Friday, November 9, 2012

The Leaf on the Windshield - Meditation On and Off The Cushion - Both Sides Now

As you my regular readers know, I love meditation classes with William Jackson at South Boston Yoga. He teaches us about meditation and Buddhism followed by our practice. We share after our practice sometimes using structured exercises to help us gain insight. It's an incredibly special and sacred time.

On Wednesday evening, William had car trouble and couldn't make it to meditation class. There were two other students who came to practice with Tom and me. Wedecided to share practice even though our 'teacher' was not present. Ahhh but although he was not physically present, his presence was strongly felt.

We began practice with listening for the sound of the bell three times.

We did a walking meditation for 25 minutes and then a seated meditation for 20 minutes. I felt incredibly blessed to share the space and practice with the members of our sangha, and to have the opportunity to tap into my own inner teacher as I practiced. After we finished our meditation, we shared our experiences. A good teacher is one who leads a class well; a great teacher is one whose presence and teachings are experienced even in his absence.

The next morning was snowy and slushy. I was dropping Tom off at work and then heading to practice yoga with Todd at South Boston Yoga. There was a leaf that got stuck in the windshield wiper.

Tom commented on how annoying it was since it was streaking the windshield. You've had that happen right so you know how frustrating it can be...And I said to Tom, recalling what William taught us about using the filter of our mind, "That's just a leaf on the windshield. Through the filter of your mind, it has become an annoyance." We both smiled and in the next moment, the leaf was gone.

How often do we focus on something that is annoying and allow it to overtake the moment when before we realize it, it's gone...That's what I learned from the leaf on the windshield as I practice meditation on and off of my cushion seeing life from both sides now....

Footsteps - from "Songs of Freedom:Poems From a Healing Odyssey" Volume II - Volume I is now available on Amazon

Gentle barefoot steps
nowhere to go
nothing to do but be
in blissful solitude
surrounded by soul mates
fellow travelers taking time as time and judgments suspend
inquiring inquisitive minds
seeking to find
the heart of the matter
nothing matters
heart opens
footprints fade
sweet scents of incense fill the air
essences of love and Truth.

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The First Snowfall - Simple Pleasures

"'Some of the greatest things in life don't have to be so dramatic',the rabbi said. 'Remember that. You can do something modest. When a mother cradles her child, fireworks don't explode. That's the secret of all of life. Some of the most beautiful things happen below the radar. Not on Wall Street, not on television. Not with all the hoopla. It's in the quiet moments that our lives are shaped. In homes, in cribs, in bedrooms, in the little things,' the soul doctor said to me sweetly. 'That's where it all happens.'" Priscilla Warner Learning to Breathe:My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm To My Life"

As I look back on these past 6 years, I realize that I probably worked harder than I have in my entire life to heal and recover from a lifetime of neglecting my mind/body connection as a result of trauma and paralytic polio. But yesterday I thoroughly reaped the rewards of my incredibly hard work. I rested on a plateau feeling incredibly satisfied and contented with myself and my life.

I took my time with a morning meditation and then had a delicious breakfast. It's the breakfast I have almost every day but I was able to really enjoy and appreciate my simple meal. Oats n flax oatmeal from Trader Joe's

orange juice, banana and a slice of quinoa bread toasted.

Since it was my day off from a physical yoga practice, I could treat myself to a hot cup of decaf coffee. During my morning meditation I was inspired to write a birthday poem for David from the yoga teacher trainee tribe (shhh don't tell him). As I savored my breakfast, I allowed the poem to flow smiling and enjoying the creative process.

With teacher training and Tom's marathon training, we don't spend a lot of time cleaning the house. It was a perfect day to clean. I cleaned out contacts from my gmail account and made space in our beautiful home. I enjoyed cleaning, taking my time, and pacing myself. I downloaded some new music into my iPod. I studied anatomy using the DVD for Trail Guide to the Body.

And then after a nutritious lunch with a cup of peppermint tea our first snowfall.

By 3 pm, I was feeling ready for a nap. My beautiful four foot and I enjoyed nap time together.

There was no pressure to do anything, to plan anything, to be concerned about anything beyond each moment I was experiencing throughout the day. It was an amazing day filled with simple pleasures.

If only...from "Songs of Freedom:Poems From a Healing Odyssey" now available on Amazon

If only I could stay in the sacred space of My Spirit
to feel the delicious warmth and leaps of joy
If only I could sweep away all the fear, the doubt
to allow my Spirit to take center stage
If only I could live in Love
and allow trust to be in the spotlight
If only I could let peace wash over me
and watch anxiety go out with the tide
If only I could wholeheartedly believe what I know to be true
and allow my heart to bathe in delight
If only I allow myself to experience all the magic and wonder
that life has to offer
If only I allow my heart to break wide open
crushing the walls of protection and Divine Love comes rushing in
If only I live my truth
and allow me to be my authentic self
When I throw off the shackles of the past
if only becomes now.

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,


Monday, November 5, 2012

A Fork In The Road

I am working on my sense of direction which of course can have multiple meanings but for the purpose of today's post, I am referring to getting from Point A to Point B driving in a car. I know it's a fear thing that I'm going to get lost and not trusting my intuition. I always allow plenty of time to get to a place I've not been to before and if it's a really important event or appointment, Tom will drive me or we will do a dry run before I go there.

On Friday I had to venture out to a new place. Tom and I had done a dry run and there was a part of me that wanted Tom to drive but I knew it was time for me to get over myself and have the confidence that I would arrive at my destination. Tom had a brilliant idea. He would lend me his phone for the day with his navigator since I no longer have a smart phone.

I was ready. I had my printed directions and was calming my mind. I was remembering our dry run. My faithful companion was awesome until she wanted me to take a route that was not the route of the dry run. I figured she'd just recalculate. Okay cool - we're back on track now.

And then I came to a fork in the road that I did not remember on our dry run. Do I bear left or bear right. I looked to her for advice. Where was that wonderful voice telling me in so many hundred feet to go this way or that way. I looked down at the phone. It was black.

I had a Luke Skywalker moment

and I made a choice.

I could feel the anxiety start to rise but I stayed steady. A car pulled up next to me. I asked them where the road I needed to be on was and they said - you are on it. Just follow us.

The left turn I needed to take came up really quickly and since I did not have miss i'll tell you where to go guiding me, I simply put on my indicator and flashed my winning smile to get across the lanes.

I arrived safely at my destination.

A wonderful soul lesson about what happens when we come to a fork in the road. Just choose and trust that no matter what, there will be someone or something to guide you and one way or another, you always arrive at your destination.

Weeding Out Fear - from Songs of Freedom:Poems From a Healing Odyssey now available on Amazon

The weeds of fear
dim my vision
drown out the voice of love
cloud my mind.

One false move
false belief
the weeds of fear
tangled in a web of deceit
stranglehold on roots
thirsting for life
sapping strength
draining life force
choked cries
hungering for Source of life.

