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Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category

2013 Lessons of the Heart

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Back in January, I declared 2013 to be the year of “Daring Deeply.” In my post back in January 2013, I wrote:

My focus in 2013 will be about taking chances on outrageous (and unknown) invitations for new workshops and retreats and daring myself to put my heart-centered work out into the world in greater ways. My purpose is to dig deeper inside my heart so that I can take peaceful actions and dare greatly into vulnerability.

As I reflect back on 2013, I realize how much I have dared greatly. My year started with going through many medical tests and receiving a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. That certainly taught me how to dare deeply physically, mentally, and emotionally.  

Daring deeply required me to slow down and create more meditative practices. It taught me to advocate for myself. It invited me to live with vulnerability and wholeheartedness. It taught me to ask for help and receive. I am grateful for every lesson, every journey of my heart, every tear, every smile, every friendship, every laughter, and every moment that brought me closer to my wild cosmic heart.

2013 was a year to go inside more and live from my heart space. I stepped away from a long-time successful shamanic teaching practice. When I gave myself the space to let go, I discovered profound practices of the heart.

The biggest gift of 2013 was allowing serendipity to replace certainty.

I dared greatly and returned to Hawaii to facilitate an annual wild cosmic heart retreat. I met a group of amazing, courageous, and loving women who opened their hearts and trusted the sacred space we created. The group dared greatly too. And I was deeply honored to share the week with my sister, Mary Ann.

Thank you to everyone who shared themselves with me on my journey – whether you know it or not, you made a difference in my life. Everything became my teacher this year from my month long sabbatical, to birding, to the Pacific Ocean, to a new health condition, to new friendships and spiritual teachers, to Kadampa Meditation Center.

My willingness to put my heart-centered work out into the world opened up possibilities to teach in 2014 and beyond, including Hawaii, Colorado, the Virgin Islands, Canada, and even Cambodia.

It certainly was a year of Daring Deeply! Thank you for sharing it with me. I look forward to sharing more heart centered journeys together in 2014.


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At Home with Winged Ones

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Viewed the great egret fishing in the water — it’s white form reflectingOrchard Beach Bird

Listened to a great horned owl cry in the distance

Took a picture of a downy woodpecker upside down tap tap tapping

Chanted while two great blue herons flew over our head

Noticed our first rufous-sided towhee in the green underbrush with tinges of autumn gold

Observed sparrows playing in the trees quickly flying making it difficult to identify

Paused to look at a ruby crowned kinglet stare into the sky

The woods, the birds, the silence, the sanctuary of nature — my home. 

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Book Review: Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence

Monday, October 21st, 2013

HardwiringHappinessFor years, scientists viewed the brain as a fixed organ with no potential for change. With the developing science of neuroplasticity, researchers gained a new awareness of our brains’ ability to change neural pathways and synapses. Rick Hanson’s new book, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence translates these theoretical findings into applications in our own lives. With examples and exercises, Dr. Hanson shows how we can take incremental steps towards a practice of happiness.

As someone who enjoys learning about neuroscience, I found the book  interesting as it takes a detailed look into how are brains are wired to focus on the negative and not the positive and what we can do to change that so we can lead happier and more fulfilling lives. Hanson does a great job of taking very complex concepts from brain research and writing about them in a way that anyone can understand.

Our ability to hardwire happiness is all about focusing on the little things. The book focuses on events and feelings that you can pay attention to in order to build up the inner strength you need to face specific challenges. By focusing on positive experiences, you help yourself remember positive feelings more strongly, despite our brain naturally remembering negative experiences better.

Recent scientific discoveries have revealed that what we think and feel changes the brain. Hanson’s Hardwiring Happiness shows how to transform the simple positive experiences of daily life into neural structures that promote lasting health, feeling cared about, and effectiveness. Hardwiring Happiness lays out a simple method that uses the hidden power of everyday experiences to build new neural structures full of happiness, love, confidence, and peace.

Drawing on neuroscience, psychology, and wisdom from the contemplative traditions, Hardwiring Happiness shows you how to overcome the negativity bias and get good experiences into the brain where it can use them. By taking just a few extra seconds to stay with an everyday positive experience ─ the sweetness of a cookie, the calming of a single breath, the warmth of a friend ─ you turn good moments into a great moments and that gives you durable resilience and well-being.

