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A Motherhood Manifesto  

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It’s scary shit to become a Mother- no operation instructions included. All our vulnerabilities, fears and traumas rise to the surface and the gap between who we were, who we think we would be and who we are might be bigger than we imagined.

I’m on week 38 of my pregnancy one of the stages in my life I have enjoyed the most (I feel like a unicorn, a really pregnant unicorn) and so many people ask me “are you ready?” If the question where “do you have all the material things in line?” my answer would be “probably and I can Amazon Prime the rest” but “are you ready?” how can you ever be truly ready for the unknown? By being completely open I guess would be the right answer.

But I made myself a list of reminders because that is what I do when I need to feel a little more control over what is to come. A list that will probably change with time. One that I might look back and laugh at or one that I might print and have on my nightstand. I’m not sure.

 

  • I am enough and whole exactly as I am.

  • Say Yes to Help and then let go of the expectations of how that help needs to be.

  • Build a Tribe that makes you feel loved and supported (Even if you have to pay for a portion of it)

  • You will feel guilt, shame and regret. Learn from it but mostly be Kind to yourself. You are doing the best you can and that is good enough even when it doesn’t feel like it.

  • Your husband is doing the best he knows how. Even if that doesn’t ever feel like enough. Treat your relationship like the foundation on which you will balance and juggle. Be gentle with your words and show love through your eyes.  

  • Every stage will bring a challenge and a blessing. Focus on the blessing.

  • You will shed skin like a snake. Give it time to get comfortable in this new skin and pay attention to the relationships that matter.Mostly the relationship with yourself.  

  • Teach from a place of love not fear. Less with words and more by example. Learn from a place of openness and curiosity.

  • Relax into it. Even if it feels like you are relaxing into a prickly cactus. The more calm you bring to the table, the more calm you will eat.

  • When you look at your body think about it like a Miracle making Space Suit that you are living in. And the way you talk to it and treat it will probably be how your daughter talks and treats her body.

  • It’s ok to lose your shit. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok to not feel ok. Welcome all of it.

  • Practice deep gratitude. Long Inhales. Slow exhales.  

  • This is a separate little person. Don’t take her cries, words or actions too personally.

  • Carve your own path into motherhood. Only you get to decide what that looks and feels like.

  • When you feel like you are drowning. Go out in nature, Play your favorite song, Dance, Jump, Scream to the top of your lungs, shake, take a bath, massage your whole body with oil, meditate, paint, journal, bake, pray, cry…..

  • Comparing and Judging will make you miserable.

  • Fear mixes really well with Faith. In other words “Let go and Let God”  

 

 

 

 

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Happiness Threshold

“You need to increase your happiness threshold,” my Acupuncturist said to me as she poked me with a tiny needle that made me feel like she was stabbing me with a knife. I actually go to her because I love talking to her. If I got it my way I would skip the needles lay on my back and talk.

I don’t consider myself a pessimist but I must admit that I have trouble being fully happy. I always look for the broken piece. A part of me believes it’s due to the fact that I’ve never trusted people that make their life sound like they have it all together and another part of it is I’m afraid of the impermanence of happiness. It’s as if I’m always slightly prepared for chaos and that gives me a false sense of security. This was one of the reasons why finding a partner became so hard for me. I kept pushing away the good guys because I was afraid of losing them.

This might not make sense to most of you. You might be logically thinking “well why not enjoy it while it lasts?” Because after much thought on this subject I came to the conclusion that happiness along with any other emotion requires us to be completely vulnerable. The only way to fully experience our lives and stop hiding from them is by being remarkably open and curious to what is showing up. Some of us are more used to the language of fear and some people can only relate to happiness. But wherever you fall under this spectrum the only way not to be dragged and drained by life is by saying YES to whatever shows up.

Yes to happiness, yes to pain, yes to the good, yes to the bad, yes to anxiety, fear, and depression, yes to love kindness and compassion. You can’t pick and choose there needs to be a full embrace of the whole spectrum of emotions. That is how you find your wholeness. It’s as if you open your house to every homeless on the street and instead of just approaching the ones that feel familiar you simply let them all come and go without judgment.

