Decembers

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Since I was a little kid, Decembers meant holidays, school breaks, and a shift from one year to the next. In university, it meant longer breaks, hangouts with friends, and a bit of goal setting for the next. As I shifted into teaching high school, that December break took on a new meaning, travel. Living in New York, that travel was often geared towards someplace warm, for a hit of vitamin D, and a spot in the heart of winter to rejuvenate my spirit. And all those years since, the month that houses the shortest day of the year and the start of winter, has continued to have even more meaning in the life of this girl who loves summer.

It was in December when I had my first solo travel experience. It was in December when I first traveled to the other side of the world and fell in love with the land of koalas and kangaroos. It was in December when I went to New Zealand and today, 15 years later, am married to the boy I met on that trip. And it was in December when we left New York to move to San Diego, when we had our first kiss, when we got engaged, when my Dad passed away, and when we drove back to New York to stay for a while after that experience.

Growing up, I never looked forward to December. To me, it was cold, dreary, the start of my least favourite season, and the literal darkest time of year. A close college friend of mine once told me she didn’t think I should ever make decisions in the height of winter or that of summer. She knew that I was the happiest with my toes in the sand and would muddle through the season of snow. I’ve never forgotten that advice and often use it to check and guide my decision-making process. Today, I’m grateful to live in a city that has a minimal winter experience, allows more regular hits of vitamin D exposure, and continue to remind myself of my decision-making skills depending on the season.

Well, it’s December again, and this one will go down in the history books. While this December’s travel took us as far as our tiny terrace, we’re here, we’re grateful, and as always, looking forward. Nowadays, Decembers are a mix of emotions for me. While it now begins with Dad’s yahrzeit, it then continues to remind me of travel adventures past and catapult me towards dreaming about future ones. Although neither of us were fans of the coldest season of the year, both Dad and I looked forward to the solstice – oddly enough, for two people who could spend an entire day outside, the shortest day of the year meant something ever more significant than its darkness. The bigger picture of that day was that as of that next morning, the light would continue to grow.

2020 has been a doozy of a year. It’s been hard, and harder still for so many. While our daily existence has without question been changed, these months of lockdown, quarantine, border closures, and all things Zoom has forced us to be grateful for the little things, find perspective in our daily lives, learn to practice patience, embrace a closeness of heart, find new ways to do old things, give perpetual thanks to the heroes among us, and to strive towards acceptance of that which is beyond our control. We may not have been able to cross those physical borders, but we have managed to share love, virtually hug, and connect in more ways than one. This December is different to those that have come before, but like those others, this month has still managed to remind me to find gratitude, practice perspective, and to remember that amidst the darkness, there is and always will be, light. So, as this December draws to a close, in more ways than one, I continue to find myself seeking that light. Wishing you and your loved ones health, love, and happiness today and always. Here’s to a lighter, brighter tomorrow for us all.

Feelings amidst the pause

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How are you? How are you managing? Are you an empath (like me) feeling, what feels like at the moment, all the feelings of the world? Amidst a global pandemic, explosions in the middle east, continued racial injustice, wildfires, hurricanes, political insanity, and who knows what else – wow, there are definitely powerful, passionate emotions overflowing. Seriously, how are you doing?

It’s tough. It’s tough to see others choosing things you might not choose for yourself. It’s tough to see the onslaught of news of those shirking common sense requirements. It’s tough to watch those without medical or educational training making those significant decisions. It’s tough and it’s far tougher for so very many. Oy, and now the entire west coast is on fire, too. 2020 – you’re a tough one!

How are you holding space for yourself? Are you able to find ways to feel like yourself these days? I admit, it’s definitely been a roller coaster ride. As we are lucky to have friends around the globe, it’s certainly been something to watch the phases of this global pandemic play out. Friends in Hong Kong were months before us, friends in NY were weeks before us, and now family and friends in Australia are where we were a few months ago. It’s maddening, frustrating, and definitely, without question, enervating.

Amidst the chaos and angst, how are you doing? Can you manage to build in those moments, those hours, or those simple things that actually do spark joy for you? Can you manage to figure out how to positively trigger your mind into exuding those good, gooey chemicals like serotonin and the oxytocin we’re all missing out on without perhaps those big adventures, long workouts, and those very necessary hugs? Talk about working on your yoga in real life!

Nearly six months into this debacle and we’re still pretty much in the learning phase. Sure, some of us have mastered the art of shopping online, having groceries delivered to the door, and giving a few new hobbies a try. I’ve got friends doing paint by numbers, some organizing theme activity days for their kids, and others figuring out how to read books to their family members through Zoom. And now, there’s all the everything about whatever normal means today in the world of ‘back to school’. For us, this entire thing has ebbed and flowed – we’re grateful and constantly seeking those small joys.

We managed to find a beach to walk on – it’s not the usual spot, but it’s wide, open, and close to the apartment. Other than that we basically haven’t left the apartment in six plus months (we did just manage to get up the courage and get our flu shots). Let’s just say that two people managing workloads, exercise, relaxation, entertainment, and creating a makeshift beach escape on the terrace, in a studio apartment, is, well, something. We are so grateful for so very many things and know how truly lucky we are. This is hard and it’s so much harder for so very many.

