203.640.0530 Joy@JoyHerbst.com
Life is short and we are all blessed beyond measure.

Life is short and we are all blessed beyond measure.

These universal truths had eluded me for many years when I couldn’t see past the dark or get out of my own way. I’ve always struggled with depression and my relationship with alcohol as a soothing remedy began in my teens. Alcohol was abundant in family and social gatherings, and it was a rare occasion that didn’t call for a drink or four.

Despite getting a DUI after a concert when I was 20 I failed to realize the trajectory I was on was abnormal or detrimental.

Fast forward into the future: I am married, my graduate degree obtained, and I was practicing as an advanced practice nurse and had two beautiful children. I practiced yoga lots and loved being outdoors exploring.

But alcohol was full ingrained in my life. I was already requiring a drink or two to ease my nerves in social scenarios, enjoying a road soda en route, but now as a working professional and mother, the demands of it all hit me hard. My only “self-care” became alcohol.

I took to putting beer in my kombucha bottle as I walked the kids to the playground, and drank daily. There were two times of day- coffee time, and time for wine.

I knew I was harming myself, my body was angry with me. I was bloated and weighed 40 pounds more than I do now. As soon as the kids were tucked in bed, I isolated myself on the front porch, smoking and drinking, until my husband nagged me enough to come in an enjoy some television together.

But I was still going to work, teaching my yoga classes, running my household.
What could be wrong??

And then one day I got a long overdue smack upside my head. My oldest son, who was 3 at the time, asked me to have him his toy, which as he pointed out, was sitting right behind my wine glass. It was 11 am. I was drinking wine while hanging out with my kids. And he knew it.

I don’t know how I thought this was going to persist, but I somehow expected to have more time before I would have to hide from him.

Wait- what?!

I’m HIDING from my kids because I need to drink?? I was terrified and felt like I’d just been drenched with ice water. Later on during naptime I reached out to a fellow yogini who I knew was sober. I came clean with her, and she served up a whopping reality check.

“Don’t wait until you get pulled over with the kids and have DCF take them from you”.

It had happened to her.

Holy shit. In all honesty it was no small miracle that I hadn’t been caught before.
This is not how my life; OUR LIVES would be. I couldn’t be a mom, a health practitioner and yogini, and continue to endanger or trash others or myself. My therapist kept insisting that I needed to quit drinking. 

But, I needed to address the inner angst that led me to self-medicate.

I needed to learn how to take care of myself.

I went to AA, and had a sponsor who was incredible. She got me through those first few months of sobriety that were totally scary and so challenging. She was with me when I claimed publicly at a meeting that I was indeed unable to control myself when under the influence of alcohol. I accepted deep down in my heart of hearts that I could never, ever drink again.

But what about all that inner ick that kept that nasty mix tape replaying over and over in my brain?? What about the anxiety and deep sadness that kept me in that protective mental isolation?

Turns out that alcohol really is a depressant (human disclaimer: goes to show you that no matter HOW MUCH YOU READ something, unless you can speak from experience, it doesn’t mean shit) and once you stop flogging your body with that poison, your antidepressant can actually work for you.

I dove deeper into my studies of yoga, and then Ayurveda, and started to deeply know myself in ways that I had suspected, but that my training and common practice as an APRN (nurse practitioner) downplayed.

I studied myself and developed habits, daily practices, and dietary guidelines that are deeply supportive. In doing so, I have cultivated self-love, honor and a most delicious relationship with my maniac kids, and this BEAUTIFUL, UNIQUE, once in a lifetime LIFE.

My life’s purpose has been unveiled. All the struggle, self-hatred and self-medicating has led me to this Divine purpose: to inspire and support women in connecting with their own deeply beautiful and infinitely wise Authentic Joy.

chimpy signed Joy

2nd year in.

2nd year in.

The morning of July 13th 2014 was met with great anticipation. I had been waiting for this day, longing for it. Measuring great success up against it.