The garden of my soul
tended with care
trust and patience
watered with Love
gently weeding out fear.

open to the light
living in the glorious now
all there is.

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude


Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Tree - Part III

Back in April of 2011 I wrote a blog post about the tree outside my window. In June of 2012, I gave an update about my tree in My Tree - Part II - It's a Miracle.

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” - Albert Einstein

As I watched the winds of Hurricane Sandy batter my tree I thought for sure there is no way she is going to survive this storm. Her branches bent with incredible grace and flexibility. Her roots held strong:

By contrast, there was a tree that by all appearances should have had no problem weathering the storm but sadly she was uprooted and fell to the ground:

We never know how or when the winds of life are going to blow. I do know that I can live and breathe, embracing the present moment feeling the miracle that my tree survived another storm.

Tree Pose - from "Songs of Freedom:Poems From a Healing Odyssey" now available on Amazon

Violent winds battered my limbs
strong roots held fast
I feared I might break
Divinity the sap coursing through my trunk
sustaining me.

Find my drishti
moving slowly
feel my balance
trauma turned my world upside down
but did not uproot me.

Standing strong
the storm now passed
as raised arms grow my tree
my Spirit rises
I bloom.

May all beings be happy and free!

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Through the Lens of Grace - It's Gonna Turn Out Fine

...only rainbows after's hard to remember's gonna turn out fine

"The grace of God is coming down all the time, like rain, but we forget to cup our hands." - from "Learning to Breathe:My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm To My Life"

During a morning meditation I was reflecting on my life. On 11/6th, I will be the guest on Bernie Siegel's radio show, Mind Health Matters. I looked back on how I came to know Bernie and his work. What came to light is how blessed I am to be able to experience everything that has happened to me through the lens of grace. It wasn't always easy to have this perspective and know and trust that everything was gonna turn out fine but there is really no other way to live. When we live in the present moment, everything IS fine.

In 1982 I was hospitalized with a serious staph infection which temporarily left me without the use of my right arm.

The first touch of grace I experienced in this scenario was with an orthopedic surgeon who has been an angel in my life several times over. Dr. Reilly just happened to walk onto the medical floor I was on as I was talking a walk around trying to keep myself together with what was happening to me. He asked me what the xrays were showing. I told him none had been taken. It was like a scene out of Grey's Anatomy. He grabbed my chart, ordered xrays and by the afternoon I was in the OR having an operation to save the use of my right arm.

During my hospitalization my primary nurse, Beth Jordan, brought me a cassette tape - yes a cassette tape of Bernie Siegel

for a tape player.

She brought me trail mix. She told me my life needed healing. We stayed in touch with each other for many years after my hospitalization until she moved to Maine to care for her elderly parents. I carry her with me in my heart feeling her love and the touch of grace she imprinted on my heart. She lived on Lily Pond Lane where water lilies floated serenely on the surface of the pond where we went canoeing together.

After hearing Bernie's talk and reading his book, "Love, Medicine and Miracles"

my husband and I went to hear him and his wife Bobbie speak at Harvard. It was a life changing experience. As so often happens, we lose traction of the practices we need in order to maintain a healthy, balanced life for mind, body and Spirit.

After I was diagnosed with post polio syndrome back in 2006, I reconnected with Bernie. I joined his Forum. I went to hear him speak and he became what he calls, my chosen dad or CD for short. He was an incredible cheerleader of mine during my Boston Marathon experience and somehow I ended up being interviewed on his radio show, Mind Health Matters last May. You can listen to the archive of the show, Life and Poetry.

Yes my life has been very challenging but through every challenge, through every moment of hell, there always was and always will be my ability to choose the perspective of seeing it all through the lens of grace.

The Present - from "Songs of Freedom:Poems From a Healing Odyssey" now available on Amazon

What glasses am I wearing?
Am I seeing through the prism of the past
tainted by others

What glasses am I wearing?
I tremble in your presence
feeling Divine Love
afraid to trust its pure intention

What glasses am I wearing?
I see the truth
of my own Divinity
a birthright to be happy and free
being as I am truly meant to be

What glasses am I wearing?
I see the beauty, the grace
allowing peace in this moment
shaking off all that went before
allowing the butterfly to fly free

Embody my Being
offering the gift of myself to the world.

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude
Yours in grace,


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Movie Premiere - The Joy of Sox

"Amazing things happen when large crowds gather to share positive emotions...I was the guinea pig to test whether the heart energy of joy is contagious..." Eric Leskowitz, MD

Seven years ago, on September 26th, 2005 I was reading the Boston Globe and an op ed editorial caught my eye. "Can Weird Science Save The Sox?" It was written by Rick (Eric) Leskowitz with whom I trained at the VA during the 1983-1984 season ahem academic year. I felt this energy coming from him across the conference room at 17 Court Street which was then the home for the VA outpatient clinic. When I saw the op ed piece, I felt a jolt of energy go through me. We have to get Rick to come back and do an in service for social work I pleaded with the chairs of our continuing education committee. They pooh poohed the idea saying it wasn't relevant to clinical social work practice.

Fast forward to 2007. I leave the VA and I begin sharing my journey on the world wide web. A polio survivor from Texas emailed me asking if I could help her find resources. Another bolt of energy went through me and I reached out to Rick who is the director of Integrative Medicine at Spaulding Rehab which coincidentally is where I received my post polio treatment. We reconnected and met for lunch. Twenty five years later and we felt like old friends connecting with each other. We have had many synchronicities happen with each of our journeys - Rick with his Joy of Sox movie and me with my post VA life journey.

At the premiere of Rick's movie Sunday night at the West Newton Cinema, Rick talked about the energy streams that were in the room; how we each contributed in some way - either through the energy of money or the energy of being a fan or the energy of being a friend to the completion of his movie - 7 years in the making.

But this isn't just Rick's movie nor is he doing this for fame or ego. Rick is a holistic psychiatrist with a passion to share knowledge for the good of the whole on how we can live more joyful, compassionate, loving and peaceful lives. He explores the science behind the field of energy medicine using the Red Sox as a 'case study.'

We are all a case study participating in amazing phenomena every day. We only need to awaken to what Rick calls 'the intangibles.' I had never been to a movie premiere before. The celebrities on the red carpet at the West Newton Cinema included fans from Red Sox nation who appear in the movie, staff from Spaulding Rehab Hospital including an energy healer who supported me during my Boston Marathon run who I had not seen in a couple of years, and supporters of Rick and his stellar creative team who helped create The Joy of Sox.

From the moment I stepped into the theater I began to smile.

I turned to my husband and said, "I have a really cool life." I thought about all the twists and turns and amazing coincidences that brought me to that moment and all that aligned for Rick to be able to bring The Joy of Sox to the big screen. The energy was infectious. The collective joy was contagious. Open your heart and your mind to embrace the science and possibility expressed in this film. Join the joy. "There's magic in the air."

