notice. The Universe is trying to tell me something. In the book I remember the author suggesting that if you have two roads to travel, take the one that glows with an energy you’re attracted to. What lights you up? Go there.
Another favorite book of mine is The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. The Law of Attraction would go so far as to say our thoughts are things and they create so make them good ones. Because “energy goes where attention goes”. And “what you focus on expands”. “What you resist persists”. I could go on but I think you get the idea.
The bottom line is this: Your life is a reflection of what you believe. Or as Wayne Dyer says in his best-selling book, You’ll see it when you believe it.
Energy appears to you in forms you will accept. For example, I believe Quan Yin, Tara, Athena, White Buffalo Woman, Lakshmi, and yes Isis, among others, all embody the “Divine Mother”—the loving, nurturing, magical healing energy. I believe they are different representations of the same energy and embody different forms so they’ll appear in the correct form for you to accept. We are only open to that which we believe in—yes? So why wouldn’t “Divine Mother” energy embody many forms for all the world to appreciate?
Do you believe in energy therapy? Do you believe there’s a reason we rub an injury after bumping an object? We have energy centers in the palms of our hands. Do you believe that there’s a reason we rub our forehead points when stressed? These are reflexology points that help you relax. How about when we cross our hands over our chest and rock when we are very stressed? The points below the collar bone covered by crossed over hands are also important meridian points for stress and anxiety (among many other things!) and rocking is soothing to our nervous system. Our body innately knows what it needs.
How about Reiki? Do you believe in this mode of healing energy? I don’t believe Reiki (or any type of energy therapy) will be as effective if you don’t believe in it. How could it be? Why would energy be attracted to you if your energy (and yes, we’re all scientifically proven to be energetic beings) is repelling it? Henry Ford was famous for saying “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Again, we’re only open to that which we believe in. If you can’t accept it, you won’t receive it. Body, mind, and spirit are intimately connected. There’s a reason Jesus is quoted as saying “your faith has healed you.” Placebos work because of our belief in them and as Wayne Dyer used to say “If it’s placebo, I’ll take two.” Do you believe that your beliefs/thoughts have energy?
I judge by experience. When my husband fell off the roof a couple of years ago and broke the talus bone in his left foot and his right big toe, I began sharing Reiki with him regularly sometimes several times throughout the day. Prior to his accident, I wasn’t sharing Reiki with him regularly—just here and there with no consistency. As a result, my practice was limited.
There’s something about sending your energy to someone you love that amplifies the effect. I learned the hard way that I need to set the intention not to drain my own energy. Reiki uses Universal life energy, but if you don’t set the intention right, you’ll drain your own. I gladly gave my husband all I had at the time.
He would sometimes jump as he felt what he referred to as electrical charges when I held my hands over and around his healing talus bone and toe. I’ve always believed in visualization. So I’d visualize him dancing the polka with me (we both are very Polish) and running up and down the stairs.
As he healed and as time passed, the “electrical charge sensation” that made him jump were less and less; but he can still feel the energy flowing out of my hands. I still share Reiki with him each morning as he shaves as our schedules permit. I sit on the floor, surrounding his foot with crystals to magnify the energy, and wear various crystal Malas adding yet more crystal energy. (Don’t even get me started on whether you believe in crystal energy! Crystals are in watches, computers, and even your mobile phone. That acronmym “LCD”? It stands for “liquid crystal display.) I trace the “Cho Ku Rei” symbol on the palms of my hands with a small selenite wand and proceed.
My “go-to” meditation prayer, the Hail Mary, dominates my Reiki sessions. I’ve noticed that reciting this prayer helps the energy build. One of my yoga students, with whom I shared Reiki during a final relaxation, can actually see energy. She shared with me that my Reiki energy appeared to her as “Mary energy”. This was such a huge gift to hear! I hadn’t shared with her that I recited Hail Mary’s much of the time while sharing Reiki. A Reiki session just after I’ve meditated using this prayer has more energy at the get-go. Remember energy builds.
My husband and I have come to treasure our morning Reiki ritual. I open each session with a silent Pope John Paull II prayer (calling on our Polish ancestry) and end it with saying the St. Francis Prayer out loud—a mutual favorite of ours. As I finish reciting the prayer, my husband touches my head as a sign of endearment. Remember, I’m sitting on the floor as he stands to shave. Once he started doing that final touch, I asked him to please do it every time because it has a sense of sealing the energy of the moment.
Our mornings aren’t complete when we aren’t able to complete this morning ritual. It means something to us. It’s part of our connection—our energetic connection, if you will. Spiritual energy builds and grows stronger when you work on it. It’s all energy and it’s all good.
What are your personal spiritual entry points? What practices do you use to come to center? How often do you participate in these practices and do you notice a difference when you do them regularly?
They say it takes anywhere from 21 days or more to create a habit. Depending on the goal of your practice, the degree of difficulty, your actual desire to incorporate it into your life, and the sense of peace or joy you attain, the time it takes will vary. But one thing is agreed upon—it does take time. Time is the magic ingredient. How dedicated are you to devoting this time?
Prayer, Mantra, Affirmation
Do you have a favorite prayer, mantra, or affirmation? Why is it your favorite? My anchor prayer is the “Hail Mary”. No, I’m not holier than thou. It’s a prayer that has been with me my whole life in times of stress, in times of contemplation, when I pray on my beads—be they rosary or mala—or when I give Reiki to a loved one. It’s the first prayer that comes to mind when I’m needing comfort, solace, or energy. It’s my “go-to” prayer because it’s always been there for me.
What’s more, my prayer beads actually appear different to me once I’ve said my first round of prayers on them. It’s like I’ve energized them with prayer. They are no longer inanimate beads but living, breathing energy. I like to repeat Wayne Dyer’s wise words: “If it’s placebo, I’ll take two.”
How about your favorite rituals? One of mine is lighting a candle and some incense in my daily yoga practice at home. I’ve read that the ancients believed the rising smoke is an analogy for the rising of our prayers and intentions to the heavens to be heard. My yoga practice isn’t quite complete without the candle and incense. It’s a noticeable loss of energy when I’m practicing in a hotel room on the road without the benefit of their presence. Of course, I still do my practice but it’s not quite the same. Rituals are our way of paying reverence to what we are doing. It’s a seal of sorts.
Do you have a Mudra practice—similar to reflexology/acupressure for your hands? “Mudra” in Sanskrit translates to “seal”, “mark”, or “gesture”. Whether you call it one or not, I guarantee you have practiced Mudras because literally any position you put your body in will create a different energy loop. The one you’ve most likely held without thinking of it as a Mudra is prayer hands—or Anjali (meaning: “to offer”) Mudra. Bringing your hands together over your heart, connecting left hand to right hand, actually connects the left and right sides of the brain allowing you to communicate more effectively. Cool, huh? How appropriate.
Indu Arora’s book, Mudra The Sacred Secret, is by far my favorite book on Mudras. That’s probably because Indu is by far my favorite teacher! I’ve learned from her that it takes 30 seconds for the Mudra to form an electromagnetic circuit.
I’ve been practicing hand Mudras more “on purpose” ever since I used a Mudra for headaches listed in her book. This was shortly after her book was published in 2015 when I was lucky enough to be at her book launch. I normally don’t get headaches but I had a huge one that wouldn’t go away for hours and I started to get nauseous—a sign of a migraine. The headache Mudra worked so well for me, I had to sit up and take notice! I’ve been using it successfully ever since whenever even a subtle hint of a headache comes along.
With Mudras, your fingers are held in various positions forming an energetic loop. When I hold a Mudra hand position, I begin to feel an energy ball—a tingling sensation—in the palm of my hands. I’ve noticed that the Mudras I regularly practice holding develop this tingly “energy ball” sensation within a shorter and shorter timeframe.
I’ve had a daily yoga practice for many years now. It feeds me in ways I can’t describe. It’s not just physical, but of course that’s one of the many benefits. It’s like an ‘Etch a Sketch’ for what ails me—a magic eraser. You may come to yoga for the physical practice but it won’t be long before spirit joins you. I consider my yoga mat sacred ground. It’s as though all the good energy from my previous practices is held within my mat; and as soon as I set foot on my mat, I’m immersed in their vibes. It’s a gathering point of cumulative energy. Your mat never forgets your previous practices. Like an old friend, it holds the memory of sacred space ready to embrace you the moment you enter.
Asana practice, done with the right intention, allows you to become acquainted with your physical body, yes; but, more importantly, your subtle body. Your body’s only way of communication is through sensation. Once it knows you’re listening, there’s no stopping the messages! The more you listen, the more you’ll hear. It’s cumulative.
This is why a Hatha Yoga is a training ground for your intuition. Your inner knowing becomes your best friend. You learn to trust your gut instincts. Do you listen to your body’s subtle messages? Your gut instincts? There’s a saying in yogic wisdom that if you listen to your body whisper you won’t have to hear it scream.
My other spiritual entry points include a meditation shawl and mat. Wrapping a meditation shawl around my shoulders brings more comfort than simple warmth. It brings all the previous meditations to accompany my next meditation. It’s like planting seeds in fertilized soil. The prayers said that day more easily take root within and bring me back to center. If you doubt the truth to this, try taking a child’s favorite blanket or stuffed animal away from them; or try substituting another blanket. Enough said.
Indu Arora says “When we meditate at a place over and over, that region becomes a magnetic field for the mind to enter the calm, clear state gracefully and effortlessly. Having a personal meditation mat helps give you a still anchor point as well as helps build a certain association to the practice.” She explains that it’s important for the passive energy that’s awakened through meditation to stay looped within the body and the meditation mat helps keep the energy contained within the body.
She further compares our body to a Yantra, or geometrical pattern of energy moving in a circle and triangle. Our body mimics the triangle in a meditation posture. Without a base, our Yantra is incomplete. A meditation mat is yet another tool for gathering and containing your energy.
The bottom line is this: Spiritual energy grows.
How do you enter your sacred ground? What do you surround yourself with to gather, contain and hold the energy of your spiritual practice? Once you start to pay attention to the subtleties of accumulating prayers and intentions, you’ll start to notice a distinct difference each time you enter your sacred space. You’ll start to notice your own spiritual vortex welcoming you home. Your sacred space is waiting….
