Remembering how to leap

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I’ve heard it more times than I can count. Once I read Carrie Fisher’s words, I’ve recited them to myself a zillion times – ‘be afraid and do it anyway’. Between that and Glennon Doyle’s ‘we can do hard things’, I try to remember it all but sometimes the fear gets in the way. Ugh!

Elizabeth Gilbert told a story on a podcast once about how when fear shows up, she has learned to remind herself to think of it like she was going on a road trip – fear can come along for the ride (since there’s really no point in trying to dismiss it) but that it sits in the backseat, has no say in the route, and has absolutely no access to snacks or control of the radio stations. It’s an image that has stuck with me when that imposter syndrome threatens to overshadow everything; yet, still, it all takes work.

Life was pretty traditional growing up in my house. Secure, sheltered, filled with school, youth group, sleep away camp, clubs, and family stuff. We didn’t do a lot of ‘risk’ in my house and I was the kid who was averse to financial details and wanted to hide any money I made under the mattress as then I knew it would be ‘safe’. My first big leap, a tour in Israel after my sophomore university year – a little nerve wracking but one of my best decisions ever – the travel bug bit, and I was hooked. And, for awhile, there were more leaps – backpacking through Europe without a set plan, a solo holiday adventure one December, and trying my hand at water skiing, surfing, and anti-gravity yoga.

But, as with anything, if you don’t do it often, the nerves and anticipatory anxiety reappear and the process to leap again feels enormous. Years later, there were more leaps, go on a Contiki trip without any travel companions, visit the Aussie guy I met for 8 days in New Zealand in Hong Kong only months after we met, to take a leave of absence from teaching and travel for a year and then do it again a few years later, to leave the traditional educational space after fifteen years, to put my writing out there in the world, and to pick up with four boxes in the car and the clothes on our back and shift coasts to a chosen sun-filled city. But, once again, in the waning times between leaps, the fear returns – it takes a lot of work to learn to live with it.

Today, it’s still there yet the fog that ensues is less. Today, the anxiety is still palpable, but the time it takes to get from ‘holy anxious, Batman’ to ‘be afraid and do it anyway’ is less. Today, the doubts are still ever present, but the possibility of skipping the chance to try yells louder or at least sometimes, equally as loud. Don’t get me wrong, I often still find myself tied up in knots, spinning tales of ‘what ifs’, and sometimes drowning in a sea of endless doubts. But, my forcefield is stronger now, yogic wisdom is a part of my story, I protect my energy and heart, and awareness is woven into the whole darn process.

These past two plus years have been wild, wonky, and weird in so many ways. For us, for certain, there hasn’t been a whole lot of leaping and once again, that spinning stories in your head process is back. And, of course, whenever we think about it again, that cycle of fear and clarity returns. Needless to say, leap whenever you wish, take the chance, be afraid and do it anyway, and remember that you are most certainly your own net (sometimes even those of us who have leapt previously, need the reminder just as much).

Life is short; book the ticket, eat dessert first, take the risk – believe you can (and if you don’t fully yet – do it anyway) and leap. Wherever you land…the growth, lessons, and perspective are life-changing and yours to keep.

Aloha learnings

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When we visited in 2019, it had been 15 years since I first set foot in Hawaii. That first time was on a Contiki tour with about fifteen other people. I had eight quick days seeing Oahu and Pearl Harbor, the Big Island, a luau in Maui, a sunrise on Mount Haleakala, and a boat tour around Lanai. The second (well, first together), we grabbed a 5 day weekend, headed to Waikiki, and didn’t rush once. In that time, while some things have changed, there are others that have stayed much the same.

That first Hawaiian holiday included my first time hiking within the US and I couldn’t reach the top of Diamond Head without the use of my inhaler. It was my first time tasting malasadas (and the second time around they were just as good as I remembered). I went on that journey with a friend and I’m proud to say we’re still friends today. Experiencing aloha for the first time was eye-opening, but it was on this second Hawaiian adventure that I learned of far greater things than delicious plate lunches, eye-catching shrimp trucks, and hot North Shore surf spots.

