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<Drums Rattle Djembe Doumbek>

Unmoored

August 25th, 2020

I live near water and often go to the end of my street to watch the boats sway as the sun sets. Each night brings a new experience. Some of the boats seem adrift without a destination or port to dock in. These past few months, I have felt this way too. I seem to be adrift and swaying in uncharted waters. Finding the shore at times seems too difficult. I find myself feeling like I am lost in the middle of the ocean—with no destination.

Like an unmoored boat, I am in the sea of the unknown. Searching for anchors, I turn to books, journals, and walks in nature. At times, these bring comfort and other times, I just wade in the waters of the unknown.

Sometimes when I feel unmoored, what is needed most is rest. It is the constant search for answers and solutions to the unknown that has made me feel exhausted. I have had to practice focusing and concentrating like never before. It’s the struggle of finding a place and space just to be that brings the course back into sight. As I work daily to change course, to stay grounded, and to return to the shores of my heart, I try to stop controlling and solving. I am learning how to appreciate how to sail in uncharted waters.

I still feel like an unmoored boat swaying. But for today, the sea and sky will guide me. And my anchor is my faith showing me how to set sail in the open sea of life.

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Posted in Vulnerability | Toning the Om

Real Change Starts With Each of Us

June 3rd, 2020

“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing there are still helpers; so many caring people in this world.” Fred Rogers

At a time of upheaval and uncertainty; at a time when the world seems upside down, and those who have been oppressed for so long, I look for the helpers. I look for those being of service.

When I feel overwhelmed, my first response is to pause and to sit in stillness. I want to listen to what’s happening inside. It is only from that space and place that I can truly listen to what is happening outside. Sitting in stillness helps me have clarity about what I am feeling and what I am called to do next.

There is so much sorrow (and rage) over the death of George Floyd and the recent death of black lives. We can no longer turn our backs on those who experience inequality, injustice, and senseless violence. Real change starts with each one of us. We must be the change. We must be invested in changing ourselves and educating ourselves. We must be invested in changing leaders who have stopped listening. We must be invested in listening, leaning in, and serving.

We must look for the helpers. And we must be the helpers. We need to start opening our hearts, our minds, and ourselves. We must be of service to those who don’t have a voice. Change starts heart by heart; mind by mind.

Please be of service to those who don’t have a voice. Please be sure to vote in every election, especially local ones. Please consider looking at organizations doing some of the work in communities bringing change. Please check out Color of Change, an organization that designs powerful campaigns to end practices of injustice for black people and champion solutions to move forward.

Toning the OM is committed to advocating for change and supporting racial justice through education and service. We too grieve with all those suffering loss. We are invested in listening, learning, leaning in, and being of service.

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Posted in Peaceful Actions | Toning the Om

We Are All Painters

May 28th, 2020

The last few months have either kept us home bound or out in the field as essential workers. Each has had its own pain and worry. Finding beauty has been a struggle. Finding beauty within even more a struggle. I look for my heart-centered practices to remind me that there is always beauty — even when I can’t find it, especially when I can’t find it.

I turn to meditation, reading, writing, bird-watching, and taking photos. All of these practices bring me back to stillness. Looking at the rising or setting sun reminds me to notice light, colors, and nature. I took a photo of a recent sunset that reminded me of a painting. As I told a friend, “The light made the photo look like a paintbrush touching the earth.” 

My meditation the next day included listening to the question:
What beauty am I painting in the world?

We are all painters using our lives as brushes to enhance (or not) the world and fill it with more beauty. What beauty are you painting?

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Posted in Storytelling | Toning the Om

Just For This Moment

April 7th, 2020

Just for this moment is a phrase that showed up in my meditation. It is a phrase that is keeping me grounded. I have said many times to myself as a reminder to stay present to now.

Meditation:

Just for this moment feel without seeking another experience.

Feel the sensations in your whole body.

Let them move, intensify or dissipate.


Allow your feelings to stay or leave.

Bow to your feelings.

Just for this moment be silent or let your voice be heard.

Be gentle with yourself.

Know that your heart is vast and can hold your feelings.

Be a sanctuary for yourself.

Just for this moment.

