Namaste

With palms pressed at heart's center - we sound our voices.  We begin with a deep resounding 'ohhhhm'.

Some of us are tentative at first. Our voices are new to us. We're unsure. We're shy. We're scared. We haven't - yet - given ourselves permission to speak out loud...to sing.

Together - we grow strong.

We connect to our hearts and our heartsongs. We connect to the earth and its energies. We connect to one another...honoring our intentions and commitment to show up together in this one space...in this one time...in this one day.

We are all the same.

We have arrived here from all corners of the globe. We were strangers. We have become friends. We've shared the stories of our lives...and our life's stories. We've dreamed. We've laughed. We've cried. We've challenged and inspired and encouraged one another to be the best selves we possibly can.

We've learned kindness and patience and gratitude and joy. We've held one another in times of sadness. We've celebrated our victories. We've honored our defeats. And -  we've been there for one another as a reminder that tomorrow always comes. A new day will dawn and with it - another opportunity to begin. Again.

For me - our time here at Vision and Verb has been one long beautiful communal vinyasa practice. Our bodies and our breaths. Our images and our words. Quiet...soulful...deeply meaningful and powerful personal connection.

We've shown up. We burned brightly. And now - the time has come to let go. With appreciation...compassion... grace.

We honor the endings by knowing that every ending is really a beginning. We've shown up for ourselves and one another and done the best work that we can.

'We're all just walking each other home.'

Just as we began - almost 5 years ago - we close by bringing our palms together once and again at our heart's center.  We sound our voices in a longer and deeper and more resonant 'ohhhhhmmmm'. We're confident. We're strong. What we needed - we learned - we've always had within.

We've felt the energy. We're now feeling the release.

We bring our hands from our hearts to our third eye center. A reminder to ourselves to follow our heart's lead. We bow our heads.

And together - we say:

Namaste'.

The light in me honors the light, love, beauty and truth and peace within you. In sharing our authentic selves and brave stories - we are united. We are one. We are the same.

In deepest gratitude.

* * *

Thank-you to all of our dear and loyal readers who have show up and shared in our stories. Your presence and spirit and quiet encouragement has meant so much to us here. You can find links to our individual blogs by checking out who is gathered around our table.

When one door closes another opens.

We look forward to your joining with us in wherever our new creative adventures lead.

Intention to Smile

Today - I began with an intention. To smile. To laugh. To seek out color. To feel the warmth of this most beautiful light.

Yesterday - it was then spring. Today - it's now summer.

For one short moment - I forgot where I am....and remembered something other. A different time. A different place. Before joy became sorrow...and before happy became sad.

It feels all wrong...and it feels all right. To laugh. To feel the energy. To seek out the color and the light.

Is it okay to breathe in - just for a moment - and feel all the good that this life has to offer? Is it okay to smile - in spite of my sleepless nights and tear-filled days?

Again - I'm reminded that no feeling is final. I'm reminded that on an inhale - I can feel sunshine...and on an exhale and in the same single breath - feel rain. Feeling is nothing other than sensation - both good and bad...both light and dark...both easy and so very very painful and hard.

There is no one description. There is no simple definition. There is no absolute. There is no wrong. There is no right. There are one thousand shades of endless grey...an endless array of color.

This is my practice. This is this pose. This is today.

I began with an intention. The energy - did follow. It wasn't easy. No one promised it would be. And - no one forewarned that it would be this hard.

It was somewhere there - in the pause between...and only for a milli-second - I remembered who once I was....and maybe - still am.

That girl. The one who shows up. The one who practices presence. The one with the camera-in-hand.

It's possible that I might - even - have smiled.

Sunrise Sunset

As I am lucky enough to watch as they walk - hand in hand and into their own lives - I find myself speechless here with little to say.

Tradition is.

For those of you who haven't seen this...and those of you who have - I thought I'd share a well-known dramatized representation of this Jewish wedding at the turn of the century in an eastern European shtetl.

So many things have changed - and yet - so much remains exactly the same.

The smiles. The tears. The bittersweet passing of the years.

Time

Considering its weightlessness... of late - it's been weighing heavily. How we measure and record it. How we name it - by the hour...the minute...the day...the month and often the year. How it can fly much too quickly...and how it can stop and stand perfectly still.

The clock ticking. The calendar page turning. The seasons changing. The years passing from one to the next.

And yet - we are all marking time. It confines and defines us. It demands and commands of us. It dictates how we spend our precious days.

But - what is it this notion about the importance of time? Why is it that we try so hard to quantify and qualify that which is so indefinable...so impalpable...so beyond our control?

To deny its importance would be to deny the importance of water and light and air. Time clearly exists - but how and where and why?

I breathe in...and I breathe out. Time is passing. If I breathe slowly...will time slow too?