Hanson’s book offers the tools we need to heal old wounds, increase our motivation, handle stress, develop our inner resources and, ultimately, transform our lives. As Hanson says, “In mere minutes each day, we can transform our brains into refuges and power centers of calm and happiness.”

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One Spot Left for the Wild Cosmic Heart Retreat

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

When will you take a moment to enter into nature, unburden, and listen?

During our Wild Cosmic Heart Retreat at Kalani Oceanside on the Big Island, you will enjoy the sun and the sea; delicious, nutritious meals; laughter-filled days; exciting Hawaiian adventures; insightful teachings, gentle yoga, and beautiful meditations sessions. You will enjoy long walks by the Pacific Ocean and take time to enjoy the palm trees sitting by the pool. You will experience adventures to waterfalls (Rainbow, Pe’e’p’ee. and Akaka), Hawaiian Botanical Gardens, Warm Ponds, Lava Tree State Park, and more. You will end
your week with an amazing bonfire overlooking the ocean. 

However you arrive, you will return home lighter, relaxed, and ready to re-enter your daily routine with more joy. 

There is only ONE spot open for the retreat. Excluding airfare, the cost of this amazing retreat cost $1,700 for a single room. Payments plans are also available.

If you really want to go on this amazing journey to Hawaii,
please reach out to me.

The healing power we experience when we connect to nature doesn’t stop at the sea or at the edge of the forest – rather it lives on in each us day to day, moment by moment, breath by breath.

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Catskill Mountains

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Take a moment to breathe in the beauty all around you.

Take a moment to breathe in the beauty within you.

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Poem: At Home with the Winged Ones

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Greeted by a Warbler
Lunch with an Eastern Bluebird
Storytelling with Grackles in the afternoon
Early evening with Turkey Vultures

Home at last with the winged-ones

A Cardinal flies across the field;
Lands on a branch and
Sings its rhythmic piercing song 

Loud cries above my head
As a Blue Jay claims its territory in the tree
A Red-winged Blackbird chases the crows away 

Evening arrives, softly—
As a Red-tailed Hawk
Greets me goodnight

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My Happiness Word Cloud

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

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Do Work That Brings You Joy

Monday, August 20th, 2012

I didn’t set out to change the world. Most people I speak with don’t either. I set out to change an intense emotion – grief. It was important to me and over the years, I have found it’s important to others as well.

People want to do important work. Work that has meaning. Work that brings joy. Work that matters.

I bring the best of who I am to my work and that is enough – I am enough. And what I have learned is bringing my best inspires others to bring their best too.

There will always be nay sayers (I have my fair share of those too). The gift is knowing what you offer and finding people who are open and ready to receive.

Changing the world is too big. Changing ourselves is about finding our growing edge and expanding from there.

If it’s not important, why bother?
If it doesn’t bring you joy, move on.

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I Take Pride In…

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Being who I am…

Loving openly…

Living out loud…

Showing up fully…

Holding my partner’s hand…

Dancing in the streets.…

Marching to my own rhythm…

Choosing love…

Happy Pride! Mary Anne 

This is dedicated to my wife, Lorene, who I asked to dance 18 years ago on June 24.


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Just Like the Flowers, You Too Are Ready to Bloom!

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

I have been noticing the amazing flowers and trees bursting all over the East Coast. As I began to look more at the flowers, I noticed varieties I have never seen before (or if I have, I had ignored their beauty). Looking deep into the colors, I wondered when the seeds were planted. I became curious about the depth of the roots. I noticed so many forms of life fully grown and came to realize that this is the ultimate trust in nature that exists. And just when you think you know when Spring is going to arrive, magnolias trees blossom in mid-March!

How am I like the flowers? Where do/did I plant seeds in the hope and trust that they will fully blossom? How far down are my roots and which ones will I allow to become unearthed in new and amazing ways?

Just like the flowers, I am ready to bloom. What is bursting through the earth in your world? Just like the flowers, you too are ready to bloom.

Mary Anne

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