The Wild Woman

This is so very true. 6 years ago, I started to seek, and once I truly found my way back to my soul, once I was truly awakened— there is NOTHING more important to me than keeping that spark alive. That aliveness, the importance I place in my own self – not out of ego or importance of my physical self, but rather this very deep understanding that this physical life is simply a journey, it’s like going to Hawaii or any other part of the world that’s not your home. And that my soul – or in her words my Wild Woman transcends this life. And that by keeping this kindling alive, by constantly allowing her to speak through me, I live the best way I know how in this life and then all else falls into place. This knowing has helped me surrender so much. I don’t worry anymore. I don’t get frustrated about the state of the world, it’s God’s doing, it’s God’s will, and God’s plan is greater than my physical mind can wrap around.

But when I can quiet my physical self, and truly listen through quiet ears, I can catch a glimpse of that magnitude of The Plan.

And I realize all is well. Through natural disasters, man made disasters, violence, disease, hunger, poverty, all of this — there is a Plan. And my role, is to simply take care of the square footage around my own two feet. To trust that if I LOVE myself, truly love myself, in doing so, I am doing my part for this Plan. Imagine if we all loved ourselves. Truly and honestly and sincerely loved ourselves with the same lack of judgment and unconditionality that we love our kids with.

THAT is a big part of God’s Plan. The only part that we need to play.

At least that’s what I believe.

You?

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Diary Entry 3/27/16

surrender
This is a few weeks after I wrote it, because I was unsure I wanted to share. Somehow in the past 48 hours, I have felt compelled to update my blog site and add some elements to it. And this is the first page that I opened to, after deciding to share some of my writings. This entry is from my journal written on Easter morning while in Sedona, AZ.

“I just finished reading the Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer. I highly recommend it. I’ve been trying to get through Untethered Soul for nearly 2 years with little success. But this one, I could hardly put it down. I have come to see how I ‘should’ all over myself even for my spiritual practice. I’ve been trying to control it. My biggest take away was that my meditation practice is the single most important thing I can do and the more I bring my focus there, and let go of some of the other practices then everything will fall into place. Even my writing, which is usually stream of consciousness is directed by the personal mind. Let it all go. Simply allow life to lead me. Whatever needs to fall away will, whatever needs to accelerate will. Don’t do it based on my need to control. Everything is on the table…EVERYTHING! Let go of all the control, the preconceived notions, the thoughts that control, the personal mind voice, that chatter that can keep me up. Just talk to it and see what it is; don’t manage anything…just allow yourself to be managed by Source and watch your life start to flow…and simply allow all that power that is to course through you. You’ve wanted this, you’ve known yourself to be at the cusp of what is possible, so all;ow it – let go of the need to control, let go of the desires you think you have and watch and allow the magic of God’s creation work through you. LET GO LET GO LET GO BE BE BE BE BE BE BE BE ALLOW ALLOW ALLOW ALLOW SURRENDER SURRENDER SURRENDER EXHALE!”

Why I Am Happy

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Now has come, an easy time. I let it roll. There is a lake somewhere so blue and far nobody owns it. A wind comes by and a willow listens gracefully.

I hear all this, every summer. I alight and cry for every turn of the world, it’s terribly cold, innocent spin. That lake stays blue and free; it goes on and on.

And I know where it is. – William Stafford

Where’s your blue lake? When times get tough, or when you’re in a state of overwhelm where can you retreat to? Even if only in your mind, even if only for a few moments? Do you have a sanctuary? A place that is yours and yours alone? One that you can’t share with anyone because you feel like you’ll get laughed at or ridiculed?

Yes, I have a blue lake. A place where I retreat to for safety and to regenerate. A place that sets me free and strengthens me. It’s a place of my own construct. I laid every brick, nailed every nail, painted every wall and flawlessly and lovingly furnished every room. My blue lake is a home…with a view of the ocean, with a room for me- painted white, elegantly appointed with rich upholstery but minimal furnishing. This room is where I meditate. It offers unobstructed views of a deep blue ocean! I can see dolphins beckon- and after my meditation I join them. I’m free, strong and completely One with the universe. I Am.