It was my 1st anniversary of being sober. The date I entered into authentic living.

And by authentic, I mean no holds barred, cranky, pissy, weepy, outburst-y, humbled and amazing. For all it had been and was to be, it was my new way of living in my truest self without the aiding and abetting of alcohol. Hallelujah!

I had survived Labor Day weekend in VT, my birthday, Halloween, (HALLOWEEN- people!!), Thanksgiving at the in-laws, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s (alone), birthday parties… It was thrilling actually. Each holiday, or with each shift of the season, I moved forward without falter back; without focusing my efforts on doing everything I could to get myself a drink. Nope- I persevered, and saw each holiday and day without the blurry memories, drunken guffaws or hasty statements or the constant concern that my glass of wine was empty. To say it was awesome would be an overstatement, but to have each of those days put to bed honestly (and on my own terms) was pretty freaking impressive.

When July 13th rolled around (dare I say, ticked over the finish line?) I woke with an expectation of some blinding grace that would accompany me throughout the day. As if bluebirds would greet me at the bedside with my silk robe in their beaks and little bonny bunnies would hop along as we made our way to bathroom. Are you shocked when I inform you that that wasn’t the case? Well, I was.

Even my husband didn’t show up to the party. I got a “Congratulations” and a seasoned smile, but honestly at that point, even if he had shown up with a 12 piece band to serenade me, I probably would’ve been a bitch.

I felt duped.

Especially when I realized that moving into the 2nd year I would need to get even more skillful at coping my way through social events (a.k.a. stressful experiences) that would typically have compelled me to reach for a drink. The rose colored glasses of promise of that 1st anniversary were now cast aside, and switched out for a pair that served up a heavy dose of hardcore reality; I would need to get out publicly in places where people were, alcohol was, and people with alcohol were together. Bummer. How anxiety provoking.

It is now early January 2016, and I have a 2nd sober holiday season under my belt. I am thrilled to report that time has in fact been effective in healing. The desires to drink are weaker and increasingly rare, while my resolve to spend all my newly found spare (and brilliant minded!) time doing far more amazing things steadily increases. My meditation and sadhana practice continue to grow, my conscious dance experiences increase, and I am cultivating relationships that involve deep connection over fascination of similar interests, as satsang tends to do.

The other night I had an old friend over who I hadn’t seen in 2 years (having young kids does that, as you may well know). Our relationship had typically revolved around lots of misbehaving, and to be honest, I had distanced myself from her because of that. She came over to my house after the kids were asleep, and I put on a kettle and we sat. And talked. And talked. And laughed. And talked. Then moved into another room. Drank some more tea. And talked and talked and talked. And I felt like she SAW ME for the first time in years. I felt like I hadn’t BEEN SEEN in years, nor had I been SEEING HER for years.

It was such a rich, juicy, rewarding interaction full of honest connection that I can’t remember the last time that I had felt so present and loved. And I was there for it. Completely.

I used to rely heavily on a “warm up” drink to be able to feel comfortable in my skin and allow me to converse in social settings. I’ve always been highly self-critical and would become anxious meeting new people. Engaging in small talk, or even having intense conversations with those I am close with would often project me into mental comparisons between myself and my partner, who I would build up to be smarter, sassier, wiser and more grounded. The mind can be such a bastardly opponent, right?? We can become so damn skillful at creating mental novellas that surely cast us into a pit of self-degradation and loathing. I’ve spent many years circuit training that skill set, that to have this loving interaction with my dear friend was groundbreaking, eye opening and dare I say – heart opening?  

It was a huge step for me, to have this very honest and intense conversation with a great friend without shielding myself with a substance. And yet it felt totally and completely raw, honest, and wonderful. I was open to feel all the support, and love that we shared despite our time apart and our differences. Imagine, to make a point to meet up with a dear friend, SEE and be SEEN, SPEAK and BE HEARD, without a screen or substance separating you. Something spoke to me from within that finally broke through and penetrated my hard shell that proved to me that I am Good, I am Awesome. I am worth rocking out this dear, unique and mortal life experience fully and vulnerably.

