November 2018 Gratitude Prompt #4

Hollie Holden recently posed this pondering on her blog: “What if the detour is the path?”

Hmmmm…

Yes, Hollie. Good question. What if?!

In my life the detours — those unexpected happenings that took me somewhere I was never planning to go that were sometimes met with kicking, screaming, resisting, being unaware (because if I chose to be aware there was the possibility that I might actually let go of control, be okay with where life was leading me, or learn something along the way), and me just being pretty dang anxious, overwhelmed, grumpy or forlorn — have often been the biggest blessings.

We humans tend to want to line things up neatly. We like point A to point B with no bumps in the road. But life doesn’t happen in a straight line. Everything on earth happens in cycles and swirls. We live on a round planet (at least according to most) that sits a bit wonky on its axis and spins. We orbit the sun in a solar system that rotates. Rather than shine on us with the exact same brightness every single day, our moon waxes and wanes. Our seasons shift and surprise. In an ironic twist of fate, it’s often the winding paths that lead us to the most adventure and beauty.

Fear can keep us from seeing that all is well along an unexpected path, and ego can keep us in a state of stuck-ness and resistance. (I hear yoga is really good for helping with this…just saying.) No “make wrong” for having fear or ego; they’re part of being human, which is a brilliant and worthy adventure! Plus, usually we wake up somewhere along the path and get perspective. Or, once we step off at the end we can see more clearly where it all led. Hindsight gives us deep learning and appreciation. It’s that whole ‘we can’t see the forrest through the trees’ thing.

This week is all about thinking back along the paths we’ve taken so far and feeling deep, deep gratitude for the blessings we’ve gotten from the unexpected twist and turns.

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Maybe you’ve stepped on every path consciously. I bet there were still some unexpected, choose-your-own-adventure moments.

Maybe direction has been forced upon you through no choice of your own.

Maybe you’re on one of those unexpected paths right now and you can’t experience the learning and the blessings just yet. That’s okay. Can you trust that at some point in time there will be a moment when you will be able to?

Sometimes just stating even the most simple thing you’re grateful for along the path can help clear it.

So, this week I ask you to compile a little list of the paths you’ve been gifted with. Joyful and otherwise, there are gifts to them all. Then, make a list of what about them you are grateful for.

Have you grown or learned something? Have you met someone interesting or influential along the way? Have you helped someone?


I’m getting inspired by these prompts right along with you…

The obvious unexpected path along my lifetime so far that has led me to gratitude is
the scoliosis-induced one that led me to yoga and natural living.
This ultimately led me to teach yoga and be in your inbox today.
I’m so grateful for all I’ve learned and continue to learn from this path.
I’m so grateful it has led to me being able to share with others, touch lives, meet people
and have some amazing experiences.
I veered off a professional path I expected to continue on forever and onto this one
when I was forced by my physical body to do so.
I’ve had so much confusion and resistance about that at various points in time because
I’ve worried that maybe I took a wrong turn.
But there’s no way a “wrong” turn led me to a happier, healthier life I love!

I hope every path you step on has blessings.

May there be more apparent blessings, and less blessings in disguise, but when they’re not so apparent, may you always remember to keep your eyes, mind and heart wide open to see the hidden goodness, the almost-missed opportunities, the unexpected growth and newness and joy!

Can’t wait to hear about your amazing life’s paths! And how this whole month of more mindful gratitude practices has gone for you. Thank you for sharing and playing along with me. We’ll do it again next November. In the meantime, as always, feel free to email me or share this blog post with people who might like a little grateful pick-me-up and use #mpgratitudeprompt2018 when you share your grateful musings about this prompt on social media.

It’s been a real pleasure doing this with you!

Be well, happy, and always grateful!

November 2018 Gratitude Prompt #3

HAPPY GRATITUDE MONTH!!!

We have arrived at week 3 of Thanksgiving Gratitude Prompts, and the week of the Thanksgiving holiday in the US — hooray!

This week is all about noticing:
Notice just how many things you really have to be grateful for.

Nothing is too small! When I get quiet and tune into all I have to be grateful for, the amount of seemingly teensy weensy things that I think of surprises me. These teensy weensy things that could so easily be overlooked add up to a whole heap of a wonderful life.

Every day this week, list 3 things you are grateful for. But… Just 3.

Then, notice how many more things come to mind that you are grateful for. Also notice how, as if though magic, you stay in a noticing mindset all day long.

Gratitude grows!

(If I were a twitter-er, I’d ask you to retweet that statement! If you are a twitter-er, feel free — add #mpgratitudeprompt2018. I’m about to grab a fabric marker and write this on a t-shirt for myself. Old school tweeting!)

When we focus on gratitude, we see that we have SO MUCH to be grateful for and our mind gets reset to think grateful thoughts in the midst of our day to day.

For example, we wash dishes and maybe we notice we are rushing though this task with a mind that’s focused elsewhere, or maybe we are feeling annoyed about having to do the dishes at all. Then we remember we can choose to think a grateful thought in that moment, ‘I am grateful for these dishes. I am grateful for all the food I have to eat on them and all the good times had over many meals during my life. I am grateful for the people who share my life with me and for my life itself. What a wonderful life I get to lead in which I can wash my abundant dishes!’

