Saturday, December 31, 2011

Present for the New Year

December is my favorite time of year, but this month has been different.  I'm struggling through a period of immense personal growth, physical and emotional.  It isn't easy, and finding the motivation to do anything has been a challenge.  I can't even seem to get "in the zone" to write.  I'm forcing myself today, even though this post might not be up to my standards, because I want to state an intention for the new year.

A friend of mine has a New Year's tradition.  Instead of making a resolution, he chooses one word to represent his intention for the coming year.  One word.  The idea immediately resonated with me.  It sounded easy, until I actually sat down to attempt it.  So many areas need attention, how could I narrow it down to just one? 

Focus definitely applied.  So did organization.  And peace, relax, forgive, etc etc.  I finally chose the word that kept popping up continually in my reiki sessions and meditation.  The word that I have struggled with all year, and probably for a lifetime.  The word that eludes me, causing me to miss the little things in life because I am so focused on the big things.  The word is present.

Present, not as in a gift, but present to this very moment.  The most challenging word I could pick to focus on, and the one with the greatest rate of return if I can manage it (No, when I manage it.)  The mind cannot be in two places at once, and I am missing considerable information in the present by allowing my mind to travel to a future date.  By focusing on the present, I am giving myself the gift of valuable insight for a future event.

Yesterday I realized what an enormous undertaking it would be for me to stay present.  I was having a combination reiki/massage session.  As I lay on the massage table, my monkey mind time traveled to exhaustion.  What time would I pick up my son, would I have time to prepare for our NYE party, when would I pack for work the next day, when was my appointment at the end of the month, what was I going to do about giving reiki in February.  Each time I found my mind wandering from the present, I gently nudged it back.  And within a few minutes it was off having another adventure in the future.

Staying present may be one of the hardest New Year's resolutions I have ever attempted.  Daily exercise or giving up chocolate seem easy compared to this.  It will take practice, but I know I can do it.  This is what I need, and I am listening.  May your New Year be filled with love, peace, prosperity, and a word just challenging enough to help you grow.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Solstice

Winter Solstice.  The shortest day of the year.  A time to go within, take stock, set intentions.

Is it ironic that the time of year we should be turning inward, focusing on ourselves, being gentle, is the most frantic, hectic, commitment laden time of the year?  The commercialization of the season has really bothered me this year.  I'm trying to shift gears, to find out what is really important, and do away with that which has no meaning.  Are Christmas cards really that important to me, or can I let go of the need to show everyone how much my son has grown?  Do I really need to buy meaningless gifts for everyone, or is a thought or kind word enough? (The gift recipients may disagree, which poses a dilemma).  Am I better off spending my time pulling my hair out at a mall, or spending time doing things that nourish my soul?  That last question has fueled my spiritual growth in immense ways today.

I have to make one last trip to the mall before Christmas, and I have procrastinated until what feels like the last minute.  I had planned to do this today, as I can't stand to have it hanging over my head any longer.  But something is telling me today is not the day to go to the mall.  Today is the day to celebrate the solstice, the return of the sun.  To get my house in order, make myself comfortable, cozy, nourished, instead of frazzled, disgusted, and surrounded by negative energy.

The weight of everything I "should" be doing right now is weighing on me.  I'm trying hard not to feel like I've wasted the morning.  Taking the time to write this blog, which felt so right when I sat down to do it, now feels like a waste of time.  My ego is screaming at me to get up and do something useful, but my soul has me glued to the chair to finish what I started.  To finish my "self care", which in the past has felt very "selfish" (and still does if I am honest).  To do what needs to be done on this day where the light begins to return, the days get longer, and growth begins again.

Monday, December 19, 2011


An animal hibernates to conserve energy during times of scarcity or stress.  An essential phase of life - a gift that ensures survival.  I have spent the last month in hibernation.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize it until two days ago.  Rather than considering it a gift, it has been a great source of anxiety.  My brain fog, lack of motivation, and inability to accomplish much of anything has all been a great source of frustration.  Instead of embracing my hibernation as a period of renewal and growth, I have done everything in my power to avoid this period of slowing down and going within.  This period so essential to my survival.

I have prayed and bargained with God.  I have been extremely critical of myself, wondering what could be wrong with me because I can't seem to get anything done.  One step forward, two steps back - again and again and again.  I have sought many outside references for relief.  MD's for physical conditions, life coaches for spiritual solutions, always looking outside of myself for the answers.  But the answers have been right here all along.  After a reiki healing attunement on Saturday, I finally opened my eyes to the truth.

I don't need anyone else to heal myself.  I have all the answers I need within.  I keep praying to God to help me find someone to "fix" my problems, and he has, but I haven't been listening.  I AM the solution to my problems.  I have the key to unlock my restlessness.  This period of hibernation has been forced upon me to make me slow down and see.  See the steps I need to take(not the ones I think I need to take), see the growth that needs to happen before I can rocket forward.  Embrace the changes that are happening in a gradual way, I am the only one rushing myself.  I need this time to incubate. To rest, recharge, and renew, so when the time comes to emerge from my cave I am prepared.  Prepared for the new direction my life is about to take.

I know what I need to nourish my body, but I haven't been listening.  I eat things I know I shouldn't.  I ignore the pleas to stretch and strengthen thru yoga.  I find it more important to accomplish one more task than to sit and quiet my mind in mediation.  I am over scheduled and over-worried and I've done it all to myself.  I am the only one that can undo it.  I'm the only one that can make it better.

I've been searching for a guru, and the guru has been right here all along.  Now it's time to listen.  I had a million things I wanted to get done this week, but I am giving myself an early Christmas gift.  I'm not going to do anything I feel I "should" do, only what I want to do.  A tall order, being that I have so much left to accomplish before Saturday.  I've been ignoring myself and my needs for far too long, and I deserve this.  How perfect, the best Christmas gift, given to myself.  

I will not say a harsh word to myself all week.  I will not force events to go a certain way, but sit back and let them unfold as they should.  I will rest, relax, and enjoy this beautiful world and this beautiful life I am blessed to be living.  And most of all, I will believe.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I See The Moon And The Moon Sees Me

As I padded downstairs at 5 AM, I wondered if I had left a light on in the kitchen.  Turning the corner I realized that it was the full moon illuminating the entire backyard.  I was ecstatic, because the only reason I was up so early was to attempt to see part of the eclipse.  As I live on the east coast, I knew it was unlikely.  But the thought had me out of bed anyway, instead of sound asleep nursing my cold.

The full moon is considered by many to be a time for setting new intentions.  The last month has been a challenge for me, and I intended to signal (to myself and the universe) that I was ready to shift into high gear and move forward.

After spending half an hour admiring the moon thru the window, I decided to brave the frigid morning air and sneak outside. I had an overwhelming desire to stand out in the moonlight, without a house or window blocking the magical glow.  As I walked out the door after bundling up, I was shocked to see a line of clouds inching towards the moon.  The sky had been completely clear moments ago, and I was thankful I hadn't delayed 5 minutes longer.  I quickly stated my intentions.

"I release anything that no longer serves my highest good.  I am at peace, relaxed, happy, healthy, and calm.  I have all the time I need.  I release the need for control, including the illusion of controlling time.  By being all of who I am, I move forward joyfully with grace and ease (my current mission statement).  I am willing to go where my intuition guides me, and let everything that is unnecessary fall away."

That's all I managed to say before the clouds engulfed the moon.  The moon fought valiantly, shining thru the clouds for longer than I would have thought possible.

It's almost surreal as I sit here typing this 20 minutes later.  The darkness is so dense, I can't even see past the window.  Even though I watched it happen, I'm still sitting here with my mouth open.  I can't get my mind around the fact that the world went from daylight to darkness at 5:30 am.  I guess we'll call it the east coast eclipse.  I'm just thankful I was up early enough to witness it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

When Worlds Collide

Until recently, I have kept a strict separation between my work as a reiki master and my job as a pilot.  I rarely talked about reiki at work.  I assumed (and you know what they say about assuming)  that most people either wouldn't be interested, or that they wouldn't understand.  A majority of the people I work with are very traditional in their mindsets and values.  I worried about being judged because I was doing something "different."  As much as I feared being "found out," I was causing myself more pain by trying to hide the activities and spiritual pursuits I was most passionate about.

Last month I flew with a co-worker who was very stressed out.  I intuitively felt that receiving reiki could comfort her and calm her down.  When we arrived at our hotel, I offered to give her reiki.  Since that day, I haven't tried to hide what I do regarding reiki and my holistic lifestyle.  My last trip, I gave my Captain some nutrition suggestions which he followed up on almost immediately.