Have you ever been driving down the road and someone cuts you off? It’s hard to hold your tongue sometimes, isn’t it? Oh if my car had ears it would be blushing! This is something I’ve worked on and have been much better at being detached when upsets happen—in the car any way!
During one of Indu Arora’s workshops at the Minneapolis Yoga Conference, she likened it to giving each upset one of your remote controls. It’s true, isn’t it? We’re allowing them to push our buttons, right?! She said we should make a point to reclaim our remote controls. At the end of class she suggested to ask for at least five of our remotes back.
So now when I start to have an upset while driving, or whenever, I’ll either mentally say or say out loud “I’m taking my remote back, thank you!” This small exercise has made me chuckle at the situation because it really is funny when you think about it. We’re allowing someone else to push our buttons and by asking for our remote back, it lightens the mood and makes you smile at your silliness for allowing it in the first place. Try it! You’ll start laughing at what just a few seconds ago made you angry! I love this little phrase: “I’m taking my remote back, thank you!” It has allowed me to become a witness to the emotion vs. become the emotion. And it’s also very liberating!
What ways have you come up with to stay detached when situations become heated? You know your body can’t tell the difference between real danger and imagined danger. Our upset moments really are a creation of our imagination.
By allowing our body to gear up for action with our anger, we are turning on our fight/flight mode—our sympathetic nervous system. These constant assaults to our body DO affect our health and longevity in a very real way. Our adrenal glands release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol which increases our blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! See the infographic on how anger affects the brain and body from NICABM below.
Our body is preparing for physical exertion so it directs the blood away from our gut and into our extremities, affecting our digestion in a negative way. Can you say irritable bowel?
Using your upsets as a prompt to release anger and detach from the emotion is a not just smart, it increases the health and well-being of your physical, emotional, and spiritual body. Who has your remote controls? Take a moment right now to think of five remote controls you’d like to claim back and then visualize taking them back. Smile and repeat.
(click here for your own printable copy of the above great infographic from NICABM!)
I had the utmost pleasure of taking several workshops by Indu Arora at the Minneapolis Yoga Conference. I always learn so much whenever she’s the presenter! And everyone who follows her workshops feels the same way—we all talk about how much we love and adore her! We are all huge fans of this amazing woman!
Her “Ratricharya” workshop—10 steps of Ayurvedic Night Routine was excellent! One of the many things she suggested doing to prepare you for sleep is a Yoga Nidra practice (Yogic Sleep) at night and that includes a “Sankalpa” or intention/resolve of heart and mind. Your Sankalpa is made with a one-pointed resolve to focus on a specific goal and it’s meant to be a noble goal that could possibly serve as a lifetime goal. It’s not just for light-hearted goals.
Since I’m in between Level 1 and Level 2 of Indu’s Yoga Nidra training, I have been practicing Yoga Nidra as part of my studies. I decided to use my Sankalpa last night before bed as I drifted off to sleep. I’m looking for “my one thing”. What is it I’m called to do—the one thing that will move my business forward? How do I get unstuck?
Last night’s dreams were like a mini-tutorial on the status of my mind and steps I could take to become unstuck:
At one point I was in line preparing to purchase an overflowing bag of what appeared to be very ornate “tacks” with beveled tips that appeared to be solid silver. In the dream, I knew that these tacks were meant for a whole other purpose than I was intending them for. Their purpose was so exquisite that most would use only one or two of them and even engrave their names upon them (my “one thing”). That’s how very special and expensive they were. They were held in the highest esteem by those who used them for a very special occasion. And here I was purchasing an overflowing bag full!
As I awoke, I realized this is my usual “M.O.”—“If a little’s good, a LOT must be better!” Well it’s not. I don’t need to acquire any more skills. I don’t need to have one more tiddlywink or doo-dad to work with. Stop the madness! I also need to focus on an “exquisite”, one-pointed goal in my business and then break that down into my daily activities. What is it I want to “tack” onto the vision board of my life? I need to choose my “one thing” and put my thumbprint on it to make it uniquely mine—to engrave my name on it. I spread myself a bit thin and many days never get to the one thing I wanted to accomplish. And my business offerings might need to be pared down as well. Less is more. The shotgun approach never worked for anyone. While I innately knew this, my dream was reminding me it was something I urgently needed to attend to.
Next I was back at an old corporate job and was moving things around in my office. My office had just been moved and I was rearranging this and that, looking at my phone monitor to see that there were customer messages blinking at me that I had to attend to, clearing away papers into a file, etc. In the dream my boss and her boss were walking around in the area and I chose NOT to be concerned with what they may or may not think about my activity. I resisted the urge to jump on the phone and appear to be in the heat of making sales calls. I had a job I started to do and was going to finish it without feeling judged upon—at least that’s what I was attempting to tell myself. Worrying about other’s opinions has always been a thing for me. But in this dream I did pretty good sticking to the project I had already started. So glass half full. Perhaps the dream was saying, “You put on a good front, but the inadequate feeling is still there. Work on it!”
Still in that office setting, I was having trouble getting my rolling office chair up to the desk. It kept bumping into an obstacle under the carpet that acted like a brake. Without the ability to get my chair where it needed to be, I couldn’t function. I pushed this way and that—No luck. I was getting frustrated but kept working around it trying to figure out what to do. Suddenly in the dream I realized the obstacle was from the previous old arrangement of furniture and all I needed to do was remove whatever that bump/obstacle was under the carpet. It no longer needed to be there and I wasn’t seeing that there was no need to keep it around.
“Doesn’t that sound just like me?” I thought as I awoke and analyzed my dream. Many of the obstacles to what I need to accomplish are unnecessary and remain from a past arrangement/condition/belief. I might go so far as to say that a good majority of the “obstacles” I experience are my thoughts about what I can or can’t do—my worthiness so to speak. I need to remove them. They are no longer necessary and are hindering me from my goal.
Many times when I’ve asked a question over and over just before I fall asleep, I’ll get some sort of response between sleep and awake. I’ve written about this before. It was how I named my business, Better Day Yoga, back in 2009 after I’d been teaching for over a year. It’s a fun memory. The messages come in a strange vernacular that always tells me exactly what I need to know in the most unique way that many times only I’d be able to interpret. Sometimes it’s like I’m reading headlines off a newsreel in my mind.
Last night’s “dream tutorial” highlighted areas I need to work on and the wisdom of the presentation has me in awe. In ancient civilizations, dreams were considered messages from the heavens and the shaman would share their dream messages around the campfire to an eager audience. I, too, consider my dream last night a message from the Universe; or perhaps, a kick in the pants to get busy! “Sweet dreams”.
Indu and I after the workshop
A couple of days ago, one of my mentors, Indu Arora, posted about “Nava-Ratri”. She started her post saying that “In Vedic Texts, the feminine is celebrated in many divine forms and one of them is Durga. Four times a year there are nine days and nights which are considered to be filled with nine forms of divine energy each of them symbolizing a form of Durga.”
So I’ve been dwelling on “Divine forms of energy”. Along with the Blessed Virgin Mary (my mantra in my morning meditation is the “Hail Mary”/ “Ave Maria” salutation), I believe Quan Yin, Tara, Athena, White Buffalo Woman, Lakshmi, and yes Isis, among others, all embody the “Divine Mother”—the loving, nurturing, magical healing energy. I believe they are different representations of the same energy and embody different forms so they’ll appear in the correct form for you to accept. We are only open to that which we believe in—yes? So why wouldn’t “Divine Mother” energy embody many forms for all the world to appreciate?
Today I realized these many forms of Divine Energy are not that unfamiliar to this Catholic girl. They have roots in my history. Marion apparitions have influenced the Catholic Church and the lives of millions of Roman Catholics for thousands of years. These supernatural appearances sometimes appear to an individual or a few people a majority of the time, and sometimes to thousands of people over a period of time. Some of the apparitions have even received a “Canonical coronation” from the Pope, crowning the holy image. These Divine apparitions of Mary are often named after the town where it is reported, such as Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Guadalupe; and my Polish heritage Madonna, Our Lady of Czestochowa. Other times, the Divine image is given a “nickname” of sorts calling out what her appearance is most noted for in that instance, like Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
I grew up with a childhood book about Saint Bernadette Soubirous and Our Lady of Lourdes. Sadly, I didn’t take it with me as an adult on my own. So it’s lost (but I just ordered what I hope to be an old copy of the same book!). I read that book over and over and over. I was enamored with Saint Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes. This is a prayer card I own:
I’ve written about Quan Yin and The Virgin Mary before (reposted in the post below this one). Fairly recently I realized that not only do I consider Quan Yin and Mary of the same Divine Energy, but Our Lady of Lourdes is the version of Divine Energy I associate with Quan Yin because they both have a water element. As I pray my Hail Mary’s and the mantra associated with Quan Yin, “Om Mani Padme Hum” (which means “Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus”), I envision them both pouring their water over me as well as my husband when I share Reiki with him. We had a wedding day photo taken at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes at the University of Notre Dame in my home town. As my regular readers know, this grotto has a special place in my heart because my dad worked at Notre Dame when he first immigrated to America after WWII. He helped with the stonework on the grotto. So I find my visualization of water pouring over us very protective and comforting.
I also had two Miraculous Medals growing up. One of which I still have—I gifted the other to a friend in need. Catherine Labouré and the story of the Miraculous Medal became another one of my favorite stories. Another prayer card is pictured here:
We visited the Jasna Góra Monastery in Czestochowa when we went to Poland on our first trip there and purchased the framed picture below. The image of the “Black Madonna” also known as Our Lady of Czestochowa, is considered to have miraculous powers and is shrouded in numerous legends which trace the icon’s origin to St. Luke who painted it on a cedar table top from the house of the Holy Family.
During our wedding ceremony we were gifted a framed picutre of another artist’s version of Our Lady of Czestochowa by the priest that married us, Father Steven Avella. At our wedding, he said he felt like the Pope at the time, Pope John Paul II. The Pope was Polish and surrounded by Italians. He was Italian and surrounded by Poles at our wedding. (My husband and I are both 100% Polish as were many of our guests!)
