On Rainbows

This morning I was doing mantras on my beloved mala beads off the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas on our good friend’s catamaran. 

It suddenly started to drizzle, then rain – quite abruptly and hard. My husband who was doing his own yoga on the other hull and I ran to the back of the boat where we were greeted with a beautiful rainbow.

Wow… It stopped me in my tracks. How beautiful. And how beautiful to see a full rainbow on the horizon. We are so lucky.

I couldn’t help but think of the state of Ukraine and her beautiful human citizens who are not so lucky. These past few days I have instinctively wanted to use personal mantra to will something positive or hopeful to the outcome of this unnecessary war. But I also remembered that mantra is personal and will not work for anyone outside yourself. I briefly wondered just then as I have for the past several mornings why then do we use group mantra to raise consciousness or send faith outward? 

The answer was in front of me. 

The rainbow. I marveled at the colors. The anagram of ROY G BIV that I learned around the kindergarten years. The order holds true no matter where you are. 

About 10 years ago while listening to U2’s song Ultraviolet, I contemplated and then researched the meaning of colors and the length of their spectrums. As I started to get back into art a few years later, I considered the meaning of colors even more. The way they blend, and how a color wheel can seem continuous from red to purple, it’s really not. Purple to red is the only place on the wheel that isn’t quite part of nature. What happens between those two? Is there a real place between them? 

White light contains it all. The earth bends the suns rays and we get the rainbow to the visible eye. But what is beyond that? We know about infrared and ultraviolet, but what is there that we can’t see or detect with the combination of instruments and our 5 senses? 

Universally red is considered basic and instinctive while purple is considered spiritual and highly conscious. Red is larger and takes up more space on the rainbow. Purple is smaller and is only accessed by passing all of the rainbow’s outer colors. 

What lies past purple going inward?

What can’t we see?

I stared at this gem that appears when the elements of fire (sun) and water mix into the element of air seemingly right into the element of earth’s horizon. 

The purple color starts to go within. 

Going within is the key. It’s the path to something deeper, meaningful and what isn’t just a mirage or hologram, but what is real and we can’t see or detect with our eyes. 

We can all go within and quiet the mind of excuses, fears, worries, selfish desires, etc to find the right answer to anything. The answer that is ultimately right for the world, not just the human who is asking. 

Those fears, excuses, desire, etc are the other “colors” you need to pass through in order to find the peace within. 

The place within where field or maybe plane of existence of the personal self does not matter. What matters is what is real and what is for the greater good. 

So perhaps the question I wondered about mantras for personal matters vs mantras for others was right there in the rainbow. It is the bridge between personal self and greater good. I can do mantra to seek my own higher consciousness, which is ultimately for the greater good. Or I can chant with others in community for the greater good. 

It all works if the intention is to leave all the material and selfish behind and pray for peace and harmony for all. 

ALL. 

Regardless of species, race, skin or hair color, or beliefs anyone was taught. 

If you truly truly go within, you too will know that none of anything material or visible matters if what you wish for others is what you want for yourself. 

Just some of my deeper thoughts this morning. 

Namaste

Chinese New Year and the Magic of Your Thoughts

Last year right around this time a trip to the post office may have changed my life.

I was online and noticed a sign for stamps celebrating Chinese New Year. I picked up my phone to look up the date. Friday, February 12, 2021. I wondered why Chinese New Year wasn’t based on the calendar. 

Later, at home, I popped that very question into Google. I learned Chinese New Year was based on the new moon and I read quite a bit about the traditions and celebration.

Still, I wondered – Why this time of year

A few days later during my morning meditation routine I had some interesting thoughts. 

This time last year I set an intention during my morning meditation to quit drinking. I would do some EFT (tapping) and imagine burning up the energies getting in the way of doing so.

For the New Year of 2021 I placed a Shiva statue on my meditation table and switched my daily mala mantra to “Om Namah Shivaya”. I also placed a wooden sign I painted above the door frame of my meditation space with this same mantra.

Each morning felt fresh and new. I optimistically thought “Today is the day I don’t drink”. By mid-day I’d decide to drink, but that would be the last day. It was a futile merry go round and I couldn’t seem to make it stop and find where the exit back into the amusement park was.

I needed a push. I chose Shiva for that push. Stick with me about why… 

In yoga teacher training I learned a little about Hinduism and the 3 main deities of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. They are the Creator, Sustainer, and Destroyer. In Ayruveda they can be likened to Spring, Summer and Fall/Winter. 

Shiva destroys the season of summer each year and ushers in Fall, then Winter. At some point Brahma takes over and creation starts over. Spring begins. Simple enough concept. 

This particular morning of 2/8 on my meditation cushion, I looked up at this piece I created in 2019.  It may literally look like “Chinese” to anyone but me – however; it represents my own conglomeration of beliefs/knowledge regarding Taoism, Hinduism, Ayurveda, the seasons, the directions of the earth, time, and the color wheel. 

I thought about Shiva and my question of why Chinese New Years falls during this time of year.

And while looking at my art I saw how I incorporated the 3 primary colors with the 3 Ayurvedic doshas into 4 seasons. 

Was there is a distinct point in which Spring really begins and Winter ends? A time when Shiva’s work ends and Brahma’s begins? How could it not be at this very time of year? 

While the ground is frozen and the leaves are long gone, it’s only 3 or so weeks away from crocuses coming up. Clearly flowers can’t pop up above ground without some underground work below right?

Buds are already on the trees at the Equinox. 

Mother Nature silently begins her work as the days become noticeably longer but it’s still very much winter. 

She must start around now. And why not with a mid-winter New Moon? Seems like good timing to me! Perhaps that is when the bulk of Shiva’s work is “done” for the season. 

Still with my conglomerate story? 

Shiva is a “destroyer” but simultaneously/alternatively known as a change agent or transformer. When Shiva is involved, it is apparent.

In this famous statue, Shiva is shown dancing. He is known as the cosmic dancer. Stomping and keeping the beat of the universe moving. The stomping and dancing represent moving things along, transforming life and matter, keeping it all going and preventing it all from being stuck. 

It’s why I was meditating and attempting to tap into this energy.

Side Note: In Christianity – Do you know who else is known as the Lord of the Dance?

This particular Monday morning of 2/8 I lamented on how another weekend went by and I did not stop drinking. Chinese New Year was that Friday 2/12. A new start, a new beginning. I would stop by that Friday with the Chinese New Year NO MATTER WHAT.  

I went through my morning routine: meditate, tap, mantra; with the strong intention of quitting the drink woven in.  

Be careful what you wish for. And even more importantly how you wish for it. 

That Friday did not arrive, at least not in the way I had planned. I wanted to stop by then and by golly some forces came in like a lion and made darn good certain that by Friday I was not to be drinking.

I drank that Monday. Forces were with me. There were four very irritating things taking place around me; four really tough things that would irritate and worry just about anyone.