These days - it seems - I'm looking back with a wistful longing and nostalgia...while at the same time looking forwards to all that's exciting and new. Somewhere here - in the middle of there - I find myself suspended. In one moment - I'm holding much too tight...in the next I'm letting everything go.

And the wheels are churning and turning. I can't quite catch-up. Time doesn't stop. Not for me...not for anyone. Not for yesterday...and certainly not for tomorrow.

I breathe in.

I am here. Now. In this moment. In this real time.

I can't touch it. I can't measure or weigh it. I can't see or hear or taste it. And yet - I can feel it.

Somewhere in this indeterminate in-between - it somehow exists. I find myself suspended precariously between what was and what will be.

Perhaps it is all in my mind.

It will come. It will go. It always passes.

I breathe out.

I'm still here. In this moment. The only time is this time and just this...is this time.

Now.

Point of Still

Amidst the chaos and motion and noise - there's a point of indescribable stillness. Of quiet. Of peace. Of the just right balance between effort and ease.

There's no pushing forward. There's no holding back. There's ground and sky. There's center.

For just a few moments - I'm alive and awake and completely aware. My eyes are focused on one small bird. I feel the light. I see the other birds surrounding her. I hear their call. The wind is blowing. My hands are cold - but I don't notice. I'm concentrating. I'm breathing. I'm feeling. I'm looking at only her.

Wings extend up and open. Inhale. On an exhale they release. Webbed feet propel her forward. Faster and faster and faster. Wings flap. Feet forward. Feet forward. Wings flap. Breath-to-movement...movement-to-breath. She spins madly.

Until...

She releases. She lets go. She flies.

In the middle of all that energy and noise - she finds herself perfectly still.

And - I know that now - I too - can rest in that space of release. I've shown up. I've done my work. I will return and begin again tomorrow.

Lesons of the Purple Crayon

Never - I thought - have I ever been here before. Never have I ever seen this. Never have I experienced such simple ...humbling...gracious majesty.

And yet -

I've stood here in this exact same spot more times than I can remember. I've seen this exact landscape. I've witnessed this ritual of the sun's rise almost every single day.

And yet -

Today - the scene is a frozen one. It's both color-less and color-full. Today - it's all new. Today - I'm here with a beginners mind. Today - without any expectation or attachment to outcome I've shown up for myself and my practice. I did what I did. And there was 'this'.

Some days I'm like Harold and his Purple Crayon - wishing to create a new world for myself. I go out seeking and searching for something different. Something exciting. Something other than what I know to be simple and clean and honest and true.

He with his crayon...me with my camera. Wishing...dreaming...hoping - for something other than 'just this'.

The reality he imagines...he creates. And whatever it is that he creates...becomes his reality. Wherever he goes...there he is. And wherever he is - is always the moon.

In the end - the story goes - he tires of searching for a new and adventurous life. He discovers that what he's been seeking outside himself he's always had right there within. He frames the moon with his bedroom window. He creates for himself comfort and warmth and familiarity. And he returns. To home. Right back to that place where his heart is...and from where he began.

We imagine our realities and create them...and by creating them they become real. The patterns of our thinking minds define and confine us. They wear unconscious grooves of habitual thought.

What we think...we do...and what we do...we become.

Every time I arrive at that exact same place and witness that exact same scene - I see it with new eyes. Eyes that are older and wiser and more experienced. Eyes that are practiced. Eyes that know there's no need to go searching elsewhere.

The reality I imagine...I create. What I create...becomes my reality.

There's nothing better than just this....and that just 'this' is where I am home.

Four Years Later

As I arrive here at the blank page – I'm wondering where to start. Again.
Yes – the cursor is blinking.
Yes – I know….it's waiting. I'm waiting. I know the process. I've been here…done this many many times before. And yet…and still – it's always new.

Four years ago – today – I lay awake one long and sleepless night in anxious anticipation of my first verbal blog post releasing itself into the blogosphere. Until then - I'd been blogging only with photos...never with words. Taking this first step - was huge. For me. For all of us.

I'm not quite sure what it was exactly that I feared most. For sure – I feared being seen. I feared being heard. I wondered about whether the words I wrote would resonate. I feared revealing too much…and sharing too little. I worried about how many might discover this safe little space. I worried that too many might stop by here and read....and that no one would at all. I feared judgement. I feared critique. I feared not being good enough. I feared failure. And I feared success.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? …"

If I had considered writing a manifesto way back when - it might have read something like this:

From all corners of the world - we arrive. We gather. We support. We share. We provide a safe and comforting space for 'we' women of this uncertain age. We hold space..we hold hands...we hold hearts. We encourage. We observe. We evolve and grow. We watch. We are unwavering and unconditional. We discover that no matter our circumstances or geographic differences – that we are all fundamentally the same. Beneath the masks and the costumes and titles and names – we're all simply human 'be'-ings….'do'-ing our best with the time we have.

