“When God gives you brown peaches…make some cobbler”! Atlanta is home again, and the hills, trees, crisp mornings are an inspiring sight. I am happy to be back but ready to be settled. Moves are not easy, no matter how hard you try to throw some “Pixie” dust on it. We have had the perfect storm of life’s challenges, but alas, the morning still comes with singing songs of birds at dawn. I am grateful no matter what the mess! Thank you to all my loving friends who have taken my phone calls in the most desperate of moments. It is nice to be listened to, to be reminded that I am a light that serves no one when the flame is not burning bright. Today, I decided to make mason jars of soup to thank all of the wonderful folks at my kids “new” schools for their amazing support. I went back to this blog to get my favorite tomato soup recipe this morning. 4 years ago, but also in October, a nice reminder of a simpler day, and yet how many forward steps have occurred since I wrote this.
Definitely worth re-blogging and wishing all my readers a snuggle, a precious kiss from a child, and the sweet smell of Fall and soup!
Has it really been 20 days since my last blog…YIKES! Time flies when you are having fun. These past couple of weeks I have been feeding my soul. First of all, I am “in love with all three of my children”. I have been observing, participating, laughing with, even catching episodes of “the X factor” while snuggling in our jammies. I have enjoyed watching the new Oprah “life class” on OWN. I have been living with purpose. Everything I have done in the month of October I have done with absolute focus and appreciation for the value of the moment and with whom to share it. It is an amazing surrender to just live with the intoxication of the moment and the observance of a child as if everything is happening to you for the first time.
I would have named this blog “the simple things” because the most pleasure I have enjoyed, is when I was making hot chocolate for my kids on a cold and breezy day. Fresh with marshmallows and chunks of chocolate floating and melting in the slightly scalded milk. I watch them do their homework, I read to them in the evening, we spend time thinking of games or puzzles we might do when the rigor of homework relents. I have called my mother, old friends, and made time to have lunch or go on a hike. It is not as if I didn’t long for these moments, rather, I have longed for them but my schedule seemed to never break enough for these freedoms to occur.
I have taken “Lil A” (my airstream) on three camping trips since July. Each trip was just a weekend, but every moment passing, camping and hiking, seems like weeks. Camping and hiking ground me, they allow time and essence to go by slower. Definitely the top 3 camping trips of my lifetime occurred this past weekend. I was allowed to bring the airstream/”Lil A” up to my son’s school for a pre-home game tailgate. I set it up, opened the awning, and began to give tours for interested passer-by’s. I had the company of a wonderful friend, and the delight of my son. With the headmaster’s approval I found sacred grounds down by the river. The smoke on the water was rising up in the morning, the trees all in full color, and the dew on the grass sparkling like diamonds. The first words out of my mouth were, “Good morning to you also, God”. This is why I love camping. This is why everyone should get grounded by the earth beneath their feet. It was this morning with the geese calling for some place warmer, that we took a short hike and delighted in the crunch under our feet of fresh fallen leaves. It is truly Autumn and with that I am embracing every joy and challenge with great delight.
FEED YOUR SOUL…read a book, have some tea and toast, chat with a neighbor, plant some mum’s,take your dog for a long walk, play a game of cards, or simply follow my recipe for the best tomato basil soup ever!
Love and light,
I have cooked this soup since I was 23. As you can see I have modified sizes over the years. The secret modifications in the recipe, are as follows:
I only use fresh herbs. I use twice to three times the amount of basil and thyme. I also peel a whole eggplant and cube it into small pieces, then add it to the pot while the onions are cooking. The only way to get the soup nice and velvet, is to use a hand blender. Mix all ingredients in a food mill, food processor as directed, or use a hand blender. (until all ingredients are nice and smooth). Finally, add some heavy cream about 1/2 cup to start with, then more if desired. Warm through and serve. I always double or triple my recipe, It’s that good!
- This proverbial saying refers to the explosive state in which bad meets worse or the worst in your personal experience. “The visualization that excrement so smelly and stinky, yet contained, explodes affecting anything in its path”. (http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/21860/whats-the-etymology-of-when-the-sht-hits-the-fan)
When SHIT hits the fan:
- The loss of a parent, child, or sibling.