As we celebrate the first day of spring and Easter approaches, I’m reminded of the many flowers associated with the appearances of the Blessed Virgin. The rose has symbolized Mary since the earliest times of the Church. Our Lady of Guadalupe is associated with the “Miracle of Roses”.
Another flower associated with Mary is the lily, sometimes called the “Madonna Lilly”, which is often depicted in paintings of the Madonna and often seen during the Easter season when they represent the Resurrection of Christ. For those who may be unsure of my “Goddess” association the Catholic religion and Mary, let me remind that the name for “Easter”, Christianity’s most important holiday, comes from the pre-Christian Goddess Eostre, Ostara or “Eastre” who was celebrated at the beginning of spring.
How do you connect with the Divine? What are your rituals? How do you make your beliefs come alive and meaningful? This is my meditation. This is my way.
Each week I write about what the Universe brings to my attention. This morning as I awoke, my gaze landed on one of my favorite photos of a Quan Yin statue taken just outside Andrea Smith Gallery in Sedona, AZ. The photo is nestled in the mirror of my bedroom dresser and appears just behind one of my favorite statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary—a statue given to me by my mom. Their close proximity to each other is no accident. Their similar coloring (See photo below) practically screamed that I position them near each other. Also, I consider Quan Yin the “Asian equivalent of the Blessed Virgin Mary”.
Quan Yin is a bodhisattva, meaning she is eligible for Buddhahood. Yet she’s vowed to stay near Earth until all beings are enlightened. In Sanskrit, her name is Padma-pâni, or “Born of the Lotus. Many think of her as the Buddahist Madonna. She is known as the Goddess of Compassion who hears the cries of the world—a trait also associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
I was dwelling on this topic, among others, as I was preparing lunch today. I thought perhaps I should save this topic for my newsletter and turn it into a whole focus—adding crystals, colors and wild life associated with Quan Yin.
While eating lunch, I tuned into a favorite television show that happened to be on and in the background was a statue of Quan Yin in a park area. That was my sign! Then as I was in the middle of writing this I received an e-zine that contained a story entitled “Crystals and healing in the Buddhist Tradition“. It mentions the mantra associated with Quan Yin: “Om Mani Padme Hum”, which means “Hail to the jewel in the lotus flower”—a prayer I have on my desk next to a Quan Yin statue—and also mentions Jade as a stone considered sacred to Quan Yin. Second sign!
I’ve written about Quan Yin before. Simply looking at her image has always made me feel peaceful and protected, even as a child before I knew more about her. I’d never questioned the beginnings of my Quan Yin attraction. It was just “there”, until I made the connection…
A kind lady in Shakti’s Books & Gifts in Madison, WI asked me if I knew who the beautiful Asian lady was on the necklace she was contemplating and I started to share with her what I knew. It was when I mentioned that I’d read Quan Yin was considered the Asian equivalent of the Blessed Virgin Mary, both embodying “Divine Mother” energy, that a childhood memory hit me like a ton of bricks.
I remembered we had an Asian lady statue/lamp in my childhood home. Looking back, I’m fairly certain it was Quan Yin, but I didn’t know that at the time. I made the connection as I spoke to the kind lady in Shakti’s Books & Gifts. I was in awe of this statue. My siblings, ever ready to tease me incessantly, knew this and instilled a smidgen of anticipation in me by suggesting that if I watched her intently enough (which I always did), she’d open her eyes. I felt as though she was watching over our whole household. Finding out she was probably the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion was simply an added bonus.
I connect with the “Divine Mother” each morning through my morning meditation mantra—the “Hail Mary”/ “Ave Maria” salutation. Along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, I believe Quan Yin, Tara, Athena, White Buffalo Woman, Lakshmi, and Isis, among others, all embody the “Divine Mother”—the loving, nurturing, magical healing energy. I believe they are different representations of the same energy and embody different forms so they’ll appear in the correct form for you to accept. We are only open to that which we believe in—yes? So why wouldn’t “Divine Mother” energy embody many forms for all the world to appreciate? “Hail to the jewel in the lotus flower” resonates “Hail Mary full of grace” and both prayers bring me peace.
This post was originally posted March 6, 2013 on a Prana Pages blog I shared with a colleague. That blog has been discontinued so I am reposting some of them as I have time.
This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of listening to a presentation from “The Power of Shamanism” presented by Sounds True®. The speaker was Julie Kramer and her topic was “Sacred Stewardship: Tending to Your Home in Partnership with the Unseen World”. There were many points that made me smile about this presentation, not the least of which was one of her meditations focusing on the more subtle energies such as “sprites” or wee folk in or near your household. I had decided upon this webinar over a couple others presented for the day strictly because of the “unseen world” element (see my last post referencing my own fairy sighting some years ago involving a house fairy.)
During my Level 1 Yoga Nidra training with Indu Arora last month, I learned that “Yoga Nidra”, in addition to being the practice, is also a goddess represented by the night or lunar energy. Ancient texts used poetry to honor the beauty, strength and power of the nourishing, protecting Goddess that is Yoga Nidra. We literally complete the Yoga Nidra practice with a moon shower. We visualize the moon shining down over us, filling us so full that the moon energy shoots out of our fingers and our toes.
Yoga Nidra puts you in a highly regenerative meditative state. This state helps to support your immune system and increases your resilience and emotional balance. In Yoga Nidra we create a “sankalpa” or intention that is directly in line with what we would like to manifest over a lifetime.
In Julie’s “Sacred Stewardship” webinar, she led us through a visualization dropping down into the earth far enough to where no human being had been and then sensing how the energy of that depth and place felt. We were then to imagine infusing this earth energy into our being, sensing how it made us feel—how it affected our energy and well-being. We then visualized infusing this earth energy up into our home via a hose, filling up every nook and cranny of our home with this healing earth energy and noticing how this energy made us feel and made our house feel—how “animated” this energy made us feel.
The next meditation complimented the earth energy meditation and focused on the moon. We imagined pulling the energy of the moon down into our bodies, filling us up. Then we visualized infusing the moon energy into our homes as we did with the earth energy, filling every nook and cranny. Only this time the energy was meant to cleanse away the unnecessary energy not needed or wanted in the home. Again we were to notice how “animated” this energy wash made us feel—how alive.
I couldn’t help but notice the similarities in using the moon shower in our Yoga Nidra practice to the Shaman practice. The ancients used the energy of the Universe in similar ways. There is only one moon—yet these two practices from different histories and philosophies chose to use a moon shower ritual.
I often use new moons to empower a time of growth in my chosen affirmations and intentions—as did our forefathers before. My in-laws used the new moon to plant potatoes. It is considered a time of new beginnings. The full moon is a time of completion and fulfillment. So I ask my yoga students, “What are you done with?” The moon affects the tides of the ocean. Why would it not affect the energy in our bodies which contain a large percentage of water? Why not use the energy of the moon to magnify your chosen purpose and resilience?
There are numerous spiritual beliefs and practices that use the moon. Many depictions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for example, show her standing on a crescent moon. Easter’s date is determined by the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. Noticing the similarities in the use of moon energy left me with a sense of connectedness to a spirituality with no labels, only the moon energy being used for our greater good.
“I see the moon and the moon sees me. God bless the moon and God bless me.”
(Photo of the art on my pullover purchased over 20 years ago now at an art show in Wayzata, MN)
There’s something about St. Patrick’s Day that brings with it the magic of the leprechaun. I have had a love affair with the wee folk since I can remember. I truly believe in magic and I know that belief allows my life to BE magical. Why would the magic come visit someone who doesn’t believe? You’re only open to receiving what you believe in and by the belief, you invite the magic of it in. Energy goes where attention goes, right? If you’re not aware of the energy, it will go by unnoticed. (As an aside, when you listen to your body’s messages, during your yoga practice, by tuning into the subtle body, you are exercising the intuitive muscles that allow you to be receptive to subtle energy, a.k.a magical energies. Interesting, isn’t it?)
I recently brought up my affinity for elves, fairies, and all things magical with my hairdresser. I think we were talking about spirituality and beliefs at one point and then as she came back after whipping up my hair color, I shared my new Instagram artist find: @theworldofjamesbrowne. His art focuses on magical beings, elves, gnomes, the man in the moon, mermaids, tree spirits—you name it. His work melts my heart. Who knew I had a kindred soul in my hairdresser who also had an affection toward the wee folk? Come on, you know you want to believe. Just let it happen. It won’t hurt. There’s a huge market for adults who follow Harry Potter books, Avator movies and the like. So you’re not alone. Judging by James Browne’s 38.6k followers, I suspect there’s more than a few of us out there.
When my hairdresser and I got to talking about magical beings, I shared the joy of finding my old childhood Golden Book of “Fairies and Elves” online some years ago and how I was brought to immediate tears when I received it in the mail and opened it. There within the pages were all my old friends waiting to mesmerize me as they had in years past. I knew every centimeter of that book’s art as though I were still the same child engaged in a trance as I gazed upon its pages. It carried me right back to my childhood. My husband knew to leave me alone in my reverie and when he heard me whimpering a bit later, he asked from the other room if I was okay. I mumbled through tears, “I’m reading about the magic slippers.”
Well, I must have triggered my hairdresser’s inner child too because while my color was “setting”, she found the book on eBay and ordered it! The whimsical belief in all things magical is contagious! I dare you to look up James Browne’s art and not be drawn into his world of awe and wonder. The illustrator from my childhood book, Garth Williams passed away in 1996. I just read he was the Stuart Little illustrator—another beloved book. James Browne’s art leads me down the infamous rabbit hole in much the same way as Garth’s illustrations do; and for that, I am so very grateful. We all need to visit that world more often. I know I do. How about you?
Since I trust my hairdresser implicitly, I also shared my fairy-sighting story. I wrote about it here. That post goes over all of my favorite magical movies too. I hope they’ll instill some magical moments.
