Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What's on your bucket list?

I recently crossed something off my bucket list that wasn't on my bucket list but should have been on my bucket list. Have you ever heard of "SUP”? I didn't before but do now. It stands for "stand up paddle" boarding.

It involves something that looks like a big surf board, but with a better center of balance (thank goodness) and a paddle, thus the name, and a willingness to fall in the water.

My day started out somewhat normal, sitting in the Sprint store to have my phone fixed. By the way the service at the Sprint store at Gratiot & Hall Road rocks. My son tracked me down there and was in a hurry to have a question answered since he was scheduled to have a SUP lesson at Bradenburg Park in Chesterfield Twp. This kid has been in over drive since the day he was born.

When he told me what he was going to do, I asked to tag along to watch. The grass could most definitely wait to be cut.  We met Sarah from UrbanWavePaddle.com at the park and she told me that I was more than welcome to join them since she had extra boards.

Panic instantly set in, you want me go where standing on what with a paddle? I had street clothes on, but my son had an extra pair of swim trunks and Sarah had an extra shirt, so I took a deep breath and said of course I will. I am convinced that if I was given more time to decide, I would have come up with a lot of useless excuses.

Sarah started off with a lesson of how to do what, get on, stand up, how to hold the paddle and of course how to get on again after you fall off.  She was reminding us to put a soft bend in our knees, engage the core, use the whole body and gaze up.  I started laughing; I told her that is what we tell our yoga students on the mat.

And off we went.  It was much easier than I thought it would be, grateful that I over came my initial reaction, to go outside my comfort zone and spread my wings.  Once Sarah made sure I was on board with the concept (get it...on board), she took off after my son who I think was on his way to Canada at the speed he was going.

We had a great time and ended up staying out there for hours.  What adventures are you missing out on because you are hesitant to spread your wings and get on board?  Our instructor was an example of that herself.  She was an attorney for 10 years, quit, took up SUP and the rest is history.  She said that she is having the time of her life.

I am not suggesting that we all quit our jobs, it would be mass chaos (or mass contentment), but let's try a little experiment.  Softly close your eyes and relax your breath.  Now think of one thing that you have wanted to try, but for whatever crazy reason you haven't.  Picture it, feel it, imagine yourself actually doing it in your mind's eye. Now open your eyes....take that first step toward it......and just breathe.

Friday, July 27, 2012

All you need is love, love....

                                                 "It is love that holds everything together..."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Slow down you move too fast....

Teachers and teachings come to us in many different ways and forms in our lives. And they seem to come when we need them, thank goodness. The other day I was sitting on the edge of the flower boxes in front of our house thinking of all the things I still had to do before my husbands family came in from TN for the weekend. Then something caught my eye on the side walk. It was a tiny snail, just doing his own thing.  He would move a little, then crawl back into his shell, then repeat the whole process over and over again.

Where ever his was going, his was taking his sweet old time.  As I sat there and watched him I thought I bet he doesn't have high blood pressure, or worry about paying bills all the time.  I imagined him breathing long full, even breaths. He was stopping when he needed to and honoring his body when he had to.

Then an appropriate song for the moment popped into my mind (which seems to happen a lot lately) by Simon & Garfunkel ”Feeling Groovy" reminding me to "slow down, you move too fast". I continued to watch my friend as I sang the verses to myself. 

We can learn a lot from Mr. Snail and Simon & Garfunkel, we all need to slow down.  I got everything done that was important for the weekend, and the rest that didn't get done?  Apparently it wasn't that important. And a good time was had by all.

Check out the You Tube video of Simon & Garfunkel from way back when.  I guarantee it will make you smile and that you will humming the song long after you listen to it.

Hey people, slow down, you move too fast, you've got to make the morning last...and just breathe.

Check out the video. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pinch Me!

Did you ever have one of those days where you feel so blessed that you want to ask someone to pinch you to make sure it's real? Jump out of bed; wipe the sleep out of your eyes people!! Everyday day should be a "pinch me" day.  Get outside and enjoy this beautiful day and.....just breathe.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What's Your Back Story?

We all have a backstory, a past, a history that makes us who we are today.

I was reminded of this the other day and also reminded of how we often come to an incorrect conclusion, because we don't know the back story.