Okay. Maybe I got a little overexcited with that last example statement but, you get my drift. And, when I really do let myself go to a place of feeling deep gratitude, I really do get that gratefully excited!

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I’m getting inspired by these prompts right along with you. Here are the first three things that came to my mind, which is now rolling through about a zillion things to list...

HERE’S MY ITTY-BITTY LIST OF 3 FOR TODAY:

  • LOVE! The love I experience coming into and flowing out from my heart every single day. The love I receive from my family and friends and the love they inspire me to cultivate and share with them. The teachings that remind me that we are each love and love is all (and all we need, Thanks Beatles!).

  • ORGANIC PUMPKIN PUREE! The fact that I can make all the pumpkin goodness I want on the daily right now even when I haven’t done the work of roasting/steaming and pureeing whole pumpkins all season long really does pumpkin spice up my day.

  • INSPIRATIONAL WORDS! I love writing them. I love hearing them. love reading them. I love their energy, their power, their ability to express and excite and make me contemplate.

This list really could go on and on and on and on. I mean, I didn’t even mention my dishes!

Please share this blog post with loved ones and on social media to keep the gratitude growing this month! We’ve got one more Sunday after today for the 2018 installment of Magareeshi Thanksgiving Gratitude Prompts and next week’s prompt is a very reflective one. Be sure to add your personal responses and #mpgratitudeprompt2018 so we can all follow along and be inspired by each other!

Thank you! I’m grateful for you and all you are sharing through this fun little endeavor of positive energy!

November 2018 Gratitude Prompt #2 -- Gratitude For Nature

HAPPY GRATITUDE MONTH!!!

We have arrived at week 2 of 2018’s Thanksgiving Gratitude Prompts.

I hope last week’s prompt reminded you how amazing your human body is!  I hope you found ways to show your body gratitude, to treat yourself well in health, and to stand for a moment here and there in awe of the incredible systems that make you, you.  YOU are a miracle of nature!

Speaking of nature… This week is all about connecting to nature.  Look around and see what in the natural world you are grateful for.  Make a grateful offering to the earth.

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The air has suddenly become briskly chilly.  Our fireplace is flickering away next to me.  I’ve just mixed up my first batch of Double Chocolate Cinnamon Cocoa Mix for the season with the promise of a cup shared with my sweet wee girl later this afternoon while snuggled up under a fuzzy blanket watching a cozy show and reading some new books.  Autumn is officially upon me and I’m loving every single second I can get in — and in celebration of — nature!  Where I am the sun is shining brightly during the day and setting earlier and earlier each day, reminding me to tune in, rest, get quiet regularly, listen, let go, and just be.

Even in the midst of a super fun, active week of houseguests and festivities celebrating my husband’s birthday, I’ve spent time in awe of nature and, with the help of last week’s gratitude prompt, staying connected to my humanness in the midst of the natural world around me.  I’m excited for this week’s prompt to inspire more conscious time reflecting in nature.

I’m getting inspired by these prompts right along with you ...

HERE’S WHAT FLOATS MY NATURE BOAT:

I am eternally grateful for fresh air to breathe.  I am grateful for season changes that remind me I am part of a cycle and I am never stagnant, always expanding and changing.  

I am grateful for the pull of the moon, the life-giving energy of the sun, the twinkle of the stars, trees, mountains, waterways, and every light breeze I have ever been outside to enjoy. 

I am grateful that I live somewhere where hummingbirds are still buzzing about a bit, where certain flowers are blooming and pomegranates are pickable, where the sky tends toward blue, and where time outside is invigorating.

HERE ARE 3 WAYS I SHOW MOTHER NATURE I AM GRATEFUL:

1) Use natural cleaners in my house.

2) Grow and purchase organic foods.

3) Go on “noticing walks” mindfully looking at the world around me and getting more inspired to treat the earth with respect.


Please share this prompt with anyone else who might be inspired by it.  And, be sure to share your responses!  You can simply email me, or share on social media.  Remember to add the hashtag — #mpgratitudeprompt2018 — so we can all follow along and be inspired by each other!

Thank you for your brilliance and wisdom being shared in this fun little endeavor of positive energy throughout this month.  Mother Nature thanks you for thinking of her lovingly!

November 2018 Gratitude Prompt 1 - LIST 5 WAYS YOU CAN SHOW GRATITUDE FOR YOUR BODY

HAPPY GRATITUDE MONTH!!!


We have arrived at week 1 of Thanksgiving Gratitude Prompts for 2018! I’m really looking forward to doing this with you!

As I embark on an extra busy time of year with homeschool activities, extra family festivities, the start of the holiday season, gearing up through the end of this year and the start of next year in my work — and more, I’ve already experienced what I call pangs of panic.  This is when I feel these sudden electric shock-like sensations right in my solar plexus, from my diaphragm up and out through my chest and then radiating into my arms.  Sometimes I can breathe them away and get calm quickly, other times they dissipate a bit but then become a shuddery shakiness throughout my system.  Most times I have to just allow them to be part of my presence — resistance to these does not work.  “That which we resist, persists!”  These pangs come on when my mind is really busy and wandering away from the present moment and suddenly there’s a massive fear thought that comes through.  The next thing I know, BAM!  Reactive shock and panic in my body.  