Did I face them? No I didn’t. I drank instead. 

So what happened?

I lost my mind. I had a strong and violent PTSD episode. It wasn’t the first time. I had a lovely trip to the Emergency Room until the wee hours of the night because I was simply unable to stop hyperventilating in an elevated panic attack. 

It was on a gurney in the middle of the night on the morning of 2/9/21 at Yale New Haven Hospital, by myself. In the middle of a pandemic with a mask on and the future unknown in every way. 

I KNEW what had happened wouldn’t have happened if I did not drink. I couldn’t drink anymore. There can’t be any more “tomorrows” when I’ll quit. It had to happen now. Not Friday. NOW. I looked up a service I kept seeing on TV during my soap opera where they come into your home to help you with addiction issues. I put in a request for information and I began enrollment the next day.

The next few days and weeks were an absolute mess. I made a mess of my life. I didn’t live in my house again until April. My husband and I didn’t live together again until June. 

It was the worst of times.

It was the best of times. 

I prayed for a Shiva-like intervention. A Shiva like intervention is what I got.

It’s not how I would have imagined I’d get there, but it happened.

I don’t know if anything else would have given me pause to really self-reflect and evaluate where I was in my life, how I’d gotten there, and to really acknowledge and own the mistakes I made along with way.  

I knew the moment I made the absolute decision to quit that no matter what came next, things would be better even if everything fell apart and my future life would be unrecognizable. 

“All of these things make me who I am”

On the one hand my whole life, every decision I made and experiences I lived through led me to where I was (the bottle). On the other hand, in trying to quit and going to therapy and learning about PTSD with the intention to become a better person for the prior 10+ years; I felt I had been training for this moment for a long time. 

I’d learned and understood deeply before then that life goes on and everything happens for a reason. I learned how to meditate and breath through it. I knew where to look for resources, who in my life would be helpful, how to fall asleep in the face of pain and how to channel the influx of both good and bad overwhelming energy into something creative. 

I knew from mistakes past that I had to stop and rest when my body called for it. I knew I had to forgive myself when I really took the veil off about how I had hurt others. While it hurt to know, see and feel this pain, I knew ultimately it was ok because I had faith and know my creator doesn’t make mistakes. I was not supposed to be in any other place in space or time other than where I was.

It wasn’t AS easy as I am writing it out to sound. But it was easier than I thought. I knew no matter what happened that I would be ok, and eventually even better. I had preferences on what I would have liked and put the intentions out there. But I was careful to also put out the intention to accept whatever did happen, especially if it is ultimately for my own good.

Good things happened to a handful of others in my immediate circle as well. Based on some of the realizations and choices I made, others were able to ultimately respond to me in healthier ways and evaluate themselves with a new set of eyes.

If I expanded what I just wrote to those I have met in the past year from various recovery avenues; I have been unbelievably inspired and have been told that I have inspired many others too.

While not quite a picnic, everything that transpired put me and my loved ones in a more enlightened and accepting place. 

There are some folks in my outer circle who might not see it that way, but I trust in the powers that be that if those individuals were willing to look, there is a gem in there for them to uncover as well. Something we were meant to bump into one another for to better ourselves and each other in some form.

The Coelho’s The Alchemist, the boy searches the world for the treasure, only to learn it’s been within the whole time. One of my favorite lines from that book is: 

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” 
 Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Thank you Shiva? 

However, the universe will not give you what you want directly. It will provide for you the intention that you have behind that desire. 

If your intentions are less than desirable, selfish, or towards only your kind/posse/etc, that will come to you just as it was put out. The Lord’s Prayer tells us this in the line: 

“And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. 

You will only get from the universe what you give. 

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” 
 Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

If you strive to become better – and your intentions are pure, you will see how clearly this plays out and notice how you are creating your own life with your own thoughts. 

It’s TRICKY. Pure doesn’t mean “I want to be rich”. Being rich means someone else loses or you have more than others. That isn’t pure and even if it happens, it will not manifest in ways that feel good. 

While tricky, little can go wrong if you are good and have respectable intentions. Also, it is important to be and be clear about what you want, because as you vacillate the universe is equally vacillating in giving it to you. 

I learned a lot this past year. Especially how I can enjoy life more by controlling my thinking which is so much easier when it is never clouded by alcohol. 

My life is different, but you’d hardly notice. Good and bad things can and will always happen. But it has been easier as I learn and remember to accept what is and I’m not pining and wishing for it to be any different. 

While I still may instinctively want things another way – I need to know that I really don’t want it any other way. What happens as my response to it – that is ALL on me. 

Namaste. 

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Who in the World is “Modern” Technology for?

I’m on a tear about technology today. It started this morning at work when I was asked to make two calendars from one my work group has on our SharePoint. Simple enough right? Make a new calendar, put what is needed on the new one and delete that same content off the old. 

But no. It’s not that simple. 

Without going into all kinds of boring details there’s no longer a button to click to create a new calendar (which by the way was hidden & knowing how to find that one was a feat in & of itself). 

Now there are new apps that don’t even have names that a normal human would know what they are. After a time too long to admit, I found a ‘calendar looking’ app. I went to click on it, and was asked to request access. At that point I was provided a link where I could check the status of my request. 

About 10 minutes later I get an email from an IT link about my calendar looking app request. The app was not yet approved; but I received another link to a page with help to find apps. There I learn that there is a link to the “Classics”. The classics are documents, calendars, announcements, group chats… The classics? You mean what real living and breathing employees use? Am I that old? 

I just can’t with this stuff. 

I thought I finally learned how to work my “Smart” TV. I know what the remotes do and how to add & delete apps, subscribe to channels, etc. Things my older family members and siblings have yet to figure out. Maybe my kids have, but I’m not so sure. However, when I went to watch a few purchased Holiday videos a few weeks back I learned that Fandango where I bought them was sold to some other company. I spent about an hour trying to get to my old account and figure out passwords and where to find “purchased content”. I never found it. We just ended up watching what was free. 

What was so wrong with purchasing content that you can hold in your hand and keep in your cabinet? I still don’t know what happened to the movies I paid for. 

My car is a 2017 Prius. It has a touch screen and built-in navigation that never seems to work. Or when I do get the nav to work, I can’t seem to ever turn off the route. Every button, every option, every possible thing… and there is no “End Route” or equivalent. Sometimes the built in Siri works, sometimes not. I don’t even know 80% of what my car is capable of. And this car came out 6 years ago! I don’t even want to think about what a 2022 model can do that I’d never know after having it for 5 years. 

Every time I go into my husband’s car (Telsa) I can’t even find the place to press the “Esterina” button because new updates moved it. 

I look around and I don’t see many people smarter than me using all these features and things with ease. 

When I do figure things out, they don’t seem to work. 

I programmed Alexa to go through a morning routine, but the news app I chose always cut out mid report. At first Alexa finished the routine, but then she stopped. I checked the programming and it was all still the same. I changed the news source and the same thing happened – worked for a few days then the news source stopped mid briefing the routine ended.  