It was a huge step for me, to have this very honest and intense conversation with a great friend without shielding myself with a substance.

As I slowly make my way back out and into a world that is constantly humming with distraction and numbing tendencies, I feel unbelievably empowered in this experience. I am using this, and my practices, to fill my cup, and am thus finding it sturdy and full of the best nectar that I have known.

Here’s to more anniversaries!

(http://www.greenmesg.org/mantras_slokas/vedas-om_asato_ma_sadgamaya.php)

Here’s to more anniversaries!

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya |
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya |
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

 

Beat Winter Body Blues with 24-Hour Veggie Soup Cleanse

Beat Winter Body Blues with 24-Hour Veggie Soup Cleanse

We’ve all heard about juice cleanses, but not everyone has heard about another hot health trend –the soup cleanse. Soup cleanses are fantastic for long winter months when our bodies could use a warm boost of energy.

Veggie Coconut Soup

Veggie Coconut Soup

Unlike juice cleanses that contain some fruits, soup cleanses are typically lower on the glycemic scale. This soup cleanse is packed with veggies that contain fiber and nutrients to help maintain weight during pre- and post-holiday overindulgence. They’re also jam-packed with immunity-boosting antioxidants.

To complete this soup cleanse, you’ll need a high-speed blender. I also recommend using glass Mason jars for storage, then making all your soups in the morning so a busy day doesn’t ruin your plans.

When shopping for ingredients, choose organic whenever possible, and be sure to stock up on lots of water and herbal tea for maximum hydration.

There are five recipes below for breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner. If breakfast, lunch and dinner fill you until the next meal, you do not have to make a morning and afternoon snack, but you can if needed. Note that the Bone Broth recipe will take 24 hours to make, so plan to make this recipe the day before your cleanse. For an evening snack, drink herbal tea.

 

BREAKFAST

Creamy Coconut Serves 2

  • 2 large avocados
  • 1½ cups coconut water
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup basil leaves
  • 2 cups peas
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Blend using a high-speed blender until smooth.

 

MORNING SNACK

Glowing Greens Soup Serves 2

  • 2 cups water or coconut water
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 avocado
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • Fresh basil (garnish)

Blend using a high-speed blender until smooth. Garnish with fresh basil.

 

LUNCH

Creamy Kale  Serves 2

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 avocado
  • ½ cup coconut water or coconut milk
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh peas
  • 5 basil leaves
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Hemp seeds (garnish)
  • Dulse flakes (garnish)

Blend using a high-speed blender until smooth. Top with hemp seeds and dulse flakes.

 

AFTERNOON SNACK

Chicken Bone Broth Soup

  • 3-5 pounds of soup bones
  • Water (enough to cover the bones)
  • 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
  • *Note: Ask at your local butcher shop. Soup bones are usually very cheap, if not free!

MAKE YOUR STOCK. In a stock pot, add the soup bones and enough water to cover. Add apple cider vinegar. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 24+ hours.

STORE YOUR STOCK. After about 24 hours, strain the stock into mason jars. Set them in the fridge to cool. Skim off the fat that rises to the top, and close tightly with a lid, or put in ice cube trays for quick use.

This will keep in the fridge for a few days, or for four to six months in the freezer.

 

DINNER

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup  Serves 4

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1 can organic coconut milk (BPA-free can)
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped (garnish)

ROAST THE VEGETABLES. Heat your oven to 350°F. Take your chopped butternut squash and carrots and massage with coconut oil, cumin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Bake on a cookie sheet for 20 to 25 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

ASSEMBLE THE SOUP. Add the vegetable broth and coconut milk to a large pot. Mix together thoroughly. Add the cooled, roasted vegetables to a high-speed blender in batches with just enough broth/coconut milk mixture to cover. Blend until smooth. Add it back to the soup pot and set it on medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve topped with chopped parsley.