My entire life I have tried to blend in with the crowd.  I have always felt that being different was unsafe, that I was setting myself up for ridicule.  I kept my head down and my mouth shut. Always quick to assume that someone's reaction to me would be negative, never considering it could just as likely be positive.

I've missed many opportunities to help people, because I've been afraid to open my mouth for fear of being judged.  I guess that's the shadow at work again, and I still have some work to do on being judgmental.  But I think I'm done hiding who I am.  My avocation is becoming my vocation, and it's getting harder to separate my titles of Pilot and Reiki Master.  My worlds are colliding, and after much resistance on my part, I'm finally ready to embrace the change.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Karyn's On Green

Chorizo sliders.  Crab sliders.  Butternut squash soup.  Kale slaw.  Buffalo chicken wrap.  That was my dinner last Friday night, and it was all vegan.

Although I have been a vegetarian for over ten years, when someone mentions being a vegan I find it hard to imagine what they eat every day.  (For those of you that might not know, a vegan does not eat anything that comes from an animal, while a vegetarian may eat dairy and eggs).  After a delicious meal at Karyn's on Green in Chicago, I think I could be converted.

From the window the restaurant looks like any other upscale Chicago eatery.  My favorite vegetarian restaurant in Pittsburgh has a much different vibe (which I love), but you can tell from the window that it isn't a meat and potato kind of place.  My carnivorous friends felt right at home at Karyn's, and they were as pleasantly surprised with the food as I was.  We were planning a return trip before we even walked out the door.

After watching the movie "Forks Over Knives," I have been considering a move towards a vegan lifestyle. I am also considering taking an e-Cornell class on plant based nutrition.  The course will not only teach me about plant based nutrition, but also how to discuss nutrition in a non judgmental way.  As I'm finding out, food is a hot button topic with some people.  Even though I'm not trying to convert anyone to veganism (how can I when I haven't myself), I'm finding many people don't even want to discuss the topic.

To do this the right way I will be spending a lot more time cooking, and I must admit that feels a little daunting.  I just need to start looking at cooking as a hobby or a family activity instead of a chore.  I just can't wait until my son is old enough to use a knife.  I need some help chopping all of those vegetables.

Wood For Dinner? No Thank You - EDITED AND REPUBLISHED

Below is my original post from 11/28/11
Rant alert.

I'm not even sure what to say about this article.  Our friendly FDA, out to protect us.  There is a push to have vitamin supplements only available by a doctor's prescription, but it's ok to eat wood?  I think I'd rather have less fiber.  Last time I checked, I wasn't a beaver.

15 Food Companies that Serve You "Wood"

If anyone has a counterargument or good side to this article, I would love to hear it.  Hopefully, I'm overreacting.

Rant over.

Dec. 3, 2011 edit

Well, I guess there is no question regarding how I feel about the FDA.  The question is, why did I have to push my views on you, the reader?  Why didn't I just say, "Here's an interesting article, see what you think?"  It didn't feel quite right to publish that post, and I'm sure it didn't feel great to read it either.

While reading "Ensouling Language, on the Art of Nonfiction and the Writer's Life," by Stephen Harrod Buhner tonight, a chapter caused me to rethink this post, along with many other aspects of my writing.
Buhner writes, "We all have hidden baggage inside us, unexamined beliefs, attitudes, and orientations of mind we have internalized...  Discovering, understanding, and deciding what to do about that hidden baggage is an inescapable part of our maturing.... Everything that you have not self-examined will eventually show up in your work...."

It's quite obvious I have some beliefs and attitudes showing up in the work begging to be examined.  Which led me to the question, "Why am I writing in the first place?"  The answer I came up with - "To help people be happy and healthy."  By doing what?  Conforming to what I think is the only way to be happy and healthy?  I'm not even so happy or healthy myself right now (another post), so how can I help someone else if I can't help myself?

It was with that question that it all fell into place.  I'm writing to help me.  To examine my hidden baggage, my judgements, my ego.  My attitude that I know what's best for everyone.  One side effect of my continued spiritual growth has been my increasingly quick urge to judge people.  Self reflection is definitely required to address that unwanted aspect of myself, as well as my feelings about issues that really fire me up, like the FDA.

Until I take care of some of this baggage, I will never be able to write in an unbiased manner. Writing to help myself grow and evolve feels selfish, but it is the only way I can move forward and eventually help others.  I will never be able to help anyone else, which I so desperately want to do, until I help myself.  I've said that over and over, and I think I am finally starting to understand.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Coast to Coast Day in the Life

Sometimes I need to be reminded that I have an amazing job.  Like everyone else I start to take things for granted, and I forget that the routine things I do everyday seem incredibly interesting to people.

Take my last trip for instance.  My mother called me at 9 am on Saturday morning.  "I thought you were going to work?" she said.  "I am.  I'm already in Chicago," I replied.  That day I flew to Portland Oregon, and watched the mist swirl around Mt. Hood as we descended to land.

The next morning I watched the sun rise over the Rockies, on my way to Denver and then on to Newark, NJ.  The view of NYC wasn't as clear as it was last week, and I'm ashamed to admit I barely noticed it.

The third day had me flying back across the country to see the other ocean and land in LA.  The fourth day was back to Chicago and then home for the holiday.

After discussing  my schedule with a friend, I realized how unusual my work week had been compared to most people.  I had been back and forth across the country 4 times in 4 days.  Sadly, I only left the hotel once, in Portland.  In the past I would do a lot of sight seeing on the road, but lately I have started using my time away from home to write, catch up on emails, and talk on the phone.

I bid for my schedule each month based on seniority.  I'm lucky enough to have the seniority to be home with my family for the holidays.  The airline industry runs 365 days a year, and there are a lot of employees sacrificing time off with their families to make sure everyone else makes it to Grandma's house for turkey.  I'm grateful to all of my co-workers and anyone else that is required to work on the holidays.  Thank you for holding down the fort, and I hope there was an extra big piece of pie for you when you arrived back home.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Finding My Boogie Shoes

I have a love hate relationship with dancing.  I love to dance, I just hate to dance in public.  The source of my closet dancing was a college boyfriend.  While on the dance floor at a bar, he leaned over and whispered something in my ear.  Thinking I hadn't heard him correctly, I asked him to repeat himself.  No, that was definitely what he said.  I dance like a cow.  Ever since then, the only time I would dance in public was in the middle of a crowd, and usually only after several drinks.

Last summer I met Becky - a smiling, dreadlocked, whirling dervish African dance instructor.  Becky was a teacher at Jim Donovan's Summer Rhythm Renewal, a 4 day retreat of drumming, dancing, writing, and personal growth.  Becky's passion for life is infectious.  I have never seen anyone light up a room like she does, spreading the joy and bliss of dance.  In the renewal atmosphere of love, compassion, and encouragement, I felt I could accomplish anything.  I joined Becky's performance group, and after 3 nights of practice we performed at a concert.  I was terrified, and absolutely exhilarated.

Fast forward to the Friday after Thanksgiving, two nights ago.  My husband and son and I traveled to Johnstown, PA, to see a drum and dance performance by Becky and Jim and several other friends.  We arrived early, while Becky and her dance group were warming up.  Ironically, they were doing the same dance I had learned over the summer.  Becky graciously invited me to join them for the performance.  I thought about it for two seconds, and then politely turned her down.  I told her I would dance with them after their performance was over.

And that was when it happened, the turning point of the night, and the last twenty years.  My five year old looked at me and said innocently, "Mama, that sounds like a scaredy cat."  How did he know?  Was the apprehension and fear seeping out of my pores?  And how did he know I needed to be called on it?  How did he know that I secretly wanted to dance, but was letting the shame from all those years ago keep me from having a good time?

I didn't end up dancing with the group for their performance, but I did dance several times when audience participation was encouraged.  We were sitting in the front row, and halfway thru the concert my son grabbed my hand.  No one else was on the dance floor, but he wanted to dance.  There was no one to hide behind, no alcohol fueled propulsion to give me the sensation of being a better dancer.  I thought about being a scaredy cat.  I thought about the memories I could create for my son (and myself), if I stepped out of my comfort zone and onto my feet.  I thought about the shame I had carried around for twenty years, and wondered if it was still serving me.  In front of almost 100 people, I decided it wasn't.  I danced with my son.