I never thought that saying yes to happiness could be hard. Isn’t that what we all strive for? Don’t we all want to be happy? Well apparently some of us need to learn to embrace it. What feeling or emotion do you have a hard time opening up to?

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Just people

Something shifts when you stop looking at people for the roles they play in your life: mother, father, daughter, boyfriend, girlfriend, sister, friend, mother in law. Something happens when you remove the expectations of what those roles are supposed to look like and you simply look at them as people.

People that have traumas, ignorance and dramas running through their heads at all time. People made of flesh and bones that have probably been hurt in places we don’t know. People with good and bad, fears and hopes, kindness and sadness….

When we decide to remove ourselves from how their attitudes, words and decisions affect us and are able to look at them. Even for a second, to truly look at them without judgment. With compassion. With an open heart. To be in there shoes and when we see them recognize a tiny bit of ourselves.

In Judaism when you get married you pronounce the words Ani LeDodi VeDodi Li it translates as “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine,” my interpretation of those words is- in you there is a part of me and in me there is a part of you. We are not separate. What if we can see this in every relationship we encounter? What if we can see the humanity in everybody?  

Holiday season is the perfect time of the year to practice this.

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Healing

For the last couple of weeks, maybe months I have been waking up between 3:30-5am staying in bed tossing and turning (thank you hormones) eventually giving up, going downstairs and sitting down to meditate. There is something very special about meditating at that time. It’s as if only me and nature are awake (maybe a couple other people with insomnia). I have witnessed shooting stars, a raccoon that could eat my cat for breakfast and a skunk whose smell has penetrated my brain.

Recently my meditations had been what you could consider “uneventful” thinking, coming back to my breath, thinking, coming back to my breath, a glimpse of insight, coming back to my breath….. But the other day a memory kept showing up as an image in my mind- I was 17 hanging out at a friend’s house when I decided to place a Christmas Sphere on my mouth thinking it would be hilarious. Instead, it completely shattered inside my mouth (on my defense I didn’t grow up with a Christmas tree and had no idea how sensitive those spheres were)

As this random image showed up I asked myself “What needs my attention?” “What needs healing?” I placed my hand in my heart and asked “What can I do for you?” and I sensed myself at 17. This girl who was the life of the party, who acted so strong and confident but deep in her eyes was a shame a sense of loneliness, of not belonging anywhere. She was her own mother and father.

I sat with her. I felt what she felt at the time. As I write this I can still feel her. I hugged her and started to rock her “I’m here for you,” I said. “I’ve always been here for you” “you will make it through” I started to sob because cry would be an understatement. Until we stopped. As if the pain was being washed away. As if space was being created inside me for her to live.

Healing takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight but it starts with our attention. When we are ready to stop looking for the answers, apologizes and forgiveness from others and we are ready to start having the conversations with the parts of ourselves that have been hurt and shamed. When we can be vulnerable and compassionate at the same time for the people that hurt us and the versions of ourselves that came before us and for the “us” that carries them with us all along.

It’s not the first time I experience talking to parts of myself that seem to live in the shadows and I’m sure it’s not the last time. Trauma gets trapped in our bodies even if our minds are not aware. I wrote about the lenses we use not long ago and I believe this is how we peel some of the layers. Talking to a therapist or booking a session with me might also help :)

So we stop experiencing the world from our distorted (hurt) perspective.

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Slowing Down

There is no Marvel Super Hero whose super power is slowing down in life. It’s not a quality that makes the front pages of any newspaper or that we necessarily admire in others. Slowing down usually comes for most of us after being physically injured or sick. We slow down as a side effect not as a step towards health and prevention.

We often hear the advice “listen to your body” but the truth is that most of the conversations with our body happen in our mind. It’s a conversation between our Ego and our body, between what we think we need to be doing and what we should actually be doing and we move from black to white from doing to not doing. Because balance is usually not our forte.  

I’m writing this post because I promised myself I would slow down for the third trimester of my pregnancy and had no idea how hard that would be. It truly feels easier for me to hold a plank for a minute then to stay in child pose for a minute. The Ego loves the feeling of being unstoppable. Overriding all seasons and cues.