Are you ready to learn some new EASY recipes that can help you feel better every day? 

Are you looking for a health change but you don’t know where to start?

My new Winter Detox Program will be perfect for you! You can expect to detox your ENTIRE body from all of the toxins in it and you will shed weight!  Read all about it here.

 

Are you ready to take the Self Love Challenge?

Are you ready to take the Self Love Challenge?

 

Dancing the 5 Elements

Dancing the 5 Elements

5elements dance

The Five Elements manifest in the body in the form of energy within the five sense organs, namely Space (through sound into our ears), Air (touch on our skin), Fire (lighting the vista before our eyes), Water (quenching our thirst on our tongue), and Earth (perfuming the terra firma for our nose).

Without ether, there would be no air, and without air there would be no flare for the fire. The hot, dry heat of the flame leaves way for the balancing element of coolly refreshing, wet water. Finally, earth is formed by the condensing of the former four.

In ether we can fly, with air we breathe, and fire catalyzes change. With water we flow and grow, and earth provides matter that grounds and stabilizes.   Each element offers the capacity for all matter and all means of energy to grow, change, stay, decay, disappear.   You can read more about my appreciation of the elements here.

Beyond the gross representations (gross as in manifest, not Ew) of the elements, we are privy to the subtle qualities that lie below. THAT, my friend, is where the real magic lies.

Have you ever been told to go with the flow? Or hold it steady? How about let it go? Or to light a fire under your ass?

I can certainly attest to the amazing balance of opposites. When I am burning up inside from anger or impatience, I step away to enjoy a cool drink or splash my face with cold water. As Winter progresses and the cold, damp winds blow, we find ourselves chilled to the bone, only finally finding the warming relief from spicy, hot soups or drinks. Examples of these types of balancing actions allows for blocked pathways (energetic and anatomical), so we can find ourselves truly rooted in our bodies with more awareness.

In this day of never-ending information downloading and uber cerebral daily workouts, I would argue that it’s embodiment that we need!

WHY DANCE?

I have danced ecstasy, anger, creation, passion, death and ritual. We may dance for the sake of performance or to get belly laughs from our children. We dance in community to celebrate, to sweat it out and be fit, and to honor the Divine or our Source of Universal strength and inspiration.

I am a born dancer. I started in ballet and jazz classes in childhood, and went on to study in college, even auditioning for big Broadway shows in Chicago and Detroit. As fate would have it, I suffered an ankle injury at age 17 that only accentuated the overwhelm I felt as a pre-professional dancer. I dealt with a lot of anguish about pushing myself to work through the pain and weakness, lest I see my classmates excel in their performance. Anyone who grew up seriously studying dance knows all about the search for the (unattainable) goal of physical perfection, the competitiveness, the “Bun Heads” (think Mean Girls in tights and very expensive wool warm ups). It’s a tough road.

After two years of college study, my grades suffered and I dropped out. Once a pure joy, the dance pivoted (kindly allow the pun!) and I transitioned into a career of nursing, leaving dance behind altogether. After a few years of academics however, I sorely missed movement.  I started practicing yoga pretty seriously, but felt the lack of lyrical flow from asana, and then thrillingly discovered tribal fusion belly dance while searching for adult dance classes online. I am grateful to have returned to dance in a kinder, more satisfying way, and one that allows for deep Inner satisfaction through movement meditation and conscious dance.

Mindful movement enables you to mobilize stagnant energy that has us spinning; it unearths stressors that have taken up residence within our tissues, and commands our ability to express our innermost emotions and feelings that cannot be verbalized due to limitations of our oral language.

The practice of mindful, moving meditation with delicate attention to the elements, both macro and micro, brings us into deeper awareness that improves our relationship to the physical body. Once we dissolve the inner barriers in our own body, the energies of our surroundings return to deeper familiarity and recognition.

I am Earth, This is Earth, You are Earth.

I am Fire, This is Fire, You are Fire.

