Category Archives: The Enlightened Path

An ever-growing collection of what I believe are signs pointing us in the direction of the living the optimal human life. I believe that we can do better. I believe that I can do better. I believe that there is a set of practices that are indicative of just how civilized we are; and that we are individually and collectively responsible for making sure that if we call ourselves civilized, we truly are. It follows that I’m not a fan of “good enough”. Sure, it works in a pinch, or as a temporary fix. But it is certainly not my end goal. I wish with all my heart that it was not anybody else’s either.


Recently, I enjoyed something of a revelation within my body which relates in no small part to some other shafts of light that have been making way into my life these days.  I celebrate my joy and relief by sharing them here.

With my tailbone injury comes a fair amount of tension along my spine that radiates out to the rest of my body.  I keep that tension in check with the deliberate movements that make up my regular Pilates practice.  And I get support from various practitioners to slowly whittle away at the underlying tension patterns that have a hold on me.  It would seem that I’m making headway because recently I was able to feel something entirely new and gratifying.  In sitting and nursing, I often feel discomfort across my upper back.  I’ve known for years that this is indicative of my seated posture, I’ve even known how to change my posture.  But my body was under too much load to integrate the change.  In short, the pain remained no matter what adjustments I made.  (Movement has been the saving grace, I just keep moving and that has kept much of the pain at bay.)  But on this occasion, I was able to make the appropriate change, which is to sit upon my hips rather than slumping into them.  Instantly, my upper back pain disappeared!  This brought about a sense of relief that has been years in the making.

In a completely different area of my life, I’m enjoying a whole now sense of happiness and self-empowerment.  My son is nearly two and a half years old now and he’s entering a new phase of independent play.  One of the gals who has helped us with caring for him while I work, is leaving us because she found a full-time position that better suits her needs.  For a while I was struggling with how to re-organize our childcare arrangements and it finally dawned on me that it’s time for me to have less help and more time with my boy.  I can’t exactly describe the cascading benefits of this choice that I made other than to say that it was clearly the best scenario for both of us.  I partly attribute this to having passed through a rough place in my own personal healing process that becoming a mother initiated for me.  I share this because it is my belief that parenting presents us each with opportunities for healing old and long forgotten wounds.  The experience of tending to those wounds is not fun and not commonly embraced or even acknowledged in our collective conversations, which makes the challenge of it that much more than some of us would like to bear.   But coming through to the other side, has been such a clearing that it almost makes me eager for the next challenge that will inevitably come my way.

These two experiences put together bring to my mind another idea that’s been brewing since I put Rupam’s suggestion into practice.  If I think of my body as a vessel, then it makes the most sense to fill that vessel with love and light.  In doing so I expose the feelings and emotions that the dark thoughts in the recesses of my mind have embodied within my physical form.  The more that I fill my body with love, gratitude, forgiveness, and acknowledgement of that which hasn’t best served me, the more I clear out the dark places and complete myself.  In the physical sense I have noticed a spaciousness that comes with this clearing process.  That makes room for the constant expansion that drives so much of what I do.  I applied this idea to my Pilates practice one day when I was feeling particularly stiff and sluggish.  The result was immediate:  the entirety of my body opened and released.  I was longer, lighter, and more supple instantly.

We cannot always bypass the challenges that face us.  Often the only way is through.  And I’d argue that going through, rather than over or under, affords us the best opportunities for growth and empowerment.  In the face of adversity, we can honor ourselves.  We can focus on love and light.  We can give ourselves the best possible support for making the hard journey.  And we can assure ourselves, that we will eventually arrive at a clearing.

Why DST Offends my Sensitivities

I know that I’ve mentioned reading Susan Cain’s book at least once here in this space.  It has been a game-changer for me.  My physical realities have made my sensitivity impossible to ignore.  So that’s good.  But reading her book has opened me up to a deeper layer of sensitivities that I have tended to suppress.  It goes without saying that suppressing part of ourselves for any extended period of time is a bad idea.  But because of the nature or suppression, I’m going to reiterate the point by putting it in writing:  suppression is not a long term strategy for wellness.  All that is to say that I’m getting more and more in touch with my sensitivity these days; it’s turning out to be a boon for me in that it is helping me to honor myself more in my day to day life.  This takes a little fight out of me.  As I’m more accepting of myself, I’m easier in my interactions with the outside world.