Would I have danced that night if my son hadn't called me a scaredy cat?  Probably not.  I'm sure he doesn't realize the profound impact his statement has had on my life.  From now on, every time I contemplate a challenge to my own self imposed limitations, I will ask myself if I am being a scaredy cat.  The answer will most likely be yes, but the outcome will be much different.  I will now use the butterflies in my stomach to propel me out of my seat, and onto the dance floor.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

I am thankful.   I am tremendously lucky to have a supporting, loving husband, and an adorable, precocious child that teaches me more than I could ever teach him.  I have a loving extended family, a beautiful victorian house, and a job that satiates my desire to be somewhere else.  I am blessed with wonderful new friends who inspire, challenge, and teach me something new every day, and old friends who remind me of who I am and where I've been.  And I am blessed with an unbelievable spiritual awakening,  driving me to become something bigger and better than I ever thought possible.  For all of this and more, I am thankful.  Blessings to all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Easy Breezy

My foray into alternative health started around 10 years ago, right about the time of my 30th birthday.  I started developing allergies, which worsened every year until I was around 35.  Traditional western medicine offered me no cures, as the blood tests concluded I wasn’t allergic to anything.  I have since found that my allergic symptoms seem to vary greatly depending on what I choose to eat.

I have tried to adhere to a gluten free diet for the last year or so, with varying degrees of success.  I commented to my new naturopath/homeopath that I was having difficulty being a gluten free vegetarian with my travel schedule.  She told me that she has various food allergies as well, and that it is easy to travel and be gluten free.

Her comment bothered me on several levels.  First of all, I completely disagreed that it was easy.  It was easIER than it was a year ago when I started, because now I knew what to substitute for wheat.  As a long time vegetarian, I had been eating wheat and dairy at almost every meal.  She had been gluten free for so long that I thought she had forgotten how hard the lifestyle change was when first going gluten free.

Secondly, her comment gave me an uncomfortable feeling about myself.  I thought to myself, “if she’s saying it’s easy, then there must be something wrong with me because I think it’s so hard. “

 I have a chemically sensitive friend, and one day I mentioned that it must be really hard for her to eat out because she is allergic to so many things.  She replied, “It is as hard as I choose to make it.”  That statement resonated with me and made me feel good.  The naturopath telling me it was easy when I knew it wasn't just made me frustrated and grouchy.

Another friend of mine suggested that instead of saying, “It’s as hard as I choose to make it,” that I say “it’s as easy as I choose to make it,” – using a positive term instead of a negative.  That didn’t feel right to me.   Why did it feel better to say hard instead of easy?  Did I need someone to acknowledge that what I was doing was difficult?  And why was I making it difficult?  Why couldn’t I say it was easy?

 “I think you just have a problem with the concept of easy,” my friend said.  I argued that if I told her flying a plane was easy that she might not agree.  Gluten free might be easy for someone else, but not for me.  She then came up with a profound concept that suddenly put everything into perspective for me.

Anything is easy when we decide to go “all in”.  When we fully commit to something with all of our heart, soul, and determination, it is easy.  It’s while we are still on the fence that it is hard.  I know from my ups and downs with my diet over the past year that I am not fully committed to a gluten free lifestyle.  When I finally make that decision, then it will be easy.  But until then, it’s as hard as I choose to make it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Simple Thank You

My morning in Newark didn't start out very well.  I won't give the details, but suffice it to say I witnessed several acts of bad behavior by grown ups pretending to be children.  Actually, they weren't pretending, they WERE acting like children.  The Newark airport itself can be challenging even on the best of days, so I wasn't in the best frame of mind to begin with.  I couldn't wait to get the day over with before it had even started.

I spent the first third of the 6 hour flight to Phoenix in a bad mood.  Somewhere over no man's land I had a realization.  (This has been a good "thinking" trip for me).  I have been reading Gretchen Rubin's book, "The Happiness Project."  The book details Gretchen's year of trying to make her life happier, by changing something small every month.  I have been trying to adopt some of her ideas and suggestions, and they have really made a difference.  I decided to stop being annoyed with the people on my plane, and find my way back to happiness by developing an attitude of gratitude.

Today is the Monday before Thanksgiving and I have so much to be thankful for, including some of the less than pleasant people on my flight.  By buying a ticket they are supporting my airline, which in turn provides my paycheck.  I decided to acknowledge and thank every person on the flight, even the ones who might not have deserved it.  I told the folks how much I appreciated that they came out to fly with us today, and I was grateful that they were helping me support my family.

My little gesture of appreciation helped to cheer me up, and I hoped it would make the passengers happier too.  The 140 mile an hour headwind directly on our nose had made us 25 minutes late into Phoenix, so I was looking for a bright side anywhere I could find it.  I don't know if it made the passengers feel any better, but it sure supported my own happiness project.  I enjoyed it so much that I decided I'm going to thank someone every day this week.  Not just family and friends, but someone that wouldn't normally be expecting a thank you from me.

I think I'll try it again right now.  Thank you for reading this blog.  It gives me immense pleasure to know that someone out there is interested in what I have to say.  And I thank myself for continuing to write the blog, even when it's uncomfortable to say certain things, or when I'm not sure that anyone is actually reading.  See, it worked.  I don't know about you, but I've got a big smile on my face.  I can't wait to see who I can guerrilla thank tomorrow.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My "A-HA" Moment at 30,000'

As you might imagine, I spend a lot of time at work staring out the window, with plenty of time to ponder.  I had a realization today at 30,000', somewhere between Denver and Newark.  I discovered that the reason I stopped writing this summer was the same reason that my son didn't want to draw anymore.  (See the previous Everyone's an Artist post for an explanation of his dilemma).

This spring my friend and I participated in a private writing class with a wonderful instructor.  I was working on a long poem for the assignment. My father passed away in 2006, and my poem focused on exploring my relationship with him on a deeper level.  As I approached revision number 15 of the poem, I not only lost interest, but I found myself not wanting to write at all for a while.

My apathy towards writing wasn't due to any fault of the instructor.  I admire and respect his advice, and with each suggestion and revision the poem became much better from a technical standpoint.  But it felt too much like work to me.  I am very impatient, and I don't enjoy the editing process.  Blog posts seem to be the perfect medium for me - short, sweet, and not a lot of re-writes.  Re-working the same poem over and over again removed the joy of just throwing a fresh idea out on paper.  Instead, I was trying to massage every sentence into the perfect visual image.  Revising the poem made me delve deeper into my own personal growth, as well as evolve as a writer.  But somewhere along the way I lost the passion to write.

So I go back to the question I posed with my son.  Where is the line between teaching the correct way to draw, write, create, etc. - and stifling creativity?  In my case, the writing class made my work more interesting for other people to read, and more technically correct.  But the critique, although thoroughly positive and for my own growth, also made me stop writing.  How can I evolve as a writer without instruction?  How do I allow my inner voice to creatively express without feeling censored, when I still have so much to learn?  What is the correct balance?

I guess for now, the answer is to do whatever it takes to keep me writing.  Right now it feels best to focus on thought over form.  Just like my son, if I become distracted by creating "correctly" instead of just writing for the sheer joy of expression, then I will quickly become discouraged.  I may not win any awards for grammar or punctuation, but if I can inspire someone to think than that's all that matters.  And that's what will keep me writing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Everyone's an Artist

There is no right and wrong when it comes to art.  Everyone's an artist.  I am an artist.  Until last year, I would have said the previous three statements were lies.  And then I met my friend Stephanie.

Stephanie is an artist at the Banana Factory in Bethlehem, PA.  She is also a gifted workshop facilitator, and the goal of her classes is to "encourage creativity without fear of judgement."  Before I attended her workshop, I believed everything about creating art that I had been told as a child.   I'm not a good artist, I cannot replicate with my hand what I see with my eye so I should just give it up, my art does not look like everyone else's, I'm not creative enough, etc. etc.  Stephanie made me realize that as long as I have the ability to put a crayon to paper, I'm creating art.  All that matters is the expression, and there is no right and wrong.  Everyone is an artist.

My five year old son loves art, and I have been actively encouraging him to draw and paint.  As we walked home from school the other day, I suggested that he draw one of his "stick people" drawings for a neighbor.  Most of his art consists of half-stick people with big heads, eyebrows, and giant hands, and they look adorable.   His response to my suggestion - "No, because he won't like it."  "Why wouldn't he like it?" I said.  "Because the lunch lady didn't like it, and she told me I had to redraw my stick person again."  (I have since come to find out that the lunch lady is also a part time teaching aid.)

 I explained to my son that everyone has an opinion about art.  I also told him that the only way art was "wrong" is if you are told to draw a cow and you draw a tree.  When we walked into the house I pulled out his folder, and there was his stick person picture.  The front side was his normal drawing of himself in his Halloween costume.  As I flipped the page over, there was the picture he had been made to re-draw.  An unnatural, balloon shaped form, it didn't resemble a person any more than his stick figure.  And it certainly lacked the "soul" of the stick person.