When I was teaching Pilates group classes a couple years ago there was a women that I felt had been coming to my class and being pregnant for ages when I asked her due date she said “today”. She was doing the whole class with barely any modifications and was back in the Reformer a couple of weeks later. I remember thinking “how crazy” but also “how amazing”. We hear stories of men in their 80’s who still go to the office every day, women with 3 kids, a full time job who decide to add some volunteer work, people with a broken leg that finish a marathon. Behind all those stories there is a sense of awe.

We live in a culture that admires the doers, go getters and over achievers so of course slowing down is seen more as a limitation then the capacity to bring balance, space and attention into one’s life.

As the season, weather and time changes I invite you to ask yourself. What is one thing less that you can do? How can you make your life a little easier? There is a phrase in Spanish that I love “lento que tienes prisa” which roughly translates to “go slow you are in a hurry” and this is the perfect time of the year to keep that phrase in mind.

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The Lenses we use

Not sure at what age we start wearing internal glasses to view the world and ourselves under a certain light. Some may argue we are born with them carrying all the generations that came before us, others that we acquire those glasses as a survival strategy. How it happens I don’t know. I believe it’s a combination of both things. Nature and Nurture.

We act as victims and view others as aggressors and every stressful situation reinforces our view.

We become perfectionist in an attempt to control life and live in the anxiety of having no real control.

We use guilt and manipulation as if we were playing chess trying to fill the gaps inside us.

We feel like we don’t belong and everywhere we go and ever person we meet we focus on finding our differences and all the reasons why we don’t belong.

We take on the role of saviors but constantly question who will save us?

Those are just some of the lenses we might use- to name them all would be like writing every Eyeglass Brand in the market and for the most part we aren’t even aware that we are wearing these glasses.

We are constantly defending ourselves against and ourselves looking for all the evidence to back up our beliefs without noticing that the world is not purple but that’s only how we view the world.

In Hinduism these lenses might be called “Samskaras” mental impressions or psychological imprints. What is interesting to me is that they are called Samskaras when there is no true awareness of them. But how can we change what we cannot see? It’s pretty easy to spot this patterns in others. I can highlight all of my parent’s Samskaras with different colored markers but I don’t think they would necessarily appreciate it or agree with me.

So how do we work with them? You might be wondering.

By constantly questioning what we believe to be true about ourselves and others. We inquire our habits, our patterns. We pause more often, we observe and track down what beliefs are making us suffer. Does this mean once we spot the color of the glasses we can immediately throw them away? No. No. Not in my experience.

But it does help in life to navigate with the awareness of our predispositions, taking responsibility over our actions and eventually graduating from what no longer serves us.

Martha Postelwaite writes:

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life...

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To live a good life

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To live a good life

My uncle passed away on a Wednesday afternoon after struggling with ALS a diseases that basically starts shutting down the different body parts. I wrote about him about two years ago when he was first diagnosed. He was what you call a “bon vivant” refused to wear ties under any circumstance, used his shirts inside out so that the tags wouldn’t bother his skin. Traveled the world, too some of the most remote places. Ate the most extravagant meals and drank the finest whiskey and wine. Not only that, he was a world re-known sculptor with art exhibits around the globe. He was happily married for 50 years with 3 children, 7 grandchildren and was greatly loved by those around him.

His life got me thinking about what it means to live a good life. Some of us won’t be able to travel the world, we will be tied down by work or family, and not all of us will eat the most extravagant meals or drink the finest wines because we live on a budget or just don’t enjoy drinking. Some of us won’t have kids or grandkids or become famous. So will we have lived a good life? I think our culture makes us believe that to live a good life is to cross certain things off the list.

Personally, sometimes I think I need to do more to feel I’m making a difference. I need to write a book, do a TED talk, and change thousands of people lives through my actions and words. As if those things would give my life the meaning it deserves.

But another part of me (the wiser) knows that to live a good life and the reason my uncle's life was so full was that he enjoyed everything he did, loved deeply and felt loved. My aunt was telling a story that he was nominated with an award along with 9 more people. They were CEO’S, people that ran nonprofits, Doctors and they were all talking about how hard they had worked to be where they were in life. When it was my uncle’s turn to be interviewed he said “I feel sorry that you didn’t enjoy getting to where you are in life. I haven’t felt like I had to work a day in my life” Trust me this man worked for my grandmother it’s not that he inherited money or had an “easy” life. He was just good at accepting/enjoying things as they were.