If you delve deep amidst the noise, it’s actively frustrating. A few months ago, I was taking in each morsel of news, checking the stats, and paying attention to the shifts – I’ve stopped, it was too much. It was too much too listen to the fighting feuds, those who seem to go against care for the greater good, and the ones who tend to shout about their own personal angst – what’s the point. Why give others the opportunity to rattle you? Why let them take up space in your mind and heart.

We’ve made our decisions. We know with what we’re comfortable. We’re listening to the scientists, the medical professionals, and the experts. We’re hanging at home, and hoping that scientific breakthrough comes sooner than later. Like others, we’ve ‘given up’ things during this time and have gained others, too. Everyone is dealing in their own way.

Yes, of course, there are things the world over are in the midst of a pause. Indoor restaurants, personal upkeep like hair/nails/gyms, and so much of those shared experiences (especially in entertainment) have fallen by the wayside at this time. And then, there are the things that, for each of us, hold a special place in our hearts – it’s different for all of us. My friend Kelly travels to multiple, massive concerts each year, my friend Rachael has been separated by geography from her fiancee for months now, and our family and friends who need to travel internationally to see family (including us) – have not been able to do so. To me, it doesn’t matter what it is, it’s the feeling. Some aren’t seeing family members, some have had to cancel/postpone/adjust major milestone events, some have ditched their yearly adventures to far flung lands, and for others, whatever their particular brand of ‘usual’ is – they’re not doing it.

The global world is in a state of pause. Viruses travel through humans – so when humans connect, as humans like to do, viruses thrive. I’m not an epidemiologist, scientist, or medical professional. I do not know the intricate differences between aerosol droplets and viral output. What I do know, is that we’re all experiencing something at the very same time. We’re all grappling with difficulty, choices, information, and dis-ease. And, like everything else in the world, it’s how we act, react, and respond to that dis-ease that will make all the difference.

At the start, I was hoping that we would all respond the same way – I’m well aware that’s a fool’s dream, but, I so hoped we could all choose kindness, the greater good, and work to do our part to make this pandemic a thing of the past. Now, I realize, all I can handle is my own choices and decisions. This pause is hard – and it’s so much harder for so many. I have faith that this a chapter and not the full story. I believe in the scientists and have confidence that someone will be able to jab me in the arm enabling me to leave the house and hug the humans I yearn to hug. I believe strongly that this chaotic time will one day be a thing of the past – but let’s be real, it sure isn’t easy right now.

Perhaps it’s adaptability and gratitude that are the takeaways. We’re all grieving the loss of what once was – the ease with which many of us realize we used to have but don’t feel much anymore. There are things, lifestyles, and humans we miss and are trying our best to manage without, adjust, adapt, or make do. I have moments of energy and ones of sadness. I have times of endless tears that pop up out of the blue and times of smiles that show up when I need them most.

This pause is strange and longer lasting than most of us expected. Juggling the logistics, madness, emotions, and moving pieces of it all takes its toll. Whether it’s a cup of tea, a few minutes of meditation, a virtual yoga class, a few minutes of sunshine, a chat with a friend, a puppy snuggle, or whatever gets your good chemicals flowing…do it, do it often, and be sure to take those moments to reinvigorate your soul for you. When this madness ends, and it will end, the world will feel the arms of a collective global hug and in that moment, I’m certain, we’ll all feel a whole lot better. Until then, here’s a virtual hug from me – I hope it helps you as much as it helps me.

A journey into yoga anatomy

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“It is through the alignment of the body that I discovered the alignment of my mind, self, & intelligence”

– BKS Iyengar

My yoga journey began on a beach in New York nine years ago. Five and a half years ago, we moved to San Diego. Amidst this coastal shift, I consider myself lucky to have found a new, welcoming yoga community. I met Kellie at the first studio I joined. Without a moment of conversation, she innately noticed the scoliosis in my back and was mindful of my self-disclosed asthma. Her mindset and yoga therapy approach set both my body and mind at ease. A few years ago, that studio closed, the community spread in different directions, and while new bonds formed, others remained in tact. After a few years away, I find myself again grateful for her effervescent personality, nurturing demeanor, yoga therapy mindset, and wealth of healing knowledge. Read the rest of this entry

We will play outside again

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Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

These past few weeks have been, well, shall we say, insane. Pandemic, heartbreak, death, protests, unequivocal inequality, riots, and Mercury’s in retrograde. As always, there have also been rays of light – positive Supreme Court decisions, positive therapeutic steps towards this horrific virus, conversations that need to be had, voices elevated that have far too often gone unheard, and the first day of summer grows closer by the day. We are lucky, grateful, and filled with heart to know that we are surrounded by love, community, and humans who care for us. In the grand scheme of it all – our life is privileged. We are all part of the human story and each one of us has a job to be kind, to lift each other up, to lend a hand, and not only to listen, but to hear, learn, deal with potentially issues that make us uncomfortable, and grow from wherever we are. It’s not easy, but it’s so much harder for so very many.

