Wednesday, February 27, 2008


“…it’s hard to see the bigger picture when you think you are the great controller of your life.” (Donna Farhi)

“As I emptied my cup, the world flowed in.”
(Rolf Gates)

I have two quotes for you this month. They have similar thoughts and both are beautiful. In December, I decided to spend this year studying the last of the niyamas, Ishvara Pranidhana or surrender. Like many of us, I have long been the “great controller” of my life with deep-seated fears of letting go and trusting in the process of life. The more I let go, the deeper I go into my heart, to an inspired place from which to live. Both Rolf and Donna are right, I am seeing a bigger picture and the world is beginning to flow in in ever increasing and powerful ways.

I struggled with how to conceptualize “letting go” as we often hear these days. What did that mean? How could I just stop worrying and stressing? I did what I often do when I am unsure, I turned to my mat. Just as our lessons in life show up on the mat, lessons learned on the mat move into our life. Poses create awarenesses and feelings in our body and we can use them to help us do more in our life. I know forward folds are about letting go and being present so my practice has been almost entirely forward folds for two months. I also know child’s pose and Savasana are about surrender so I do them every night before bed. Finally, I knew the exhale aspect of my breath is about letting go so my breathing practice has been focused exhaling as well. In my meditations, I visualize handing over my worries to someone I respect and trust with my problems. Other than my practice, I didn’t “think” about letting go.

As always, what happens on the mat, came into my life. I am letting go. I feel control has much less hold on me. I am much more open to flowing with what comes in and, perhaps more importantly, what goes out of my life.

Think about issues you are struggling with in your life, things you are “thinking” a lot about. How can you take the issue to the mat? You can use poses to build courage, open to love, release grief, soften to the present, and much more. Not sure what to do? Email me. I am happy to help. Yoga is our gift and we can use it for so much more than merely stretching our bodies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What's for Dinner: Cauliflower Soup

Have I got a recipe for you! It is incredibly easy and so yummy! I can sense a taste of butter in it. (No, there is no butter and my husband has pointed out that it has been 4 years since I tasted butter so maybe my butter taste buds are a bit sensitive!) This recipe come from Vegan Italiano.

  • 1 large head of cauliflower. (You can use a huge one here. Just add more stock, if necessary.)

  • ¼ C olive oil

  • 4 large cloves of garlic

  • 4 C vegetable stock (I use Rapunzel brand vegan stock. I love it!)

  • ½ t salt (I haven’t needed to add it since my stock is salty enough).

  • ¼ c finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (again, never used)

  1. Cut up cauliflower into bite-size pieces and blanch or steam until crisp-tender.

  2. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over med-high heat. Add the garlic and, stirring constantly, let it cook for 1 minute.

  3. Add the cauliflower and cook until begins to brown. (I have yet to see it brown. I just cook for 5-10 minutes and then continue with the recipe).

  4. Add stock and bring to a boil.

  5. Puree 2/3 of the soup.

  6. Return to the pot and heat, add parsley.

  7. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Soup @ Group Recipes

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Year of Living Compassionately

Let me tell you about a program I created a few years ago. I call it A Year of Living Compassionately. The story of how why I created it is long and can be read here. For now, suffice it to say that I became acutely aware that I was not the deeply compassionate, loving mom I wanted to be. What was coming out of me was disheartening and I wanted to make a change.

I discovered many things in my year of self-study. The first lesson is we all have a balance of positive and negative energy inside of us. You know which one is outweighing the other by what is coming out of you. If you are feeling negative, negativity is outweighing the positive. I also learned that I was frequently tipped to the negative and was unaware I was feeling and being negative. Because I was so accustomed to feeling it, it felt normal, and I just assumed it was positive. Finally, I learned that if I consciously feed myself with positive things, it helps me tip to the positive and I was unconsciously feeding myself a tremendous amount of negativity.

I also discovered that I could change my feelings to the positive by making the negative influences more conscious so I could make better choices for myself. I also learned more about what feels positive to me and filled my life with those influences.