* * *

It's been four years since we began here at Vision and Verb. I no longer lie awake – in sleepless excitement and anticipation. In some ways – I miss that. And in other ways – I wouldn't trade this for any of that – ever again.

Here – we've found strength and comfort and camaraderie. And kindness. And compassion. And understanding. And love. There's a table around which we all sit and break bread and listen and hear. There's sorrow and there's joy. There's laughter and light. There's courage. There's heartbreak. There's challenge. There's provoking thought. Here - we allow ourselves to be vulnerable - knowing that we're safe and that we're held.

Some days I want to believe that they were Marianne Williamson's words that drew us in….that have held us here accountable to the creative spirit and energies that burn brightly in each and every one of us. Other days – I want to believe that it's simply what happens when you join together a group of extraordinarily ordinary women who are too old to be young…and not quite old enough to be old. We face that blank page. We write. We speak. We share. We stretch. We grow. We shine.

As we begin this fifth year together - I have only gratitude for each and every one who has been and is a part.

Thank-you for your gifts.

Process

First snow of the season.

Softly...gently...quietly falling. Transforming the landscape from grey/brown to winter white. A reminder - that no thing is final. No feeling. No event. No season. Just when we think we've got it all figured out - it changes. Life does.

It's hard to know where to begin. Here. Now. Today.

Be kind - I tell myself. You've been here...you've done this before. It's nothing new. You've shown up. You're present. You're awake and aware. You've already begun. You just don't know it.

And the snow is still falling. The beautiful sound of silence. No question or doubt - altho the season is long and dark and cold and sometimes hard - winter is my favorite. When everything lies dormant...warming seeds for new growth.

I'm one part wanting only to look back. To re-visit this past year...and re-member. All that was good...and all that wasn't. All that didn't happen...and all that did. All the failures...and - perhaps even - some of the successes.

And I'm another part looking forwards. That part - niggling and nagging at me...telling me that it's time to close that end-of-year-book and open another. Allow what was...to be just as it was. Look at it. See it. Roll it around for a bit and touch it. Feel it in my body. And without any judgement - let it go.

And the snow is still falling. It's only December. I need not go 'there'...when I'm still right 'here' - wherever that may be and just as I am. Today. Now.

Some days - it's harder to know where to begin. Some days - it's easier.

Today - I'm carefully considering my thoughts...I'm mindfully mapping out new directions...I'm setting fresh intentions. And I'm reminding myself - again - that no thing is final. No feeling. No season. No thought. Yesterday is behind me. What will be tomorrow...will be.

Because - today - I don't know. Where or what or how to begin. I'm doing the one thing that I do know. To show up. To breathe. To connect. To listen.

Be kind - I remind myself - you just did it.

My Father and Me

Rain...with the possibilty of the season's first snow.

Snow...with a mix of rain.

November.

An old man dies. A baby is born. Children - on their way to school - laughing. Life does go on.

Acutely aware of this moment of quiet...this pause...this place that finds me somewhere in the in-between. In between decades. In between seasons. In between the generation before me and the one that follows behind.

My sweet pup lies here quietly at my feet. Breathing. Her furry coat - gently...softly...comforting...warming.

Somehow - I've grown to like this in-between...this uncertain space...this not-yet-knowing the answers to the questions I have yet to ask.

Soon - in a few short days - I'll be celebrating 55. It's not a big birthday. It's one that could too easily go un-marked and un-noticed as most of the others. There's nothing about this mid-decade mark that carries with it any particular signficance or note.

And yet...

The snow is falling mixing itself in with the rain....or is it the rain that's falling mixing itself with the snow. I don't know.

It's nothing. It's everything. It's the age my father was when he died. Too young. Too vibrant. Too alive. Like me. Like this. Like now. Like today.

No question or doubt -  we share the same genetic make-up. I look like him. I walk with the same slightly lilting tilting hop and his skip. I've spent countless hours and days seeing and feeling and capturing and portraying the world that surrounds. Like father...like daughter. Maybe.

I've been left only with questions and with a visual legacy of unfinished parts and pieces. I knew and loved him as the father he was to me. But - who was he?

I'm wishing - now -  for a conversation. I'm preparing myself to ask new questions. I'm imagining that he might respond...that I might hear his voice anew. Really - I'm just wanting to understand..to become re-acquainted and always to better know. Me thru he...and he thru me.

In front of me sit files of unprocessed...un-printed...never-before-seen photographic negatives. Stacks of boxes of images we've all seen. In one instant I'm daunted by the enormity of this project. On the other - I know that this can no longer wait.

For this 55th new year - I'm setting myself a new intention and direction.

We're going to talk - me and he. We're going to have this much-awaited and long-overdue conversation. I'm going to ask those questions. Maybe he'll answer. Maybe he won't. I'm expecting nothing...and hoping for all. If only to understand...to see thru his eyes and not just my own.

Rain and snow? Me and he?

November.

