Travel

Stargazing

One of the Yoga Deck at Jakes Hotel

One of the Yoga Deck at Jakes Hotel

Last week I was on the beautiful Caribbean Island of Jamaica. I don’t know if I have ever seen a star filled sky like I saw last week.  As I attempted to capture the Caribbean night sky with my phone, my friend Margot said to me, “A camera can’t capture God.” So I put down my camera and looked up. The longer I looked, the more I saw. The deeper the stars went and the brighter they became. It was magically and miraculously endless.  In a way, that night of stargazing was a perfect metaphor for my experience at Jakes Hotel.

I was on a yoga retreat with Verge at Jakes Hotel in the delightfully un-touristy Treasure Beach, Jamaica. I was there to teach yoga and meditation. My intention going into the week was simple:

Allow

Be of Service

Love

To some extent I have always known that what you put out, you get back. Call it Karma, Divinity or The Universal Law of How Things Just Are (I just made that one up). You see, I know this, but this week I REALLY learned it and felt it and now “know” it in a whole different capacity than before. It’s like knowing something intellectually or knowing it in your heart with your whole being. The latter being a deeper and more stable place to inhabit.

In setting my intention to just allow (and repeating this intention), I was able to be more open, less controlling and way more in the flow. It is so simple, really (I say this as a reminder to myself now that I am back in the fullness of my life). It just takes some letting go and allowing for whatever is to be exactly as it is.  Being in the flow is a cool place to be. It is where I wish to reside!

In setting my intention to Be Of Service, what actually happened was that I got to hear, see and be witness to so much wisdom from all of those around me. This was especially poignant when I visited a local Jamaican Elementary School.  The wisdom, love and joy that I felt from these children is still resonating with me now. Surely they served me more than I could ever imagine serving them.

In setting my intention to Love I was able to follow through with the other two intentions. And in return, I was the one that felt so much love. Isn’t that just so awesome how it all works? You get exactly what you put out and it all counts; each breath, each thought and each precious moment!

This week reminded me that intentions really do count, that what we put out into the world we get back. It also reminded me to slow down and look around. There is so much to see out there and within ourselves if we are willing to put down our phones and look.

Sunset from our front porch at Jakes Hotel

Sunset from our front porch at Jakes Hotel

The Yin and Yang of Life…..

Tomorrow morning I will wake up with a heart full and empty all at once; a pulling here and there. Tomorrow morning I take off for Jakes Hotel in the dreamiest of places; Treasure Beach, Jamaica. I will be  “getting out of Dodge.” This has been a long hard winter (saying this makes me feel like Laura Ingles from Little House on the Prairie). This winter has been cold and snowy, there have been health dramas and a dozen snow days, plus all of that other stuff that happens in life regardless of weather patterns. To be honest, at times I have felt totally overwhelmed. But it has also been a great winter with many unexpected and heartwarming gifts. For starters, I loosened the house rules and my three boys are now expert indoor rip-stickers. Have you ever tried rip-sticking? It is NOT easy. Another gift: My middle son taught his younger (and much louder)  brother how to play chess. I also watched my one son fall in love with our dog. He has always “loved” him, but not like he does now- all in with his whole heart kind of love. I got to have more snuggly sofa time and more family games. The family games were not all “fun and games”. I learned that my kids are ruthless when it comes to monopoly. They cheat, steal and have no qualms about going after each other physically. We now have a non-negotiable rule that monopoly MAY not be played without an adult present.  So while this cold and snowy winter has lasted longer than I would have liked, and has caused some snafu’s, it has mostly been pretty great.

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do” –Rumi

Loving what you do can cause a tug at your heart. I have come to learn that this is just how it is. So, rather than push it away and squash it, I will feel the love of what I do along with the missing in my heart. Tomorrow I leave for a warmer and more bohemian place than I normally inhabit. I will be teaching yoga and meditation, I will be visiting a school to teach adorable children yoga, I might even zip line through the tree tops at YS Falls. This is a dream come true. My heart is filled with gratitude for this opportunity to go deep into a place of stillness and strength with yoga and meditation practice, along with lots of wonderful people in a beautiful setting. When I was at Jakes last year I was so moved by the people of Jamaica. Their tender soft hearts and mindful way of moving through life touched me deeply. So while I am going to miss my family a LOT, with my whole-being kind of missing, I am also filled with gratitude. I guess this is life……the yin and yang of existence.

Namaste. Xo

Charleston…….

Morning view of Charleston waterfront

Morning view of Charleston waterfront

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” -Woody Allen

God had a different plan for me this weekend.

I walk around thinking I am in charge, but really I have no clue. At best, I can show up for what life throws my way with an open and light heart and that is on a good day.

Here’s a Story:

A priest was walking down the road and saw a little boy jumping up trying to ring a doorbell. The priest crossed the street to help the little boy. He rang the bell for him then said, what do we do now? The little boy said, “Run like HELL!”

I first heard this story from Tara Brach and it always makes me laugh. For me, it highlights that we never really know what’s going to happen next. We think we know, we plan and analyze and stress, all the while we miss the precious and present moment that is right here and right now.