The program is based on those precepts and the results have astounded even me. One participant, who’s area of challenge was her family of origin, took a vacation with her family merely 5 months into the program and said the time with her family could only be described as “lovely”. Another woman changed her marriage from one of great friction to one of love and deep companionship. Another stay-at-home mom went from sheer frustration to joyfulness in her position.

Interestingly, when I get the question “What is a Year of Living Compassionately?” I still don’t have a pat answer. You would think I would by now. There is so much to the program and it is so powerful, I have a hard time putting its power into words. I have one student who put it beautifully. “It is just about being happier”. Well put, is all I can say. It just seems like so much more. Then again, what else is there?

The program consists of a different topic each month. Each topic comes with a 4-5 page reading with my thoughts around the subject as well as ideas to deepen your learning during the month. My partner, Marya, and a I send out a weekly “Module Morsel” in which we share a portion of the module and a suggestion for your focus that week. You may also participate in a teleclass at the end of the month with us to discuss what you learned and talk with other participants.

Besides helping you find happiness, the program is also a wonderful community; an opportunity to have an online and teleclass discussion group with a group of people on the same path as you are.Link

What I love most about the program is its accessibility. Whether you are someone who is just beginning down the spirituality path or someone has been doing it for some time, there is something more you can learn. (I have been through the program four times now and just continue to deepen my learning.)

You can check out the program and download the free Pre-Assignment Module at the website: You can register for the free weeky inspirational eNewsletter. You can read the blog from the pilot year in which I wrote several posts for each topic, summarizing what people gleaned from their month. You can also participate in this year’s Compassion Club blog.

Here’s to your year of living compassionately.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Limitations are Merely Self-Imposed

In tonight’s class I taught, I had an interesting thought I shared with my students. Do you often go into a pose assuming it will look exactly as you did it last time? I am guessing there are a few poses in which you do. Personally, basic standing poses such as Warrior II and Triangle Poses are my weak spot. I just plop myself into my usual position and hang out there until I think it is time to go to the other side. I don’t even try to take myself more deeply. I just assume my pose will look the same today as it did yesterday and it will tomorrow.

When I realized what I was doing, it made me think. Where else in my life do I just plunk myself down and assume I have gone as far as I can go? There are so many places we can limit ourselves in what we have – happiness (really, test yourself – being happier than you are comfortable with can be incredibly uncomfortable and we usually only allow it for brief periods), love, money, career, health, even the number of vacations or where we go on our vacations! Where in your life do you feel a bit stale? Is it time to blow past a self-imposed limitation? You see, the irony of physical limitations is they are primarily perceived. What I mean is you can move beyond your “wall”, which is, in fact, merely a speed bump. Our flexibility is tied mostly to our consciousness. If you think you are tight, guess what? You are right! If you think you can loosen up and move past your inflexibility or weakness, guess what? You are right, too. If you think you can move past your current health crisis, guess what? You are right! Maybe it is time to blow past a few of those limitations and experience the joy on the other side…

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Random Act of Kindness

I was the victim of a random act of kindness today. I had just taught my morning class and my students were leaving. It snowed throughout class so students were brushing off the windows on their cars. I peaked out the window only to see one of my students brushing off the windows of my car! It just made me smile. Thanks, L, for that kindness. It has brightened my heart today so I know it is being passed on to others through me.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Taxes: Just My Opinion

I just received this email from my parents:

Father Daughter Talk

A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat, and among other liberal ideals, was very much in favor of higher taxes to support more government programs, in other words redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch Republican, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn't even have time for a boyfriend, and didn't really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, how is your friend Audrey doing?

She replied, Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies, and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She's always invited to all the parties, and lots of times she doesn't even show up for classes because she's too hung over.

Her wise father asked his daughter, “Why don't you go to the Dean's office and ask him to deduct a 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA, and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA.”

