Still trying to get things back together here at headquarters… So enjoy a throwback post from this time last year… How?
In late June 2014, I wrote a note in my phone of three simple “I am” statements to set the tone for my summer. Pushing aside the millions of things to get done and ways to make two months off from the day job count, I set these “I am” statements at the core of my desires for that time. At the heart of all of the “stuff” I had to do and wanted to do that summer, my true intentions were in these “I am” statements. I typed:
I didn’t even know what mindful meant or why I typed it— it just appeared there on the screen. I am mindful… ok. Let that sit.
I found a yoga studio near to where we were living. I signed up for a month unlimited and then another month unlimited. I took classes 3-5 times per week for the entire summer. I am practicing yoga… finally. For months before that, I was thinking about it. And I was telling myself that I “should” be practicing yoga. But I never seemed to quite get around to it. I let everything else jump the line and take up my precious time. All it took was setting that clear intention: I am practicing yoga. Like magic, I was.
I found two teachers whose style and energy matched what I was seeking in my practice and made darn sure to show up at their classes. I dove all in, as I’m prone to do. One of those teachers offered free guided meditation after classes, as the schedule allowed. I stayed. She shared about her practices, her studies through UMass. Medical School in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and her “real life” applications of these simple-yet-complex practices. She had something here. I hung on every word.
A friendship blossomed. At the time, I hadn’t consciously revisited my note in my phone with my summer intentions, my “I am” statements. But I was learning about mindfulness, that word I typed without knowing why. My new mediation coach and friend recommended books that she was reading. We started to hang out. We shared this glorious spark of brilliance. I knew I found a soul sister in Debbie. Toward the end of August 2014, while rolling up my yoga mat after one of Debbie’s last yoga classes for the summer, I opened the notes in my phone… and there it was: I am mindful. I manifested a practice, a coach and a friend with three words. Don’t question the process. Be open to being guided. Set the intentions that are in your heart and take the action steps as they unfold.
This past Thursday, I had the honor of sitting at a full-day retreat of over 100 educators led by my soul sister Debbie and her colleague in mindfulness Cory. They led us through the practices and applications of this life-saving, life-expanding gift called Mindfulness. They are the real-deal. I, who often cannot exhale without checking my phone 17 times, did not even check the time from 7:30 am until 4:35 pm. That’s the magic that Debbie and Cory shared.
We learned about our relationship to stress, how to be with what is here, how to develop our mental fitness… I could go on and on. I took 17 pages of notes. But, if I can share only one take-away with you, it is this: replace resistance with curiosity. Approach your day with an element of awe and wonder.
Debbie, I bow to you. I am mindful.
For those who’ve been following the tale: I didn’t finish the book before book club, but the 200 pages I read were more enjoyable than I thought they were going to be.
Just another lesson in being open, in saying “Yes!” to what presents itself. I never would have picked up that particular book, but a beautiful friend presented it as our first selection for our new book club. Beyond the emotional journey of reading it (if you really know me, you know I’d love nothing more than to stay home all day, every day and read), flicking through those pages allowed me to connect with some sweet and smart women on Friday evening. Two of my bunny family, plus multi-generational representation from one of their families, great conversation, connection—much more spiritually fulfilling than my typical Friday night falling asleep on the couch while watching vintage seasons of RHONY.
I’ve been saying yes more these past few weeks. It’s one of my “challenges.” Some people do squat challenges or cut out sugar for 30 days type challenges; I give myself personal growth challenges. Saying yes and being more flexible is the theme of this current phase in my personal growth and development. I’m stretching myself to change or make plans last minute, to break one of my Cardinal Rules and leave the house on Sunday (only for VERY good reasons, should they arise) and to stay up past 8:30pm on a work night (again, the good reason rule comes into play).
I broke the bedtime rule last Thursday and spent the evening in Manhattan with four gorgeous friends and my mentor Gabrielle Bernstein. I’m breaking the bedtime rule this coming Tuesday to see Marilyn Manson. Yes, you can be a Spirit Junkie and enjoy some dark music—it’s all about balance, my loves. These rules, and the bending of them, may seem trivial to the less wound and regulated but to me, these are some huge shifts!
Yes, I have a lot of rules for myself. I’m super-structured, regimented to an extreme at times. I attribute my success to my discipline and my grit. As strange as it may sound, I’m disciplining myself to be a little less disciplined. But fear not, I’ll still be here every Sunday (or thereabouts) with you. Much love.
I don’t know if there’s a name for it… that experience where you’re driving but your mind is completely somewhere else and you kind of shake your head and snap back to the present moment, having virtually no recollection of getting where you are, like that total autopilot moment… that’s August for me, every year. I just realized it last night, as we got into bed and I shook my head fiercely and thought, “Holy stuff, it’s almost over.” This is my brain on August, autopilot, struggling to get back to the present.
My mindfulness practices are inconsistent—but that’s why they call it a practice and not a perfect, right? I am routinized and committed to many things so it’s not like I can’t; I just haven’t yet. But I will. The struggles are thematic (and I almost blush at calling them struggles because it’s really not so bad in the grand scheme of this whirling world). I hit speed bumps and roadblocks at similar places and phases, the same way, I imagine, a serial dieter does. I am aware of my patterns and my inclinations. I’m here, trying to balance acceptance and growth.