Instead of driving to Massachusetts to attend a silent meditation retreat, I am in Charleston with my Dad who is in the ICU . My Dad is dreamy! He is the nicest, calmest, sweetest, most awesome person I have ever met. And I get to call him Dad. I literally hit the JACK-pot with Dad’s (his name is Jack).

So this weekend I will practice staying present for each moment. Not stressing about what might be, or what should be, but just being with what IS. I will look for light in everything, even the rough spots. It is easy to sink into the fear and darkness but that takes me away from what is right here and right now which is full of light.

Gratitude

I recently had the amazing opportunity to spend almost 9 days in Baja Mexico right at the edge of the Sea of Cortez. The magical place where Whales go to give birth!  I flew across the country with my family and found myself transported both physically and spiritually by the journey. It was my first time in that part of the world. I had no idea what to expect, mostly because I was in a state of hustle and bustle with my teaching schedule, my kids schedules and all of that other stuff that seems to fill my days. So, I didn’t spend any time researching anything. In fact, as I was filling out the immigration forms I leaned over to my husband and said, where are we staying again?

When we finally arrived at our destination I was travel-worn but feeling light-hearted. I had NO SCHEDULE (yay!). NO PLACE TO BE (yippee!).  As we were checking in I was drawn to the loud cacophony of thundering water below.  We were high above the Sea of Cortez; about 5 or 6 flights of beautiful Mexican tiled stairs carried us down to our room with a beautiful view of the Water. But, before I saw the Sea of Cortez, I heard it. And before I heard it, I felt it in my chest and throughout my body. It felt something like being at a football game and feeling the beating vibration of the drums in your chest. It was powerful! The kind of powerful that shakes you AWAKE!

This feeling and state of being awake is something that I literally think about constantly. I practice yoga and meditation to touch into this feeling of freedom. I teach people how to breathe and be in the moment in their bodies. I guide people through meditations to feel what it is to be fully alive and in the moment. Sometimes I think of myself as a space maker of sorts, starting primarily with myself. Through the breath in our bodies we find space, first physical, then mentally, then eventually we find it in our hearts. Space for more love, joy, peace and freedom. We also find more space for presence and love through the shaky times. Being in the moment is key and I was feeling very in the moment. 

I thought of the quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

“My soul is full of longing
for the secret of the sea,
and the heart of the great ocean
sends a thrilling pulse through me.”

Any body of water, especially a powerful Sea that attracts Whales to birth their babies, can be a powerful metaphor for life. There is so much energy and vibration, yet still and peaceful. Looking at the Sea of Cortez and the flow of the waves is like seeing your entire life within one wave; it is all contained right there: peace, love, misery, angst, freedom. Every emotion and experience contained right there in both one wave and the entire magical Sea all at once.

It can be really nice to “get out of Dodge” and slow down a bit. Plus being in another part of the world offers another perspective. This trip gave me a chance to slow down and take in all of the love, joy, peace and freedom that exists in my life.  As I head into this last month of this incredible year, I am grateful for the reservoir of space and love that exists within me and all of us. I am grateful for the time in Mexico to slow down and notice all of the blessings that have touched me this year. Several of these blessings showed up in my life as “problems” and turned out, as they always do, to be amazing gifts. I am grateful to have touched my toes (I never went deeper!) into the most powerful body of water I have ever felt. I am grateful to feel awake and alive!

Rumi said:

“Let the beauty you love be what you do. There are thousands of ways to kneel and kiss the ground”

Being in this magical and powerful place, so far from my regular life, gave me a chance to reflect and feel deep gratitude for this life.

Adios Mexico. Te Amo!

Home.

Going away is wonderful and sometimes necessary. For me, getting away to sunny Jamaica affirmed many things. Simple things like I love sand and warm water (seriously, who doesn’t?), I love eating well and connecting with people, but mostly it affirmed that I have all the answers I am looking for, right here in my heart. A week of practicing and teaching yoga and meditation at Jake’s Hotel in the village of Treasure Beach in Jamaica was a really nice way to spend time and realign with myself.  But, coming home is the BEST! Home is where the heart is and my heart lives in 3 little boys, a husband and a handsome dog.  They stink up my house, wrestle with each other like puppies, resist eating vegetables (not the husband), laugh freely, love without boundaries, live in the moment fully and feel everything deeply. More than anything in my experience, and through repeated mis-steps on my end, they have taught me to trust my gut, to listen to that voice of wisdom in my heart and to live in each moment fully. It’s not always, or ever, perfect, but it is Home!

Yoga in Jamaica

This is a beautiful sunset off of Treasure Beach at Jake’s Resort in Jamaica. Jamaica is a beautiful island, made even more beautiful by its people. As I settle into my third day of a yoga retreat, I am reminded of the importance of being gentle and kind. I believe we are all born knowing this, regardless of our circumstances. This seed is either watered and cultivated or left dry. I have come to find that it only takes a simple setting of a positive intention to have those feelings arise. Then with regular practice- watering the seeds, if you will- they grow. Often, they grow in ways we never expected.  Sure, it is much easier t do this as I sit and look at a sunset in delightful Jamaica, but those seeds are there regardless of where we are in this world.

Namaste