Gratitude seemed to be the name of the game. Without question, we considered ourselves lucky to be able to grab a long weekend and fling ourselves across the ocean to take in the culture of aloha (you know – life in the before times). Without question, we considered ourselves privileged to be able to experience that adventure, meet awesome humans, and take an opportunity for some screen-free time away from any sort of office. And, without question, we were grateful to have each other to wander the world with – together. Even with all of that – those few days in the middle of the Pacific Ocean reminded us of the joys of travel, how we like to adventure, and where (if we were gifted a holiday) we’d choose to spend our time. Seriously, sometimes the Universe provides you with an experience you didn’t even know you wanted – all you have to do is be open and listen.

I’ve been choosing travel for well over 2 decades. Like life over a period of 20 years, there are twists, turns, changes and modifications, but that love of travel has never waned. In the early stages there were group tours, time spent ticking the boxes of those key items in specific cities, and always restful days at the beach. Most school holidays found me at some Caribbean Club Med or Contiki trip, soaking up all the rays of vitamin D I could possibly get before heading back to the cold of a New York winter. Once the bigger international excursions became a thing and the Aussie boy and I tried to meet up in places around the globe, the beach holidays became more of an addition to a city journey as opposed to that which was front and center – we wanted to choose the beach on a more regular basis, too.

So, why did it feel like so much became clear in sunlight of the islands? My only answer is we had time to stop, to decompress and to go back to the things that we fully enjoy – nature, sunshine, and each other. Sometimes that stop, that pause, that ditching the routine provides a clarity unlike any other. It feels as good as the glittering sparkly feeling after a yoga session, as good as ice cream for dinner, and provides the peace that comes with puppy snuggles. The clarity of a notion of how you’d like to spend your days, with whom you’d like to spend them, and if given the option, where you’d like to spend them – that stuff showed up on an island in the Pacific and began – although interrupted by an ongoing pandemic and all sorts of domestic and international turmoil – a thought process that while muted for awhile in survival mode still flourishes today.

In the eighties, Ferris taught us that ‘life moves pretty fast some time. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it’. We believed that when we took a chance on our different type of honeymoon, felt it when we ‘winged it’ with what we thought would be three months in San Diego, and became reconnected with it when we got to set foot, together for the first time, on the islands of aloha. Seeds are planted and dreams take shape – they may shift along the way, take awhile to come to fruition and look different upon arrival than at their inception – it’s all a part of the journey. Ferris was right then, and he’s still right today.

Here’s to a life where we all do our best to stop and take a look around a bit more often.

Nearly half way

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Nearly half way

Can you believe it? How can it possibly be the middle of 2022 when at times it feels like the calendar is still stuck on March 2020? How is it possible that a month that traditionally has thirty-one days has felt like it has nine zillion days? We blinked and the calendar flipped two years – life right now is still really flippin’ weird!

So, we arrive at the halfway mark of 2022 and as so many so often do, we take stock at where we are, where we’ve been, remember how we got here, and contemplate where we wish to go. Amidst the constant flux of politics, public turmoil, pandemic, and paralyzing inflation we press on. We may not have been here before, but our toolbox is equipped with tools that work in any and every situation – we just need to open it up, dive in, and find what works for each of us to manage the fray of it all. How are you doing?

It’s been a bit of a long road to reach where we are today. Slogging through mess after mess after mess none of which is really even considerable compared to some of the disasters crushing others. We’re here. It’s nearly officially summer (in the northern hemisphere at least) when hope has a bit of an extra spring in her step. It’s the season of fireflies and s’mores, magical fairy lights and popsicles, barbecues and beach days, and the blissful feeling of summer’s warm kiss. What are you dreaming of this season?

While this time of year calls for days amidst the sandy shores, I often find myself a bit reflective each time I look out to sea. You know, the where do I wish my life to be, what direction am I headed, how do I get to where I wish to be, what are the important things in the world, what’s the first step – those kinds of things. Well in all of the personal development and all of the life situations, I’ve decided to fling out the rule book on the direction and professional stuff and focus more on the heart, the spirit, and the now. That being where your feet are, letting your heart soar, and answering more to the what makes your spirit feel good as opposed to any sort of ‘should’ – that’s the stuff that matters.