That night I called to discuss my situation with Stephanie.  She explained that this kind of situation makes kids stop drawing altogether.  Because they can't express themselves the way they want, or are trying to conform to someone else's idea of art, it becomes too difficult and they give up.  Then they end up in her class 30 years later, wanting to reignite the creative spark that was extinguished in childhood.

I decided to go to the school and share my feelings with the teacher, and we had a nice discussion.  When I told her what had happened, she said she encourages the students to try to make realistic looking people, not just stick people.  In her mind, she is just trying to help them become "better", or more "realistic" artists.  I myself wondered where the line is between teaching more "realistic" ways of drawing, and stifling creativity.  The teacher seemed to listen as I explained what I learned from Stephanie, and she said she would have a discussion with the art teacher to get her opinion.

The teacher then proceeded to show me some of the other student drawings that looked nothing at all like people.  Some were lady bugs, some were blobs, some looked like square snowmen.  "See," she said to me, "Your son's looks great compared to these."  She then told me that several students were never able to start the drawing project, because they were perfectionists.  The entire front and back of their page was scribbled out, because their attempt to draw themselves didn't look the way they wanted it to.

I tried to point out to her that maybe the reason some of the students couldn't draw at all was because they were afraid to make lady bugs or square people.   I'm not sure if the correlation ever dawned on her, but it was crystal clear to me.  A five year old should draw because he loves to draw, not worry because he can't make an exact replica of himself on the page.  I felt really sorry for the kids that were afraid to draw, and I was really proud of the kids that drew lady bugs and snowmen as their self portraits.  I'd take a lady bug over a fear of drawing any day.

As for my son, the next chance I get we are going to sit down and draw a whole army of stick people.  Just because we can.  We're artists after all, and that's what artists do.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

One Vision

From Debbie Ford - "When our actions come straight out of our vision of our lives we radiate joy, and passion effortlessly carries us through our days.  What is your vision?"

What is my vision?  I wish I knew.  Part of my problem lately is that I can't seem to find a direction.  It's as if I'm moving in circles, growing, but without a real destination.  Too many commitments, not enough time.  Like the rabbit in "Alice in Wonderland," - always late, but not sure where I am going.   I decided the best way to find my vision was to start free writing and see what I came up with.  Here are the results.

I envision a world of respect.  Respect for mother earth, respect for each other, respect for ourselves.  A world where everyone knows and understands that they are worthy.  They are valid.  A world where I know I am worthy, I am valid.  Here comes the shadow again.  I have such a deep desire to help others live a better life.  To be of service to the world.  But I cannot do that until I clean my own house.  Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world."  Maybe it's time to listen.

I envision a world where I am as honest with myself as I am with everyone else around me.  I refuse to lie to other people, but I am constantly lying to myself.  "I'm not good enough, I'm stupid, what do you think you're doing, are you kidding me?"  These are the thoughts and ideas that fill my brain and begin the never ending cycle of negativity in my body.  I must help myself before I can help others.

Every choice I make when I open my mouth affects my well being.  Whether it is thoughts and ideas coming out, or nourishment (or lack thereof) going in.  My vision is to help everyone understand this, but it has to start with me.  Words that are carefully chosen have so much power.  My own words have the ability to draw negative or positive energy to me.  The ability to uplift me and those around me, or cause feelings of negativity and hopelessness.  The foods I choose to nourish me do the same for my body.  I can choose healthy uplifting foods, or foods that zap my energy and emotional well being.  My body is a temple, I will start to treat it that way.

I long to help others fall in love with themselves, so that love will spread outward like a never ending wave, touching all on the planet.  Why is it so easy for me to envision this for others, but not for myself?  Why is self love so difficult?  Is it because self love feels selfish, as if I am putting myself first instead of helping others?

What if self love = self care?  What if it felt more like a necessity, instead of a luxury.  I cannot help others until I help myself.  If I want to see this love bubble grow, then I need to be the epicenter.  And if I want to help others in need, it all starts right here at home.  Respect, integrity, compassion - for myself, and then the world.  This is my vision.

Audio/video vision inspiration

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Me and My Shadow, My Shadow and Me

Unlike Peter Pan, I can't seem to get away from my shadow.  In my last post, I discussed the selfish aspect of my shadow.  My husband will be happy to know that I am no longer denying this aspect of myself,  so I am now ready to clean my house.

Unfortunately, there's been another shadow lurking around for awhile now, and yesterday it decided it didn't want to be silenced anymore.

Over the last few years, I have started to question some of the "truths" I have believed since childhood.  I am taking Walt Whitman's quote to heart - "Re-examine all you have been told.....Dismiss what insults your soul."  Some of the truths I have been questioning apply to religious dogma.  I currently find myself closer to God than I have ever been, and I am working on developing a personal relationship with him, without the church or a minister being my connection to him.

I was at the airport several hours early for my flight yesterday, and for some reason I was drawn to attend the non-denominational church service in the chapel.  When the minister asked for prayer requests, I uncharacteristically raised my hand.  I asked for help and guidance so that I could stop being so judgemental.

I have been having a real problem with this lately.  I'm judging everyone and everything, and it's driving me crazy and making me really unhappy.  Other parents at the school, politicians, frackers, co-workers, people I pass on the street - no one can escape my judgement.   I seem to think that if everyone would just think the way I do and do things my way, the world would be a perfect place.  And there in lies the shadow.  Whatever or whoever I choose to judge, I am capable of those same behaviors myself.  I am them, they are me, and we are all one.  This was a strange concept for me at first, but the more shadow work I do, the more I'm starting to understand it.

So when the minister repeated the prayer requests in prayer, I was interested to hear his advice for me about being less judgmental.  He said, "please help Kim release her judgements, and help her remember that we judge according to your word."

Hold on, did I just hear that?  I asked to be less judgemental, not swap my own set of judgements for a different one.  This is one of the reasons I'm falling away from the church lately, because I don't think anyone has the right to judge anyone else, no matter whose authority they believe they are following.  It's not my place to judge at all, and I want to get rid of this tendency.

Ahh, there it is.  The reason it won't go away.  The reason that situations keep presenting themselves to me that cause me to be judgmental.  I'm trying to kick it, cram it, shove it, shame it out of me, instead of giving it the attention it wants, so it can be released.  This shadow aspect and I have a lot more work to do before I can move on, and I have learned a valuable lesson.  Third party intercessions can be really helpful in some situations.  But when it comes to the shadow, only you can do the work.  Anyone else just gets in the way.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Selfish Little Shadow

I have a serious motivation problem.  Every room in my house has a project that is half finished, or a mess of clutter which needs to find a home.    A new (antique) dresser needs to be cleaned up before I can put clothes in it.  Ditto for a new display cabinet.  An entire basement needs to be cleared out before the contractor can come and remove the asbestos.  As I've walked from room to room this week, I have felt overwhelmed, disgusted, and lazy.  Until today.

Today I realized that instead of being upset at the state of my house, I should actually be celebrating the fact that my aversion and resistance to the mess is actually helping me with my spiritual growth.  If it weren’t for the mess, I never would have discovered my shadow –my shadow self that is – that is crying out for attention.

The shadow is a repressed part of the unconscious mind. Carl Jung once said that the shadow "is the person you would rather not be."  One of the most life changing books I have ever read is “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers,” by Debbie Ford.  The book describes the shadow self in depth, helping to understand, embrace, and release that which subconsciously holds us back.  How does this relate to my house being a disaster, you might ask?  It all started with fracking.
 I had a life coaching session today, and the discussion centered around things that are happening in my external world that are really affecting me.  One of these things is my disgust at fracking (which is another blog post altogether).  I realized that the traits I attribute to those that “frack” are greed, short sightedness, and selfishness, with selfish being the one with the most charge for me.  So we started talking about being selfish, because that which annoys us in our outer world is a mirror for what we need to work on in our inner world.
I realized that I felt selfish about not cleaning my house.  My husband had been at work all week, and I was at home.  It’s not really fair that I have filled my week with writing, reiki sessions, and appointments, when I could have been cleaning the house.  My husband never said a word to me about the mess, but I was feeling selfish because I was looking after my own needs all week, instead of taking care of our communal space.
The coaching session included some energetic work to release my attachment to being selfish.  My homework was to think of the most selfish thing I could do today, and then go and do it.  I worked on thinking about being selfish in a positive sense instead of negative.  Selfish means taking care of self, and by taking care of myself, I can take care of others as well.  I realized I was worried about appearing selfish in several other instances too, which seemed to vanish once we discovered I was resisting my shadow self.
By acknowledging my selfish shadow and working with it, I was able to change my viewpoint about the whole situation.  Now I’m actually looking forward to organizing the house, instead of dreading it.  But that will have to wait.  I’m on my way out the door to give my shadow some well deserved attention.