So as St. Patrick’s Day approaches, be open to believing. Let the whimsy take you back to a time in childhood when magical elves and fairies were your confidants, when the moon smiled back at you with a wink and a nod, and when anything was possible. Happy St. Patty’s Day!
I have the honor and privilege of participating at the Women Veteran’s Conference again this year! I will be teaching a yoga class vs. exhibiting this year!
Sat, May 26, 2018
7:30 AM – 5:00 PM CDT
Ramada Plymouth Hotel and Conference Center
2705 Annapolis Lane North
Plymouth, MN 55441
We are honored to host retired US Army Brigadier General Pat Foote as the keynote speaker. We will also offer a variety of informative breakout sessions including VA Healthcare/VA Benefits, yoga and holistic therapy. Breakfast and Lunch will also be available for free.
One of the projects featured is the ‘I’m Not Invisible” campaign, an awareness campaign designed to honor our women veterans and educate the public about some of the unique challenges women veterans face when they come back from their service. Now they are ready to unveil the campaign to the public, with a portrait exhibit featuring 33 of Minnesota’s women veterans and a multimedia PSA campaign.
Please join us, INVITE ANOTHER WOMAN VETERAN. Click here to register.
Two nights ago, my husband and I watched a Hallmark Christmas movie about Reindeer Lodge. Reindeers were hailed as a sign of true love. I’ve read they are also a sign of positive things coming into your life like new beginnings, good news, and even new love. They remind you that you have the ability to achieve whatever you want as long as you come from the heart. (Source: http://dreamstop.com/reindeer-dream-symbol/ )
I’ve always found flying reindeer to be as magical as those depicted in so many Christmas films. We own two magical prints that we display during the Christmas season. This year the one entitled “Earth Magic” has fallen off the wall twice now….reread that. “Earth Magic has fallen to the earth” as if to say “I’m bringing magic to the earth this time of year”. The other one entitled “Caribou Moon” also fell once—probably around the time of the recent full moon now that I think about it. Why they fell isn’t as important as the fact that they fell. They make a stunning presence on our wall but this year they are making a statement I think we all need to hear.
Did you know that reindeer used to be plentiful further south across the world in ancient times and in the U.S. as far south as Nevada and Tennessee? There’s more: “Throughout the grasslands of northern Mongolia and southern Siberia are planted hundreds of stone pillars, ranging from three to fifteen feet tall, with carvings that seem to show reindeer in flight. The stones have been dated to approximately 3000 years ago. The Reindeer and its association with the sun is an important element in Siberian Shamanism.
That is interesting on its own, but what’s even more intriguing is that, because of climate change, at the time these stones were carved, it had been a thousand years since actual reindeer lived in that local landscape. The people who carved these flying reindeer on the stone pillars had likely never seen a reindeer.” (Source: http://www.drummingthesoulawake.com/blog/reindeer-in-the-dna-of-the-land)
Flying reindeer are part of actual history? How cool is that?! I like to think they did see them or at least believed in the stories told of them by their ancestors. Who’s to say?
How much magic have we overlooked thinking we need facts? The solstice is tomorrow celebrating the darkness as we wait in anticipation for the return of the light. Be open to the magic this time of year. Look up! Merry Christmas!
I subscribe to “The Sacred Science” blogs and received an email this morning reminding me of a synchronicity I’d already forgotten about. I believe we receive messages from the Universe all the time and that acknowledging those messages is what turns the spigot on for more of the same. So receiving this reminder email simply added to the synchronicity demanding to be heard, recognized, and celebrated. Just like a good friend that’s encouraged to share more personal stories when they see we are listening and are present for them, the Universe will quit sending messages if we aren’t noticing them. So please let this post be my way of saying to the Universe: “Thanks! I needed that!”
I often share a similar sentiment in my yoga classes that the more we listen to our body’s messages, the better our intuition becomes. There’s a wise suggestion known in yogic philosophy to listen to your body whisper so you don’t have to hear it scream. As you read on, know that I needed to relearn that lesson too.
I’ve been having some physical issues this summer, to put it mildly. Without going into a lot of boring details, let me just say that it’s my opinion I may be experiencing side effects of the hypothyroid medicine I’m on. There’s a long list of them. It wasn’t until I researched and found that one of the side effects is favoring a hip with a limping gait that I sort of lost it. My hip has been an issue for about as long as I’ve been diagnosed as hypothyroid. I hadn’t connected the two until recently learning that there’s importance in knowing the root cause of an auto-immune diagnosis so I’ve been analyzing it a lot. It’s all very intriguing.
I had cut back on some anti-inflammatory supplements to trim down my intake and then my side-effect symptoms starting appearing more prominently. So I might have been medicating the side effects with anti-inflammatories for awhile. Lately my hip had literally been giving out at times, causing my sacroiliac joint to be very unhappy from all the jarring, not to mention the hip pain. Thank God for my yoga practice. It has been and always will be my lifesaver in so many ways. It’s like an etch-a-sketch for what ails me.
My visit to the doctor only resulted in “normal” thyroid readings. I plan to see a functional medicine doctor soon to see if we can unravel the mystery.
I also decided to finally get a mammogram. It had been ten years since my last one—I know, I know. I consider myself very holistic so it was incompatible to me to have X-rays looking for cancer when X-rays are known to cause cancer. But since advancing age is also a cause of cancer, I decided to pull my head out of the proverbial sand and get a mammogram. They considered this a baseline since it had been so long and I was told more than once that to try to find my ten year old mammogram would probably not be worth the effort because of the typical file purging; and that even if I did find it, it would be too old to be helpful. So I left it at that.
They needed me to come back for a second mammogram because of suspicious micro-calcifications. And that mammogram was not enough to rule out cancer so they recommended a biopsy. Again I was told finding my old mammogram would not be helpful. The biopsy was done on a Friday morning and I had to wait until the following Tuesday, early PM, to hear back on the results. I had originally thought I should write about that ordeal and my blog title was to be “walking the talk”. But it felt too personal at the time. I needed some space.
I will say that I had a good long talk with myself, during the stressful four-day-wait for results, as I kept sliding into panic mode. I told myself, “If you can’t use the skills and wisdom you share with your students about handling stress, then what kind of yoga teacher/therapist are you?”
I am always reminding my students to take the time to regularly practice stress reducing activities like yoga, meditation, and breathwork so that they’re in their “back pocket” when they’re needed most. These routine practices are like old friends, ready to soothe. It’s only a breath practice and a silent meditation away. My daily personal yoga practice always gives me just what I need physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
When I arrived for my biopsy appointment, I explained to the receptionist that I might smell like sage as I had smudged myself earlier to keep the bad juju away. I also wore my protective hand /“hamsa” shirt to ward off the evil eye. I was laughing as I shared this with the receptionist which caused her to comment that she was so glad I did what I needed to take care of myself. She shared that most of the time people show up and they’re a basket case. She didn’t know I kind of was a basket case inside. Thank God for my sweet husband, Ed, who came along for support.
Four excruciatingly long days later, the doctor called to say the micro-calcifications were benign. There was a lot more detail than that but enough said. He recommended that I come back in for a follow up mammogram in six months since this was considered the “baseline”. I mentioned the ten year old mammogram and the comments his colleagues had shared more than once about not needing to find them. On the contrary, he was very interested to see them. Okay, sure. I’d try to remember where I had the mammogram ten years ago.
It took me all of maybe ten minutes to remember, call, and have the ten-year-old mammogram digitally sent to the doctor who did my biopsy. He called me within an hour to say “Good news! It looks like the micro-calcifications have been there since 2007!” He then added, “I sure wish we’d had these sooner because it would have saved us a lot of trouble.” In other words, had he had them, he would not have seen the need to do the biopsy in the first place. Well that was more than frustrating to hear. Yet and still, good news is good news and I was more relieved than words can say! My husband and I had a celebratory dinner out that night.
The summer still had more in store. Two weeks later, Ed and I went to the Polish Festival here in the Twin Cities. Last year we attended but there was no dancing to be had since Ed had fallen 15 feet only 14 weeks prior and he broke his left talus (foot) bone and right big toe. So this year was extra special as we danced our “dupas” off on the polka floor, making up for lost time. Was that smart considering my hip had been acting up? Probably not. But I will never turn down an opportunity to dance! This I know about me! (So much for listening to my body whisper, right? The thing is, my body was also screaming to dance the polka!)
It may have been a combo of bad shoes and a tender hip but I didn’t realize until the following day that I screwed up my right knee and my left peroneal tendon pretty bad. We even walked around after dancing without issue, so who knows. It was quite warm and we were so content to have come full circle from Ed’s fall the year before. Perhaps the festive atmosphere and our sheer joy numbed us to the after effects.
I couldn’t walk without pain at all the following day. I have not been able to walk without extreme pain in the left heel and a very spongey right knee going on the second week now. In case you’re wondering, except for some soreness for sure the next day, Ed appears to have been no worse for the wear! I must have been the one out of practice! Go figure!
Here’s where the synchronicity popped in—just by “coincidence” I only had to cancel one class in the next two weeks due to vacations having cancelled the others prior. And the one class I did have was a private client appointment so it required less props to carry into the location. Plus my husband drove me so he was there to help since my car was in the shop (oh, that’s another summer story!). The Universe somehow knew I would need the time off to rest, recoup, and heal.
It’s not in my nature to take time off no matter how bad I’m feeling—which brings me back to the yogic philosophy I mentioned earlier—listening to the body whisper so you don’t have to hear it scream. Apparently I needed to learn that lesson again. I realize I really should have taken the time to do less sooner. Remember I said I’d needed some space? Why didn’t I listen?
The whole breast mammogram, recall mammogram, biopsy, four-day-wait fiasco had taken more of a toll on my psyche than I cared to admit. We can’t just keep sweeping things under the carpet and expect to continue on our merry way without repercussions. I knew this deep down, but I didn’t listen. I really hadn’t walked the talk after all, at least not as well as I could have. Lesson learned.
I have to wonder if I’d taken some time to decompress after the mammogram results like I really wanted to perhaps my body would have been in a better state overall when I danced the polkas. The mind really is connected to the body. They are inseparable. So not only did the Universe pre-plan my much needed time off in my business schedule, it also gave me reason to sit still more than I had been due to the injury. Apparently I really needed to stay put. Maybe the next time I need to learn a lesson, the Universe won’t have to resort to bodily injury to get me to listen. One can only hope.
