Tag Archives: California

4th grade writer

24 Feb

My teacher in the 4th grade was Mrs. Wheeler. A small petite woman with white hair and a raspy voice. She wore skirts that came to her knees and I always remember her fondness for plaid. One afternoon she came up and whispered in my ear that she wanted to talk with me privately. She had assembled a list of students whom she had created a special program for, it was a creative writing program. I was so honored. I couldn’t believe it. Every day at lunch while all the other children ate their Bologne sandwiches, we went to the library and wrote stories. I still loved reading and writing then, it still brought me joy.


When I entered middle school my love of learning started to fade. I replaced it with boys, cigarettes and pot. Once I found a new love my books and poems just got old and collected dust. My grades began to fall, and school was just a meeting place, it wasn’t a place of adventure anymore. I felt tinges of sadness when my poor english class grades came in, I felt ashamed because I loved to read and write, but it was quickly replaced with my latest crush, or the next party.

I dropped out of high school in the middle of my junior year. This is a very touchy subject in my family. I don’t have any regrets but there is always a wonder. I was to enroll in community college and get my GED, nothing ever works out as planned. Instead I went to work got a job managing a big health food store, I got life lessons. I always convinced myself they were more valuable than any book could give me. Truth be told, I wanted those books, I wanted the words swirling around in my head, I wanted to have a vernacular that would make people’s heads spin.

So my story got stuck there in the middle of my junior year. My “I AM NOT SMART ENOUGH. I AM NOT SMART ENOUGH TO BE A WRITER.” I got stuck there. I was like Robin Wright Penn in “The Princess Bride,” I was in the quicksand, but I didn’t have a prince to pull me out. So there my story stayed, for years it pulled me down.

I finally got my GED went to college, of course left a year shy of getting my BA. New story takes in. I CAN NEVER FINISH ANYTHING, AND I AM NOT SMART ENOUGH. They are perfect for each other, they go well together. Like a good wine pairing.

Over the years I dabbled in finding my love of books again, finding my love of words and writing. Nothing ever truly stuck with me. 35 years old now and I have that flutter in my soul again. I am giddy with excitement again over a good book. I am stealing away moments to fill myself with words on pages that I run my fingers through, scenes where I pretend I am there, lines I wish I had written. My sister reminded me lately, “If you want to write you have to read, and read all the time.” I listened intently to those words, I took them to heart, I sewed them inside my chest where I think my heart would be. So I read, and I read. I read essay’s, books, magazines, just anything I can.

I am time traveling. I am traveling back to the early 80’s in California. I am just 5 or 6 years old. I am a great reader, I am one of the best in my 1st grade class. I love reading and I see a bright future for myself. I think privately, “I am smart. I AM SMART.”


After reading my sister’s latest essay about the turns we take in life, the left turns and right turns, I thought about my life. Who would I be if I had taken a different turn? Would I have been a scholar? A history teacher (my major in college), An author? The owner of a multi million dollar company? Maybe, Maybe not. Maybe all the turns I took are exactly the right turns. Maybe instead of right turns I took left turns, that sounds like me, I never listen to what people tell me anyway. Maybe those left turns are the ones that will make my new-found love of writing more interesting. I most definitely lived some wild and crazy moments, maybe those are the left turns I needed to have. It never really is possible to know what, if any, of the choices we make are right or wrong, they just are.

I see the bookcase in my room in 1985 California. It is pine, completely filled to the rim with every category of book, mostly books on marine biology, another early love of mine. I sit and remember what those books smelled like and how they made my insides swirl with excitement. Here I stand now that same girl, filled with the same desire and joy to fill my soul with words and knowledge.


Here I am ready to change the story, to make a right turn.



To Be Special

10 Feb

“My daddy has a tractor, my daddy has a key for that tractor.”

This is what my little guy squeals out as we walked through the Tractor Supply store yesterday. I would like to state for the record that I never thought I would be shopping at a tractor supply store. Yet here I am writing about it as if I were discussing shopping at CVS.

“My daddy wears boots. My daddy hunts pigs and deer.”

It reminded me of a memory I had of myself when I was in the 5th grade. After living five amazing years in California it was time to move back to New Jersey. It was an incredibly tough time for me. I loved California. I loved my life there. I loathed Cherry Hill, New Jersey. We lived with some close family friends while my mom searched for a house to buy and call home. Our family friends were actually my godparents and I called them aunt and uncle. They had two sons I had always revered as my cousins. Both were boys and were athletic, popular and well liked in our town.

