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Yoga 49 by jf on flickr


                  Yoga is difficult for the one whose mind is not subdued.

                                                  Bhagavad Gita


Since moving to Florida I have been feeling like a bit of a faux-gini.  Literally translated this would be a Faux Yogini.  I have been so scattered, life has been so chaotic and bipolar with moments of high stress followed by solitary lulls and isolation that I have been feeling off my game in, well, life.  I haven’t managed to cultivate any sort of a routine or rhythm for my life down here barring the waking, work, home, dogs, blog, sleep.  This seems like a short-sighted and short shelf life kind of life plan. 


Part of this is due to the fact that I feel like life is sort of in a state of limbo; partially on pause.  With my husband not down here right now I feel like our Florida life is just maintaining on life support until full measures of resuscitation are activated.  But, in truth, I am the only force that can activate these measures and I can’t wait around indefinitely to do so. 


I can only spend so long staring at the walls of our new house, writing and researching all night with a background of Law & Order, NCIS, or Bones humming in my ear, and finding peaks of adrenaline with the moments I have to kill, shoo, or bury one manner of critter or another.  Last night it was a dragonfly.  I don’t even want to talk about the scene that was my livingroom during that five minute drama–dogs, wings, and a yellow broom.


In this life-support limbo I have been living in I have neglected all manner of healthy eating habits that I had cultivated, choosing instead to the easier route of whatever take out is most accessible and quickly edible.  I have abandoned all and any yogic routine that I might have cultivated using excuses (some real, others weak) including physical pain, exhaustion, and disorientation to the local yoga studios and classes. 


Well this is the week of life resuscitation–begun yesterday with my assertion to create healthy sleeping habits.  It is time to form this Florida life beyond insect slaughters and amphibian burials. 


As of this upcoming weekend I will have been in Florida for a month.  This is my deadline.  I am on the brink of making a life of my own in a house, while not literally my own, rented for a year to be my own–I have to Virginia Woolf this sucker and find a metaphorical room of “one’s”/my own. 

By Any Other Name by drp on flickr

 Sometimes the hardest, the scariest thing is moving forward and effecting change in our own lives.  Consistency becomes comforting.  Stagnation starts to feel cozy.  The idea of thrusting ourselves out of the norm and what we know–intentional inertia–seems like unnecessary extra trouble and work.  Sometimes, however, doing that work is what is necessary for real growth; to create a challenge we may need in our life and then force ourselves to rise up and meet it. 


Some might look at my life and say I did the hard part–change states, change jobs, change out homes and climates but in truth I have yet to make the real stretch or do anything much that requires a real shift.  I have yet to shift the practices and core focuses of my life.  A job goes from 9-5 or 8-4:30 in my case and so my routine, although locationally different, remains in the same sequence.  The scenery of my home and state may have exchanged palms for firs but I still drive down highways, sit at desks, eat at restaurants, and shop at stores that are similar. 


The changes we make that are really core shaking are, well, in the core.  That is the scary stuff: Soul shifting, heart opening, emotionally rattling core changes.  I know, in some fearfully intuitive way, that my yoga training will be such a shift.  And like an athlete preparing for a triathlon I know I have to prepare myself: mind, body, and soul.  I have to eat better, move more intentionally, sit more calmly, and be working towards the shift I am about to make. 


With a vegan, yogic, monastic lifestyle ahead on my horizon I have to start living intentionally and finding the yoga in every moment. 


How would you create a more intentional life with just one shift in your daily living?  That is a very weighty question but one I have been trying to sort for myself.  I believe I am going to start with mindful eating–eating more consciously, healthfully, and with more the pace of a gazelle rather than a sloppy, ravenous vulture (this would be my old method).  While this may be a small piece I have a tendency for impulsive craving satiation so this is probably one of my biggest hurdles of all. 


Starting with Saturday’s yoga at the beach class, which was postponed last time due to weather and abdominal pain, I will try to incorporate intentional movement into the mix.  Piece by piece, bit by bit…I am working my way to a shift in my core.

Mantra by jf on flickr


Yoga heals, nourishes, and challenges us.  The practice infiltrates every corner of our lives.

Valerie Jeremijenko


Sleeping Cougar by Tambako the Jaguar on flickrSleeping Cougar by Tambako the Jaguar on flickr



“Ay, there’s the rub.”


My old pal Billy said it best.  Billy Shakespeare that is.  We are quite familiar so I call him Billy, but I don’t think he cares for it…artists.  We have been intimately literarily intertwined since I tried, against my and probably his better judgement, to emulate his writing via my 7-year-old diary using a plethora of “thou”‘s and “didst”‘s; I was quite unsuccessful.  But Billy does not hold it against me–I was only seven. 


So anyway, back to Bill’s patented phrase from Hamlet stated above.  Sleep is a crucial part of life.  It may be the premise and the predecessor to everything else important, talented, wise, and agile we do during our conscious day.  Without proper sleep we cannot function right on any level or ever feel at full capacity.  I know I am very vulnerable to being way off my game without the proper 7ish hours of sleep and in some kind of cruel irony I have an awful time getting to and staying asleep.  Ay, there’s the rub.


Let me give you a little story to demonstrate.  My wonderful and sorely missed husband comes home to visit, as funny as that sounds.  I was overjoyed to have him back in the house, with the family, and in our plushy king-sized bed.  So the first night he is home we all lumber, climb, and hop into bed.  Two humans and two dogs.  Our big dog, Guinness, shoves his way in between my husband and I, sort of spooning my husband and the little dog, Gaia perches herself above my head on the pillow in a cat-like fashion. 