Thursday, November 3, 2011 to the Rescue

I think I've returned to my senses.  I did some research on one of my favorite websites,, and I've found some alternatives to Retin A.  One is apple cider vinegar, which I'm trying out right now, and the other is baking soda.  My hair dresser had previously told me about the baking soda, I just haven't had a chance (re: motivation) to try it yet.

I get my hair cut at an Aveda salon in my neighborhood.  It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that Aveda is a play on words - Ayurveda.  The salon uses many Ayurvedic principles, and my hair dresser and I started talking about acne the last time I was there.  In her training, she was taught that breakouts on the forehead were caused by stress, along the nose is hormonal, and blemishes on the cheeks are related to diet.  This made a lot of sense to me, since it all correlated with my specific breakouts.

I mentioned this theory to my dermatologist yesterday, and it was all she could do not to laugh in my face.  After calling it "crazy talk" and "something that came from a guru", she basically told me to stop listening to whoever would come up with something so ridiculous.

Now everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  To be honest, I don't know why I expected her to have any reaction other than the one she did.  It was my reaction that disappointed me, and made me realize I still have a lot of work to do.  I thought I was past the point of hiding my opinions when I feel strongly about something, but apparently not.  Not only did I not stick up for my friend,  I didn't stick up for myself.  I let the fear of being criticized silence me - again.

So this is my challenge - to express who I am and what I believe in, no matter what someone else thinks.  I know this isn't something I can change overnight, and I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities to practice.  For now, I'll forgive myself and remember my current mission statement.  "By accepting all of who I am, I joyfully move forward with grace and ease."  Some things are easier said than done.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Vanity vs Integrity

Two weeks into my fifth decade, and things have been great so far.  Only 2 minor annoyances, which I won't even complain about, I'll just comment on.

The first is my eyesight.  I have been blessed with amazing eyesight.  In the past, if I could see a sign I could read it, no matter how small the print was.  Over the last few months this has begun to change - rapidly.  I found myself sitting at the bar with my husband yesterday, squinting to read the beer tap.  Why do we squint anyway, it doesn't miraculously make the letters bigger.  The herb bilberry is good for eyesight, and it does seem to be helping.  Even so, I'm afraid I am on my way to glasses, a sure sign that I'm getting older.  I must admit this makes me a little sad, watching my body slowly start to adjust to it's age.

The other issue I'm having, which is much more detrimental to my aging ego, is the appearance of adult acne.  Again, I was blessed as an adolescent not to have to deal with acne, so this is a first for me.  At least at 17, many peers have acne too, and everyone can sympathize with each other.  Sitting at the dermatologist today, at the age of 40, I felt a little bit strange discussing types of acne.  It was like I missed that day in class or something. Anyway, this whole situation brings me to my next dilemma.

Over the last year I have really been trying to approach my health by using natural products, and have only used mainstream medicine as a last resort.  I have always believed that when our body shows us symptoms, we need to address the underlying issue, instead of just covering up the problem by taking drugs.  I know my acne is showing up because of stress and hormone fluctuation.  When the Dr. offered a Retin A prescription today, my first instinct was to turn it down, which I did.  I know why I'm getting the acne, and I should be addressing the cause of the problem.

But vanity is a funny thing.  It makes me color my ever-increasing gray hair every four weeks, even when I know that's not really good for me.  And when the Dr. said, "Retin A is good for wrinkles too", my ears perked up a little bit.  So much so, that I walked out of the office with a prescription.  Whether I choose to fill it or not is still up for discussion.  Listening to the side effects and precautions was enough to make me reconsider, and I plan to do some more research before I make up my mind.

Will my vanity inflated ego win, or my desire to honor by body in a natural way?  Will I sell my soul to the Retin A devil?  Stay tuned and I'll let you know.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wearing my Big Girl Panties

Wow, it's been a long time since I've blogged.  So long in fact, that I had to reset my password to be able to post.  Much has happened over the last year, and I promise to fill you in on all of it.  But today is a special day, so now I want to write about that.

Tomorrow is a turning point for me.  It is the end of the "All About Me Years," and the start of a brand new chapter in the book of my life.  As the first 4 decades  come to a close, I am ready to start the "What Can I Give Back Years."  I am embracing turning 40, and I know it's going to be a fantastic year.  There are so many new opportunities and adventures awaiting me, I can hardly wait to get started.

I have spent the last 10 years dreading birthdays, but this one feels different.  Almost like a rebirth.  Shedding the skin that no longer fits me, I am coming into my own.  It's taken me 40 years to be able to speak my truths, and not hide the real me just to conform to someone else's opinion of me.  I can't say I no longer care about what people think of me, because that's still one of my biggest challenges.  But each and every day I am less afraid to show people the real me, even if they think I should be something different.  I am tired of hiding who I am, and the older I get the less I feel the need to conform.

I have a feeling this blog is going to metamorphous right along with me.  It will be interesting to see if my writing style is different, after taking a little bit of a break.  As of right now, I feel like I'm willing to be a little braver than I was before.  Maybe I'll change my mind tomorrow, but let's try it out before I lose my nerve.

When I first started writing the blog, hiding my identity was very important.  I wanted to help people thru my experiences, I just didn't want anyone to know I was writing about (or experiencing) these things for myself, in case they didn't agree with me.  I also didn't know if there would be repercussions with my job.  Pilots don't normally talk about things we don't understand, unless it's commonly accepted (religion vs. spirituality for example).  I didn't know exactly what I would be writing about, and I didn't want to feel inhibited if I wanted to write about something a little outside the normal belief system of some people.  I think I'm ready to confront this challenge again and come out of the closet.  My name is Kim and I live in Pittsburgh.  Wow, my heart is racing and my palms are sweaty.  And I haven't even told you my last name yet.  I guess we'll leave that for another post, when I'm feeling really brave.  Baby steps to start my rebirth. And you can still call me Tree Talker, if you want to.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I'm a Model

All right, I refuse to leave on that note.  I can't say my mood has changed much from the last post, but I'm trying.  I was tempted to completely erase the last post, but I pride myself on honesty, so that's what you get.  Warts and all.  I've also had some interesting things happen in the last week that I would like to share.

I have spent 3 days this week as a "model" for my Ayurvedic Dr.  She is expanding her business and has a new class of therapists in training. (I'm not sure that's the right term for them.)  She uses me as a model to demonstrate the treatments to the students, and I get the treatment for free.  A win-win all around as far as I'm concerned.

I've actually found the whole process quite fascinating.  When I completed the three day panchakarma the beginning of the year, I didn't really understand the reason behind some of the treatments.  Since the Dr. explained the treatments to the students as she was performing them, I learned a lot as well.  The biggest challenge was staying awake enough to pay attention, as most of the treatments relax me so much I want to go to sleep.  Even with four people in the room staring at me.  This has also made it easier for me to restart some of the things I was supposed to be doing at home, such as head and feet massage.  Now that I understand why I am doing it, it will be easier to continue.

I had one treatment that focused on the heart and digestion, and one that was a foot massage followed by lower back treatment.  I also had a treatment called Kanrapurana, which is basically oil in the ears.  I swear I could hear better afterwards.  The most interesting (ok weird) treatment was also the one I found most beneficial.  It is called Netra Basti, or eye rejuvenation therapy.

A dam of dough is placed around the eyes, and liquid ghee (clarified butter, aka the Indian wonder drug) is poured into the dam.  After it sits for a while, you actually open your eyes and keep blinking, while the ghee runs off or is absorbed.  I know this sounds really strange, and if I had known what was going to happen before hand I might have been a lot more apprehensive.  The treatment is purported to ease eye strain, nourish and rejuvenate the eyes.  I can't put my finger on what was different afterward, but my vision was definitely different.  Clearer maybe, and everything seemed sharper and more in focus.  And I didn't wake up with sticky eyes the next morning, which I had been having problems with as it is spring. The sticky eyes were back the second day, but I will definitely try this treatment again.

I have learned from this experience that Ayurveda is not a one time, feel good massage "quick fix", but a lifestyle change and personal commitment to enhance health.  Relying on someone else to make us feel better is not really a good idea, as no one knows our body better than ourselves.  Lasting change can only be achieved through commitment.  Otherwise, the massage, steam, or shirodhara will be incredibly relaxing and stress relieving, but may not promote any long term benefits. Just thinking about my next steam bath makes me feel warm all over, which is a good thing considering it is snowing.  Again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Happy Belated Anniversary

UH OH.  It appears I missed my anniversary.  The one year anniversary of writing my blog.  How does that make me feel?  Even shittier than I feel about not writing.  I haven't had the urge to write at all lately, so I haven't.  For some reason that makes me feel guilty.  I don't get paid to do this.  No one is salivating over my next blog post.  I don't have a million readers.  So why do I care?

