Month: May 2014

Open your eyes to the beauty of nature

daffodilsThis holiday weekend I visited the English Lake District, where the famous poet, William Wordsworth is buried. Remember he was inspired to write the poem “Daffodils”.

I was caught in a moment of emotion by this stanza from his poem (see above) which is standing amongst his memorial garden in a church yard in Grasmere.

His poem reminds me of the moments in our lives when we are consumed with loneliness and it takes something to lift us up and give us a different perspective. Though Wordsworth was alive several hundred years ago, he too experienced this universal emotion. It took the beauty of nature to uplift his spirits.

Hence this week’s theme is how our connection to nature can serve as the remedy for these feelings. Often, during a holiday weekend our feelings of loneliness can become more apparent, even if we are surrounded by friends and family.

By opening our eyes to the beauty around us we feel part of something bigger, we can experience pure joy

Stop “Shoulding” on yourself


Laying in my morning yoga class my ears perked up when the teacher mentioned to us to “stop shoulding” ourselves. It is a familiar saying, yet every time I hear it I pause for a moment to reflect on how often I do this without being aware.

“Should” is one of the most overused words by parents, teachers, therapists… Even if parents try not to set expectations on their children, how often is this word “should” used to impose what they think is the correct way to act or be…and by the way where do these expectations come from anyway?

Many of our “shoulds” are spurred by popular culture,…being told how to eat…sleep…play…work…lose weight…stay healthy…get married… go to the gym…go to yoga…find a partner…and even how to be happy. By the way the “go to yoga” can remain on your “should” list 🙂

I still cannot grasp the idea of someone holding the key to happiness. Is it possible to design a one size fits all prescription for happiness? I have yet to meet two people who are identical.

Being the “Queen of Shoulds”, my head replays this term numerous times each day. ‘”I should”…be working…doing the laundry…putting fresh water in the flower vase…eating salad…go for a walk…working on my writing piece…call my family…not drink wine…smile…stop thinking…practicing my yoga…the list could easily go on and on. It is quite daunting when you start to list your “should” thoughts.

When we “should” a lot, our capacity to see things as they truly are diminishes…we can become a little paranoid…anticipating a “should”from other people, since our self-esteem is wavering towards the low end of the scale…we will never be content, ever!

Ask yourself, “where did these shoulds come from?” …challenge them…do not take them at face value.

“Shoulding” reinforces the fact we are not good enough…stupid…lazy…a failure…fat…out of shape…

What a terrible waste of energy and precious time…take some time and begin to list all your “shoulds” …do it for a day…just to see…then..

Stop Shoulding on yourself.

Waiting for inspiration to be inspired is like waiting at airport for a train.

I recently wrote a piece on this: the message was accepting that there are days you will not be inspired and that is okay. But what if those days become weeks…then months…maybe years?

With me it’s my writing but what about others, am I alone in getting stuck?

What to do?

A few thoughts to work out a way forward.

First to ask: is this really what you want to do…is it really something you are interested in, or does it just ‘seem cool’?

Next if you decide you want to give it a go…then create a space in your day for that thing to happen…for me I now get up 7 am and will write for 2 hours before I touch my emails, facebook or peruse the web, maybe even wash the dishes.

My day now starts that way whether I have am dragging myself to the seat and slumped over with feelings of despondency. But I do it, I ‘make the space’.

And then strangely, the magic starts to happen. I write…sometimes about nothing particularly scintillating, at times I get this electrical charge and everything flows. Those lulls of energy are as, or more so, important in the process of inspiration.

The message is that ‘we have to start somewhere’ or we sit around and dream of what things could be…though that can be fun…it gets old and nothing happens.

So why don’t you create time…remember most of your emails, 99 per cent can wait and are just a quick fix in keeping yourself busy, or appearing to be efficient.

Do the hardest, most creative job first – you have a 90 minute window in the morning when your energy is heightened, then it begins to fluctuate. Then allow yourself a reward.

