poetry

E S S E N T I A L

Last night I was honored to teach an amazing group of students at Yoga on the Pier in Philly. It is located at the end of Race street and right below the massively beautiful Ben Franklin Bridge. This is a spectacular location and one of the coolest places I have ever taught yoga. The packed pier was vibrating with urban sounds and the union of breath and movement. This, along with the sunset, gave me the courage to read aloud a poem that I wrote this winter. 

During a silent meditation retreat this past winter I wrote a collection of poems. While writing is a solitary venture, writing poetry feels like a partnership with the rhythm and sounds deep in my soul. It requires courage to sit in the stillness, silence, spaciousness and listen to what is working through me and wants to emerge. 

Here it is:

E S S E N T I A L

Clear out all of your stuff

inside and out.

Keep only that which is essential to your spirit.

Be ruthless and shed.

Come to what is essential and steep there.

It is here at this place you will see clearly.

This place you will let go.

This place where you will finally be fully alive and free. 

Yoga on the Pier. September 1, 2015

Yoga on the Pier. September 1, 2015

My Spring Garden

As I prepare to plant my spring garden, I am reflecting on what worked in last years garden and what did not.  The eggplants were beautiful and prolific. The tomatoes were just ok. The cucumbers were a bust, and the jalapeño peppers were really pretty, but not a lot of kick. And honestly, what is the point of a jalapeño that doesn’t knock your socks off?  Last year was my first year attempting to grow vegetables in a small plot next to our home. With the encouragement of my step-mom and the joie de vivre of my youngest son, we planted our first garden on Father’s Day 2014. Three months after my sweet Dad had passed. It was part tribute to my Dad and part caving into my son Jack’s request for a garden. He likes to get his hands dirty and build stuff; Sally and I just needed something to do to make it through our first Father’s Day without my Dad.

pink socks help with planting!

pink socks help with planting!

Planting a garden in June meant we were about a month behind, or so I am told. But this seemed appropriate given the previous months and general way in which life was unfolding. Time and circumstances were not mine to arrange and dictate. Life was happening as it was supposed to happen and when it was supposed to happen. Perhaps even in a way that was divine.  All of this life and loss, coupled with joy and grief, was teaching me how to, once again, let go and allow.

Not a lot happened in the first several weeks, but Jack and I continued to water and watch, and watch and water. As we tended to our garden the stubby little plants began to bud flowers. Really amazingly beautiful flowers; especially the eggplants! Have you seen an eggplant flower? They change so quickly so it is easy to miss the wonder of it all. Ours were green buds, then yellow flowers, then miraculously they sprouted a purple burst of a baby eggplant. Perhaps this is just the course of eggplant growth, but it felt like it was just for us.; a beautiful marvel in our back yard. Just for us.

Eggplants!

Eggplants!

Those beautiful and delicious eggplants gave me the budding spark of confidence that I can do this again! I know that nothing lasts forever and it doesn’t always work out as planned, but that is ok because given time, patience and love, it seems to work out exactly as it should.  

So, onward!

It takes some work, patience and trust to cultivate a garden. Which, by the way, is EXACTLY like yoga. I have to clean out the winter that hardened the ground. I have to clear away the sticks and rebuild the soil with compost that I have been gathering all year. I need to plan, gather and plant. And then, I need to water the seeds and let them grow. Trusting that what is meant to root down, given the right amount of sunshine and love, will grow. Rooting down to expand, even if only for a moment. Trusting the process and in the experience of all of that, opening my heart to the beauty all around.

some harvest from last year, including very blah jalapeño's !

some harvest from last year, including very blah jalapeño's !

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing Gold can stay.
— robert frost



Gratitude

GRATTITUDE

Eagle Arms

That’s right, being grateful is an attitude and a blessing. I say this as a reminder to myself as sometimes I get in a funk about all of the blessings that happen in life. You know, the blessings that show up as anxiety, grief, annoyances, relationship issues, time constraints, traffic, etc….

I am speaking from experience here when I say that an attitude of gratitude for all of it is the only answer. If we are only grateful for the good stuff that brings us joy, laughter, peace and love, we end up missing an entire realm of life, and ultimately, an entire aspect of ourselves. What if we were grateful for grief, loss, pain, and the annoyance of being stuck in traffic, not to mention all of the issues that come from having relationships with other humans? What if we said a wholehearted thank you very much for ALL of these experiences instead of just picking the sweet, joyous pretty ones for which to be grateful?

The good stuff is such a delight, but it’s the messy, dark, difficult, experiences that can not be easily fixed that are the pot of gold. It is always darkest before the dawn and I am always, usually in retrospect, deeply grateful for these lessons, I mean blessings. Sure, the shiny pretty stuff is nice, but the dark, messy, “sit in the muck of it’, “how the hell did I get here” kind of stuff breaks me open in a way that other stuff cannot. And, for those blessings, I am grateful!

“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.”

-Mary Oliver