Friday, December 16, 2011

If I Had 24 Hours to Live...

I would spend time with the people I love. We would laugh and play and I’d tell them stories of the past and explain to them exactly how much they mean to me and why. I’d ask them to share with me their hopes, dreams, aspirations... and make them promise me they would fulfill them.

I would listen to music of every genre and maybe recount the feelings and stories that some of the songs would surely conjure, because music is powerful like that.

I would be on the beach, I’d practice yoga there and go horseback riding and take some time to listen to the waves crash onto the shore.

I would hug my children as tightly as I could in the hopes that they would always remember how a mother’s love feels. I’d give each of them a carefully crafted letter with some words of love and encouragement and maybe even some wisdom that might help or inspire them in the future.

I would watch the sunset on the edge of my seat as if I were watching the best part of a movie.

And then I would sit back and reflect upon a life well lived, feeling humbled by the people who believed in me, and grateful for the opportunities and experiences that presented themselves throughout my days. I’d smile to myself knowing that I did, indeed, find peace, love and freedom in my lifetime.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Assigned Seating

On a recent flight, I switched seats with someone on the plane. It didn't really matter to me where I sat, and it was a kind gesture on the other person's part to offer... I hesitated, but ultimately accepted, and therefore ended up someplace where I wasn't really supposed to be.

I sat next to a man who, admittedly, I was mildly annoyed by for a variety of reasons. He was loud. He was eating a cheeseburger that smelled horrible. He didn't shut down his computer and phone for so long that the flight attendant had to come and get ugly with him about it. He was one of those people that had a snide comment about everything. I popped my headphones in and stuffed my nose in my book to avoid any chit chatting in which, prior to that point, he had tried to engage me.

As the plane started to descend and I put my iPod away, he asked me about the book I was reading. It was Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. He had never heard of it, so I explained the central ideas and themes. I've read it before, it was part of the required reading for my yoga training, but I was reading it again. I'm not sure why, but I felt the need to explain this to him, too.

"I think my wife needs to read that," he said. Oh boy. So now you are going to complain to me about your wife?! Dude. You have no idea where my head is right now. You will regret that choice 'cause I will give you the what fors right here in first class.

"Actually, what I really wish is that my son had read it. He committed suicide on Father's Day." Oh. Oy. Ouch. I opted, at this point, instead, to give myself the what fors. I expressed my condolences and told him I can't imagine the depth of this sort of pain for him, his wife, everyone who held this young man close. I quickly made the connection regarding his comment about his wife and brought up mother's love and mother's guilt and how I could imagine that his wife was feeling as though part of her life's purpose was gone and that the search for new purpose at once with the search for relief from depression and despair must be overwhelming.

"It was our second," he replied. I looked at him for a moment, not clearly understanding what he meant. "Our other son had leukemia and died after a bone marrow transplant." I was stunned, but somehow found the phrase "survivor guilt" in my arsenal and asked him if the other son had suffered from it. And sure enough, the "it should have been me" was at the root of his other son's problems.

"It should not have been him," I said, "because it wasn't his curriculum. Just as it wasn't yours or your wife's. It wasn't your lesson to learn, but having lived through it, you learned what you were supposed to."

At that moment, the man in front of us, having heard just bits of our conversation, turned and asked me what kind of yoga I practice. The question, in the midst of the discussion of death and survivor guilt, seemed oddly yet perfectly timed. I shared. The man in front then informed me he was "a Bikram guy". We talked briefly about the peace that consistent practice brings and how a lack of practice is noticeable physically, mentally, emotionally.

"Tell me more about that," the man next to me said. And so I did. I encouraged him to try yoga and to seriously consider practicing yoga with his wife if she was open to it, even if it was to go to a studio and rest in child's pose for an hour. An escape. A focus. A place to just be... and just be together.

Who knows if he will or if he won't... but at least I know that as he walked off the plane and thanked me profusely for talking to him about life and yoga and the combination thereof, perhaps he had a new option that he might not have otherwise thought of; one more strategy at hand, one more chance to rebuild his body, refocus his mind, and reconnect with that which is most important for us all, and that which does, indeed, die last: hope.