Photo taken just after our polkas!
So content and happy to have come full circle
I’ve written about my mother-in-law receiving the gift of daily songs from her husband after he passed in 2003. She heard those song messages every day from 2003 to when she passed in 2015. In that post I wrote “I’ve heard it said that communicating after you’ve passed is not easy.”
Dream visits are a sweet, sacred gift and you KNOW it’s not just any dream when you really feel like you’ve had an actual visit with your loved one. You wake up knowing something special just occurred.
It was several months after my Dad passed in 2003 that I had such a visit. In the dream I remember hugging him knowing that he was passed and I was being blessed with this very special visit. I was overwhelmed with just how much I missed him. I missed every little thing about him—even the smell of the nape of his neck as we hugged and I buried my nose into the hair on the side of his neck. And THAT’S the comment I made to him in my dream: “I missed your hair!” He threw back his arms away from me and said incredulously: “You missed my hair?!” and I woke up.
I’m sure he was thinking—this visit was NOT easy and your first comment is “You missed my hair?!” I chuckled to myself after I woke up knowing this would be just how he’d react. And I sent a message out to the ethers knowing he’d “hear”: “Tata, (Polish endearment for “Dad”) you know how dreams are. I just missed you so much and you did smell good. You smelled just like I remembered and I so miss our hugs.”
Since then, I’ve only had maybe two dreams of my Dad. The last one was fairly recent. I sure hope their scarcity isn’t because of my misplaced comment about missing his hair on his first visit! Here it is:
My husband, Ed, and I were swinging outside on a big two-seater swing suspended by long, thick, light blue ribbons. There was a slight breeze. It must have been spring time because we were surrounded by all kinds of flowers in every shape and color. Beneath us was a carpet of dark, lush, green grass. Ed and I were sitting close and swinging with long, graceful strides back and forth. In the dream I felt so happy there with Ed and all was well with the world. It was then that I noticed Dad sitting above us on a balcony of sorts just watching. I immediately shouted out “I love you!” and he mouthed back with a smile “I love you too!” Then I woke up. I remembered Dad used to say he loved watching us all from a distance at get-togethers when the family played baseball or croquet, having fun. I smiled thinking he was enjoying watching Ed and I as we swing through life in love together.
Dreams of my Mom are even scarcer and she doesn’t talk. She just appears in the dream. It’s still quite a special feeling.
Knowing the rarity of these visits personally, I was in complete awe of the dream my husband received a couple of days ago. I encouraged him to write it down because it was definitely an auspicious, once-in-a-lifetime, sacred gift.
Ed’s “Family” Dream…
The place is a large, spacious castle-like great room—one about 50 feet by 50 feet or more with no particular wall coverings but the room feels important like you are there to meet the King or Queen.
I see four people in this room, almost as creating a square. My Dad is to my left only a few feet away from me, my Mom to my right about 30 feet away, smiling. She gives me a slight wave. Just beyond my Dad, about 30 feet away, is my Father-in Law. My Mother-in-Law is across the room from him on the right about 30 feet from Mom. They all look about 10 – 15 years younger than when they passed.
I step to Dad, cup my hand around his neck and draw him closer. I remember looking into his face and having a sudden sense of loss, missing them all so! I break down crying uncontrollably. The dream comes to an abrupt end. ~
I got goose-bumps hearing my husband retell the dream. I could see it affected him deeply. All four parents in the dream at one time! It was as if his Dad wanted him to know “yes this really IS heaven” by the presence of all of them there. There was no mistaking that. It warms my heart thinking they’re all together “up there” perhaps playing cards as we often joke. It’s a comforting thought.
As I wrote in my “Finding Zofia” post about my maternal grandmother: I believe everything’s a message. I believe if you are open to signs, you’ll receive them. I believe our souls never die and they watch over us always. Thanks for the visits Mom and Dad. We’re anxiously awaiting your next one.
I started teaching yoga about nine years ago. There are two yogis in particular, LaVonne and Bebe, who have been coming to my classes since that time. Needless to say I absolutely adore them! We’ve become great friends!
Last year I had the utmost honor to work with LaVonne one-on-one as she battled cancer for a second time in her life. This time it was terminal cancer. There was no cure. She was a breast cancer survivor, so this news hit her and her family quite hard but they rose to the occasion, not missing a beat on staying positive. Throughout our time together this past year, she continued to be the most optimistic person I know—such an inspiration!
Everyone wanted to be around her because she was always smiling, always happy, and always looking on the bright side of life. She treasured her family. Time with her grandkids was sacred. She welcomed a new grandchild into her life earlier this year. Her husband shared with me recently how much joy that brought her. It gave her the strength to continue her treatments.
I saw her as a private client for several months. We used gentle, restorative yoga; Yoga Nidra; hand mudras; visualization; meditation/mindfulness; aromatherapy; sound therapy (tingsha bells, chakra bowls, healing music, nature sounds); grounding stones to hold onto and to surround her; and Reiki therapy in which I heavily use prayer. We consulted books on healing cancer, practiced rituals using candles and affirmations—you name it.
Mostly it was my sincere wish that our work together would give her hope and put her in a “rest and relax”/parasympathetic nervous system mode—the only time your body is empowered to regenerate. And as Wayne Dwyer used to say “If it’s placebo, I’ll take two!” She liked that quote a lot. She was up for whatever I brought to our sessions and she always had a smile and a hug for me coming and going. The trust she placed in me humbled me. I treasured our time together. It was such an honor and blessing to be invited into her home and into her family’s life throughout this tender time.
LaVonne passed away surrounded by her loving family this past weekend. I can’t stop thinking about her. Her energy goes on. As I said in my last post, I believe our souls live forever. I have been deeply blessed by this lovely lady. I will hold her close the rest of my lifetime and always remember that smile.
LaVonne’s in the middle and Bebe is on the right in this New Year’s Eve 2016 photo
P.S. A sweet addendum: My sweet husband and I went to LaVonne’s visitation as well as her funeral services the next day. Both functions were literally packed with her adoring friends and family. At the visitation, we saw many, many lovely photos of her life. There were numerous family pictures, pictures from her large group of “church ladies”, pictures from her wedding album, pictures of many fun trips to Europe and elsewhere. My husband and I really enjoyed viewing these memories and visiting with her family.
As we drove home from the visitation, “The story of my life” by the group, One Direction, came on the radio. The story of my life….I knew LaVonne’s spirit would be talking with me. I just hadn’t expected it so soon! The next song, back to back, was “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas. My husband has always told me he would like this song played at his funeral so LaVonne had this special gift for my husband too. This would be just the special consideration she’d give to a visitor—playing their song so they knew it was for them. We both broke down crying. I could just picture her joy at watching my husband and I view her lovely photos—”these are the story of my life”, she’d say. And oh what a wonderful life it was.
30 years ago today my mom passed away. It’s hard to grasp just how long it’s been. It seems impossible. I can still remember how she used to say my name with her Polish accent—both when she was happy with me (Sandy) and when she wasn’t (Sandra!). Some days I worry I’ll forget.
I’ve held April 11 close in my heart. This day has always been personal, safely guarded from anyone but my closest family and friends. I’ve chosen to celebrate life vs. death anniversaries. Yet and still, it’s impossible not to acknowledge when April 11 comes around each year. It’s impossible not to remember. There’s a silent nod, a spiritual awareness of the sacredness of her passing and the effect it had on my life.
I remember thinking the “11” was like an opening with borders left to right, a doorway of sorts, a gateway to heaven perhaps. The two numeral “ones” just stand there stark and cold. At least that’s how it seemed 30 years ago.
I wondered how the world could simply go on, how we could all just go on. It felt like the world should stop somehow, for a moment at least, to pay honor to this soul that had passed. The usual ceremonies (the wake, the funeral, the gathering of close friends and family, the burial) weren’t enough closure for me at the time. I’m not sure anything at that time would have felt like closure. It was so raw for so long. An open wound that wouldn’t heal.
I spent the week after the funeral with my dad trying to put their house in order and prepare him for taking care of all the details mom used to do. No matter how many notes I wrote, and taped instructions I adhered to appliances, I knew it would be a rough road for him. I called him daily for a long time just to let him cry. You see, while they had many fights in their lifetime, they had a common history—both were born in Poland and both were prisoners of war in Germany during World War II. They met in a displaced person’s camp after the war. I know their experiences in Germany resulted in post-traumatic stress (PTS) and I know their many fights were rooted in PTS. Deep down I also knew they both loved each other. It always surfaced when the other needed it most, like right before mom died.
None of us knew mom had cancer until the autopsy. She went into the hospital with pneumonia and was released a week or so later, but she wasn’t getting better. She wasn’t eating well. A standard blood test showed something major was wrong and she was rushed back into the hospital not too long after she was released.
I received a panicked call from my sister-in-law that I should come home right away on the same Saturday my husband and I were expecting his parents and brother to arrive at our home. It was a five hour drive from their farm in Indiana to Wisconsin where we lived. Cell phones weren’t common back then. We had no way of reaching them. We waited for them to arrive only to immediately jump in the car and drive the same five hours back to my mom. I found out my mom had passed away from the attending nurse when I called from a phone booth on the way home to Indiana. While no one was able to really say “goodbye” because no one knew she was about to die, I struggled with not making it home before she passed for years. It still bothers me.
This year’s anniversary seems more poignant than most. My step-mom, Prudy, passed away last Thursday. She met and married my dad several years after my mom had passed—somewhere around 1994 or 1995. They were married less than ten years with the last few being really rough on Prudy as my dad developed Alzheimer’s. He passed away in 2003, the year my husband and I lost both of our dads. She was a source of great comfort for my dad and a huge blessing in all of our lives.
My husband and I became quite close to Prudy over the last 20+ years. She was a dear, sweet, adorable, fun, wise and trusted friend. It’s a different kind of relationship with a step-mom, especially when you’re already an adult when you first meet. There’s none of the drama in your history. She filled our lives with much joy and we so enjoyed all of our visits and long talks. I think I was lulled into believing she would live much longer than her 91 years.