One thing I know for sure is my body is amazing.  So is yours!  All bodies are!  My body trying to send a message signaling caution is a miraculous bit of nature.  The fact that I’m panicking over things like whether or not I’ve remembered all the little details for what’s supposed to be a fun event is a fascinating bit of ego monkey mind doing flips in the jungle that is my brain.  See how I didn't judge myself and say that's just silly?!  Yeah.  Judgment doesn't help when you're stressed or panicked.  If you find yourself that way, think about what you would say to your best friend and speak to yourself that compassionately.  Because if we take a step back, it all really is fascinating and miraculous.  Even the stuff of life we don't like so much.

Shifting right into gratitude can be very helpful when your monkey mind goes awry… or anytime, really!  So is taking a quiet moment in the midst of stress to remember the simple fact that our bodies always have our best interests at heart.  The way we work on a biological level is utterly, astoundingly miraculous.

So, this week’s prompt is all about being grateful for your body, aka, the vehicle for your life!  How can you show gratitude for your amazing body?



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I’m getting inspired by these prompts right along with you. Here’s my five ...

5 WAYS TO SHOW MY BODY GRATITUDE:

1.)  Stay hydrated — seriously hydrated!  (This has suddenly become an issue with cooler weather and I’m feeling the effects of not being as thirsty yet still living in the desert and needing lots of water.)

2)  Eat and drink pure goodies!  (Especially when feeling stressed or panic — the tendency is to not eat or to make less healthy choices, but if I’m truly grateful for my body, I will feed it well!)

3)  Get the sleep I need and want!  Do what I need to ensure solid sleep (herbal tea/calming tinctures before bed, relaxing baths and meditation at night, less screen time and lower lights after 8pm…)

4)  Practice Pranayama and Yoga regularly!

5)  Think kind thoughts and speak kind words about my body.  Look at myself lovingly in the mirror!

Practice gratitude for your body every day this week and see what happens. You might want to make your list and post it to your bathroom mirror, fridge, or favorite journal.  Anywhere you’ll see it daily and remind yourself how grateful you are for your body.

I want to know how you’ll show your body gratitude.  I’m sure it’ll be inspiring and I’ll learn from your wisdom!  Please share! 

You can post the image and your responses to social media.  Remember to add  #mpgratitudeprompt2018 if you post online so we can all follow along and be inspired by each other!

Teaching Yoga In Times Of Tragedy

I live in Las Vegas, Nevada. Today is the first anniversary of the fatal, tragic mass shooting that took place on The Vegas Strip and even people who weren’t directly effected by the shooting will be feeling all sorts of emotions throughout this week. When I remember the shooting and the moments of not knowing if my husband was okay because he was performing in a nearby show and was very late coming home, my shoulders tense up, my eyes well up with tears, my breath gets tight. I can still feel it in my body almost as intensely as I did that night.

I was one of the fortunate people whose loved one did come home — the next morning after a whole night of being on lockdown in his theatre with his cast, crew and audience. And I was one of the people who — even though I get emotional and still feel confusion, fear and deep sadness when I think back on October 1, 2017 — ended up deepening her understanding and visceral feeling of gratitude as a response to the shooting. I can honestly say I’ve never felt the same level of gratitude than I did when I heard my husband whisper in my ear, “I’m home” just before 6am. I had spent the night working with my thoughts to choose love over fear while occupying myself, keeping myself from checking media as much as possible, listening to sirens, feeling anxious, scared and sad, and eventually tossing and turning in bed.

Just minutes after my husband came home and crawled into bed, our daughter woke oddly early. I believe she sensed something in our energy field. As my husband slept a few hours, I spent a quiet morning with her and my gratitude grew as I thought about the children, families and friends who'd be learning of loss that morning.

There are so many people who I could direct energetic attention on today in light of this sad memorial. I find myself thinking of all the yoga teachers and other “keepers of light” / “space holders” like therapists and healers. Those of us who have the job of showing up and allowing those suffering to just be and to guide them to a more calm, peaceful, fearless mindset and open heart space.

So, if you are a keeper and sharer of yogic light, this is a little love note especially for you…

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“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”

(I don’t know who originally said that, but it’s one of my all time favorite quotes and puts me at ease in times of panic, sadness or confusion every time!)

I know what it’s like to teach in times of tragedy. I know what it’s like to teach when I’ve been suffering, and to hold space for others who are suffering personally or in the face of catastrophe and scary world events.

In 2004 I had to teach ongoing yoga classes in my newly established studio during the aftermath of being forced by social services to put a child family member who my husband and I had been caring for, for a year and a half up for adoption. I expressed to a friend that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t walk in the room and be the face of calm contentment when I was an emotional wreck. He said these wise words that have stuck with me through numerous ebbs and flows of life and teaching: “Then don’t. Nobody expects you to be un-rocked by this. But nobody, including you, needs you to be a wreck all day, every day. Just show up and teach the stretches. You’re the one who is always saying yoga works regardless, so now’s your chance to let it do the work for you. It’ll all come back in time. Your connection to the deeper meaning of it all. Your ability to convey that. But for now, just stretch with people. Just go there and show up because you can and by just being there, things will change. You’ll be doing enough for your students and you’ll all be healing in some way together. So, just teach the stretches and let the rest be.”