Again, it’s a practice. I’m finally at a place where I don’t feel like my vacations are too short (those of you who don’t get the number of weeks off that I do can continue cursing at me now—I can’t hear you anyway). I don’t feel like the days or my life is racing by because I am paying attention on purpose, with purpose. I’m making it count AND giving myself a giant break that I denied myself in the past. I’m consciously shutting down the August Autopilot now. So today, or even just for the next hour, give the autopilot a rest. Let it recharge—after all, we need it in its highest working order in times of necessity—and be present with yourself. Take it all in. Accept your patterns, your habits, your predilections and grow through the elements that could use change. Be here now. Much love.
This isn’t about rabbits or Reiki.
A year ago, we said goodbye—well, sort of. I said I would see you later that week. I said we would talk more then (and I silently promised to turn my damn phone off at our next visit—no pointless distractions). I walked out of your front door, it was a Saturday, fully intending to be back maybe on Wednesday, silently promising myself that I would not let the week go by without making time for a visit. Just like this year, last August was zooming by. About an hour after I left, you died.
I wonder a lot. You know my brain is always going, barreling perhaps. We only knew each other for a touch over two years. Why was I the second-to-last person to see you in your earthly form? Do you know how much you changed my life in a span of two years? Can you fathom just how much you taught me?
If you didn’t leave this dimension when you did, would we still be friends? Or would I have said something, done something, been something that you didn’t want to be around? Would we be on the phone right now on this super-cloudy day? Or would I be sitting here, telling myself that I better make time for you before my long vacation ends?
Ours is one of those friendships that didn’t seem likely but just makes so much darn sense. 16 years apart in age, vastly different families and upbringings. You, tiny in stature, secure in purpose. Me, average in size, barreling toward my purpose—you helped me find it. It’s all your fault, that I’m finally living my dreams.
We bought the house I told you about, but you know that already. We live so close to you now. We actually have space to have people come inside the house! I’m getting better every day. You helped guide me on this path. I hear your voice in my head. I see you in yoga classes still—remember the lady whose pants were inside-out?! I love how the same things annoyed us.
You were supposed to teach me to sew. But let’s be serious, I wouldn’t do my own sewing anyway. Did I teach you anything? Is there anything you didn’t get to tell me? Well, besides the messages that you are flooding me with now… shout out to my Spirit Junkies and other spiritual running buddies who have helped me further develop my gifts over the past year. I “hear” so clearly now.
Your babies are doing great. MM clipped their nails on Saturday. Your garden is gorgeous. Your world misses you. You are screaming in my left ear right now—I hear you, love!! I will keep living the dream for us both.
You’ve heard it or read it a thousand times before… “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” -Dr. W. Dyer
That concept has swirled around me the past few days. (Look at Summer Denise, writing on a Tuesday instead of Sunday… scandalous!). I’m getting more and more comfortable with change, especially the changes that I didn’t necessarily invite into my life. I’m shifting my perspective with an intention to see the value in the change for myself and for those with whom I share love. I’ve always been the type to take words and promises very literally, particularly because I keep my own without question. Not everyone is like that. I’ve always assumed their breaking their word, and subsequently our trust, was purposeful. I’m working to change the way I look at that. I’m working, because this is wholly MY ISSUE, to see that everyone’s definition of loyalty and friendship is different. And that’s cool. Acceptance.
When I go to yoga classes, I rotate where I roll out my mat. I used to be the type to want the same spot (middle row, side of the room) for every class. When I switched studios two summers ago, I decided to change that habit. Now I never get stuck in a rut, as I’m consciously shifting my perspective. I’m able to be more present because the change in physical space keeps my brain more engaged. I don’t shift into autopilot, then careen off to what I have to do after class “monkey mind” as easily. I change the way I look at things every time I step into the studio. Try it.
It’s not easy to move your spot, to say no, or to walk away from certain people, places or things. Whether it be habit, pattern or sense of obligation, we sometimes find ourselves going places we don’t want to go, getting into conversations that feel “wrong,” or surrounded by elements that make us feel stifled, fake, even in pain. Honor yourself. Walk away. Drift away. Run away. Whatever pace suites you. I promise, I’m living proof, that when you surround yourself with the people, places and things that match your level, frequency, and power, your happiness, soul and success will soar.
Flip it on its head today. Change that perspective. Shed the confines of relationships and situations that no longer serve your highest good. Hop into something that feels better, that feels right. Then watch the miracles fly. Much love.
Where do I even begin? Maybe this will be a 12-part miniseries…
I am a certified Spirit Junkie. I completed the level one Spirit Junkie Masterclass training with Gabrielle Bernstein. Friday, Saturday and Sunday surrounded with like-minded, amazing women and men. On Sunday during the lunch break, I texted one of my dearest friends to tell her that although I was ready to come home, I never wanted to leave how I was feeling, never wanted to leave the place my heart, soul, spirit and mind were in. Talk about pure bliss…
So I’ll grace you with some of the highlights from my 37 pages of notes. Forgive me if some of my words and some of the speakers’ words blend together. I tried to paraphrase and quote with accuracy, as my formal training dictates but in the flow of the weekend, some elements mushed together. And believe that I feel a shift for which words will do no justice.
