Friday, November 30, 2007

Personal Responsibility

A story about three friends
(based off of a real story with altered names and places)

Altera by the Lake was bustling with the lunch crowd. The clattering of dishes and warm aromas filled the room. I sat down with my two dear friends, Kim and Christine.

The coffee felt rich going down my throat. I was thankful for putting in that extra creamer.

We had just come from our Yoga class, and Kim was still thinking about it.

"I really don't like the partner poses. I mean my partner was fine and all, but it's really hard for me to do that kind of stuff."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"It brings back too many bad memories of when I was a kid. Every time in gym class that we had to be picked for teams, I was always the last one chosen. It really hurt. So in Yoga when we have to partner up, I feel nauseous inside and fear that no one will pick me."

I was dumbfounded. Kim was a grown woman and well liked by the people in the class. We had partnered up a number of times and she was always with someone.

Christine chimed in, "Yeah, I know what you mean. At work, my boss is so overbearing and no one really likes me there. I get into arguments all the time and have been told that I'm 'difficult to work with.' It's not my fault. I'm an only child and my parents never showed me any love. It's made it difficult for me to be nice to others. I can't even show love to my own children, but after the way I was brought up, what can you expect?"

I couldn't believe my ears! Christine was almost 60 years old! These poor women were ready to take their injuries all the way to the grave.

I asked Kim, "How about using the partner work in Yoga as a time to heal from the past? The people there really care about you."

"It's too painful. I can't do it," she replied.

I shared with Christine my own childhood stories, and how I had learned from them and this made the healing possible. She said she tried to heal, but just wasn't strong enough. (Thinking about it now, I realize she won't be "strong enough" until she decides to take back her power and stop giving it to the past and to other people.)

Over and over, I listened to these women re-affirm, "No one likes me." "I just can't." "It's too hard." "It's so easy for other people." "My childhood was too painful." "It's just who I am." "It's not my fault."

This really got me thinking.

Why do so many of us live in the past and hold tightly onto our wounds?

Why is the notion of healing so hard?

When we take FULL responsibility for who we are there is no one to blame. As long as we continue to blame someone or something else, then how can we be expected to heal? It's not our fault; it's beyond our control.

This is the safe way out. We can go on and one about how we'd love to "be" a better or happier person, but the truth is it's just so much easier to stay where we are. So, we devise (albeit subconsciously) a reason we can't move on.

It's impossible to take responsibility for our lives. Because if we do, then the blame-game is over. That's right, if we took responsibility for who we are, then we'd actually have to DO something and BE someone. No more living in the past and feeling sorry about how there's nothing we can do.

Bull shit! There's always something we can do. Just so many of us don't really want to get off our butts and do it.

Taking full responsibility for our lives is tough. If we fail, there is no one to blame but us! Now that's scary.

But here's the cool part. By taking full responsibility for ourselves, WE have the power to be as happy and successful as we want.

See what I'm saying? Without the risk, there is no glory.

So, what's it going to be? Live the rest of your life crying about the past or take your life back and start living it today?

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Vitamin Supplement - Should you or shouldn't you take vitamins?

Over this past weekend, Mike and I went to donate blood. My iron count was 1% too low, so I sat in the waiting area while Mike did his sharing of bodily fluids--in a good way.

The most recent Readers Digest was on the table (pictured above). The blaring title, The Vitamin Hoax, immediately caught my eye. Let me just say that I take enough pills everyday to warrant a friendly family joke about it. Yes, they are all vitamins, minerals, or healing herbs.

I read the RD article and was amazed to find a number of vitamins that I take on the "avoid" list.

Being that I've been totally healthy for almost 1.5 years now (aside from muscular strain here and there), and used to get sinus problems 3-5 times a year, I'm very hesitant to bail on my beloved vitamins and herbs.

Dr. Weil says that there are conflicting views and that every few years there's a "vitamin scare." You can read about it on his web site.

In the end, I'm going to stick with my regimen. The idea for this pill-popping was given to me by a friend. Her suggestion was to create a list of past illnesses--starting as far back as you can remember. Then go to Prescription for Nutritional Healing and see what vitamins they suggest taking for each of these illnesses.

In the end you have a chart over time showing what might be missing from your diet.

