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I HAVE COMPASSION

17 Mar

Our farm is growing and our baby chickens are not so little any more. In the spirit of keeping it real, and always be telling the truth (ABTTT) I am not a huge fan of the chickens, I love their eggs, but they are kinda stinky little things. My sweet Blaise doesn’t think they stink, in fact he loves them as if they were his babies, that’s what he calls them, “My pretty babies.” He has compassion and caring actions for all creatures, even gross bugs.

Compassion has been on my mind a ton lately. I can’t stop thinking about compassion, finding it, keeping it, and putting it in to practice. In my mini workshop last week I told the women there to find compassion for themselves. I asked them, “Would you turn to your best friend and tell her that she is fat or ugly?” Of course we wouldn’t, but we find it completely ok to say those things to ourselves. I think this is where I am not congruent in my life, not lately. I am compassionate, I do have compassion for all others in my life, but struggle to put that practice to use on myself.

My family and I have a truly magical relationship. They are  always there to inspire me, but also there to always call me on my shit. More times than I can remember they have told me, “I am always looking for a reason to make myself feel bad.” Sadly, it’s true. I am  tired of this, I have outgrown this conversation.

I found myself today thinking of all the reasons why my yoga studio is growing slowly. I started thinking of the countless laundry list of things that were “wrong” with me. I am done with all of this, it means nothing and does nothing to improve any situation. I think if it doesn’t inspire, support or better the situation I will not speak those thoughts out loud. It all boils down to the fear of what will people find out about me? What is it that I am afraid people will see if I truly reveal myself? This is a heavy load to carry around all day, every day.

I have decided that I am going to practice loving compassion in every single morsel of my life. I am going to work on connecting the mind-body connection in my life. I am going to heal my body by healing my spirit and working on connecting the bridge between the two.

I have decided to work on completely “greening” my diet and clean out my insides. Finding balance with my inner workings and creating clarity in my spirit. I am going to practice compassion and ease into this as a life long change. I am truly excited to see what unfolds for me when I find peace with my physical and spirit self.

I am re-reading my “Eastern Body Western Mind” book. I am digging back down into my own personal chakra healing. Starting from the bottom and working up. I am ready to tear down some serious walls and dirt. I think of it like annual spring cleaning.

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Connections, Connecting, Connector

23 Feb

It feels like a Sunday morning, it’s not, it’s Saturday. Typical Saturdays at our house are so hectic, I should be out the door for karate now, not sitting and watching tv and drinking coffee. I was meant to be here, on my big plush green microfiber sofa. I was meant to sit and sip my coffee out of my new coffee mug, the one my mom bought me that reads, “Life is Good.”

I love Oprah. I really love Oprah. I cried when her show ended. I was elated to find her having her own network, The OWN network. I love it to the umpteenth degree. I have a new favorite show called, “The Trouble Next Door.” Here is the premise. A family in the neighborhood is in some type of crisis, desperate and running low on options. They call a neighborhood meeting and the family, who most don’t know, ask all of the neighborhood for help. Tons of neighbors show up to the meeting to meet this family in peril, they show up and take it on all the way.

This episode is serendipitous. This single mother has 5 children, one who is severely autistic, and one with major behavioral issues. Oh my heart beats for her. I feel like our hearts are connected. I don’t know her, she most certainly doesn’t know me, but I wish we could. Hey, this family is from just here in the Atlanta area, it could happen.

This mother is drained, she is sad, she is desperate, all emotions I have felt often. As the episode moves forward you see these connections building. They start out small, maybe like a flimsy wood suspension bridge, but then they build. Now they are the Golden Gate bridge. Miracles happen everyday, you have to ask for them. My heart is pounding as I see the courage it took for this mother to reach out to these stranger and just ask for HELP.

What changes will take place in her life? Has the course of her life been altered forever because she chose to connect, get connected, be a connector. It is powerful.

When Blaise was first diagnosed with Prader Willi Syndrome I was defeated. I was lost, angry, and hopeless. That never stopped me before in my life, why would I go there now. I got on the phone and started making connections. In 24 hours I was on the phone with two PWS families.That was nothing compared to meeting the Georgia chapter of PWS USA. I was so nervous that day. My stomach was way down by my feet. I felt the earth giving in underneath me with each step. I just kept telling myself, “put one foot in front of the other, keep walking, keep breathing.” I was completely unprepared for what was to follow. It was family, it was connection instantly, it was a group of people who genuinely looked in my eyes and let me know, “we are connected, you are one of us now, we have your back.”