This piece is on how to elicit inspiration as the quote says above, ‘you will wait forever if you are sitting waiting for the perfect moment’.

We wait, hoping, pondering, contemplating but we need to act to make it happen.


Point the finger at who? wonder how to avoid the animosity in your relationships?

First look into the mirror. Ask yourself how does that person “feel” around me?

When we are struggling in our relationships, the tendency is to point the finger at the other person. Blaming is a defence mechanism we all use, so that we feel better about ourselves.

It’s time to STOP. Now imagine flipping a switch inside your head. You have the power to instantly change. Gone are the old habits. Here emerges the NEW LOVING YOU.

The NEW LOVING YOU is calm, understanding, introspective, caring, attentive who builds close, connected relationships.

When we decide to do something different, it reframes our relationships and takes things to another level. By considering how the other person thinks and feels radically repositions how we behave and who we are.

By understanding how the other person feels, be it: uncomfortable, threatened, criticised, stressed, anxious, on tender hooks, unhappy… we grasp what we need to do to change.

Once you begin to identify these feelings, maybe even risk asking the other person, you will be surprised at your involvement in the problem. This goes for the other person as well.

As a couples counsellor, this is very effective, it also helps us learn about ourselves.

I know for me I can be overly sensitive, hence making people, particularly my loved ones feel they have to walk on eggshells around me. They are not able to be as truthful as they would like.

So who loses out? Me and my partner…and the relationship remains superficial.

Next time you are arguing with your loved one…check in with yourself and see if you are projecting your own insecurities?

Self improvement or self acceptance?

Tips for well being a napkin doodle with a cup of coffeeWhat are we searching for? I read a piece this morning on self-acceptance – I have to admit much of my adult life has been devoted to self-improvement. We might ask what is the difference?

With self-improvement we are telling ourselves we are not quite there, we need to change something in order to feel better or be more successful. Now, “that does not sound so bad, does it?”

Though the problem is, we never quite feel we are good enough, even when we accomplish something.

Self-acceptance is about accepting yourself where you are at in this very moment. It does not mean we are being complacent, though I have to admit it had taken me a long time to wrap my head around that concept.

By freeing ourselves up of the “should” …”needs” …”have to’s”…we are open to making changes on a subtle level. We live in a world where we are taught that we have to continuously be working towards something – finding our purpose, working hard, staying busy …searching for something better.

Just imagine today, you that you decide just the way you, and your life is, is okay as it is. There is no need for sparks and epiphanies, just allow yourself to float through the day accepting you as you are.

Coming Home

homeToday is about coming home.  I do not necessarily mean the tangible home, a structure or even a country. Home is anything “you love more than you love yourself”, a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert. It can take your breath away…grip you with such intensity you will do what ever it takes to do it or be around it…it will become your daily preoccupation.

When do we then need to come home? When we feel uneasy…bored…euphoric…incomplete…any time we begin to perseverate about outcomes…whether it be…failure…success…bad...or good. Home, is when it just does not matter…it is what just what we love despite anything.

I have had many “homes” over my life…reading…dancing…quilting…my family…Jazzercise…Yes, you heard it, Jazzercise. I lived and breathed it for 20 years; I suppose it was the dancer in me. Now, my home is yoga…reading again after many years…writing…and the secret obsession with finding holistic cures for depression.

Having a home is my saving grace from the stressors of life. It picks me up when the day is grey…holds my hand when life gets unbearable. Think about what home is to you. Toy with ideas and promise yourself you will have no expectations of failure or success; they just feel right. We all need to come home

Get rid of the ‘Buts’

Be decisive
Get rid of the ‘Buts’

I am sitting outside on my mom’s deck in the sun, having some difficulty seeing the screen as the sun is very bright. If I make some mistakes forgive me…I am partially blind. “So why not go inside?” you ask. Because I am a sun worshiper, probably not good for the skin, but great form my mental health and I get a little Vitamin D as a bonus.