So if your bucket list is having 4 children, becoming a monk, having thousands of followers, saving trees or birds it’s beautiful but it’s also “Mindmade”. My cat is a great example of a meaningful life, she doesn’t have thousands of youtube views, planted a tree, or does some insane trick (she does play fetch which is pretty insane if you ask me) but she has taught me so much about love and relaxation. Why would that not be enough? How is that not significant? Today I contemplate how true meaning in life is found in simplicity, kindness, and love.

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The perspective we take. The choices we make.

Have you ever had that clarity between taking things the wrong way or letting things go? And you still choose the “wrong way” aka. Taking things personally, holding a grudge, getting aggressive, and simmering in anger….

In case none of this resonates let me give you a great example. My mother in law a sweet, petite, quirky, 67 year old lady with who I have a great relationship with (most of the time). Came to help us cat sit a couple weeks ago while we were traveling to Iceland (in our defense our cat is like 100 years old and needs the high maintenance treatment) she arrived a week early to be with us. My OBGYN should have warned me that hormones don’t mix well with having people stay in my house (it’s truly more death threatening then raw fish in my humble opinion)

One afternoon she started asking me about how I wanted to decorate the baby nursery. As I began to describe the colors and how I wanted to avoid everything that is extremely pink or girlish she looked at me horrified and said “Nooo, nooo. You can’t do that” it took me about a second to look at her with daggers from my eyes and say “I can do whatever I want”. You might be thinking- “wasn’t that bad” or “wish I could say something like that” the thing was not what I said but how angry I felt. That was the beginning of feeling irritated over every comment she made, the way my house smelled with her perfume, how my kitchen cabinet was disorganized, how she was using my Chef knives to cut strawberries over a napkin. I was on an edge ready to push somebody (her) off.

This is not the first time I’ve felt this edge. It’s usually the people closest to us that walk on our internal minefields. That trigger us beyond everything we could have ever imagined and when we think we are past it. When we think we have done the internal work, call it therapy, meditation, yoga… we are shown with a highlighter exactly where it is that we are stuck.

One of life mantras is Maya Angelou’s quote “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better do better” In so many ways I know better and yet I keep slipping on the same banana peel, keep getting upset at the same people for the same reason. Have you ever had this experience?

My Grandmothers Sister who I have a close relationship with once said to me “Get to know people really well and then learn” What I find the most interesting about this advice is that we don’t need to get to know the other people better. We need to get to know ourselves better. What triggers us? Why? What can we do once we are triggered? There is a Lojong slogan that says “Don’t figure others out” It stops us from trying to assess the other person, from trying to label them and point fingers and instead we get to work with ourselves.

You must be thinking “how do we work with ourselves. HOW?” at least that’s what I’ve been thinking.

Step One- Compassion the voice that says “Hey Sweetie. It’s ok. You are going to be ok. Just breathe. Feel your heart expand as you inhale and exhale. I’ve got you” It doesn’t say do better or stop feeling angry. It says “I love you. It’s ok”. 

Step Two- Perspective by looking at the same thing from another angle. Usually the most helpful angle is to look at it from as far away as you can. Like pulling away in Google Maps from the house, to the street, to the neighborhood, the city and finally the country. It doesn’t really matter the angle as long as it allows you to feel a little bit better internally. A good dose of gratitude, long walks or talking to somebody that makes you feel grounded can really help shift your perspective.

Step Three- Allowing yourself to be angry. We have this idea of how we should feel and what type of people we should be and that standard just gets in the way. Maybe we can start to label how we feel and avoid judging it and stop trying to change it. Maybe we are being triggered exactly where we need to be triggered and all we need to do is give it some space.

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The Unknown+ Tiny News

We were driving around Hollywood on our way to dinner in his black corvette (Who drives a Corvette before having a midlife crisis? We will leave that for another day) it was our third date and he was talking about his niece and nephew. I asked him “do you like kids?” “not at all” he said. My Jewish red flag went off as I continued pressing on the subject without trying to sound desperate “Like not really you never want kids?” he paused and said “More like I rather have monkeys” he laughed. I didn’t. “More like not right now” he said. I could date that. I could marry “not right now” Hell! I was a not right now kinda gal.