I am Water, This is Water, You are Water.

I am Air, This is Air, You are Air.

I am Ether, This is Ether, You are Ether.

I love that no matter where I am in my cycle in life, I always have my ability to dance to convey my elemental wisdom; my lightness and adaptability, my flexibility and dynamism, my fiery determination and focus, my fluidity and giver of nourishment, and my steadiness and strength.   Conscious dance is yet one more amazing tool in my kit to Empowered and Lighter living.

This New Year, I invite you to investigate this for yourself. Find a space that you can freely dance, and put on a tune that moves you. Why does it inspire you to dance? What elements do you find called to and are naturally exuding? Try another song that ignites you. Can you find all 5 elements in your dance?   Afterwards, were you able to appreciate a shift in your physical, mental or emotional state?   *hint- dance has been known to be an amazing stress reliever!* Put it down in your favorite notebook and see what also comes up for you.

Feel like sharing? Please post below with your comments! Want to discuss privately? Email me at PurnimaWH@gmail.com. I’d love to hear of your experiences!

 

Are you a grateful mutant?

Are you a grateful mutant?

 

FAIRYstories

In the Thanksgivings of my formative years in the Midwest I was loaded with gratitude for a day devoted to stuffing myself silly with delicious food from sunrise to sunset, all while dressed in a comfy suit of terry cloth, with lots of time allotted for couch respite and reclining.  Heck, I didn’t even have to wear my contact lenses if I so chose, it was just my immediate family and a cat or two, and comfort was key.

Enter my partner/ boyfriend/ fiance/ husband…  Thanksgiving became more of a formal affair as we visited my in-laws in New England; Westport, CT to be exact. There was antique flatware, white linens and lots of political conversation among the adults.  Even though there was but one long table for the 16 of us, (and no “kids” table) it was very clear that you had to be over 50 to weigh in on such topics as the disappointments of Congressional action (or inaction, as it were) or the shortcomings of the educational system.  I was exceptionally grateful for the signal that it was acceptable for us to excused, and thus resign to a bar for cocktails with my husbands friends who were in town visiting. 

Then I was given the opportunity to provide a dinner item for the feast, which continued to be celebrated in CT, our new home, with my in-laws and extended family.  I was thrilled to have my mother in law’s trust to make cornbread, and my honey cornbread offering continues to be a yearly staple, and even the favorite of my oldest son.  I felt validated and proud of my ability to help feed family on our annual special gathering feast. 

Once kids arrived, I didn’t aim too high with my gratitude; I was pleased and greatly thankful if I was able to enjoy some hot food during the meal before having to constantly excuse myself to nurse a baby, refill a sippy cup, or collect a clambering toddler before tumbling off of a coffee table.  For some reason my assigned seat is also on the “inside” of the table, quick egress is not graceful.  Thankfully, the meals were always enormous, and I always had plenty to eat when I returned. 

Gratitude is soul medicine, and just like a well tended garden, it can yield great abundance and satisfaction. 

As it turns out, my recurring ability to perceive gratitude in a multitude of ways is a kind of a mutation, in a way. 

Thanks to glorious feedback loops and that lovely hormone oxytocin, when we build a field of grateful thoughts and sweetened dreams, the gratitude continues to come.  And with it, greater satisfaction and richer relationship, to self and others. 

If you are new to meditation, mindfulness or gratitude practices, Jack Kornfield shares a lovely exercise here.

“Let yourself sit quietly and at ease. Allow your body to be relaxed and open, your breath natural, your heart easy. Begin the practice of gratitude by feeling how year after year you have cared for your own life. Now let yourself begin to acknowledge all that has supported you in this care:

With gratitude I remember the people, animals, plants, insects, creatures of the sky and sea, air and water, fire and earth, all whose joyful exertion blesses my life every day.

With gratitude I remember the care and labor of a thousand generations of elders and ancestors who came before me.

