For Tony

From Sept 07, 2015 – On the plane, from Philadelphia to Australia (via LA)

I have had experiences of my heart being a tricky organ, a shifty character, a bottomless pit of feeling, of me telling it to pack it’s bags and get the hell out of here!! But the new thing I discovered yesterday, was the feeling that grief and love are the same, or perhaps two sides of the same coin. Expansive and raw. Simultaneously, the best and the worst at the very same time. Absolutely no escape from the present moment and not wanting to escape. Feeling, weirdly, fully alive juxtaposed by a neutral feeling of peace.

My brother talked of some of the different kinds of love he has experienced in his lifetime when I was l with him, last year…

The love for his first wife, Kerry — That young love. The mother of their girls. To have made brand new humans with someone and raise them, for a time, together. She is the reason he has a family! To watch her love those spectacular girls… To love them together…

The love he has for his girls — The love of a father. He said “It’s hard to describe how much I love them. I’m so proud of them, it’s embarrassing!”

The love for his new wife, Fay — The best possible person for this journey, this stage of my life. My ‘Best mate’.

His love for me —

He squirms adorably as he tries to dig for impossible words that clumsily describe his immense feelings of love. As if by moving his body awkwardly, unconsciously: one shoulder lifts, his face scrunches, his left cheek dives toward his heart, torso twists a little. It’s not just emotional, it’s physical… Primal, preverbal…

He talked about how these ‘kinds’ of love, although different, there was no hierarchy, No one ‘kind’ is better than the other. They are all equally amazing.

Perhaps jealousy is borne from the false assumption that there is some love that is ‘better’ than other love. We want the ‘kind’ of love that someone else has…

Like it is some sort of commodity. We’re funny that way, us humans. The immaturity of wanting to be loved in specific ways, otherwise we will be unsatisfied.
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I think looking deeply into the different kinds of love is NOT the answer to our woes, but perhaps just accepting what is freely given, loving your people honestly. “Embarrassing yourself” as you squirm and try to express the gratitude for the opportunity to love someone. Perhaps THAT’S what makes us squirm — the gratitude. The humbling experience of being honest, expansive, raw. To be up to the sheer magnitude of someone deserving of love. The fear of being all they see in you. The pressure of being someone loveable, all the time…

I love you, Tony

 

Gratitude Heals My Wounds

New Book 6 - 1

Gratitude heals my wounds

So grateful for all of the parts of my body I learn from:

These silly, stuck hips… You crack open the tiniest little bit to let ridiculous beams of light shine out. You are so brilliant. Maybe that’s why you need to be so ‘stuck’… It’s just too darn bright for all of us photosensitive humans…

The light comes out and little effortless tears roll down out of the corners of my closed eyes. It’s too bright, you see.

You crack the tiniest bit open, the light comes out, little tears roll and I heave and well up with transformative gratitude…

I am so grateful…

Grateful for my physiology:

My body’s ability to build bone where it was cracked.

Dont want to let too much light out. So it fills the cracks with super-strong flexible bone. It takes and receives and gives and transforms… With each breath, I am more grateful. With each breath, I am transformed.

I heave with gratitude for my teachers:

Especially for the ones who do not know they are my teachers. When you touch me, you teach me. Thank you for your caring hands.

I am grateful for having permission to be led by you. To surrender to being led is a wonderful thing…

I am grateful for all of the beauty:

For being able to see the beauty. It’s everywhere!!! So thankful for having the gritty film of greyness peeled of my eyes to let the light come in. Is that where it comes from, from beauty receiving eyes…?

The blossoms. The well-dressed, handsome Cabbagetown men. The lime in my beer. Eye contact of strangers. The smell of lemon on my hands. The feel of cold water on my skin..

Does light come in from my skin, my nose, ears…??

It feels like it…

I am so grateful for my practice:

My yoga, breath, stillness, movement, mind, meditation, my squishy wounded heart…

 I am so grateful, I could die:

I could die happy.

FulfilledFull-Filled. Filled with fullness.

Yes, all of these things are healing, but it is the gratitude for these things that heals my wounds.