- The loss of a job.
- Chronic or terminal disease.
- Physical or psychological challenges.
- Moving your residence, relocating family.
- Accident and or injury.
- Catastrophic weather
- Natural disasters
There is nothing worse than manifesting, processing, or experiencing the above situations. We respond through a number of emotional vehicles being anger, denial, depression, and deep emotional anxiety. Moments turn into weeks, months and years of disbelief. How does the emotional spirit walk through these devastating, derailing, many times debilitating experiences?
2014-2015 has blessed me with 6 out of 10 of the above. Unfortunate, that in my “little” world I have personally been affected by so many of these in one crazy year! I will do my best to share how I get up in the morning, with the intention of “Today is all I have, make it count”!
First of all, the biggest lesson is realizing “WE ARE ALL JUST HUMAN BODIES HAVING A SOULFUL EXPERIENCE, or SOULS LIVING IN A HUMAN EXPERIENCE.” Ask yourself which one do you choose to be living in today?
- Before you wake up: close your eyes, and breathe.
- Say “Good Morning” to yourself, your body, your day, your God.
- Picture and focus on nothing more than the present moment of your breath, your heart, your soul.
- Ask your body for permission to start the day.
- Bless your day with a smile
Once you set your body in the right direction you are better to take on the day and the crisis at hand.
When illness or injury keep you from getting out of bed.
- This is a time for healing, calm your body.
- Give your body thanks for all it has given you.
- Find a book, a show, something that allows you to relent to the sedentary.
- Slowly pluck away at paper piles or magazines you have desperately needed to go through but never had the time.
- Play a game with a family member.
- Bring laughter back into your world by engaging in the “what I can do,” rather than what you cannot.
- Recognize that this too shall pass, if it is chronic then you must focus on a new way of normal.
- The body will still need exercise, reach out to get help on what physical options you have while you are healing. Keep the mind sharp and entertain as many options as you can physically.
- Eat right and drink Tea! Tea is an amazing healer. Explore the flavor that fills your soul.
When overwhelming situations happen to cloud your physical and emotional stability.
- Cry, Laugh, Scream. My best advice is PURGE! Find a moment, a week, a safe friend or place that you can feel your most tortured feelings and let them pass through you.
- Whatever you resist…persists! Life is ever-changing, growing, dying, being born again. Your life experience will be no different. Many people resist change but it will come back in different ways, slowly…then get louder and build until it explodes. It is the natural ebb and flow of the universe. Don’t deny it in your own spiritual growth.
- Give way to the change. Some changes happen over seconds or years. Once you have released your emotional hurdles of denial or disappointment, start giving it room to happen. Research new homes if you are moving. Ask friends about their jobs if you have been released of yours. Find a therapist, a minister, a friend, a family member who you can reach out to.
- Begin to discover the world of options. Take a sabbatical, sell your home and travel, discover new adventures in a new location, write a book, read poetry, do YOGA, explore a new possibility that only now has been made available to you.
- Make a list of what needs to be accomplished and slowly pick away at it. Tasks, when accomplished, are very motivating. Tasks when building in your head and not written down, are very stressful. Make a goal to get at least one task done every day, first thing in the morning while you are fresh.
- Make room for walks and talks with nature. Realize that you standing still does nothing for the energy of this world. Bask in the heartbeat of the world and listen to the birds singing as the dawn arises.
- Have a bath, shower, run or a nap planned into your day as your “me time”. Your body and soul are going through a lot, you must make steps to heal it even though you are still hurting. Find something cathartic that can create baby steps to your new future.
Misery does not like company. Find people who possess good optimistic energy! Recently, I reached out to family members in hopes they could pass on motivation, compassion, and understanding. Some were able to fill my cup in very unexpected ways. Some may not know what to do but once in a while you find an angel who guides you through the mess and escorts you through the muck to the sunshine on the other side. You must open yourself to the possibilities that this change wants to bring you. If you do not show up, the gift cannot be unwrapped. My advice is to wear a party dress, some high heels, and put on sun glasses because when the sunshine hits your face it will be hot! If you are willing…God can take you to the brightest of places and dreams you could never have imagined. We are all just souls passing through. Souls willing to give of them selves to bless others. While some souls are starving and take and take until there is nothing to give. Some give wisdom for the journey, while others possess infinite love and abundance. It really is an amazing journey and I am blessed to really be alive and present to experience it all.