For the past few days, I’ve had a nasty and frustrating case of laryngitis.  This is most probably, the consequence of my ambitions.  I tend to pack more into my life than I can actually do, which keeps me going to the point of sickness when I do something crazy like fly to NYC for a 24 hour stay.  But perhaps on a more symbolic level, my therapist pointed out to me today, I’m in the process of learning to speak what’s true for me, for my heart.  Perhaps my loss of voice is reflecting the years of suppression that are washing away as I reclaim the parts of myself that I’ve attempted to ignore.  I’ll chose to believe a little of both stories, because I know each to be true.  And then I’ll get to the point which is to say that this current ailment has put me behind on posting my biannual protest of daylight savings time.

For those who are new around these parts, I am passionately opposed to daylight savings time.  I don’t think that the supposed benefit of more sunlight at a certain part of the day comes even close to outweighing the cost of the disruption that altering our time brings to our bodies.  Now I’ve come to think that it’s my sensitivity that makes me so passionate about this.  I realize that for less sensitive people this is not an issue, they gloss over their weaknesses and challenges easier than us sensitive folk do.  But I’m quite sure that most of us are affected.  Babies and children, for example, are affected across the board regardless of their personal temperment.

Along with others, I suggest that there are other ways to respond to the seasonal changes of the natural world then by changing the hour of our invented time system so that we sleep different hours which in turn messes with our own physical rhythms.  Businesses could have different hours of operation depending on the season, many do anyway.  Start and finish times at work could be flexible so that folks could take advantage of hours on sunlight in the way that satisfies them most.

The bottom line is that DST meddles with our nature for a not-good-enough reason.  And the longer it goes on the more we come to accept it.  (Please don’t take offense to what I’m about to say, I realize that it could easily be construed as criticism, take it more as an abstraction of human behavior rather than a singling out of some people versus others).   Many people I meet don’t really get DST, they see it as a nuisance and a funny thing to get confused about twice a year.  It’s those people who worry me the most, because those are the ones who go along with ideas regardless of how well they understand them.   Their going along creates the current that carries all of us down the stream of those bad ideas.  But us sensitive ones?  Today, my theory is that we are the ones who can save us all.  We can point out the obvious flaws in meddling with time.  We can suggest alternatives.  We can remain true to what we know.  And in time, everybody will benefit because there really is a more sophisticated and graceful way to live in concert with this world of ours.  Dare I repeat on of my favorite maxims?  Simple is the ultimate sophistication.  Changing time is anything but simple.

Reading Cain, has given me strength in my sensitivity and even more courage to share my experience, because we all have sensitivities, and the more we embrace them within the context of our lives the happier and healthier we will be.  So to all the sensitive people out there who really think that daylight savings time is a bad idea, speak up!  Let’s get back on time and stop causing ourselves unnecessary perplexity!

Adele Takes a (small) Bite Out of the Big Apple

I’ve worked out a little theory about the cycle of dreams in the past two days.  First, you’ve got to be lucky enough to have the time and space to dream.  Then you’ve got to recognize your dream.  Then you’ve got to make it happen.  In the words of a favorite author, “dreams mean work”.  It’s the making it happen that can often be arduous and seemingly never-ending.  (That’s where my husband and I are now and I find it rather mind-numbing).  Eventually, you are living your dream and life is good.  I’ve know some people who got there and thinking of them often keeps me going.  Along the way, we meet people and while I certainly prescribe to the notion that each and every relationship we have is a blessing, some relationships are more pleasant than others.  And sometimes we are drawn out of our own reality for a spell to receive blessings and feed our lonely hearts.

I say all this because I had a beautiful and timely reminder this weekend of what is most important to me.  Somehow through the fog of my present state, I knew that I had to get to Brooklyn, NY on Sunday October 27, a very dear friend of mine was getting married.  I have been in the midst of working my tail off, so I had evaluated whether or not to attend her wedding with two equal parts, pragmatic and obligatory.  By the time Adele and I arrived via red eye flight, which is far less fun now that I’ve been sleep deprived for upwards of two years (I used to take that flight regularly as an apprentice in my Pilates certification program); I was thinking of my sweet friend and how happy I was for her, listening to one of our favorite albums while riding the subway.  I got off on a tangent about the importance of rites of passage and how meaningful it is for us each to pass through them, and how special it is to bear witness to others doing this.  I knew that I was going for something special.  I knew that I’d traveled a long distance for a very good reason, to participate in a ritual, to support my friend, and to give myself the gift of bearing witness.