I did, and he was right. It was like, “Do your practice and all is coming.” I set intention not to shower negativity on my students and to trust that there was light in me and in the situation somewhere. Eventually I healed that hurt and the confusion subsided and everything worked out for all of us for the better.

On September 11, 2001, feeling rocked and confused and worried and like everything I knew was now part of a greater “unknown”, I taught my regular Tuesday evening yoga class. I was a new teacher and I had no idea what to do with myself and I figured no one would come, but they did come. They came in droves. To a random little room in a chiropractor’s office where I started teaching. They came because they, too, didn’t know what else to do with themselves. They were so grateful I was there, holding space. Every student said they expected to see a sign on the door saying class was cancelled. I had no real reason to cancel class and I knew my own practice served me well that day, so, even though I didn’t know how I could teach and I figured no one would come, I went. I lit candles, I took deep breaths, I set intention, I cried, I thought I was crazy for showing up. And then the door opened again and again and I simply rolled my shoulders back, lifted my heart, and held space as best as I could for each person who walked in. Everyone hugged everyone else and we all had a deeply connective experience together. When we left, we were still in the unknown, but we were in it together, and together, through the light and union of yoga, we knew we’d find a way and we’d support those who were suffering more than us. 

Reflecting back through those especially challenging times to teach had me wanting to put pen to paper (er, words to blog) and hold space for you guides out there who are holding space for others with your teaching. I know you’re taking on some their sadness so that their load may be a little lighter. I know you may be feeling like you don’t have what it takes to guide others through their suffering or like you may be unworthy of doing so. My grey hairs lead me to realize I’m getting to veteran status as a yoga teacher, and I’m here to tell you that you do have what it takes, and you can guide well, and you are enough… simply because you have made the choice to be the one. Don’t pretend to know what to say. Instead, step into the light of teaching and trust the golden lineage of teachers who stand behind you to guide you. Trust that by you just showing up to teach your classes and maintain a calm, peaceful state, you are demonstrating that it is possible to breathe and flow through life again, no matter how great the suffering.

In my hometown of Las Vegas, we all encounter students, fellow teachers, colleagues, baristas, postal carriers, first responders, doctors and nurses, neighbors, service workers, friends, family, and more who were effected deeply by October 1, 2017. I know it is possible for us to hold each other up in light and love, and I know the light of love often starts shining for people on their yoga mats.

My simple prayer for us teachers is this:

May we all be in peace and presence of mind. 

May we find it within ourselves to create calm connection, to hold space for those suffering, to bring about more gratitude, positive energy and joy. 

May we know we’ve got the light of a teacher — and the golden light of all good teachers before us — in us for everyone who just needs to be in our space of union during hard times. 

May we lift ourselves and those who are down through yogic teachings and high vibrational connections. 

And so it is. And so it shall be.

Namaste!

How To Breathe To Engage The Parasympathetic Nervous System And Calm Down

Did you know that by taking even just a minute to slow your breathing and focus on it enough to deepen your inhale and make your exhale as long as possible, you are actually signaling to your nervous system that all is well and both your mind and body will calm down?  

It’s true!  

To understand how this works, let’s review what our amazing Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is, shall we?  The ANS is responsible for controlling the activities of organs and involuntary muscles like the heart and smooth muscles.  Because the ANS oversees and directs them to do their good work in their world (our bodies), these all function harmoniously without us consciously thinking, “Beat, heart, beat…. Release acid, stomach…. Hey, liver, I think now would be a good time to secrete sugars and enzymes…”  

The ANS is made up of two parts:  Sympathetic and Parasympathetic.  The Sympathetic Nervous System is the part of our physiological stimuli that signals us to respond with increased action.  This is where the ever-famous “fight or flight” response comes from.  The Sympathetic Nervous System tells the heart to speed up and the mind to become increasingly alert.  The Parasympathetic Nervous System activates more tranquil responses in the body like a lower heart rate and releasing saliva when something smells yummy.

Our primitive mind is wired to look for stressors — that’s why it’s so much easier to recall negative thoughts or get caught up in dramatic imaginings than positive ones.  That’s also why when we are stressed we tend to become more scatterbrained or overwhelmed with fearful thoughts of what might be.  What sometimes feels like a fluke (to me, at least) because we seem to become stuck in an uncontrollable loop of negativity, is technically a protective measure of the Sympathetic Nervous System.  The good news is, the human brain has been found to be quite elastic and this pattern is easily shiftable by mindfully engaging our breath.  

Yes, our breath.  

Breathing is a conscious action we can take on the more superficial level to signal to our behind-the-scenes automatic self.  A miracle of being human if you ask me!

 

***My 8 year old daughter walked into my office at this point in this writing as I was reading it aloud from the beginning to make sure it flows sensibly and she listened attentively.  When I was done her eyes widened, her jaw dropped, and she simply said, “Whoooooaaaa.  That’s cool!”  It really is, isn’t it?!  We should all take a moment every now and again to acknowledge the coolness — for lack of a better term — of being human.***

 

I digress…

Doing relaxed breathing exercises on a regular basis when we are not experiencing stressful circumstances is a healthy effort that can help us stay calm more often.  This practice can generally lead us to have calmer responses to stressors.  Think about it, when your best friend is super stressed and freaking out, isn’t your first instinct to tell her to breathe?  