One day at a time…Feel first, explore the options available to you, release and relent to your new transformation, and prepare for amazing surprises ahead!
LOVE and LIGHT,
God is in everything. For the back yard I wanted a space for my soul to hear God, to see God. The truth be told…God is in everything! When we had to cut down a tree, I told the builder “let’s instead let the tree rest and seed in different form”. This was the inspiration for our trunk stepping “stones”. We cut them into 8 inch deep circles and glazed them once they were set. It is one of our favorite aspects of our back yard!
I wanted flowers and foliage that made us happy. I didn’t want plants that didn’t sing or remind our family of the beauty around us. We looked for plants that worked well in our climate but brought intention to their placement. Here are the eucalyptus trees we selected to help ward off mosquitoes as well as deliver a wonderful scent. I use the leaves in bouquets or just by themselves in a vase.
Last we enjoy the water and a salt water pool was an easy choice for our family. Our skin is smoother and the pool almost maintenance free. If we couldn’t have the ocean, we wanted to have water our main focus outside. Swimming laps have become a weekly ritual.
We designed covered space for daily meditations and yoga with plenty of room for family and friends to gather out of the harshness of the Houston heat.
Find your “Heaven on Earth” and visit it regularly!
My life is whole and I know who I am. I have struggled many times with the question of who really sees me. Though I know myself, many do not know me. My journey is my own and I owe it to my soul to keep moving in the direction of Love and Kindness. My biggest teachers, have been my children. The biggest lesson, has been in being more than I ever thought I could be for them and in them. This coming week I get to enjoy the view of one of my children stepping over a stage and accepting what life will soon show him. Though he is already a man, though he already has made me proud and others proud, he is in the midst of finding the truest part of himself. I loved this poem and it is very fitting to share with all of you. WE ARE NOT THE BOAT, OR THE OAR…WE ARE THE GENTLENESS IN THE BREEZE THAT IS AT THEIR BACK! Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
by Kahlil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Selecting a home, or even renovating a home can be a daunting task. I have been at the helm of both. When life moved us again all I wanted was someone else to handle the details. We ended up taking our time on our house selection and moved into a temporary but fun, city apartment. Things went to storage and our family began the search again. Nothing was quite right nor worth the exhaustion that moving creates. No matter our search we kept coming up empty. Two years ago the “mister” and I decided we could build! A huge responsibility and full-time job to design and build a home from scratch. I felt an environmental responsibility as well. Though architects, builders and contractors facilitated our dreams, ultimately we were the party to which brought this baby into the world!
Much like creating a baby, building a home has many “trimesters” and uncomfortable moments, dreams, and anticipations. I truly felt the “kicks” of pressure and nausea of decisions over the past 18 months. Similar to the joy of motherhood, one quickly forgets the pain when the face of beauty is surrounding you. I am so happy to share with you all my inspirations reasons and pretty pictures of our now…VERY SACRED AND MAGICAL SPACE.
I’ll begin with the landscape and architecture and share with you my photos and inspiration for so many aspects of our new home.
The exterior is just as important to me as the interior. Choosing plants and textures that welcome the homeowner like little hostesses was my inspiration.
It began with the Mister spotting this fantastic door in the back of an Antique store. It was not the size we had specified originally but it just sang to us. It has been alive a long time and we respect it’s amazing energy. What a gift to be its new adoptive parents.
Geometric shapes were always our focus and inspiration. There are so many options in custom home building, the decisions can be overwhelming. I made a firm decision that I would not look at anything that was not square or rectangle. It is a theme we were able to carry throughout the process from its inception with our architect to final decisions with knobs to landscaping.
When we designed our plans I also went to the kids and the MISTER with a request for a wish list. What would make you happy, what would bring the best energy to you? I asked myself about what makes my heart sing? Bringing the outdoors in was at the top of my list as well as an organic garden. I teamed up with the awesome Architectural landscaping duo, Kainer and Kainer, who perfectly nailed my vision.