I look back on that day over 3 years ago. Life changing and eye-opening. It was a day full of promise for me, a day filled with opportunity and hope that my boy would be part of something in his life.

My writing has brought me connections that would other wise never have appeared. I feel a sense of utter calm when I am in a room full of connected souls. That is what we all want. We want to feel connected. We want connections. We want to know:

WE ARE NOT ALONE, YOU AREN’T!

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Connections provide that safety net, that harness that holds you up in a ropes course. When I was 20 years old I did such a ropes course. I had to climb to the top of a tree, I don’t know it was like 80 feet high, probably not but it was really high. I had to then climb on a disc placed at the top of such tree, and jump. Oh, I had to jump and catch a trapeze. When I got to the top of the tree I could make it on the disc. My stomach was churning. I am getting nervous just thinking of that day, that moment in time. I remember yelling down, “I am going to throw up on all of you.” A voice came from down below, it was a friend I had made named Eliza. I could barely make out her words at first, she kept repeating them. “We are here for you, you can do this, we are all doing this together, keep going.” I don’t know but I just gave one big push and up I went. I said, “shit Rachel, I can’t believe this.” and then I jumped. I screamed as I leapt through the air, but I knew the 20 folks on the ground were there for me.

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In your dark night of the soul, or your brightest day of light sending, find your connections. Be a connector. I have this feeling crawling up inside of me. It is creeping up through my restless legs at night, it is finding a home in my belly, it is finding its way up to my heart. This is what i want to do. I want to make connections, keep connecting, and be a CONNECTOR.

Have you connected your soul to another yet? I say go out and make connections. Facebook connections are great, but make those real face to face connections. Get out there. Make plans with your friends even when your tired. Call up your friends on the phone, instead of texting. Make genuine and authentic connections, and then sit back and watch what unfolds for you.

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You could reach down in your soul and find more than enough things to connect with. I look at my own life and realize I am full of connections waiting to happen.

I am connected to Special Needs Families

I am connected to recovering addicts

I am connected to the Jewish community

I am connected to people from Philadelphia

I am connected to people who love the Bay area in California

I am connected to people who lost their parents too young

I am connected to those who love yoga.

I could go on forever. Sometimes I pick and choose which connection I want that day. Sometimes it is more than one. All the time I know that they are there and waiting to bust out.

Are you a connector or are you searching for connections? Share below

 

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Fear Came Knocking

20 Feb

When I was 16 years old I left home. My sister was away at college and my mom was in a rough spot in her life. I was in a rough spot in my life. When you are 16 the bad times feel like hell has come home to live where your heart once was.I will leave high school and enroll in community college in Philadelphia. I will get my GED in college and then keep on going. I had it all planned out. I would live in a super fab apartment in Center CIty, have my fab great pro skateboarder friends and I would be living the life.

It didn’t go quite as I planned.

I did have the most ridiculous apartment overlooking the Philadelphia city scape. It was awe-inspiring. We lived on the third floor and had huge bay windows that made you feel that you could see till the end of the earth. I didn’t get my GED, instead I got a job managing a health food store. I went to work at 5 am every morning, snow sleet or hail. I was there, always there. I had all the amazing friends and I lived life to the fullest. Every hour was filled with memories to be made. The nights went on forever and every morning was a new day full of mishaps and adventures to be had.

If you ever visited Philadelphia you know the city has an interesting layout. Posh fancy apartments just one block away from crack row. I could have cared less. I was 16 years old and I was a bad ass to the core. My boyfriend lived on one of the most dangerous streets in Center City, I laughed at that. I would walk down that street by myself, all 5’2 inches of me at 3am and I dare anybody mess with me. I was ten feet tall and ready to rumble.

Where did she go?

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I nearly threw up in my seat the first time I had to fly with my kids. I have been flying since I was 5 years old. Back then I could fly by myself, even sit in first class. I had no fears, no worries of the plane crashing, no fearful thoughts that came in and took over.