The iPhone harp tune is hard wired in my brain

We all have read and are familiar with the concept of thinking positive thoughts, the law of attraction, The Secret and countless other books tell us just how to manifest our wildest desires. Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” has been on my bedside table for a decade. I love the quote “what the mind of (wo)man can conceive and believe, the mind of (wo)man can achieve.”

Oftentimes though when we get caught on the hamster wheel of life, we forget to exercise the mental discipline needed to keep these affirmations and visualizations at the forefront of our thoughts and we slip into old habits of negative thinking. I’m guilty as charged. When life gets busy- and the days get long- something’s got to give- and until now- it’s been my affirmations/visualizations. During the Winter Olympics this year- one of the young athletes of the United States (I don’t watch TV usually- I happened to have walked into the family room where my husband was watching) was talking to a reporter after she had just done her run- and she said although she was happy with it- but that if she had to stand a chance of a medal she was going to have to up her game – and that tonight she was going to go visualize the run for tomorrow’s competition. We know that the difference between athletes at the elite level is not physical- it’s mental!

Yes, I’ll get to my title in a moment. I know you’re wondering what the connection is!

A couple years ago I made a conscious commitment to start to wake up earlier than I needed to. I did it in baby steps- setting my alarm clock for 10-15min earlier. I allowed myself slack if I hit snooze too many times- I had a little baby in the house who wasn’t totally sleep trained — it took me a year to sleep train him–(that’s a post on perseverance for another time!). I even wrote my ideal calendar scene in my journal– hour by hour- minute by minute I put down what is like a day in my life to look like. And it started with me wanting to wake at 5:00am.

Now here’s where the title will make sense– I use my iPhone as my alarm clock and so as to not wake my husband who is usually a very poor sleeper and gets into his deepest sleep after 4am- I set the alarm tone to harp and the volume down to the lowest setting. So for the past year or so, the ever so soft sound of that harp is what I have woken to 95% of the time– the other 5% is my little one’s cries!

This week is spring break so I’ve allowed myself some slack and instead of 5:00am– I’ve been waking up at 5:45am. Today however at 3:30, my some woke up crying– so I crawled into his bed (no kid ever allowed in our bed until after sun up!) and fell back to sleep. I was cognizant enough that my alarm would go off so unplugged the phone from my bedside and took it with me to my kids’ bedroom as i stumbled into his bed. I’m not sure what time it was, but before my scheduled time of 5:45am— I started hearing sounds of the harp alarm. I didn’t wake up- and it felt like I was dreaming it- but very clearly- I could hear the very familiar sound of the iPhone harp alarm sound. I finally woke up to my alarm at about 6:15am (yep- I snoozed a bunch) to the sound of CHIMES because my daughter switched my alarm sound when she was playing on my phone last night.

So here’s proof positive that if you listen to something/want something/believe something badly enough– it will become your reality. It will become so ingrained, so hard wired into your brain, it will literally be imprinted; it will shift you on a cellular level!

So I invite you to do this for yourself. Take one thing– anything that you want to change about yourself for the greatest good of yourself and others around you (The Universe will only work for good) and focus on it. See yourself changed, doing the thing that at the moment seems completely undoable. Write a couple sentences describing yourself doing exactly that- (be sure to write in the present tense) and say it daily– whether you believe it or not. Over time, say it enough and it will become your new reality. It may take days/weeks/months or as in my case a couple of years– time isn’t relevant- it will take the time it will take- most likely- I believe that if I didn’t have a baby at the time when I made this commitment- this change would have happened sooner for me. But the Universe knew my impatience and my type A attitude – so the timing was perfect- there were bigger lessons I had to learn- lessons of patience, trust and letting go of the outcome! I am now a recovering type A— most of the time.

Inner and Outer Problems

I attended a Buddhist meditation class last week. The teacher talked about inner and outer problems in a way that really resonated with me. Outer problems are the ones we have no control over- the ones that happen to us as a part of living our lives- our car breaks down or someone cuts us off on the freeway, an accident backs up traffic and makes us late to an important meeting or job interview, people talk to us badly or any myriad of things– these all comprise outer problems and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.