When we practice pranayama* as part of a weekly routine, we learn to automatically slow down our anxiety with the breath.  Over time we become more calmly responsive and trusting in the face of negative tension.  Taking those settling breaths in the midst of angst becomes second nature.  Or at least a little easier.

*Pranayama simply means, “breathing exercises.”  The Sanskrit word translates into life sustaining energy — or breath (prana) being drawn out (ayama).

The reason I prefer a breath-centered, flowing yoga practice is because it includes constant calming pranayama.  The body only moves once and inhalation or exhalation has been activated.  The breath is the trigger that sets off the reaction of movement in the body.  The breath is slow, deep and long so the body moves gently even into the most advanced postures while the mind slows down its chattery thought patterns.  I recommend practicing mindfully flowing yoga with attention on the breath as well as focused breathing exercises as part of a regular routine.

You won’t always have a lot of time to do a full yoga sequence.  I totally get that.  So, below I’m outlining a simple breathing exercise you can do every single day, to generate a more naturally calm state throughout your entire being by conjuring your brilliant Parasympathetic Nervous System.

This exercise is so simple, you can even do it in public without looking like a “weirdo.”  LOL! 

 

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STEP 1:  NASAL BREATHING

One of the most effective yet simple ways to beckon a soothing internal response from the Parasympathetic Nervous System is to slowly breathe through the nose.  When we are stressed we tend to breathe in a panting-like manner, quicker shallow breaths through the mouth.  Nasal breathing is naturally slower.  So, to start a calming breathing practice, simply breathe as deeply and slowly through your nose whenever it occurs for you to do so.

The first step in most mindfulness programs is to simply pay attention.  So by taking little breaks throughout your days to pay full attention to your breath, you are becoming more mindful.  Look at you, all monk-like and stuff!

Before moving onto Step 2, take at least 1-5 minutes engaging in this deep, slow nasal breathing:  

  • Sit up nice and tall with your shoulders in a relaxed position drawn backward and downward to softly open the chest.  Let the natural sway of the lower back remain intact, but don’t over-sway and jut out the lower ribs.  Line up the shoulders over the hips and the chin over the belly button.

 

  • Notice the current rhythm of your breath.  Does it feel stuck or tight anywhere along the way?  Are your inhales and exhales short or long?  Don’t judge, just notice.

 

  • When you feel ready, slow that rhythm down.  Take deep, slow breaths through the nose into the lungs.  Work to fully expand through the ribcage, diaphragm, and mid-back with each inhalation.  See if you can take a teensy pause between your inhales and exhales, holding the breath in or out.  Just be calm and quiet during the little pause.

 

  • Blow your nose if it gets stuffy or runny and begin again.

 

 

STEP 2:  EXHALATION ELONGATION (this would make a good name for a Jazz record)

Now that you’ve centered yourself with nasal breathing, it’s time to do the deeper work that will bring forth a tranquility response from your Parasympathetic Nervous System.

  • Take a deep slow breath in through the nose.

 

  • Softly pause before exhaling.

 

  • Exhale quietly through the mouth for as long as you can.  This exhale will be longer than the inhale was — almost like if you were singing and holding out a note.  The breath should not be forced out in any way.  Let it be released gently, incrementally.  Do feel a small engagement at the top of the diaphragm as you push out the last bit of the exhale, but this is a natural engagement.  You are not to pull the belly back or thrust the chest down at all.  Keep the shoulders relaxed.

 

  • Repeat for 1 minute.  For most people this will be somewhere between 5 and 8 breaths.  Try to calm the thoughts in your mind by only paying attention to your breathing.  It can help by thinking, “I am inhaling.  Inhale.”  / “I am exhaling.  Exhale.”  That way your mind has something to do at the cognitive level and won’t wander so much.

 

  • As you enjoy this practice, increase the time you spend doing it to up to 5 minutes.

 

 

I hope this practice brings you closer to a sense of reverence for being human, for being YOU.  I wish for you to find a calm state more often, especially in stressful times.  There are always going to be stressors in our lives, but our response can be shifted from fight-or-flight to one of trust and calm clarity.

NEW Broadcast ;)

Negativity and violence seem to be the loudest headlines these days getting all the attention. It’s hard to stay grounded with so much fear and anger energy coming at us all the time. And in this day and age of social media on top of media-media, it really is coming at us all the time. Even when we are vigilant about what we allow into our day to day, somehow, it’s there. Sometimes we can just feel it. Sometimes we hear about it through the grapevine. Sometimes we pay close attention to it. How can we as members of one human family not pay some attention? We care!



So I’m here with a little news-reframing love note for you today (and a little recipe gift below...). A simple pop-in to say I feel your caring and I am caring along with you. I see your concerns and I am concerned along with you. I feel your days of exhaustion and therefore momentary indifference and then your rising up again into positive action. I am right there with you. My hope is that you will take time EVERY day to remember no matter what is going on around you, YOU ARE A LIGHT BRINGER! You can be the change you wish to see in the world. You are PLENTY and you are PERFECTION and you make a difference!!



The messages I got in my yoga practice this morning were these: Be quiet so I can hear the truth that there is so much wonder and magic in our world! Be mindful with my energy and my focus! Remember that all is well and above all, even when I wonder why I would bother: I AM A LIGHT BRINGER. It’s my calling. It’s my sacred contract. It’s my responsibility to seek out the good, the joy, the light. To live with as much good, joy and light as possible, and to share the good, the joy, the light.