About 2 years ago I hit my “Right NOW moment” but my husband still preferred the idea of monkeys. The process was painful, it required deep listening, trusting and patience which I started to wear like a Superhero Cape with which somedays I just wanted to strangle him with. The environment that surrounded me wasn’t really helpful with comments from friends and family such as “you really shouldn’t wait. It might take a long time once you start trying” “the longer you wait the harder it is. Did you know that after 35 you are high risk?” “What if he is never ready? You are never really ready to have kids” or my favorite “you should just trick him. He will love it when it’s born”. I’m sure nobody meant to hurt me but each comment felt like paper cuts.

When his “ok” moment kicked in. I don’t think he ever had that “right now” feeling but it was more of a “icanlivewithit” vibe. I was so freaking ready I wanted it to happen NOW. My sister suggested I buy pregnancy tests at the dollar store, she forgot to mention that the reason they cost a dollar is because you don’t pee on a stick it’s more of a lab process. You have to collect a sample then take a little dropper and add 3 drops to test.  I took the first test the day I was supposed to get my period and felt like I had been punched on the stomach when it came out negative. It wasn’t that I expected to get pregnant on the first round it was that my deep fear of being infertile took over.

The next month I accidently traveled on my fertile days (those things are really hard to track when you have cysts) and by the third month I was ready to take things to the next level. I had waited long enough my Patience Cape was turning pink from washing it so much. I booked an appointment with a OBGYN that was also an endocrinologist aka a Fertility Specialist thinking I would kill two birds with one stone. Because of my hypothyroidism and PCOS it made complete sense.

This was by far one of the worst Doctor experiences I have ever been through. I came to my appointment scheduled at 10:30 the receptionist greeted me and a man wearing a Lab coat was sitting next to her. I waited for an hour watching the man (it was the Dr that was supposed to see me) talk on the phone, collect papers, joke with the receptionist. When he finally saw me he immediately started talking about all the tests I needed to get done and my options of doing invitro, taking pills that forced my ovulation…. my face turned the color of his coat.

The acupuncturist who I have been going for years and love said the problem was that I was exercising too much. My nightstand was full of supplements. I tried another acupuncturist who recommended a Liver Cleanse and weekly sessions. I found myself reading every fertility article and considering doing a  vaginal steam and suddenly I cracked.

I did the most courageous thing I could do for myself. I stopped. I canceled the Drs Appointments, stop taking the herbs, stopped going to acupuncturist. Stopped everything that I was doing to give it some space. In a way it felt like surrendering it wasn’t about giving up but about giving it space. It was no longer a hunt.  Some nights I prayed just connecting and asking for help for me and every woman struggling with fertility I must say my very short experience with this subject opened my heart so much for so many women struggling in silence and other nights I cried releasing unto the unknown. Realizing that motherhood was all about stepping with patience unto the unknown even before becoming a mother.

That same month I got pregnant.  We are having a Baby Girl!!!! Of course my fear of being infertile got switched for a fear of having a miscarriage. I have been one of those really really lucky women that barely have any symptoms. In my mind the sign of pregnancy was nausea. I even read that it meant a healthy pregnancy. I was ready for it. I thought to myself before being pregnant “when I feel terrible I won’t complain” except I didn’t feel terrible. I waited for it patiently scared of what it meant to feel so good. You can never win when you are playing against thoughts. The stories in my head crept in like uninvited neighbors.

As the weeks go by, listening to the babies heartbeat, seeing her tiny hands and legs,  has brought much comfort and joy into both our lifes but I’m sure the next fear will come along when I least expected.

Please know I’m not trying to give fertility advice that is not really why I wanted to share this story but I think we all have areas in our lives that require patience, space and the courage to step into the unknown. Sometimes the only way to get there is by surrendering into something bigger than ourselves.

Wherever you are in your journey if you have 5 kids, no kids, are having trouble with fertility, have struggled with miscarriages. My heart is wide wide open for you. 