I can’t tell you how many times I went to play a song or album I KNOW I bought but it’s disappeared from my iTunes.

Family Share works terribly. The apps my husband or I purchase and try to share never come over to the other phone. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get his music. What is the family share even for? It says it does these things, but they either don’t work or we can’t figure them out after spending inornate amounts of time trying. 

We had a smart oven for a short bit of time. The buttons were so sensitive that if your sleeve brushed against it while grabbing a pot the whole thing would turn off. One of our cats constantly walked across the stove and turned it on. Luckily there was a lock feature, but the “Smart” part of the oven doesn’t work when the lock is on. I can’t tell you why we bought a smart stove. You need to link Alexa through 3rd party apps to it, and it worked at best half the time.

Same with our “smart” lights. We use GoSund. They continually unlink from the programming. When you just want to turn on the light and say “#?!*&” to the programming, they blink uncontrollably. They are unusable as just an ordinary light at that point. So –  it’s either the dark or pull out the phone and spend 5-10 minutes figuring out what went wrong. 

We have a Wi-Fi enable dryer. I have no idea how to use it with the Wi-Fi or what I’d use it for.

1,001 very cool things have been made by me or others at work in the past 10-12 years. Things that make people’s lives easier. BUT almost all have become undone due to updates, websites that moved, or macros that broke. I spend way too much of my time trying to figure out what someone who left the organization did in the background to fix something someone relied upon that stopped working. 

Even here – on Word Press where I am writing this blog I’m befuddled. It seems like each time I get on things moved or have a new name. I have been using this platform since 2015 and all I know how to do is post a blog. I know Word Press can do so many super things, but when I start to read about them or try to figure them out I run into so many walls I just give up and need to put the computer in another room.

This just isn’t cool. This is all a colossal waste of time. The world is getting too complicated and regular people can’t (and don’t want to) keep with the changes forced upon us. Can we just cool it already? 

Competition creates more and more and faster and faster – for what? Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Similar to the industrial revolution and the assembly line. Simply because we can make a million widgets an hour, doesn’t mean we should. But we did, and then we created a whole new discipline called marketing to encourage people to buy what they didn’t need. Then they needed to work harder and longer to pay for the unnecessary widgets. This is the part of history that most of us were born into and accept blindly without question.

Life didn’t get better because we have homes triple the size with quadruple the number of possessions. We should learn from the past and take a break from making things that make no sense. Technology advances for consumers does not work well yet. The population hasn’t caught up to what is out there, and the programmers have not figured out the bugs. I wish the techies of this world would stop creating and just focus on making what we already have better for a while. 

I know humans thrive on creation and Henry Ford famously said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”. However there are one too many creators, none of them collaborate, and we have one big hot mess going on. Let’s be creative with making the status quo actually work. Henry Ford made the car, not a spaceship. It seems like we need the equivalent to cars in our lives, not spaceships things we have no use for.

Honestly – If I am an upper-middle class citizen with a Masters degree in a first world country that happens to be in a pocket of humans that can figure out technology faster than my 20 something year old adult children and faster than my parent’s generation – I beg to ask the question, who or what on are we advancing consumer technology for?

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On the Secret Life Around Us

Last weekend my husband and I had a smaller, pandemic approved sized gathering for our annual Swedish Smorgasbord. A good friend of mine brought a Christmas cactus as a hosting gift. I left it on my counter that evening, transplanted it to a permanent pot the next day and assigned it a temporary space until the holiday decorations come down and it will be placed in it’s new home.

I went about my life for the next few days and this morning there were two new blooms. 

Yawn huh? 

But no. That little beauty which looks inanimate is working full time at this moment to bloom for this time of year. This plant’s whole existence is to make these flowers around right now. 

I love this Albert Einstein quote.

I love being mindful. When I am, it is simply amazing to realize there is a secret life all around us that we often don’t acknowledge.

The plants. The trees. Animals. Our own pets. 

They are living beings just like we are and are carrying out their life’s purpose.

Do you have a tree up for the holidays? Is it live? It is carrying out it’s purpose. 

I just wanted to take the smallest of moments to appreciate life. All life. Even when we are not paying attention (almost always!), life is carrying on and doing it’s thing. Life doesn’t care who we are. We have almost no control of anything outside of us. These things at least seem to know it better than us. These things are all around us reminding us that we have no control and that life really is a miracle should we chose to see it that way. 

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On Surrender

Hearing the word invokes an image in my mind of a person on the ground with a hand up, holding a white flag with one hand using whatever energy they have left to wave it. It also reminds me of many times as a kid playing board games with my brother Mario where one of us was winning so far ahead of the other that the loser decided to surrender, to not waste any more time playing a “losing hand”.

 

The word always felt like defeat to me, but now I see it differently. I view the word as honesty, truth, and innate beauty. 

 

As I described it above, surrender can also mean not wasting any more time. Surrender can mean being honest about what isn’t working and accepting what really is. Why waste time doing what isn’t working? Why not be honest about the situation and go from there? 

 

I subscribe to Richard Rohr’s daily meditation. Each week is themed. This week’s focus is on Spirituality and Addiction. Today’s meditation is about surrender. In it he writes “Surrender is the strongest, most subversive thing you can do in this world. It takes strength to admit you are weak, bravery to show you are vulnerable…”. 

 

There were two days earlier this March where I “surrendered” and literally felt a physical shift due to a change in my mental thoughts. A shift so powerful that it tangibly exhausted me. 

 

The first was a day while I was living alone in East Haven and coming to grips with a pending divorce and newly achieved sobriety. I picked up a Dialectical Behavior Ttherapy (DBT) workbook that I hadn’t touched but owned for a few years. I decided to do some exercises in this book each day. I was a few days in when I came upon the term “radical acceptance”. I was performing the radical acceptance exercises and was challenged to fully accept my current situation. I looked around and cried. I didn’t want to. I could NOT accept where I was at that moment in time. But I wanted very badly to experience radical acceptance, as there were so many benefits to doing so.

 

I closed the book and contemplated this. It felt like an angel and devil on my opposite shoulders as my mind shifted back and forth about whether or not to accept my situation. At some point about ten minutes into a mix of contemplation and crying, the angel suddenly made perfect sense when she said “But it’s where you are!”. 

 

It occurred to me that whether or not I accepted it, it IS where I am. Why am I not just accepting that this IS my reality at this moment in time? Whether or not I accept it, it doesn’t change a single thing. 

 

I’m going to write that again – Whether I “accept” it or not; it doesn’t change a single thing. 

 

I’m still where I am. So why not surrender to accepting my actual reality? When I realized this; if there was a visual of two parts of me that were in conflict; one literally faded into oblivion while the other filled in what just left. In the next minute or two I began to feel whole; lighter, and open. A physical shift materially took place once I changed my mind and surrendered.