Again

In the midst of this autumn and season's end - I'm wanting only to begin.

Again.

I'm wanting to begin without a map or a plan or a destination. I'm wanting to wander without a direction. I'm wanting to begin from a place and space of knowing only that I know nothing at all. I'm wanting a fresh start. I'm wanting a different view. I'm wanting to experience and explore a whole new and raw creative edge.

I'm wanting to get my hands dirty. I'm wanting to paint with crayons and paste with glue. I'm wanting to  get messy...to make mistakes...to fall down and pick myself back up again. I'm wanting to dance and sing and make music. I'm wanting to laugh with the wind and rain.

I'm wanting to begin with a clean slate and white space and empty pages and a computer screen that glares and dares and challenges me. I'm wanting to begin at the beginning...or - at the very least - to begin where I am.

In this month of in between. The colors are changing. The leaves are falling. The kids - like the ducks and the geese - have flown out of their outgrown nests. I'm wanting to begin in the midst of uncertain and ever-present constant change.

I'm not looking for any answers. I'm not even asking any questions. I'm trusting in this process of simply showing up. Whatever it is I'm seeking - will show its colors in its right season and time.

I remind myself - I can. I have long conversations with myself promising that - I will. There's nothing and no one to stop me. Somewhere - here in the middle of beautiful autumn - I am.

Beginning again. With a beginner's mind... a strong body...an open-heart and gentle-soul.
I have...I am - only this.

Now - in the midst of this autumn and season's end - is the just right time for beginning.

Again.

Burn Brightly

It always starts with my magical metaphorical mat...and the practice of beginning. Of letting go of yesterday. Of not - yet - engaging with tomorrow. Of simply being in the right here and right now.

And - feeling.

And - noticing.

And - looking and seeing.

And - trusting.

It's been well-over a decade since I fell in love with the art and discipline of a daily yoga practice. At first - it was like anything else 'new'. I needed structure. I needed guidance. I needed rules. And - I needed positive affirmation...encouragement...and reassurance that what I was doing was just 'right'

Likewise - it's been almost 7 years since I discovered this wonderful world of this daily blogging practice...of showing up and sharing...of finding my voice...of listening to the voices of others. Just as it was on my mat - I needed the positive affirmation...encouragement and support. I needed to be assured that what I was doing was 'good'...was 'right'...and 'expected'.

Practice is practice - whether it be a physical (asana)...or creative. When you commit...when you show up regularly and routinely... when you return and repeat and do the necessary work - things change.

Seasons change. Times change. Perspectives change. I change.

The clothes I once dressed myself in...no longer fit as they once did. The girl that was...is not the same girl today...and - I'm quite certain - won't be the one who will be tomorrow.

This recent decision to turn comments off was not an impulsive one. It's been something I've been thinking about for months - returning to it over and over again in my mind...uncertain. I've  wanted to believe that I might continue to receive without returning...that I might continue to hear them without feeling the pressure and obligation to respond. I wanted to believe that I could and I would continue on just as I always have.

But - I couldn't.

'Practice' - it is said - 'and all is coming'.

I craved silence. I craved freedom. I craved space. I craved light and air.

It's been more than two weeks - living in this newly created quiet. I'm forever grateful to all of you who have encouraged and supported me in my journey and quest to discover this voice. And now - it's up to me to pay-it-forward...to share that voice - more authentically...more openly...more freely.

Fire needs oxygen to burn.

I'm setting a new intention.

To breathe deeper than I ever have before. To burn brightly.

The Other Side of Fear

Some where over there...and on the other side of here - I'm sure - it's waiting. I'll find it.

Some place over that mountain...that ocean...that color filled rainbow. Some day after this day...or the next or the one after that. Some time - after this time. It's gotta be there. As soon as I answer all of these un-answerable questions. I'll know.

Where it is that I'm going.

The journey - thus far - from where I began to where I am....has been a somewhat unexpected one. There have been twists and turns and many round-abouts. There have been more un-scheduled detours and changes-in-direction than I would have...could have ever imagined. But the path - when I stop to really think - has always been there unfolding just as it should...in front of me.

Today. I'm here. That's all I can say...that's all I know for absolute certain.

Even this - what it is that I'm writing - isn't quite according to my day's plan. It comes thru me. The thoughts...the words...the intentions.

I've learned to let it go...to trust the practice and the process. To know that what begins with simply showing up...will reveal itself from there.

I had planned to share my thoughts about fear - F.E.A.R. About those 'F'alse 'E'xpectations and how they can 'A'ppear so very 'R'eal. I had hoped to answer my most-oft-asked question as to why this 'four-letter 'F' word' - so often paralyzes...stops...and has me second-guessing.

Instead - I'm speaking to my journey...and how I'm learning to love that fear. That it's the 'F'eeling of that 'E'nergy 'A'nd 'R'eleasing into it that fuels me. That it's the inviting her (yes - I'm giving it a female persona) in...accepting and embracing her as my friend who knows me better than I ever will..and as such - can be trusted to advise.