The inner problems are the ways we chose to deal with these outer problems. We can get super aggravated, retaliate by cutting off someone else or chase after that person to flip them off, get really upset and develop anxiety or have sleepless nights and really make ourselves and those around us miserable because of how badly we are being treated by someone in our lives whether it be a co-worker, a boss, a parent, a spouse or a friend or anyone else for that matter.

This really got me thinking about this topic because I can certainly relate to this. In the past year I had a situation going on with me where for months I was in what I felt was a ‘stuck’ place– I didn’t feel like I had a way out with this person’s behavior and I couldn’t understand why I was being treated this way. I started sleeping badly, getting into fights with my husband Jason, and my 7yo started acting out which made things worse– only in hindsight after I extricated myself from that situation (and things at home went back to normal) was I able to realize that my husband wasn’t trying to ‘be controlling’ my daughter wasn’t ‘acting out’ rather it was ME! They were the mirror for my thoughts and actions and were merely ‘doing’ what I was…except they weren’t really doing anything– I was!! This was such a huge realization to me.

How you chose to let this affect you is in your hands. Typically when someone treats you badly or says something that hurts it’s them using you as a mirror that reflects how they feel- and because they dislike how they feel and they don’t know how to articulate it so they lash out against those that are closest to them- usually family and people they care for and interact with on a regular basis. You can’t change them, but you can change you!

I decided that my self-worth wasn’t tied to this person’s treatment of me, that no one gets to treat me this way- and that I ALWAYS have a choice! ALWAYS!

There are two types of suffering in the world– the one is where you learn from it and never go through the same experience again– and then the other where you didn’t actually learn and implement your lessons and so the way the Universe works is that you continue to experience the same lesson over and over– what is it that we are taught in school at an early age? Repetition is a pillar of learning! Life lessons are no different. It took me 10 years and three different experiences to learn this particular self-worth lesson. I consider myself blessed to have had such great ‘teachers’ because without the angst they caused- I’d never have had these breakthroughs.

So what can you do when you find yourself in what feels like and untenable situation?
1. Remember that we give words a lot of power. We can take that power back.
2. By being hurt/offended/upset by someone’s actions or words against us we are giving away our power to that person- and we can TAKE IT BACK!!
3. You always have a choice! Extricate yourself from the situation as quickly as your time, situation and resources allow.
4. Mentally disconnect from that situation and remind yourself that you control how you think and feel. And YES you can control your mind.
5. Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you! Use them like an AA sponsor and ask to connect with them when you’re feeling low! There’s no better feeling when your mentor, well wisher or biggest fan tells you how great you are because they truly believe that!
6. Affirm daily that you are strong and that you are in control of how people behave with you.
7. The world’s greatest thought leaders and humanitarians all shared the same message- Love and Forgive. Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nonviolence (Ahimsa) movement in India is noted for literally ‘turning the other cheek’ and he’s not alone. I’ve never read the Bible- but someone once told me that the word Forgiveness appears more often than the word Love.
8. Most of all love yourself above all else. Love yourself the way you love your children. Imagine how you would respond if someone hurt your child, said mean things or physically hurt them- that pain would be unbearable — it is that emotion and feeling that I want you to tap into when you love yourself. When you do that– nothing and no one will be able to say or do anything negative to you because you will have taken away their power to do so!

Make a decision today that you will not let your feelings run away with you. That you’re in control and that you can’t be hurt by someone else because their words/actions have no power over you. It’s your time to shine!

Sending you light and love

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September 24: Daily reflections of Highly Effective People

it’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to is that hurts us. Of course things can hurt us physically or economically and can cause sorrow. But our character, our basic identity, does not have to be hurt at all. In fact, our most difficult experiences become the crucibles that forge our character and develop the internal powers, the freedom to handle difficult circumstances in the future and to inspire others to do so as well. – Stephen R. Covey

I am on vacation, but am sort of working because well that’s just that nature of me! I can’t turn off totally. And I don’t want to– I don’t believe in separation of work and personal life– if you love what you do, you’re not working anyway! And I teach people to integrate their work into the nooks and crannies of their day all the time- so why would vacation be any different.