There is a student who has been coming to the studio for a short time. She is new to the practice of yoga and doing her best. In her new practice her body isn't always going to where she would like it to, but again she does her best.

I commented to her that she should be proud of determination and not giving up on this new found practice of yoga and with time and patience, her body will be kinder to her. I shared with her my back story of when I first started yoga and couldn't get my fingers passed my knees in a forward fold.

Then she told me her back story. She just lost her husband this past May and had become out of shape and lost her flexibility because she sat by his bed side for the past six months to help him through his last journey.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I expressed my sympathy for her loss and for her courage to find a new normal for her life.

In Buddhism there is a teaching called the Four Immeasureables which are: love, commpassion, joy and equanimity. We should practice these teachings toward everyone we meet,always. Why? Because we never know what their back story is...let that marinate in your mind a bit...and just breathe.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open.”

~ Frank Zappa ~

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Seva means......

....selfless service. It is a Sanskrit word meaning “work or service performed without any thought of reward or personal benefit." That's crazy talk, thinking more about someone else's needs over my own? How is that going to make me happy? This way of thinking is totally different that how we have been brought up to think. What's in it for me, what do I get out of it. We get so caught up in ourselves that we forget to look around us, to see who needs help, who is suffering. It is believed to practice seva is the true path to happiness.

I was reminded of this today as I ran a errand. Every Sunday at noon, downtown New Baltimore allows us to teach yoga in the park. It is a free class and we have lots of fun and practicing yoga among nature adds a wonderful element to it. Last year my friend Sharon suggested that even though the class is free, we ask if the students would be willing to donate non-perishable food items for St. Mary's food pantry. An idea was born and the students have risen to the task, which brings me back to today. The trunk of my little Ford Fusion was full of food which meant it was time to drop it off at the food pantry. When I have gone there in the past, only the volunteers have been there to collect the food. Today was different. I walked into the small lobby and it was packed with moms, dads, kids, waiting their turn to receive food.

To be honest, I didn't know where to look, whether or not to make eye contact with anyone. It caught me off guard. Imagine not being able to feed your kids and having to ask for help. I knew that this food was going to help others, but to be witness to them, to see them, wow...wow.

I am not a spring chicken, this is not my first rodeo folks, I have experienced and seen suffering, but today reinforced that fact that I am blessed to have what and who I have in my life and I take none of that for granted. And neither should anyone else.

Going to the food pantry today made me feel good not in a superior way, but in a seva kind of way. It made me happy to have helped. See, it does work. This life isn't just all about us. My teacher, Michael Johnson, used to tell us "if you want a cookie you first must make sure someone else have a cookie".

Check out this video if you need a little more convincing to try and practice seva...and just breathe. Click here

Friday, July 6, 2012

No Power, No Problem

We lost our power this past Tuesday night, at the studio and our home, as many others did, but it was off less than 24 hours. We still held our classes that night, just kept on adding candles as the evening went on. The music for the classes was the sound of the students breathes. The darkness added an extra layer of calm.

The next morning was 4th of July and the power still wasn’t on. Our annual donation class was set to start at 10 AM and there was really no logical way to contact everyone, so we decided to hold the class and see who showed. Well 34 of you did for what turned out to be an impromptu “hot yoga” class (no power, no a/c and lots of energy).

Teacher Meaghan Z. had asked to teach the class that morning with all monies collected be donated to her BFF Courtney to help her family recover from losing their home in a fire a few weeks ago. It was great class and $383.00 was collected for the cause. And that wasn’t the only good that came out of the day, we all learned that Meaghan has a beautiful singing voice as she ended the class with her version the “om mani padme hum” chant.

The brief time that we were without power just reminded me that when things are out of our control, how we respond, how we handle it affects the outcome.

It reminds me of the following Zen Proverb:

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.
“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.
“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.
“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
“Maybe,” said the farmer.

The moral of the story? Was it such a bad thing that the power was off….maybe. It’s how you handle it and always remember to ...just breathe.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Give Up?

Well, since no one guessed where I was in my eagle pose, I will share it with you. I was in downtown Ann Arbor in an very nice alley off Liberty Street. As you can see the art work is wonderful. Go check it out the next time you are there.

If you are hungry go to Tomukun Noodle Bar. The food and service is fabulous and vegan friendly. Check out their menu at and just breathe.