Since being home a repetitive theme keeps poking its evil head up…that is judging others. My family, I believe they are like many families, talk about the other family members behind their backs…often saying sweet things…prideful things…but more often not so nice things.

I was sitting with my mother the other night sharing with my mom my trip to see my brother…which was wonderful…But…there is always a But, I realise. Why can we not stop before the But, or in other words the judgements of others…this also goes for ourselves. How many times have you been told you have a pretty hairstyle…then your But takes over…alway finding a way to squeeze out of the complement…it feels too uncomfortable to just say thank you.

With my family we are not always nice to each other…we can be quite mean with our sarcastic sense of humour…and I know I get talked about as much as others get talked about. That evening, when my mother was condemning my nephews and their unconventional behaviour, I found myself having to retreat…It felt icky. My mother, felt bad and acknowledged the next morning that she was being mean and unloving. We all do it…most of us, anyway. Notice when the But creeps in and, stop…walk away…move on to another subject…make and excuse to use the toilet. Negative judgments hurt everyone, especially the one making it. The theme for the week…get rid of the Buts…towards others and, especially…especially be kind to yourself.

Journey to Victory


We are all on a journey

Whilst in my mom’s home in New Jersey on a bright, sunny day feeling very victorious on Palm Sunday, this theme embodies the walk Jesus made toward Jerusalem

My journey is not the holiday I am taking, but the journey of rekindling my relationship with my daughter, who since I moved to London has been estranged…she is 25 years. We have been walking a tight rope for several years, often wobbling…falling off…but always getting back up. We are all on some kind of journey…maybe…finding a loving partner…understanding ourselves…getting over a loss…identifying a passion…leaving a not so healthy relationship…adjusting to a move or a new job…getting fit

How do we turn that journey towards victory? Too be patient…tenacious…allow others to help…cry…get angry…be quiet…sit with all you feel…keep your eye on the end result. This can be hard…but yet, how sweet it is when you get there and the fog begins to life…and the sun begins to peek through. That is when you know in every cell of your body, the perseverance and blood sweat and tears were truly worth it. What journey are you on? How can you make it the journey to victory?

Have an Experience

flowersOn the ferry from Sausalito back to San Francisco many themes come to mind when I think about yoga…..balance, enjoying the moment, love, happiness, taking time for self, so what is the actual theme for this precise moment?

‘Have an Experience’ Yes this is it!

An experience is a moment in time when we are free from the routine of our daily lives, when we are forced to be in the present because there is so much to absorb, all our senses are heightened. When the auto pilot is turned off, we are now having to land the plane, and when it is essential that we are alert.

Why is having an experience essential for feeling alive?

Without them we actually do go through our lives without much recall for what has happened, it all becomes a bit of a blur.

During my last yoga class prior to this trip, the Thursday theme was to create memories…. how to do so to have experiences. It is not essential to travel to another continent we can do so by reading a book, watching a movie, or trying something new, go out with friends or people we would not normally spend time with.

So my message is to create an experience and experience it fully.

Sameness does it exist?

ChinaSelecting a theme for the week is like trying on different items of clothing before you leave for work. There are days you grab an outfit and it all works and then there are mornings not one of them seem quite right, even the final choice, as there is always no more time you just have to go to work.

I never quite understand why this happens. No day is ever the same as the day before. It is like our yoga practice, each time we sit down on our mat we expect the same as last time, but it is never quite the same.

Yet we ache for sameness, it provides us with a sense of safety, then we ache for variety, the sameness again, and so on.

Next week I will be in a different country, a different state. As much as I look forward to it, I will miss my routine and my yoga family.

I now completely get why people never move from their hometown or remain in a job, despite being unhappy or frustrated.

This week we are going to do some experimenting with noticing and embracing the fact sameness does not exist and that variety is the spice of life, without it, we stagnate.

The photo was taken a year ago on my trip to China – there I am with my little boy.