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The Pain of Chronic Pain

My grandmother's sister is 84 years old going on 74. She was always known for her good looks, straight black hair, soft hazel eyes, light olive skin that is still tight around her face (she says it’s due to Neutrogena AM/PM that you can purchase with a coupon at CVS). Up until recently she was still working as a volunteer in a hospital kitchen (she doesn’t like being around sick people so the kitchen was the perfect place to spend her mornings) and going to the Gym, 4 days a week doing a routine that includes weightlifting, the treadmill and talking to everyone around her. I come from a Matriarchy and like most women in my family she worked from a young age and is used to getting things done her way in other words you don’t want to make her angry.


I interviewed her for my podcast beacuase I admire this women so much but I never released it because she didn’t want to speak in English. One of the questions I asked her was: What have you learned about life? she answered “That life is a great surprise. That when you are young you don’t appreciate what’s important but the older you get the more you cherish every moment and if you want to do something in life, you go and do it” 


A year ago she was diagnosed with Shingles, she laid in bed for months without being able to move from the pain in her ribs and back. I would visit her and sit by her side to help her breathe through the pain she would usually fall asleep through the exercises. Her husband a man who doesn’t know how to talk only how to scream, a man who is rough around the edges but completely soft and loving on the inside called me once to tell me “The Drs. Think it’s all in her head, she has had pain way longer than usual. So I was thinking- she was once hypnotized at a show and is very susceptible to those things so maybe you can hypnotize her and make her forget the pain?” “Sorry,” I said, “Hypnotizing is not really my area of expertise”. I could hear the disappointment in his voice. 


On a Tuesday morning I knocked at her door, nobody was answering but eventually, she came to open the brown wooden door and I could see something was wrong. Tears were running down her face as she said: “a Doctor just told me I would have this pain forever.” I looked her straight in the eyes and told her “Impossible. This body is not forever so this pain won’t stay forever. So let the pain remind you that you have this body, that you have so many people who you love and love you back” I wasn’t sure how she would take my comment but she looked at me and said “you are right. I get to live” Today when you ask her how she is doing she says “Great, just great! the pain is there but I just ignore it” She truly is one of the most positive people I have ever met. She says the key to positivity is “not to even contemplate on the negative”. 


Pain, death, and life are glued together. No way to separate them from each other. 


I know about chronic pain from personal experience. I have a labral tear in my hip that bounces around like a pinball through my body. Some days it’s my upper back, hip flexor, knees, neck. For the longest time I wanted somebody to fix me I tried Orthopedics, Chiropractors, PT, Acupuncturist I spent my time and money determined in making my pain go away. One wrong twist and I can’t walk up the stairs for a week. Even if I don’t exercise some nights I can’t sleep from the pain that runs through my back. Somewhere along the way, I gave up on somebody fixing me and instead started to pay more attention to what caused pain. Started to develop a more tolerant relationship with my body.


One day I was telling Jimmy how sad I felt that my body wasn’t healthier, that my thyroid is slow and my heart sometimes beats a little to fast, that my knee hurts, and my upper back is so tight. I paused and thought to myself I'm getting waaaay to attached to this body. This is what I got. This pain is what I have, not who I am. It’s the card I was dealt. Would I have picked this card? Absolutely not. Could this card be worse? Absolutely yes. But we don’t get to choose. There’s no disease potluck in which you pick the one that suits you.


You are given a life and with it, you are given pain. That’s it. Let not sugar coat it. The pain is different for everybody for some it comes and goes, for others it's chronic, emotional etc. and I guess sometimes the pain is so bad we would rather die, but in most cases, the pain becomes bearable with time. If we stop looking at the pain as our enemy but as a passenger in our car somebody we are going to be riding with for probably a long time. If we stop resisting it, lean in. So we can work around it. Grow with it and constantly remind ourselves of the impermanence of life something shifts along the way. 


Wherever you are in your pain journey I invite you to stop trying to get rid of it. It’s a radical approach. 


 

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How to "Snap out of it"

It was Friday morning I had boxes to ship, emails to send, checks to deposit, appointments to schedule and no time to waste. I was stressed and running around like a chicken with its head cut off.  