I was right.  But it wasn’t until it all happened that I truly remembered.  That’s when I realized just how many blessings had been bestowed upon me through the years, and how good it was for me to come.  To bear witness, yes.  But also to remember.  I also saw, my even older friend who was the one who brought my friend the bride and I together (fifteen years ago when I moved to California).  These two ladies were my companions through my twenties.  I learned so much from them.  But seeing them again, now that we’ve been separated by a continent for many years, I realized the most important lesson that they both gave me over and again in so many different ways:  how to be a friend.  To oneself, and to others.  Friends do things like fly across the country for one day to attend weddings.  Even when they are in the midst of the strenuous tasks of making one’s dreams reality.  Even when they are sick.  Even when they are broke.  Friends show up against all the odds, and they shower you with love during your biggest moments.  Friends dance at your wedding.  Because the commitment of marriage is so big, and so enduring that it must be celebrated with the biggest expression of love and joy that each person present can muster.  And dancing is the best full-bodied way of demonstrating that love.  (And yes, we danced the hasapico to Zorba’s theme.  There was a lady in our midst who most surely spent her youth dancing that dance. But I only realized that once I’d got us going.  What a special surprise for me, I just love that dance and to see it danced by somebody with a lifetime of experience is a beautiful sight.)  It was my friend who first made the long journey to my wedding three years ago.  Amidst all sorts of perfectly legitimate and reasonable reasons for not attending, she came.  She sat at my side, and I was so grateful to have her there with me.  Time and again, she taught me what it means to have your friend’s back.  And now, perhaps it is safe to say that I have learned something very important from her:  to lead with the heart, to be guided by love.  The heart’s vision after all, is always 20:20.

I’m home now, trying my darnedest to avoid mastitis or a cold, but eternally grateful for my good friends and the love that we share.  I sincerely hope that my next trip to NYC will be longer with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the company of those ladies who are dear to me, their families and loved ones who now surround them in the big apple, and to have them enjoy my son and my husband too.

Here are a few photos from our trip.  Adele got to see Central Park after we had breakfast at the Plaza.  After that, I had to go see a lady about a unitard and then I was thoroughly spent.  I had romantic visions of walking along the Brooklyn side of the bridge and photographing Adele and my dress there in the shadows of that famous architectural landmark with the Manhattan skyline as a backdrop.  But the only energy I could muster landed me in cab bound for the “girls getting ready” party.  I managed to get one more photo taken, of the dress, the gorgeous bride, and Adele.  I’ll have to rely on my memories rather than on lots of photos.  But maybe that’s better.  Memories go straight to the heart.

Adele looks at the park

Adele at the Plaza

NYC, the dress, the bride and the squirrel


The Breath That Binds Us

I’ve been meaning to write a reflection of my gratitude upon meeting Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen last month, but only now am I completing the task.  She generously offered a workshop in support of an inspiring community project a little north of where I live in El Cerrito.  I should have known that a  luminary such as Bonnie would be associated with The Fountain Project but it wasn’t until I arrived at the Wen Wu School that it dawned on me that after thirteen years I was once again in the arena of Chinese martial arts and movement training.  The most enduring reason for my moving to California upon graduating from College was to study with a woman who I found entirely inspiring.  I loved my nearly two years of t’ai chi chuan study with her.  It was my version of church.  But my professional aspirations led me in other directions and I’ve always promised myself that I’d return to the movement study of the I ching.  (I’ve reasoned that it’s the sort of physical practice that lends itself to the aging body and so it seems okay to let that study rest for now while I occupy myself with back-bends and headstands.)  For all that and more, I was immediately contented to have arrived at the threshold of Body Mind Centering.

In what I hope to be the first of many workshops that I took with Bonnie, she gave us the story of our breath which stayed with me and deepened with time.  Bonnie strikes me as someone who has an extensive knowledge of the scientific understanding of our bodies.  She applies that knowledge to her experience.  She has a gentleness with which she seems to approach all endeavors.  She manages to humanize science for the very practical purpose of enhancing our physical experience.  Her work ends up being a beautiful and perfect blend of knowledge and experience, body and mind.  Working with her solidified an idea for me:  where body and mind line up, spirit is present.

What Bonnie said about the breath had to do with how it enters our body and is dispersed throughout our cells, and then how it exits our body.  She was making a point, if I remember correctly, about the flow that defines life.  How trees produce oxygen which flows in to our bodies, how we distribute it and make use of it internally, and how carbon dioxide flows out of our bodies to serve the trees.  The cycle is completed, not derailed, by us.  We are part of the cycle.  She made the point that while we think of the trees as providing something useful to us, we don’t think of us as providing something useful to the trees.  This seemed important to me because our minds, and our social nature tend to hold us separate from the natural world.  Given our inextricable participation in the natural world, this illusion of separateness is problematic.