Thank you.

 

 

Dietary Agnostic

Sourdough Pancakes

I am a lover of all foods… Food is my favourite!

[…And so is teaching yoga, playing guitar, singing, more recently-snowboarding annnd a whole bunch of other things]

People make assumptions- that because I am a practitioner and teacher of yoga, that I am probably vegan.

Nope.

For years, I considered myself a “recreational” vegetarian, enjoying preparing and eating vegetarian delights.

In 1993, due to an ethical quandary I had in my mind, I decided to become vegetarian and I stayed that way for 8 years.
I was working at the wonderful Upper Crust Cafe in Edmonton as a chef/catering manager/baker/table waiter/counter server. One evening we had mahi-mahi on the menu. My favourite (vegetarian), table server-extraordinaire, Dan came into the kitchen with a cutomer’s query…. “Isn’t mahi-mahi just another name for dolphin?”

WHAT?? THIS COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE TRUE… I LOVE DOLPHINS! DOLPHINS AREN’T FISH, THEY’RE MAMMALS!!!

I kinda lost it… I love dolphins… Eating a dolpin sounded just so unbelievably wrong to me… Akin to murdering a rainbow-filled unicorn for sport. I was so repulsed by the idea that I felt it vicerally… It sounded like cannibalism. I felt sick.

[I later learned that mahi-mahi is actually a fish. confusingly known as ‘dolphin-fish’]

Wise (and seemingly baffled) Dan reminded me with a non-judge-y tone, that cows were (and still are) mammals. and so are sheep… Etc…

I promised myself that at any point in time I craved meat, I would have it. I would trust my body’s wisdom in that regard.

[indeed, 8 years later, 1lb of bacon won me over while pregnant with my 2nd son which opened up the flood-gates to all of the meats. This seemed to be the ‘cure’ for a really unpleasant 1st and 2nd trimester. Interesting to note is that said 2nd son, is vegetarian]

I became vegetarian in the sense that I would no longer eat anything that once had a face. I would continue to eat eggs and dairy.
It was pretty interesting. Remember, this was 20 years ago… In Alberta, Canada. Alberta Beef is a big deal.

This was a time before kids. A time of many dinner parties.

Being a chef was intimidating enough for most folks not to reciprocate, but now that I was vegetarian… Well, that just seem to put folks over the edge of comfort in inviting myself (and my new husband) for dinner. I assured all of our friends that I seriously didn’t care (or judge) what they chose to eat… Really!! They did not need to prepare anything special for me. I did not want to be a pain-in-the-a** dinner guest.

More that happy to pick the meat out and give it to my carnivorous husband, to enjoy everything but the turkey (or whatever the meat was). Seriously, no biggie!

I never wanted to make a big deal of it. I never really spoke about it unless someone asked. Just my personal choice. Yeah, PERSONAL.

What I found happened, repeatedly, was that people felt judged even though I was, sincerely, not judging. It saddened me that our friends would feel the need to defend the way they chose to eat, what they chose to eat. I didn’t care. This was personal. Even when I insisted on it not being a topic of discussion, it would come around to being asked why I was vegetarian. In the beginning, I would tell my my little mahi-mahi story… But after a little while I realized that folks felt judged (even though I wasn’t judging) and soon realized it was better for me to reply with “personal reasons” and quickly change the subject.

It IS personal, isn’t it??

I think with all of the social media we have, all of the ways to share our ideas and preferences – there seems to be less that’s personal. Folks still get all up in arms about diet. Gluten-free, Raw, Vegan, Dairy-Free. Taking it personally, feeling judged, feeling ready to defend their dietary choices.

I think it’s silly.

I think it needs to stop!

Eat and let eat… In peace.

I vote for a return of just enjoying the food of your choice with no judgment. With honouring the food choices of others with out getting weird about it. Without taking the fun out of a dinner party.

My question to folks when inviting them over to share food is “Is there anything DON’T you eat?” and create a menu around that. Enjoying the potential challenge of preparing the most amazing meal I can with the absence of  _________. Of honouring my guest(s), without them feeling like they are being a pain-in-the-a** about it.