One by one everyone falls asleep.  First my husband, then the big dog, and then the tiny one atop my head.  And one by one they begin their nasally symphonic ritual at varying paces and pitches.  My husband’s rumbling sounds like a steamroller and a bear combined with a deep gutteral undertone.  Guinness’s asthmatic-type wheezing has a rolling deep sound like a heavy wind and a drumroll muffled in shallow nasal cavities.  Gaia manages something like a tiny piglet in short, drippy spurts.  And there I lay, first on my right and then on my left, the only one awake.  It is a bit like “Goldilocks and The Three Bears” but without any porridge or sinister metaphors. 


We live in a society that provokes us to overconsume, overindulge, overwork, and overinnundate ourselves with all manner of technology.  We catch dinner on the go while texting, listen to our iPods while surfing the net, or even write our blogs while watch “NCIS” (that is, of course, just a for-instance).  


I spend much of my time with my clients talking about sleep issues and trying to work on moderating sleep and pre-sleep habits.  Emotional trauma and sufferers from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder are very prone to sleep disturbances, nightmares, and insomnia.  Anecdotally I would venture to say it is the most commonly constant symptom I see in the clients I treat.  It is also something that I think for the above issues of modern society plague everyone to some extent and many people, even those without issues of active PTSD, to detrimental levels.


The National Sleep Foundation reports that approximately 40 million American men and women suffer from some sleep disorder.  Also, interestingly enough, more women than men are reported to having sleep issues. 


I know I am one of them.  I don’t believe necessarily my sleep issues fit the category of a full disorder, but perhaps I underestimate them.  Maybe they do.  Either way I feel consistently guilty when I sit in session with my clients touting the value of sleep and the necessary work that we must do in the time before we fall asleep to up our chances of getting quality rest while at the same time I serve as the stereotype for the antithesis of sleep health.


SLEEPY-TIME DO’S AND DONT’S :  TERESA STYLE (Preaching vs. Practicing)


  • You really should work yourself towards sleep at night by doing calming, soothing activities that involve less stimulation and more relaxation.  Things I often recommend to my clients are a variety of yoga poses, breathwork, relaxation exercises, visualization exercises, and/or light meditation techniques. 


  • I practice… working on my computer until my final moments before sleep and then plopping into my bed, laying down and wondering why I am not restful. 


  • You should be able to create a relaxing sleep environment and enter your sleep area prior to any attempt to sleep.  You should get settled in your sleep area and do something that will further get you comfortable in your surroundings.  I often recommend things like low lighting, maybe a cup of caffeine-free tea or a glass of warm milk, and if any sound is necessary just soothing music playing softly.  I recommend if at all possible to avoid any television for 30 minutes-1 hour prior to attempting sleep–the inundation of noise, flashes of images, and depending on what the programming, a potential for violence or negative images and information.


  • I practice… rushing to get the dogs settled.  We all plop into bed.  Then I turn on the television.



So, in truth, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to restfulness and sleep.  As yoga schooling creeps closer and the prospects of 6am meditation three towns away 7 days a week looms over me I know I have to change something, drastically and quickly–but of course in a soothing and restful manner.  A bit of a paradox I know but what can I say, I have procrastinated on restfulness.  I am vowing, as publically as I know how to invest in a true application of my tools I dole out daily.  I will practice what I preach.  I will practice a soothing bedtime ritual.  I will also, I’m no fool, invest in some hearty earplugs for the snorry-est of the nights.  I don’t think nasal symphony qualifies as soothing music–at least not to my sensitive eardrums.



We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.

William Shakespeare,  “The Tempest”



Mother hippo and calf by Tambako the Jaguar on flickrMother Hippo and Calf by Tambako the Jaguar on flickr


 I was given this Kreativ Blogger Award by the lovely and literary yogini over at Yoga Addicted.  It was such a sweet gesture and I appreciate both the compliment of it as well as the provocation and direction for my next Friday List!  The criteria of this award is that I have to list 7 things I love and then 7 bloggers I love to pass this award on to.  So here I go with Friday’s list care of Ms.YogaAddicted and the Kreativ Blogger Award!


7 Things I Love:

1)  Weekend Getaways…In Reverse.  Let me explain.  Since my husband’s transfer is indefinite limbo we are planning for weekends to stay rather than away.  Meaning he will come down to where we live, in Florida, and spend the weekends between now and whenever he finally moves.  He comes in tomorrow at 9:30am!  I cannot wait!

2)  Falling asleep with my dogs beside me…fighting for a little bit of headspace on my leg.  They are warm, fuzzy, cozy, and comforting.  Something that makes alone in this house of ours not quite so lonely.

3)  Silence.  I do not have nearly enough of it but when I get those moments of calm quiet–noiselessness inside my brain as well as out–they are a remedy like no other.  Truly meditative. 

4)  Sand beneath my toes.  I love the feeling of warm sand under the watchful eye of burning sunlight that I can nestle my feet in while I take in deep breaths of ocean breeze sitting on my Walgreens beach chair.  Perfecto.

5)  Full book immersion.  This is far more intensified than just casual reading.  When a book is really engrossing I find myself so completely in the story that I am actually startled by anything that takes my focus away; as though I forget and fade out the reality surrounding me while nestled inside the crisp pages of a great book.  I have since I was a little girl sneaking books and flashlights under my covers late at night (yeah, I was a bookish rebel).  Once it was Little Women and Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie.  Now it is Julie and Julie, anything David Sedaris, and everything by Irvin Yalom or Mary Piper.  I love my creative nonfiction.  It is the genre I love to read and the genre I love to write…truth is stranger and too vivid to require fiction but some fiction is so amazing you want it to be true.  To that part I say how much I love Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabelle Allende, Barbara Kingsolver and many others.  What can I say, I have gone on long enough, but I LOVE to READ.

6)  Amazing Feasts.  Anywhere, anytime.  Those meals that you can remember years after they happen.  Pasta in Buzios.  Self-Caught Piranha in the Pantanal.  Sorry to my veggie friends but anything Steak in Argentina.  The Habana Libre entire menu on Little Corn Island, Nicaragua.  Sea Bass in Green Chile and Lime Sauce in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Anything cheese and bread sitting along a river’s edge in Paris.  Just to name a few…and trust me I could go on.  Oh wait, Sushi in Hoboken, NJ and Tapas in downtown Manhattan.  Ok, I’m really stopping now. 