So, in this my most favourite season, I wish for you the same. To focus on the stuff that matters to you, to let your spirit take the wheel and pull you towards the people, the places, thoughts, and the good stuff that makes you feel your best you. Sure, there will always be things, people, and events that can derail the journey, but the more you focus on the good stuff, the quicker the bounce back. The more gratitude and joy, the less the distress can spiral you. The more the spirit sparkles, the less the icky stuff makes it through the forcefield.

In this season of sunshine and rainbows, I wish for you just that.

More sunshine and rainbows

More giggles and gratitude

More ice cream licks and shooting star sightings

More butterflies and bliss

More days filled with wonder than worry

We can curate our connections, we can shift our perspective, and we can write our own stories. With the power of persistence, perseverance, positivity, and practice, we can find more good. Whether it’s mentors, classes, podcasts, books, vitamin D, self-care practices, the people who ‘get’ you, or something else – seek it, harness, it, and use its powers for good. Get up off the mat as many times as you need, re-write your story as many times as you choose, shift careers, change perspective, move locations, seek anew – whatever makes you feel more you – do that! People aren’t meant to stay in one place, fit in any sort of box, or remain as they were years ago – we change, we grow, we develop and we find ourselves again and again and again.

Summer reawakens magic – perhaps it can do the same for you. Here’s to more magical days for us all.

Endings and Beginnings

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The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel are two favorites in this house. Filled with insight, wisdom and phenomenal actors, the scenes ignite our travel senses and take us back to our adventure to India. Aside from the magic of the movies, the characters and their quotes fill us with life lessons for a continued journey. It’s even more so now, as the calendar year comes to a close and a new one awaits around the corner, endings become beginnings, challenges become lessons, and ideas that have hung around for awhile become goals for the future. I’m not one for resolutions. My goals have fuzzy edges, a hazy glow, and more amorphous manifestation of sorts. Regardless of it all, still, at this time of the year, there’s always some sort of reflections and intention setting going on in this house.

‘The only real failure is the failure to try, and the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment’ – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

In the looking back part of the year’s story, do you pick on the challenges or reflect on the successes? All too often we might get stuck on the things that felt difficult and forget to give ourselves credit for all of those wins, no matter the size. And, especially, in this year, every single high five kind of moment counts a million more. In a chat with a friend the other day, we talked about ideas and thoughts that were still hanging around. Things we’ve wanted to do for quite awhile, dreams we have, and goals we kind of, sort of, maybe want to set. A resonating moment was a line in the conversation about ideas only staying around for so long – if we don’t act on them, they might leave altogether. Perhaps, like so many of us, imposter syndrome grips hold and we don’t do the damn thing. Perhaps, those doubts creep in and in the moment, they own the story. Or, perhaps, in our anxiety riddled space, we feel there’s just not enough time in the day. At this time of year, none of that matters – if the idea is still around, it doesn’t matter why we didn’t act on it – what does matter, is if we still want to and what we’re going to do about it now.

‘Most things don’t work out as expected, but what happens instead often turns out to be the good stuff’ – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Remember back in kindergarten when we shared storytime together? There were moments in those days when the teacher asked us to tell what we loved about one another, what good qualities the people in our class had, and what traits they and the teacher value in us. Whether you work from home, have been out of work, have felt connected/disconnected to family and friends, whether work is weird, family has been funky, you’ve felt like yourself or the farthest from it – it’s that stuff from kindergarten we must remember. Do you struggle like I do in giving yourself those high fives? Whether you’ve made it out of bed, run an errand, kicked butt on a project, launched your dream company, shared your story, did something you were afraid or, or literally made it through the day without crying – it’s worth a high five! You’re worth the high five!

In today’s world FOMO is easy. Social media thrives on those same enticements and algorithms that allow casinos to flourish. We see marketing culture jump through our screens, posts that draw us in, and all sorts of people doing all sorts of things. The snapshots and moments may be real, unvarnished, and unblemished – but they’re just that – snapshots. Each of those humans have their own stories inclusive of struggle and strife, magical moments, difficulties, wishes, wonderings, and more. The post may be about the new house – but you didn’t see the length of time it took to get there. The post may share about a new journey – but you didn’t see the tears or the planning that went into it all. The post may be about a huge milestone – but the work beneath the surface that went on is out of sight. Not that I would ever argue with Dame Maggie Smith when she’s playing a mystical Hogwarts wizard, or as Muriel Donnelly in these movies – but, for most lines she says – I believe her and the one above is no different. Most things aren’t as we expect; the growth – the messy stuff, it doesn’t live in our comfort zones. But, it’s that messy stuff, the ‘aha moments’ that come come from it, the shift in perspective that happens – that’s the good stuff!