Yesterday, however I let something get to me….in a way that usually things don’t get to me anymore. And you know what happens when you let something get under your skin– even if you’re the root cause of that difficult situation…it gets under your skin and festers. It plays havoc with your mind– you can’t sleep, you are crabby with those around you that you’ve no right to take it out on, and you can’t be in the moment anymore because every moment is taken over by your thoughts around the situation that is not resolved. Things become a mountain when they’re just a molehill. It’s what I tell my 6yo all the time– the more you focus energy on your booboo– the bigger it will get and the more it will hurt. Easy to preach– harder to practice. Anyway, I got the opportunity to right the wrong that caused the issue- and my mind reset…but then when I opened the page to this book that I’m reading to today’s date and the quote above is the quote I got to read. It couldn’t have been more appropriate for me today. Yes, I always am amazed at the infinite wisdom and ability of the Universe to tell you exactly what you need to hear, when you need to hear it.

Thank you Universe (and Stephen Covey!)

I Will Never Forget

I arrived New York on August 25, 1994. I was 21 and had dreamed of living in the US since age 12. My parents set me up with college tuition for a year and three months rent and then I was on my own! I had never worked, never knew what it was to pay my own bills, balance a check book or even buy groceries. I’d lived a loved and sheltered life in Bombay, India. I spread my education out over three years of part-time classes and took on full-time jobs to get by. I worked as a barista before Starbucks was born and as a waitress at the diner across the street from school to eat for free. It took me three years to upgrade my B.Sc. in Economics when it should have taken one. I would take the 1am train home from Grand Central station most days– after a long day of work as a waitress in a fine dining restaurant in midtown Manhattan.

Then in 1997, at the age of 24 my accounting professor connected me to his friend who was a VP and looking to hire college grads for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. My interview was the first time I stepped foot into the World Trade Center and for the next two years the 63rd floor of Tower 2 where I needed to take two elevators to get to work (I always said my commute was two trains and two elevators long) was my professional home. Those are two years of my life etched in my mind forever. Those buildings were magical to me. They had a pulse, a heartbeat and a soul. I cried when I quit– yes because I missed my friends, but because I’d miss walking into this building daily.

I moved to California to get an MBA at Pepperdine University, but couldn’t stay away. I’d go ‘home’ to the World Trade Center and pay homage to ‘my building’ a few times a year for those two years.

In 2001 I met a man who would become my husband and we went to Hawaii to spend two months together. On 9/11/01 my friend Minda called me at the unGodly hour of 5am hysterically babbling about the Towers falling. Having been jarred out of island slumber I couldn’t make any sense of her words– she said

Go turn on the TV

and my world fell apart. At first I couldn’t understand what I was seeing. The apartment had a 14″ TV and not a great cable connection– I thought we were watching a badly made B grade movie. I kept changing channels to see what she wanted me to see– every channel just showed the same thing…a plane flying into Tower 2– my building! When reality set in- I think I screamed. Jason came running to check on me– all I could do was stare in shock and disbelief. I cried for what seemed like hours. Numb with shock, we decided that instead of sitting in front of TV watching the Towers fall over and over again- we would continue with our day as planned. As it turns out- it was the day we would be doing our final dive to be Padi-certified divers. We went out– everyone else had canceled. Our 18 year old dive instructor with 500+ dives to his credit took us out and after validating our skills showed us Kauai’s marine life- manta rays, sea turtles, and incredibly colored fish. This was definitely the best and worst day of my life. I remember praying underwater, feeling so connected to Nature…my anxiety melted away, if only just briefly.

I’ve only been back to NYC once since my building fell. I couldn’t bring myself to see the hole in the ground where she once stood. Freedom Tower wasn’t built yet. I haven’t been back. I don’t want to go. Freedom Tower isn’t The World Trade Center. My last memory of WTC is one of me lying on the ground with a camera pointing upward to capture both buildings in my photo. I’m staying with that!

In my office I have a picture of the New York skyline- the one which has the World Trade Center in it. It’s above my door and from my office it’s in my direct line of sight every moment that I’m in my office everyday, 8 hours a day.