 

In A Return to Love, Marianne Williamson says, “Until your knees finally hit the floor, you’re just playing at life, and on some level you’re scared because you know you’re just playing. The moment of surrender is not when life is over. It’s when it begins.” 

 

The next moment for me was about a week later. It was a dark early evening on a Sunday night when I just had to get out of the apartment where I was staying. I left – with nothing but my wallet and phone and drove off. It was cold and I didn’t know where to go. I suddenly had the desire to just write. I drove over to Walgreens and purchased a notebook. I grabbed a pen from my glovebox and a blanket from my trunk and sat on the town green with the light of my phone. I put the phone on airplane mode and just started to write. And write. And write.

 

I wrote about “poor me”. I wrote about how my kids and husband would tell me these things about myself that “weren’t true”. I stopped. I thought about what I had just written and I thought about radical acceptance. Again, I had an angel and devil on my shoulders in conflict. What they said was not true, I thought, but should I accept it? I remembered surrendering the week before to my reality and thought about surrendering to this. I cried. I didn’t want to, but this time it was easier to imagine just accepting this, to explore it completely, and perhaps write about it. 

 

So I put pen to paper and shifted my thoughts to how this was their reality and wrote. And wrote, and wrote, and wrote… Until it occurred to me that there was truth in what they were saying. Whether or not I liked it didn’t matter. This is what they experienced and it was true despite why or how it came to be. The explanations didn’t matter- it all happened. I radically accepted this. 

 

It happened, and whether or not they want to accept what my reality was or why, I needed to accept my part in it wholly. And I did. In a very distinct moment I didn’t care anymore when, why or how; I understood them and understood it all completely.

 

At the time my son was off from his job on paid leave because of a COVID outbreak at the place he works and was staying with my husband. I decided to write him a letter explaining that I understood him and understood everything he has told me 100% inside and out. I wrote my heart out. I wanted to write a letter to my husband too but my energy had waned, so I decided to just rip out the pages that I wrote and share with him my thoughts and how they had shifted to an understanding of him. I added a few lines to explain why I was sharing and made the decision to drive the letters over and leave them in the mailbox.

 

By this time it was fairly late in the evening. I felt so amazing. Lighter. Freer. I went into Stop & Shop to buy them some cookies I was obsessed with at the time and I drove over to my old neighborhood. I saw the trash and recycling bins out front since it was Sunday night, and for the briefest moment I felt jealous that I didn’t live there and wasn’t part of putting out the trash. But more so I immediately felt radical acceptance that I didn’t live there and I imagined a world where I’d be in a new place with maybe a different trash pick-up day; and alone and even dare I say… happy? 

 

I was able to surrender. I was able to accept my circumstances. And you know what? I was really ok with it! 

 

I put the letters in the mailbox and sent my son and husband a text. I drove home in an almost bliss-like state. I felt light, tired, and hungry. Really hungry! I saw a McDonalds sign and craved a Big Mac! I hadn’t eaten meat in a very long time, but my body was just spent and I just wanted something highly caloric and comforting.

 

Surrendering never tasted or felt so good.

 The first of the 12 Steps of Recovery is to admit we are powerless. I first learned of the 12 steps on a spiritual Podcast around 2014. The speaker convinced me that every single one of us is addicted to something (drugs, drink, tv, shopping, money, obsessive thought patterns, etc) and that the first step is to admit powerlessness. Is that really different from surrender or radical acceptance?  

The moment I let go and opted to understand, somehow it gave others around me permission to do the same. The universe knew what needed to be done. When we admit where we are and our part in it, miracles happen. The happiness behind it just pours out because there is nothing, not a single story, holding it back. It’s acceptance of the present moment. Radical acceptance. It’s surrender.  Surrender changed everything and every important relationship in my life. 

 

Fast forward several months down the line. Daren and I have never been more understanding of one another. We renewed our vows a few weeks ago. We wrote our own to one another. I referenced the song “Moment of Surrender” by U2 and read out loud the portion 

 

The stone was semi-precious
We were barely conscious
Two souls too smart to be
In the realm of certainty
Even on our wedding day

 

10 years before on our wedding day we were like two robots going about in the world doing things that adults do because it’s what adults do. As the years passed I started to spiritually wake up and perhaps took him with me. We are now so aware and conscious of what our biases were; how they played a role in our history and what we do in the present moment. 

 

“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are” Stephen Covey

Don’t we all perceive things based on our own knowledge and circumstances? Couldn’t it perhaps do us good to know what our biases are so when we assess a situation we know our perspective and can imaginatively consider ways others see this same thing? The only way to do this is to surrender to the knowledge that we have biases in the first place. We are attached or addicted to the way we think or want something to be. Accepting it is freeing. Don’t we all want to be free and feel ok with life as it is? 

Later in U2’s song the lyrics state: 

I’ve been in every black hole
At the altar of the dark star
My body’s now a begging bowl
That’s begging to get back, begging to get back
To my heart
And to the rhythm of my soul
And to the rhythm of my unconsciousness
To the rhythm that yearns
To be released from control

 

Our bodies want that freedom. Once you experience surrender it’s hard to come to grips with that fight in you anymore because you know what is on the other side and it’s so much better to just let go and accept life as it is. If you fight this and you are aware of yourself, as Bono sings, you can actually feel your body begging to get back to that open good place where love and the soul accept life on life’s terms. The Marianne Williamson quote above is from A Return to Love. Because surrendering brings you to love.

I will not pretend that I don’t forget this a lot. But I can tell you that once you do, you know freedom and once you do, it’s far easier to do it again and again. I’m not saying this is easy, but I can promise you it is worth it.  

 

I’m going to end this blog with the refrain (below) which reminds me of the Safire Rose Poem “She Let Go”. Only you know when you surrender. The world goes on. The moon shines, and you – you are FREE.

 

At the moment of surrender
I folded to my knees
I did not notice the passers-by
And they did not notice me

 

 

Namaste

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On Quitting the Drink

I haven’t read it, but there is a book named “Alcohol Lied to Me”. I love the title because it holds true. The stuff is just a lie.

I’ve been meaning to blog a piece about alcohol, but I’m a newbie to sobriety and I don’t feel seasoned enough to give advice or proclaim victory. What I do know is that my life and every experience I have had has changed and I have no desire to feel the way I used to.

Tonight I’m sailing with my husband Daren. Around 4pm we both started getting hungry. Daren suggested some appetizers. He went down below and a few minutes later appeared with a gorgeous spread of cheeses, olives, crackers, pate, hummus and roasted bell peppers.

I cracked open a Diet Coke and took a bite of the manchego cheese. Oh my goodness- it was so good! It is the same brand we often purchase, but depending on the temperature and sliced thickness it always tastes somehwhat different. Tonight it was slightly nutty and had a melt in the mouth kind of consistency. I took a sip of my soda and sampled the gruyere.