For more information about The Joy of Sox and to purchase copies of the book and pre order your copy of the DVD visit the Joy of Sox website.

Enjoy my previous blog posts about Rick and The Joy of Sox journey
Joy of Sox book review

Count Your Blessings for a Happy and Healthy Heart

Opening Day

The Discovery Channel or You Can Teach an Old (Downward) Dog New Tricks

On Being a Champion

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mindfulness and the Internal Revenue Service - I Am Free

Sitting on my lawn on a beautiful late summer's day, the mailman smiled and handed me our mail. I smiled, wished him a good day and as we all tend to do, flipped quickly through the envelopes to see what he had delivered. I stopped and my stomach clutched. A thick envelope from the IRS. I breathed. I have a 'history of feelings' triggered by seeing those three little letters.

We received a notice of "underreporting" our income saying we owed $3000 in back taxes. As I observed myself going through a gamut of emotions, I began processing the information. I knew what happened. Several weeks after filing our 2010 taxes we received a "1099" from the brokerage house. I ignored it because I didn't know what to do with it especially since it only reported the total amount of our security sales as opposed to the much smaller profit we had made on the stock transactions.

I filed it away and forgot about it especially since not only did we receive our refund for that year, but we received a correction from the IRS granting us a bigger refund than what we had filed. And yes, I did have a major anxiety attack when I received that letter until I opened it and saw that they were making a correction in our favor. Hmmm so now what to do?

My husband and I, to quote Dr Seuss, puzzled and puzzled about it until our puzzlers were sore. I couldn't let go of it instinctively knowing something was just not right. I asked Tom to call the brokerage house because frankly, I was immobilized to ask the questions. It had nothing to do with the money. This was a result of deep seated trauma. He was exhausted and still had more work to do in the evening before we were going to meditation class. In the 'old days', I would have hounded him to call right then and there but with yoga and meditation, I was able to quiet my mind rather than displace all of my angst onto my dear husband wanting him to call and straighten out 'the mess' right then and there.

Amazingly, I was able to fully participate in meditation class and had a wonderful night's sleep. The next morning, Tom told me he'd call when he got home from work. I got still and I allowed Spirit to move through me. I acknowledged and cozied right up to my fears as Ana Forrest would say, calling first our brokerage house and then going right into the belly of the beast. I called the IRS.

I had amazing customer service with the brokerage house. The first person I spoke with at the IRS was gruff and accusatory. I held steady "pleading my case" letting him know I accepted responsibility for not reporting the profits on our taxes but was clearly not a scoff law. He softened a little and then transferred me to the branch of the IRS that had sent us the letter.

I was blessed to speak with a person of compassion and kindness. We sorted everything out and he told me the next steps I needed to take letting me know that many people actually make this same 'honest mistake' as we had. Prior to his saying this, I accepted full responsibility and apologized for not attending to this before now. He saw that instead of owing $3000 we'd owe maybe an additional $45 and we were clearly not tax evaders.

This experience, as I previously mentioned, really had nothing to do with the money although I am extremely grateful we don't owe $3000 plus penalties and interest. It was a soul lesson for me. Patience, maintaining calm while being put on hold for 40 minutes; no longer blaming Tom for my own discomfort asking him to take action to relieve it and moving beyond fears to feel empowered, experiencing and breathing through all of my at often times powerful thoughts and feelings that arose.

In Fierce Medicine, Ana Forrest calls this experience a dharma joust: moving out of a habitual pattern of reacting to a situation. I am so grateful to the IRS for providing me with this wonderful learning opportunity to practice mindfulness and move beyond my fears. I am free!

Fear - from "Songs of Freedom:Poems From a Healing Odyssey" now available on Amazon

Once my shroud
the walking dead
the veil of trauma shreds.

I walked with fear today
she cast a long shadow on the path
crevices and pitfalls hidden in the darkness
I stumbled and fell listening to her song in a minor key
a haunting shrill refrain echoing a funeral dirge.

Living in fear is death
she ruled my life when I believed her seductive lies
stripping my integrity
robbing me of my freedom
somehow if I allied with her I'd be safe.

But her power pales in the light of Truth
Breath the antidote to her venom
cleansing the mind numbing slumber
as strength and courage fill every fiber
hydrating my once shrunken self.

I rise from the rubble with grace and gratitude
awakened by the power of love in the sangha
daring to soar to new heights
leaving fear in the dust.

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,

May All Beings Be Happy and Free! Om Shanti

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Places That Scare You - Book Review

The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron took me to places within myself that I was reluctant to visit. Yet these are the very practices she offers in order to become a boddhisattva (one who has the mind of enlightenment called bodhichitta) where we live in the present moment, cultivating the seed of kindness.

“Each time we drop our complaints and allow every day good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior's world,” writes Chodron. What are the places that scare us? Chodron takes us beyond the obvious universal fears we experience in our humanity to the more subtle fears that inhibit our true freedom; the illusion of separateness that manifests when we judge ourselves and another. Chodron offers us a guide to connect to the basic goodness that resides in every sentient being using her own stories to guide us to be patient, use humor, warmth and kindness as we inquire into our own patterns of thought and behavior. It takes a warrior spirit to go into the places that scare us; the essence of our very humanity and pain. At the heart of our pain and suffering, when we have the courage to abide with those experiences, however, is the tender spot, the sweet spot of loving kindness, compassion and love. She suggests that we soften rather than harden our hearts in response to the challenges life brings and enter into a state of groundlessness where everything we once held dear no longer has meaning.

Chodron awakens us to what causes our suffering. She offers meditation practices/aspirations and the activities of the boddhisatva warrior to take us out of our limiting beliefs and feelings to experience the limitless qualities of joy, loving kindness, compassion and equanimity. Suffering happens when we close our hearts with emotions such as jealousy. Suffering is the result of an aggressive mind. Reactions, strategies and story lines are what keep us all prisoners. Chodron invites us to abide with the physical sensations, appreciate the present moment and soften rather than harden our hearts to allow limitless joy – basic goodness to shine through.

Chodron shares with the reader a wonderful story about a cook at the Abbey where she resides. The cook was feeling unhappy and fed the gloom with her actions and thoughts growing darker and darker by the hour. To ventilate her feelings she baked chocolate chip cookies which she burned. Rather than dump the burned cookies, she stuffed them into her pockets and a backpack and went out for a walk. She questioned where is the beauty and magic she keeps hearing about when a little fox walked toward her. The fox sat down gazing up expectantly. She offered the fox her cookies and he ate them slowly and then trotted away. When she returned to the Abbey she said, “I learned today that life is very precious. Even when we're determined to block the magic, it will get through and wake us up.” The message that is consistent throughout The Places That Scare You is to remain in a place of loving kindness, compassion and patience for ourselves as we journey through life and then from this place we are able to open our hearts abiding with all the suffering, the joys and freedom that life has to offer.