And so, it seems, that even though I wasn't in my assigned seat that day, I was, in fact, exactly where I was supposed to be.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rescue Me

I love unconditionally and without limits. It's both a blessing and curse, if you want to know the truth.

Over the past several months I've become more and more passionate about dog rescue; so many beautiful animals in need of foster and forever homes that it breaks my heart.

Sometimes I wonder how these throw away dogs came to be my focus in the midst of what has been a chaotic two and a half years, and it occurs to me that they, too, love unconditionally and without limits despite being given up on, and perhaps I somehow see reflected in them the qualities I'd like to see in myself: the ability to tackle whatever comes their way with strength, dignity and courage; an amazing desire to overcome any obstacle; and, most importantly, an understanding that hope dies last.

Upon further consideration, I am not so sure it's about me rescuing them. I think, instead, it's they who rescue me.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I Am Just Me

My eldest offspring recently completed a beautiful project for her language arts class in which her teacher gave her sentence starters and she had to write a poem around them. The students had to create a photostory with pictures and music to match the poetry.

Having had a rough day today that has called into question every fiber of my strength, courage and pain tolerance, I thought, perhaps, a little reflection was in order, so figured I'd try my hand at the poetry piece of a middle school project.

I am just me.

I wonder why people don't realize that the greatest rewards come from building up other people rather than tearing them down.

I hear the deafening silence inside the castle walls and face the frustration of conversations not yet begun and those left unfinished.

I see far beyond right and wrong.

I want to walk off into the sunset and simply disappear.

I am just me.

I pretend that I'm unflappable today, yet the truth is that I've never been more afraid than I am at this exact moment.

I feel hopeful when I hear about random acts of kindness, for it makes me believe that people are, in fact, inherently good.

I touch my cheek and realize that a tiny tepid tear has escaped from my otherwise icy cold interior.

I worry that I could have, should have, done better, tried harder, been something or someone I simply didn't know how to be.

I cry when I grieve the deaths of the most intimate and intangible things.

I am just me.

I understand that my body doesn't always play nicely and therefore managing pain is part of who I am, and that all of the woulda shoulda coulda if onlys in the world will never change that.

I say that I want to live without regret.

I dream of being content.

I try to live a principled life and to encourage others to do the same.

I hope I can fly... in a thousand different ways.

I am just me.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Life is Too Short...

... to be anything but happy.

I recently ventured out of my kingdom with the little humans that occupy my world. The time we spent together was priceless, and I learned a thing or two about myself along the way. It was nothing earth shattering, nothing I didn't already know logically, but, rather, things I needed to know experientially, allowing me to answer some questions that had been swirling around in my pea sized brain.

At the end of our journey, I was reminded of the following quote that has been making its way around the intrawebz. I'm not much of a re-poster but this one hit home.

An old man once said, "There comes a time in your life, when you'll walk away from all the drama and people who created it. You'll surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don't. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living."


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day

My Mother's Day was spent hiking by a stunning waterfall, soaking in the sunshine and giggling with my children.

As I sat on the deck that evening sipping a glass of wine and reflecting on a perfect day, it dawned on me that as a mother, sometimes the days are long, but, ultimately, the years are short.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Lovely Little List...

It's a funny thing when you've so much to say that you don't even know where to start, so I figured some random thoughts might be in order.

1. I love lists. To do lists, itemized lists, shopping lists...

2. I used to never cry. Now I find I cry easily. I can't decide if this is a bad thing (have I become overly emotional?) or a good one (do I feel more passionately now?). I'm leaning towards good, though it is mildly inconvenient.

3. It's entirely possible to feel utterly alone while surrounded by other people.

4. I am just me. And I am just me to you, no matter who you are. If you are the love of my life, I am just me. If you are a stranger on the street, I am just me. If you are my co-worker, my child's teacher, my neighbor, my client... I am just me. Why is it that so many people behave differently depending upon their audience or circumstances? The world would be a better place if we could all remember that it's the people we hold dearest that we need to treat the best and then use that as a model for how to behave amongst the rest of the people we encounter.