In her opening talk, Gabby circled around humility, love and transformation. She, in certain terms, told us all that we have to do this work and must step in fully. She prompted us to lean into appreciation when we see ourselves comparing our journeys, our experiences and our concepts with those of others. Powerfully and frequently throughout the weekend, Gabby urged us to be unapologetic about what we’re here to do.
Proudly, I introduced myself as an animal Reiki practitioner and rescuer to my new-found sisters—I didn’t hide behind the day job (but shout out to the Spirit Junkie who described herself on mic as a spiritual teacher disguised as a school teacher… because I’m so using that line!). I’m fully stepping in.
And as I sit here, I realize that it is time to fully step out. I am tired. So there’s just a taste, a teaser of sorts, just the opening chapter… stay tuned for the next installment. Much love.
Alternate title: Lies My Rabbits Told Me
How do you best admit struggle when you’re the leader? How do you exhale and admit, “It’s getting tough for us over here!” when you’re the one people turn to when the stuff gets tough for them?
Confession: bonding got tough this week, out of seemingly nowhere (but not actually nowhere when I stopped to think about it). Quick catch-up for those of you who haven’t tuned in before: lived side-by-side for 5 years, moved to a new home one month ago, started official bonding the day we moved, all was going very well. Then, I guess middle of this past week, the little bits of circling or chasing that would happen occasionally but diffuse quickly and on their own started to pop off into near-fights or actual fights. And I couldn’t tell anyone, besides the Bunny-daddy of course. I’m the one who gives bonding advice or at least connects you to the people who can give you the best advice—how could I admit that the relationship-building took a turn for the tough in my own living room?
Drop the ego. Get it together. But in the thick of it all, I wasn’t paying attention fully. I wasn’t using my “toolbox” of mindfulness and personal development that I teach about! If I was, I would have realized that Tater stopped grooming Peanut, a loving and lengthy ritual that Peanut began to expect at the beginning of and periodically throughout the exercise time/bonding sessions. Of late, Peanut had even begun to reciprocate the grooming—it was a freakin’ miracle in this house. Maybe that milestone distracted me. I can see clearly now that last Tuesday or Wednesday, whenever this mayhem started, that the lack of the grooming ritual was causing the conflicts. But I wasn’t fully present. I was coasting on last Sunday’s amazing 14+ hour bonding session. I was coasting on the Nothing In The World That I Can’t Do mentality that all too often leaves me with blinders on to the indicators of change or of changing needs. I was getting ready for bestie to visit, I was getting ready for a holiday that I celebrate for tradition, I was still trying to unpack and settle, all while cruising through bonding.
The realization of the root of the issue came when I finally sat with the bunnies and was fully present. I sat with the intention to sit there, not with the intention to make sure they were ok then throw in laundry, wash dishes, finish Christmas cards, unpack a box, answer Rescue emails, etc., etc., etc… it was ONLY when I sat there with the intention of being there and there only, that I realized the grooming had stopped, thus the course of their relationship-building shifted. Duh. But in running the house, one day job, two small businesses, one non-profit organization and a beautiful family group, I let my true presence be absent. I really thought they were good, that they were bonded! Look at how they were behaving! Yes, I had been pouring on the Stress Away when the fights started—now I knew what else I needed to add.
So, this morning, after bestie left, I dripped Peace & Calming into the diffuser, I sprayed myself and the living room with White Angelica, I put Valor II over my heart and some drops of Surrender and Highest Potential in my hands. Yes, I know, one drop of one oil would have been enough but in typical B-fashion I had to go over the top to ensure success. Being fully present, I sat with the boys for 30ish minutes this morning. There were some scuffles, but I get it now. And when I’m fully present, the sessions may be shorter but they are more purposeful. I tell my colleagues in business and Rescue and my learners at the day job that my success comes from my laser-sharp focus. And here I was, not using it, one of my greatest tools.
Lies my rabbits told me—more like lies I tell myself! I let their progress delude me. I let it fuel my tendency to take on too much at once. Now, my options are clear: I am where I am, fully present or I am shut off. I cannot ensure their progress (or safety, for that matter) while simultaneously working on three other things. Or one other thing. See how even my diction reveals the pressure I put on myself… get it together.
I’ve often toyed with idea of having “Be Here Now” tattooed on my wrist. I think I’ve hesitated because it rocks my Type-A intense achiever personality to admit that I need such a reminder, especially for something that seems so basic. Also, I need to donate blood again before I get my text tattoo. But anyway, the lesson here: Bonding is a business. And just like one of my mentors-in-my-head Bethenny Frankel (love her or hate her, I don’t care!) says, “Everything is your business” and when you treat every task you take on like it’s your business, the care cultivated and the success sustained is remarkable.
Be here now. Do one thing at a time. Pay attention on purpose to what’s going on in front of your face and in your heart. Much love.