Reading Pema Chodron's, The Places That Scare You has given me a new repertoire of awakening tools to help me continue to evolve out of my beliefs and stories that came with heartache and trauma to the tender hearted, joy filled, grateful Being I am in Truth; a fearless warrior with courage and patience to breathe fully into my life. It's a daily practice, a lifetime of hard work with the sweet rewards of living a life wholeheartedly, completely alive in freedom.

“This simple way of training with pleasure and pain allows us to use what we have, wherever we are, to connect with other people. It engenders on-the-spot bravery, which is what it will take to heal ourselves and our brothers and sisters on the planet.” We train not only for ourselves but for the welfare of all beings. This is a book that I will reread awakening to its wisdom over and over again.

A Song of Freedom - from "Songs of Freedom:Poems From a Healing Odyssey" now available on Amazon

Penned many poems
let Divinity shine
Still not free.
Body memories' cling tightly
Stinging tentacles sucking life force
The simple act of breathing
Not simple
Not easy
When terror fills the heart.
Unnamed--unclaimed heart trembling fear
Dark secrets the padlock on prison cell door.
A yoga mat
Holotropic breath
Flood of tears
Body's free to rant
Sweat pours from every pore.
Divine Sweet Love and Light
fill the room
Heavenly Voices serenade rebirth
We are all ONE
Illusion of uniqueness GONE
Healing bathes each human
Until all that remains
is The Soul.

From my heart to yours
May all beings be happy and free
With love

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rave Review for "Love Person"

Scarlett Redmond and I met at South Boston Yoga. She was sporting a shirt from the Cape Cod Half Marathon. Race schwag makes for great conversation starters. Scarlett sent me a facebook invitation to her show, Love Person. When I read the synopsis of the play I was intrigued.

Love Person is a transcendent four-part love story told in Sanskrit, American Sign Language, English and email. Two couples are rocked to their cores when love unexpectedly transcends sexual orientation, physical attraction, and social structures. Free, a Deaf woman in a relationship with Maggie, accidentally strikes up a correspondence with Ram, a B.U. professor of Sanskrit and love-interest of Free’s sister Vic. The four find themselves inextricably bound by technology, translation, and the breakdown of language itself.

From the moment the spotlight shines on the four characters in Love Person, I felt as though I were no longer sitting in a theater. I became engaged as an observer and emotional participant in the drama that unfolded before my eyes. While there is a plot that weaves the lives of these four characters together, there is also a powerful message about language, communication and miscommunication. There are times when both hearing and hearing impaired individuals will not know through translation what is being communicated among the actors. Those are the moments when true communication happens; when we must tune in and rely on the nuances and subtleties of communication to help us understand each other.

The acting is impeccable and there are seamless transitions between scenes. Free, played by actress Sabrina Dennison who is deaf communicates with facial expressions that those of us who rely on our speech and hearing for communication do not use. Sabrina was recently interviewed on WBUR and you can read/hear the interview at A video in ASL is being prepared by Boston University ASL interpreters Chris and Aimee Robinson of the interview.

Here is a powerful and poignant scene between Maggie and Free:

We all speak the same language when we speak from our heart whether it is through sign language, email, texts, American Sign Language, English, Sanskrit or any other language. The challenge for each and every one of us is breaking down the barriers that lead to miscommunication and blinds us to the beauty of a particular language believing that the way we communicate is the best or right way. There is an article in the play's program that talks about Deafhood and Deaf civil rights.

"The term 'Deafhood' was first coined in 1993 by Paddy Ladd, a scholar, author, activist and researcher of Deaf culture. Much like previous domestic civil rights movements that advocated for self determination and equality, the Deafhood movement does the same for deaf and hard of hearing. ... 'Deafhood acknowledges that ALL Deaf people embark on a journey that each Deaf person undertakes to discover their true identity and purpose here on the Earth as a Deaf person. This journey is for anybody who is what George Veditz {President of the National Association for the Deaf in the early 1900's} calls 'first and foremost, people of the eye.'"

Visit the website of the Deafhood Foundation to learn more.

One of my favorite scenes in the play (although there are many) is when Free translates the love poem from Sanskrit to ASL using the English translation as her guide. She does not get caught up in the words. Through ASL she is able to flawlessly and 'wordlessly' communicate the sentiment and essence of the beautiful love poem. This is in stark contrast to the opening scene of the play as Ram, the BU Sanskrit professor struggles with his translation of the poem from Sanskrit to English while Maggie struggles to translate the English into American Sign Language for Free and they both are apologizing for their inadequacies in being able to translate the poem. Vic defends Ram's translation which is delivered with a stilted awkwardness and is angry at Maggie for messing up the translation into ASL and wants them both to do it again so Free can experience Ram's "brilliant' translation. You will be enraptured and spellbound throughout the 2 hour play (including a 10 minute intermission). It is a transformational theatrical experience.

For an unforgettable afternoon or evening at the theater that will open your heart and your eyes see Love Person now through 6/23rd at BCA Plaza Theater. For more information about the show and to purchase your tickets, visit Company One's website.

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,

Additional resources:
Through Deaf Eyes
Gallaudet University
Love Person in Context
How To Say Love Person

Friday, June 8, 2012

Book Review - Priscilla Warner's "Learning to Breathe"

Just about a month ago, Priscilla Warner was the guest on Michele Rosenthal's radio show, Your Life After Trauma. I sent Priscilla a message on facebook letting her know how much I enjoyed the interview and astounded by the similarities in our journey. I told her I just had to read her book. She was kind enough to have her publisher send me a copy and would I be willing to write a review of the book. Would I? You can read my review on Amazon. "Learning to Breathe" is another gift the Universe has presented to me on my trauma recovery journey. Priscilla and I are six months apart in age. "I was teaching myself to breathe at the age of 56," Priscilla writes. How heartening to find a contemporary soul sister. I came to my yoga mat and began learning to breathe shortly after my 57th birthday.

As we enter into Priscilla's world, she writes, "His Holiness, the Dalai Lama believes human beings can change the negative emotions in their brains into positive ones. And who was I to doubt the Dalai Lama? Maybe my journey would resemble something like Siddhartha meets Diary of a Mad Jewish Housewife.....My new mantra would be 'Neurotic, heal thyself and please stop complaining."

When I entered Priscilla's world, a door opened to a banquet hall filled with the most sumptuous spiritual treats ever gathered in one place. I fed myself on the spiritual wisdom Priscilla so generously shares from meditation masters, Buddhist monks, mystics and healers including the Dalai Lama himself as she sets out on a quest to free herself from the crippling panic attacks she experienced for decades.

"When you're ready to learn, your lessons find you in the oddest places," Priscilla writes. How true! Once we open ourselves to the possibility of freedom from pain and suffering, synchronicities, 'coincidences' and wondrous meetings begin to unfold in one's life - like my meeting Priscilla. Sharon Salzburg quoted Krishna Das who quoted someone else, "The grace of God is coming down all the time, like rain, but we forget to cup our hands."