‘The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing. All we know about the future is that it will be different. But, perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same, so we must celebrate the changes, because as someone once said, everything will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright, then trust me…’ – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

As we set our reflective thoughts on these next few hours and our sights on moments after the clock strikes midnight in a few days – find a moment, take a breath, remember to pause, and focus on the present. Those changes are often scary yet exhilarating. The shifts in the Universe, heading into the unknown – sometimes it knocks you right off your feet with fear and simultaneous awe. We can’t possibly know what tomorrow will bring, but we can celebrate the now, the bonus days, and the changes that come. You are not the same person you were yesterday – and you won’t be the same tomorrow. With each knew cycle, we change. With each new year, we grow.

Whatever the next steps, whatever the dreams, whatever the challenges – meet them where you are. You are brilliant, beautiful, vital, and unique. You matter today and you’ll matter tomorrow. We don’t get endings without beginning and each day, each moment, we get to begin again. In 2022, begin again – I’ll be here cheering you on ready and waiting with that well-deserved high five.

‘Everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, then it’s not yet the end’ – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The Evolution of a Journey – Endlessly Evolving

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In the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure to talk to a few different people who have shared some of their stories with me. One was on her third career, the other a shared desire to help people yet her journey has taken her on a meandering path to do so in many ways, and another who shares today’s version of herself with me even though we met at different versions of the both of us. Even two recent television shows talked about a character’s continued evolution from scruffy team player to taking a more leadership role in his job and another who reminded me that we all contain multitudes. I never thought I’d be on a journey, but it seems that perhaps, I always have been. Either way, I know that this version of me is a shift from that of five years, ten years, and many other years ago; yet, what I’ve learned is that we take bits of us from each of those ‘me’s’ and create an even better one of yourself in the here and now. Truly, we do contain multitudes.

I know not everyone is on a journey. In fact, I’m sure many of us know people who despise the phrase, the notion of it, or even the strive to grow. For some, perhaps, the most comfortable place is staying in exactly the same place they’ve been their whole lives (and I don’t mean physically or geographically). While it’s possible that the people around them have shifted, somewhere in their lives the pattern of no growth became the pattern. While it might not be for everyone, and I’m damn sure it’s not at all comfortable, this girl who used to have a strong adverse reaction to change now actively seeks it. A girl who didn’t even like when her summer camp counselors changed now craves cultures far and wide, enjoys yogic wisdom that she before considered woo woo, and even shifted a fifteen plus year career in one that many tend to stay for a land unknown. There’s no way the girl of yesteryear saw this one coming that’s for sure.

How often do you take a minute and think about the evolution of your own journey? Sometimes it happens at the end of a year, after achieving a milestone or ticking off a bucket list adventure, but how often do you really stop and think about how you got to where you are? Think about it – if Jane Goodall had never left London, if Sir Edmond Hilary had never left New Zealand, and if Rosa Parks had never taken a seat on that bus – where would their journeys have gone? We may not all be explorers or activists, but in our own way, we are each on our own journey. If Ferris Bueller taught us anything it’s that ‘Life moves pretty fast sometimes. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it’. What’s the evolution of your journey?

For some of us, we might reach all the way back to childhood to remember what we were like as kids, what captured our interests in our teenage years, or to that first job we ever had. For some of us, we might head to the type of childhood we had, what activities we were involved in, and what we thought we’d be doing in those five or ten years after high school. Still for others, that evolution may have started in the last decade, the last years, or the last few months – perhaps you’re on the verge of the shift right now. What’s the evolution of your journey?