7)  Love.  Unconditional and unending love given and received.  It never gets tedious and it never expires.  Family, Friends, and My Husband.  Not to mention the puppies.  Love is definitely my favorite of all my 7 things.  And it probably trumps just about everything else. 


 The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.

Elisabether Kubler-Ross (creator of the Kubler-Ross Stages of Grief)

 I Heart Bokeh by caruba on flickrI Heart Bokeh by caruba on flickr


7 Blogs I Love: 

An eclectic mix of the literary, the healing, the painful and powerful journeys of a variety of people all with the goals of helping and inspiring others journeys through their experiences. 

1)  My Letters From The Homefront : A military spouse’s account of her experience staying home while her Marine husband is deployed overseas.  From the ups and downs of raising her daughters, battling with loneliness, and enjoying the good moments with sincere reverence for their preciousness she shares her life and her story with an open heart and the insight of a social work therapist, analyzing her own and others actions with intellect and wit. 

2)  Tales of a (Recovering) Disordered Eater : A lovely blog I discovered just recently with the well-worded exploration of one woman who has brought herself through the grips of an eating disorder and speaks truthfully and vividly about her recovery process and life today.  It has cleverness and a clear sense of voice and is a pleasure to read her account of life and I admire her bravery to put her life and her experience out there to help others get through their eating disorders and make others aware of the truth and human story behind the diagnosis. 

3)  Don’t Scare Easy : From Tom Petty lyrics to personal lyrics of pain and honesty the author of this blog takes us through her pain with multiple autoimmune issues (pains I know well) and brings us into her head with writing that feels like we are inside her thoughts in a very evocative kind of way.  She writes powerfully, succinctly, and with great honesty about her surgeries, chronic aliments, and hysterectomy…and all for a woman who is only 25 to have borne so much.  I am glad to have found this blog which records the personal experience through endometriosis and chronic rhinitus…two conditions I know well…among others. 

4)  Garden Therapy: garden, food, art : A wonderfully vivid and delectable blog that makes me want to eat, cook, and farm–and two out of three of those I formerly found anything but pleasurable  (guess which two).  Her blog is so enticing it makes me salivate with the amazing photographic eye candy and she keeps me enticed with her poetic and passionate depiction of her garden therapy. 

5)  Kim’s Craft Blog : It’s whimsical, it’s literarily meticulous, and deliciously immersive for a book-nerd and a writing-fanatic such as myself.  I appreciate a writer who can write about life and writing as much as they can about anything else.  It is an eloquently written peek inside a writers brain…and reminds me of how far I have to climb to be anywhere near as efficient or adept as a true and identifiable author such as her. 

6)  Music Therapy Tween :  Although somewhat sparse at present what is being begun on this blogging journey is enticing: part therapist in action, part personal in nature it is a mix of the honest and raw and academically intriguing.  I have a great respect for therapists in the creative art genres and one right in my new local region was very interesting to come across in the blogosphere.  An interesting read.  I hope she merges more of the personal into the professional in the future. 

7)  Trauma Blog:  A fellow trauma therapist interweaves her experiences and life within the frame of depicting and expanding on issues of trauma and mental health.  She is engaging, eloquent, and a very fluid easy read with great information useful to all. 

*This has been an interesting exercise in exploring some of my new favorites for blog reads; those that really enticed me and incited further reading.  Not sure if any let alone all of these great bloggers will have time to pay it forward with the Kreativ Award but glad to know them and honored to have been picked as an awardee myself!*


Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.  It is wholesome and bracing for the mind to have its faculties kept on the stretch. 

Augustus Hare



Have a great weekend!  Challenge yourself to do something you love!  It will be worth it.




Flip Flop Pattern by lincolnblues on flickrFlip Flop Pattern by lincoln blues on flickr (taken in Destin, Florida sands)

New Banksy Rat Mural in New York by caruba on flickrNew Banksy Rat Mural in New York by caruba on flickr


In case you are trying to discern if you heard me correctly, you did.  I did say ROOF RATS.  Along with various discoveries by land and by sea I have been making in my new home and various acquiescence to local wildlife in my shower, in my guestroom, and elsewhere I do not think I properly equipped myself emotionally for roof rats.  And I am not sure that one can. 


I am in a bit of a city rat, country rat dilemma–of my own creation.  I expect to see rats in downtown Manhattan.  I did not plan on finding them hopping and tight rope walking from fruit-filled palms to electrical wires like very large very ratty-type squirrels in my backyard. 


I called my husband in a bit of a panic last night to relay my crisis, after reviewing the nature of the Floridian roof rat to shack up in fruit trees (yeah in my backyard) and then use electrical wiring to get into homes’ crawl spaces and such.  He began to tell me a story about a possum in his grandparents pool–he has a tendency to try to trump my issue of vermin with larger vermin stories to normalize a place that is rife with vermin.  I know his intentions are good but the results are always inducing a double shot of chills and paranoia into my system. 


Last night I spent jumping at every scuffle on the roof or scratchy noise above, certain with every fiber of my irrational being that roof rats were clawing their way through my roof, about to fall on my face at any moment.  I was also fairly certain that my tiny dog, who had been playing in the brush below the fruit tree that evening, had contracted some form of roof rat rabies when she began acting spastically before bedtime. 


These are the things that happen these days.  Induced by spending too much time in a house alone, down a dirt road, in a sort of isolation in the middle of suburbia, surrounded by nothing but amphibians, roof rats, various bugs of varying sizes, and dogs.  And lots of mysterious noises.