Got in the car, turn the key and suddenly the radio blasts " Go shorty it's your Birthday, we are gonna party like it's your birthday" and my whole stressed out about life energy changed. I started singing and laughing. My storyline of tasks to achieve melted away and I remembered what was truly important- that I celebrate every day like it's my birthday. 

It wasn't the first time that this happened about 12 years before I had what I consider to this date the biggest heartbreak in womankind. I was 20, driving my gold Cavalier crying my heart out singing Shakira's most depressing song (when she used to write about things that weren't her hips). I was at a stop light just sobbing and the guy in the car next to me rolled his window and said: "just change the song". I started laughing. He was right sometimes what we need the most is to change the song in our thoughts. To interrupt the train, to snap out of it. 

I talk and write a lot about "feeling our feelings" it is a big part of Buddhism and cognitive psychology but first, it's important to differentiate feelings from thoughts.  Feelings are not stories that run through your head- they are emotions that you store in your body and even when sitting with your feelings it's important at times to snap out of it. Last year I took a workshop with the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron called "Making friends with yourself" and one of the students said something that really resonated with me. He said "You can't just go in and feel. You need to be gentle and sometimes you need to leave and come back"  

We all need a break from our mind and even our feelings. Something that brings us to the present. To this breathe, nothing ahead, nothing behind. Just this moment. So maybe it's a loud noise, an alarm, tripping, a crash, the sound of birds- life is constantly sending us little "change the song" messages. Let's use those to snap out of it into what really matters just this one breath. 

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PAIN

Yesterday I called my business partner (sister) because our reviews on Amazon for our Mala Jewelry Line had suddenly dropped. In the business of Amazon that basically means your product sales will drastically dip. As I began to investigate, somebody had bought different bracelets and left bad reviews on each listing saying the exact same thing “DON’T BUY- it broke”. I’m not saying that elastic bracelets are unbreakable but in order for them to break you either have to pull really hard, get it stuck somewhere or wear it long enough until it’s the normal wear and tear (she had only recently bought the bracelets) and it could have happened to one but all of them? Sorry, that’s not the point I’m trying to make.

I always like reading the profile of the person who leaves a bad review. I’m not sure why I feel the need to know the person. I like to imagine how they look and what they are into. Every single review she had written was a complaint. Most people feel the need to share a bad experience and not necessarily a good experience, that’s human nature. But I find it very interesting that in my past research people that have left extremely poor reviews on our products leave extremely bad reviews on every product they purchase. And this really got me thinking- How much pain are people in.

We go through life focusing on our individual pain probably if you are not a narcissist on the pain of people you love - 5 people maybe 10 if you are really lucky. But we don’t consider the pain of every person that walks this earth.  The First Noble Truth usually is translated "life is suffering." but we interpret this as “I am suffering” My sales just dropped because of this witch that’s all I could think about. Not for a second did I consider that witch must be going through something hard to feel the need to leave so many bad reviews.

I’m not saying that we should justify people that don’t act in the best of ways. I’m saying that when people act poorly (sometimes that people are us) they are doing it from a place of pain and if we forget we end up just blaming others and taking on way more than we need. 

When I was 12 I had a “friend” that seemed to be out to get me. Spice Girls was always playing in the background music and the highlight of my life was walking the mall with my friends wearing cheap jewelry and colored sunglasses (we looked as ridiculous as it sounds) My "friend" would invite everybody to her house except me, her parents would host trips and I was the only friend that didn’t get invited (I considered maybe it was my smell or that my parents didn’t have as much money) I cried myself to sleep many nights feeling like an outsider and thinking something was wrong with me. Eventually, I changed schools and found other “friends” who funny enough ended up doing similar things.

But it wasn’t until much later in life when I reconnected with this girl. That I could see how much pain she was in. Her life seemed so perfect on the outside but she was having anxiety attacks, had never been in a relationship, barely had any friends, her mother had the ability to make her feel like she was less ALL the time. I’m sure that was only the tip of the iceberg.

I don’t feel better that she was (and still is) suffering but it does allow me to understand that her suffering has nothing to do with me and that the pain she inflicted was only coming from her pain and this is true for every human being. We are not compelled to hurt others when we feel connected and loved. We do this out of an empty space inside of us.