We finally found a house and began the move in process. Two houses down there was a boy who was 2 grades ahead of me. He was in the same grade as one of my “cousins.” I had an overwhelming feeling of wanting to belong. It was such a strong need and I didn’t feel I possessed anything special inside me. I remember meeting the boy who lived two doors down and the first thing I said to him was, “My cousin is _____ .” I said that to quite a few people. I thought well that would get me in. That would give me that sense of belonging, that sense of worth.

Years later the boy next door and I were best friends, as close as friends could be. One night while we sat on the  swing on my front porch, as we always did, he reminded me of the first thing I ever said to him. He laughed when he recalled the story for me as we swung and smoked cigarettes. I felt so silly, so many years had passed and as an older woman of now 14 years old, I laughed at my 10-year-old silly self.


I see this now in my little angel. I see that same expression in my little ones eyes. He so desperately wants to be special, to be wanted, to be needed, to be loved.

If you follow my writing than you know my youngest has some emotional issues. I worry about him and what his future looks like if his struggles continue to escalate. Recently a new issue has come up for him. If I look at him a certain way or confront him on misbehaving than his response to me is, “You hate me, you don’t love me anymore.”  My heart breaks into a million little pieces when he says that.

I felt that same tinge as I listen to him tell people about his special daddy. I am happy that he loves and admires his father, it is the intense desire and need to be special that makes my heart ache. It is that desperate need to feel like he is part of something, special and that he is wanted. I want him to feel that way all on his own. I want him to know he is special without validation from an outside source.

We all have a need to feel special and be wanted and loved. Some of us search for it harder than others, some of us are more content to find that specialness within. I was much more quiet this past weekend at the yoga retreat at Kripalu than I usually am. I still walked away with 30 plus new friends, and 30 plus people who thought I was great. I started to think long and hard about how can you share your specialness without throwing it out there in someone’s face. What are the ways that I can share my light with others without stealing the spotlight?

I want to share this idea with my children. We spoke a ton about this at Kripalu. We talked about letting out light shine for others. I want to teach my children to share their specialness with the world by shining their lights for others.

I don’t think we are ever to young to take a look inside.

I am curious to see the different aspects of myself that shall arise as I focus on being a light sender in my life?

If you shifted from wanting to be in the spotlight to being the light sender, what would shift in your life?



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. 



The Animal Planet

24 Oct

Have you lost your wonder?

I sit and watch my 3-year-old watch his favorite television show. It is a show all about nature on the Animal Planet network. He is in such wonder at all the information he sees. He listens with such intent at every morsel of science and nature coming his way. Tomorrow as we go about our day he will recall all the material he learned a day earlier. He is a little sponge.

I watch my son and think to myself, “Have I lost my wonder?” If so, when did I lose it? I would like to think that I am still in wonder of the many amazing things that surround me, there is always room to have more.

Be Awe. Be Wonder  – Jennifer Pastiloff

This past weekend I spent 48 hours in Ojai Valley, California. I was there assisting my sister on her Manifestation Yoga retreat. It was amazing! I was definitely in wonder of my surroundings, the people, and the energy.

(the view of the pool and valley at Casa Barranca in Ojai Valley, California)

Then real life happens.

Upon returning home yesterday I found that I had lost my steam. I felt deflated. I was missing my wonder. As I put my head down for sleep last night I asked myself a question. “How can I be in wonder in real life? How can I be in wonder when I am doing laundry or washing the dishes? Wonder is one of the beautiful things that look different for all of us. It is not quantifiable or measurable, it just is.

I feel wonder when I stop focusing on myself.

 I spent the morning today surrounded by 3 year olds at my youngest son’s preschool. We sang, danced, painted, and played. It is hard not to feel wonder in the presence of smiling and laughing children. I truly had so much fun. They are so full of pride and joy. They experience wonder at least a dozen times an hour.

I am in wonder of the body that moves me.

I am in wonder of my children.

I am in wonder of the amazing weather today.

I am in wonder of the delicious food on my table.

I am in wonder of the curiosity of my dogs.

I am in wonder of the love of new friends.

What is your wonder today?



Wear Batman Pajamas!

18 Oct

It is a typical Santa Monica morning. Overcast and breezy and if I listen closely I can hear the rumbling of the nearby waves.

There is nothing that can take the place of being home.

For me, home is a confusing term.