It's a love/hate relationship I have with fear. When she's not in my life...I miss her exuberant energy. When she is - I'm always wishing that she might quiet herself down and stop telling me what it is I should and shouldn't.

And - still - I am here. Some where on the other side of that mountain..that ocean...that color-filled rainbow.

That other side of fear?
It's just as they say.
It's freedom. Of course. It is.

The Energy of Intention

Four weeks ago - today - I set an intention. To create...to build...to lead a community of like-minded practitioners in cultivating the discipline of habit in creative practice.

That I set this intention - was somewhat un-intentional. When I wrote it down and declared it out loud - I had no real idea of where it would lead. Ever since - I've been riding the wave. Of prana. Of life force. Of excitement. Of a singular focused determination. Of all that energy that follows a singular intent.

Like so much of life....and its journey.

We show up. We do what we habitually do. Without really knowing what or why or where - we've already begun. The seeds of intention have been set. All we needed to do was to slow down...to pay close attention... to listen and to really hear.

And - here I am. I am here.

I've bumped up against fear....and all sorts of resistance. I've seen it. I've felt it. I've named it. And - I'm doing it anyway.

I've listened to that voice of self-doubt...of questioning...of uncertainty. I've invited her to come sit with me at my table. I've argued and challenged and wrestled with her. And - thus far - I'm winning this war.

I've been relentlessly resolute in my unwavering focus. Doggedly determined. Unwilling to compromise my direction. Ever since this very public declaration of intention - I've been following the light that is guiding and leading. Altho the destination is still somewhat uncertain. The path is clear.

Each and every day - I show up. I take one long slow breath...and then another. I remind myself that the ground is right there to support me...and that the sky above is nothing other than vast endless soft clouds of possibility.

I do one thing that scares me. And each and every day - I'm one step farther along that path than I was yesterday.

Like so much of life...and all of its journeys.

The i's are not yet all dotted...and the t's are not all perfectly crossed. I walk the talk. I'm letting go. I'm a true believer in the prize that's in the process. And - I'm daring to share some of the incomplete imperfection that is my own.

For those of you who are here with me now - I'm offering you up a sneak peek...a preview of what's to come.

Lastly  - I'm setting here one more intention. I'll be opening this practice up to those who wish to sign-up and join me next week.

While the light is still warm and bright and the days are long enough to linger and langor - we'll get started on Monday - July 15th.

And now - I'll just watch and wait and ride that wave of energy...as it always follows.

The Seat of A Student

To teach. To lead. To guide. To share all that I've been studying and practicing for so many years. To speak to a lifetime of wisdom and experience. To instruct. To educate. To discipline. To inspire.

I remember some of my first teacher's words...as she encouraged us to set an intention. As she assured us that the energy will follow whatever intention it is that we set. I'm not sure I believed. I'm not sure I could. But I - somehow - found 'just enough' trust in that process to follow along with that thought.

Quickly - I learned that this intention is not meant to be measured in achievement - in a goal we set and attain...or a destination at which we ultimately arrive. The goals I'd set...I'd attain. And more often than not - I'd find myself at that set destination and then ask - what's next?

This intention - about which she spoke - was about how it is we wish to feel...to dream...to hope...to change and grow. It was about how it is we meet and greet each new day. It was about connecting to whatever it is that yearns to burn so brightly. It was about our personal expressions. It was about our 'becoming'.

I was a good student. I learned to show-up regularly and routinely. I learned how to tune out...so that I could tune in. I learned that by focusing my forever-perseverating mind on that just one thing...that there was quiet...and calm...and center...and ground. I learned to move. I learned to be still. I learned to balance my good and my bad...my wildest dreams and worst nightmares...my right and my left...my softness and my strength...my creativity and my discipline - as one.

Very very slowly - the old patterns that had worn such deep grooves in my brain - replaced themselves with new ones. That old belief that 'practice makes perfect'...evolved into something new. Practice makes  'practiced'. It makes 'proficient'. It makes 'strong'.

And - what does it mean to 'be practiced'?

For each person - it's different...it's personal...it's uniquely their own. For me - it is knowing that with each and every breath...I begin. It is understanding that so much of everything in life is about simply showing up...being present...alive and awake and alert and aware. It is accepting and embracing. It is about feeling...and trusting....and knowing that this is just what it is.

A life full of practice...a practice in living a full life.

My turn now - to pay it forward. To teach. To lead. To guide. To share all that I've been studying and practicing for so many years. To speak to a lifetime of wisdom and experience. To instruct. To educate. To discipline. To inspire.

In my classroom - I will be teaching from the seat of the student. There will be no right or wrong...no successes or failures. We'll show up. We'll face our fears. We'll meet up with procrastination. We'll stretch. We'll grow. We'll sometimes fall...and we'll always pick ourselves right back up again. We'll try easy. And we will become strong.