Some people are better at pretending that their space is not empty and that there is no pain in their hearts but I don’t think anybody can consciously hurt others if they are truly whole and happy.

So my advice- let’s recognize the suffering of others as we recognize our own. Let’s not take on more pain than need it by adding the drama and victimhood of our minds.

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Unworthiness

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Every so often I find it really hard to sit. It’s as if my meditation cushion becomes a torture chair. Has this ever happened to you? Usually, there is something going on. Maybe an emotion we don’t want to feel, something scary or uncomfortable.

I wrote on the Facebook Private Group that days like that I dance/move like a crazy lady to my favorite song. It helps, it really helps. If you don’t have a meditation practice that is a great place to start. After many days struggling with my sitting practice this little story happened.

 

Sat with unworthiness the other day.

No idea it was still there after all these years.

Thought I had outgrown it

That self-love and self-care had taken care of it.

Didn’t notice it was just hiding behind the feeling of not fitting in and wanting to be seen.

It was there all along.

Felt it on the right side of my neck, from my throat to my shoulder like a muscle spasm, completely stuck.

“Seriously?” I said “I thought you were long gone”

I felt how my whole body clenched.

“Sorry,” I said “Should know better. Let me bring you some tea”

Knowing that tea was the right thing to do but secretly hoping it would leave afterward.

Sat back again breathing calmly, feeling all the layers of Unworthiness.

“Why?” I asked with a slight tone of defeat.

Unworthiness started laughing as if I had told it my funniest joke.

I froze didn’t know unworthiness had a sense of humor.

“Sweetie the why makes no difference- I exist in most people some might not recognize me, others don’t get scared of me but I’m not just yours to own and feel sorry for”

Not knowing what to say next I bowed.

Because that is my practice. To honor whatever shows up even what seems unpraised.

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17 Reminders for 2018

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1.     The most radical act of peace is to love yourself exactly as you are.

2.     Nobody knows what you are going through. You don’t know what anybody is going through.

3.     Never leave your bed without a sense of gratitude or a sense of humor.

4.     Embrace not knowing.

5.     Silence is golden.

6.     Healing starts with acceptance, followed by compassion, a good amount of trust, and a whole lot of love.

7.      Hold space for more than one truth.

8.     Constantly redefine your relationships with food, drinks, social media, family, friends and Netflix.

9.    Spend time in nature. 

10.   Be kind especially when it's not expected.

11.   Give up on trying to change people.

12.   Happiness is not a thing or place, it's the space between each in breath and out breath.

13.   Less "I" and "me". More "us" and "we"

14.   Be honest with yourself about yourself.

15.   Find your voice.

16.   The key to letting go is to let things be.

17.   Pause.

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Thank you for Everything

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While traveling I read something that inspired me by a nun named Ono whose daily mantra was “Thank you for everything, I have no complaints whatsoever.” I told my husband about this mantra and as the trip went on, we started using it. When we ate the most amazing Hummus, saw a rainbow as we walked by the canals or visited the Van Gogh museum. It felt natural to be grateful, to be able to experience such beauty.

Until we lost our flight and didn’t make the reception we were supposed to go to, or when the heater in the airplane broke and we were freezing, or when my knee and my husband’s back starting hurting. We didn’t feel thankful than but I kept making an effort to say “thank you for everything. I have no complains” because that’s what “everything” means. It’s not about picking and choosing between the good and the bad. Between when things go our way or when they don’t.

Being thankful for everything allows you to open to the experience in a different way. Maybe because you think things happen to you and not against you or just because by changing your perspective you suffer less. Personally, I’m a skeptic so at times “everything happens for a reason” is too much of a cliché let’s be honest some things just simply suck. But you can make something out of the suck and the only way to do that is from a perspective of gratitude, non-complaining, and opening to the unknown.

Can you be thankful for everything during this season? Even the traffic, family members and stress that goes along with December?  

I'm offering the last new moon circle of the year on Monday, December 18th at 7pm where I plan on helping you set your intentions and find a mantra that resonates with this moment in your life. Please RSVP since space is limited. It will be donation based and most of the funds will go towards bringing smiles to people in need.

If the time, day and place don't work for you. You can always make a Skype Session. 

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