I am not quite sure if home is Philadelphia, the place I was born, if home is New Jersey, where I also lived, and, the place my father is laid to rest. Maybe home is California, the place where I lived most of my life, and the place where my mother, stepdad, and my sister still live?

Mostly it doesn’t matter.

When I am in California, Philadelphia, or New Jersey I still have that same feeling. Like a gigantic sigh that comes from deep down inside of me. It is my soul is coming back home. My true Self is back in its favorite sweatshirt, the one with all the holes that you have had since the beginning of time but can’t bare to part with.

I love the sound of the ocean, the quiet deafening after the waves crash on the beach. I love that sound. I love the memories that come crashing into my mind every time I hear another break hit the sand. I can close my eyes and remember that house on Lincoln Blvd. I can remember that monstrous rod iron bed that I had as a little pipsqueak of 8 or 9 years old. A bed that required a step stool to get into. I remember leaving the window open in my bedroom to hear the ocean, the same way my sister does in her living room, right where I slept last night. It is as if I have time traveled. As a little girl I used to sit as I am now, listening to that quiet, an irony that is not lost on me.

I find it very difficult to be in silence.

Here I am, on this couch transported back in time, a time when I had my beloved Monet, our West highland Terrier. A time when my sister and I had hamsters, skateboards, and bicycles with banana seats. (You remember those awful seats, don’t you?)

Yesterday I took my youngest on a school field trip to a local farm. They have what they call a jumping pillow. Maddock was all over that, as you can imagine.  I watched as 20 of these jubilant 3 years old ran for that nylon filled air sack and jumped their little hearts out. They were so happy to bounce up and feel that squish under their feet as they came down. I watched those children jumping intently.

I thought to myself: What can I learn from this? What can I learn from being airborne?

Here is what I came up with. As kids, all you know is fun. Kids don’t know financial stress, they aren’t worried how the mortgage will get paid. They just want to know that Mommy and Daddy want to play with them and tuck them in at night. Kids don’t know love lost, they love everybody. Kids don’t know self-consciousness, they don’t care what others think of them. If they love those batman pajamas then they will wear them to school no matter what anybody thinks.

Kids can sit and listen to the ocean and imagine faraway lands, as I did when I was a child, or jump on a trampoline and imagine flying, as my son does. They aren’t worried about the stress of the day. There is no room for that when you are living that moment to the fullest.

There is a feeling you get when you are jumping. A sensation that takes over when you are airborne. You are weightless, fearless, and full of joy. You aren’t worried about hitting the bottom. You only live for the air beneath you now.

This is where I chose to live my life from today and all the days to follow.

I am airborne. I am going home.


Music Moves Me

27 Sep

Cover of "Mama Africa"

Sometimes it is a smell that brings me back in time. Sometimes it is an article of clothing I find that jogs the memory. Most often it is music that immediately transports me back in time.

Last night I made a rock and roll playlist for my class. We were just starting to get warmed up and “Killer Queen” by Queen came on. I start dancing immediately, it happens without any thought at all. As my body is moving I begin to realize that I am back in time. I am no longer in Georgia, I am in California. I am hearing this song for the first time on my sister’s stereo. For those of you who follow my sister Jennifer’s blog, you know how much she loves time travel. I love time travel equally, it must be hereditary. I love going back in time, even if just in my mind.

This week I have time traveled quite a bit. 

I was so tired yesterday. Can’t keep your eyes open tired. I was driving to run errands and ‘Mama Africa‘ by Peter Tosh came on my iPod. I was immediately thrown back 23 years earlier. I am 12 years old and spending the summer in California with our dear family friend who let me spend the summers with her. It was the best my mom could do to keep me happy after we left California and moved back to New Jersey. I remember us all going to the beach. The windows down in the VW beetle and Peter Tosh playing on the stereo. I remember the two little ones in the back seat. I even remember how blue the sky was that day. I remember thinking that life couldn’t get any better than this. I also knew right then that I was a lover of Reggae music even from a young age.

When I was in middle school I played field hockey, it’s a NorthEast thing. We used to love piling on the bus for away games. We all had our mix tapes and our Walkman’s.