What's interesting is, when I did this, I began to notice a pattern of common minerals or vitamins that appeared to be lacking based on the conditions that I had had. I devised a supplement program based on these findings and the recommendations in Nutritional Healing. This was about a year ago, and I haven't looked back since. Well, until the RD article.

I thank RD for printing an article that caused me to look further into the wisdom (or lack thereof) of what I'm doing. For now, it sounds like the best path. So, I'll stick with it (sorry, RD).

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Sacred Space

Zena Moon (Carla Blazek) recently entered a post about creating a personal space. She addresses the space not just of the physical, but of the emotional and mental as well.

When I think of a personal space, I think of somewhere that is safe and "at home." A sacred place where I can completely be myself without judgement.

Just last night, I was reading The Circle, by Laura Day. Chapter 3 talks about having a ritual. She suggests creating a sacred space for that ritual, and I realized that the most sacred space is within.

With this is mind, here's the comment that I left on Zena Moon's post:

I love what you said about sacred spaces. Just yesterday I was reading about creating a special place. As I sat, I closed my eyes and paused from the reading. I let out a surrendering sigh, and felt my sacred space deep within me. As I softly opened my eyes, I came to realize that my sacred space is not just where I have an alter or a special room in my home. It is in my heart and stays with me always.

With that said, it wasn't always that way for me. There were years (over a decade) when I only felt safe in my (now former) husband's arms. Then for a while there seemed nowhere that was "home." Then only with my kids. Then only with kids or meditating. Then in nature. Then when teaching. The list went on and on.

After years of meditating and the experience of coming back to Source again and again with the help of Yoga, I finally can rest inside. Maybe not all of the time, but even a glimpse of true inner peace is enough to bring me back to meditation and Yoga over and over.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Little Things

It's the moments -- not the big events -- that count the most. Years ago I saw an interview of a child who's mother had died of cancer. The mom knew she was dying for years and had the time to really prepare her children (as much as one is able to prepare for such a thing).

When asked what positive memories stood out the most for her, the little girl did not reply, "Disney World" or any of their other fun vacations. She quietly said it was "eating cereal with my mom." She went on to say how sometimes at night, if she couldn't sleep, she and her mom would sneak into the kitchen for a bowl of cereal. This private time just being together is what the child remembered best and with fondness.

It's the little things. It's the moments of every day. So, when you think about gratitude, especially at this time of year, remember the little things.

My little thing this morning was opening up a new fun box of tissues. Call me crazy, but these brightly colored boxes of tissues (pictured above), make me smile!

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe

This recipe is one of the best Stuffed Mushroom recipes I've ever had. It's compliments of Barbara Swain's book, Cookery for 1 or 2. It was my very first cookbook, and even 50+ (literally) cookbooks later, I still love this book. It's been duck taped together and the pages are falling out. I've had this book for over two decades, and it shows!

I truly hope you enjoy them as much as I do. (Green is my own comments.)

Stuffed Mushrooms (I always double, triple, or quadruple this recipe.)
8-10 (~1/4 pound) fresh medium-sized mushrooms (White shrooms are best.)
1 T butter (I use just enough olive oil, canola oil, or ghee to saute.)
1 T minced shallots or 2 T minced onion (I must say, shallots are WAY tastier.)
1/4 t Worcestershire sauce (One of my favorite tastes, I'm generous on measuring this.)
1/4 c soft breadcrumbs, lightly packed (No need to store buy. Just finely tear/crumble up some old bread.)
1/4 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese, lightly packed (Feta works well, too.)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T water (This has made them too runny for me. So, I never use it.)

Preheat 350 degree (175 Celsius) oven. Quickly wash mushrooms and drain on a paper towel. Pull stems from shooms and finely chop. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add chopped mushroom stems and shallot or onion. Saute until tender and translucent. Stir in Worcestershire sauce (yummy!), soft breadcrumbs, cheese, salt and pepper. Salt (I pepper instead) the insides of the shroom caps and fill with sauteed mixture, mounding over the top. At this point, they may be refrigerated up to 24 hours. Before serving, put 2 T of water in a shallow dish (I don't add the water) and arrange the stuffed shrooms in the dish. Bake about 20 min's. Serve hot.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another Great Reason to Eat Chocolate!

Want to indulge without guilt? Check out

Eat some chocolate, help the planet!