Could it be because I am continually starting things with grand ambitions and then not finishing them?  First there was the reiki, which I thought I would do every day for the rest of my life.  Not so much anymore.  Then there was the spiritual group I was going to start that made it through the first meeting.  Now I'm afraid my ambitions to become a writer may be falling by the wayside as well.

Part of my problem is that I am continually searching to find something I am passionate about.  Other than flying, there is nothing that I have started and actually stuck with for a number of years.  Yes I still waterski and ice skate, which I used to do as a child, but not nearly as much as I would like to.  Why?  No time - supposedly.  Truth is I'm just not making the time.  So what exactly am I doing with my time?  Running the machine.  How do I spend less time doing that?  And why is it so hard to find something I'm passionate about?

Well, this post certainly does not have the congratulatory fanfare I planned to have after my year of writing.  What did I say at the beginning, 365 posts in one year?  Hmm, didn't even make it to half of that.  I'm going to sign off now before I depress myself, (or you, my dear loyal readers), anymore.  When will I be back?  Not sure.  Hopefully this is just a temporary hiatus til I get my mojo back.  Thanks for all of your support and encouragement along the way.  I do feel like I have a message to share, I just have to regain my positive attitude and some direction for it to benefit anyone, including myself.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Girly Girl

It's official.  I am not now, nor do I ever care to be, a girly girl.  I've spent the last week doing all kinds of girly girl things in preparation for a cruise.  Hair color - check.  Facial - check.  Mani/pedi - check.  Tanning - check.  Yes, I even succumbed to the tanning.  And it was completely out of vanity, I won't even attempt to use the, "I was trying not to burn" excuse.

I've only been in a tanning bed about 3 times in my life, and I hate every minute of it.  I spend the whole time in the bed thinking I can feel the skin cancer beginning it's assault.  The guilt overwhelms me.  I stay out of the sun all summer long, and yet here I am deliberately bombarding myself with UVA and UVB sans sunscreen.  And I'm almost embarrassed to admit why I decided to tan.  Day one of our previous cruise.  Picture time.  We're all smiling, happy, wearing our leis, fruity drink in hand, and my legs are a shade of white I have never seen before on a human being.  I need to wear sunglasses just to look at the picture.  So because of that, I have subjected myself to the possibility of an early death, or maybe some extra premature wrinkles.  At least I waited til the last day of tanning to burn.

I can't say I didn't enjoy the facial and mani/pedi, they just consumed a lot of time.  Time I would have rather spent doing something else.  I am not one to spend a lot of time on my appearance, especially in the morning.  When I'm at work, if I have to be in the hotel lobby at 4:30 am, I get up at 4am.  And that's to leave the room at 4:20.  Some of the flight attendants I work with are amazed by this.  If they have to lobby at 4:30am, they are up by 3am.  That also explains why they always appear perfectly put together, and why my nails are always ragged and I look like I could use some lipstick.

I now have a new respect for the women that walk by me on the street completely polished and put together, looking like they have just spent the day in a spa.  It's because they have.  I used to envy those women, and wonder why I didn't look like them.  Now I realize why I don't look like them.  I just don't want to spend the time or effort it requires.

The most enjoyable part of the week has been my son's reaction to my manicure.  He's probably only seen me wear nail polish about 3 times in his life.  Anywhere we've been for the last 2 days, he asks me to take off my boots and show people my "toe painting."  Maybe I should try to make a little more effort.  But I think after next week I'll be going back to my old ways - plain old ragged nails, pasty white skin, and chapstick.  And that's just fine with me.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Catalyst

I just started the second "semester" of my Transformative Writing workshop.  It is the first actual class I have taken to further my writing ability, and it is also helping me with my spiritual evolution.  The first four sessions helped me uncover personal blocks, as well as some issues that are blocking me as a writer.

For example, I realized that every time I presented something for class, I never followed through with the suggested changes from the instructor.  If I was told to work on a certain paragraph of a poem, I would attempt it, and then quickly give up and write another poem instead.  If I was told to explore my relationship with my father, I would dutifully start writing about that, but then suddenly veer off in another direction.  I rarely followed through with what I was supposed to be doing.

I've come up with two excuses for not following directions.  Option one is that I have a very short attention span.  I know this to be true, because I can't stand to revise my writing.  Once it's on the paper I feel like I want to move on to something else, not go back and rehash what I've already written.  Not a good trait if I want to get serious about writing - perfect for the brevity of a blog.  Option two is a little more challenging.  The class, after all, is called Transformative Writing.  The writing assignments have definitely helped me grow and uncover personal issues, and I think when I'm on the brink of a "transformation" I get scared.  I know I'm about to get to the juicy stuff, and I chicken out.  Today, I did not chicken out.

I have been sick all week, and spent most of the day in bed on Sunday.  I should have been sleeping, but instead I decided to write a poem.  A pretty good poem.  I sent it to my instructor, and he suggested probing a bit deeper into a section.  This time, I listened.

I sat down and started having a conversation with myself, and writing it all down on the paper.  What am I afraid of?  Why do I need external praise? Why do I need validation? Why don't I feel good enough? Worthy?  At first the answers didn't come, it was just me writing questions.  As I continued to probe I started to hear the answers in my head, so I wrote those down too.  I continued to write whatever popped into my head until suddenly, out of nowhere, I had my "a-ha" moment.  The reason I have been so critical of myself all of my life.  And I never saw it coming.

I am continually amazed at what my mind will discover on it's own, if I just give it the chance to drift and find it's own rhythm.  I have used this question and answer exercise before, and have always had good results.  I think when I remove my over-thinking rational mind from the process, the true answers become more readily apparent.

Writing is very cathartic and a great catalyst.  I had intended to write great therapist in the last sentence, but wrote catalyst without even realizing it.  I guess it is that too.  As long as I'm writing, I'm transforming and developing.  My personal growth and transformation today feels as if a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.  Hopefully that realization will make me actually listen to my teacher from now on, and not shy away from the hard stuff.  Now if you will excuse me, I have a poem that is awaiting a revision.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Reminder to Myself

"Obstacles are necessary for success . . . as in all careers
of importance, victory comes only after many struggles and
countless defeats. Yet each struggle, each defeat, sharpens
your skills and strengths, your courage and your endurance,
your ability and your confidence and thus each obstacle is a
comrade-in-arms forcing you to become better . . . or quit.
Each rebuff is an opportunity to move forward; turn away from
them, avoid them, and you throw away your future."
~ Og Mandino ~

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pardon Me, I'm Coming Through

What could I accomplish if I got out of my own way?  And more importantly, what's with the self-sabotage?

One of my goals lately has been to stop using the word should.  I have to admit, it's not going very well.  "I should get out of bed and do yoga.  I should start writing -a blog, a story, a journal entry, anything.  I should go through that pile of mail.  I should do the numerous "get organized" house projects I have been waiting for winter to accomplish.  Guess what?  Winter is halfway over, and the projects are still not complete."  With this tape playing in my head all day, it's no wonder I was feeling sorry for myself and lacked the motivation to do anything.

After some introspection this evening, I realized that the only thing stopping me from doing all of these things was myself.  I didn't have to wait for or depend on anyone else, I just had to make the conscious decision to get moving.  That thought on it's own actually helped me accomplish a few things.  Then I had a bit of a revelation while I was discussing my situation with a friend.  It still amazes me that I can ponder a situation all day long in my head, and it is not until I actually engage my brain to talk about the issue that the answer suddenly becomes crystal clear.

As a child, we hear from various sources that we are not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, etc.  I am lucky enough as an adult to only have one person that still talks to me that way.  That person is me.   By not accomplishing tasks I feel I "should" be doing, I am unwittingly keeping that same old message of unworthiness playing in my head.  Why do I feel the need to put myself down when no one else is?  I have no idea.  Maybe to keep myself stuck?  Or is it the fear of what I could accomplish if I got out of my own way?  I guess the fact that I am conscious of what I am doing is a good first step.

During the discussion with my friend, I also remembered something useful that would have helped me all day long had I remembered it earlier.  I had an intense reiki session with two of my friends last night.  When it was my turn, they worked on my solar plexus chakra (self esteem and ego), and my sacral chakra (control, guilt, creativity).  I released some major issues I was holding on to.  So much so that the recurring thought that kept running through my head afterwards was "I am confident."  I have never in my life said or felt those three words regarding myself.  What I conveniently forgot was that the day after a session like that, I need to be kind to myself.  Relax and be gentle.  Moving that amount of energy and those kind of long held beliefs takes an adjustment period, and it was normal for me to be out of sorts today.