But it was during a bought of insomnia that it occurred to me that this important connection is in every breath that we take.  It just proves how fundamental our connection to our world is, so much that we take it for granted.  Every breath that we take, links us to our very natural place in this very natural world.  It is nothing more than our minds that hold us separate from this reality.

While I often entertain ideas of spending more time in nature, following the pastoral dream, or any number of earthy fantasies, I have always led an urban existence.  And while we may someday retreat to a more rural setting, I must confess that I really am a city mouse at heart.  That’s why my nocturnal revelation was so important to me.  Like Bonnie’s class it wiped away so much of my self-criticism.  Where ever I am, I am part of nature, I cannot change that.  I can ignore it, or deny it, but those are purely mental exercises.  The reality remains the same, I am part of the natural world, within and without.  Even if I live in a concrete jungle.

We spent the majority of our three hours together exploring our lungs.  This was an initiation into my nocturnal revelation that followed a week or so later, because just sensing my lungs in action was tremendously healing for me.  Completely unintentionally and in spite of so much effort to the contrary, I’ve managed to implant a lot of negative ideas about my body in my habitual thought patterns.  It probably has to do with the persistent pain and discomfort that I’ve experienced for nearly twenty three years.  Or maybe it has to do with being a Pilates instructor.  As much as I love Pilates, and as much as I endeavor to act from a place apart from right and wrong;  Pilates has a definite form.   And that form is the key to unlocking so much of what the system has to offer.  Or maybe it just has to do with being human.  We can be a rather negative lot.  Somehow, feeling my body move just as it does felt so good and reassuring to me.

This new sense of awareness of my lungs and my heart has opened up a new avenue of exploration.  In the coming months I’m eager to look into the deeper layers of my body.  I have the idea that Pilates provides an excellent platform for such investigations and I’m looking forward to seeing how my Pilates practice permeates through all the layers of my body.  For now though, I’m so grateful to have met Bonnie and to have experienced a little bit of her work.  It was at once a salve and an initiation.

Creative Retreat

Retreat seems to be the best word to describe my past week.  Retreat in many senses of the word.    We are back in Oakland after a rather challenging weekend away from our usual life.  I attended the blessingway of a dear friend and enjoyed being part of a circle of women immensely.  While we were away I started making a mobile for the future enjoyment of her unborn child.  Silly me, I thought that I’d be able to complete it over the weekend.  (To my credit, I ended up stitching for a few hours less than I’d planned when I came up with that notion.)  Here are the starting materials, I’ll share a photo here when it’s all finished.

mobile materials


And since it seems best to focus on happy thoughts when recovering from a strenuous time I’m sharing the little sweater that my mom kindly knit for the little babe.  It is just so cute!  (And even cuter once I remembered that it was my duty to add the buttons.)  Babies and their cuteness make so many things better!

baby sweater


My friend has moved up to the country where so much of what I love about life in the Oakland area is non-existent.  It’s strange to me to think of how much a place has to do with one’s experience.  I’m always so relieved to come home to Oakland, which says a lot about why I chose it for my home.  And why I should count my blessings for being able to live out many of my desires, while I continue to plant seeds for the fruition of others.  These days, with so much at my fingertips with the internet, it’s difficult to remember the days of my youth when so many of my aspirations (that are now my reality) existed completely in my own head.  While there is indeed a new level of accessibility at our fingertips we are still in many ways bound by the realities of time and space and our places in it all.  Perhaps it is those boundaries that have flared my frustrations over the past few days.  I am what I am, other people are what they are and there is no amount of imagining that can change those realities.

One thing that I’m bringing back from that relatively near and yet so foreign place is a new taste for cheese.  My friend offered me some of the most delicious cheese, I think that I’m going to have to pay my local cheese shop a visit and beg them to offer it, if they don’t already.  If you ever see this package, by all means buy it and enjoy some with me in mind!

delicious cheese!