It’s been a while since I’ve marveled at the fact that I experience eating in a totally different way since I’ve quit the drink. It’s been 6 months and 2 weeks since my last sip of a spirit and shocking to what was my old self 6 and a half months ago would have believed, I miss absolutely nothing about it.

I would not have even wanted appetizers if we didn’t have wine on board. Not that there was a chance akin to the possibility of an ice cube surviving in hell that I wouldn’t have ensured there was at least a month supply for a small army on board before leaving the dock.

For a long few years before I quit, there was hardly a food that I wouldn’t want without wine or beer. White wine particularly was my vice. Chilled white wine. It made EVERYTHING taste better. It soothed my nerves. It made me relaxed. It made me funnier. I didn’t have a problem. I didn’t do anything dangerous. I just really really loved wine and beer. I could quit anytime I want to. I often did. I went back because I missed the taste. My food wasn’t the same without it. I didn’t relax the same. I could quit. I could…

Right?

Haha. So wrong. So so very wrong.

I quit at least every two months or so and actually didn’t drink for a few days. But then there was a celebration, a party, a fun dinner with friends, a romantic dinner with the hubby, a stressful day. Trump said something offensive. I had a good show to kick back with. My soap opera was on. It was Tuesday.

There was always a reason. I was always wound up. I “quit” for a few days every few months but honestly I tried to quit every day. Every single night I went to bed feeling like crap and wishing I didn’t drink. Every morning I woke up feeling determined to quit. I’d meditate on it. I’d write love notes to my later day self about how good I feel and why it’s a bad idea. By 9am each day I would decide that ‘today’ would be my last day and begin planning when to start drinking for the day- when to chill the wine and what I would eat with it. It was downhill from there. It was the same sad ass story every day. By mid afternoon I wrestled with why I even felt guilty. I rationed how every single last person around me drinks daily too. I convinced myself I was normal and craving alcohol was just a normal part of life. I loved it. But I hated it.

Six months after my last gulp I am 100% in the know about how unbelievably wrong I was. Wrong about every last “good” or “normal” thing I attributed to alcohol.

Like the book I didn’t read’s title states “Alcohol Lied to Me”. Food is sooooo much better without it. I don’t even know if I had taste buds with it. I have the ability to realize I’m full and stop eating. When I drank I thought I was enjoying food and wanted more because it was so good. I believed that lie too. I already passed the honeymoon phase of realizing this. Tonight I just happened to remember and feel a bit marveled by how duped I was.

I am now way more relaxed. Somehow nothing, even stressful events bother me like they used to. Food is better. Nothing in my life has changed. I have the same life with the same good, bad and ugly parts. I just feel differently about them and can embrace whatever it is. I now have experienced what I knew before but never practiced, that all those cliche sayings comparable to “this too shall pass” or the Serenity Prayer are really true. It all passes. Like the weather in New England. If you don’t like it, just wait a few minutes. If you do, don’t be too excited. Enjoy it but be prepared for it to change without warning.

I’m in no way cuter, smarter, funnier, braver or more honest when drinking. I might be. But I slur my words, think hurtful things are funny, and lose the filter of “Is it True/Kind/Necessary” in light of ‘Being Honest”. If my mood isn’t good I could be a bitch. I make really stupid decisions and I often regret things that I would have absolutely not done if sober. Why would I put this poison in my body that turns me into a kookie alter ego?

Because alcohol lies. Because it’s a chemical that makes you crave it. It’s almost like a host body that needs more to keep the host alive. It took me as it’s servant. Everyone else is doing it too. They are actually jumping off the proverbial bridge.

A book I did read that made an enormous difference is “The Naked Mind” by Annie Grace. It inspired me to quit about a year and a half before I was ready too. A huge point the author makes is that it is easy if you look at it as a positive in your life.

I wasn’t ready to do that at the time but I understood the message. I might never have been ready unless I hit bottom the way I unwilling did this year on 2/8/21. While laying out on a gurney in the hallway for hours in the middle of the night at the ER, I knew it was time. Episodes like that one were far and few between, but one is too many. People who don’t drink would never end up in that kind of situation.

I didn’t want to be one of those people. I didn’t want to want something bad for me anymore. I didn’t want it to be that there wasn’t a snowballs chance in hell that I would leave a dock on a boat without knowing that alcohol will be with me. It seemed normal at the time, but there is absolutely, positively nothing normal about that. That feeling is the sign of a problem. It’s so common we rationalize it.

I can’t tell you how good it feels to be free from the grip of believing a drink makes anything, even temporarily better. My intellect knew it, but until I did it and embraced that I wasn’t missing out on anything, I didn’t want to believe it.

I am happier. I still dance around and act like my clown self. I am missing out on NOTHING worthwhile. I am missing out on 18lbs, a lighter wallet, stupid decisions, regrets, headaches, cravings and obsession with what I will eat and drink next. Good riddance!!!

That is how I feel 6 months in. I hope to continue. I have plenty of AA people warning me to be careful. It scares me enough to not be cocky about it and stay the path. But I do want to share that it’s wonderful and if you even think for a moment you might have a problem, then you do. If you wonder if you can say goodbye to it forever and feel good about it, I’m telling you from a very little bit of experience that you can.

Alcohol lies. Sober is the new cool. I love everything about quitting the drink.

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On Being Middle Aged

When I was a teenager, then a twenty something; I thought middle age or (gasp) older was absolutely an dreadful place to be. Like many younger adults I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I knew better. I was always right. I did things the best way. Older people were out of touch.

I don’t want to be younger, nor do I look back at my own life or the younger beings around me with envy. I like where I am. I will even go the mat and say I think middle aged is the best part of life. After the crisis part of course. If you are “lucky” enough to have a mid life crisis at all.

I’m 45. To some that sounds like “only 45?” and to others that might sound like “45??? Gulp”.

The crisis was the worst/best part of coming to terms with life on life’s terms and with who I am. Not everyone will have one, and many who do have one will not change. With that aside, I believe that even without one; mid life is an awesome part of life.

The best thing is a combination of experience and health. If you reasonably take care of yourself, you can be fairly healthy during mid life. With almost 30 years of driving and workplace experience, these years are a sweet spot of cruising with confidence through otherwise tricky or unknown areas. No major physical decline yet combined with good reflexes, memory, and ability to pick up and respond to life’s surroundings.

By middle age most people (not all of course) are financially comfortable. Less worries about paying bills, less interest in having more, staying fashionable or climbing the ladder. It allows me to live and work with comfort. I’m old enough to be taken seriously, experienced enough to understand life/work dynamics, and still young enough to switch in a dime to learn new programs, policies, software, phone apps…

Aside from my far sightedness slightly declining each year at my annual Optometry visit, I’m in the best physical health of my life. I’ve learned to make sleep important, exercise a routine part of life, and to make wise food decisions for the sake of my health.