I wanted Zen like features with purpose planting. The organic garden is amazing! It is small enough to manage but packs so much variety in just our spring planting. We have herbs of all kinds, strawberries, four types of lettuce, tomatoes,cauliflower, and broccoli. A few peppers and onions as well share this delicious space.
I have one Meyer Lemon tree and one Lime tree. Who doesn’t need these delicious fruits in the summer? I love lavender, my daughter and I spray it on our pillows at night. I use the oil to keep pests and mosquitoes away. I love it dried and love it fresh, so I had to have several planted right under my kitchen window so I see it every day. These plants make me HAPPY! We chose to plant them with the several bushes of rosemary and keep the fragrance going all day all the time.
Heart rocks…A very dear friend of mine shared with me the story of heart rocks. He has such a dear perspective it seemed perfect that heart rocks “purposefully”, though not planned at all, ended up in our garden. HEART STONES (the book)
Gardenia bushes: My mother who lives far away and hates to fly, (or visit), loves gardenia. I miss my family more than I can ever say, so I planted 6 gardenia bushes around my lemon and lime trees. Family is always a gift though sometimes “bitter-sweet” is the relationship. The location of the gardenia and the citrus trees symbolize my sweet reminder that I can always enjoy the balance of our loved ones. The fragrance surrounds me with love and I feel my family close by again.
Olive trees: I have three olive trees. I wanted to bring a little of our Mediterranean concepts of cooking, to life. The olive trees remind me of cooking with passion and love. The Olive branch signifies hope and PEACE which I pray for everyday. A great visual meditation as we all enter our new home.
I knew from the beginning that I wanted the house to tell a story to us all. I wanted the house to have amazing energy that would be fostered by our own intentions and love as well as help us along when our minds aren’t so full of gratitude. I hoped for a cohesive relationship with this home, praying and giving thanks for every step of its building phases. I personally prayed for every contractor daily when I stopped in to see the work. I prayed that not only by their hands would we be blessed but that our house would bless them in a way that carried forward to their evenings. Everything in our world is a living energy force and it was our intention to put as much positive energy into the walls and floors of the house that holds our precious family, as well as give back to all who enter.
THE BACK YARD:…
STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK
GET OUTSIDE AND PLANT!!
To all my students…Past, Present, and Future:
I’m not sure what brought you to me and not always sure what brought me to you but it is spirit that connected us! This year I have had the joyous pleasure of being introduced to a new group of students in Houston. My oldest students are 80 years young, give or take a few. They were the first to arrive in my class and though one had already engaged in his own yoga at home, would actively participate each and every teaching. My youngest students have been 3 years old, a group of pre-schoolers. I was asked to teach my daughters class at Temple Kol Emeth in Marietta, Georgia. We would do poses like the “crab” and the “tree”. Yoga is great for everyone. Yoga is the body’s movement and breath while readying it for the day.
I adore my students! The energy that we exchange, the emotion that is surfaced, and the devotion that I take home is priceless. I became a student of Yoga in my early 20’s. I was an emotional yuppie, feeling alone, and knowing I had some type “A” expectations of myself that were unrealistic…I gave way to the teachings. I became a Teacher after my husband had back surgery and the surgeon prescribed yoga as his treatment. Yoga is my daily devotion. Everyday, I have the opportunity to picture each and every student and loved one in my morning meditation. I create bubbles of love to each individual that has crossed my path and fill that bubble with love before sending it off with each exhale. My morning meditations sometimes last 5 minutes while others I find are a bit more lingering. Beginning each day this way has blessed me more than I can describe. My breath is clear, my mind is ready, open and my soul is enriched by your presence in my life.
Yoga is a practice. It’s a devotion to yourself. I find the more you allow it to move through you, the more you expand. The great fun about yoga is you need no extra resources other than your body. It’s nice to have a mat but not necessary and sometimes exciting to just use the “sticky carpet” of a “not so nice” motel floor to just work in your favor! This is what I’m trying to convey…”Sticky carpet” when used properly,…can be a blessing…as with everything! Nothing is ever happening without purpose. Yoga is the vehicle we all need to WAKE UP AND SEE IT!