My copy of "Learning to Breathe" is dog eared, underlined and I have taken notes in my yoga teacher training journal. My meditation practice has deepened, becoming more meaningful and healing not only for myself but as my compassionate and loving kindness heart continues to grow extends into the world. In yesterday's blog post, I speak to how the teachings Priscilla garnered from her healing quest blesses my life. You need not transform was the theme of a reading that David read during savasana after a Sunday morning practice. The next day I found myself reading in Priscilla's book:

"I'm on a mission to transform myself from a neurotic Jew to a serene Tibetan monk," I blurted out to the facilitator I'd met earlier outside Mingyur's living quarters.
"Why would you want to do that? he asked, ushering me into an adjacent room. You're not a monk, and you're not Tibetan. Why not just be the best neurotic Jew you can be."

Themes in Priscilla's book paralleled themes in my yoga classes which speaks to the interconnectedness and wonder of it all (no I'm not referring to the Foxwoods commercial). When the student is ready so many teachers appear bringing the soul lessons on a beautiful path lined with cherry blossoms. You'll have to read Priscilla's book to fully embrace the cherry blossoms image.

I laughed. I cried. I experienced awakening and enlightenment. I smiled. My breath caught with the similarities in our journeys. One of my favorite moments although there are so many it's hard to choose is when her questioning of why and how transforms from feelings of abandonment and neglect by her parents to gratitude for the resident who saved her life with an emergency tracheotomy at the age of 16 months old. In that moment she is able to get out of the story she'd been focusing on that brought her so much pain and suffering to a place of gratitude both to the resident and for her own survival.

"I thought about happiness, tears streaming down my cheeks," Priscilla writes as she shares what's happening in a therapy session.

"If I become happy and healthy," I said, "then I will no longer be related to those people that I came from. I won't belong to the family that I gres up in."

As Priscilla weaves the beautiful tapestry of her life together with clarity and acceptance, she is able to let go of the panic which in part she held to benefit her family members. She discovers how to experience compassion and loving kindness without her having to suffer. "Learning to Breathe" is an exquisitely crafted memoir blending the story of Priscilla's family with therapists and sages of modern day thought and trauma recovery. One of the most compelling features of "Learning to Breathe" is how Priscilla brings in the studies that are being done to demonstrate the effects of meditation on the brain. For those of us who believed that the damage from traumatic experiences are permanent and irreversible; for those who believe that the only way to quell panic or anxiety is with medication; for any one who enjoys a great read and a story of courage, warmth, humor, triumph, honesty, clarity, acceptance and embracing life with grace and gusto -- "Learning to Breathe" is for you! It's for everybody, mind and soul. I know that I will keep returning to "Learning to Breathe" as I absorb the wisdom into the very fiber of my being. Priscilla generously includes a bibliography and resource list for continuing the healing journey.

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Game's Afoot...

a memorial birthday challenge in memory of Thomas Aston...

In February of 2008, I walked into Marathon Sports Brookline to buy my first pair of running shoes. "What are you wearing now?" the incredibly handsome Spencer Aston asked me. "Um well..polio shoes..." Thirty minutes later I walked out of Marathon Sports with my first pair of running shoes and a new friend. Spencer and his Fenway Quintet played a benefit concert for Team McManus' 2009 Boston Marathon run. So when Spencer asked me if I would help him fund raise for his first marathon run in San Diego on June 3, I jumped at the opportunity. Spencer conceptualized "The Game's Afoot...: The memorial birthday challenge is a unique event where every participant gets to choose the challenge. Options are based o participant's age and you have the choice of selecting a distance challenge or a time challenge. For example, if you are 38 years old you have the option of completing a 38K run or a run of 38 minutes in length. It's completely up to you! If you wish to participate as a walker, you can choose the memorial 2 mile walk."

I messaged my facebook friends, we spread word about the facebook event; I posted in L Street and Merrimack Valley Striders running groups pages. I reached out to my yoga friends who run. I helped secure raffle prizes. There was an option for virtual runners/walkers. If people opted to not participate for $30 which included 5 raffle tickets and a New Balance tech shirt (photo below), they would make a $5 donation and be entered into the raffle.

Fifteen people registered for the event including virtual runners. We'd hoped there would be more registrants on game day (which did not happen). Bananas and bagels were donated for apres run/walk. Spencer and his wife Chelsea bought water for the particpants. Despite the 'low' turnout, spirits ran high. Chelsea and Spencer set up a water table at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir just as they would have if 100 people had shown up for the day's event. Team McManus was delighted to be reunited on this glorious day for a wonderful cause and opted for the 2 mile power walk.

After the event, we had a chance to visit with Spencer's sister, her husband and their two adorable daughters. Spencer and his family talked about Spencer's dad. Boy I sure wish I would have known him. He died seven years ago from leukemia. He was an artist, a thespian, a writer - a true Renaissance man. His signature was the design Spencer used for the tech shirts. Thomas Aston's presence was palpable as the family shared memories.

We talked about the girls doing a lemonade stand and selling the New Balance tech shirts that were left over and a benefit concert in his sister's home town in Connecticut to help Spencer meet and exceed his fund raising goal. The song I chose for today's blog post is Fanfare. Spencer is a quiet, humble man who lives an honest life of integrity and passion. He does so with little fanfare. Despite being a trumpet player, Dr. Aston (he has a Ph.D.) does not blow his own horn. So I'm doing it for him. Open your heart and your checkbook and donate whatever you can to Spencer's San Diego Marathon run as part of Team in Training on his fund raising page. If you'd like to donate to receive the New Balance tech t shirt valued at $40, please email Spencer at Please take a moment and read his story on his blog, Running With My Father. Tissue warning!

“….I firmly believe that any man’s finest hours – his greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear – is that moment when he has worked his heart out in good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.” - Vince Lombardi

Here is to your finest hours Spencer as you run with your father at the 2012 San Diego Marathon! God speed.

From my heart to yours
With deepest, admiration and total gratitude

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nourishing Wisdom by Marc David - Book Review

When my elderly neighbor invited me over to her yard and offered me pepsi and potato chips as a 'treat', I gave pause and reflected on what Marc David wrote in his book Nourishing Wisdom. He shares how he became a vegetarian when he went off to college. When he came home for Thanksgiving dinner he would refuse to eat the turkey dinner that his grandmother prepared with so much love. Needless to say there was family tension and stress. One year he realized that what he ate was not as important as why he was eating it and the conditions under which he was eating it. He ate the turkey that year and the entire holiday experience was transformed. He said that he was able to completely digest and assimilate the Thanksgiving feast. I sipped on the pepsi and graciously accepted sharing her potato chips with her. After we talked, laughed and reminisced, she gave me a huge hug and said how grateful she was for my company looking forward to the next time we drink soda and eat chips again.