I’m not certain exactly how far back I’d reach to begin my story. Could I start with my childhood, upbringing, sleep away camp experience, and university adventures – sure I could. While all of those pieces make up who I am and how I see the world, wherever travel enters my story is where, I would say, the evolution begins. It could be Disney family holidays or Montauk beach play dates. It could be camp counselors from abroad who first brought a love of accents and culture into my world. I think they’re a part of it all – but I think a turning point is that first trip to Israel at the malleable age of 20. It was over 25 years ago, now, but I can still smell the aromas of the shuk, feel out of breath from my first ever hike, glimpse the desert stars from a Bedouin tent, taste the salt from the Dead Sea, and close my eyes to experience the epic, brilliant sunrise atop Masada. And then, months after my return, I can still feel my eyes dance and the corners of my mouth upturn upon retelling the story to my Aunt at Thanksgiving. Without ever knowing it, I think that’s the beginning of my tipping point. What’s yours?

Like all journeys, there are twists and turns, stubbed toes and busted ankles, mountains to climb and rivers to cross. And at each of those crossroads, we have a choice. The Broadway show, If/Then is quite literally modeled after that choice. At a pinnacle point, life could go one way or the other and although we’d like to, rarely do we glimpse what it would have been like had we taken that other turn. When I backpacked Europe with friends after university, I couldn’t possibly imagine how much travel would impact my life’s journey. If you asked me 25 years ago if I would have become a teacher, I would have said no. If you asked me five years into teaching if I would ever leave before retirement, I would have said no. If you asked me if I saw myself leaving the state of NY, I might have hesitated and thought, maybe, but there were too many things I believed for which I had to stay. We really never know what’s around that next bend in the road or the river.

Who would have ever thought travel would shift my perspective and change my life as much as it has – not me, that’s for sure. But, once that first spark happened – the feeling was too good to ever want to put out. Travel and what comes with it has been a part of my journey for more than half of my life now. It’s opened doors I never knew existed, introduced me to people who have helped shape my life, and shared experiences with me I never thought possible. Travel has ebbed my doubts and anxiety. Travel has given me hope. Travel has given me wings and travel has brought me the love of my life. I can honestly say, I wouldn’t be me, without that travel attitude, that travel perspective, and that travel gratitude. 

It was around 20 years ago that I was fully invested in my summer camp work and began my teaching career. I loved those aspects of life, the lessons they taught me, and the people they brought into my world. Fifteen years ago I traveled to the other side of the world again, and again, my journey evolved. Just over 10 years ago I was on a leave of absence from teaching, living abroad and in the middle of chasing the sun on a one-year honeymoon around the globe. 5 plus years ago we moved into our first apartment in San Diego and had no idea where life would take us – would we stay, for how long, would we like it here, would we make friends, and all of the other ‘what if’s’ bombarded our thoughts. Some have come into our lives to teach us exactly who we want to be and how we hope to hold ourselves. Others have shown us who we do not want to be, what attitudes we want to avoid, and reminded us to continue to pride ourselves on treating others the way we’d like to be treated – with kindness, gratitude, encouragement, and grace. Today, we’ve shifted jobs and coasts, once again love where we live, and are learning and growing amidst the journey.

Today, I know for sure that I’m still endlessly evolving. Sometimes I feel stuck yet I imagine that too is teaching me something – perhaps grace, patience, resilience, and fortitude. Sometimes I feel inspired which I imagine shows me that dreams can change, there are people out there who believe in that same growth mindset and personal development, and that paths may wiggle but that wherever you are is where you need to be in the now. And, sometimes, I’m not sure what to name what I feel – confusion, impatience, funk, devoid of motivation – all of it, yet at some point, or perhaps never, there might be a lesson learned in those emotions as well. Either way, somewhere along this journey, I’m learning to stay close to those who feel like sunlight, to stay open and curious, to ask questions, to get comfortable with not knowing, to accept a whole host of things, and to sit with it all – just sit with it.

Amidst those multitudes that are forever a part of who I am, there are aspects of me from various roads. Today I know those pieces don’t fade, they can continue to be nourished, to thrive, and come with me on the next part of my journey helping me to be uniquely well, me. Between helping people flourish, planning events of all kinds, travel, wanting to do good in the world, writing, the beach, playing outside, yoga, an empath, and a love of glitter – that’s me in a nutshell. I don’t know who I’m becoming, but I’m sure that some of those parts of me will always remain. Who knows where the road will lead, but, today, in this moment, in this space, I am grateful and I am hopeful. Wherever your journey takes you, do your best to find gratitude and joy amidst the ride. See you out there.

