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Showing posts from 2017

For When the Nights are Longest

On this longest night of the year we are reminded that our days are short on this Earth. We are invited to reflect on the seasons past and find stillness in this darkest time. 
Does that scare you just a little? It does me. 
I am a lover of the light. I enjoy the sunshine, happy people, belly laughs, karaoke, musical theatre... I named my podcast Happy Healthy You! and wrote a book entitled Back to Happy for goodness' sake!
Being with darkness and grief is not a pleasant thing for me. Or for any of us I suspect.
Yesterday I found out that a dear friend from my school days had passed from this world. He was a sweet, loving generous soul who was a friend to everyone he met. His life was way too short.
How do we reconcile in our hearts and minds sad events like the passing of a dear friend during this “hap-happiest time of the year”? I found myself yesterday praying one minute and then bustling around preparing for our family holiday celebration the next. It was a strange, surreal day. 
Th…

Wild Geese

My husband teases me that I say yoga is great for everything. Maybe it's not good for everything but yoga can prepare us to move through life’s joys and sorrows with ease and grace and to unify our minds, our bodies and our spirits so that we can live happier, healthier lives. 
In many ways joy can be as challenging to contain as grief. The intensity of joy floods the nervous system with exhilarating feel good hormones. Joy can be thrilling, exciting and stimulating. Grief, likewise creates a similarly intense response. Both emotions affect us profoundly; physically, emotionally and spiritually. 
Moving through the asanas (poses), breathing practices, and meditation of a full yoga practice allows us to move stagnant energy from the body and helps us to remember and reunite with our true natures. Our mats can be places to return to again and again to clear out the cobwebs and relieve stored tension in the body.
This week I am recovering from wedding joy. (Yes, recovering from intense …

Checkin' In With Your Soul

This week has been a lot to take in. The news is difficult and scary and sad. What are we to do with all of the emotions?
I am not a psychotherapist but I have experienced the trauma of sudden loss. I wrote Back to Happy to tell my story and to give my experience meaning by possibly helping others in their grief. What worked for me might not work for you. But in everyone’s story there is something to take away and try on for ourselves.
I encourage you to take time to ask your soul what it might be needing this week. Be gentle with yourself and others. Pray, meditate and gather with loved ones or your faith community. Read sacred literature or texts. Make soup. Take a yoga class. Soothe your soul. 
When tragedies happen, like the one in Las Vegas this week, we are all affected. Even if we didn't  personally know any of the souls involved, we are touched. Our collective soul is wounded and we all must heal together. Once we accept that what happens “to the least of these” (Matthew 25:4…

Football, Yoga & Beginner's Mind

I have been trying to jump back from crow pose for years. I have built up my arm strength. My core is ready. I can successfully do the pose itself but still have not been able to jump back to plank from crow. I watch other yogis do it with such ease and “I think I am strong. I can do that.” Over and over I have tried through the years and have never been able to do it.
Until today.
Today I watched a video that gave me some simple tips I hadn’t learned before. The three tips were to press my finger tips into the mat, so much so that they become white in color. The second tip was to look forward and not down or back as I had been doing. And the third tip was to expel an audible exhale as I sent my legs backwards to plank.  Boom! That was all I needed. I got it on the first try. It was thrilling, but then these kinds of things make me happy. :)
Sometimes pure brute strength is not enough to achieve a goal. Sometimes we need a fresh new way of thinking to get there. It takes beginner’s mind.…

Breath and Happiness

“Remember to breathe. It is after all, the  secret of life.”  ~~ Gregory Maguire, A Lion Among Men

A lot of us walk around with neck, shoulder and back pain. It’s almost epidemic in this culture that spends much of its time slumped over a computer or steering wheel. Aside from the problem of inactivity there is a subtler influence this is having on us that can affect our minds, our bodies and our spirits. 
In a July, 2009 edition of the Journal Cephalalgia, a pilot study on dysfunction of breathing in chronic neck pain patients resulted in findings that chronic neck patients have decreased breathing capacity as well as poor breathing muscle strength. They also found a significant association between forward head posture and low breathing muscle strength in neck pain patients. They consider the relationship between breathing and neck pain to be an important factor in the assessment of neck pain patients, as well as in rehabilitation and medication use. In a June, 2013 edition of the Manua…

Choose Joy

I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.  This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. ~~Jesus the Christ It doesn’t take much to make me content these days. A shaft of sunlight, a ripe piece of fruit, a smile or a hug can cause my heart overflow. Life is good and sweet and dear. People are mostly good and sweet and dear. What is right in front of me is just as it should be and, without question, I am happy.
It’s quite beautiful and miraculous actually when I consider, by comparison, the depths of my grief. There was a time when managing the stressors of life and the sadness over losing my child was unbearable. I couldn't see an end to the pain. How did this abiding contentment come about and when did I notice it was perhaps here to stay?
Here’s the thing, it didn’t happen overnight. I had to do some serious inner work and it took some time. I had to learn to accept the loss and change the way I was in relation…

Finding the Light in the Darkest Places

My husband and I have been on a quest this summer to have fun and visit places that we have never seen, even if they seem touristy or trivial. If we are in an area that might have a fun or funky attraction, we are stopping! And we are having a blast doing it. When our children were younger we were often too practical and less spontaneous. Now that we are older and hopefully a little wiser we see that there is value in spontaneity and a lighthearted approach to life. 

Life is serious enough so why NOT visit the biggest rocking chair or wind chime as you travel through Casey, Illinois. As the Archangel Michael (played by John Travolta) said to his fellow travelers in the film Michael, 

"You gotta learn to laugh, it's the way to true love. "

Balancing the seriousness with some silliness has gotten me through some tough times. Some of my most joyful memories have happened in the midst of the greatest turmoil. I often think how funny it is that this can be. Remember that iconic …