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father's suggestion, angrily fired back, "That's a crazy idea. How would that be fair? I've worked really hard for my grades! I've invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!"

The father slowly smiled, winked, and said gently, "Welcome to the Republican Party."

Perhaps it is needless to say, I tend toward the Democrat side and my parents the Republican. Also probably needless to say, they have considerably more money than I have.

The truth is, I am not a staunch Democrat. After studying government in college, I am far too politically cynical to feel either side is the best answer. But apparently I am Democrat enough to put a bee in my parents’ proverbial bonnet. (Actually, over the years they have made several comments, indicating that it is quite an issue for them. One friend pointed out, with humor, that they were okay with me living with my boyfriend for two years before I married him, leaving my religion of birth, and my brother coming out after 10 years of marriage, but my being a Democrat [and a “light” one at that] is too much for them to bear!)

It all comes to money to them, it seems anyway. As this story shows, they seem to think that I will change my mind when I have more money to lose in the game. Now, admittedly, they may very well be right, I just desperately hope they are not. I may not have had a lot of money to pay in taxes over the years to experience that side of the angst, but there have been times when the taxes I paid made meeting rent/mortgage difficult for me. And even in those months I was grateful to pay taxes. I am self-employed so I pay more taxes than those employed by others. I am also often paid in cash and I always report every penny. I am so incredibly grateful to live in this country. I know this may sound silly, but it is absolutely true. I am grateful to be free, to live where my children can roam the streets without being shot at, where education is free, women have rights, we have religious freedom, we have roads that are taken care of, good medical care, to not have to serve in the armed forces, and to have people who are willing to serve for me to protect my said rights. My list goes on. I have always been willing to pay for my part to be here. I like to think that that gratitude will continue when I am able to pay more and I will be grateful I can pay more so that others who will struggle to pay their taxes and meet their mortgage won’t have to pay as much.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

In the Past Year

Okay, I have been tagged and I am thrilled! I challenged Nona at Everyday Yogini to answer these questions on her birthday and now she challenged me right back. These questions are a tradition started by a group of friends I lived with for a year. For each birthday we had a big dinner for the guest of honor. After the dinner (and, usually, after much wine had been drunk), each person at the table could ask the birthday person one question about the previous year and then one question about the next year. There were no boundaries with the questions and the birthday person had to answer them (although she could be vague…) I continue the tradition with my sister and mother on our birthdays. It is wonderfully introspective on a very special day. These are just some typical questions:

In the Past year:

What was your most embarrassing moment?
Hmmm…I am not sure. I tend to speak faster than my brain can process the appropriateness of the comment so I am guessing there are a few times my mouth embarrassed me…
What are you proudest of achieving?
Two things. One, I continue to homeschool my children. It isn’t always easy, but, like cooking from scratch, feels nourishing to my soul. Two, I have begun a new company, one that is based on my values. I did it by inspiring a group of women to live from their values as well so I am especially proud of changing their lives as well.

What would you do differently with the benefit of hindsight?
I would have let go of my fears so much sooner. Control just makes you crazy. I generally don’t believe in regret, it is a waste of energy. But fears…what an even bigger waste of energy.

What did you love about last year?
I loved learning (and continuing to learn) to live from a deeper, more inspired space. I am finally more inline with my life purpose and it is glorious!

In the Next year:

What do you want to say you accomplished next year on this day?
You know, I don’t want to even limit myself with a guess. Let’s just say I am sure much will have transpired…

What are you looking most forward to in the next year?
I am so excited to see what comes from the adventure of my life now that I am more in the flow of what is coming. It will be amazing.

What goal of yours are you most tantalized by?
My company…

If you knew you only had the next year to live, what would you make sure to do? What is stopping you?
You know what…I AM DOING IT!! And it feels great to be able to say that and mean it!

Okay, now it is your turn. Feel free to tag yourself (or keep the questions for your birthday!) I especially want to hear what Karen, Beth, Heather, Marya, and Aleia have to say!