This pandemic and the continuing dis-ease of it all is troubling. This week, we were supposed to be in Melbourne, Australia spending time with family and friends we haven’t seen in 18 months. Like so many, we’ve been officially grounded (it’s been seven months for us) and like so many, the not knowing when it is we’ll be able to even plan to connect in person with those loved ones again is hard, really hard. The other night, I stood, gazing at the sky out the window of our studio apartment and closed my eyes. Tears and all, I put my thoughts out into the universe – somehow, they came out similar to those below – in poem form. I believe. I believe in science, in people, in the good of humanity, in light, and without question, in love. I don’t know when and I sure don’t know how, but I know that one day, it will be okay. We will play outside again and when it is safe for us ALL to do all the things we’d like with all the people we love – the world will smile, the Universe will let out a deep sigh, and our spirits will, once again, feel like flying.

We will play outside again, we’ll breathe the air and touch the sky

We will travel far and wide, our eyes aglow and spirits high.

We will hug and run and laugh on beaches feeling free

The pandemic will be in the past – we’ll be right where we should be.

We will fly and join again on crowded starlit nights

We will dance and sing again and hold each other tight.

We will fall in love again with Mother Nature and her crew

We will meet our friends again right where we wanted too.

We will dine with others again, and eat off each other’s plates

We will raise a glass or two, and share with all our mates.

We will choose a path again and reignite our souls

We will put each other first and equalize our roles.

We will find our feet again, shift our thoughts and change our ways

We will strive for light and love and hope for better days.

We will play outside again, we’ll breathe the air and touch the sky

We will play outside again, our hearts will soar and spirits fly.

Stay safe, sweet friends. Sending you all that much needed virtual hug. Love and light to all.

 

Podcasts, idling and the science of happiness

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Yes, I’m definitely behind the times – but it’s the getting there that matters, not the time it takes to get there, right? Like so many others, it’s been about 11 weeks of a straight up life shift. This is hard and harder for so very many. And, like many who are finding the emotional roller coaster of all things global pandemic, I too go through phases of let’s be productive and learn something new and ugh, I’m going to go lay on my yoga mat and hope that when I open my eyes the world is healthier, kinder, and far more equitable. Does that happen to you? Read the rest of this entry

One day it will be safe to hug again

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It’s coming – I have hope. It may be a year from now or more, but one day it will be safe to hug again. When it’s safe to hug again, we can meet our loved ones in person, without that magic of screen technology and watch their lips as they upturn in joyful smiles. When it’s safe to hug again, our heroes can rest a little easier knowing that they helped save the world. When it’s safe to hug again, we can fly again. When it’s safe to hug again, we can put those travel dreams to work, book the ticket, and get our adventure on. One day it will be safe to hug again. Can you tell I miss hugs? Read the rest of this entry

Keep showing up – it matters

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I’ve been noticing moments of clarity and awareness coupled with those of anxiety and fear of the unknown – have you? Sure, it comes in waves and as the days tick by there are moments when it feels the paralyzing fear of the beginning has slightly ebbed – and then I remember that we have to go downstairs to get the mail or pick up a food delivery and that feeling of panic sets right back in. And don’t get me started on the dreams – those are a constant roller coaster. Still, I seem to find awareness creeping in a bit more – perhaps it’s part of those stages of grief and getting closer to acceptance of this new reality in lieu of fighting against it (even if unknowingly), I don’t know. Either way, the act of noticing has become a bit more prominent in my world these days – what about you? How are you holding up? What are you noticing? Read the rest of this entry

Holding up, digging in, staying the course

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10 years ago a close friend of mine passed away. One month ago I was bound for New York to attend a celebration of life for a woman who quite literally changed mine. It was March 13th – the beautiful occasion got postponed and I stayed in San Diego. She’s been on my mind a lot lately. I woke up this morning wondering ‘what would Sandi do?’ about this situation. No, I didn’t come up with an answer – but as always, I’m sure asking the question is a good thing.

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Grounded in the storm

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When was the last time you left your house? When was the last time you did something that felt plain old ‘normal’ – you know, the old normal? In an act of quite literally global solidarity, gratitude for our healthcare workers, and compassion for the weakest among us – the world has quite literally come to a screeching halt. It’s scary, it’s daunting, and more often than not seems utterly uncertain – but we’re in this together, all of us – for the good of humanity. How are you doing with it all? Read the rest of this entry

Finding calm amidst the chaos

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How’s your anxiety level at the moment? With the 24-hour news cycle constantly flinging chaos through every screen in our homes, it’s tough. What do you do when each social media post seems more grim than the next? Perhaps the kids or spouse are now home for work and school and everyone is sharing the same space for an indefinite period of time. Perhaps you’re in awe of the madness of hoarding or controversially, the utter kindness of strangers. Either way, when the word pandemic is bantered around, countries literally shut boarders and flights ground – it’s often hard to find the calm amidst the chaos. What do you do when it all gets a bit too hairy? Read the rest of this entry