Lessons from my inflatable stand up paddle board

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Six years ago, when we moved to San Diego, I took my first stand up paddle board lesson. Wandering through the nearby marina, I remember feeling like I was literally flying through the water. I smiled through the entire lesson, felt my heart soar, my spirit free, and my mind lighten (and surprisingly to me, managed to stay upright the entire time). Right then, I knew that this, right here was my yoga on water. Since that first official lesson, I’ve rented a few times locally and even got to paddle in The Maldives. Each time, I felt exactly the same – free, full of life, and quite literally at peace.

I don’t know about you, but the past 20 or so months have certainly been a bit of a gut punch. While some of the world is raring to get back to life as it was prior to March 2020, others are still at a standstill – and for most people in many corners of the globe, the pandemic is still a large part of our conversation. While we’ve begun to step a bit further outside of our downtown apartment and venture to spaces open, far, wide, and still devoid of crowds – it’s as if each time we make those steps, we find a little bit more of ourselves.

Last year, for the holidays, Mom gifted me an inflatable stand up paddle board. Compressed into a handy, yet giant, backpack, it’s sat all squished up for nearly 365 days. It’s lived in storage, on our terrace, and even in the apartment taking up a considerable footprint of precious space. A few weekends ago, she finally spread her wings for a maiden voyage in Coronado. Now, needless to say, I’ve never owned a paddle board before. Each other time, I’ve showed up, paid some money, someone else has popped the board by the water for me, and taken it in at the ride’s end. This time, I had to do it. And, even with a trusty automatic pump, it takes a bit of work.

Hefting her out of her zipped bag, it’s as if she breathed easier when she unfurled. She jostled a bit when her fins popped and locked into place, but then settled. With each ounce of air she inhaled, she grew bigger, stronger, firmer – more full of life. Her turquoise outside sparkled in the sun as her inflatable lungs gulped in the new air that replaced the stale funkiness of her folded bag life. With the paddle locked in place set for my tiny frame, life jacket on, and sunscreen applied, together, my paddle board and I gingerly made our way down to the water’s edge. She glided in and took a few beats to find her feet amidst the wind and waves – I did the same. I felt a bit of hesitation in each of us. Those questions, that doubt surfacing quickly – how would an inflatable feel beneath my feet, would I stay upright or splash in the water, did I lock the valve tight enough or will we both find ourselves deflating? Seriously, even my paddle board felt a bit anxious.

Together, we left the shore and headed out. This time we hung closer to bits of land for awhile trying to find our groove – it’s was really our first time together. It was different than before. It felt different. I had to adjust more often, modify a bit more, and remind myself that although I’ve done this many times before, this time out would be different and that’s okay. I found myself nervous to head towards the open waves – that was new for me. I have a healthy respect for the water yet I don’t fear her. Like Moana (whether ocean or other open water), ‘the ocean is a friend of mine’. It took nearly 40 minutes before my courage rose enough to quiet the fear (or at least, hang out beside it) and head out into the center of the now windy and more crowded marina. Deep breaths, same steps, new ride – same joy. After letting go of all that I was apparently holding onto – that feeling returned, the good one filled with all the good stuff. My soul lifted, my breathing eased, my smile broadened, and it was there on that water that this inflatable paddle board taught me lessons I realized I needed to learn and remember.

It’s been a heck of a long time since I felt like me. Yes, I’m a million percent grateful for so many things and yes, I’m 100% aware that there are heaps of humans who have had far worse go arounds in these 20 months than me. All of it, including having a home to sit in amidst this entire time – is privilege and without question, acknowledged. And, I have a feeling, no matter who you are and where you roam, each of us has felt some moments of funkiness in this weird time of life. It’s been a very long time since we’ve breathed the same close air with other humans we know. It’s been forever since I’ve been in a yoga studio or traveled beyond these shores. It’s been nearly two years since these travelers have stayed in a hotel, wandered a strange city, taken in a live show of any sort, or eaten inside anywhere, and it’s now been nearly 3 years since we’ve been to the city that is our second home on the other side of the globe. While, thankfully, we’ve gotten to the beach to wiggle our toes and hug the ocean and have now been able to hit some trails, so far, (I don’t know about you, but) I’ve yet to find that whimsical, wandering, blissful, fully relaxed state – I mean, it’s still a global pandemic for goodness sake – I don’t know why I even expect that state might be a thing. Somehow, even within the 50 feet distance of others, my spidey senses are still always on alert, even if they haven’t gone full New York on me in awhile. In some way or another, for two weeks or twenty months, we’ve all been a bit cooped up and yearning to stretch our wings again.