I could withdraw and just try to live a happy life, hoping that my happy energy would have some radiant effect (and I’m absolutely certain that our happy energy does have a profound radiant effect!), but I feel this deep intention to take action and remind you of your splendor!



So, if you have — or someone you care about has — been feeling a bit winded by world events lately, I want to offer you a few little tips to continue to live your bright life…
 

  • When all seems glum or overwhelming, seek first to understand. Remain positive and hopeful; TRUST!
  • Trust that you are loved and supported.
  • Trust that good things are coming and good things are happening NOW.
  • When you’re stressed, you’re likely future tripping or dwelling on the past and looping in an eddy of wanting that which is impermanent to be permanent. Try for a moment taking a deep breath through your nose and, if only for the moment it takes to breathe one breath, BE HERE NOW. (be sure to breathe through your nose and not your mouth, this is more centering for your nervous system)
  • Trust in your amazingness — you are such brilliant design, capable of shifting your thoughts from negative ones to positive ones.
  • Trust that the world is healing. Even when we don’t see or grasp the healing, there is healing happening now. When we look for that, we either find it, or we create it, so look for the healing opportunity of every situation.
  • Accept. Acceptance always moves things along a magical path.
  • Trust that we are all in good hands. When it comes time to choose leaders, choose from a place of heart-ness — that place where we are all connected and want what’s best for everyone. Or step into your own light of leadership and lead with your heart.
  • Nourish yourself. My little voice is very wise and usually quite amusing. Today she told me, “Whole foods are soul foods!” (she also said, “Tea time is me time” and I had a good giggle!) Instead of reaching for that bag of chips or tub of ice cream, see what happens when you care enough for yourself to feed your soul byway of your body with natural goodness. When we treat ourselves kindly through food and proper hydration, we view the whole world more positively so don’t skimp on this step! You’re so worth it and you’ll be able to shine your light more freely when you're nourished.



Along the lines of “WHOLE FOODS ARE SOUL FOODS” and “TEA TIME IS ME TIME” I want to share a favorite Fall recipe with you. I made this for myself this morning, not having had it since last Autumn, and I was so pleased. I felt truly nourished by this tea latté treat.

 

I hope you make a little time for yourself to enjoy this! If you don’t get around to making it for yourself, I think I’ll be serving this at the upcoming Autumn Yoga Retreat Day on 11/11 where I intend to brighten retreaters’ lives and inspire them to live their light. If you’d like to sign up and join this lovely group of humans connecting to heart, light and gratitude, here’s a link with info: AUTUMN YOGA RETREAT DAY EVENT PAGE You’ve still got a few days to receive Earliest Bird Pricing and get 20% off!



Pumpkin Spice Cha Cha Chai Blender Latte
by Maggie Verderame


INGREDIENTS:
1 Cup Almond Milk (or milk of your choice)
1 Cup Brewed Magareeshi Cha Cha Chai Tea
2 Tbs Pumpkin Purée (this works with any hearty squash)
1 Tbs Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 Tbs Maca Powder
1 Tbs Chia Seeds
1 Tbs Hemp Seeds
1 Tbs Coconut Sugar
1 Tbs Honey -or- Maple Syrup
5 Ice Cubes (standard size)


METHODS:
Add all ingredients in the order they are listed to a blender. Whizz up until smooth.

For a cool drink, use cold almond milk and tea.

For a smoothie, used cold liquids and add more ice cubes.

For a warm latté, use warmed almond milk and hot tea. Omit ice cubes.

 

CHEERS to your health and happiness!  Namast-YAY!

CHEERS to your health and happiness!

Namast-YAY!

My Beliefs

MY BELIEFS ...

✴ I believe in people — we are all born of light and filled with the same goodness.

✴ I believe in the power of yoga, music, words, and glitter.

✴ I believe in being strong and flexible.

✴ I believe kids are capable, creative geniuses deserving of respect.

✴ I believe in fairies, mermaids, Santa, enchanted realms, magic, and spirit guides.

✴ I believe dog noses are actually the bees’ knees.

✴ I believe if we were all truly grateful for our bodies, we could change the world.

✴ I believe organic food is best.

✴ I believe in natural healing, herbal tea, fresh juice and kale smoothies.

✴ I believe in collaboration and connection.

✴ I believe mindfulness is simpler than we make it out to be.

✴ I believe we are our own gurus.

✴ I believe in the language of energy.

✴ I believe in love

What do you believe???

What do you believe???

My Manifesto

My Magareeshi Manifesto (I love alliteration!):

✴ Create and share things that make the world a brighter place.
✴ Foster deeper consciousness, greater peace, and lots of fun.
✴ Help people understand that leading a natural life, inspired by yoga is easy.
✴ Support meaningful social causes.

It is my intention to be healthy, have loads of fun and live life with a yogic foundation.

In my world sleep, music, yoga and tasty, organic food are absolute necessities.

Loose leaf tea, earrings, steaming hot baths and wine are always fabulous ideas.

Ego is overrated, and being judgmental or mean (to myself or others) is a definite NO.

Being honest and authentic is always necessary.