When you get older decisions become more difficult, more complicated, more powerful. This is at  my definition of aging.

I can close my eyes and squeeze my eyelids tight. I can time travel back in time to 1985. I can feel the sand under my feet as we walked along our favorite beach, El Matador in Malibu, California. I can hear my sisters laughter as we discovered the hidden caves and their priceless treasures inside. Pieces of colored glass that were polished down and smooth as silk. Our stepfather Carl used to tell us they were precious gems that came  from the Far East. I believed every word. I always believed every word said to me as a child.I would run and jump and play in the blue ocean waters. I would let the waves carry me out as I got tangled up in massive beds of seaweed. I would feel little animals brush past my legs, I would giggle.

30 years later I am in Florida with my kids and I can barely put my feet in the water. I can’t go in, there are sharks there, they will eat me. I see fish swimming around me, the sharks must be close. I have to get my kids out of the water. My fear so great that I momentary become dizzy. I finally get in the water, I swim out pretty far. The whole time I am talking to myself, “It’s okay, you are fine, you don’t want your kids to grow up with fear. You have to do this. You have to at least appear to have courage.”

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I heard Oprah interview an immensely popular author, he said the number one thing preventing us from living our fullest lives is fear. At first you think, yeah that’s just some airy fairy stuff, but once I dug deeper I realized not so hippy dippy after all.

I am consumed by fear most days, engulfed in it, wrapped up in it like a newborn baby being swaddled by his mother. Why, Why, Why? I am paralyzed at times by my fear. It follows me around like a shadow creeping around the corner in a dark alley. It isn’t my friend, it tries to tell me its my friend and that it’s here to protect me, but that is bullish-t! I get so enraged at myself for feeling like I am stuck in quicksand, so maddened by my immobilization.

I don’t live well with the unknown. I try to tell myself that all will be ok. I make others tell me the same. Tell me what I want to hear. Tell me that it’s fine and will work out just magnificently in the end. Lie to me so that I feel safe. The minute I know my safety is threatened my fear comes calling my name.

In the spirit of authenticity I will share out loud and with integrity.

I am scared. I am scared of change. I am scared of what will be. I am scared that I am not enough. I am scared that I don’t have the will to overcome the fear.

Are you with me? Are you scared? Do you find yourself strolling down the street in your fear wheelchair to afraid to get up and walk on your own two feet?

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Tiny Beautiful Things

18 Feb

It was so cold today. The sun was shining but the wind  and the air were bitter. My fatigue had set in deeply. My bones felt weak and the cold air felt as if my body was thrust into an ice bath. The burning that comes before your body parts eventually go numb. I drove home from teaching tonight with my seat warmer on and the heat on full blast. I had no need for music as I drove home. I was craving complete silence. I could only hear the wind as it rushed past my windows on the outside of my car.

My thoughts are heavy tonight, shackles weighing me down. I keep thinking I love what I do. I love teaching yoga. I love being a mom. I love writing my blog. I love so many things, but… I feel like I haven’t found my dharma yet. Is there some magical feeling that takes over when you know you have found your dharma? Is there a true physical feeling that comes over your body when you know you are doing the right thing in your life?

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I couldn’t stop thinking I am 35 and I still haven’t found my calling, I don’t think. Is it supposed to look a certain way? Oh I wish for the answers. I had this conversation running around inside my head driving home t through the black cold night.

I needed to clear my head so I picked up one of my new favorite books. “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed. An amazing book, written in question and answer. The questions are written to Dear Sugar( she is sort of like Dear Abby, but more fascinating). A truly brilliant read. I opened up a page and couldn’t believe what I was reading. A 26-year-old girl, a writer, had written her Dear Sugar letter about exactly what I am going through. A feeling of despair, a feeling of why hasn’t this happened yet,  a feeling of did I make the right choices in my life? There are no accidents, I opened this book up right when I meant to. I opened the book up right to that page. It was clearly calling me.

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Sugar responded to this young and despondent 26-year-old writer with beautiful prose. My soul understood exactly what she was saying, even though she wasn’t saying it to me. Sugar writes, although she herself had grandiose plans  that hadn’t come to fruition at a young age. Sugar writes, it took a plethora of things to take place before her first major piece of work. Things had to happen before it was to come out of her soul. She had a life to live, relationships to have, sentences to write that would go absolutely now where, and so on and so on.