I now enjoy all of the dietary choices, equally. I appreciate the benefits of : raw, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, ‘Paleo’ and locally raised, meat.

[Not that it’s any of your beeswax…]

 

Learning To Trust Myself, Again

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I need to take baby steps along the way of building trust…

I read somewhere (by someone wise -wish I could remember…) recently, that if we are unable to trust ourselves, how on earth are we able to be trusted by anyone else or BE trustworthy and earn our own self respect? {big-time paraphrasing there}

Taking the time to say I am going to do something and then following through with said thing, is the basis of what we build trust on, yes?

And if I am unable to do this, then I am considered ‘untrustworthy’…Mostly by myself, and this is bad. Really, it is. So to be someone of integrity (in my own mind) this is of the utmost importance.

I feel as though I follow through with the majority of the things I set out to do for others. I know this to be true and I seem to have a good reputation for following through for my kids, massage clients and yoga students. It feels good to know that I am thought of in that regard. My ego dances in that!

But what about my perception, how I feel about it…?

Am I living a lie if I put myself in the of-lesser-importance basket? Honestly, I am realizing just how important it is. I am feeling more like a phoney if I am not true to myself… It’s not good…

All of the excuses for putting what is important for my own well-being aside are all so legit! There is always laundry, bookwork, meals to prepare, cleaning to be done, things to get the kids off to and back from, yoga to prepare for and teach, clients to massage, emails to return… Blah, blah, blah. The competitive-busy-ness-thing we all seem to get into is ridiculous. I often seem to blow it off and go and see a movie or something to remove myself from the overwhelming-ness of it all… It’s not good…

What if I were to put myself in the of-greater-importance basket?

What if I looked after myself the way I look after my kids, clients, yoga students…?

Oh, my! How would that look? I would be committed to making some promises to myself, stay true to the promises I make to myself, follow up and follow through…

You see, truth is, I KNOW all of this and I HAVE done this. I’m not being too hard on myself. I want to be the kind of person that if I was transparent, people would see me the way I see me and we would all be happy about how that looked. I don’t really care too much about how people see me, a compliment is nice to receive every now and then, it’s nice to be appreciated… But it really comes down to how I feel about me.

In my younger days, I felt very ugly… It made absolutely no difference what anybody said about this. If they told me something different to the way that I felt, I considered them to be nice, well-meaning liars and they were NOT to be trusted.

I am not a religious person, but I have faith (noun: complete trust or confidence in someone or something) in what I believe. I trust (noun: the state of being responsible for someone or something. verb: believe in the reliability, truth, or ability of) what I believe to be true. It doesn’t really matter what IS true. I remember caring people laying down evidence before me to prove to me that I was wrong. It didn’t matter! My belief/faith/trust in what I knew to be true was profoundly stronger than anything logical like actual evidence/science/spreadsheets… Whatever. It’s pretty remarkable, really. I must’ve been a real piece of work for anyone to spend time with. Apologies to you all!

{kinda went off on a little tangent there, sorry}

I guess what I am getting at is that the ‘voice inside my head’ is super important to not only MY well-being, but to the way I perceive my self worth and how I project that out into my world. I need my own proof/evidence, from a source I am able to trust… My ‘higher’ self.

(It’s an owl)

I am really feeling the need to see me how others see me; as trustworthy, honest, somebody who follows through, is kind and caring… (To myself).

I am going to start with going to bed (to sleep) at 10:30pm so I am able to be up at 6am to do something that is for my own nurturing -for 30mins (meditation, walk, restorative yoga, pranayama, journaling…). This will be used as an exercise to build up the trust in myself to make bigger decisions to stick to and follow through with. To make the time to get to know me the way my ‘owl’ knows me. From that I will develop a surer sense of my trustworthiness to make clearer decisions, bigger commitments to make this life of mine what it is suppose to be; Fearless exploration, guiding and inspiring others, flying higher than I allow myself to dream of doing right now.

Baby steps.

It’s going to be awesome!