Maybe all these years I’ve kept the anniversary of my mom’s passing personal and close to my heart because I didn’t want to re-visit the open wound. Maybe I was afraid to stir up the emotions, believing the memory wasn’t as raw as it once was because I just didn’t go there; or perhaps couldn’t go there. They say sometimes you don’t feel the full blow until you’re ready to handle it.
This year’s anniversary of my mom’s passing is still personal—still held close to my heart. But this year I’m feeling it so much deeper because I couldn’t help but “go there” this year. This year April 11 came on the heels of another loss. My guard was down. This year it’s shared with the loss of my very last mom and I can’t contain my emotions. My first mom passed in 1987 when I was just 27. My second mom (in-law) passed away April 30, 2015. April has taken all of my moms and I can’t help but feel like I’ve lost my last anchor.
I’m so very lucky to have had three moms and I am oh so grateful to have had each and every one of them in my life. God must have known I’d need extra. Their memories will serve as my anchor now. I will always remember.
Mom and Dad
My husband and I just got back from a week-long vacation in Napa, CA; and we, uh, had a chance to visit just a few wineries while we were there…hiccup @#! One day we had a professional chauffeur, Rosanna of “Sip and Swirl”, drive us around—a service offered through the Candlelight Inn where we were staying. Mental note to self: Rosanna was retired and did this part-time, she shared that she gets invited to numerous events due to the nature of her job, and she appeared to be enjoying life! Having an escort was smart on so many levels! She knew places that weren’t on our radar and they turned out to be some of our favorite spots. She also had a lot of local trivia to share as we drove around.
Chándon (“Ch is pronounced as “sh” and the accent is on the second syllable) features sparkling wine, a.k.a. champagne. Lovely name, isn’t it? Rosanna started us out there first thing in the morning, because who doesn’t want bubbles to start the day? (I think I want them every day, but that’s another story!) Chándon has a gorgeous location with a lush landscape and beautiful Adirondack chairs in their outdoor seating area surrounded with “indigenous oak trees” for an amazing view. The tasting room has floor to ceiling windows so you had that amazing view wherever you went!
We also loved our wine professional, Karly. She was a hoot! She was not only fun, but everything she said about our tastings could have been put on a t-shirt I’d wear all day long! Seriously, she needs to be in their marketing department! My favorite was the title of this post: “Delicate but powerful”. Now couldn’t you just rock that t-shirt?!
Another golden nugget quote she used was “Sweet spice not heat spice”. And then there was “Approachable”. She had so many, shall we say, words of wisdom? Well they got your attention and made you smile! We joked about needing to take her home with us and made plans to stop by on the following Monday as we were headed back home toward the airport. At least I hope she realized it was a joke…hmmm.
The last quote I’ll mention here may have been from uh…the next winery—heck it may have been the next day (we were having too much fun!), but it’s worth a mention: “Always polished/Never dull”.
“Delicate but powerful” is the one I’ve haven’t been able to get off my mind. I’d love to be referred to with that descriptor, wouldn’t you? I see a black t-shirt in my future, seriously. Chándon’s beautiful star logo (the star could be a “sparkley”) and tagline “let’s catch up” on the front and the quote in royal blue or hot pink on the back would look stunning, don’t you think? It could even be a polo shirt with a collar to make it a little classier. I tried to configure something online with just the quote. It wasn’t what I was looking for but it’s a start! I’m a bit obsessed.
I wonder if Chándon realizes how valuable Karly is. How she does what she does is magic. While many of the wineries had great service, with great presentations, Karly’s was exceptional in her delivery. I mean I’m not making imaginary t-shirts out of any of the other’s now am I? She hit the mark. This was not the norm at all the wineries we went to. Karly made our visit just that much more memorable. I guess you could say she was delicate…but powerful….It’ll stick with you now, won’t it?
I would love it if you would subscribe to my blog/newsletter. I don’t publish on a regular timetable so subscribing is a good way to make sure you don’t miss out on any amazing posts such as this one! (Poking fun at myself. 🙂 ) You’ll also be the first to receive updates, resources, and more. I’ll even give you a free gift! 🙂 Click on the “FREE Chakra-Balancing & Loving Kindness Meditation!” link in the right-hand column. Thanks!
Have you watched the movie Field of Dreams? Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, doesn’t want to believe he’s hearing voices, let alone that they’re telling him to build a baseball diamond in the middle of his cash corn crop. Ray fights the magical message at first, but eventually he builds the baseball diamond.
The baseball diamond becomes a magical place where the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other seven Chicago Black Sox players banned from the game for throwing the 1919 World Series appear to play baseball. They enter the baseball diamond from the cornfield that is on the perimeter of the baseball diamond, and they exit the same way, disappearing into the stalks of corn as they walk in. The mantra from this film is the message “if you build it they will come” spoken by “the voice” in the cornfield.
The mysterious voice sends other messages, one of which is to find a 1920s ballplayer named Archibald “Moonlight” Graham. When Ray goes to Chisolm, Minnesota, Moonlight’s hometown, they find that Moonlight Graham has been dead since 1972. In his confusion, Ray goes for a walk to clear his head. During his walk he is magically transported back in time to 1972. You’ll have to watch the movie to find out what happens next!
I love all things magical and I believe that anything’s possible.
Perhaps it’s this belief that encourages a magical surrealness around my chiropractor’s office. Let me explain.
My chiropractor is Dr. John Hilpisch and he is an excellent upper cervical chiropractor in Lake Elmo, MN. Now doesn’t “Lake Elmo” sound like an old-time town name? If you’re not familiar with upper cervical chiropractic, check out his website or his Facebook page, and/or attend one of his free open houses where they explain it in great detail. It’s quite interesting, and from my experience, it really works for me! It reversed some dizziness I’d been experiencing for a couple of months a little over a year ago—in one adjustment. But back to my time travel story…
His office is exquisitely decorated with vintage prints from the 30s and 40s and well-used crackled leather chairs exuding comfort from an era gone by. Most, if not all of the prints, are water scenes, like my favorite one here:
Can’t you just hear the song “From the land of sky blue water” playing in your head? I often joke that they’re taking care of it for me because I love it so much. It has everything I love, an old time scene, a campfire, nature, and the full moon. I want to walk into that scene—**sigh**. Everything about this office is relaxing and encourages contemplation.
Part of his treatment protocol includes going into the next room to rest for 15 minutes after an adjustment. Here you’ll find recliner chairs to rest in, blankets for warmth and coziness, a timer to set so you can let go completely, an old-fashioned clock on the wall adding to the ambiance, relaxing music to coax you into slumber, and ….the calendar. Speaking as a yoga instructor, this room is the ultimate “final relaxation” room. It’s so soothing to melt into the chair and let the surroundings take you away. Even if you didn’t need an adjustment on that visit, Dr. Hilpisch is kind enough to invite you to go rest in there if you like, and there’s room.
The most important take-away is this: You can recreate this ambiance with little effort. Your body will thank you!
Surrounded by lovely vintage scenes, and lulled into a relaxing dream-like state, it was the old-time calendar that started to hold a spell over my imagination every time I entered the room to rest. I swear one of these days I’m going to walk out of there and be transported back in time to 1928 similar to Ray Kinsella in the movie. I wonder what I’d discover in 1928? I’ve often thought I was born in the wrong era. I love old-time music, wearing decorative hats is one of my favorite accessories; and of course, there’s the vintage art attraction. I think I might like it there…so long as I could take my husband with me. 🙂 Hey, it’s my dream so I can visualize it however I want, right?
Hat’s off to all things magical in honor of St. Patrick’s day this week! Here’s a link to an archived newsletter visiting the magical realm.
I would love it if you would subscribe to my blog/newsletter. I don’t publish on a regular timetable so subscribing is a good way to make sure you don’t miss out on any amazing posts such as this one! (Poking fun at myself. 🙂 ) You’ll also be the first to receive updates, resources, and more. I’ll even give you a free gift! 🙂 Click on the “FREE Chakra-Balancing & Loving Kindness Meditation!” link in the right-hand column. Thanks!
The Minneapolis Yoga Conference was this past weekend. I was oh so lucky to be able to spend all three days participating in the Yoga Therapy Track with presentations by Indu Arora (as well as Molly McManus whom I had the absolute pleasure of meeting for the first time! Molly’s Soma Yoga therapy is definitely something I’m going to pursue learning more about!).
I had experienced Indu’s wisdom a couple of years ago at the same conference for her presentation on mudras (yoga for the hands). I also attended her book signing for the launch of her amazing new book on mudras: Mudra: The Sacred Secret. I’d never experienced anyone with as much wisdom in her every spoken word. Believe me, you realize it when you’re in her presence—she’s the “real deal”. Are there any of you old enough to remember the commercial about E.F. Hutton? Well, the same applies here: When Indu Arora talks, people listen!
So when the opportunity to participate in three days of an International-Yoga-Therapy-Association-approved therapy track this year featuring Indu on several compelling yoga therapy subjects, I knew I had to attend.
She started and ended her classes succinctly on time, and when she gave a break, it was literally five minutes. No one complained, and they knew she’d be back to the discussion at four minutes 59.9 seconds! (And yes, it was a group of mainly women—upwards of 40 of us—with the usual three stall bathrooms in the area so getting through the line in five minutes meant there was no dilly dallying!) She joked once at the end of an hour presentation that her timer said 59 minutes and 59 seconds as she was completing her presentation. None of us wanted to miss a syllable! Seriously! There was so much wisdom packed into her presentations, she had our absolute complete attention. The expressions on my fellow-attendee’s faces reflected the same active listening I was experiencing. We were all gloriously present in the moment, ears wide open, not wanting to miss a drop.
Our Yoga Nidra class!