Fantasizing about being a rockstar is totally reasonable.

Striving to brighten the world is a must.

 
 

At the end of the day, LOVE, GRATITUDE, CONNECTION, and LAUGHTER are what really matter.

I aim to joyfully make all my whimsical dreams come to life. I am someone who:               Shares anything good in the world I know of; loves freely on people (and dogs); supports people through yoga, music and natural living; is a domestic goddess of holistic homeyness, a playfully mindful mom, and a solid partner to my indefatigable husband.

Above all else, I try to be kind and happy every day!

I want my life and work to inspire others to live brightly ever after!

 

My Story

My (looooong!) Story ~

Seriously! You may as well brew some tea, grab a snack and put up your feet because this is practically a novella.

I’m Maggie Verderame — aka, Magareeshi. Magareeshi is a nickname given to me because I’m somewhat of a “yogi.” I don’t think I’m like The Maharishi or anything! In fact, I’m totally against the whole “guru” thing. (So, if you’re looking for me to be your guru, I must tell you now, I won’t do it! You are your own guru. I am happy to inspire your inner guru to guide you. But that’s all. I mean, sheesh, I don’t levitate, nor am I better than you are. I may have some insights for you, but when you apply them, your own brilliance will shine through — and what I want is for you to be shiny, happy YOU! Ok, now back to me ...)

On paper, I am a singer-songwriter and a yoga teacher. I’m also a happily married mindful mommy, a vegetarian home cook, and a creator of FUNctional art and jewelry. Yoga is the foundation for everything I create.

I’ve been doing yoga since 1992, when I was 19 years old. (You do the math!) When I was about 10 years old I was diagnosed with scoliosis. If you don’t already know, scoliosis is a curvature of the spine. My case was severe enough to warrant wearing a custom-made hard brace that encased my entire torso. I wore my brace 23 hours a day, allowed only to take it off for an hour of stretching, swimming or bathing. As I grew, so did the severity of my spine’s curve.

By my teenage years, my hips and shoulders were out of alignment with each other, my ribs were rotated in a wonky formation, and my thoracic spine (the upper back part), was shifted way far over to the right, under my shoulder blade. I began having immunity issues, and chronic kidney infections in my left kidney that could be attributed to my spinal alignment. I had a bit of a hump (not the technical term — that’s “kyphosis”) on the right side of my upper back. I kind of made all this work for me and my teenage attitude by simply standing in a bit of a sassy looking stance most of the time. I went to school, was outgoing, and was able to keep studying and working at my passion, which was musical theatre. Truth be told, though, I hurt. My body hurt a lot, all the time. Occasionally I missed school and opening nights and talent shows because of my kidney problems or other health issues.

At 16 I was told I needed surgery to straighten my spine. I was supposed to have a metal rod attached to my spine, forcing and holding it into place. My orthopedic doctor told me if I didn’t have surgery, the chances of my being in a wheelchair when I was an adult were high, given how consistently my curve kept increasing. He also suggested that I wouldn’t ever be able to be pregnant because it would put too much pressure on my ribs and back. Outwardly I was happy and peace-loving, but I was a pretty angry, confused kid.

Before I was diagnosed with scoliosis, there was a lot of stress in my life. My parents divorced when I was a baby and a few years later my mom remarried a man who became an abusive alcoholic. I was physically and sexually abused when I was little. My mom tried hard to keep things positive, but by the time I was a teenager, all this stress contributed to tight muscles, pain, and the intensity of my spine’s curve.

I know this all sounds like a total bummer, but there’s a point to it and it has a happy ending, so please keep reading .......

Due to an insurance debacle, I never got my surgery in high school. I didn’t know anything else I could do to help my physical state, so I kept on keeping on in hopes that someday I would be able to have surgery. In the meantime I received a diploma from a small college in my “backup” field of study, broadcast journalism, while I worked in a record store, performed in community theatre and wrote and sang my own songs in some dive-y places. Eventually, though, my back hit a tipping point. I had to stop working, I couldn’t go further on in school and I certainly couldn’t perform. I could barely walk. I was hunched over and in pain and for a few weeks when I was 19 I lost all the feeling on the surface of my back.

Insert hopeful music here .......

Around that time, a new friend suggested I see her mother who was an acupuncturist. I made an appointment. I had no idea what I was doing, by the way! This was before Google and I did no research whatsoever; I just went with it. At my first appointment, in addition to using needles, the acupuncturist did all sorts of bodywork I’d never heard of. I left her office in what felt like a different body. I had more mobility and relaxed muscles. I could breathe more deeply. I was happier and the world around me looked brighter.

At the end of my appointment, the acupuncturist asked me if I had ever tried yoga. I hadn’t, but for some reason — again with absolutely nothing to go on, it sounded like a GREAT idea! We decided on a regular treatment plan for me that I couldn’t afford and I committed to trying yoga right away. Ah, to be 19 again! Just wing it!!