I was talking with my friend Mckenna about how my body has changed since I began to practice yoga. My sugar cravings have greatly diminished. I crave healthy foods and am much more aware of what my body is asking me to feed it. She told me I had to read Marc David's book and she was right. Marc exposes our beliefs about diet and nutrition. He addresses the concepts of ordered and disordered eating pointing out that to some extent we all have disordered eating. There is no one diet that is right for all people. There is not even one diet that is right for one person for all time. He talks about the important factors of health, age, seasons, environment and lifestyle and how they impact our food choices. Food is neither good nor bad, it's about our thoughts and perceptions around food. My favorite analogy was when Marc talks about a butcher knife. A trauma survivor sees it as a weapon; a chef sees it as a tool to prepare food. Marc weaves in spirituality, the mind body connection and anecdotes from his and his clients' experiences to shed light on a subject everyone struggles with - diet and nutrition.

While our relationship with food can be extremely challenging, Marc leads us through the maze and myths about diets to practical advice about becoming AWARE of our relationship with food, our bodies and nourishment. After each chapter Marc offers us a section on Key Lessons and Reflections offering exercises to raise our awareness, become more mindful and expand our consciousness as it pertains to eating, nutrition and nourishment.

On page 176 Marc concludes, "The bottom line is this: No diet is right or wrong. Any method of eating can provide a deeper nourishment as long as the missing ingredient - consciousness - is present. The ability to reflect on our relationship to food and the awareness that we can expand our perspective on eating at any moment help create the life we want most."

Marc has a chapter on what it means to experience 'ordered' eating and describes "expert eaters" as having the following attributes (p. 175)
They eat with freedom from fear, worry or guilt.
They eat with both an intuitive understanding and knowledge of the body's changing nutritional needs.
They accept their body as it is.
They use diet as a transformational tool.
They eat with joy.

Here's to all of us becoming expert eaters finding joy and freedom in our relationship with food and nourishment. Liberate yourself from the guilt, fear and worry about am I eating right and read "Nourishing Wisdom" by Marc David. For more information about the transformational work Marc is doing in the field of the psychology of eating, visit his website Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Be sure to read his compelling blog and explore the wonderful resources on his website. Marc's work is a beacon of light and clarity in the field of nutrition which has been muddied by so many 'expert opinions' on what we 'should' be eating to be healthy. As with everything in life, we have the intuitive wisdom to know what we need to do in order to feel vibrant and healthy. Marc gives us the tools and guidance we need to act on that wisdom.

From my heart to yours
With deepest love and total gratitude,

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Review Before The World Intruded

I "happened" to 'meet' Michele Rosenthal of Heal My PTSD through Matthew Sanford's group on Facebook. Matthew was going to be a guest on Your Life After Trauma radio show that Michele hosts. We exchanged a few emails and then I joined her community, shared my story having no idea that a beautiful friendship would develop and that by knowing Michele and being a part of her Heal My PTSD community, that I would fully embrace my recovery from trauma.

Today is the release of Michele's memoir, "Before The World Intruded". Before the world intruded, Michele was a 13 year old like any 13 year old girl you would meet and then she experienced a profound life altering event as a result of a medical mistake. She takes us from her hospital bed where she struggled between choosing life and choosing death, on her 25 year struggle with undiagnosed post traumatic stress disorder to her triumphant 40th birthday celebration.

Michele writes from the vantage point of a survivor and a professional who is a certified trauma coach and hypnotherapist knowing what salient points are for the reader who is a trauma survivor. She writes from the heart of a poet weaving wonderful metaphors and images to take us on her journey. Michele's story will touch your heart and enlighten you to the world of a trauma survivor and the indomitable drive of the spirit to prevail and create a life of joy and freedom ultimately choosing to serve others. I marveled at the similarities between her story and my story. Michele and I often say there is only one story although the details may differ from person to person. But even if you are not a trauma survivor, you will be enthralled by Michele's telling of her compelling story universal to the human condition.

Michele has clarified so much of my own journey - the struggles and the triumphs. I felt goosebumps as she talked about her struggle with her before and after trauma self. Last July, I had written out two columns in my journal - my polio/trauma self and my transformed self identifying the characteristics and traits of each. With each passing day, I am able to step more fully into my transformed self leaving the old world of trauma behind being fully present in the moment. Michele's memoir catapulted my healing journey to a new level. Michele's story is one that brings hope, possibility, and inspiration to trauma survivors weaving clinical information about PTSD into the wonderful plot driven odyssey that Michele shares with openness, brutal honesty, integrity and grace.

As Michele ends her memoir she writes,
"From my own experience, professional training, stories I've heard from many survivors, plus my work with clients I am convinced that we all have the potential to construct and deconstruct and change ourselves, our brains, and our traumatic connections. Indeed, recent research about neuroplasticity proves more and more of the brain's inherent capacity to heal. The implications of this are an enormous reversal in the idea that the changes PTSD causes cannot be undone. Often, they can. There is hope for us all." (p. 218)

Michele - you ARE a beacon of hope and light and possibility leading the way to transform lives and the way that clinicians treat post traumatic stress disorder. Even though your healing rampage is over, you have a quest for continued knowledge and for spreading your message. You did just that in "Before The World Intruded." Thank you for your courage, your strength, for choosing life and for being an incredible writer.

You can purchase Michele's memoir through Amazon.

Be sure to tune into her weekly radio show Your Life After Trauma. Here is the link to the podcast to last week's show. I was so blessed to share my healing odyssey with her and her listeners. Because Michele knows what it feels like to have the world intrude with a life altering event, she honors, embraces and shares the healing stories of other trauma survivors with a love and passion to let everyone know in her words, "You have enormous healing potential. The goal is learning to access it. Dig deep. You can do it. I believe in you!"

From my heart to yours
With deepest love and total gratitude,

Friday, April 13, 2012

Opening Day

For those of you not in Red Sox Nation, today is akin to a religious holiday in Boston - Opening Day at Fenway Park. For today's blog post I chose the song, "Sweet Caroline". I realized that I did not know the origins of playing Sweet Caroline at Fenway Park so I did a little googling:

Another mystery of the Diamond, explained at last

By Stephanie Vosk, Globe Correspondent | May 29, 2005

"The lyrics have nothing to do with baseball.

The composer has no connection to the Red Sox.

The song hit the charts more than 30 years ago.

So why does ''Sweet Caroline" pump from the speakers at Fenway Park in the middle of the eighth inning of every single Red Sox game? ...
Amy Tobey knows the answer to the ''Sweet Caroline" question.

Tobey began working for the Red Sox through her job at BCN Productions, a film and video communications company, having interned for the Boston Bruins.

Her assignment was to decide what music would be played at the park from 1998 to 2004.

She had noticed ''Sweet Caroline" was used at other sporting events, and she decided to send the sweetness over the Fenway speakers.

The song was picked up by fans, and the more it caught on, the more superstitious Tobey became about playing it.

Tobey would play the song somewhere between the seventh and ninth innings if the team was ahead, depending on whether she felt the team was going to win.

She didn't go by any specific margin of runs, but rather who the opponent was, and her gut instincts.