I am a therapist but this by no means makes me immune to human fallibility, human weakness, human fear, and sometimes even a tinge of solo living paranoia.  I say this although it may seem (especially after reading this blog) like a kind of “duh” statement, but often I have experienced in the therapist’s chair this sense from my clients that I am mental health perfection, somehow by profession carrying some kind of automatic immunity to any life issues, emotional struggles, or points of imperfection. 


In the earlier moments of my career I felt that I had to be all of those things as some sort of indebtedness to all of the people who seek my help:  I had to be above reproach, emotionally.  I quickly learned that not only is that an impossibility but it is also a disservice to my clients to attempt that or attempt to convey that to them.  I am human and the humanity and the similarities we all have with each other due to our humanness is what bonds us and allows us to work together–in life and in therapy. 


I will be someone who panics at the sight of roof rats and dwell on it far too long into the night.  Even if I can dissect my emotions in the morning and rationalize myself out of complete and utter rodent-induced insomnia it does not mean it won’t be a weak point.  I mean, ROOF RATS, really?  Can you blame me?


Occasionally I envy the relationship that is easily attained between yoga teacher or yoga therapist and client.  It lacks the barriers of formalities and often overly restrictive professionality of a psychotherapeutic relationship and allows the relationship to build from the start as one of equality, humanity, and trust.  And through the body-oriented nature of the work allows an innate ability to tap into emotion without worrying about 5 page assessments and protocols that often get in the way of the point of things–which is helping people to feel and heal. 


So,a big thank you to this time of humbleness and humility that reminds me of how truly human I am.  Thank you to roof rats and lizards and palmetto bugs.  Although I will continue to scour the electrical wires at sunset for the silhouettes of roof rats attempting to launch a full-house assault.  I’m no city rat fool.


Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.

Thomas Merton (Trappist Monk)


Bansky Rat Mural on Canal Street by caruba on flickr



Eat Heavy by drp on flickrEat Heavy by drp on flickr


I am from New Jersey.  This is a givenl but it is a much more invasive condition than might initially be assumed.  It is chronic, it is systemic, and it is very hard to cure.  This is not genetic, it is environmentally caused and did I mention it is very hard to cure…it may be medication resistant. 


When I moved to Colorado, after three years out of the environmental contaminant, I was nearly cured but I moved back to the affected locale  before any chance for a cure was made permanent and the condition resurfaced quickly–followed by a brief severe allergic reaction at being exposed to the hazardous materials again (no, not the garbage, the temperament). 


Seriously, I got hives.  They said it was a “sudden allergy to penicillin” but I am certain that Jersey was the root cause. 


I am now in Florida, the Sunshine State and although by their nicknames–as NJ is the Garden State–they might seem like close cousins they are in fact…not.  I had a store clerk the other day tell me, “Welcome to Heaven.”  I cannot recall similar conversational kindness in the Garden State–unless of course there were manslaughter in the mix and sarcasm on the tongue. 


I am having to recalibrate my response to the world at large in a huge way.  It is taking a lot of concerted effort and a lot of environmental medicinal treatment.  The more smiles I get, the more at ease I am with facing the world with smiles.  The more cordial conversations I have begun with me without alterior, sinister motives or hands in my pockets searching for my wallet, the more trusting I am of the endeavor of cordial conversations.  I am having to relearn the finer points of being human, sad as that is. 


I realize that although I knew the therapy room was a place of safety and a haven for my clients in New Jersey, a place they could open up and be themselves without fear of aggressive reprisals, I had not realized that it had been one of my sole bastions for the same.  My clients were open and emotionally vulnerable in their sessions and it was a refreshing alternative to all of the evasive, suspicious, aggressive bombardment that the outside war zone that was the metropolitan area had to offer. 


Many will argue that I am being dramatic.  Those from the area–native carriers of the illness of Jersey-itis–of course will adamantly disagree…it is, unfortunately, part of the affliction.  Anyone not from the Metro area who has come from infection-free zones will probably agree, between panicked breaths into a brown paper bag.  


I remember feeling in a constant state of panic and a constant sense of being accosted during the months following my transition back into the Garden State from Colorado.  I remember moments of near tears on the Garden State Parkway wondering where my life had taken me and why so many people were so angry at the same time–usually either 8am or 5pm. 


Now, all this said, I love New Jersey and the metro area–it is a sincere love/hate relationship.  I am tied to my sickness but I know I would be healthier without it. 


I love:

 –All night diners (yes, this goes at the top of the list).

–Every kind of food from anywhere in the world cooked excellently.

–An eclectic collection of everyone from around the world all in one place.

–Every kind of museum, art gallery, Broadway show, and pretty much anything else you can imagine, including that kitschy Naked Cowboy in Times Square all about 15 minutes away. (Addendum: everything is about 2-10 miles away that you could ever desire but traffic and subways and everything else that makes it so congested so that 2 miles on a map will take you 30-50 minutes at least)

–My family and friends.

–Alot of memories.


But at this point in my life and my health (mental and physical) it felt necessary to exit the infection zone before my condition became permanent. 


So, slowly, very slowly, I am learning things like kindness and patience and looking at skylines for abnormally long periods of time.  I am working on appreciation and accepting the kindness of others, and learning the social protocols for reciprocation.  It is a slow learning curve, as I recall from Colorado, but very much worth the effort.  I look forward to following my condition until full remission is achieved.  I am optimistic about the outcome.


Namaste (“The light in me honors the light in you”). 


May I be the very best Floridian, very best yogini, very best human that Florida and my inner better self allows me to be.  I will update my status when I am fully infection free.  I cannot “fix” the nature or course of my medical conditions, a fact I struggle with every day, but if I can remedy a locationally induced mental affliction then that is a pretty good start…or so I figure.


** Evidence in this satiric diagnosis may have been slightly exaggerated for effect.**



Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

Mark Twain

Eros by drp on flickrEros by drp on flickr


Caution Tape by Picture Perfect Pose at flickrCaution Tape by Picture Perfect Pose at flickr


I have learned a lot about lizards these past few weeks.  As of this morning I can add to my credentials “One who knows what dead lizards look like in my entryway”.  Tonight I can certify that I know what amphibious mortis (please forgive my rudimentary latin translation of dead lizard) looks like after a day on an entryway floor.   They deflate…rather fast.


