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Practicing Gratitude

November 26th, 2019

This is the time of year where we make plans for a big meal with family or friends, for volunteering to serve others in need, and for expressing our thanks. After some reflection about this time of year we call, “Thanksgiving,” I have realized that each day is an opportunity to live from the place and space of gratitude. We have a choice of living from scarcity and complaints (isn’t there enough of that on the news?) or we can live from a sincere place of gratitude. I choose to work, collaborate, and hang out with folks who are thankful for what is in their life – even the painful experiences. I see such liberation when we open to gratitude in every form, even walking in the rain without an umbrella!

By expressing gratitude as a daily practice, I have discovered that gratitude is an attitude and that once you have it, you can make it a regular practice like brushing your teeth. There are many gratitude attitudes practices that can be incorporated into everyday life. Here are a few:

As soon as you open your eyes in the morning, say thank you.

Thank at least 3 people every day for something (from holding a door to being in your life).

Start a gratitude attitude journal – write down each day something you are grateful for.

Take 3 minutes each day, close your eyes, inhale and exhale the words “thank you.”

Each night say out loud at least one thing that brought a smile to your face.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, let us take this spirit and energy of the harvesting of the past and bring forth more fruits into the world. Let us all bring “Thanks” and “Giving” to all we know.

When I am grateful, the world is grateful.  Happy “Thanks-Giving!”

What are your gratitude attitude practices?

I am grateful for my spouse, my family, my friends, co-workers, books, meditation, nature, sunsets, health (my knee getting better!), the ability to travel, my spiritual teachers, my faith, and my ability to hold space & so, so much more!

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Posted in Gratitude | Toning the Om

The Things We Save

November 14th, 2019

I recently participated in a 14-day writing project focusing on one word or phrase. The word “home” has been on my mind. My sisters and I have been going through our childhood home the past few months in order to clean it out. Most of our weekends have been spent packing and wrapping, tossing and filling boxes for donations. It’s been very emotional. As I come across various photos and old objects, I found myself laughing and crying. This is the home I grew up in. It’s the home my mom and dad raised their family in. And gathered with friends in. And welcomed strangers. So much of my mom and dad are still in this home. There are so many memories and collections of belongings that fill “289.” As my sisters and I go through closets and dressers, cabinets and clutter, it has been difficult discerning the treasures from the trash.  We often must look at some items a few times to decide what to keep or give away. We angst over things to toss or take.

I don’t always know the meaning of things my parents kept – some of it was just for sentimental reasons; some of it was passed on from their family; and some of it was saved as gifts to pass on to their daughters. As I look through the stuff in the house, I often feel like none of it belongs to me. And yet, I feel like my parents wanted us to feel their legacy through the things they saved. Every photo, every piece of Irish crystal, every teacup, every vinyl record is their way of passing down their stories, their dreams, and their hopes of a better life for their daughters. Perhaps we won’t have to struggle as much as they did.

This was more than a house my family lived in. This was a place full of love and loss. This was my home. And it always will be. I don’t always know the meaning of the things they saved. I only know the things they saved help me remember them. My heart is grateful for the things they saved.

Home is more than a place of arrival and departure. It’s a journey. It’s finding our home again and again. And it’s an outreached arm, saying, “Welcome Home.”

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Posted in Storytelling | Toning the Om

Let It Be

September 24th, 2019

What if you could be just this moment?

Rather than let it go, begin a new practice of letting it be.

Just let it be.

Let it be and notice.

Then what?

Be just this moment and notice what happens inside.

Be just this moment and this moment and this moment.

Let it be. In this moment, let it be.

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Posted in Letting Go | Toning the Om

The Kindness of Others

September 16th, 2019

Leaning on other people is not always easy for me. I prefer to give help rather than get help. I don’t like feeling like I can’t do something. And lately I have found myself relying on the kindness of family, friends, and strangers. I have been tending to a sore knee and getting support in many forms for it. Of course, I waited a good few weeks before asking for help thinking I could take care of it and do it “on my own.”

I finally had to tend to my knee and get support through physical therapy. Then, after a few sessions when I was still in pain, I thought maybe asking for help wasn’t a great idea. I nearly gave up, but I kept hearing that I ought to rely on kindness, rely on others, and be willing to ask for help. And I realized that kindness is often an exchange of connecting. Kindness allows us to tune into other people and share who we truly are.

I relied heavily on the kindness of others to help me with stairs or the subway or lifting things for me. And I have relied on my physical therapist for helping me slow down and relax while doing both easy and challenging exercises.

I get to notice other parts of my life that need tending. And I get to notice the many parts of my life where relying on kindness is really a daily practice. Kindness is an opportunity to establish a real connection.

Notice all places in your life where kindness appears. Notice how kindness shows up from those we love and those we have never met. Notice where you give kindness to others. And notice how it feels to receive kindness.

Fully experience what it means to be kind. Just be kind.

And thanks to everyone who has showed me kindness the last few weeks! Still healing my knee and grateful for all the acts of kindness.

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Posted in Learning | Toning the Om

Curate More Love

August 21st, 2019

My morning meditation gave rise to notion of curating more love. More peace. More joy. More laughter.

Following my meditation, I wrote in my journal, “My heart is curated and narrated by the love that lives in me.” I began to just sit with that — in that. I questioned where in my life am I curating and narrating more love. How am curating and narrating the love that lives in me? How am I expressing the love that lives in me?