''I actually considered it like a good luck charm," Tobey says. ''Even if they were just one run [ahead], I might still do it. It was just a feel."

In 2002, when new management took over at the park, they requested that Tobey play the song during the eighth inning of every game.

''They liked it and they just loved the crowd reaction with it and stuff," she says.

Though Tobey says she was nervous the change would be bad luck for the team, its appeal to fans ultimately ruled.

And under the song's spell, the Red Sox last season won their first World Series in 86 years.

It was even included in the recent film ''Fever Pitch," starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore, that appropriates scenes from 2004's winning season."

I have written a book review on The Joy of Sox book and reflected on a recent talk I attended by Rick Leskowitz that speaks to heart energy and the energy that can be generated when a group with a common purpose come together - like opening day.

What if we treated every day of our lives like opening day feeling the hope, the possibility, the goodwill, the joy, the anticipation of a championship season? What if we greeted strangers we meet smiling, drawing from the energy of a Spring day with perfect temperatures, blue skies and everything in bloom with a sense of optimism for our common purpose. And what if we approached life the way sports psychologists coach players in a slump; forget about yesterday's strike out. Focus on each time being a new ballgame (literally and metaphorically) when you step up to the plate feeling the strength and power within of when you hit that home run.

When I was growing up, gym class was excruciatingly painful for me as a survivor of paralytic polio. Back in the 50's and 60's there was no disability awareness and I bore the brunt of a lot of teasing and taunting. My nickname was "Easy Out Alper" - ha! That's what they thought. I would always be chosen last for a team and one of my favorite memories of all time is the day that everyone moved in from the outfield when I came to the plate for kick ball. Everyone was laughing at me. The wind up, the pitch and by some miracle I connected with the ball and kicked it hard. Now if everyone would have remained in the outfield, I might not have scored a home run but there was no one there to field the ball and so I trotted around the bases. I can still feel the power of connecting with that ball in my core and it's a body memory that takes me through many challenges on my yoga mat and off.

There was a time when every day felt like I was part of a losing season and I had no idea how to find my way out of the slump. I was in a dark hole slipping farther and farther away from life but never losing hope. Somehow I held onto a sliver of hope and my Spirit led me out of the darkness into this glorious life that I now live. It's taken a lot of hard work in the off season, many healing angels, guides and teachers to bring me to today's Opening Day. Remember when you show up at the plate, play full on with all of your heart, you are a champion. The energy is electric in Boston and I feel so blessed to be a part of these wonderful traditions - Red Sox baseball and the Boston Marathon. I am so grateful to feel well enough to appreciate life the way I do. Play ball!

From my heart to yours
With eternal love and total gratitude,

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Review - In An Unspoken Voice:How The Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

It's not easy being green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over
'Cause you're not standing out
Like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky

But green's the color of spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like a mountain
Or important like a river
Or tall like a tree

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why
But why wonder why wonder
I am green, and it'll do fine
It's beautiful, and I think it's what I want to be

It's Not Easy Being Green makes the perfect accompaniment to my book review of Peter A Levine's brilliant book, In An Unspoken Voice:How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness. It's not easy being green -- it's not easy being a trauma survivor until you surrender, accept with clarity what's happened and discover that life is absolutely phenomenal.

I have referenced Dr. Levine's work throughout my blog these past several months and said one of these days I'll get to finish it and write my review. Today is the day. I learned about Dr. Levine's work through Michele Rosenthal of Heal My PTSD. The title of the book is what spoke to me - no pun intended.

Reading Dr. Levine's book places in a scientific context how the body releases trauma and is able to return to its natural state of goodness, wholeness, vibrancy and a connection to something greater than ourselves. Dr. Levine weaves in theories from psychology and science along with anatomy to help the reader understand trauma from a multidimensional viewpoint. Whether you are a therapist, a scientist, a survivor, a seeker of truth and wisdom or someone who is curious about philosophy, psychology, evolution and spirituality, you will resonate to some or all of Dr. Levine's book.

Dr. Levine weaves in quotes from literature, mythology, Eastern philosophies and case studies to bring the reader to a rich, deep understanding of the impact of trauma on the mind body connection and how the body has an innate capacity to heal and return to a state of goodness once the body is able to complete the actions it was unable to complete during the traumatic event. One of the points that Dr. Levine brings home over and over again is the importance of having the presence of a compassionate other to help transform the trauma.

Dr. Levine uses himself as a case example in the beginning of the book sharing how, because of the presence of a compassionate samaritan who just happened to be near by when he was hit by a car, he was able to transform his trauma and prevent it from developing into full blown post traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Levine is also a supporter of changing the diagnosis from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to PTSI - post traumatic stress injury. "The very diagnosis of PTSD disempowers the patient and results in burnout for the unprotected healer who has been artificially hoisted onto a precarious pedestal as false prophet," Dr. Levine writes.

Dr. Levine has been working in the field of trauma for over 40 years. His passion, compassion and dedication to helping people heal their lives is palpable in the pages of his book. PTSD has until recently been considered a sort of death sentence. Once trauma happens you are scarred for life; Dr. Levine addresses this in his book. Yes there are scars of battle every trauma survivor has but Dr. Levine emphasizes the gifts that happen as a result of trauma and the powerful potential that resides in every person to transform and heal trauma. "Once uncoupling occurs (he is talking about uncoupling the fear from the sense of paralysis or tonic immobility) and then able to exit immobility, the individual opens into a mother lode of existential relief, transformational gratitude and vital aliveness." (p. 91) One reason why Dr. Levine captured my heart as well as my mind is because he speaks to the healing power of yoga and other mindful movement modalities throughout the book.

Dr. Levine speaks to how unresolved trauma is responsible for a majority of the diseases of mankind but once resolved, the experiences are transformed into a renewed sense of confidence and joy. He provides case examples from young children, to survivors of 9/11, to an elderly man who was a holocaust survivor to a fire fighter with a frozen shoulder that was unresponsive to physical therapy intervention. Dr. Levine speaks to why talking therapies alone and especially insight oriented psychotherapy can be counter productive for the trauma survivor. "Becoming the world's leading expert on myself has nothing to do with being fully present in the moment. Having the same reaction over and over while having the insight or understanding can be demoralizing." (p. 289).

The road to recovery for a trauma survivor is often fraught with many trial and error therapies. Dr. Levine brings together the latest theories in biology,neuroscience and body-oriented psychotherapy to bring a message of hope and a road map for therapists and survivors to demonstrate that transformation even in the face of the most "painful assaults to our humanity" is not just possible - it happens!

Embody, Embrace, Release

My body banged up a little worse for wear
but my Spirit shines
how can it not?
Human hands cannot touch what is Divine.

It is an honorable endeavor to reject the violence
pushing it away
what you resist persists
and shuts out the world of love and joy.

Energy drains
anxiety reigns
what if someone finds out the truth
what if I found out the truth.