So, what was I reminded of amidst this magical ride? That regardless of how long that cooped up and deflated feeling exists – there’s always a way to shift it. That you may need a bit of help, a bit of a boost, and a dose of courage, but we can all shake out those cobwebs and re-inflate ourselves (even if it feels like the very first time). We have to put in the work and it takes work to keep up the maintenance. We’ve got to remember which hose goes in which valve, find trust and have a bit of faith in yourself that you’ve affixed the locks and leash correctly; that no matter how many times you have to try, and how much work is necessary, and how much you want to throw in the towel and forget about it – keep going, you can do it. That it’ll be different than before and that you’re different than before and that’s okay, in fact, it’s more than okay – it’s growth. And, that when you’re willing to put in the work, take a page out of Disney’s Luca to silence the noise (‘Silencio Bruno’) and do it amidst the fear, somehow, the freeing feeling of the ride feels that much sweeter. It’s not supposed to be the same; it’s what you decide to do with the now that matters.

Heading back to shore, we both stood a bit taller, a bit firmer – a bit more sure of ourselves. Amidst a nervous start, we made it. And, while it may not be tomorrow that we head out there again, and it’s altogether possible that we’ll still start out a bit shaky and unsure of ourselves, I know we’ll be back. And each time I fill up my little mermaid friend, I realize that I’m doing the same thing for myself. I’m taking the time to protect that mental health, reassert the important stuff, and pay attention to what my soul needs. Whether in the midst of a global pandemic, or on a random Tuesday when Covid is far in our rear view – do more things that fill you up. Take a lesson from my inflatable paddle board – no matter how long you are kept squished in a bag stuck in one same spot, with a little airing out, love, care, a helping hand to fill you up, and a bit of time to steady your feet while doing your thing – all of us can find a bit of ourselves again. See you out there.

Healing and growing is messy business

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I think I was in the stages of healing and working on that personal growth well before the world fell apart last March. For the past 18 months, we’ve all been dealing with our own and our collective grief, stuff, angst, frustration, fear, anger, and you know, all the things. It’s been a year and a half of being on high alert. I don’t know about you, but holy anxiety inducing on a daily basis. It’s been a rough road, and so much rougher for so very many. I miss some of the stuff from the before time – don’t you?

‘It should have been this big inspirational moment, where humanity united over her sacrifice. But instead, people being people, they all fought’ – Raya and the Last Dragon

These days, it feels like we’re back to square one – although we’re far from it. Thankfully and literally with the miracle of science and hard work of millions, we have vaccines but the whole world doesn’t have access to them yet and apparently not everyone is on the same page about getting them. These days, my heart hurts on a regular basis – it’s almost like there’s an anti-empathy movement afoot. Every which where you look there’s disaster, distress, and danger in the world and I don’t know about you, but for anyone with a compassionate heart, belief in the collective public good, and a desire to help, it’s a whole lot to take in. Somehow, it seems like all of the usual tools are all worn out. Feeling all the feelings all the time is a lot on the heart and the head and even more on the spirit. There’s a boatload full of grief out there and it sure is daunting.

So, we go back to the beginning (and, well, it’s far from the beginning), redo the work, and reinvigorate the tools in our handy toolbox. If I’ve learned anything in this distressing time, it’s the need for resilience, the need for hope, and the need to sometimes, channel Disney movies to take the next step and ‘do the next right thing’ and sometimes just sit with it and let the feelings flow through. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling less like myself these days. I’m the happy kid, a global citizen who sees the world through the eyes of unicorns and rainbows, loves choosing happy, finding joy, spreading sparkle, wishes we could all have the chance to flourish and thrive, believes in being the change we wish to see in the world, and aims to be of service. But, these days, it feels incredibly difficult to be that person, wrong to say those things, its soul hurting – the world is in chaos and it seems we’re all on unsteady ground.