Today I will nurse my wounds, and reclaim myself.  Today I will focus on the terrain of my imagination and that of others, in the quiet of my own mind.  I just finished book five of The Narnia Chronicles  (yes, I’m following the original publication order in this my first run through the entire series.  I am so satisfied to be finally reading each and every word, it’s been decades in coming to this.)  There is something so comforting in the process of creating, be it in the doing, the witnessing, or the enjoyment of the finished work.  More and more I’ve come to see just how important creating is to us humans.  It is an expression of our fundamental nature.  Whether it is with stitches, words, movements, strokes, or any of the myriad of creative means that we humans employ, creating is such a universal salve for the weary.

As I wish for myself, I wish for each reader of this post:  a creative retreat.  When ever, where ever it is needed.



My Pilates Droop

Last week was overwhelmingly busy time for this body sleuth!   Here are the highlights that are relevant to My Pilates Body Boost.

On Wednesday…I must have discussed my somewhat frequent bouts with spasms of my trapezius muscle.  Well, along with continuing to address my tailbone area, my upper left back has been clamoring for attention lately at my chiropractic and body work sessions.  My chiropractor mentioned my trapezius a while back but it was my body worker who mentioned Eric Franklin’s (by way of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, who totally rocked my world last weekend – I’ve got a post on that coming) description of the muscle currents that got me enjoying my trapezius in a refreshing new way.  I’ve had the book for years, but I’m giving it a bit more attention now.  Basically I’ve been envisioning my lower trapezius like the base of a podium, my middle trapezius like the tray, and my upper trapezius like some lovely sculpture resting upon the tray.  It’s doing wonders for my posture, achy muscles, and integration of what I learned from Bonnie.

On Thursday…During my workout on the wunda chair, I fell off!  I was doing the teaser while worrying about how exactly I’d navigate sustaining my career while having a second child (I should have learned from my first pregnancy that there is no point in trying to plan certain life circumstances around having a baby, we figure it out a long the way and we are nearly a year away from feeling ready for an addition to our family anyway).  Clearly I was not focused on my Pilates, darn it all.  But I was pretty relaxed.  I watched calmly as my hands missed the pedal and as my reflection in the mirror went out of view and I fell back in what felt like slow motion.  Little by little it seemed, I made it to the floor.  I skinned my spine on the pedal.  As my heart was beating, I decided that it was best to lay and recover while focussing on the place where I touched down.  I reckon that I’ll have a pretty good bruise and I wonder how long it will take for the skin to repair since I think of bony spots as receiving less in the way of restorative blood circulation.  After a couple minutes I surprised myself by finishing my workout.  It would seem that I have successfully established a Pilates habit and for that I’m pleased.  And as far as falling, well I suppose that the more years under my belt the greater my chance of falling would be.  I’m hoping that just once is enough to teach me the important lesson of being mindful while exercising.

On Friday…A case of mastitis took me down.  Mastitis is a curious thing to me.  Despite my growing awareness and treatment arsenal, I was caught off guard yet again.  In this case, I felt a tremendous soreness in my breast, but no hard areas and so I figured that something else was going on.  But by the end of the day it was clear what was happening.  My Chinese herbs, soy lecithin, steamed cabbage leaf compress, warm washcloth compresses before vigorous pumping sessions, and nine hours of rest, all contributed to a fairly swift recovery.  Which is to say that I managed to keep my studio appointments over the weekend but still needed to take extra care.  Husband and boy also needed an extra mellow weekend of recovery so much of the usual was scrapped and we just made do.

On Monday…I finished up an ongoing project for my studio which is a tremendous relief.  Only today can I get back to whatever semblance of routine I manage to maintain.  So this post is finally going up.  I’ll get a workout, and generally feel like myself again.  What a relief!

What with all these happenings, and with my reading of Quiet (finally) I’ve been having some interesting reflections.  I tend to think that our response to challenges say a lot about us.  But in order to respond, we have to know what is actually happening.  It’s probably somewhat obvious to frequent readers that I am a sensitive sort of human, prone to really thinking things through.  I’m realizing that in order to support my temperament I require a certain amount of quiet reflective time.  When I don’t have that time it’s all to easy for me to miss internal signals because I’m in a state of overwhelm.  This past week was full of such instances and the ensuing consequences.  So it would seem that I can only take so much boost before I run the risk of being a droop.  It’s partly why Pilates is so good for me because it is a moderate and meditative system of exercise.  But it’s also why I have to be careful to keep my ambitions in check.  The danger of my very active mind is that I suffer from over-inspiration.  Good to remember and another reminder of why it is so very helpful for me to have this space.  Not every idea requires action.  Some are best put into words on the screen to take shape in other sorts of ways.

