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2017-imageWith a New Year come the inevitable resolutions to do better. We vow to lose the weight this year, clean out that closet, change jobs, work harder, improve our finances or any number of other well-meant notions of looking, feeling, acting, being better. We mean it this year! We really do! And yet, by mid February the intensely-held motivations slip away into familiar habits like old slippers; comfortable, reliable, well-worn and needing to be replaced.

How can we realize what is genuinely in our minds and maybe even in our hearts to achieve? The answer is in the practice of creating a clear intention and establishing a disciplined practice of focus: one thought, feeling and action at a time.

Here’s a 5-step plan to proceed:

  1. Set a clear intention:
    • Make it short (easy to memorize and repeat like a mantra).
    • Make it positive.
    • Make it present tense.
    • Use “I” language.
    • For example; instead of the usual “I am going to lose weight this year”, we can reframe with: “I eat healthy meals and move my body every day”.
  2. Create an action plan:
    • Fill in a blank monthly calendar with daily experiences that support your intention.
    • Be specific with your time blocks.
    • Say, “no” to experiences that do not support your intention. Remember, “No.” is a complete sentence. You don’t have to justify your choices to anyone.
    • Follow your plan with discipline, especially for the first month.
    • When you stray (which is likely, since you’re human), begin again. No judgement, or hesitation, and by all means, don’t throw out your plan because you slipped up.
  3. Reward yourself frequently:
    • Weekly acknowledgments for the first month.
    • Replace your usual rewards with new ones. For example, if I am on a new health plan, instead of getting ice cream as a treat, I buy a new lip gloss!
    • Keep the rewards coming until the habit becomes a way of life. They don’t have to be material, treat yourself to a day in nature or a bubble bath.
  4. Accountability is the cornerstone of success:
    • Share your intention and plan with someone else or join a group with the same goals. Going it alone is not heroic. Just harder.
    • Keep a journal to process the mental/emotional aspects of the experience.
    • Engage with a friend, loved one or professional to work out the details of the journey.
  5. Love yourself no matter what:
    • The only way you can affect change is at the moment you accept who and how you are in the present.
    • Remember you are not broken, just learning more about who you are.
    • Life wants you to be happy. Create enough quiet time to hear the intuitive messages that are trying to guide you.

This last week hstatue-of-libertyas been full of change (careful what you wish for), and as nature has proven time and again, change is good. It provides opportunity for growth and evolution. Stagnant, sameness, unconscious living leads to apathy and ennui. But change can be hard. It can hurt. It upsets our security and sensibility of what we know and what is familiar which is far more comfortable than that which is unknown or doesn’t align with what we think and practice.

If we don’t like the current climate of change or don’t agree with what is projected to lie ahead, we are human, full of emotion and we react, and that is ok! We feel deeply and react passionately and if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be human. But what then? after the feelings? We need to transition quickly from reacting, thinking, complaining, processing to responding in kind.

The question is not, “WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO??!!”, but “What can I do to help?” I too, have run the rollercoaster of emotions from numbing shock to depressive despondency, wanting to run away and hide, to anger and disappointment for the human condition, to trying to stay positive and find a bright side…I am determined to stand tall and not just continue to contribute to my personal life, but to reach out and see what I can do to contribute to the community and to this great nation. Which has always been great. And resilient. And strong because of its diversity and open-minded acceptance.

I am reminded of what one of the best people in the world once said: Fred Rogers (aka Mister Rogers), an expert in children’s  wellbeing, who was consulted after 911. “How can we explain this event to our kids? we asked. “What can we do to help them understand such a horror?” His response, so perfectly insightful, was, “Look for the helpers.” So this is my plan, I will look for the helpers and I will be a helper too. Will you?

God will continue to Bless America.


This amazing poem was sent to me by my dear friend who is a new mommy. We chatted recently about all there is to be a parent and I stand from a place of a bit of experience as my not-so-little-ones embark on the teen years.

Having kids is a wonderfully long life lesson in selflessness. There are those times when we sit and wonder, “What were we thinking?”, oh yes, more times than we’d like to admit, but they are quickly shadowed by those many moments of pride and joy and compassion and deep, deep love unsurpassed by any other kind I have known.

In any relationship, trust is the key component to a healthy and respectful union, and my kids have taught me the value of listening and allowing – as much as I feel it is my duty to control and command. We navigate now not around potty training and playdates, but around keeping them safe while letting them explore their own True Nature. oy.