Curating and narrating love is a daily practice; one I am not always good at sharing. Each moment and each breath gives me a chance to curate more love.

What you you curating more of in your life right now? How are you narrating yourself to others and to yourself?

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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

A Thought Away From Peace

July 23rd, 2019

As we become more aware of our thoughts, we can start to observe and listen deeply to the messages we give ourselves.

Take a moment and ask yourself:

Is this thought giving me joy or taking away my joy?

Spend 10 minutes each day observing your thoughts.

Watch where you mind goes and allow your breath to take you back to peace.

The calmer our mind, the more we can give and receive.

Give yourself 10 minutes each day to observe your thoughts.

Where will your thoughts take you today?

Breathe your way to peace.

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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

An Uncertain Heart

June 21st, 2019

Life is about living in uncertainty. 

Life happens in the in-between moments.

Life asks us to make a journey with ourself.

Life exists in the ordinary moments – washing the dishes, sitting with our loved ones, driving in traffic, taking a walk, watching the sunset.

When we live with uncertainty, there is room to explore everything.

Maybe the map we really need to follow is one that makes us lost. In that space we find our way.

By being uncertain, we can find our life moment by moment.

Perhaps that’s the real meaning of uncertainty – finding our unexplored wisdom of the heart.

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Posted in Letting Go | Toning the Om

Getting Lost and Being Here

May 28th, 2019

I have no sense of direction. Turn me around and I get lost easily. Even with GPS on my phone, I can still get lost. I rely on the kindness of others to help me find my way.

On a recent trip to downtown Manhattan for a meeting, I got off at a subway stop that was apparently a good 10-minute walk to the place I needed to go. As I walked in circles trying to find my way, I finally asked someone walking their dog for directions. They pointed me in the right direction, and I headed off to my meeting. When the meeting was over, I was told there was an easier way for me to get back to mid-town. I began following their directions and found myself lost again. Frustrated by my lack of knowing how to get where I wanted to go, I paused to take a deep breath. I looked up and there was a huge sign, “Here.” That’s all I needed to know. That’s the place I needed to be – here.

Rather than rush to a subway, I stood at the corner taking in everything. I walked for a bit and came upon a café. I stopped and enjoyed some food and wandered some more. There was no place to rush to. All I needed was to be here.

All we have is this moment – here. While I will always rely on the kindness of others to help me find my way, I will rely on my ability to get lost, to be found, and to savor being here, wherever that may be.

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Posted in Storytelling | Toning the Om

Support Within

May 22nd, 2019

What’s the posture that will best support you right now? We can slow down. Relax.

What if you tuned into you? Connect to the essence of you. The invitation is to rest. Notice all the places in your life that support you.

Where can you relax? Listen to the rhythm of your breathing. Let your heartbeat be your guide. Just for today. Just for this moment.

What support do you need right now? Give yourself permission to ask for support. Notice what your heart needs. Notice what you need to be more fully alive.

What brings you back to yourself? Notice what is calling your attention. Notice what you are giving energy to and paying attention to.

Let go – for now. Surrender to yourself. Support yourself. Notice how you are supported from the inside. You are supported within.

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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

Life After Suicide: Finding Courage, Comfort & Community After Unthinkable Loss

May 7th, 2019

In Life After Suicide: Finding Courage, Comfort & Community After Unthinkable Loss, Chief medical correspondent of ABC News, Jennifer Ashton, M.D., shares a heart-wrenching and hopeful memoir about the journey after the suicide of a loved one. Dr. Ashton speaks about the many stigmas attached to suicide and shares the stories of many families who have experienced the suicide of a loved one.

Dr. Ashton shares her personal experience following the suicide of her ex-husband, Rob. In Life After Suicide, Dr. Ashton opens up about her private life, including, her marriage, her divorce, her parenting, her therapy, and the emotions that follow the tragic loss of her ex-husband. She gives voice to the devastating experience of losing a family member to suicide. Her decision to share her deep pain came after the high-profile suicide of Kate Spade. Dr. Ashton realized the importance of giving voice to grief. By letting others hear her heartbreaking story, she recognized that it could provide comfort and solace to other families who have felt similar trauma and grief. In Life After Suicide, Dr. Ashton hopes her experience and words can remove some of the stigmas of shame and secrets. She hopes her story can inspire those who have gone through this to know they are not alone.

Life After Suicide is a reminder to all of us about this devastating epidemic. It is written as both a memoir and guide that includes the latest insights from researchers and health professionals. Dr. Ashton explores both the taboos surrounding suicide and mental health and provides a comforting voice to those who are seeking healing. And one of the biggest ways to get and give support is to allow the stories of loved ones to be shared. 

Life After Suicide allows for a deeper conversation about suicide and the impact it has on families. Through stories of those who have lost a loved one from suicide, we can see the courage it takes to open up and recognize that healing happens when our stories come out of the dark. In the end we are left with our stories. The stories we tell one another, and the stories we remember about one another. What remains when we are gone is our story — and our stories give us refuge. Our stories keep us going when grief fills us. By sharing our stories of love and loss, we can open to stories of hope and healing. Dr. Ashton’s story of loss reminds us that the voice of grief needs to be heard. And that all our stories can honor those we have lost to suicide and those who have been left behind.

Dr. Ashton’s book is courageous and honest. Her voice is raw and vulnerable. We need more books like Life After Suicide that speak about this devastating epidemic. Only then can we change our culture. Only then can we fully understand that there is hope.  

**I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Posted in Book Review | Toning the Om