5. Good kids are the result of good parenting. "Luck" has little to do with it.

6. There is no item number six.

7. My animals bring me joy and teach me about unconditional love. I can't imagine a home or a life without them.

8. A long time ago I was told to "never go to bed angry". It's good advice.

9. In little things, there is happiness. The problem is that most people are too caught up in themselves or in their daily grind or maybe even their half-empty negativity to recognize all the little things. I'm grateful that I'm not "most people". Today I find happiness in snuggles from Exhibit C, the fact that Exhibit B played capture the flag at school, Exhibit A's prospects at auditions tomorrow, and having found a hauntingly beautiful new song to listen to when the mood strikes.

10. The world is best viewed from atop a bicycle... for we travel at the perfect pace to not only reach our destinations but to enjoy the scenery along the way. I suppose this works, metaphorically, for a few other things but I won't point that out. Surely you know that already... :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


So I used the word "surrender" in another place in which I like to wax poetic from time to time.

The context was that I was going to surrender to sleep, and I meant it, but, because it is, perhaps, entirely possible that some of the readers there know me well enough to know there's often more to my writing than meets the eye, I realized that for many who read it, the word surrender seemed self-defeating and therefore out of character for me. It summoned up some reactions I'd not anticipated.

Sometimes, when we've worked so hard at something, focused so much, strived for an unattainable goal, tried to force a puzzle piece, hoped with every fiber of our beings, bargained with ourselves and/or him or her or them, simply done all we can do, there comes a time when we must surrender in order to allow something better to take hold. Sometimes, the courage to surrender is far greater than the courage to keep pushing, and often there are missed opportunities simply because we fail to surrender the comfort of what is known for the challenge of what is not.

Even in the most trying times I've found that understanding this, learning this, owning this, living this, provides an unparalleled sense of peace that resides deep within us, a reminder that sometimes, freeing ourselves through the act of surrender is, indeed, a reflection of our strength, self-awareness, and ability to persevere.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I want to be more like an Etch-A-Sketch, I think, for an Etch-A-Sketch keeps no record of wrongs.

It's clear to all who know me well that only value-added relationships are welcome in my kingdom, and I certainly don't believe that "forgive and forget" is always feasible, or even desirable. Etch-a-Sketchiness is not so much about the aftermath of an egregious breach of trust, rather, it's about the ability to overlook some of the small things when it's really the big picture that matters; to not hold a grudge or keep a mental score when it's possible to shake out the mistakes and start again with a freshly cleaned screen.

Further, an Etch-a-Sketch reminds me that when one path ends, I must travel back the way I came or forge ahead in a newly created direction, I must find a way or make one.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Let's Bust a Move...

Last week I was teaching an indoor cycling class. A woman arrived 15 minutes late and, as she entered, was struck by the music and spontaneously began to dance as she moved across the room.

It occurred to me then that we should all be so fortunate to have the confidence and inspiration to, every once in awhile, arrive someplace dancing.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Some Kind of Help...

really isn't all that helpful.

I would like to go on record with this: Unless you live it, I know more about my illness than you.

Therefore, it is not necessary for the following kinds of help:

1. Intrawebz links to "new" medical findings. I'm pretty sure all of my doctors read every journal that relates to their specialties. I'm good, thanks.

2. Suggestions that vitamins might be the answer. Really? What kinds of vitamins did you have in mind beause last time I checked, Fred Flintstones couldn't cure any incurable illnesses.

3. Green Tea. Don't get me wrong, I love green tea. In fact, I have a cup of peppermint green tea sitting right here next to me. However, it makes me cranky that green tea is now seen as the solution to everything. You're tired? Have you tried green tea? Yes. You can't fall asleep? Have you tried green tea? Yes. You're forgetful? Have you tried green tea? Not sure, can't remember.

4. I know a doctor. Do you want me to tell him about you? Ummmm... not really. I tell my own doctors plenty about me. It's kinda fun 'cause it makes them wanna bang their heads against the wall and roll their eyes but instead they just smile. I don't have time to train another doctor. Clearly.

There's so much more but you get the point. I know people are trying to be helpful but sometimes it's hard not to laugh. Out loud. A lot.