There will be no prizes or trophies or little gold stars. There will be no goals or destinations.

In this classroom - there will be nothing other than the deepest of respect...the kindest of words...the gentlest of encouraging affirmations. It will be all about the journey and from where we each and everyone begin.

The 'subject' of study?

It's YOU...and we'll begin within.

This Now

Legs cross beneath me...one shin stacks atop another forming a solid trangular base. Spine extends - tall and straight. Chest broadens. Heart opens. Crown of head - reaches to the ceiling. Hands rest quietly on my knees. Fingers relax. Palms face upwards.

'Easy' pose - the teacher says...as she leads. In sanskrit - it's called 'Sukhasana'.

Close your eyes. Inhale to the steady count of four and exhale to that same and steady count again. Breathe.

Settle in. Feel your body. Set your intention. And 'now' - she reminds us - the practice of yoga begins.

It is the 'now' that I'm thinking of. The 'atha'. There's nothing particularly comfortable about this position in which I'm seated. There's nothing easy about any of this at all. My body so desperately wants to come out of it...to begin to move and to stretch. My mind wanders - jumping from one thought to another. It starts questioning and doubting and telling me - I can't.

But - I can. And - I am.

How much longer? I hear my mind thinking. And when - exactly - will this 'now' begin? Because - right here in this not-so-easy pose - can't possibly be 'that' just right time. I'm not ready - not ever.  It's not perfect - not yet. This pose that appears to be so simple...is so very hard.

I start thinking about a beautiful conversation I'd had earlier...and a more difficult one that was still to come. My day's lists begin to haunt me. I wonder if I'd remembered to turn off the stove and lock the door before leaving...and what will we eat for dinner? That thing - yes that all important 'thing' that I'd been meaning to do? I need to do that before this. Yes..definitely - I do.

Has it started yet? I wonder. This practice? Has this 'now' arrived? Is 'this' the just right time? How will I know if I'm ready? When will I know if I've begun?

Softly and gently -  I'm reminded to listen to the sound of my breath...to feel my heart beating. My mind quiets. The urgency eases...the thoughts slow themselves down. Nothing is seeming as important. Only this. One inhale...and then the next.

Surrendering into that initial discomfort..I'm now finding a little more comfort...a lot more space. The voices - in my head - are still talking...but my mind is growing still. I'm no longer reacting. The thoughts are floating in and out of my consciousness as they pass through.

New begininngs. Daily ones. No matter how many times I've begun this way - they're always a challenge.  The quieting of my perserverating mind. The surrendering and releasing and allowing myself to be just as I am...as it is. In 'this' moment. Present and aware. In 'this' here and this 'now'.

The teacher's voice brings me back into myself. She reminds me that it's not about pushing those thoughts away...but about fully embracing them. It's about listening...about hearing...about feeling...and letting go.

The 'now' in which I began is the 'now' in which I'm in. And it's within this 'now' that the practice of yoga truly begins.

Atha Yoganusasanam

Inspiration

I'm looking everywhere today for it to find me. To seek me out. To guide me.

I've looked to the early morning moon and to the sun's rise. I've looked up to the sky and down to the earth that I walk on. I've looked to the pale green buds on the trees and the yellow flowers that are blossoming. I've looked to the birds...hoping that they might speak so loud that I might hear.

I've looked to the books on my shelves and to the songs that are singing on the radio. I've looked to my computer...my inbox...and the words of wisdom it so often offers and shares. I've looked to my crayons and markers and paints. I've looked to my camera and its magical lens.

Nothing and nowhere. It's not to be found.

To a steady count of four - I inhale. And to an equally steady count - I slowly exhale. I release into this discomfort...this fear...this 'nothing' that envelopes me.

I inspire..and I breathe in. I fill my lungs with fresh clean air. I expire...and let go of all that no longer serves me. My mind quiets....the tension in my neck and shoulders eases. I settle myself down and into a familiar and oh-so-comfortable seat. My legs cross beneath me.

I stop looking. I stop seeking. I stop searching. I stop thinking that I can't begin until inspiration strikes. I can. I will. I do. Right here. Right now.

In the silence...I find myself curious. I want to know - what is it about this great thing we call 'inspiration'? How might I define and describe it? I can't smell or taste it. I can't see or hear it. I definitely can't touch it. So then - what is it about it that I'm so desperately looking for?

Again - I feel myself breathing. My fingers are dancing across the keyboard. I'm writing. I'm creating. It seems that I've found what it is I've been so frantically seeking...or that - perhaps - it has at long last found me.

But how? I wonder. And when?...and where?

It is then that it occurs to me. That moment of surrender...that 'ahaa' of discovery and truth.

To inspire...to inhale...to breathe in. The dots begin to connect themselves. What was murky and muddy is suddenly becoming oh-so-very clear.