Is this where I am now? Working on sentences that are going nowhere. Am I working on relationships that are just the building blocks for what is to be my grandiose final calling in life?

At the yoga retreat in Boston my sister asked a question to the room  full of 35 people. She asked, “what is possible for you?” I was assisting that weekend so I chose not to partake in the excercise. Now I want to answer.

It is possible for me to stay consistent. It is possible for me start something and  finish it. It is possible for me to find my calling and know it  in my soul.

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It is so easy to get wrapped up in the lives around you. The lives of your friends, your family, your neighbors. They can easily seem to have so much, to have  a sense of love and contentment in their lives, something that you easily feel is missing. It is much harder to just send those people love and turn that attention on your own soul.

I want to find my dharma and sit with it. I want my dharma to feel like a bean bag chair. I want to sit in that bean bag chair with the feeling that you can’t or don’t want to get up.

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Hide and Seek

13 Feb

The boat ride leaving the yoga retreat in Mexico lasted a lifetime. I watched as the palapa’s in the mountain became smaller and more difficult to make out. The tops of the mountains began to disappear into the clouds. I felt the wind whipping across my face and into my eyes as they grew heavy with sadness. It was a life changing experience for me. It felt like my own tiny piece of heaven, I wasn’t ready to come back down to earth yet. I left with two temporary tattoos on my arm, one of them read: COURAGE.

My sticky note from Mexico reads:

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I came back home and that tattoo stayed on my inner arm for almost a week. When the letters started to fade, when they started to peel off my skin, I felt a sense of loss. What was the next thing I needed to do? What could I do to get them back? The only obvious choice for me was to get the real thing done. I called up my tattoo artist and said I am coming back in, I just been in a few months earlier for a large piece on my shoulder. I had a beautiful cherry blossom and the jewish symbol CHAI placed on my right shoulder. Symbolizing for me new beginnings and embracing all the best that my life has to offer.  I wanted the word COURAGE tattooed on my right wrist. I wanted it facing me. I want to see those words blaring at me when ever I use my hand. I want a constant reminder of what is possible for me. Oh and by the way put a heart and a dove with it. Let’ s add some love and hope with that courage.

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A year has passed since that tattoo needle pierced my skin and forever imprinted my courage. I found my courage in a myriad of places in the past 365 days. I found most times when I never even thought it was there. A year has passed, another long year. Another year full of opportunity to rise up with my courage.

Time makes things dwindle. Too much time can suck the inspiration out of you. With each day passing your courage can get eaten by its evil twins fear and doubt. At times I am playing hide and seek with my courage. It’s mine,  I am frustrated that I can’t find it. Where did you go? Why do you allude me, why when I need you most?

Here is a quote from Brene Brown. When I read her words it hit me like the slap in my face from my mother when I was 15. I had pushed her to the limit, there was anywhere left for her to go. It was eye-opening and life altering. I had to make a shift. I had to weave my courage into every thing that I was.

The root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage literally had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has actually changed, and today, courage is synonymous with being heroic or performing brave deeds

I have fallen of course just slightly. I had temporarily lost my courage. It takes practice for me to keep it so close to my heart. I struggle with consistency like that. My courage is calling me. I believe in the motto ‘Fake it till you make it’ but, I don’t want to fake it anymore. I desire the freedom that comes with speaking ones mind and telling ones heart. I long for that full and total expression of joy that comes with owning up to who you are and what you stand for.

I am peeking over the edge now. Lately I have noticed hints of that courage popping up in my life. I want to turn those hints into full-blown courage attacks.

Attacks of massive courage that take complete control over my soul.

Are you ready for your courage attack?

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Home Depot Men

2 Nov

There is a Home Depot on Ponce De Leon Avenue in Atlanta. It is in the same shopping center as Whole Foods, you can imagine how busy this place is. On the corner as you turn in there is always a host of men waiting there, looking to get hired as ‘Day Laborers’. I have never  been one to look down on the men waiting there for work but,  I have been guilty of not looking at them.