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Yoga Music

I was reading the other day that certain instruments are particularly calming to the nervous system. The harp and piano were two of the ones mentioned. I would add to that classical guitar and harmonium (used commonly in kirtan).

At the same time Rod Stryker and many other Yogis frown on the use of music in class. Yoga is about coming within and pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses).

So, when you practice do you play music? How about in a group class--do you think music is a help or hindrance?

Personally, I've gone both ways (regarding music that is). I love the serenity that music can bring, at the same time it can distract people from paying attention to their alignment and body. In general, musicians seem to be more distracted.

I'd love to hear your opinion and what your preference is.
In the meantime, here are some of my favorite peaceful CD's:

Usually used with Yoga practice (lately all my practices have been silent, but if I was to have music, one of these would most likely be there)

Inner Dance
Divine Bliss
Rasa Devotion
Theta Meditation System
Laura Day's Dynamic Intuition (disc 2)

Music I like to chill to with perhaps a glass of red wine

The Most Relaxing Guitar Album in the World ... Ever! (I swear, that's what it's called!!)

Anything at all by Edith Piaf (If past lives are real, then I'm sure I knew her or something extremely emotional/important happened while listening to her beautiful voice.)

Ben Kammin (I have 7tunes&3songs and a promo CD). So, this guy is GREAT!! Local guy (to Milwaukee). He stopped playing for a number of years, and actually I thought he still wasn't playing. Seems that there was a very nasty break up and his heart was truly broken (back then I as in the "loop" of his friends). He sold ALL his equipment--guitars everything (according to my sources--his friends). We were all very bummed about this. Then at a party that we were both at he actually played for my son, Jake--Iron Man on acoustic guitar. I was so very honored, as was young Jake. But that was it. He put the instrument down and headed off to Spain. I always felt that the world was missing out on the phenomenal talent this young man was blessed with. I'm thrilled to see (as of this posting!), he is playing again. After this post, I'll definitely be checking out his future shows. Some of you bloggers hold a special place in my heart; if you are in Milwaukee (I know most of you seem to be in Australia!!) let me know and we'll catch a show.

Chocolate Genius Inc - Black Yankee Rock


India Arie - Acoustic Soul

One of my favorite musicians of all time!

Louis Armstrong

Seems as if I've strayed from Yoga music, but it's all healing to the heart.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Spirituality - Money - Can they be mixed?

Picture a very spiritual being. What do you see? Are they in robes, perhaps carrying an empty bowl? Do they live in an ashram? Are they kind and understanding? Are they at peace with themselves and the world around them? Do they exhibit ethical and admirable traits? Do they take the time to care for others?

Now visualize a financially wealthy person. What does he/she look like? Are they surrounded by glitz and glitter? Are the self-absorbed? Do the act superficially? Do they look down at others? Do they have a "what's in it for me" mentality? Are they ethical? Do they take time to look out for others?

I grew up with the belief that money = snotty, mean, self-absorbed. We all had to look out for ourselves, and money was a key to be successful. Heck, it was the definition of success. As long as what you did was legal, money came first. Somewhere this idea got stuck in me. Intellectually, I don't buy it, but deep inside I wonder.

I want to take this time to thank Fred Frailey, the editor of Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine, for helping to dispel this myth.

A few years ago, I received this magazine as a gift from my father. To my surprise I actually liked it! As much as I love having money and fret about my absurdly low salary over the past few years, reading about money has always been a struggle for me. Ironically, I love numbers and minored in math. Yet, educating myself on investing had always been a chore for me. I did it because I had to. Like cleaning the bathtub--just something that needs to be done.

Reading Kiplinger and Mr. Frailey's editorials, I am always impressed by the ethics and high standards they uphold. (Something I did NOT expect from a financial magazine.) There is something pure and honest about the articles and editorials. I've grown to actually enjoy reading it, and appreciate all the tips and advise to help my retirement and current life.

I was particularly impressed just this past week when I emailed Kiplingers regarding their "Green Issue." You see, the October issue focused on how to invest wisely in the current environment. The magazine, and Mr. Frailey, were very careful to keep the politics out of it. This is a money magazine and not a political one. I appreciated how they managed to look at wise investments, especially in companies geared to handle global warming, regardless of one's political standing. The authors specifically spelled out that it didn't matter whether-or-not you believed in global warming. Financially what mattered was what most people thought and how companies would respond to that. New laws, especially in CA were sited, and how this will impact the finances of various companies.