Now, you may be wondering why would I wait about 12 hours to remove said lizardus corpus (ok now I am just making my own version of latin up).  There is a two prong approach to my reasoning: 1) I was not certain that being upside down with legs in the air was a definitive diagnosis of amphibian death so I wanted to give it some time to see.  2) 7:00 am is just too early in the morning for me to brave the task of scooping up and disposing of lizard remains.


I believe the dead lizard, “John Gecko Doe” is The Lizard Formerly Known As “Shower Lizard” .  He was meandering nearly lifeless around the bathroom floor at abnormally slow lizard speeds the last couple of days following the day I thought I had drowned him with my shampoo toxins.  Apparently I had caused him a much more sinister and drawn out death sentence.  I feel awful and I gave him a tiny lizard prayer as I scooped him up, flattened and scaly, and placed him into my garbage can.  Thank goodness for trash Wednesdays. 


But my short lived friend once fondly called “Shower Lizard” has helped me to create my own parallel from his death to my life. 


 I was in a little bit of a funk yesterday.  My pain had reached an all time high by sunset to the point where I felt the familiar sensation of shooting sparks of fire rippling down from my abdomen into my thighs–if you had not guessed, this is the bad end of the endometriosis pain spectrum. 


On top of that I had  begun work at my new office, having completed a week of prerequisite orientation off-site, and felt the sinking feeling of “First Day of School for the New Kid” with a sense of just having been thrust from my place as well-respected innovator to unknown, anonymous, new person with no history of much consequence.  Whether this perception was just my New Kid mindset or anything besides is irrelevant it was simply that feeling of being set off kilter and humbled by the death of one life and the start of another. 


Rebirth–professionally speaking. 


Death precedes rebirth.  Nature does it.  Faith and religions talk about it.  Our human lives exhibit it.  We are in constant cycles of renewal whether by catalysts we create or those we have inflicted on us.  We are made to adapt and change along with those things in our life that require it: stagnation can happen but it is in our own best interest to constantly stretch ourselves. 


My move, my new job, my new locale were all things I put into my life by choice but feeling the growing pains of that change in action is a learning experience which brings me new surprises at every step. 


I did not know that I would have such a moment of mourning at letting go of my old professional sphere and the comfort of the known I had found in it.  I did not know that I would be separated from my husband for this long and that the distance would bring with it unknown pains and unanticipated appreciation at a deeper and deeper level for what my husband means in my life and in my heart. 


Change brings with it struggles with the unknown, with our own insecurities, and the growing pains that bring us out on the other side changed but evolved in some way.  The death is always rebirth of some kind and fear can becoming invigorating awareness, although always with some struggles along the way.


I am appreciative of the distance and time apart from my husband (on my better days) because it has allowed me the blessing of knowing my love for him in a far more dimensional way than I had ever known before.  I am thankful for the new opportunities in a new place, a new job, and the new adventures that might be on the horizon as a result.  I, as all of us do, fear the death of the old but know that what is being born is not just a new life but valuable lessons about myself along the way. 


I thank my fond friend of only a few short weeks “Shower Lizard” for reminding me of the cycle of life.  I hope he finds all the shower drains his little heart could ever desire wherever he has gone to.  And I really hope he is the last deflated amphibious mortis that I have to scoop for a while.  It is a disheartening side job.


Life is change.   Growth is optional.  Choose wisely. 



Boken by MSIChicago on flickr

Boken Egg by MSIChicago

Starting Life by jimdeane at flickr

                                                     {1}Starting Life by jimdeane on flickr


Bathtubs, Holmfirth by tricky at flickrBathtubs, Holmfirthby trickyTM at flickr


One thing I dream for pretty consistently may seem an insinuated pleasure to some, a bathtub I can take a bath in; a big old, bubbles and whistles (well not literal whistles but you get the gist) bathtub that one can luxuriate and decompress in.  I often wonder what my life and perhaps my anxiety level might be with the addition of one of those–I have heard good things about such decadence.  Instead I have meandered through numerous years of rental living with one manner of unlivable bathing equipment after another.  And each time I think I have hit the bottom of the drain I am confronted with another even more extensive effrontery to human cleanliness. 


This time it is well water and lizards.  This is a new experience for me.  I have had plenty of tubs growing mold, potentially once sites of some kind of violent crime, or the tub that never was in my Manhattan adjacent apartment (ie Hoboken, NJ) where there was only enough space for a standing shower with toilet in the bathroom –see sink in the kitchen for further sanitation. 


But there is something about trickling well water that just doesn’t scream clean.  And even if it did the not-so-faint odor of rust that emits from the water itself and the washee following bathing in it leaves one with the feeling of needing to shower to wash away the shower.  I am more than ever thankful for very potent body lotions–which of course is additionally mosquito bait but between rustiness and bug bites my sensitive nasal cavities choose to offer me up to the tiny vampires of the south. 


Anyway, besides the fact of never feeling quite clean maybe I am thinking about this particular area of loss right now because it has been a particularly bad pain weekend.  I have cramping like mad and not at all sure why–besides faulty genetics and disorganized systems of reproduction.  Enemy thy name is Endometriosis.  And what I could use to deflect some of the enemy’s force might be a relaxing bath–or so I hypothesize as I bemoan not having the ability to find out. 


Endo as well as erratic Florida rain also inhibited my ability to take part in my first ocean view beach yoga class.  I am hoping that I can make up for that by taking one of the sunset classes this week at 6:00pm following work or try again next weekend…all depending on my pal Endo and what she has planned–we often conflict.  She’s always wanting to spend long days on bathroom floors, or in beds with heating pads on abdomens while I would rather do anything but those things.  She usually wins. 