But, we can take a step and another and another and whether it be moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, or beyond, I know we’ll get there. We will find a way to come together, to do more good than bad, and the world will right itself again. I know it – it just has to, we just have to be part of doing the hard work. While it sure feels like the world is broken, it seems, we really can heal and if we can, so can the world. If like me, you’re having a bit of trouble finding your sparkle right now – know you’re not alone, it’s not gone, perhaps its in need of a bit of rest and restoration and will return again stronger than ever.

For me, I’ve had moments filled with tears and anger, curled up in a ball and trying to drown out the noise with reruns of old television shows. I’ve had to ditch the comments section of you know, everything, and remind myself that feeling the feelings isn’t for the feint of heart. This not having anything to plan time and not have a clue when travel will resume its giant part of our lives again isn’t easy – but we know so much that that’s a privilege we’re grateful we even have to miss. Our friends and family down under are in the midst of their sixth lockdown with closed borders, a 5k radius to leave their house for less than five reasons, and are still awaiting shipments of vaccines. Like millions of others with close family and friends who don’t live nearby, there’s no inclination as to when we’ll get to hug them again and don’t get me started on the utter world chaos at hand. But, there are days when we do get out, breathe the open air away from pretty much every other human, and even find a bit of adventure. There are days for waterfront walks, toes in the sand moments, and even one or two outdoor fish taco dates. There is a way out of at least the pandemic, and we sure hope more and more people will put the health and safety of the entire globe first and get the jab to get us to the other side.

Today, I needed a little extra help to try to find my smile – and I’ve come to realize that’s okay. I journaled, meditated, made a welcome to college card for my favourite 17 year old about to head off on a new adventure, talked with friends, and tapped into some Disney magic. Since dragon sparkle is pretty close to unicorn sparkle, Raya and the Last Dragon took my mind off of the everything for a minute. The whole movie seems pretty close to today’s situation. A land protected by good, light, and dragon magic split apart by distrust and an epic plague devastating all it touches that’s only able to be blasted away by coming together, trust, compassion, and light. When the plague takes over, it destroys everything it touches. Many are only out for themselves, the water and light are disappearing from the world, and only by working together and believing that the whole community matters can that light be restored. And, if/when it works, the magic, light, and heart can return. If that’s not a metaphor for today’s days, I don’t know what is. 

It reminded me of so very many things. That while I aim to flourish and thrive on a daily basis, the act of aiming for those things and setting that vision in motion is, on some days, enough. Some days you need a snuggle, some days you’re at your best, and others it’s anyone’s guess. Feeling the feelings is messy, but necessary. That growth, that stretching of who you are, that confronting the fear, that activism, it’s not meant to be easy. Transformations aren’t easy – I mean, does the caterpillar really seem that comfortable in his cocoon? Yet, as he waits and works and waits some more – eventually, the wings and flight appear. This pandemic, too will end, I know it will – but like Raya and her dragon friends, it will take all of us, taking those steps, doing the work, and choosing to put each others’ needs ahead of our own to bring that light back. If Raya and her mates can figure out how to take those steps, make the gestures, and fix a broken world – I know we can too. So, today, I’m working on finding my smile again, practicing that positive psychology coaching, dealing with all the anxiety, remembering that it’s okay to choose happy if only for some moments amidst the chaos, reminding myself that we can’t all flourish every day but aim for an overall average, channeling immense gratitude to be here and feel the feelings, and that there is, without question good in the world. Right now, I’m so hoping that the good can be louder, noisier, and make a far bigger impact than anything else.

‘We have a choice. We can tear each other apart or we can come together to build a better world. It’s not too late’ – Raya and the Last Dragon

And, once again, as we wait a bit longer until it’s safe to breathe shared air and one day not have to talk about global pandemics any more, we’ll be here, working on ways to continue to work on and add our sparkle to the world in one way or another and choosing gratitude amidst it all. So looking forward to hugging you all, sharing a cupcake, and together planning an adventure somewhere happy in this big, wide world we all share.

Be kind, do good, and take care of each other. Reach out if you want to chat – I promise, we have avocados, chocolate, glitter, and wanderlust to share.

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