You might wonder how you’d command the same attention from your audience. I can only say that the level of truth coming from her resonated with each of us so deeply that I doubt I’ll experience the caliber of her teachings from another speaker any time soon. And that leads me to issue a disclaimer here. In her last class presentation on the components of yoga nidra/yoga sleep, we all were gifted with a luscious 45-minute yoga nidra practice. (Yes—it was an absolutely nummy experience, in case you were wondering!) Towards the end of the nidra, she suggested we bring to mind a teacher or guru who has made a difference in our life. I immediately thought of her. When I shared this with her later at her exhibit booth, she immediately reminded me, “No I am not a teacher! I am a student just like you. I am the same as you!”
Earlier that day in class, she gave an analogy of the difference between teaching and sharing. “When you teach”, she said, “You are like this” (showing her two hands palms down parallel to the floor with one hand higher than the other). “The ‘teacher’ elevates herself above her audience. But when you share, you are like this” (showing her two hands palms down parallel to the floor and even with each other). “I am the same as you! I share. I don’t teach.”
In India, where Indu is from, “a ‘Guru’ is a Sanskrit term that connotes someone who is a ‘teacher, guide, expert, or master’ of certain knowledge or field. In pan-Indian traditions, guru is someone more than a teacher, traditionally a reverential figure to the student, with the guru serving as a ‘counselor’, who helps mold values, shares experiential knowledge as much as literal knowledge, an exemplar in life, an inspirational source and who helps in the spiritual evolution of a student. The term also refers to someone who primarily is one’s spiritual guide, who helps one to discover the same potentialities that the gurus already realized.” Indu is much too humble to elevate herself to this description, although I suspect many of us view her as a true “guru”. I mean if she isn’t an expert, I could only hope to meet her guru!
I left the conference with my heart full of gratitude and my brain soaked in “purposeful information”—her words describing the courses offered. By the way, one of her “asides” was that literally every Sanskrit syllable has 20 possible meanings and how it comes into contact with the next syllable gives the meaning direction. I learned so much this past weekend and I loved every syllable!
I would love it if you would subscribe to my blog/newsletter. I don’t publish on a regular timetable so subscribing is a good way to make sure you don’t miss out on any amazing posts such as this one! (Poking fun at myself. 🙂 ) You’ll also be the first to receive updates, resources, and more. I’ll even give you a free gift! 🙂 Click on the “FREE Chakra-Balancing & Loving Kindness Meditation!” link in the right-hand column. Thanks!
My husband and I thoroughly enjoy celebrating all things Irish as St. Patrick’s day approaches. Yes, I’m immensely proud of being a first generation Pole; but I was born and raised in South Bend, IN, the land of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame! Add to that, my Dad did the stonework at Notre Dame when he first came to America (from Poland with my mom and their two children). He worked on the grotto and helped with the brick work when they installed the Pieta sculpture of Mary holding Jesus into the Basilica. When Notre Dame didn’t win their games, he was NOT happy! So there’s a healthy admiration for all things Irish, especially this time of year!
We have quite a collection of Irish CDs. One of my favorites is The Best of The Irish Rovers. The first song, “The Unicorn”, holds a special spot in my heart because it was literally the first song I heard on the radio as a child of seven where I realized that songs told a story. This jig fills me with joy and turns me into that same seven-year-old wide-eyed child. Fun Trivia: the children’s book author, Shel Silverstein, wrote this whimsical poem and it appears in his book Where the Sidewalk Ends. Full disclosure: I’m not exactly sure I DON’T believe in Unicorns!
Many of you may know that about a year ago, my husband, Ed, fell 15 feet from a ladder while taking down Christmas lights. He broke his talus bone and chipped another in his left foot, and also broke his right big toe. He landed into the ladder, as he smacked down onto the driveway pavement. His nose was swollen and appeared to possibly be broken. He was bleeding profusely from the gashes on his face. Needless to say, I was beside myself when I found him. (Does anyone want to buy a ladder?)
The next few months it was my personal mission to surround him with as many healing modalities I could get my hands on. I became “Sumo-wrestler guard” when he moved, trailing him in a stooped position to make sure he wouldn’t fall. His doctor said it would be 18 months minimum for the healing process. So we’ve made it a year!
He is continually improving. Some days are better than others. Most of you wouldn’t know he has any remaining issues, but you don’t see him when he wakes up and it’s tight, or when he goes down steps, or has pain when he tries to go on a longer walk. He’s a trooper! Have I mentioned yet how very much I adore this man? Unbelievably, this has brought us just that much closer. We have a deeper understanding and appreciation for each other. I mean, he’s still here. It could have been so much worse. We’re intensely aware of just how lucky we are.
This past weekend we were listening to our Irish music collection and both of us were enjoying recalling happy moments from our past that these songs brought to mind. One CD was purchased on a trip to Sacramento during St. Patty’s day. We found a CD there that was recorded in South Bend and had to buy it (Seamaisin, Joseph Harvey’s Fiddle was Left in the Rain)! Another is The Irish Tenors in Belfast. Just hearing their deep operatic voices brings tears to our eyes. There’s a National Geographic “Destination Ireland” CD, and one purchased at my step-sister’s wedding from their band, Crazy Maggie (“Rock the Bow”).
But it was The Irish Rover’s CD that, again, delivered a magical new memory. Their “Goodbye Mick and Goodbye Pat” song came on. It’s quite a lively tune, not unlike a polka. I stopped what I was doing to gaze into my sweet husband’s eyes and he held me in his arms, returning the gaze. We spontaneously started to do a very low-key version of our usual Polka (prior to his accident, we were polka-dancing fools given the right song!) We stopped after a few steps, eyes locked upon each other, tears forming in our eyes from a knowing we both understood. This was officially our first polka since he fell almost a year ago! It was a memory of a lifetime. Life is so very precious….Don’t forget to Dance!
Thursday nights finds me at one of my in-home private residence yoga classes where a family meets weekly to practice yoga together. They were all newbies when I started working with them. Sister-in-laws commute along with their toddlers while the husband’s watch over them on the main level and we practice yoga on the bottom level. It’s a family affair. The owner and her 13-year-old daughter are part of this sweet group too. The mom thought it would be a good way for her daughter to learn relaxation skills as well as connect with family. How cool is that?
When you walk into their home, there’s a “sleeping baby monk on an elephant” statue to greet you. I fell in love with it on my first visit. Their décor is beautiful. It’s like walking into a sacred space.
I’d been coming to teach here for several weeks before I finally asked about what appeared to be a fine piece of Incan art prominently hung on their foyer wall next to the main entry doorway. Great Feng Shui! I’d been admiring it for weeks and just had to ask where they purchased it.
Imagine my surprise when the mom told me it was her 13-year-old’s school art project! It was only then that I noticed it was adhered to the wall via stick pins and was signed by her too! Beautiful! Knowing it was a teen’s art project didn’t make me love it any less! On the contrary, I adored it even more! Now I was in awe and admiration. In awe of this young girl’s talent and in admiration of the family’s pride in her work.
It is my absolute honor to connect with families such as this one and share the gifts of yoga, breathwork, meditation and relaxation. I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had been given the opportunity to learn these skills when I was 13 surrounded by a loving, supportive family; and to have these life-enhancing tools in my back pocket when I faced the stressors every teen faces as they navigate life. Each generation wants to give their children a better life. And I’m oh so humbled to be a part of this young girl’s journey.
Do more yoga!
My husband and I went to see Mamma Mia at the Orpheum this past weekend as an early Valentine’s Day celebration. We really had a great time!
It’s such a fun, uplifting show! You can’t help but feel good tapping your feet and singing along with all the ABBA songs. The storyline reminds you that while the choices you make earlier in life affect your future, it’s never too late to have your dreams come true. Age doesn’t matter when you’re heart’s in the right place.
I couldn’t help but recall the first time we saw the play in Las Vegas several years ago. My company had awarded me a trip because I’d had an exceptionally good sales year. Their outward approval meant so much to me then.
I’ve been teaching yoga since 2008 and when I left the corporate world in 2009 to pursue Yoga as my career, it was more than a little scary. I knew there’d be less income, but the reasons to leave were more compelling than the reasons to stay.
As I sat in the theater this past weekend, tears came to my eyes as I remembered how confirming it was to be given that trip as a sales award. I’d felt like I’d “arrived”. Since 2009, I’ve steadily grown my yoga career and progressed to having in-home private residence and on-site corporate classes. My old corporate boss used to say “nobody ever went out of business because of low overhead.” I’ve been working “lean”—perhaps too lean at times. I realize that maybe I need to take a few more risks going forward. Risk-taking has never been my strong suit, especially as I’ve gotten older!
Recently I achieved certification as a yoga therapist through the International Association of Yoga Therapists. I’ve been working toward that goal for a long time. So the Mamma Mia play was a two-fold celebration. Again, there’s that outward “nod of approval” that I still must need.
I realized the tears that came to my eyes in the theater this past weekend were not so much for remembering “then” as it was affirming “now”. “NOW” I was at this play because I chose to, because we wanted to reward ourselves, because we deserved it. So we did it. No outward approval required. It came from within this time. And being with my husband of almost 34 years having a blast was, as always, priceless!
I’ve written about my Mom (in-law) before. There’s the story of her hearing Dad sing to her each day after he passed until her death 12 years later. There’s the story of my sharing with her the mala beads that I pray Hail Mary’s with. She expressed no judgement of my choice of beads—she prayed the rosary daily, and I mean daily, sometimes twice a day. She commented at the time “it helps, doesn’t it?” I mentioned in a previous blog that she’s the only person I know of that wore her rosary out. She asked me to fix her rosary once because it had disintegrated from use. I often refer to her as one of two people in my life that I have considered a living saint.
So suffice to say that I believe there’s a whole lot of good energy built up within her rosary. Dad’s as well. I remember one time approaching their bedroom as they were about to retire for the evening so I could give them their evening good night kisses and hugs. I literally gasped when I saw Dad on his knees thinking he was hurt before I realized a split second later that he was kneeling by his bedside to say his nighttime prayers. I was constantly humbled by the two who raised my husband into the treasure that I now enjoy going on 34 years—37 if you count how long I’ve known him.