Part of my fear today was that I was sliding back into a period of unproductive malaise.  After some thought redirection, I realized that instead of the start of a downward spiral this could be the first day of my ascension.  Out of the ashes of the control freak, guilt ridden, low self esteem person I was yesterday, rises the self confident person I have always wished I could be.  Sounds good.  Now I just have to make myself believe it.

Friday, January 21, 2011


My entire life I have been afraid of failing.  I have always been an overachiever, going above and beyond what was required of me so that I didn't have to deal with failure.  When I decided I wanted to become a pilot, failure was never an option.  I did whatever I had to do to succeed.  I never had a Plan B, because the thought of not accomplishing Plan A never even crossed my mind.

Does that mean everything worked out perfectly for me and exactly the way I planned it?  Of course not.  What it means is that when something happened that was outside my control (or within my control such as a bad choice or decision), I used it as an opportunity for growth.  Instead of letting it derail my Success Express, I learned from it and moved on.

By expecting nothing but success, I was unconsciously using the Law Of Attraction.  I was creating a positive outcome for myself, because I was only thinking about the positive goal I wanted to create.  I did not spend time focusing on what I didn't want to have happen.  Sometimes by focusing on what we don't want, we inadvertently draw those exact things towards us.

My positive thoughts about becoming a pilot have served me well.  I have a great job, some would say one of the best jobs in the airline industry.  And yet I find myself unfulfilled.  I am feeling called to start something new.  To help people through my writing.  And the thought of that is exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.  Over the past few years, my fear of failing has somehow overtaken my ability to envision only success.  Whether it be age, wisdom, or fear, I find myself in the position of being afraid of the unknown.  I had to write the previous paragraphs to remind myself that what I accomplished once can easily be accomplished again with the right attitude.

I mentioned to a friend of mine that my fear of failing as a writer was starting to hold me back.  She then asked what I considered failure.   I said that I felt like a failure if I didn't accomplish my goals, or if I didn't finish what I had set out to do.  She told me to replace the word fail with learn or evolve.  Instead of thinking I've failed, realize that I have learned something from the experience.  If I did not achieve the goal, maybe it wasn't the right goal in the first place.  By having the courage to show up and make the effort, I have evolved and changed the experience into what it was meant to be for me to grow.  In her mind, the only way to fail is to not try.

One of my current goals is to release judgement of myself and others.  My own opinions make a situation good or bad - without them the situation just is.  The labels that I give something, either good or bad, are what affect my feelings towards the situation.  If I remove my judgements regarding failing, and realize that it is neither good nor bad, there is no reason to fear it anymore.

If I start something new and it doesn't go according to plan, then I take the lesson and the evolution and I move on.  If I go back to my teenage attitude of invincibility, then I will accomplish whatever it is I set out to do anyway.  Focus on what I want, instead of what I want to avoid.  And if there is no Plan B, then Plan A has to work.  And Plan A is looking better and better all the time.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Yoga and Ayurveda

I first started practicing yoga about 10 years ago, and have practiced on a sporadic basis since then.  My intro to yoga was a cross between power yoga and hot yoga, and it was one of the best workouts I have ever had.  My body is not usually limber; I cannot even bend over and touch my toes.  After attending yoga classes on a regular basis, I felt a lot like gumby.  This gave me the motivation to continue, because I didn't want to lose my newfound flexibility.

Flash forward 10 years to my yoga session yesterday.  This yoga session was meant to be restorative, contemplative, and relaxing.  There are certain poses that help bring the doshas back into balance, and several of them I had already been intuitively practicing.  It still amazes me how the body knows what to do if we quiet the mind and listen.

Before we started the session, I mentioned that I had been feeling chilled frequently.  I am always cold, but this was a different kind of cold.  Normally, my hands and feet are like ice cubes when I am cold.  I am required to wear socks to bed and keep my hands off of my husband until they warm up, to give you an idea of how cold I can get.

Lately I have been feeling chilled just through my torso, even when the rest of me is warm.  The yoga teacher informed me that a vata imbalance lodges in the spine, which was probably causing me to feel chilled.  The poses we were going to work on would loosen up the spine, which is something I have always had trouble with anyway.  I have never been able to do a backbend, even as a child.  My spine seems to move in one solid mass, from my neck to my waist.

I also mentioned that I wanted to work on my posture.  I have always been tall, and as a child I compensated for towering over my classmates by slumping my shoulders.  Never a popular kid, I didn't want to draw any more attention to myself than necessary.  Lately when I walk past a mirror, I am appalled at how slumped my shoulders are.  It feels as if I am carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and it is almost too much effort to hold them back.

The yoga instructor focused a lot on my core, the area in the stomach close to the navel.  I had heard this term before, although I must admit I never really understood it.  She told me to imagine pulling my stomach in through my back.  The trick is to be firm but not tense, which takes some practice.  The area in the back behind the belly button is associated with will power.  When I started focusing on holding my stomach in this way an incredible thing happened.  My shoulders immediately went back and it was almost impossible to slouch.  Normally after attempting to hold my shoulders back for about a minute, it was so uncomfortable I would give up.  But by focusing on my stomach instead, the shoulders became a mere afterthought.  And I can handle a little burn in my stomach, I like the thought of flattening it while strengthening it.  A win win situation all the way around.

This yoga session was not the hard core workout I was used to, but I must admit I enjoyed it immensely.  In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I was able to get out of bed an hour early this morning and practice again.  An hour early - on a Saturday.  Previously unheard of.  I guess there is a reason Ayurveda has been around for 5000 years.  I'm glad I'm finally catching on.

More About Ayurveda

I've discussed my Ayurvedic experiences thus far in other posts, but I'll try and condense it here for those of you that don't read my blog regularly.  (Although you should!).

Ayurveda is defined in the dictionary as the ancient Hindu science of health and medicine.  Started over 5000 years ago in India and currently practiced there, it is slowly starting to catch on in the United States.  According to Ayurveda, there are 3 doshas within the body that make up our constitution - vata, pitta, and kapha.  Each must be balanced to have good health, and an imbalance causes illness.

When I had my Ayurvedic consultation last month, I was told I was constitutionally pitta with a vata imbalance.  The vata imbalance is caused by years of traveling, which aggravates vata.  The Ayurvedic doctor prescribed several things for me, most of which are a huge challenge to the western lifestyle.  Luckily for me, I was doing a lot of these things already.

A panchakarma was recommended, which is a detox program to rev up digestion and balance the doshas.  My panchakarma was a three day series of massage and dietary restrictions.  I wrote about my experience in this entry.  Panchakarma.  And the more positive follow up here.  Panchakarma results. The dietary restrictions were to ease the load on the digestive system, and increase the digestive fire.  It worked, because I was hungry all of the time.  I was used to dietary restrictions from working with the nutritionist last year, so although it was difficult it didn't mess with my head too much.  Unlike the other poor girl who was doing a panchakarma at the same time.  I thought she was going to have a full on mutiny when she was told to stop eating yogurt. (Sour, cold, difficult to digest).

Diet-wise, the Dr. recommended room temperature drinks, mostly vegetarian meals, and cooked food instead of raw.  No yogurt or spicy food.  All of this was to ease the load on my digestive system.  She also recommended meditation, self massage, and yoga.

I was scheduled for two private yoga sessions, the first of which I had yesterday. My intent for this post was to write about the yoga.  Since I've taken up most of the post describing Ayurveda, I will write about yoga in the next post.  Ahh, the dreaded TO BE CONTINUED..........

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Take Time to Savor the Flavor

I have been making an effort this year to eat more consciously.  Paying more attention to the food I put in my mouth, and appreciating the enormous effort it takes just to get the food on my plate.  The planting, harvesting, packaging, shipping, preparation - it's a major event just to make a plate of food.  Lately I've been about halfway through my meal before I remember to be thankful.  That's ok, eventually if I do that enough maybe I'll remember it at the beginning of the meal.

The thing I'm having the hardest time with is trying not to multi-task while I eat.  Especially if I'm eating alone, I look at that time as a way to catch up on things like my e-mail or a time to pay bills.  Now that I'm actually trying to pay attention to eating and only eating, it's hard not to feel guilty.  Sometimes it feels like I'm wasting the time in between bites by not doing something else.