On Children

-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
 sling 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.

Our family has two older cats and we recently added Jef, a kitten from the shelter.

This is Jef.  There are many fetching qualities about Jef: his stripes, his orangeness, his feisty personality, how he lets you cuddle with him as much as you want.  But my favorite aspect of this kitty is his perseverance when it comes to being loved and accepted by the other cats.

The other cats were extremely angry at his inclusion in our family at first.  The young and beautiful , Lolly, hissed and spat and ran and hid and ignored me for weeks.  The big fluffy one, Scooter, was annoyed and combative. Jef remained undeterred.  His strategy was to love them anyway!  And he did.  When they papped him, he did not back down.  When they napped, he cuddled nearby.  When they ate, he sidled up. Despite their clear disdain and rejection, Jef continued to show his severe interest in being their friend.

It didn’t matter what they thought of him. He loved them anyway.

Well, after some weeks now, there is much less hissing and papping and there are even signs of slight acceptance if not inclusion in our cat world.

I have learned much from Jef’s life strategy and have adopted his method of unconditional love when it comes to a relationship in my life, where a person is really not that interested in being my friend anymore. I have decided to love them anyway. I recognize being pesty serves no purpose, (I am slightly more discerning than a cat), but I can still hold it in my heart and extend the occasional effort or affection when appropriate.  It seems to work.

What others think of you is none of your business.  Your feelings are true and valid and worthy of expression.

Thanks Jef. Glad I was listening.

According to the Tao de Ching:  “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them-that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tse

Where we are often able to let the universe and all of its magic unfold as it will, we more often want it to flow the way WE LIKE, not the way it wants to move.  This resistence that the Tao points to leads to much human suffering.

How often do we pray for the health and well-being of ourselves and loved ones? “Please God, let everything be positive and wonderful.”  Of course!  I do the same.  I want life to be simple and pleasant. However, some renunciate monks do just the opposite by praying for challenges and difficulty to test their faith in “letting things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”  I confess, I am not that courageous; I would still like to win the lottery.

I have learned quite a bit from yoga in this regard however.  Instead of simply praying for just the good stuff,  I now pray for the strength and equanimity to allow for all the stuff-good and bad.  This has given me the ability to stay more even-keeled in the face of adversity and ride those highs and lows more skillfully with less resistence.

The support from God and the universe is not only there in the good times, but right there with you in the abyss-with equal love and support. Our job then it seems is to stay faithful that however things unfold is exactly the right way despite our longings, desires and even our prayers.

“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.”  -Mother Theresa

My husband and I recently attended a beautiful wedding for some friends of ours with all the traditional trimmings.  The couple gave each guest a small silver bell with a ribbon and our names on it.  Of course, during the reception, we all took turns ringing the bell for the happy couple to kiss.  Then we took our bell home and put it on a shelf in the kitchen.

We soon began our own slightly silly tradition (as my teenager asks, “When did you guys get so weird?!”). When one of us does something in our lives that warrants a little attention, like a successful work day, high marks on the report card, getting a new job contract, helping someone out – we ring the bell! Sometimes one or the other must remind, “did you ring the bell for that?”  Sometimes we ring the bell at the beginning of the day before any accomplishments to send the message that this day will be a success.

I have found it a very satisfying little ritual that promotes constant validation of success however minor.  I think it’s the way we all should live our lives, by striving to do our level best and acknowledging our efforts as a reward.  At the end of yoga class, sitting up with eyes closed,  I will often invite students to “take a moment and honor yourself for coming to class today.”  It’s not an easy decision to take time away from a busy life and responsibilities to give yourself a gift of health and well-being.  It warrants a little “bell-ringing” in my book and I promote it!

We so often just do and do and do without stopping to take a moment and feeling the result of our efforts.  What does it look like after we have created something for ourselves and others?  Can we just take a second to ring our own bell for a job well done or in gratitude of something given? 

Some days go by and it’s quiet in the kitchen and other days there is a lot of sweet ringing, but regardless of the ups and downs that life brings, we can certainly stand still in appreciation of all the little (and big) successes to keep us motivated and appreciated.

Ring your bell today!!

There is as much greatness of mind in acknowledging a good turn, as in doing it. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Well, we’ve spent the whole month of November in my yoga classes practicing gratitude.  The Thanksgiving holiday always inspires this focus annually and it is always met by the students with open arms, minds and hearts.  On the mat, we asked ourselves, “What am I thankful for?”  We noticed what answer came up naturally (it varied from class to class), how that notion came with a feeling and then the invitation was to ‘follow that feeling’ throughout class. 