Well, last week I checked out the Kiplinger web site and found a number of angry readers calling the magazine "left wing Democrat B.S." I was confused as they were so careful to keep politics out of the picture. One guy even proudly stated that he tossed the magazine in "to the city landfill. (And no, it did not go in the recycling bin.)"

Aside from the fact that this guy acted like a total jerk--even if you don't believe in global warming, why not recycle? It sure as heck can't hurt!

Anyway, I emailed the magazine just to say how much I had appreciated the articles and insights they offered--while staying neutral politically (which is good for me, since I err on the left and the editor is to the right). I mentioned that I was inspired to invest directly into the stock market for the first time in my life from this very issue.

Barely 24 hours passed and the editor, Fred Frailey, emailed me back. He said that he had received literally 100's of emails regarding this issue (and yet he managed to email me back personally!). He, also, provided some financial advise and wanted to be sure I first got to know the stock market via mutual funds and suggested Vanguard no load funds.

Now I've been with Vanguard for over 20 years, but he didn't know that. What struck me, was that he took the personal time to thank me and make sure I was investing wisely. That's what I call going the extra mile. This man (obviously very interested in money and doing well for himself) showed consideration, caring, understanding, and kindness.

It touched my heart to see someone so involved with the making of money show such thoughtfulness to a stranger. Hummmmm, maybe spirituality and money can mix.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Choosing Happiness

Happiness is a choice.

One of the wisest things that my former husband ever said to me was,

"Only you can make you happy."
We were in college at the time, and I was upset--most likely someone had called me fat or I thought someone was laughing at me. Interesting how 20+ years later, the paranoia has subsided. Wow, does that mean I'm actually growing up? Or just realizing that he was right:

True happiness comes from within.
Dr. Joe Vitale, from The Secret, has a recent post listing "10 ways to get happy." He offers 10 suggestions to bring you out of a slump or momentary set back, such as being with your pet, dancing to music (one of my favorites!), giving to someone else, set an intention, say 'thank you', watch a movie, have some comfort food, detach, and smile.
I do believe that accepting and experiencing your current feelings is very important, but have had times of "stuckness" or self-pity or doubt about almost everything. That's when it's time to give yourself a nudge towards happiness, or in some cases a good hard push.
Here's my own list of happiness tips:
1. Take a walk.
2. Engage in a Hatha Yoga practice with a nice long savasana at the end.
3. Pranayama or Yogic breathing techniques to enhance life force--pay particular attention to the less dominant nostril and where the breath is in the nostrils.
4. Follow the Asanas and Pranayama with Meditation.
5. Journal at least 10 things that you are grateful for. Then maintain the feeling of gratitude as you write what you're ready to embrace--such as "I fully embrace joy and true happiness."
6. Hug someone.
7. Make *whoopie*.
8. Take a candlelit bath.
9. Dance with reckless abandon in your living room--not to some sappy love song, but to something uplifting like 3 Little Birds.
10. Pray with faith and trust.
and of course.... Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Eucalyptus Oil

Inspired by Everyday Yogini's comment regarding my last post on healthy gums and tea tree oil, I'd like to share another essential oil tip.

Whenever I feel a tickle in my throat, I use eucalyptus oil by sprinkling a few drops on my pillow just before going to bed. Eucalyptus can burn the skin and you definitely don't want to get it in your eyes. So, I'm careful to sprinkle just to the far sides of my pillow and allow it to soak in while I keep my head centered. By the time I'm rolling around and moving my head, the oil has soaked in and only the fresh fragrance is left.

This is one of the "tricks" that has kept me in keen health and with clear sinuses for over a year and a half now--which for me is a huge improvement!

Enjoy great health,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Healthy Gums

Gum disease runs in my family. During my second pregnancy my gums bled so bad they would just start bleeding in the middle of the day.

Flossing didn't help and my dentist implied this was just something I had to live with and would most likely loss my teeth early in life. I was only in my low 30's when this news came in.

Being interested in Yoga, I read a lot of Ayurvedic info and ran across the importance of caring for your gums as a sign of overall decent health. One source said to rub tea tree oil on the gums every day for dental hygiene care.