 

Heart Whispers – Part 6, Homecoming

 

(to recap: On the evening of May 14, 2007, I had a heart attack while I was teaching my Monday Level 1-2 Yoga Class)

In Part 5 I discussed when I ‘go there’… to the place when I get whiny and ask “why”.

Spoiler alert: it’s NOT a good place

 

…So the cardiologist said I should exercise.

I asked if running woud be a good idea, he said yes – after some recovery time.

I needed to maintain my cardiovascular health. I was one, working-artery, short of a full set and needed to bring some greater ‘fitness’ to the other healthy ones -to take up the slack of the one that quit.

I signed up for a half marathon.

My way of saying  ‘screw you heart attack, you’re not the boss of me…’ I know, real mature… Of course I didn’t just want to run the half, I wanted to run faster than I did 8 years prior.

Once I was off all the medication and the cardiologist said that I didn’t need to keep seeing him, I started training. I started slow and balanced my running with my regular yoga practice and teaching. I use to joke that I ran to support my eating habit (I love food!), but since having a regular practice of yoga it felt as though I was running to make the yoga more juicy. The thing about yoga is you want to FEEL it… You want to squeeze something. You want to find resistance, to press up against it, to find what you are made of. It’s like spelunking/caving… You are afraid to squeeze through those small spaces. It is both exhilarating and terrifying to not know what is on the other side. It’s almost like a re-birth of types. It’s the pushing and shoving, the struggle that makes it so satisfying. Running makes me tight. Muscles feel shorter. Reaching the barriers in my yoga practice, takes less time. Is it ‘cheating’?

It feels damn fine.

While pursuing all of this, (I didn’t know it at the time) I pushed my heart further and further away. I wasn’t really conscious of this, but in the throws of physicality of it all, I had made my heart my slave. I was going to ‘run the show’ from now on.

We do this.

As a massage therapist (and a human being) I witness this all of the time… We push away the pain, not consciously, but we do and with that we feel broken up, un-whole… Like something is missing. It’s not something you can put your finger on. It’s all liquid-y and difficult to grasp.

I had the opportunity, in 2010, to invite my little lost heart back. Back to my mind, back to my body, back to my heart…. It’s perplexing to think of inviting ‘my heart back to my heart‘. As much as I try to express this, I am unable to find the words to do so. It feels all bumbly and awkward.

It’s like trying to explain any feeling… Seems like a bit of a lost cause. We try though. That’s where poetry and connection come from, right? We connect to someone else’s expression of what we are really trying to say. Because of their eloquence we feel like we know them, they ‘get’ us.

I digress….

When I say ‘invite my little lost heart back’, that’s not accurate. My heart never left. I pushed it away. I left it. I was the one who broke up with my heart. I like ‘forgetting’ that all this stuff happened.

Who, me? No, I’m perfectly normal

Heart, Schmeart…

It was a dirty little secret I had to fess-up to on the odd occasion and was embarrassed when I did.

My dear friend encouraged me to get a full body fascial unwinding treatment. This is a way to sort out your body (mind/heart) by ‘undoing’ past trauma. After a brief experience with it at massage school, I was intrigued and a little nervous. I thought It would ‘undo’ an old hang gliding accident I had years ago and fix up my left shoulder and arm. My body had different plans…

Thankfully, there were 3 therapists there to guide me through this amazing (surprising) experience, pressed up in a corner having a ‘conversation’ with my heart, saying all of the things I was unable to express before, ‘forgiving’ it and telling it how sorry I was for disconnecting with it and in the end… I became whole again.

Like the proverbial, prodigal son, I came back to the open arms of my ever waiting, unconditionally-loving heart. A beautiful homecoming…

Oh, happy days!

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I feel so blessed to have this amazing organ in my healthy body.

I look after it.

I’m still working on trusting it… Trust takes time.

It takes time and experience.

In the meantime I’ve become a bit of a ‘heart whisperer’, (according to a friend) I am learning the ‘lingo’ of the heart.

PS. That half marathon…  It took 15 mins longer than the one 8 years before. (I know, big surprise, right?) Yes, I was mad about that… All is forgiven now.