Recently there was a request for advice in a private yoga therapy Facebook group I belong to from someone who’d been asked to hold sacred space for her dying friend. There were many heartfelt contributions, including the one from a kind soul that shared: “Be ready to be present with what your friend “sees” as the end approaches. Regardless of belief systems, many will see dead relatives, or an opening in the room, or feel as though there is a trip to go on. Your friend may point (if non-communicative) or just give really strange looks, because no one has told them of this very normal part of dying. Affirm your friend, create the space for your friend to experience ALL of the emotions that go along with the end of death. Often the health care professionals also don’t “warn” people of this part.“
This touched me so deeply that I shared the passage with my husband and paused to insert his mom’s story right after the mention of “a trip”. The hospice worker who was there the day before mom passed, came after she passed to pick up equipment, etc. She shared that when she last visited the day before, mom had briefly woken up from her sleep looking all bright and cheery and announced “I’m going to heaven today” and then promptly fell asleep again. Our final visit with mom was very emotionally blurred so I didn’t remember my husband was not in the room when the hospice worker shared that story. Tears welled up in my husband’s eyes when I recounted the story (two years after she has passed). It was oh so poignant for him to hear. The look on his face was priceless. It was a sacred moment for both of us. I sent a note off to the author saying how grateful I was that her note prompted me to retell this story to my husband.
I use this box from mom containing both her and Dad’s rosaries daily when I do Reiki over my husband’s still healing foot from his fall last year (15 feet). I know like I know like I know his parents are present helping it to heal. And if you ever doubt that loved ones stay present in your lives after they’ve passed, ponder the story of Dad singing to mom daily for 12 years, and the story of the Facebook post prompting a memory my husband needed to hear. I know Mom was reaching out to say hello. Life is so very precious. ~
P.S. I’m adding this as an “update” of sorts, or perhaps the “rest of the story”. At the end of the day after I posted this I went upstairs from my office which is in the basement. There’s a light switch at the bottom of the stairs that corresponds with a light switch upstairs so you can turn it on and off at either end. We’ve lived here well over 20 years and the following has NEVER happened. Later I needed to go downstairs again and I turned on the switch at the top of the stairs and no light went on. There is more than one light bulb in the light fixture so it wasn’t a burnt bulb because that would have been too coincidental. So I wondered if I’d blown a fuse. I walked down the stairs in the dark and hit the switch downstairs up, then down. Nothing. Then up and down again. Nothing. Then up, because I’m stubborn! The light went on! Okay, I’ve posted about my dad using electricity to communicate after he passed before. Communicating through electricity is apparently a venue of choice for those that have passed: ”They also work through electricity – turning TVs and radios on and off, affecting lights, doorbells, phones. They seem to be able to manipulate energy – most likely because they’re energy!” http://www.grandtimes.com/communic.html. It’s the only explanation in my mind. I’ve used this switch several times since with no issues. Mom was having fun with me! Hi Mom!
Youve probably figured out by now that I am very Polish! My parents were born there and my husbands grandparents were born there too. I have always been extremely proud of my heritage.
Hearing any Slavic language pulls on my heart strings, especially Polish. This beautiful language enveloped me in my youth. Even though my parents did not teach me how to speak fluent Polish, I totally knew certain orders: Eat! Sleep! Come here! And Ive always joked that I knew when to duck for cover. They spoke their native language frequently, especially when they didnt want us to know what they were saying.
I was the youngest of five, so my parents had been in the United States ten years by the time I was born. Yet, to this day, I can still distinguish a Slavic accent even with those who have been in the States for a very long time. You never forget your mothers voice. In fact, new research suggests that babies begin to absorb language when they are inside the womb during the last 10 weeks of pregnancywhich is earlier than previously held. Newborns can actually tell the difference between their mothers native tongue and foreign languages just hours after they are born.
As a yoga teacher, Ive also picked up various Sanskrit words. Sanskrit is said to induce a sound therapy. The pronunciation of Sanskrit affects the meridians of the tongue and stimulates the roof of the mouth where the hypothalamus residesvery important to major bodily functions such as body temperature, appetite, thirst, metabolism, circadian rhythms, physiological responses to stress, etc. The science of mantra repetition creates sound currents and the vibratory effects create a sound therapy manifesting health and healing. It is considered a sacred science.
Imagine my delight when I discovered that Slavic languages, such as Polish, are believed to have common ancestry with the Sanskrit language! Perhaps its just me, but I find comfort and more than a little joy in the similarities. Joga in Polish is pronounced as yoga in Sanskrit, but it doesnt stop there. The Polish word, mówisz, for example, means you speak in English and sounds close to our English word movie. Doesnt it make you smile that a movie with a sound track is our definition of talkies?
Similarities such as, Sohamwhich means I am That or I am He in Sanskritsounds very similar to S?ucham in Polishwhich means I am listening. The word “Koham” in Sanskritwhich means “Who am I?” is also very similar to the word Kocham in Polish means I love. We are love, aren’t we?
When Soham applies to a person’s name, according to Vedic philosophy (ancient Indian scripture) it means identifying oneself with the universe or ultimate reality. Some say that when a child is born it cries Koham-Koham which means Who am I? That is when the universe replies back Soham. You are the same as I am.
Substituting the similarly pronounced Polish words and their meanings into the quote above translates to a beautiful message:
When Im listening applies to a persons name, it means identifying oneself with the universe or ultimate reality. When a child is born it cries I love-I love to which the universe replies I am listening.
We are meant to come into this world to love. When we do things with love, the Universe responds in kind. When we pursue a dream for the sole purpose of benefitting mankind in some way, the Universe listens.
When I discovered the common ancestry of the two languages and realized the similarly pronounced words, my heart just melted. I knew there was a reason I was so enamored with Sanskrit. Its similarity to Polish is undeniable. It seemed to be a sacred kind of kismetmy two loves colliding: the love of my Polish ancestry and the love of all things yoga. It was as if the Universe was saying my two loves have the same roots in my DNA: “You are the same as I am”.
Isnt Language beautiful? / Nie jest j?zyk jest pi?kny?
(“Who am I?”, “I love.”)
Better Day Yoga LLC
I used to share a blog with a colleague a couple of years ago. She has since removed that web page so I am rescuing some of my favorite stories here. Enjoy!
Feeling a little vulnerable lately? Or maybe someone is giving you the evil eye, sometimes referred to as “stink eye”. Sometimes you just want a little guaranteed luck, mojo and/or protection, right? You’re not the only one!
Amulets that are used for protection go back thousands of years. The open hand as a symbol of protection is universal. Symbols of divine protection based upon the open hand go by many names: Hamsa, Hand of Rachel, Hand of Mirium, and Hand of Venus/Aphrodite, among others. Hamsa literally means “five”. It predates Christianity as well as Islam. The Hand of Mary was used to protect women from the evil eye, boost fertility and lactation, promote healthy pregnancies, and strengthen the weak.
Some cultures adopted the eye as an amulet for protection while others favored the Hamsa (hand). Over time the two symbols were married and thus the Hand of Fatima was born.
This symbol is commonly seen hung at the threshold of homes where it is believed to guard the household and all who dwell there from the influence of negativity. The talisman is purported to offer special protection against fires making it a prominent fixture in many businesses.
Worn on the person as an amulet, the Hand of Fatima offers not only protection, but blessing. The wearer will be granted abundance, luck, vitality and will find the favor of benevolent forces.
The open hand symbol, especially the right hand, represents blessings, power, and strength. “Used to protect against evil eye, a malicious stare believed to be able to cause illness, death, or just general unluckiness, hamsas often contain an eye symbol.”
The “eye-in-hand” icon is said to represent both the act of observation (the eye) and the action of doing (the hand). “See and do.” It combines the sense of sight and touch, combining the sensory input with intentional output through the hands.
There are others, but need I go on?
My first hamsa came to me at a yoga conference where there was a display of symbolic hand-made jewelry. I was immediately drawn to one beaded necklace containing the hamsa. I remembered it was a protective amulet which the artist also confirmed.
I eagerly donned the hamsa necklace and didn’t think much more about it as I went off to a yoga therapy class working with the energy fields of the body/chakras. One exercise involved using a pendulum to check the health of your chakras.
We partnered up with another student. One was to lie down on their back to be tested and the other was to hold the pendulum between their thumb and forefinger above each chakra of their partner. As the pendulum started to move, we’d note the direction and speed, etc. (For a great article on how to use a pendulum to check your chakras, click here.
As I recall, my chakras were all spinning clockwise and fairly “normal”/equal to each other as we started with the root chakra at the base of the spine. My solar plexus chakra had some issues, so we noted that. But the real fun started when my partner got to my throat chakra. The pendulum wouldn’t go in a circle at all. It was all over the place!
Suddenly I remembered the hamsa necklace I was wearing and removed it. Upon retest, my throat chakra was perfectly “normal”/equal to the others! I joked that I could just imagine the energy of the hamsa with boxing gloves on, batting away at the pendulum, affecting the energy of the pendulum’s circle. THAT exercise was enough for me to really put some stock into the protective energy of the hamsa. I mean something was definitely going on there. No doubt in my mind.
How about you? Still not sure about wearing an amulet for protection? Perhaps try the hand mudra for courage and releasing fear that uses the open palm of the right hand facing forward. The right hand asks for help and is also the one used to give blessing. This mudra is often seen as a Buddha hand gesture called Abhaya Mudra translated from Sanskrit as fearlessness. It can also be interpreted to mean “fear not”.
Some say, with this mudra, you are asking for protection from whomever you put your faith in, which will vary according to your faith tradition. Likewise, the hamsa is worn by people of all religions. Knowing that the symbol of the open hand is recognized as a sign of protection across many societies, I believe its energy to be universal. How about you? Needing a little assurance? It’s only an open hand away.
(Here are two more hamsas I purchased on State Street in Madison—one this past weekend—from one of my favorite jewelers—“Wearable Archeologies”. I googled her name just now to find this synchronistic youtube where she talks about the hamsa being one of her most popular pieces. Enjoy!)
Here’s to keeping the bad juju away!
Better Day Yoga LLC
I used to share a blog with a colleague a couple of years ago. She has since removed that web page so I am “rescuing” some of my favorite stories here. Enjoy!