Flip that Judgement

In the past couple years as I’ve been dedicating a fair amount of attention to nurturing a sense of peace and tranquility I’ve arrived at a particular idea repeatedly.  It comes up when I am upset by another person’s actions or words.  Rather than focus on my own upset, I’ve learned to look beyond to the other person.  In doing that I almost always arrive at the conclusion that the person in question is facing a challenge even greater than my own.  I reason that the challenge is what drives the person to express him/herself in the way that I found upsetting.  It’s a judgement flip because in that moment of revelation I see that it is weakness rather than strength that is the genesis for what feels to me like strong or overpowering behavior.  I realize that I am by no way the first person to point this sort of thing out.  But it bears repeating since we are all living here together and often we run into each other at exactly the wrong moment.

Last night while I was putting away a mountain of laundry (I’m finally caught up from our vacation – with the laundry at least), I listened to a talk by Malcolm Gladwell that inspired a similar flip in judgement:

Epictetus’ aphorism comes to mind:  “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”  Here’s to going through our days with attentiveness to what surrounds us.

“What is Most Personal is Most Universal”

In reading this book at the lake, I was struck by one jazz great’s mention of Carl Roger’s eternal truths:  “what is most personal is most universal.”  The more I sat with the notion, the more it dawned on me that this idea is what drives me to write.

While I certainly see that what is closest to our hearts, we tend to have in common with others, I also see that with mental trickery, we tend to deny ourselves that which is most personal.  Giving voice through writing seems like a sensible countermove to that tendency of ours.  Why do we deny ourselves?  Is it our over appreciation of extroversion?  Is it our collective lack of intimacy?  Is it just where we are in our collective evolution, that we need to feel the lack of relationship to self in order that we realize just how essential it is to living a fulfilled life?  Or something else?  Or a combination of it all?  It doesn’t really matter, but my mind likes to come up with reasonable explanations for things.  In that exercise I gain insights into our human ways because I choose to delve under the surface to sort through an idea and link it to something in the material world.  The exercise itself is enough.  The arrival at any sense of right or wrong is not the point.  To share thoughts, to spark insights in others, that is the point.

Even more than my musings on my experience of living, I feel that my writing about my physical experiences answer the call to acknowledge the very personal because it is the most universal aspect of all:  our bodies, ourselves.  And yet such explorations are not particularly common.  Our bodies are our medium of influence and yet we take them for granted.  At least on a collective level.  So much of how we share our bodies on the social level is unappealing to me.  I’m interested in substance rather than form.  And on the social level, it seems that form is all that matters.  To give voice to the inner workings of our bodies intrigues me.  It is how I have always shared Pilates.

Every person brings their unique human experience to bear with practicing or teaching Pilates.  I chose to name this online space The Body Sleuth because I’ve come to realize that so much of how I approach Pilates has to do with body sleuthing.  I’m always curious what is happening on an internal level and why.  And as teacher I love to facilitate my client’s own internal explorations.  I used to say that Pilates was more entertaining than television because I used to teach classes after work and I figured that if folks weren’t there with me, they’d likely be on the couch.  “Don’t go home and passively meditate in front of a glowing screen, come and discover what is happening in your body, live and in person!”  Seems like a good slogan to me.

What I share here is always meant to expand out in the world beyond my own personal mental happenings.  In that way I don’t have control over it.  In spite of my limited sphere of influence, I do have a vision.  I imagine a world in which we are each more fully ourselves.  And I imagine that our relationships to our bodies and ourselves are largely supported by physical practices such as Pilates.  Toward that end I continue on with my part, sharing what I know about Pilates and the connections I see in living day to day.

It’s good to remind ourselves why we do what we do.  Especially on hard days when we question our resolve.  Thanks for reading.

On the 50th Anniversary of “i have a dream”

I’ve been seeing Dr. King’s photos on the cover of magazines for a couple weeks now but hadn’t had the spare few minutes to read on until a couple days ago.  I will at least be able to consider the monumental anniversary of today, here in front of my computer, before continuing on with the many tasks of my life.  There are two things that feel relevant to me and I realize that the connection is going to seem kind of random.  The main question for me, a person who has always considered the civil rights movement an inspiringly magical time in our country’s history, is where are we now on the journey?  I just read our president’s speech and was happy to be reminded how grateful that I am to have him as our president on every day, but especially today.  He manages to inspire while bringing everything to bear.  He manages to respect us with honesty so that we are empowered to participate.  He said it his way, now I’ll say it mine here in this little corner of cyberspace.  Just to add my voice to the chorus.

