16
June

Anxiously awaiting your next visit

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
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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.

08
May

A Tribute to LaVonne

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Newsletter, Off-the-Wall Musings
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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.

“If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.” 
~ David Ellsworth from The Serenity of Selfism

 

 

06
May

Finding Zofia

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I’m in the process of writing about my family’s history. From my trauma-informed yoga page:

“My parents were prisoners of war on German farms (forced labor) during WWII. My dad was taken from his home when he was 17, my mom was auctioned off to a German farmer. After the war, they met in a displaced persons camp in Germany—still basically prisoners—got married in that war camp, and had two children in that war camp.

Most don’t know about this part of WWII history. Displaced persons were unwilling to return to their country of origin. The way my dad told it, there were regular attempts to trick them into signing papers saying they were willing to become communist and return to Poland.

I was the youngest of five. My two oldest siblings were born in the camp. I only knew the food supply was limited and an escape attempt could result in death, which didn’t stop my dad from leaving the camp one night to get more milk for his children—successfully unnoticed. The stories told to me were filtered through the lens of what you’d tell your child. It wasn’t until after my mom passed and dad remarried that I heard more details (told to me by my amazing step-mom) of sites seen and experiences you wouldn’t share with your children.

My parents and others like them buried their despair and their grief and moved on to a new life in the U.S. This is a common theme among WWII immigrants to the U.S. Their children learned to ask no questions. You were not to touch the sleeping dragon. They didn’t talk a lot about their time in the camp. We left it alone. Sometimes I wish I had asked more questions.”

Both of my parents have passed away. My mom in 1987 (see my previous post) and my dad in 2003. Information on my mom’s history is sketchier than my dad’s since I have been in contact with my dad’s side in Poland.

Yesterday I started to piece information together about my grandmother on my mom’s side. I’m almost 57 years old and for the first time I am trying to understand my maternal grandmother’s history. I have no photographs of either of my maternal grandparents. I only have some notes.

I remember one Sunday afternoon in 1986 my mom and I were sitting at the kitchen table during one of my visits. She started to talk about her family in Poland. I forget if I asked a question or if she started the conversation. Either way, I remembered thinking I should write what I could down. So I grabbed the quickest notepad I could find. I knew this was a rare moment and I knew better than to get too inquisitive for fear of shutting her down. She didn’t like to talk about “the old country” too often. Remember earlier when I said you didn’t touch the sleeping dragon? There was a line in the sand you didn’t cross, questions you didn’t broach.

As I look back at those notes, I kick myself now for not getting more specific details. But that was a long time ago. I’m much older now…and much braver. My mom’s been gone over 30 years now. I’m almost as old as she was when she passed away. Her history may have passed away with her as I’m not in touch with her side of the family.

I spent yesterday researching the timeframe of my grandmother’s life. What was going on around her? I tried to put myself in her shoes.

My mom was born June 14, 1924 in Rzeszow, Poland. Her mother was Zofia (Sofia). This was Zofia’s second marriage. Zofia’s first husband froze to death while in the U.S. for his job. I don’t know the details of why he was in the U.S. Sadly, I don’t even have his name—first or last. I don’t even know my grandmother’s first married name. Gaps in my history like this sadden me to no end. Zofia had three children in her first marriage. The first two children were twins, Simon and Mary, and they died when they were “about three”.

I often wonder why I didn’t ask more. How did they die?  Why was Zofia’s first husband in the U.S.? How did he freeze to death?

Salka (Sally), Zofia’s third child, survived and was mom’s half-sister. Salka was nine when Zofia remarried for a second time to Jan (John), my grandfather in 1922. Zofia was 13 years older than Jan. She was 37, he was 24. If Salka was nine when Zofia remarried, Zofia would have had a one year old when World War I (1914 – 1918) broke out.

I don’t know the year her first two children passed away. I don’t know when her first husband left for the U.S. or even how long he was there. But I have to believe travel was either very limited or banned once World War I started. So I suspect her first husband was not in Poland at the start of the war given how tumultuous Poland was as a result of the war. I don’t see him leaving his family right after, but this is only a presumption on my part. I only know Zofia married my maternal grandfather in 1922.

Rzeszow, the area where my mom’s family lived, was hit hard during World War I with three armies fighting across their land. From 1796 until 1919, Poland did not exist as a county. In 1922, it had only been four years since World War I had ended after much destruction to their land and less than three years since Poland’s independence had been confirmed June 1919 thru the Treaty of Versailles. There had been border fights fought between 1918 and 1921. Poland was finally “settled” in 1922.

Suffice to say, Zofia lived a hard life. Losing your husband overseas and having a family to raise on your own would be difficult by any stretch of the imagination; but given the political environment in which she lived, I can’t imagine how she was able to pull herself together. As I tried to put myself in my grandmother’s shoes for the first time to this extent, I felt like I was literally “creating” my grandmother’s memory.

Zofia passed away from pneumonia when she was 52, only 15 years after she was married to Jan. My mom was just 13.

Grandmothers treasure their grandchildren. I dwelled on the lost moments, lost memories. I even pondered what she might think of me, her grandchild. I looked so much like my mom, I wondered—do I resemble my grandmother, Zofia? I was overwhelmed with emotion.

My heart was heavy and my head swimming with all the research when it was time to stop for the day. My husband and I have a standing “date” to go out on Friday’s to our favorite restaurant, Buona Sera. On the short drive over to the restaurant, I read to my husband what I had cobbled together on my grandmother’s history; and I verbally beat myself up over asking these questions so many years too late.

As we walked up to the restaurant from the parking lot, I was lamenting over and over, “I know nothing about my grandmother. I know nothing!” Feeling more than a little bit inadequate at my day’s work, we walked in. Raffaele, the owner of Buona Sera, was seated at the bar in the entryway as Jessica, the lovely hostess, greeted us with her usual warm smile, and Raffaele’s daughter, Anna, waved behind her with excitement at our arrival. (Did I mention how much we love this man and our Buona Sera family?)

Almost immediately, as he often does, Raffaele looked to his left, grabbed a lovely bottle of wine and handed it to us saying “this is what you’ll have with your dinner”. He knows us well. My heart stopped as I glanced down at the bottle of red wine in my hand—the label read “Sofia”. Tears formed as I processed the full weight of the message from my ancestor.

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. And I believe my grandmother was sending me an acknowledgement of thanks for my efforts yesterday. I will hold this memory close in my heart forever. Thank you, Raffaele, for being my grandmother’s messenger.

 

 

 

 

11
April

My Last Mom

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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

 

 

05
April

Delicate…but powerful!

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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! 

15
March

Moonlight Magic

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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.

“If you do not believe in magic, your life will not be magical.”
~ Lynn V. Andrews

~

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?

“And is there enough magic out there in the moonlight
to make this dream come true?”
~ “Moonlight” Graham.

~

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! 

08
March

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! 

02
March

You call it a jig, we call it a polka

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Welcome to "My Better Day" Weekly Musings!
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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!

 

 

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! 

22
February

In the Eye of the Beholder

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Magic of Yoga and Meditation
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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!

 

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!