So, for the past 5 or so years I've been using a gum stimulator and tea tree oil every morning. I put just a few drops of tea tree on the stimulator. Then after brushing my teeth, I stimulate between every tooth -- front and back. This takes less than a minute. I let it sit on my gums/teeth for about 60 seconds while I wash my face. Then rinse.

To be honest my dentist--who I no longer go to--didn't think this was such a great idea. I'm guessing that he had never heard of tea tree oil. All I know is that my gums have not bled in 5 years and at age 43 they are healthier than in my late 20's!

So, listen to what makes sense to you. Doctors are great, but in the end you are the best judge for what works for you.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Total Health - Is Yoga Enough To Stay Healthy

In the last week, I've begun broadening the scope of this blog. My original intention was to tie every post to Yoga in some way--be it asana, breathing, meditation, or philosophy. Perhaps if I search hard enough everything can be tied to Yoga, but that's not always simple to do.

Several weeks ago I read a quote from a well-known Yogi (apologies for not recalling who it was). He (or maybe she) said,

"Yoga is about wellness."

This got me thinking.... a lot! There was a woman I knew that had double knee surgery. This knee injury occurred after a dedicated meditation practice in full lotus. When her knees began hurting during this practice, her teacher (moors the pity) told her to stay seated and breath through it. She would sit for over an hour at a time.

Okay, I've done this. "Breathing through it." But my method is to take 3 breaths and release wherever I can or re-adjust. If the pain or discomfort isn't gone within those few breaths, then it's time to COME OUT! This seems like a no-brainer. However, in the name of spiritual enlightenment, this lady (and I'm guessing many other folks) stayed in full lotus with pain. Now even a simply cross-legged position is out of the question for her.

Is this wellness? Is reaching spiritual awareness and knowing worth trashing your body? On the other hand, is physical fitness more important than prayer or meditation?

In my opinion, Total Health or Wellness is finding a balance between all parts that are You. That's the body, the mind, and the spirit.

Yoga addresses all of these areas very well, which is what I find so cool about it. However, does it address them all fully? I think some of us can get away with just Yoga and find complete health in all areas of our life.

However, many of us can use a little something more. With this in mind, the scope of this blog will shift to anything that seems to fit the bill of wholeness. Anything that helps to live healthy and find wellness. My focus is still Yoga, but in my own life (as the years are passing by) I find that Yoga is not enough for my complete wellness. It has been enough for years and years, but I'm 43 now and my lovely body is crying out for a shift. One thing that Yoga has taught me again and again is to

Respect and listen to your body, mind, and spirit!

So, I hope you will enjoy and find some interesting ideas in the posts to come.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Friday, November 2, 2007

How much are you worth?

Worth (w├╗rth) noun
The quality that renders something desirable, useful, or valuable

How much are you worth? In daily life, one's worth appears to be measured in dollars. I don't mean to sound cynical, but it's true.

Last year I asked for a raise at a facility that I was teaching at. Even though my hours of training had over doubled since I began teaching there and my hours of experience teaching over tripled, the response was that, "You may think you're worth it, I may think you're worth it, but the market does not."

It was that simple. People were happy to spend $65 (in the area I live in) for a massage -- sometimes every week. But these same people wouldn't commit to a weekly Yoga class for $10. Some might say it's because Yoga is not worth it. If what I do for a living is teach Yoga, then am I less worthy? Are all teachers (such as elementary teachers) worth less than doctors or lawyers?

One thing that I have found over and over again in the most confident of people: A lack of self-worth.

Perhaps it's due to the fact that everything was a value on it. You go to the store and one brand of ice cream is more money than another. Is the more expensive one "better"? When you set out to purchase a car; as the quality goes up typically the price tag does as well.

So, when you select a career and the pay (price tag) is lower, it only seems natural to feel less worthy. Right?

Sure you can justify in your mind that what you are doing is worthy, but there's something bigger going on. It's a general guideline of our society that money = worth. When the money you make falls short, have you as a person fallen short? I don't think so.

This is where we need to bring awareness to the picture. Know that:

Money does NOT always = Worth

As soon as you realize that your price tag (how much money you make) does NOT determine your worth, maybe--just maybe--we'll all start feeling a bit more worthy. And who knows, when you feel worthy, you just might see more coming your way.

Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!