Mental hygiene takes a front place as well. I’m no longer embarrassed about having human responses to stress and pressure, so I don’t pretend they don’t exist and take an active stance in dealing with those types of things. I no longer view self care or down time as a reward or something for others, but a necessity to keep myself fresh, in good health and useful to society.

Speaking of embarrassment, caring about what other people think just isn’t a thing anymore. I’m not afraid to be myself or of failing. I know it’s a part of life and if anyone else judges that, it’s none of my business. As long as my intentions are pure I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. I enjoy realizing when I messed up or was wrong and it feels good to acknowledge that to myself and others.

I have enough years of cooking experience to cobble things together from my pantry that taste phenomenal. I try all kinds of art projects I would have felt like a poser to attempt. I love the way I dress, decorate, garden, clean, cook, love others, and live my life. I have go-to recipes, outfits, and ways to entertain that work. I am comfortable with the skills I have and know my limitations on the skills I do not. I am so ok with what I lack. No one can have all they want.

In taking risks, I am excited to try new things. What is the worst thing if I don’t like it? I just won’t do it again.

I believe I can now live life with a good balance of safety and risk. Being young is often accompanied by an irrational idea of invincibility. I see many older people living with too much fear of too many things. I might get to that point too, but at this point I know I do not like the way fear feels. It makes me feel small and trapped rather than safe. Instead of succumbing to it, I live safely in my actions but am courageous enough to push through what a rational mind knows will be ok. That wasn’t the experience in my younger days!

There is so much more to say, but I’ll stop here. Honestly the mid life crisis and coming into what Richard Rohr calls “the second half” is what got me to a really beautiful place where acceptance of what is, is how I want to live life. It was about 8-10 years of chaos, and something for another blog.

I do not know better. I am absolutely not always right. There are so many ways to do things and different ways work for different folks. Older people have wisdom and our elders are our teachers.

So, I will ride the tides and adjust the sails instead of fighting the waves and expecting days of perfection. And I will enjoy this moment that will too pass where I am grateful to be healthy and middle aged.

Namaste.

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On Crossing the Line

I stayed up late a few nights this week binge watching the Dirty John series while knitting or painting. Last night I was up long past midnight finishing the second season which told the Betty Broderick story. I can’t stop thinking about human nature and what it means to cross the line and go crazy this morning.

Is there any point where we can understand how an otherwise rational human being can “go crazy”?  

What does “going crazy” mean? Where is the line? 

Things that are invisible are difficult to quantify but we all understand them. Depending on our own experiences and how much we have been “pushed”, we often empathize or judge. How we have been treated and our own life experiences will so very likely dictate how we will respond to and sympathize with others. 

Unfortunately it takes pain and suffering to understand pain and suffering. I personally think it’s an Achilles heel to have a charmed life or to be given more than the basics. A person who has charm or has been given ‘things’ believes they understand everyone else. But they will never know they really have no idea and even more unfortunately it is those very same people who end up in positions of power and judgement over the rest. 

Generally, the rest of the people are trapped whether or not they know it. Whether or not they know it, they are being imperceptibly challenged for being born into their circumstance. This is undetectably mentally draining and creates indiscernible anger and resentment. Most people are completely unaware of their anger and resentment because they have lived with it so long, it is part of their baseline being. 

What percentage of society is walking around like this? Ticking time bombs being quietly pushed to their limits. When someone does go off, it is those who are walking around just like them that understand that it is inevitable. The ‘charmed’ who don’t understand judge, make the rest feel worse for their unwanted circumstance. So the time bomb groups tiptoe even lighter, creating even more fuel for what will be an inevitable match somewhere on their path unless they happen to get lucky. Like a minefield in a war. 

This morning I couldn’t help but do an Internet search about the Betty Broderick story. Her children are split on whether or not she should be released. Written about two of her 4 children when they testified regarding her parole as recent as 2017 “On one hand, Lee [Kathy Lee] argued her mother could live her life “outside prison walls” while Dan argued Betty was “hung up on justifying what she did.”

The show presented reactions from the public at the end of Betty’s first trial. So many women empathized and understood her. It’s not surprising to me that her children’s gender’s fit the bill of bias when advocating for/against her parole. I was painting and not looking up at the moment, but it sounded like a black male defending how far a person could be pushed before we can completely understand them snapping. 

I don’t want to be stereotypical but I am going to be for a moment. This doesn’t apply to all – but a person with an outward appearance of a white male will likely be the least sympathetic. Why? Because as a whole, white males experience the least prejudice and push back from society. I’m going to also be a little presumptuous here. White males in general have it easy. They are generally trusted. Have almost nothing to fear while walking down most streets. Have not been looked at suspiciously or accused of using their sexuality. Are not thought of as weak. They are treated with respect by most of society just for being white and male. So throughout history when opportunities arose and a white male is in the running they have been given opportunities because they seemed like no brainers. More so than any other type of person, a white male will have it easier than a female or individual with a different skin color in the same exact circumstances. 

In Betty’s case, such a man can cheat in a marriage, call their spouse ‘crazy’, and be believed and able to carry on successfully with confidence throughout and after a divorce. 

I’m surprised more women and nonwhite males aren’t crazier and angrier. 

I am completely aware that this story told for the sake of entertainment. But the writers and producers are artists. Art as part of the humanities is a luxury because it allows us time to think and contemplate. Like a piece of static visual art, there is more often than not a deep story way below the surface.  

I’ve also been binging Call the Midwife before taking a brief break this week for Dirty John. How is it that we put a man on the moon before figuring out solid contraception in a marriage without condoms?  Condoms were mostly reliable yes, but most married men at the time thought it their right to not wear one. Women were trapped until very recently in history by unwanted pregnancies. 

How in the world did we make homosexuality a crime? How could a homosexual possibly have felt comfortable in their skin when their very being was criminal and thought to be cured with some treatment? 

And racism… Enough said there. 

How could anyone not feel ‘less than’, manipulated, and put into a small box? How could these parties possibly spread their wings and contribute to their fullest potential in making our world a better place?

Betty Broderick thought she was part of a couple hood where her role was to raise the family and not spread her own wings but share on the ride of her husband’s flight. Very few people want to ride on someone else’s coat tails unless they have no way to make it on their own. Those of us who can make it on our own but decide to support someone else who has a better opportunity (historically the white heterosexual male) will always feel like they had more to give but were stymied. When that is taken away – when someone gave up their own livelihood for someone else, and then that person took what they helped that person to get away from them… I get it. I get the anger, frustration, rage… 

But how does one express that without crossing the line? 

What is the line? 

Because someone crossed it, if we forgive them does it mean we make it alright and they believe it will be ok to cross it again? 

Who are we protecting on the other side? 

Does the person on the other side really need protection? 

Who were the laws created for? 

Why are they changing now? 

Why aren’t we thinking about preventing some of these human reactions? 

If we are all equal as a species, then we should listen to those in low places as much as anyone else and hear where we are going wrong. Because somehow, we are getting it wrong or the jails wouldn’t be full, there wouldn’t be cities and towns where anyone would not want to walk, and every person would feel full and safe when they laid their head to sleep. 