Today, I said a brief “see you soon” to my students. I put them in savasana…sprayed my pixie dust…and asked them to give thanks to their body, their eyes, their ears, their breath. I read my poem, I blessed their presence, and was blessed by their presence. I gave them t-shirts…”HEAD2ZEN” T-shirts. Some were so excited by the gift of a free T-shirt, some said” I’m so glad for this class every Monday”…and one said…I WAS SOOO MAD at my HUSBAND before coming…to which I said, “BREATHE”…sometimes a GOOD HARA BREATH, works wonders.
The tools of Yoga are unmeasurable. My prayer for all my students is that your yoga journey continues. Perhaps, I am the introduction or your front door. Maybe, I’m your bridge to carry you through troubled waters and perhaps I will be there with you, by your side in savasana, giving you one last exhale before flying away on butterfly wings.
It is and forever will be my HONOR to be your teacher!
LOVE and LIGHT,
My journey for 2013 has been a hike. It started with a bang of joy and resolution. Then contentment was muddied by yet another move while still waiting to settle into our new re-location. Though unsettling… the ground remained firm and the oxygen was still flowing. Happiness comes from within, never far behind is gratitude. Though the forest gets dense and thick, we must never forget how to get to the other side. Finding the joy in all things is a real journey. Realization that I succumb to any other emotion, is a daily adjustment to my mind and perspective. To wake with a grateful heart and to see beauty in the days and moments as they unfold… is my souls journey. We have so much to be thankful for and my hopeless optimism yearns for more seeing of greatness rather than exercising energy into what is dark, dismay, frivolous and gray. Today, I am moved by these poetic words that I hope they will inspire you when read then…digested.
Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.
by Martha Postlewaite
Enjoy and know whenever I find something that is amazing cross my own path…I wish nothing more, than to send it out to you, to enjoy as well.
This morning…the sun came up over my television screen, as it usually does while watching CBS SUNDAY MORNING. Sipping on a cup of coffee, breathing in the headlines of the day, I was directed to my favorite topic…” New and Juicy”.
Today’s headline…“The Money Edition,” which highlighted many innovative and creative ideas for making money.
Perhaps your next Vacation takes you to Venice and you have 6 people in your family and only $200 or less to spend on an apartment. You want it on the water and it needs to come with a private boat….I have the answer for you. Maybe, it is a tree house you’re looking for with a view the Golden Gate Bridge, and walking distance to Union Square? Have a private plane or Yacht or even Airstream you want to rent out? A new way of sharing…check out, all options at Airbnb.com.
New ideas, success, and whimsy…I love my CBS Sunday Morning!
Love and Light,
This is the ultimate bank platform. Call it Karma, or Universal Law, I call it banking with the divine. Every day I try to have a transaction, some quite small, like the prayers over my children or the guidance to care for them. Others a little bigger for “The Mister” who rarely sees me on my knees asking for larger withdrawals of patience and love to welcome him home. My Bank is always there, it never defaults, and adds more interest than I ever expect. My bank speaks to me in a way that is amazingly personal and specific to my needs. Recently, I have been making deposits to the “Bank of the Divine” in the form of funds from teaching my Yoga classes. Some donations went to Sandy relief, some went to homeless people at Christmas, and some bought coffee for a stranger at Starbucks. In my little way I try to give more than I withdrawal, and last week one of my students shared with me a wonderful “pay it forward” story. It is worth reading, it is worth digesting, and hopefully at the end you will be anxious to make a donation to the Universe as well. Here is the story she shared with me after I declined my Sunday fee for teaching and asked each student to do something of their choosing to pay it forward and feel the delight that giving definitely brings!