I offer my gratitude for the safety and well-being I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the blessing of this earth I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the measure of health I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the family and friends I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the community I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the teachings and lessons I have been given.

I offer my gratitude for the life I have been given.

Just as we are grateful for our blessings, so we can be grateful for the blessings of others.

Continue to breathe gently. Bring to mind someone you care about, someone it is easy to rejoice for. Picture them and feel the natural joy you have for their well-being, for their happiness and success. With each breath, offer them your grateful, heartfelt wishes:

May you be joyful.

May your happiness increase.

May you not be separated from great happiness.

May your good fortune and the causes for your joy and happiness increase.

Sense the sympathetic joy and caring in each phrase. When you feel some degree of natural gratitude for the happiness of this loved one, extend this practice to another person you care about. Recite the same simple phrases that express your heart’s intention.

Then gradually open the meditation to include neutral people, difficult people, and even enemies- until you extend sympathetic joy to all beings everywhere, young and old, near and far.”

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and to give thanks continuously.  and because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude”  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Here’s to all the gifts we are endowed daily,

            for each breath,

                             for each step,

                                                                                                                                       for each dance,

                                                                                                                                                        and each sunrise. 

 

May you spend this week in deep appreciation for your lovely self. 

The Job Description No Book Can Contain.

The Job Description No Book Can Contain.

I have a lot of job descriptions. 

And so do you, I am certain. 

My life boasts the labors as a mama, a wife, a woman in 21st century USA; I am a professional who wears many hats of various colors and weights, spanning from helmets to glittery scarves to feathered fops…

Oh, yes.  I   am  OH- SO- busy.  Whooee500

But it’s become abundantly clear to me that the flurry of activity I manage to perpetuate OUT HERE {{ flails arms around like Kermit T. Frog}}, conveniently allows me to avoid all the REALLY important work INSIDE. 

I finally realized after hearing over and over again that I wasn’t doing what I needed to for myself (slowing down, taking my time, getting valuable quiet time in solitude), that I did indeed need to take time to sit in stillness, enjoy the exquisite peace and beauty of nature, and experience the sometimes challenging delight of awareness of the present.   Perhaps you may have had the term Highly Sensitive run across your radar screen this year (and try as I may to avoid generalized labeling as a whole), I strongly relate to that which describe such a person.  

Perhaps it was when I determined that the reason my back was hurting on the left side was due to the way I would stand at the sink, poised with my weight only on one foot, in anticipation of leaping away from the dishes to either a.) stir a pot on the stove, b.) retrieve a toddler from their digging for a cheese stick from the fridge or c.) put clothes in the dryer as soon as the washer stopped spinning. 

Wow.  Really? Spaz much?? 

But it’s become abundantly clear to me that the flurry of activity I manage to perpetuate <strong>OUT HERE</strong> {{ flails arms around like Kermit T. Frog}}, conveniently allows me to avoid all the <em>REALLY</em> important work <strong>INSIDE</strong>.

I finally realized after hearing over and over again that I wasn’t doing what I needed to for myself (slowing down, taking my time, getting valuable quiet time in solitude), that I did indeed need to take time to sit in stillness, enjoy the exquisite peace and beauty of nature, and experience the sometimes challenging delight of awareness of the present.   Perhaps you may have had the term Highly Sensitive run across your radar screen this year (and try as I may to avoid generalized labeling as a whole), I strongly relate to that which describe such a person.  

Perhaps it was when I determined that the reason my back was hurting on the left side was due to the way I would stand at the sink, poised with my weight only on one foot, in anticipation of leaping away from the dishes to either a.) stir a pot on the stove, b.) retrieve a toddler from their digging for a cheese stick from the fridge or c.) put clothes in the dryer as soon as the washer stopped spinning.

<strong><em>Wow.  Really? Spaz much?? </em></strong>

Another realization I uncovered was that I since becoming sober, I had replaced adult beverages with being busy, while back at the hideout Son A is 5 1/2 and Baby B is almost 3 (!!!).  Life just keeps on spinning.