The term “crossing the line” carries many meanings and applies to so many situations. In my own food for thoughts this morning I am relating it to human limits in ordinary situations in the first world. 

And that’s all I wanted to write about that. Just some thoughts from the crazy side out here. 

Namaste. 

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The Chakras and Lent – Weeks 5-7

We are a product of nature. The things we do, the thoughts we have, and the habits we gain or lose mimic the physical world around us.

I would liken trying to do something or working toward a goal to climbing a mountain. At first it is very difficult. The road is all uphill. Once you reach the top you can pause and take inventory of what is around you. The road down is easy and faster.

I have really, really, really slacked on the past few weeks of keeping up with the 7 weeks of lent. I posted the last blog for the 4thweek and the heart chakra 11 days ago already. Palm Sunday is only 4 days away.

I have been blogging about the journey toward shedding old habits for lent and relating the journey to opening the 7 chakras during this 7-week period; while on my own sobriety journey.

While the chakras themselves are aligned from dense to light, so is the work. The motivation varies. My writing has reflected the motivation. I can explain further.

At first when making the firm decision to give something up like many Christians do for lent, there is a lot of motivation to do this. The will is there and it is something we think about constantly. As we start up a long mountain road one step at a time, it seems like a really huge task that will require a lot of work to get to the other side. Each step feels momentous.

As we continue up the mountain and toward the habit we can see the progress, but the road ahead is still long. 

As the weeks go on, the actually shedding of the habit could be as difficult as the start of the journey up the mountain. At some point we reach the top and are able to look around and see the beauty of our work. But it is not over – we still need to go back down. Going back is so much faster and easier. 

I took most of this time to get to the summit. 

Last weekend my husband came over to where I am staying. I hadn’t seen him in nearly 6 weeks. We talked and caught up on all that we have missed. We enjoyed one another’s company. We went out for dinner and had tapas. We had breakfast the next morning and we spent much of Sunday talking and walking the dog. We decided to put our rings back on and see where the next few months takes us. We will continue to live apart and came up with a living arrangement that works for the both of us. I’m excited about this journey with him. As excited as I have been about my own individual recovery. 

From that point the last few days have seemed easier. Akin to coming down the mountain. I’ve slept better than I have in over a month. I’m more focused. I’m more determined than ever to stay on this new path. I’m on the other side of the mountain now. It is a new place I have not seen before. I do not know what it will bring or what other mountains I need to climb, but I’m excited and I really don’t want to know. Discovery is part of the fun. 

To wrap up this chakra series I will write about the last 3 in one blog. 

The 5th Chakra is Vishuddhi. It is also known as the throat chakra. It is blue and located in the region of the throat. 

The 6th Chakra is Ajna. It is known as the Third Eye. It is Indigo or in some places it is shown as violet. This chakra is located right between the eyebrows. One of my teachers often quotes that we have two eyes to look out, and one to look in. 

The 7th Chakra is Sahasrara or the Crown chakra. Depending on what material you read this chakra is violet, white or crystal – meaning it contains all the colors of the spectrum. It is located at the top of the head. 

The three below symbols are in order from 5, 6, and 7. I painted these in January of this year.

Throat chakra 

In this area we use our voice. We speak up and communicate what we believe in. Similar to the Root Chakra, the triangle points upwards. In this location it symbolizes “the gathering of knowledge toward enlightenment”. The Vishuddhi chakra has 16 petals. There are also 16 vowels in Sanskrit. The number of petals symbolize the light, breathy sounds of vowels and liken this to the quality of air.

The element associated with Vishuddhi is air. We communicate through air either through voice, audibly with vibrational or radio waves, written language that see with our eyes through the medium of air, or even telepathy. 

The throat chakra is associated with truth, self-expression and communication. Communication not only with others, but within toward our own self and our higher power. When in balance it is easier to communicate with others and to be honest with ourselves. When this chakra is not in balance, we may experience a communication breakdown. We may not be able to allow ourselves to be effectively heard or able to really listen to others or our own higher self. All that passes through this area can either help or hinder the opening of this area be it love and truth or lying, gossip, smoking, drugs and overeating. 

Third Eye

The seat of intuition. The downward facing triangle here “represents the knowledge and lessons of the lower six chakras being gathered and expanded into your divine consciousness” There are only two petals on this symbol Lens Eye writesthis “ transparent lotus flower with two white petals, [is] said to represent the nadis (psychic channels) Ida and Pingala, which meet the central Sushumna nadi before rising to the crown chakra, Sahasrara” These two nadis from my understanding are major energy changes that run through the body. They are similar to the Yin Yang in that Pingala contains Yang qualities and Ida contains Yin qualities. They help to keep us in balance. 

The element associated with the Ajna chakra is ether. Or space. Or Light. It is something lighter than air that connects us all with one another and the unseen. It is an element that remains more of a mystery because we know it is there but it’s not as tangible as the others. This element and the third eye are the gateway between the known and unknown.

The qualities of this chakra are intuition, inspiration and inner vision. When in balance we are able to trust our intuition and tap into our creative imagination. When out of balance it may be difficult to channel our energy toward goals.

Crown Chakra 

The Sahasrara Chakra is the divine connection to all that is. The circle holds the risen energy and there are innumerable petals of the lotus. 

There is no element associated with this chakra. It is pure consciousness. 

The qualities of the Crown Chakra are divinity and limitless wisdom. It helps us to recognize our true nature and our connection to all that is. When in balance we are able to connect with the world around us and partake in the serene understanding that we are all one. When out of balance it is difficult to see through the chatter of the mind and we may be consumed with the accumulation of stuff and other distracting activities that cut us off from our true nature and connection to everything else. 

Similar to Maslow’s triangle, the top is smaller and easier to transverse. The qualities associated with the upper chakras are where we begin to understand ourselves and how we fit into the universe and can use our gifts to aid in it. At the top part of the Hierarchy of Needs we find, morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, and acceptance of the facts. 

It is if all the chakras are clear and the connection from the base of our humanity is directly in contact with the celestial world where we accept things as they are and use our tools and gifts to navigate the cosmic waves. 

I love this quote. We cannot control the sea, but we can control what we do in it. Once we accept the world as it is and people as they are, we can learn to use our own tools to not be afraid and navigate with ease. 

I have been writing about the koshas for the past several weeks. The 5th and inner most kosha is the Anandamaya kosha. It is known as the “bliss body” or the “bliss sheath”. It is where we connect to our higher self that is always here within us in a central, calm, harmonious state. This serene, still place cannot be affected by outer circumstances. 

All three of the higher chakras (throat, third eye and crown) are associated with the Anandamaya kosha. 

Only the Throat chakra and the Third eye have seed mantras. 

The Crown chakra’s sound is silence. 

The seed mantra for the Vishuddhi chakra is HAM.  