All that I've wanted and needed and for which I've spent so much time and energy searching....has come to me from somewhere within. The quieter I become...the more I can hear. The more I can hear...the more I can see. And somewhere in the middle of all of that seeing and hearing...it happens. My vision. My voice. It's all right there.

So simple. Really. This 'muse' that I've so cleverly named 'inspiration'? Show up. Effort less. Try easy. Breathe. Connect. It's about what's always been...and always will. Inside me.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Written and posted long before today's tragic events unfolded. Tears and prayers for everyone here in Boston - my fair city. How is this possible???

The Fourth Child

Once and again - I find myself asking.

What is this holiday about? This annual rite and ritual and essential part of the coming of spring?

We gather. We share. We eat. We celebrate. We sing. We tell and re-tell the stories of Passover....of the Jews and their exodus from tyrrany and bondage. We drink four cups of wine..we ask the four questions..and we answer to the four different types of children who sit around our table.

This year - somehow - I'm thinking about the children. The 'wise' and the 'wicked'...the 'simple' and the 'one who knows not how to ask'.

I'm thinking about the labels we put to others..and to ourselves. The words we use to self-identify. The ones we've carried with us since childhood..and into today. Those words that define and confine us...that not only dictate who we are..but who we might someday be.

The 'wise' child - is understood to be the 'good' one. The one who has learned early in life how to please..and how to ask that all-important just right question. It makes her a good student - yes. But  - how does that make her wise? I wonder.

The 'wicked' child  - is known to be challenging and contrary...the 'difficult' one. But - perhaps this child is simply being bold and bravely honest. Perhaps this child speaks from the belief and conviction of her heart.

The 'simple' - it is implied - is the one who is limited in her understanding of things. Or maybe - not. Maybe - the simplicity is in the lack of complexity..the groundedness..the ease in which she moves thru her world.

And then - there's that last..almost overlooked and forgotten one. The one 'who knows not how to ask'. The silent observer. The quiet one. The one who has cultivated stillness and awareness...who is taking it all in without speaking a single word.

Again - I'm asking. What is this holiday about?

At its core - we're celebrating the journey from oppression to redemption..to the universal and eternal right to be free. We're celebrating the passage of the Jews - yes. We're also celebrating the journey of our own hearts and souls. To shed those labels that define and confine and enslave us. To our right to be true to who and all that we might be.

The 'wise'..the 'wicked'..the 'simple'..or the one 'who does not know' how to ask. I'd like to think of myself as occasionally wise...often wicked...forever simple...and proudly  - the one who chooses to be that quiet one who needs not always speak out loud and ask.

This year - I'll gather. I'll share. I'll eat and drink and celebrate. Not only the journey of our forefathers and mothers...but my own. For forty years following their exodus from Egypt - the Jews wandered in the desert before finding and settling into their home.

It sounds like a long time. It sounds like a life time. It sounds like just about the right amount of time - to me.

Re-Visioning

This morning - I heard the birds sing.

I wish I could have identifed their song. A familiar hooting of a distant owl. A persistent tap-tapping of a woodpecker. A chorus of honking sounds coming from the mating geese. But the others - the twitter and tweet - all sounded brand new.

Re-visioning.

It's what I was thinking. Re-turning and re-imagining.

Layers peeling away...re-vealing what's to be. New seasons. New stories. New life. The ice is melting.

Yesterday - I thought I  knew. Who I was. Where I belonged. My place and space in the scheme of the universe. Today - I'm a little uncertain.

Surrender. To the moment. To the blank page. To the changing season.

Surrender. To the ticking clock. The turning calendar. The new rules of this new game.

They told me. They forewarned. The time will pass too quickly. It's not we who are getting older. It's they. Babies grow into children...and children grow up. In a blink of an eye..in an instant - they're no longer yours. They're their own.

The roles are changing. I don't know what to wear. I don't quite know where I fit. I no longer re-cognize that person in the mirror. Staring back.

Inhale - and I'm still who and what I've always been. Exhale - and I'm something and someone else.

In answer to every new question - I remind myself to breathe.

In answer to every new circumstance - I tell myself again - to simply breathe.

In answer to each and every struggle - just breathe.

The early morning birdsong reminds me of life's cycles. The ebb and flo. The beginnings and middles and endings. My family is expanding and growing. My role as mother is no longer confined to my own...but suddenly to many more.

It's soon to be spring.

I look to the early morning birds - leaping and jumping from limb to branch and branch to tree. I listen to their song. And - as I look..and as I see - I'm reminded of how truly lucky I am to be this newly re-created vision. Of me.

A Child's Story

I could tell you the story - how it began..and how it ended. How it arrived...and drifted away.

How it was first forecasted to be one storm..and then two clashing and crashing and coming together. I heard them calling it 'epic'.