Body as the enemy, and a woman.  Again I lead back into the multitude of issues related to internal or external trauma and the female elements of dueling within ourselves.  I would love a bath.  I would love a pain free regimen of care for my condition.  I would love to not have to go anywhere with backup pain medicine, just in case it gets too bad.  I would love a lot of things that are not within my grasp or within my power…like having my husband living with me in our home in Florida and going to sleep knowing that my whole family of two plus dogs was under the same roof. 


What I have learned in the brief period of time since the move to Florida with more clarity than ever before is that as much as we want to try to control the elements of our lives or our bodies sometimes it is just not possible and in those moments we just have to let things go.  “Let Go and Let God” is a constantly used mantra of AA programs but the overall sense of it is useful to all.  My friend Marisol over at Homefront Letters discussed the other day her own struggle within herself to want what isn’t possible and her method of giving it up to something greater than herself. 


Whatever we believe in and whatever spiritual path we follow sometimes it is necessary to let everything go: our pains, our wants, our control (which is often more just an illusion of our own imaginations than actual control).  We must let everything go and give it up to something bigger than us.  We can only carry so much and we really control so little.  Sometimes letting go is all we can do, otherwise we will drive ourselves mad trying to fix the unfixable or change what is not in our capacity to change. 


I am learning that with more clarity every day.  And sometimes the realization itself is a painful process of recognition.  Giving everything over to something that is not ourselves sometimes feels against our own instincts.  In truth it is more of a learned and acquired capacity but one that is much healthier for us in the long run.  To be able to let go of things that happen in our lives enough so that we are not ruled by them.  And also enough so that we can get enough distance and perspective that we can deal with the life issues that come up.  Again it is an acquired capacity and one that is not easy as I learn struggling with it daily. 


I will try to let go of the fury that wells in me when the cramps erupt and the frustration at my trickling well shower.  And I will continue to smile at my shower lizard when he pokes his head out of the drain…hoping desperately that I am not drowning him and apologizing profusely as I douse him with my shampoo run off.  He seems to take the whole experience far better than I am so far–but I guess it’s all a learning curve. 


Knowledge is learning something every day. Wisdom is letting go of something every day.

Zen Proverb


The Last Shower by winterofdiscontent at flickrThe Last Shower by winterofdiscontent on flickr

A Florida Sign in Carolina by quite peculiar on flickr A Florida Sign by quite peculiar on flickr


SO this week has been an extensive learning experience and only a small percentage of that is due to the orientation I endured Monday through Friday.  Mostly I have learned about the Sunshine State, one mistaken step at a time.  So here are the top lessons I learned this week to go out on a Friday with a little bit of levity:


1.  If you leave magnets on the back of cars the near-bursting Floridian sun may both melt and adhere them to the car’s surface. 

*Just for my husband’s sake as I have his car presently & I can feel his little heart puttering with panic from 1200 miles away: I did not learn this the hard way…I was forwarned by a kind stranger.*


2.  Below the Mason-Dixon if you do not specify when you order tea, a cold tall glass of sugar with a side of tea will be served to you.  This is more affectionately known as “Sweet Tea”. 

* This fact I did learn by trial and error and a piercing sugar withdrawal headache about noonish on Thursday.*


Sweet Tea by cobalt123 at flickrSweet Tea by cobalt123 at flickr


3.  Bugs, bugs, bugs.  Every shape size and color, they are everywhere!  I was feeling pretty bold and was thinking they were fairly innocuous until yesterday when my little dog started tilting her head at something on the floor and there was one right at my feet–eek.  I am going to call it a “largish beetle” because when I acknowledged it as a possible roach last night the panic of my sincere and undying roach phobia got the best of me.  This led to a very insane scene where I screeched and leapt up which provoked both dogs to begin barking and jumping up and down as if to say, “Oh yay!  What is this interesting new game we are playing!”  Amid dogs bouncing and me leaping from ottoman to ottoman to not be near it I lost the bugger which led to a night wearing flip flops and jolting up in bed at least four times when I was sure it was in my hair.  Yes, phobia irrational I know…but true nonetheless.   I am now lying again on said couch where last night’s incident occurred in spastic fear that I will spy him again.

Palmettos and spiders and beetles, oh my.


4.  Friendly people are everywhere in Florida.  More plentiful than Palmettos.  I was walking through a building today and had five, yes five, people in a row smile and say “Hello” to me…many of which went even beyond a genuine polite greeting to make…small talk!  It is so refreshing I couldn’t stop smiling for an hour following my sacrine overdose. 


5.  It can rain at the beach, contrary to my husbands adamant promise to the contrary, and on Sunday it rained on ME at the beach.  It was really quite refreshing, for the first 20 minutes, then I got cold and found it a little less endearing.  When the wind began to whip so ferociously I was nearly decapitated by a flying beach umbrella with a wooden stake it was no longer endearing at all.  I have yet to enjoy a solitary sunny day at the beach with myself and my book–I am shooting for this Sunday & hoping to avert any flying objects with impaling capabilities.


6.  Yoga on the beach exists!  It is not just the myth and lore of beautiful yogic photography and Saturday I hope to partake at 8:00 am, weather and my a.m. motivation permitting.


7.  It really is legal in Florida to make U-Turns almost anywhere.  I still feel a bit of mischievous glee every time I do it as if I am doing something terribly wrong.  It is also legal in Florida to carry handguns but that one I will not be testing soon as with my coordination skills that is likely to end badly for one or more of my limbs. 


8.  “Traffic” has a different definition everywhere.  In NJ it means standing still in one place for 15 minutes or more or as my husband put it, “When I can see my job from where I am on the road and I can’t get to it for 20 minutes.”  In Florida it means alot of cars on the road, all moving at pretty good speeds.  I am sincerely a fan of the latter.  The former could be found on my top reasons to leave NJ list, if I had one. 