BTW, Remember how you (Suzen) told us to give $10 to someone who needed it? Well, I was at Memorial middle school last night and a friend found a checkbook. It had a name and address, but no phone number. I used my super sharp sleuth (not sloth) mind to deduct (Sherlock Holmes style) that since the checkbook was found at MMS in the gym…they probably had kids…AND since the address was an apartment complex in the 024… the kids probably went to school at Hunters Creek. I got out my handy-dandy, always present, school directory and found the lady’s name/phone number in it. I texted her and she confirmed it was hers. During all this investigative work (looking for name or clue) I noticed the last entry in her registry was for a $90 late fee for rent. There were also other entries where after rent she had only $30 in her account. It makes me sad knowing someone with three kids struggles to pay rent all the while managing to pay $150 for three yearbooks for her kids so each one would have memories when they grew up. ANYWAY, the other mom with me and I put cash in her checkbook and I took it to school in an envelope. Your $10 was included in our gesture. I think I will buy some Kroger gift cards anonymously and mail them to her throughout the year to hopefully be of help. Thanks Suzen for your kindness…I did my best to pay it forward.
We all benefit when we make our deposits willingly and when we can. Sometimes the needy don’t reveal their needs, and other times just a cup of coffee can set the stage for an amazing pay it forward encounter. Over the last 15 years I have bought hundred’s of coffee for the persons behind me in the Starbucks drive thru line. Always a stranger, not expecting a blessing to come their way. This same week, I had my coffee purchased for me by a stranger. Significant because this was the first time I have ever been on the receiving end. It was the perfect reminder that no matter who you are and where you might be…doing something for someone else goes out into the world and takes on something greater than you ever imagined.
Love and Light,
It’s been a while since I have posted. I miss you too! The thoughts have been swirling, I just haven’t been diligent in posting. So much to share and so much still to uncover.
First of all, happy new year and happy 2013. This year brings with it enormous change for the universe and with it, a lightness of being, to all living residents of planet Earth. With these changes, I decided to make a few of my own. Health is always at the top of my new years resolutions but this year I decided, I really needed to “STEP UP MY GAME”! Lots to share and some photos and book recommendations as well. Hopefully while you scour this post you will leave wondering what you too could do to step up your game.
Zen is simply …that state of centeredness which is here and now. -Alan watts
The Zen of doing anything is doing it with a particular concentration of mind, a calmness and simplicity of mind, that brings the experience of enlightenment and, through that experience, happiness. – Chris Prentiss
1. Mindful awareness: Challenge your self to be fully aware to what you say and do.
2. Get physical for at least 2 hours a day.
3. Only put into your body whole and healthy items. This includes french fries if they are homemade!
4. Read more.
MY READING FAVORITES THIS YEAR:
Proof of Heaven
Life of Pi
A walk across America
The book of Awakening
Zen and the Art of Happiness
The Buddha walks into a Bar
5. Go vegetarian: I have committed to a no meat diet for 2013
6. Give up something for at least 40 days, just to see if you can really be stronger without it. Give up Gluten, or wine, or bread, or sarcasm.
7. Play games: many of you know I love a good fun family game that gets everybody involved regardless of their card counting ability or age. Making it about the connection instead of the WIN.
Telestrations ended up being a great game this year.
Tell me a story created magical imagery in both the old and the young.
8. Take a risk: Do something that scares you.
9. Step back and observe your thoughts. Realize that everything that happens, if you allow it, will bring you in alignment with the divine.
10. Let something go! Whether it be a pain, anger, a jealousy, fat, physical adversity, sadness, unworthiness, inferiority, or dissatisfaction to anything…Let it go. ” Every event that befalls me is absolutely the best possible event that could occur.”
Recently, I had a challenging discussion with “the Mister”. He does not like change and he rather delights in making fun or ridiculing my desire for change. Most of all he would rather never change. While having our discussion, I realized, that his responses were simply a request for love. He wasn’t angry about the request for change, he was angry that I was challenging the love I laid at his heart. It’s a deep discomfort and vulnerability that every one is guilty of. So regardless of whether you are the one asking, or you are the one receiving perhaps step back a minute and decide the intension of the request and begin it with the words “COULD WE COMPROMISE”…on such and such a need? Then see what comes of it. Sometimes the ask, comes from left field and in a way bombards the receiver. Best to say, I really need this___, now how might we make it happen together.
Get healthy, think healthy, and be well!
Love and Light,