I WILL NEVER FORGET.

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Day 16: 30 days to fit- chicken two ways

I feel a recipe is only a theme, which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation.
Madam Benoit

I didn’t post yesterday because my 2yo wouldn’t sleep till 11pm! He then decided to wake up at 4:15am – back to bed in 15 min thankfully but then 5:30am he’s opening his bedroom door again. Ugh! I’m exhausted and groggy so I grab my blanket and go lay down on the floor of his room- so as not to get him too used to being in bed with me (and we have a strict no kids in our bed policy!). He’s asleep and now it’s 7am and it’s time to wake – but I just don’t want to!! I’m wiped out and the day has barely begun! My back and neck are sore from sleeping on the floor.

Thank goodness for my pick me up Arbonne protein smoothie breakfast complete with Almond/Coconut blended milk, almond butter, celery, spinach, green beans, strawberries, blueberries, lime and ginger. Extra strong decaf coffee (ha) rounds out my breakfast with my usual assortment of vitamins!

Lunch is Indian chicken and lentils (thanks ma!)

Two Arbonne mango chews and a chocolate nutrition bar helped tide me over till dinner which was chicken teriyaki including a teriyaki sauce made from scratch! I got the recipe from Mark Bittman’s cooking app and improved upon it!

Here’s the recipe:
1 1/2lb skinless chicken (I used drumsticks but feel free to use whatever!)

1/3 cup each of mirin, water, soy sauce, 1T sugar, 1T black bean paste.

If you can marinate the chicken in the sauce overnight awesome- if not – don’t worry.

-heat 2T olive oil in cast iron skillet on med-high heat
-add chicken and cook both sides till slightly brown – couple minutes per side
-add all the marinade, lower heat to medium, cover and cook till chicken is done (175F on instant read thermometer) turn chicken every few minutes to get an even browning.
-once chicken reaches 175F remove lid and let the sauce thicken a bit – just a few minutes longer. Serve over basmati white rice! YUM! My kids and hubby each devoured two legs – leaving me with just one! Such a great feeling!

Ok so not only did I cook this but while this was cooking I also made Indian spinach chicken to be had for lunch tomorrow. I’d marinated the chicken in ginger garlic paste the night before.

– 1 pressure cooker
-1 diced onion
-1 diced tomato
– 1/2 diced jalapeño
– 1 t cumin seeds
-2 t coriander powder
-1 t cumin powder
-1 t turmeric powder
-1 t salt
1 t ground garam masala (or whole – 4-5 cloves, 4-5 cardamom, 1 small stick cinnamon, 3-4 black peppercorn)
– chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

Heat oil in pressure cooker, add cumin seeds – they should sputter
Sauté onions till dark golden brown
Add tomatoes and all spices
Add little water at a time to make a nice paste – let the tomatoes breakdown till they’re not lumpy.

Add chicken stir to coat gently add about a cup of water and cook under pressure for 5 minutes. Release pressure, open lid, lower flame to simmer and let the gravy thicken and flavors meld together. About 15 min. Toward the very end, add spinach and let it cook till fully blended into curry…3-4min. Garnish with cilantro- serve hot over basmati rice!

It’s 9:50pm– my 2 yo is fighting sleep re-training! I’m standing outside his door- hand on the knob so he can’t turn and open it. I’ve a timer set that’s going up in minutes from 2 to 5 to 7 to 10…I go in at each interval, soothe him, put him down (he starts crying again) and leave. I’m at the 15 min interval and although he’s turned the big light on– all is quiet. I’m going to wait till 20min before going in to check on him.

Give me patience and strength!

Day 15: 30 days to fit! Down 4lb in 2 weeks

Today was step on the scale day! I have to admit I was a bit leery– after all these past few days have been not exactly as the program prescribes! I’ve had roti (gluten), cucumber raita (dairy), beer (alcohol), and even a small sliver of the delicious chocolate tart (sugar)– and believe me when I tell you– I usually HATE tarts! I don’t like the pudding texture– all gooey in my mouth– same reason I don’t like marshmallows!