And how am I?  Spinning my wheels at an alarming rate, chasing some dream of arriving at this Utopic balance of accomplishment and control.

As if it were anywhere outside of myself.  

So when a Sensitive gal such as myself continues to flurry about in a tizzy, eventually I crash.  But not before yelling.  Or overeating.  Or stomping around, slamming cabinet doors.  And that is SO not the life that I want to lead, nor is it the example that I want my boys to witness and create for their own sweet and exceptional existences.

durga-mata-6

Enter Navaratri, the Hindu festival that celebrates the Universal Divine Feminine for 9 days.  It began  last week and honors Maha Shakti, the Great Goddess in her many forms, including the Goddess Durga,  Durga is a fierce warrior and she has been a great source of inspir

ation to me, as my work lies in battling the negative mind prattle and dissembling my false relationship with self.  Whatever your beliefs or observances, it serves as a timely inspiration for deep, reflective thought, setting new intentions and honoring the light that shines from within, which connects us all.

Taking all into consideration, I have set some intention to create a life worth living, and living well.

I took a huge leap of faith and trust, and scheduled a trip to ashram last November to train with Durga Leela and study her Yoga of Recovery program.  As much as this will be an extraordinary time of growth, reflection, and learning that will benefit those that I want to serve and support, it will deeply support my own journey of sobriety and self realization.  It was that consideration that I continually reminded myself of as the date drew near, as I grew more anxious about leaving my family for over a week.

I have to keep in mind that yes, my family will continue to thrive, and in their absence, I will too.  It is a much needed step that I must take to further my own relationship to my authentic self since removing the illusions I so long adhered to under the guise of alcohol.  I am terrified, and yet thrilled.  I can’t wait to experience it, and also to share it.  

ari treeAt the recommendation of my awesome sister in law I registered Son A and I for a home-school program on Friday afternoons at Common Ground High School which provides some much needed Mommy and Son time exploring, building, collecting, and honoring the greatest classroom of all, the woods.

Being among the trees is easily one of most favorite places to be.  I never fail to feel the presence of the Goddess, the Divine (or Source, whatever phrase serves you best) when I am.

John Muir (1870) describes the Hindu Goddess Aranyani as “a goddess of the forests and the animals that dwell within them, (who) has the distinction of having one of the most descriptive hymns in the Rigveda dedicated to her, in which she is described as being elusive, fond of quiet glades in the jungle, and fearless of remote places. In the hymn, the supplicant entreats her to explain how she wanders so far from the fringe of civilization without becoming afraid or lonely. She wears anklets with bells, and though seldom seen, she can be heard by the tinkling of her anklets.  …Her ability to feed both man and animals though she ’tills no lands’ is what the supplicant finds most marvelous.  …She is also described as a dancer.”
isadora
A dancer.

Yes, I once fancied myself a serious dancer.  It was definitely in the job description.  After spending years focusing on performance, my ability, and the outward expression of the movements (and orchestrating many events and classes!), dance became more work than play.  I longed to be a student instead of instructor, but never seemed to rally my self into the space to do so.

Lately I have had deep cravings for rhythmic movement…  Free movement that is balancing and empowering, and deeply therapeutic.  I know that dance will always be a part of my life, whether it’s sly shimmies while on hold at my desk, drive and dance jam sessions on my commute, or in a studio with wood floors and lots of natural light (also one of my favorite places to be), and it would seem that it is high time for that wild spirit to frankly resurface again, but with fewer restrictions and great curiosity.  I find myself diving deep into study of dance therapy and the chakras. 

More on this to come, I am sure.

As the remainder of Navaratri unfolds, all nine days and nights, I aim to continue on the path of awakening the spirit of presence by honoring my seasonal and essential need to slow down, and some authentic intention awareness.  

May We step more fully into the lotus’ dance of unfolding, while embracing the balance of light with the necessary darkness of our depths. 

Extending deep love and space to share to you busy moms!