These days our passive meditation mode of choice is Glee.  When it comes to movies and TV shows, I am very good at suspending disbelief and just plain being gullible:  it helps me to really experience the show fully.  So I have an easy time with Glee and I’m duly moved with the issues that the show raises.  Lately I’ve been remembering times in my life when I had a vision that was real-life musical theater and how the reality fell short because I don’t have a full cast at my disposal.  This part of me really ought to get a job at Glee (imagine making mini-musicals day in and day out – a dream come true for me), but it’s just a small part of me, not enough to build a career on.

I love to dance and sing, and I love to do these things in regular life, not bathed in lights that separate me from the other people in the room, rather in the company of the people I see regularly and know, for the joy that it brings us.  Sadly, most people don’t seem to realize the benefits of such activities.  And so I rarely sing or dance with others (except now my son has got the idea – maybe all hope is not lost).  I think that this lack of communal singing and dancing is a major problem with our society.  Major.  Singing and dancing together are such basic and wholesome ways for us to nurture and heal our spirits collectively, and yet we seem to be completely ignorant to the opportunity that is always there.  Honestly, it really frustrates me, but again, it’s one of my minor skills in life so mostly the singing and dancing me sits and waits, dormant.

When I think of where we are with respect to racism and segregation, I have mixed feelings.  Some of us do not even think that there is still work to be done.  I do believe that we have much to do, but that the work is of a closer more personal nature.  I was not alive during the civil rights movement and I know precious little about it.  But I have this sense that the many many people involved saw a real reason to bring themselves fully to the movement, and that with so much life force pushing the river, the world was compelled to change.

I cannot help but compare my ideas of the civil rights movement with how we handle similar aspects of our social life today.  Imagine if every citizen of this country took classes about citizenship and appreciated the gravity of the responsibility, imagine if everybody actually voted!  Imagine if we all had a community to call upon – and to really depend upon – in the face of every hardship.  Imagine if we were so convinced of an idea’s importance, or of a basic human value that we were willing to put ourselves on the line for it – body, mind, and soul.  Citizenship is just important today as ever, hardships are an inevitability of life, community and change are a basic human realities.  And yet, on a collective level, we are at a loss of how to live these things.  In that loss, we are not facing ourselves and the realities of our lives.  When I hear of children wielding guns and being killed and other despicable acts of violence, I am reminded of how we are falling short.  It is obvious, and yet we are collectively numb to it.

Joe Pilates made the point:  “As civilization advances, the need for prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals should steadily decrease.”  He speaks of a basic measure of our collective advancement.  In spite of all that makes me think that we are stagnant, we are moving forward.  These days the work is on a smaller scale and it’s more inward.  These days progress is still being made, even with all the negative talk that we people are so prone to.  These days the noble acts are more mundane, but they are just as important.  This is what privilege looks like.  This is what a maturing citizenry looks like.  Our laws and our social framework are improved, but the work on ourselves as individuals and on the small community scale needs constant attention and is ripe for improvement.

In my romanticization of the civil rights movement, I think of the music shared in protest.  I think of the people together standing up or sitting down.  While the dangers were real, the collective will that stood up to those risks was powerful and enduring, and that shines through in the music.  Now in our more privileged and semi-matured state we do not feel the same drive to face adversity.  We have reached that point where the challenges are subtle enough or where we are numbed enough that we are not willing to risk our whole selves to overcome them.  But maybe that is not what is wrong, rather it is what is.  As much as I look back longingly for a time when the struggle was clear and the response was a simple choice, maybe there is no way in these days to have such a situation repeated.  Maybe retrospect makes it romantic and straightforward.  We are here now because of what happened then.  Let us honor where we are, face our reality with honesty and respect and do our best to continually make improvements.  Then the spirit of what those many people did has not been dampened by fifty years, rather it has grown stronger and matured into what we are now.

In season two of Glee, Rachel couldn’t figure out how to write a song until she really allowed herself to feel her heartbreak over Finn and channel that emotion into her creation.  We are by our very nature creative.  We are by our very nature suffering.  It is a matter of linking the two, of opening the dam of privilege that is holding our experiences back from ourselves.  In this next stage of collective growth, privilege may be our most formidable foe, but I have faith in our hearts to lead us forward.  Every person has heart and soul, every person has the drive to create and to contribute.  If we respect that truth and commit ourselves collectively to honoring it in how we relate to each other we will begin to move in step with the flow of our advancement that is continually carrying us forward no matter which way we are facing.