How educated..sophisticated..intelligent adults fought over cans of tuna fish..and milk..and water... and who might get that very last banana. As if they'd never leave their houses. Ever again.

How schools were cancelled...businesses were closed...all means  and modes of public transportation were interrupted..and driving was banned from all roads. How everyone stayed home.

How it began - with a healthy dose of skepticism. We've been here. We've done this. We've heard all this before. Is this really going to happen?...or is this just one more big error and ruse?

How - we were awakened in the night by the winds howling..the screen doors slamming..the shutters creaking. How in the darkness..with the street lamps illuminating - we could see see that snow was indeed - yes -  falling. Crazy and wild. It had - at last - arrived..and with unprecedented strength and vigor.

How  - in the light of day - it was to look out and discover the world transformed. A globe of fairy dust..drifting and blowing. Madly. With no end in sight. Everything..everywhere..rendered in white.

How - we hunkered down and settled in..and watched a movie mid-day. Before now - unheard of. We played with scissors and glue and colorful crayons. We baked cookies. We ate comforting..home-cooked cheese and macaroni. We waited. We watched.

How - we donned layer upon layer of outdoor clothes. Snow pants and jackets...mittens and hats. An extra pair of socks..and boots that covered our tender toes.

How - it was to find ourselves in snow that was as high as the sky. How we had to gather our strength and courage and leap and jump and push our way thru. How soft it was. How beautiful. How cold and fresh and deep. How it sifted thru our fingers. Just like that. Just like this. Into thin air.

How we grabbed hold of our shovels and slowly dug our way out. We made tunnels and funnels and banks of high snow.

How so many neighbors and friends emerged out of nowhere. How happy and friendly and cheery they all were..working together with a single purpose and cause. How everyone was laughing. How much fun it all was.

How it was to return. Inside - where it was warm and dry. Where hot cocoa was waiting. Where we could melt our wet fingers and frozen toes. Where we knew that all was safe...all was well. That life was just as it should.

I could tell you all about it. My story. Today.

But what I can't do..what I so wish I could and would - is to tell that same story thru the lens of a child. The excitement..the awe..the magic..the wonder..the cold..the warm..the comfort of knowing and loving and living in winter.

Or maybe...just maybe - that's just what I did.

Welcoming The New

Small fist-fulls of soft white snow gently falling outside my window. A steaming hot cup of tea. A square of my favorite deep dark rich chocolate. My dog lying at my feet. This moment.

The blank screen stares. The cursor blinks. I should write something truly important..truly momentous. It is - after all - the last day of this past year.

How to even begin to enumerate...evaluate...calculate? I can't. How to honor and celebrate the old...while welcoming and inviting in the new? I don't know. It's been a year...like so many others.

There have been thousands of individual moments - seen and captured thru my camera's lens. Hundreds and hundreds of words written. Endless miles walked. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've rolled out my mat and saluted that morning sun. Every day - exactly the same..and yet each and every one - uniquely different.

I begin. I end. And - I begin again.

The perfect metaphor for practice..for life. We start our days...and finish them. And somewhere in between is  the 'stuff' that makes it all worthwhile. The 'stuff' that has no words or images or anything other that might describe.

The sound of laughter. The salty taste of a tear. A fleeting thought. A furtive glance. A shy smile. A blush. A hand that reaches out and touches another. A warm hug. A heart beating. The moon's glow. The sun's rise. The sense of peace in silent solitude. Stillness. Breath.

As this year comes to a close - I have no thing to show. There are no great mountains that I've climbed. No oceans that I've crossed. No great trophies I've placed proudly up on my mantle.

I began 2012 with the intention to 'be brave'. To be honest..to be true..to commit to finding my authentic voice and vision. And brave - I've been. I've met my personal challenges with courage and grace. I've met myself with greater understanding and compassion. I've stepped out of my zones of comfort and opened my heart to possibility. I've held my own hand..dried my own tears..become my very own best friend.

Before closing this one door and opening the next - I'm celebrating. The good..the bad..the ugly. I'm honoring the moments in between that can not be enumerated...those stories that can never be told. And as I enter into this new year..as we all begin once and again - I remind myself of the importance of just 'this'.

Of just simply showing up. Of being present and alive and aware. Of accepting 'it'...embracing 'it'... of owning 'it' just as 'it' is.

For this new year - I'm setting my sights and intentions towards focusing in...taking right action when right action is for the taking....and leading with a soft but confident voice. I want to continue to inspire..and be inspired. I want to continue to share the 'teachings' as they've been taught to me.

Now - in this moment - I am listening to the sound of silence. I am seeing the snow falling. I am smelling the sweet cinnamon in my hot tea. I am tasting the bitter-sweetness of the dark chocolate as it melts in my mouth. I am feeling the softness of my sweet pup's fur against my bare feet. I am awake. I am alive. I am fully aware.

Honoring the successes..celebrating the disappointments...releasing it all.

Welcoming in the new.