The seed mantra for the Ajna chakra is AUM or more commonly said as OM. 

Chanting HAM when creating a new habit would assist with the desire the hear your inner voice more clearly to make better decisions. Chanting AUM would assist with connecting to your intuition to do what is right. 

Of the three higher chakras, only the Throat chakra has a prana vayu associated with it. Udana is known to govern speech, growth, and upward movement. It helps to promote mental clarity. The triangle pointing upward in my artistic version above symbolically pulls the energy up from the lower body to the higher parts of the self. 

As we reach the summit of molding new habits or breaking old ones, it becomes easier. We tell ourselves more truths, it is more difficult to make excuses and easier to listen to our intuition and higher selves when an old craving starts to creep around. That upward moving energy of the three higher chakras makes the end easier than the beginning where every step was an effort. Similar to how it would be coming down from a mountain.

Today is day 42 in my sobriety. Lent is almost over and all of those who have chosen this sanctified time to give up a habit have almost hit their sacred 40 day mark. In my first blog I wrote about the sanctity of the number 40 and why it is a marker in many religions and texts. 

Living without an old habit should be easier by now and hopefully a new lifelong practice is in place. If you have gone over your own big mountain as I have, you are in a new place too. I’m thrilled to be here. It’s a place I have not gone before. There is a new path to navigate, new unknown places to check out, and undoubtedly new mountains to climb. With the knowledge and lessons learned from finishing this recent climb, we now have some firsthand tools to make the next one a bit easier. 

Hopefully you learned a thing or two about your energetic system and the chakras along the way and can keep them open and flowing for your upcoming life’s adventures. 

Some poses to keep these last 3 chakras open are:

  • Throat chakra: Neck stretches, Shoulder stand, Bridge, Fish 
  • Third Eye chakra: Forehead to ground – as in Child’s pose
  • Crown chakra: Inversions, particularly head stand

My last 3 short videos cover a few more basics and are not particularly aligned with the suggested poses above.

I cover Downward facing dog in Week 5, the Half-lift in Week 6, and finally Tree in Week 7. Tree to balance it all out – because hey… who doesn’t need some more balance in their lives?

So grab a mat and let’s do a little tune up on these basics.

Thanks for taking this journey with me.

Namaste! 

The Chakras and Lent – Week 1

The Chakras and Lent – Week 2

The Chakras and Lent – Week 3

The Chakras and Lent – Week 4

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On How it Takes a Village

Last Friday was my birthday. Before the invention of Facebook and smart phone, my family would always call. I would get a few cards in the mail from family, in-laws and old friends. It felt very special.

For the past 12 years-ish, it is an avalanche of birthday greetings on social media, text and messenger apps. The calls and cards are nearly gone. Times have shifted. It is very nice, but it does not feel as authentic. Quantity does not trump quality. 

Every handful of people takes some extra time to write a few lines about how happy they are for me, or how they see my pictures and it looks like I’m doing so well. It is kind of them to put in the effort to reach out and say something specific to me. However, I realized last week that they are only seeing the façade that social media unwittingly enforces.  

We’ve all fallen prey to believing what we see, forgetting that as humans we aren’t capturing painful moments with our cameras; or putting out the dirty laundry for the world to see. Social media platforms are full of the good times, the beautiful moments, platitudes of gratitude, showcasing political affiliations, hating on articles or something that happened to you, asking for prayers for a situation, etc.

But how many people are being truly real? How many people do you see wear their heart on their sleeves or share with the world how they are suffering with personal issues? Or tell the world their worries about their loved ones (outside of disease or death)? 

I find it ironic when I talk to people off of social media that I do not know too well; they will comment that I wouldn’t understand something they are telling me because I don’t have issues with my family, that my kids went to college, or that I have a healthy life. I question why they think this, but it’s obvious that they see my feed where it’s tulips and daisies. 

I’ve used my blog in the past to communicate more heart wrenching stories. Honest truths about things I suffer with and unpleasant things that have happened. Most who read it thank me for being open because it helps them to realize we are all alike and suffer similarly. Some others question how I can possibly put it all out there? I’ve even been accused of being too negative on my blogs.

Yikes. You can’t win. 

I don’t post or blog for anyone’s benefit. I don’t post to make people feel good or bad. I post and write from my heart about what I’m experiencing in that moment. Life’s moments are not all good. It’s just as normal to feel negative emotions as it is to feel positive ones. So why pretend we are always happy and that everything is great? 

I’m day 18 into sobriety.

On February 8th I had an alcohol induced mental breakdown and went a bit crackers. It has resulted situation I never thought I would be in. It damaged relationships and my self-esteem.

I’m getting the level of help I never wanted to ask for because I saw such things only for other people. I believed that only a failed, broken person needs intensive level of services. Where did those beliefs come from?

They came from my environment. From stigmas. From the false belief that something is wrong if you aren’t happy because look around at everyone else – they are blissfully happy. Even though I share the ways in which I’m not happy, most people still see the tulips and daisies.

Human connection is at an all time low. We have so many platforms and mechanisms to communicate, but they strip away authentic relations. It’s easier than ever to show the world only what you want the world to see. When everyone does that, everyone else thinks they are the only ones who suffer and feel more alone and ashamed than ever. 

We end up trying to live up to unrealistic expectations of what it means to live out a human experience. 

I don’t want to do that. 

I have quit drinking for good. I have PTSD and it affects the way I perceive situations. When I drink and my brain slows down all bodily reactions, it also slows down my rational mind to pick up the signals that what is happening around me is not what my body’s fight or flight auto response thinks it is. 

I need help. Help to stop drinking and help to process old trauma that comes up because it would like to leave and finds opportunities when I’m not paying attention (drinking) to burst out. 

I’m getting help. I’m not perfect. Not getting help sooner has done a lot of damage. Some damage cannot be undone. 

It takes a village for each individual to be the best version of themselves. If a village has no real connection and facades of perfection, the result is that the people in the village are going to feel damaged, alone, anxious and depressed. 

Being real is what makes life and relationships real. Without pain there is no opportunity for growth or change. Pain is part of life too. It’s real and no one amongst us doesn’t feel it. 

I am asking anyone reading this who sees me in real life to honor the fact that I am no longer drinking. I’m asking anyone reading to be real with me about your life or anything I’ve done and how it has affected you positively or negatively. 

I’m real. I’m imperfect, angry, sad, hurt and suffering from my past and an unhealthy way of dealing with it (alcohol). I’ve hurt others because of this and trying to make it not true about myself. But I’m also really loving, funny, kind, creative, brainy and friendly. 

I wrote a blog not too long ago about embracing your Shadow self. We all have one. So let’s all embrace our own and learn to live with it and forgive others for their shadow sides as we would like to be forgiven. https://esterinaanderson.com/2020/10/30/on-halloween-and-our-shadow-side/  

I’m asking to be a part of a real village, even if I have to create it myself 

Peace 

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