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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

Baseball and Grief

March 26th, 2020

I had tickets for today’s Opening Day Mets game at Citi Field with my brother-in-law. Given everything happening right now, this seems really trivial. But the Mets remind me of my family, especially my dad. He was a huge fan and raised his daughters to be as well. Every season my dad and I would talk about the Mets roster and line-up. You could always find a Mets game on his television at home and even in the hospital as he grew increasingly ill. After his passing, I placed three flowers on the field by third base on the last day of the 2018 season in his memory.

The Mets have provided a form of comfort and relief throughout my life. After my mom passed away in the summer of 2000, I would watch games on the weekends. It would be the most beautiful Sunday and all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and watch the Mets.

So missing Opening Day is more than just missing a baseball game — it’s about my connection to my family and missing my parents. It’s losing a place of joy and comfort and an outlet for grief. I really miss baseball.

And my hope is that we can all bring baseball back by staying home.

Please take time to notice where grief is showing up for you and know you are not alone. 

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Posted in Storytelling | Toning the Om

A Time to Love

March 13th, 2020

In Ecclesiastes there is a call to plant, to love, to live, to work, and then to enjoy the fruits of all one’s labors. The passage reminds us that there is a time for everything. I went back to Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 to savor the words:

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Right now, it feels like we are all of this. And it is a great time to ask ourselves, “What is it time for in this moment?” What are we called to be with ourselves and one another?

There is a time for everything. And I can think about is how this is a time for us to care for those we love. This is a time to be more kind, more compassionate, and more forgiving. This is a time to be generous and loving. This a time to love – more than we ever have before.

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Posted in Toning the OM | Toning the Om

Curate More Love

February 12th, 2020

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 I 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 are you curating more of in your life right now?

This month, this day, this moment is an opportunity to curate more love.

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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

When Birds Squawk, I Listen

January 23rd, 2020

One of the things I love about the winter is looking out my window and bird watching. It is especially beautiful this time of year because the trees are bare, so the birds are easier to see and find. The cardinals hang out in my backyard and the blue jays sprawl to the highest height to look around. The mockingbirds hang out on the utility wire and the small sparrows find their way to the bottom of the bushes. I like to think they are “hunkering down” when the winds, rain, and snow comes blowing their way.

I have noticed that there have been less birds this winter. As I sit with my coffee on the weekends, I look out my window and notice that the sky is quiet – not a single bird around me. I wasn’t sure what had changed from last winter to this one until a hawk appeared a few weeks ago right outside my window. Now I know why the birds were hiding – they are afraid of the hawk!

This past weekend the birds returned to the front and back of the house. I love watching their behavior. Suddenly, a blue jay started screaming. It was clearly an alarm to the other birds that there was danger nearby. It began to imitate the red-tailed hawk. The loud screams and distressed cries were a warning to other birds. Quickly, birds began to flee and disappear to get away from the hawk.

I began to think about the birds and their survival techniques. I thought about how they support and defend one another (not always, I know). But I was reminded how the blue jays quickly began to warn the other birds when they knew danger was coming. I admired that the blue jays knew when and how to cry out for help and the other birds listened. Sometimes, I too, have no words when I want to cry out for help. Sometimes I want to scream out when I see other family members or friends in danger or sense their pain. Sometimes, I too, want to hunker down and feel the protection of the shrubs and the miracle of nature.

I haven’t yet mastered the wild call of the blue jays to warn others nor have I mastered my ability to cry out when I need more support. Maybe the blue jays will show me how. Maybe the birds will give me the gift of knowing when to appear and when to hunker down. For now, I listen to the call of the birds as a reminder that everything will be alright.

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Posted in Letting Go | Toning the Om

Flickering Light

December 19th, 2019

Our light goes in and out.
We find ourselves again and again.
And we lose ourselves again and again.

Sometimes we need the darkness to find our light.

Our light dims and love helps us find it.

Our light shines bright and love shows us how to share it.

Our light glows and other people notice it.

We sometimes see the light in others before we see our own light.
We shine and celebrate the light in others.

Oh, and their light flickers too.

As our days grow shorter, may we find our inner sun that is always shining light.

May we remember that light emerges from the darkness.
And that the most holy darkness is the deepest darkness.

Let our flickering light and holy darkness be our teachers.

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Posted in Meditation | Toning the Om

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