Clearly the civil rights movement was not about singing, but just as the songs helped the protesters to endure, now they can do something similar for us.  Songs can transport us to a soulful place, they can remind us of what is most important and dear to us.  Maybe now the songs can take us back to ourselves.  To help us remember how much heart and soul we humans live with.  To help us remember how rich life is when we allow the continuous flow of our creativity.

if you can walk you can dance

There’s some real common sense to the Zimbabwean saying.  We could do well to lend our voices to song and our feet to dance a little more often.  After all, who couldn’t use a little more glee?  Come one, you know you want to….

Accentuate the Positive

As I’ve already noted, trials of motherhood are within the normal range of experience. And yet, the unpleasantness still stings. I have been in my own little cocoon lately, fortifying myself after a couple years of serious emotional strain.

I am in the midst of reconstituting myself and it is a slow and steady sort of process. There are so many things within to tend to; memories, present challenges, work choices, familial relations. And of course, it all connects and reflects: me. Me has been in serious trouble. It’s funny how that happens. How in the midst of so much good there can be a true crisis of self. How it can go undetected by most everyone. And even if it is detected, no one can really do anything about it. It can be contained for a period. But then at a certain point, something has to give. Or in my particular case, receive. These days, I am constantly shifting my focus toward all that is rather than all that is not. This usually comes quite naturally to me, but I traveled down a deep dark hole a while back and so very much like the little sprouts in my garden, I’m reaching upward toward the light.

So I’m focusing on the positive these days, as best I can. To clean out all the negativity does take a while. The habit of negative thinking takes time to shake off completely. And while I do put a tremendous amount of faith in positive thinking and the far reaching implications, I see all around me the results of my recent period of negativity. Which adds some challenge to the whole endeavor; it is so easy to see all that and retreat back down into the hole.

I set up this space in the midst of my challenges. I set it up with the express purpose of consistently figuring my way back to positivity. I have enjoyed many spans of relief thanks to my efforts. When I read this post I recognize a lot of my own frustrations and as is often the case, I’m compelled to add something to the virtual mix. In this quagmire of negativity which I so often find myself these days, it is easy to fall into the futile exercise of making comparisons. When I do this, I remind myself that there is no reality whatsoever in comparison when it comes to us humans and our lives. Our minds create comparison and honestly it seems to me to be a complete waste of effort. (Like so much of what our minds do when we are stuck out of alignment with ourselves. It seems that the mind so easily plays the role of rooting us deeper into negativity which is a self perpetuating exercise, hence my current ascent out of a very deep hole.)

Which brings me to my point about accentuating the positive. Blogs are good for that. There is a particular time and space around a cyber space which makes it ideal for coming around to what is good. And leaving it at that. And that is great for each and every one of us. And yet, there is the flip side: when we are in a hole, it’s so easy to look on at others’ positivity accentuating spaces, and fall into the trap of comparison which just buries us deeper down into our own holes.

But then, all of life is really like that isn’t it? There is always the choice to be made between being sad and happy (or some gradation of either). Put whatever spin on it you want, choose whatever words you like best. The very words we use can be liberating or condemning by the same token of the point that I’m making. This is the very basic fact of our material existence. To be one-sided is to be incomplete. We are whole only when we are in line, body and soul. And when we are in line, we see at once the duality and the completeness. We see that none of it really matters, and yet every little detail does. But we see it all from a field of love.

Accentuating the positive is simply a mental trick along the way to the field of love which at once surrounds us and is kept from us by our very selves. This trick is by the design of our very make up. We are reflected in our feelings and guided by our minds. For whatever our soul calls us to do, we are still here in these bodies, making the best of it in our limited ways.

Here are the three books that have been helping me with my current project of self care:

Transforming the Nature of Health by Marcey Shapiro

The Astonishing Power of Emotions by Abraham-Hicks

Spiritual Economics by Eric Butterworth


And here’s the quote that hangs over my desk to remind me often of what I know in my heart of hearts to be true:

If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment. –Marcus Aurelius


And there’s one more thing.  I live in a place revered for the good weather.  And boy has the sunshine been a blessing in the past few months.  There have been so many days when I was so down and yet, I could be bathed in sunshine.  I was grateful every time.  Regardless of circumstance, there is always something good to focus on, in my case it’s been the weather.  So here’s to opening our eyes to the goodness that surrounds us in every possible way at every given moment.