As we move in and around the asana, there are moments of pure gratitude for the healthy, strong body that brought us to class, but there are just as many, if not more moments of pure disdain and self-criticism.  When we so often fall into that pit of dis-ease, we can reconnect with that feeling of gratitude, the one that is always in place, ever-present and pure in spirit.  One of the many quotes I shared spoke of how each of tends a ‘secret garden’: one of abundance or one filled with a sense of lack. We can notice our own habits (on and OFF the mat) which garden do we tend?  Can we be present in that state of grace daily, or are we only thankful for the good things that come our way?

At the beginning of the month, an assignment was given to practice our gratitude off of the mat.  It was to make a human connection once a day,eye to eye, expressing our thankfulness in that moment.  Like looking at the bagger at the grocery store and thanking him for putting all the cold things in one bag; how helpful that is for when it’s time to unload.  Can you imagine if each of us took one minute each day of our lives to thanks someone; a loved one or stranger for something we appreciate?  What a world it would be!!

I truly hope the Thanksgiving holiday found you full of delicious food, warm surroundings and lots of love.


Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, and confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. –Melodie Beattie

P.S. In gratitude for my many loyal YP students, I am offering my annual free Womens’ Shakti workshop on Dec. 5th.  Check out the workshop page for more details.  Hope to see you there….


In yoga, the only Truth that exists is right now, and right now, and right now. So when we stay connected to the present moment we stay connected objectively to what is Real, which yields a feeling of contentedness and fulfillment. 

It’s only when we delve into the past or project into the future that we start to get caught up in feelings of conflict and misery.  When we reach back into the past or hold onto events past, whether they deal with just ourselves or people we know, especially loved ones, there is a tendency to hold onto memories of things that did not serve us well or to begrudge those who have “done us wrong,” or hold onto events that made us feel bad.  Sometimes we don’t let go of those circumstances and we choose not to forgive those people.

The brain holds onto the memory of those events; that’s information that is stored in the computer of the brain.  To suggest that we can erase those incidents that troubled us is somewhat insurmountable, unrealistic and most often cannot be done, or at least can’t be done easily.  I would suggest however, that there is a great ability for each of us to forgive the people, the world, the events that have happened in the past.  So even though we can’t always forget that our boyfriend did us wrong, we can forgive that person for who he was at the time, for who he might be now, the lessons we learned from that traumatic event and so on.

I would further suggest that it’s not necessary to forget; those memories have shaped us and contributed to giving us our current strengths and weaknesses, have helped form our habits to date. 

When we hold onto the misery, regret or hurt feelings from the past, we cannot live in the present moment, we cannot live in Truth and therefore we cannot really be completely happy.  There are many techniques that we can practice to open our hearts and soften our minds in an effort to forgive.  This is a loving endeavour.  Just think about how much time, energy and emotion is wasted on not forgiving somebody. To know someone who has gone to their grave with hate in their heart because of something somebody else said or did is extremely sad.

To err is human, to forgive, divine. -Alexander Pope

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.  Have you used one to say thank youWilliam A. Ward

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time.  Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?  ~G.K. Chesterton

You say grace before meals.  All right.  But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.  ~G.K. Chesterton

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.  ~Epictetus

Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don’t unravel.  ~Author Unknown

Not what we give,
But what we share,
For the gift
without the giver
Is bare.
~James Russell Lowell

Two kinds of gratitude: The sudden kind we feel for what we take; the larger kind we feel for what we give.
Author – Edwin Arlington Robinson

Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend… when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present — love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure — the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth. – Sarah Ban BreathnachHeaven

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts. No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving. –H.U. Westermayer

In teaching on the subject of gratitude this month and gathering many quotes from various deep thinkers, sages, writers, etc., I found this quote from the ancient Greek stoic philosopher, Epictetus (epic-TEE-tus).  I find it interesting when I read points of view and philosophies that don’t come from the yoga school, but have everything to do with what we study and practice.

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.  ~Epictetus



Philosophy, he taught, is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are determined by fate, and are thus beyond our control, but we can accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately. Individuals, however, are responsible for their own actions which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline. Suffering arises from trying to control what is uncontrollable, or from neglecting what is within our power. As part of the universal city that is the universe, human beings have a duty of care to all fellow humans. The person who followed these precepts would achieve happiness.

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