Another 2lb down!! Down to 128lb! And I haven’t seen that number since my wedding 9 years ago so WOW I’m thrilled!

My son woke up at 4:45am– not as bad as 2:45am– but he wouldn’t go back to sleep– keeping a toddler quiet so the rest of the house can sleep for another hour or two was interesting to say the least! We did rather well.

Breakfast was my smoothie as usual, lunch was chicken with black eyed peas (yum btw– really turned out well!), dinner was left over salmon and 1/2 ear corn on cob! Snacks in the middle of the day were cherries, smoked almonds, a couple of Arbonne mango kiwi chews and a lot of water.

So here’s my observations for today- given that I’d not been diligent on the program for a couple days didn’t seem to matter too much– what was interesting to me was that I was very aware of my slips and also forgiving! I enjoyed everything I ate- didn’t guilt myself at all- not even for the beer! But I did do everything in moderation– way more moderation than I would usually consider moderation. Only a thin sliver of the pie- not a whole slice. Only a tablespoon of raita (cucumber yogurt) – not a whole bowl, only one roti- not 2 and no basmati rice!

My observation is that our idea of normal sizes has gotten so skewed because of everything being Grande/Venti/Supersized that our idea of moderation is what normal size should be– and so when I did real moderation– it truly was ‘smaller’ amounts and therefore didn’t derail me!

I did this program in March and went from 138lb to my pre baby weight of 130lb. Toward the end of June with all the graduation parties and July 3rd AND 4th BBQs I was up to 132lb the day I started this program. My drivers license says I’m 125lb– a weight I haven’t been since my wedding day 9 years ago (and that too because I ate every last bite of our scrumptious meal and cake- I only barely saw that number on the scale!).

Now the reason I’m sharing this is simply this: I feel empowered! I feel in control both emotionally, mentally and physically to do this program- one that assures me success as long as I follow it even within a modicum of diligence! I’ve made adaptations for my lifestyle! I love food too much to have so many restrictions on an ongoing basis! I want to control my food– not be controlled by it! I want to eat and drink to savor – to live- to celebrate and to love! I don’t eat to survive! I eat with all my senses– my eyes and nose even more strongly than my taste buds although those are in close third! And no way will I give up eating baguette and French Brie forever! My Belgian friends taught me a true appreciation for good Belgian ale, my husband and I developed a taste for excellent coffee and tequila together, he spoils me on BBQ that I consider world class– and apparently I can bake pretty damn well! My mother still cooks the best Indian meals on the planet! There is no way on God’s green earth that I will give up these flavors that I’ve developed memories around. I can still recall my mom’s hand feeding me my favorite ‘Dhansaak daal’ as I studied late into the night as a high schooler, I still remember where we were when Jason and I went on a tequila tasting expedition, I still have fond memories of my first few tastes of Abbey Leffe Blonde in Marseille surrounded by amazing friends, a platter of Belgian fries with mayo (not ketchup) straight out of the fryer at 3am! Baguette and Brie still reminds me of trips taken on the TGV throughout Europe 12 years ago. Nope– food isn’t just sustenance– food is memories- memories that I want to remember for a lifetime. How could I never eat those foods again?

So for me this program puts me in control- I continue to do it every now and then not because I want to disappear– honestly I’m happy with my weight and if I hadn’t lost a pound i would be fine. I’ve gotten past my identity being tied to a number on a scale way early in life. What I continue to do this for is to create habits- a lifestyle that will last forever. It takes us years of unhealthy eating to get to where we are when we are overweight and yet we expect to drop it in days/weeks/months! Nope– it will take just as long to establish a lifelong lifestyle – doing it for 30 days helps kick start it– then I fell off the wagon a few times– and knowing that I have something healthy to follow to get back to center and re-equilibriate is really awesome! It takes discipline that then flows into other areas of my life- it takes patience that I benefit from having as does my family – and it takes dedication and a never gonna quit attitude!

Finally– anyone can do anything for 30 days– and the power and control that this program gives you is liberating! You ought to try it– the only thing you have to lose is possibly inches and pounds and you have everything to gain– including energy!