I did my part. I showed up for appointments and I went to a yoga class at a gym. I had some lower body flexibility, a wee bit of coordination, and no upper body strength. It was odd. It was challenging. It was kind of funny. I was the youngest and least physically capable person in class. I left thinking, ‘Okay, not sure what I just did there, but it was kind of cool, I guess.’ Right away I noticed I felt really, really happy. I felt connected to things I found meaning in like flower children and social justice and peace and health. I thought that was amusing. It felt good. A few minutes later in the locker room the yoga teacher approached me. She said, “Oh, I’m so glad I ran into you! I see what’s going on in your body and I know that was hard for you, but, if I may? Just ... just ... come back. Try yoga again, ok?” It all seemed so peculiar and I had no idea why I was doing any of what I was doing, but I said, “Okay. Sure.”

I did go back. Weekly. I went to my acupuncture appointments weekly, too. I finally fessed up that I couldn’t pay for all of this and I got my first lesson in miracles-through-people when the acupuncturist offered me a job! She said she would pay me to be her receptionist/office manager and her benefits package would be all the free acupuncture I needed ... because, she pointed out, I needed A LOT.

My time spent in the acupuncture office and at yoga classes exposed me to the world of natural living. I began to eat differently. I began to think differently. I began to feel differently. I began to associate with alternative healthcare practitioners, bodyworkers, mindful artists and meditators. I began to attend all sorts of workshops and classes. I was healthier and happier. I was more positive, hopeful and physically capable. I found a lovely yoga teacher who altered every posture to suit my needs, even when it was nowhere near what the rest of the class was doing. She taught me that yoga is for EVERYONE, regardless of their circumstance. I got myself a yoga book and I did yoga all the time.

I decided to go to acupuncture school because the system of Oriental Medicine had so positively impacted my life. I remember the first sentence of my application essay was, “Acupuncture changed my life.” In school I continued to get healthier and healthier and I realized that, in addition to helping heal me, acupuncture was my catalyst to yoga and learning more about nutrition and natural living. I figured out that I didn’t actually want to be an acupuncturist. I missed performing and wanted to live as an artist with enough of an understanding of Oriental Medicine to support my life and to be able to share it with others. It became clear to me that I wanted to explore all kinds of natural healing to have a positive impact on the world — especially children because I knew what it was to be an unhealthy, unhappy, disrespected child. So I left school. I eventually left the acupuncture office and I went back into theatre (and, therefore, bar tending — which totally paid off because it was at the bar where I met my indefatigable, inspiringly musical husband in 1995 and we’ve been collaborating ever since).

All the while I did yoga. Yoga and healthy living permeated everything I did. It became the foundation for my life. I learned to live with more acceptance and go with the flow and follow my muses. When I was given a group of teeny tiny kids to direct in a musical, I inherently infused yoga into that work. When I taught preschool and implemented an original after school dramatics program for kids 12 and under, I shared yoga with those kids, as well. It made sense to me that kids should experience yoga because it could help them be calm, happy and focused. It never occurred to me, however, that I was or would be a yoga teacher. In fact, I didn’t exactly know what I would do professionally so I explored working with kids, writing, performing and anything that interested me. My freelancing, entrepreneurial spirit was born and I trusted I would figure out a way to weave everything I loved together.

Fast forward about a zillion (okay, maybe 9) years later when my yoga teacher at the time told me I should be a yoga teacher. I laughed because 9 years into my practice, I was just starting to try to do a headstand. You see, over the years, my spine had shifted closer to the center of my back, my ribs had rotated into a healthier alignment, and my shoulders and hips had released a lot, all without surgery. So, I was finally feeling able to explore yoga like the other able bodied yogis in my classes. I was getting strong. I was getting brave. I could get a little adventurous and try to do things that had seemed impossible earlier in my life like, stand on my head. I thought my teacher was crazy. And yet, somehow, once again, I went with it and wound up interning under her, attending yoga teacher trainings and started teaching in 2001. I had a knack for it and I absolutely loved teaching yoga!

In 2003 my husband and I opened a yoga studio in Las Vegas (where we live because he is a badass drummer for a cool show on the strip!). I directed the studio for 5 years. During that time I developed my kids yoga program, trained a slew of yoga teachers, created my own teacher trainings, connected yoga with art and music locally, and basically had a grand old time with some of the most wonderful people on earth! In 2008 we decided to have real life baby instead of a yoga studio one, and our full-of-moxie wee girl was born in 2009.

Since that time the foundation of yoga in my life has become an even fiercer force! It has led me to a deeper understanding of mindfulness through parenting and ignited a passion in me to support other families in their pursuit of happy, healthy, mindful living. My artistic soul is called to create and share like never before; the music and artful things I make all emerge from yoga. I am driven to de-mystify yoga, showing how it can be practically applied by ANYONE regardless of their background or beliefs. I’ve put it all together and now use yogic principles and entertainment to inspire people of all ages to lead more natural, joyful lives!

Through yoga I have become grateful, even for the dramatic negative things that have come my way; they have shaped who I am today. Yoga and music are interestingly similar and working closely with both for so many years, I have learned how to improvise and go with the flow. (Full disclosure: I am not perfect and stumble often, but I at least fall back on this intention every time I become overwhelmed!) I have learned that one thing leads to another, we are all connected, a tolerant world view leads to understanding and peace, and that there are many blessings in disguise among us. Thanks to challenging circumstances bringing me to yoga and all that unfolded from there, I am living brightly ever after as a homeschooling mom, teacher, and creator!

And I hope to contribute to you and yours doing the same! If you want to get started with a yoga retreat day, click here.