I've noticed that the food tastes much better when I'm not distracted.  It makes me realize how often I don't even taste what I am eating.  The other day we were at the Indian buffet (although stuffet would be a better description).  I was shoveling mango pudding into my mouth like someone was about to take my plate away from me.  When I realized I was doing this, I consciously slowed down.  I put a very small spoonful of pudding in my mouth and closed my eyes.  It was amazing how much better the dessert tasted.

I've been trying this approach with all kinds of sweets lately.  In the past, I have never understood the point of mini chocolates or candy bars.  Instead of eating one and being satisfied, the minute size was just an excuse for me to eat 5 or 6 of them.  It was easy just to pop the whole thing in my mouth, but then the pleasure was over much too soon.  What I am now trying to do is take incredibly small bites of dessert, and really pay attention to the taste of the food.  

I know it sounds crazy, but give this a try.  The next time you have dessert, take a giant mouthful and eat it like you normally do.  Then take a tiny bite, close your eyes, and really savor the flavor of the food before you swallow it.  Notice a difference?  I do.  Even if you don't, the site of you closing your eyes at the dinner table and concentrating on your food will at least entertain your family.  Bon Appetit!

Friday, January 7, 2011

To Eat, Or Not to Eat, Or What to Eat - That is the Question

I've spent a lot of time this past year learning about health, food, nutrition and allergies.  I've worked with several specialists, and each one seems to contradict the one before.  Here are some examples.

Nutritionist - says avoid wheat and dairy, eat only raw nuts, lots of sea vegetables and raw green drinks - prescribes an herb that the acupuncturist says not to take

Acupuncturist (who I have worked with longer than anyone) - says avoid dairy, very bad except for yogurt - wheat ok - says not to take the herb the natural health doctor has prescribed 

Natural health doctor - told me I was sensitive to wheat, dairy, and mold - we're working on getting rid of the sensitivity, but I don't know what the process is called.  Also has me completely paranoid about my son's vaccinations, but that is another blog.

Ayurvedic Indian Doctor - wheat is fine, dairy is fine if it's warm or at room temperature, no sea vegetables (not local), no raw foods for now (difficult to digest), roasted nuts are better than raw.

I guess what I'm going to do is take bits and pieces from everyone's suggestions, and trust my intuition about what to eat.  In the past I have craved things that are exactly what I should be eating for their healing properties at the right time.  Intuitively, I think the sea vegetables are fine, I like the raw nuts better, and I don't think the wheat makes me feel great.  Cheese is a definite no no, much as I love it.  But just like anything, you learn to live without it.  I remember when I first decided to become a vegetarian, I thought I'd never stop craving meat.  Now I can't imagine eating it again.  The same thing happened when I gave up cheese.  I thought I would never enjoy food again, as most of what I ate was either smothered with cheese or served with a side of cheese.  

The Indian Dr. says that once we get rid of the toxins in my body then I should be able to eat anything without the allergic reaction.  Since my allergies started at age 30 and worsened every year ( after several years of not being a healthy vegetarian), I think maybe she's right.  She says that the reason most people have a problem with dairy is that they eat/drink it cold right out of the fridge.  I don't remember why, but she said if you warm it first it shouldn't be a problem.  Right now I'm trying an Ayurveda suggestion that has worked wonders for my sleep.  I drink a glass of warm milk with 1/2 teaspoon of ghee and a pinch of turmeric right before bed each night.  Ghee is the Indian miracle food, and turmeric is so good for you I want to put it on everything.

Each night I have had this to drink, I have slept straight through the night and the alarm clock barely wakes me up.  Previously, I would often wake in the middle of the night to get up and use the bathroom.  Last night I was in the hotel and I didn't have milk.  I thought I was tired enough to sleep without it, but I slept very fitfully last night, waking up several times.  Give it a try if you have trouble sleeping, I'd be interested to hear if it works for you.

Am I sorry that I have worked with several different people that all give me different suggestions?  Absolutely not.  I learn something from each and every one of them.  It's now up to me to figure out what works for me and what doesn't.  And the benefit to all of this is that I'm learning to trust my intuition more.  It always amazes me when I start craving and eating xxxxx, and then I go to the acupuncturist and she says, "try eating xxxxx for your condition."  The body really does know what it needs if we learn how to tune in and listen.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I'm trying to curb my facebook addiction, but it's not working because I have such inspirational friends.  First the haiku by my friend Mike, and now a quote from the book "Ask and it is Given" from my friend Stephanie.

"Worrying is using your imagination to create something you do not want."

And another favorite of mine, though I don't know who to quote it to -

"Worry is negative prayer."

So stop worrying, and start drawing positive things towards you!  Have a great day.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year's Haiku

A haiku by one of my friends that inspired me today.

before the sunrise
light is already shining
waken to your own

by Mike Deaton

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bring on the Joy in 2011

Happy New Year.  May 2011 bring you health, joy, peace, love and hugs.  I know it will be a great year for me, because that's what I intend to manifest for myself and my family.

Last year we made a family list of what we were thankful for in 2009.  It was really interesting to read back over the list this year.  Some of the entries were serious, like being thankful for the outcome of a very bad car accident involving my mom, 3 year old son, and 5 year old niece.  Then there were the silly entries, like doorknobs and Myth Busters.

This year we did the thankful list again for 2010.  The silly entries were things like belly button fluff and Winter Solstice beer ( and Moo hoo, and Bell's Double Cream Stout, etc. etc.)  I'll let you guess which input belonged to my 4 year old and which one belonged to my husband.

We also added a new list this year - things we intend to manifest in 2011.  The entries were things like; finding some direction in life, learning to play the drums, planting blueberries and seeing the Aurora Borealis.  I really enjoyed sharing this special time with my husband and son.  Sometimes life gets so busy that we don't have time to share our hopes and dreams and gratitude with the ones we love. This was the perfect opportunity to do that, and a great way to spend an evening.

This exercise was a great way to reminisce about some forgotten past moments, and to set our intentions for all we plan to accomplish in the future.  That being said, I've just come up with something else I'm adding to my manifestation list.  The ability to live in the present moment, and enjoy this time right now.  Because right now, everything is just fine.  Blessings for a wonderful 2011.

Apologies to Panchakarma

Expectation.  Sometimes it can really screw you up.  I'm realizing now that my disappointment with my Panchakarma was all based on my expectations.

I recently read an article by someone that had experienced a Panchakarma with the same practitioner that was doing mine.  The reason I didn't think I was getting any results has just occurred to me.  It's because I kept comparing my experience to his.  Each body is different, so each will respond to this process in a different way.  Just because he was expelling a lot of toxin through his GI tract and I wasn't, doesn't mean it didn't work for me.

The fact that the steam tent was my favorite part of every day (and I normally hate to sweat), should tell me that I was probably removing toxins that way.  The last day the therapist put her hand on my stomach and made a comment that surprised me.  There is an artery that runs through the stomach, and she said she had never felt one pulsate the way that mine was.  Thanks to my son's Christmas present (the They Might Be Giants science cd), I realized that this was another way my body was expelling toxins.  (  The Bloodmobile, my son's favorite song on the album)

When I started the Panchakarma, I was advised that the first 2 days might be exhausting.  I was also told that this process could bring up some emotional "toxins", and that by the third day I would start to feel better.  I thought I was feeling just fine the first two days, just a little tired, but now I realize I was definitely in a negative place.

I also realized that even though I didn't have any "Hallelujah - come to Jesus - I am healed" moments, there were definitely some subtle shifts happening in my body.  For instance, the fact that I was sleeping like the dead.  I normally get up at least once a night to go to the bathroom.  The last few nights I have slept straight thru the night, and I didn't even hear my son get out of bed.  A highly unusual occurrence for me.  I also haven't had the usual "can't think of the word I want/ where are my keys/ clumsies" that have been a part of every day life for a while.  I was also hungry all the time, which was explained as a change in my "digestive fire."  AGNI - (Digestive Fire) description

Here's another great example of a subtle change in memory.  When I couldn't get the above link to work with copy and paste, I remembered how to do it another way.  My husband has shown me half a dozen times how to do it this other way, but I can never remember.  I'm also suddenly motivated to do certain projects I have been procrastinating about for a month.  And I'm getting them done in record time.  Could this all be a coincidence?  Would I have been motivated with the New Year to do this stuff anyway?  Maybe.  I guess time will tell. All I can say is that I am noticing subtle differences, and I am much happier with the results today than I was on Thursday.

Is this something I will do again?  I think so.  Spring and fall are the best times to do a panchakarma.  Since a five day regimen was recommended to me and I only did three, I think I might go back and do the extra two days in the spring.  Why not spring clean my body along with the house?  Two days of warm oil massage sounds like a great way to say goodbye to winter.  Now how could that be a bad thing?