As I embody the violence, I embrace myself
compassion and love overflow
tenderly tending to the wounds
cleansing breath.

I admire the beauty of scars and adhesions
my battle wounds
mighty warrior survived
transformed into a humble warrior.

Moving through my practice quieting my mind
listening in stillness
hearing the hum of connections once lost
singing in perfect harmony.

From my heart to yours
With deepest love and total gratitude,

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On The Wings of Love

On March 2nd 1977, I greeted my blind date at the door of my apartment at 75 Gardner Street in Allston holding my newly adopted kitten Jacques. I had no idea that 35 years later we would be celebrating his 60th birthday together this Friday. We did know that night we were going to be married. March 4th 1978 we gathered with a small group of family and friends at the First United Parish in Cambridge and exchanged vows and rings. We were planning to have our reception on the Peter Stuyvesant which was a boat moored next to Anthony's Pier Four but it sunk a month earlier in the blizzard of 1978.

Even then, although we could not quite articulate what we were doing, we paid attention to the signs from the Universe and decided that we would move our reception to the church and save the money. Somehow among our moves, our wedding photo album was lost as was my wedding dress. Our apartment was broken into when we lived in Allston and believe it or not, the thief stole the pants to the suit my husband wore on our wedding day. My bridal shower was scheduled for February 6 - the day of the blizzard and had to be rescheduled. I say with a huge smile that I love the metaphor of Tom and I needing to weather a major storm as we were preparing to enter into marriage. We do not have any 'tangible' reminders of our wedding day. We do have our wedding bands and most important of all, we have a steadfast love that has helped us to weather many storms during our 34 years of marriage. We have also celebrated many triumphs and felt the deepest joy in finding our way in the world together.

Until recently in my healing journey, I would cling to things I never had. I did not have a fairy tale princess wedding. I never felt like a princess or someone special. I did not have a carefree childhood. I suffered in my pain of trauma because I did not know any other path. I do grieve but I do not suffer. I celebrate. I feel incredible gratitude and grace in my life. I live life with passion and purpose. I embrace and release the pain in my body. I breathe freely and deeply. I move with joy on and off my yoga mat. My body is discovering a resilience in managing stressful life events and the beauty and grace is I have an incredible life partner with whom to share it all.

A year ago, March 4th, my nephew took his life. It was a traumatic death and shook our family to its core. Tom and I brought our love and compassion to my brother and his family but unfortunately, their pain was too deep to allow us in. Rather than being able to connect, bond and grieve together, we were seen as outsiders among my nieces and nephews. They wanted us to take care of my brother after he ended a relationship with his girlfriend. It was a huge healing choice on our part to say no, We can't do this. Tom has been there every step of the way to support me, nurse and nourish me through my fears and sadness and to breathe deeply creating a loving space around the life we created together.

Yesterday, I received an email that was sent out to everyone who donated to my nephew's memorial fund to have a memorial bench set up by the ocean. My nephew was a fisherman who loved the sea. That is where he chose to return when he ended his life. My brother attached a you tube video of the bench installation.

I sent out loving thoughts to my brother and his family on the wings of love during this time of remembrance. It would be easy to be swallowed up by the pain of grief. I can experience a flow to the feelings allowing them to wash up on the shore and then go out with the tide. Tom sat and watched the video with me and together we sent our love to my brother and his family. We can only heal ourselves. When we take care of ourselves and find loving kindness and compassion, we can feel that in our heart. I am so blessed to have Tom as my life partner. I know I would not be where I am today in my healing journey were it not for his unwavering support and love. The eyes are the window to the soul and that night 35 years ago on Friday, we saw into each other's souls knowing we were soul mates. It's been an incredible 34 years and we've only just begun. We know that no matter what happens, together, we find steadiness and sustenance and on the wings of love, we transcend.

Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary to the love of my life

From my heart to yours
With deepest love and gratitude

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jamie and Me - Trust

"In your love, my salvation lies in your love ... My brother and my sister standing by."

“Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” - Henry van Dyke

Today I'm reminded of the journey our adopted animal companion Jamie has taken with trust.

She had a history of trauma possibly from being abused in her first home, definitely from being out on the streets before making her way to the shelter and then the shelter experience was traumatic for her. We adopted her in October from the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Animals are so much more resilient than we humans as Peter Levine reminds me in his book, "In An Unspoken Voice:How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness." . She has gone from staying in the basement under a desk for the first two weeks eating and using her litter box only at night to making a safe shelter for herself between the box spring of our bed and the cover which she ripped off as a hiding space to slowly interacting with us. Just the other night, she climbed into my lap when I was sitting on my yoga mat and fell asleep. Last night, she jumped up on our bed and snuggled with us. It's only been five months but with our patience, consistent love and allowing her to let us know what she needed and when, she has settled into her new home leaving the trail of trauma behind her.

On my way to yoga class today, the car in front of me had a bumper sticker, "She who laughs. Lasts". When I saw Bernie Siegel, MD and his wife years ago at Harvard, this was one of their favorite phrases. I affectionately call Bernie my chosen dad and he calls me his chosen daughter. I first met him in the 1980's. A beloved nurse gave me his cassette tape when I was hospitalized for a bone infection in my shoulder. I am in awe of how the angels have protected me and how earth angels have come to guide me at every turn. I knew this was a sign to email him. I've been a guest on his radio show a couple of times as we talk about the healing power of poetry and the creative process. I asked him if he still had the show and if he'd like to have me back to talk about the latest phase in my healing journey but regardless, I knew that the Universe was telling me to reconnect with him thanking him for all he has done to love and support me. He emailed me back and said he liked the idea of having another poetry session on his show. We scheduled for May 1st.

The synchronicities which now abound in my life take my breath away. I am working with Lindsay Gibson of Majestic Yoga Studio on the Weekend with Matthew Sanford. There was a facebook post about Downward Facing Docs. Boston University Medical School offers yoga as an elective course. I worked with Dr. Chris Streeter, one of the doctors cited as doing research on the benefits of yoga when I worked at the VA. I will be reaching out to her and the team at the Neurobehavioral Science Unit at Boston University Medical Center (one of whom heads the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder clinic at the VA) to let them know about Matthew's visit. The article will be a wonderful segway to promoting Matthew as a guest on WBUR and who knows where else these reconnections may lead....

In today's yoga practice, I felt a greater trust in myself on my mat. I trusted myself to modify. I know there are some poses that just aren't right for my body right now and rather than pushing or struggling, I let it go. I did take myself right up to the edge with strengthening and opening and love the feeling of sweat dripping from my face. I have learned that when it comes to doing push ups on blocks lowering halfway is plenty for me right now and I can feel the muscle soreness from doing enough but not too much.

Getting acquainted with myself, learning to love and trust myself and then opening up to receive love and support from others is a whole new world for me right now. Tears flow. Joy abounds. Gratitude overflows as the curtain rises on the second act of my second act.

From my heart to yours
In God We Trust
With deepest love and gratitude,