9.  Sun is powerfully curative.  There is something amazingly invigorating about knowing that while the fall chill creeps in up north the sun in Florida persists and shines hot down on the palms, palmettos, and me. 


End of Summer by ClaudioAr at flickrEnd of Summer by Claudio.Ar on flickr


10.  Single parenting two canines is exhausting.  This is not Florida-specific but it is Florida-circumstances-specific.  Whether it be awakening to lion-esque roars at 5 am, being pounced on at 10 pm by tiny paws, fighting for space with furry bed-hogs, or trying to break up chewy bone battles…I am exhausted by my two overly energized balls of fuzz!


There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.

Willa Cather

 Woman in the Mirror by MCSimon on flickr

  Woman in the Mirror by MC Simon on Flickr


My girl puppy has a habit of looking herself in the mirror and barking ferociously.  I doubt it is because she hates the sight of herself, or she is angrily eyeing the bit of fat under her chin.  Most likely it is the fact that she is a dog and she thinks the dog in the mirror is an oddly similar looking intruder that she can’t quite get at.  All the same, the sight of my little girl, all dressed in fur, looking curiously at herself in the mirror often leaves me thinking, “Et tu Gaia? Et tu?”


Ecoyogini’s blog post yesterday entitled “Feminist Yoga” reflected on body image and sexualization issues as they impact even the yogic sanctum.  Her post led me back to a book I have loved and kept for well over a decade minding the body: women writers on body and soul which discusses issues of body images and the correlating sentiments of women writers. 


As I begin a new job I find myself standing in front of the mirror a little too long every morning weighing multiple issues: do I look professional enough, do I look appropriate enough, and yes, am I showing “too much” flesh.  From a feminist perspective those thoughts link back to a much bigger issue than me–or my puppy–in a mirror.  These inflicted restrictions on the self come from a larger determining body–culture, society, and yes, gender perceptions and stereotypes. 


We all coexist in a society plagued by issues of domestic violence, sexual violence, and external abuses that are more often inflicted on women than men.  It is just statistically true.  They can lead to body dysmorphia, and subsequent body issues from anorexia and bulimia,  to cutting and trichotillomania (hair pulling) as well as other masochistic behaviors which women inflict (statistically much more than men) on themselves, on their bodies in a horribly punitive way. 


1 in 6 women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. 

17.7 American women have been victims of  attempted or completed rapes.

Women are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner.

Roughly 33% of girls and 14% of boys are molested before the age of 18.


Some women who have survived sexual trauma or abuses will gain weight as a protective shell, to try to avoid sexualization by hiding their body within their own body. Some will become overly sexualized and sexually active as a way to take power back over the act that betrayed their innocence and their bodies.  Some will carve into their flesh as a means of eradicating emotional pain by distracting themselves with the release of blood and ache in a physical way. 


Many others will use the cutting, other self abuses, and weight gain or particularly loss (as in anorexia) as a self punishment for abuse in their lives they blame on themselves.   The use of overeating, undereating, and purging (bulimia) is also used as a method of control over the self when other things in the world have not been controllable for that woman– such as the abuses or control inflicted on them by some external force. 


Women intake all the world’s garbage and bile about body image and take it in or purge it out in ways that can be deadly.  And even when it is not physically deadly it can be catastrophic for a woman’s self image, capacity for self-love, and ability to take care and heal themselves.  These disruptive and unhealthy coping mechanisms woman have used as shields to protect against future harm. 


And as minding the body explicates on our image of ourselves, our perception of what is “right” or “good” for a woman, and what we “should” be is not limited to the self-abuses inflicted following being abused by another person.  Our bodies can be our abusers. 


I think of my endometrioisis and the pain it brings me.  As I sit here now I feel the ripples and spasms fluctuate through my body and I try to list what I did or what I ate today that might have, on my part, contributed to the ache.  minding the body also references issues around infertility, cancer, and other physically, biologically inflicted wounds that jar and mangle the parts of ourselves we see as “woman” or as “beautiful” by the standards and precepts we have been given to judge ourselves.


Some days I hate my body.  For its shape with thick bold curves and an ever expanding waistline with every year.  For the pains it brings me.  For how I look in my clothes or the parts of myself that seep out of even the most professionally geared garment just due to my biologically endowed physique.


On days like today, when I probe into the whys and hows, I feel frustration at having those moments of self-loathing.  I feel that I should “know better” but of course knowing is not feeling and we all have to work constantly not to submit to what we have been taught is the only acceptable perfection as a woman: to be overly dramatic the image of a Stepford wife pops in my head, devoid of any emotional depth or ache, a perfect chef, with a non-existent waist , and whispy blonde hair. 


So how do we love ourselves when it feels that so many images and perceptions of beauty tell us, for one reason or another, not to?  For the everyday body image issues of a cursory lack of self-satisfaction I would say taking into account all of these external forces and maybe applying a little of the perception piece I talked about yesterday can be a starting point.  But often the pain of the body and hate of the self can be rooted so much further than skin deep.  It can come from pains and aches that are far below the surface and far beyond the reach of what can just be seen by the eye or in a mirror. 


 The premise of body-oriented studies and therapeutic treatments is the opposite of self-loathing and idolizing the impossible; it is meant to be self-embracing.  It is a potential holisitic antidote to the pain many women contain within their hearts, minds, and bodies.


Yoga and body-oriented therapies can work to mend some of that pain by creating a safe and healthy relationship with the body and a way for someone to love themselves and care for themselves by learning how to enjoy what their body is capable of.   Yoga is being used and spoken about more and more in reference to trauma (as I have talked and written about before) and for eating disorders.  Other methods that access our bodies to help us love ourselves and heal include dance therapy and anything else within the arena of movement arts. 