I am not feeling well today, and with two sick kids in tow it has just been slow-moving. After an hour of sitting at the doctor’s office and x-rays we headed off to Whole Foods for a slice of pizza and some steamed veggies. When we were through eating I exited the parking lot at the corner where the Home Depot men stand. I got to the intersection right as the light turned red. It is a long light and for some reason I was compelled to look over at the men. There was probably about ten or twelve men there but, one stood out from the rest. He was dressed nicely. He was wearing a really nice pair of shoes, clean jeans, a nice button down long-sleeved shirt, and a clean white baseball hat. I couldn’t help but watch him. I started to create a story about him.

He didn’t look homeless. He didn’t look like a drug addict. He looked like a regular guy, a ‘normal’ guy, whatever ‘normal’ is. I started thinking what if he has lost his job and can’t find work in his field? What if he is a father and has kids to feed? What amazing character he has to go out and do whatever it takes to take care of your family. What a great example for his kids. I was deep in this fantasy about a complete stranger.

Of course my story doesn’t mean anything, and probably most of it isn’t even true. For all I know he could be a wife-beating drug addict who was arrested 49 times since last year. We shall never know, but I like my story better.

I started immediately to think deeper. What if my story is true? How many times have you passed a homeless person on the street and not given them a second look? That could be any of us, really it could. If you follow my blog then you know that the economy has hit my family really hard. We have had to give up everything and start over. We are still okay and we have great family that has stood by us. What if you don’t have any family? What do you do then?

I really think we need to start thinking like a community. I think we need to start looking at people and seeing them for who they are, not where they live or what they have. I think we should reach out and connect with people. I am not suggesting that you run out and try to save every homeless person you meet but, a smile is a start. A kind gesture goes a long way.

I didn’t grow up having a lot. We grew up in a modest home, had food in our stomachs, and clothes on our backs. I always knew that I would be taken care of, but I also knew as a young child that everything could be taken away in an instant. I think that has been the saving grace in my life over the last few years. These are tough times we are living in now. The comforts that we have grown accustomed to could be taken away and then what? What do you do when it’s all gone? Who are you, if you don’t have your ‘things?”

Are these people that we see on the street sub-human because they don’t have homes?

What if they were you in a not so distant past? I think we have a habit of sympathizing with things only when they relate to us. I think we need to remember that pain, hurt and loss don’t know economic lines or ethnic background. We can all be affected by these issues.

Go out in your world and take the time to really look at someone. Take the time to see the people who you have chosen to eliminate from your field of vision. Go home and write about what you saw in their faces. Read it to yourself and think about what you saw that you never did before.

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Believing in Divinity

1 Nov

How do you just convince yourself that everything will be ok? How do you do this when that overwhelming sense of panic sets in?

My heart starts to beat rapidly and the sound is reverberating in my head. My jaws are clenched tightly, so tightly that I can feel my teeth becoming dull. My feet and fingers are cold. I am feeling really nervous and the butterflies are swirling in my stomach. How can I stop all this? This is truly what I consider to be the mind body connection. There is a real fear here, a fear that started emotionally and has turned into a physiological reaction.I can sit an tell myself that everything will be okay, and remind myself not to get caught up in worry. Trust in the Universe that all we be right.

How can there be suffering in the world if you could just wish it away?  If I can just wish away my stress, then why can’t others have the same luxury?

Are we built to worry? Is it in my genetic makeup to be the type of individual who resides in a home of fear? I wonder this all the time. Was I born this way or have I created this monster myself? If I created this fear monster I better kill it quick. I would die to see this transferred onto my children.

I am coming clean. I have a fear of not having enough.

 I have a fear of running out of money, clothes, food, and everything in between why does this live in me?  There are individuals who have much less than I do, and still live in a world of pure abundance. These folks live in a world free of fear of lacking. What do these people possess that I don’t? Intellectually I know that things will always find a way to appear in my life. I am well aware that they may look different than I expected, but they will be there.  My work right now is on letting go. I am letting go of the constraints of a living a life of lacking and worrying.

A beautiful woman in California told me the following, “ You need to trust in the Universe and believe in your divine self.” I know what truly scares me is the possibility that deep down I don’t believe in my own divinity. I know that all of the fear comes down to “not knowing.” I live in a world of uncertainty even in myself. I can’t live in that place anymore.

 I don’t want to have cold feet, worn down teeth, and a heart that grew tired of beating too fast. 

 

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