You would play your jams and get pumped up. It was one of these mix tapes that had one of my favorite songs on it, ‘People Everday’ by Arrested Development. I don’t care who you are this song just makes you want to move. I mean get down. Funky bass lines and horns, I love it all. As this song played on my radio last week I time traveled twice, it was AMAZING. I was 13 years old jamming on the bus and then….it is February 2012. I am going through customs as I return home from my LIFE CHANGING MEXICO YOGA RETREAT. I couldn’t believe who was standing right in front of me, Speech, frontman for Arrested Development. Wearing a pair of overalls splattered with colorful paint. I was starstruck. I wanted to grab him and bust out my imaginary bass and start dancing. I couldn’t help but smile. Such a sad moment that my magical trip was over juxtaposed with the music in me bringing me back, way back.

I have had my fair share of sad and crappy times in my life. Through them all I can always find a song that makes me smile from that stage in my life. When you’re in the midst of a tough time in your life it is easy to see everything through rose-colored glasses.


The music in you can help you remember all the good times that were happening along the sucky ones. All the good things that you blocked out of your memory. All the good things that couldn’t really be good because everything in that year, that month, or on that day was so bad that good never existed.

The music can bring you back. The music can seduce those good memories back up to the surface.

My take on all of this is simple. You must listen to music everyday. You must move your body and smile, maybe you want to cry, if it moves you than do it.

I am living what I speak. It’s 9am I am on the sofa. I have some really ugly big blue headphones on as I write this. I am playing as much old hip hop as I can find. Every jam is a different decade, a different friend, a different wild experience. My kids are laughing at me as I sing out loud. What a lovely way to start a Thursday.

Namaste and happy singing.

You Have Been Infected

15 Dec

I wish I could explain the feeling….

So why don’t I just show you.

It’s a little like this




Or maybe it’s like this

Or possibly like this

I don’t know what has come over me. Not that I am complaining, but it is just, well, mind-blowing. I am so on fire, so on point. I don’t know if there really is much that could knock me down. Even if there was something, it would only be a temporary setback.

Although for some people who know me it may seem as if this came out of nowhere, but it didn’t . I know the exact moment it happened

Wanna know when it was, well then let me tell you. It was the moment I walked out of the very first yoga class I ever took in my life, which by the way just happened to be led by my sister Jen. I walked out of that room on a high like i can’t even explain. There were a whole host of reasons why I felt as if I was floating. The biggest reason being that I had just done my first class and made it all the way to the end. It wasn’t a beginners class and I am really out of shape. I attempted all my handstands(with the help of the wall), did as many crows as I could, and did the breath of fire until I thought I would pass out. Within the first five minutes of being there I lost my feeling of insecurity and just went with it. There were some really amazing people in that class, I mean some serious yogis who could virtually levitate on the mat, it was awe-inspiring.
I  begged my sister not to tell anybody that it was my first yoga class, she swore she didn’t. I found out after the class that everybody knew. Not one of them led on the whole time that they knew, everybody was so friendly and supportive.

So ok, it was just a yoga class, but not really. It was a milestone on more than one level. I have always had this fear of taking classes, I worry that people will laugh at me, or think me foolish. So I finally put myself out there and it was a big one, to take a class with people who are dedicated to a yoga lifestyle.  Then secondly that I made it through the class and felt like I kept up made me feel accomplished, cause believe me I wanted to give up more than once.

Okay but that is just one part of the whole life chainging experience. I was feeling sad that morning. I was missing California and thinking about the opportunities that you have when you live there. I didn’t want to go home. Then I walked out of the class looked at Jen and said, “I can make a life anywhere.” I really didn’t think about that declaration again until a few days ago. I realized that I have completely changed since I returned from California. I can’t believe how inspired and full of life I am right now. Of course I have had many moments in my life that were filled with joy, but this is different. This feels really permanent. I think the biggest thing is really that  the joy I feel is about myself. I have always been filled with joy about my children, and my family, but lacked that same spark for myself.


I am all those things in spite of all of these things.

I am short

I am 20lbs overweight

I have crooked teeth

i have acne

I am terrible at punctuation

I let my kids watch t.v. sometimes because I need a break


I am not very good at calling people back

I still pay my bills late

But in spite of all those things I still feel good. I feel like I was infected with happiness in California.

I want to infect other people with that same happiness. What if you could be infected with happiness. Why do we commonly associate infection with the bad things like disease. I am going to start a new trend. I am going to start the Happiness Infection. It is simple, if you are truly happy, joyful, and in integrity with your kindness, than the people around you have no choice, they are infected.

So dear readers, go out and start infecting your friends, and family. It is amazing how good it feels to be around people who are also happy like you, it is such a breath of fresh air.

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