The body is the entry point for so much pain and for many women it is where their trauma entered them, invaded them, and brought them to an emotional place where they feel hate, shame and blame for their own selves.  The body is a place of much trauma and pain for many women and is a place where healing can begin.  Yoga in particular can teach us to breathe again, teach us to move with empowerment, and can bring a sense of love for the body that contains so many memories of pain and hate. 


The practice of yoga must be touched on lightly and often, with trauma, I think if someone is going to try yoga or body therapies as a means to healing from trauma they should work slowly, work with someone who knows trauma, and often starting small and individually  before entering the often bombarding sphere of a classroom.


This is also why I think it is so important to have more trauma-oriented yoga professionals because as a teacher you never know who will enter your class and what they will bring with them as well as what the class, with its access of the body, may bring up for them in a powerful way.  It is also why I think it is important to have more and more training for yoga professionals, mental health professionals, and persons from a trauma background that explain the nature of trauma and the relationship to the body and mind as well as a way to use yoga in a healthy way for traumatized persons.  Whether the trauma is internal–illness or injury–or externally inflicted there is a need for all people entering into this field of mind/body connection to be as educated and aware as possible. 


That is why I have begun formulated and giving such trainings for professionals of many fields and persons who are suffering from trauma.  If you want more information on my endeavors please see the “Trainings” Section of my website Embody (W)holistic Mental Health or for information on trauma and yoga you can look at the articles on the same website. 


I want to thank EcoYogini for focusing on such an important issue as body image on her blog and giving me the inspiration to focus on this area that is so important to me.  


My thoughts and heart go out to anyone suffering from trauma and pain emotional and otherwise.  I want every woman to know that I am thinking of you as I write this and the pains you might have suffered.  Love yourself in some way today.  Do something for yourself because you deserve it. 


 I plan to eat some cheese and stretch.  Because I love cheese as much as a mouse and stretching as much as a cat. 



daring by MC Simon on flickr

 daring by MC Simon on flickr


You use a glass mirror to see your face.  You use works of art to see your soul.

George Bernard Shaw

Happy Birthday Candles on Angel Foods Cake by Rob J Brooks on Flickr

“Happy Birthday Candles…” by Rob J Brooks on Flickr


Today is my husband’s birthday.  He turns thirty.  A milestone birthday that we had planned to share together in some pinnacle life moment kind of way.  But he is in New Jersey and I am in Florida and I feel pretty blue. 


I always had a hard time with my birthday.  As an international adoptee, born in Bogota, Colombia, and adopted at 4 months of age my birthday was always a loaded day; often full of more questions and melancholy than anything resembling celebration. 


This year, however (although my birthday is also looming a month plus a day off from my husband’s), all I can think about is his.  I know it is important to him.  I know he loves to celebrate it and this year his celebratory spirit has been deflated by our distance, future uncertainty, and separation of not just place but a family divided.  I feel more awful today than a hundred melancholy birthdays of my own put together. 


We have talked about celebrating a joint birthday on the Friday after mine next month and that would be nice.  Yet no amount of frosting can make this day sweet.  It is what it is–a sad day to be divided. 


And yet, at the same time I think with a bit of a smile of the older gentleman I encountered in a waiting room earlier today.  I was eavesdropping or as I like to think of it partaking in a professionally affiliated social study of humans in their environment.  This kind of experience, one purely observational, can often bring rich personal rewards and insights.  This was such a moment.


The stout, stocky man with thin but crisp white hair and glasses smiled “Hello” at myself and the man sitting to  my right.  They he leaned in towards the man to my right, and whispered with a bit of glee, “I have something to tell you.”  He said his daughter had called that morning and asked him how he was doing to which he replied, “Well I have to go to the doctor today to get a tooth removed and my ankle has been aching some.”  The man’s daughter shouted, “Thank God! That’s all!” 


The man telling the story laughed at his own recollection and smiling hobbled on his injured ankle over to his seat.  The man he had whispered his tome of wisdom to smiled as well and said, “Perspective, huh, I guess it is all about perspective.” 


I sat in my chair two seats away and smiled as well.  I began thinking of today and all of the reasons I was sad, which were real reason, and within my own reality I tried to find my own perspective. 


Perspective.  Especially when we are down it is something that is so hard to find.  Even more so I find it hard as what I am feeling today is not so much pity for myself but sadness on the behalf of someone else.  I wish with all of my heart that I could make this day wonderful for my husband but I know that we are apart and that is not going to change and I understand that I cannot change his experience because I want it to be different.


So what do I do about me?


I have decided, at least on my own behalf, to try to carry the elderly man’s tome with me today and try to have a little perspective.  I want to bring a mantra of, “That’s all?” about my circumstances. 


Yes, we are apart.  Yes, it is his birthday.  But that is all.  We are both healthy (well with me that is always relative with my countless chronic funks but relative to me I’m pretty good).  We are together, in marriage and in love, if not in geography.  We have jobs in a job-less economy.  We have strengths both individually and as a collective duo; quite a few of which have been enhanced by this time apart.  Our seperation is temporary; we are separated only by occupational circumstance not by hemispheres or continents or years away at war.   


I will accept that today has its hints and hues of sadness but I refuse to drown in it.  I will try to maintain a “That’s all?” focus on my path forward and carry that mantra nugget forward, in my secret “Just in case I need it” pocket of tricks for mental health and emotional well being.  I am grateful for my chance encounter and my ears capable of a quick eavesdropping/social assessment–however you want to look at it. 


I miss my husband desperately, more than I could have imagined, but I am grateful for all the good and that helps me with my perspective on the bad.  This focus is work but work that is worth it to give a bad day a little less tartness and bite. 


Perhaps tonight I will even be inspired enough towards proactive action to FINALLY get started on my required reading for my upcoming first day of yoga school!  Perhaps. 


The following is for my husband who I am thinking about constantly today:


The simple lack of her is more to me than other’s presence.

Edward Thomas


And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depths until the hour of separation.

Khalil Gibran

September 2009


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