Wednesday, November 29, 2017

El Camino del Corazón

This blog used to be called “Along the Heart Trail” when I started writing it in 2013. At the time, it was how I felt I was living my life- following my heart. A couple of years ago I decided to align it with our then-new business, so we changed the name to the one it has now. I was recently moved deeply to hear this phrase in Spanish at a beautiful cacao ceremony. “El camino del corazón”; the Road/way/path/trail of the Heart. It was the first time we sat in a ceremony that was completely in another language. It was so touching. The setting was a beautiful home here in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. When we finally found the location (sometimes Mexican addresses are so tricky!) we were welcomed warmly by the hosts and a small crackling fire warmed the ceremonial space. Gorgeous local flowers covered the floor in vases and various forms of cacao decorated the room. We brought a fresh cacao pod from the mountains of Oaxaca as an offering for the altar.

The facilitator of this ceremony was our friend, Izaias, who is a Guatemalan medicine man and a lover of cacao. We hadn’t seen him in over two years so it was very special to meet again. He also came bearing a suitcase full of cacao medicine from Guatemala, which was a beautiful thing for us to receive. We haven’t had access to our favorite Guatemalan cacao for nearly a year. The Guatemalan postal system basically dissolved in September of 2016 and so going there to get it was the only option. When we asked for a special favor of him, to bring the cacao to us in southern Mexico, he said he had been thinking of hosting some ceremonies here anyway. So it all worked out beautifully.

I have been avoiding writing this blog post for several weeks. And the longer I have waited, the crazier it feels to sit down and write because each day that has passed has seemed like a whole blog post in itself!

San Miguel de Allende at sun up

So I will try to compress a month and a half of amazing experiences into a reasonably concise post here...

It took us about a week to get from my hometown in Pennsylvania through the Midwest and down south to Texas where we crossed into Mexico. On Halloween night, we swung through St. Louis, Missouri to catch a Nahko and Medicine for the People performance of their new album. It was incredible. Go see/hear them when you can. They keep getting better and better. 

While crossing the USA, heading west and south, we visited my brother and then we met my brother’s half-brother for the first time as adults. We then carried on south to Dallas, Texas to deliver some antique family photos to my dad’s brother, who I hadn’t seen since my grandmother’s funeral in 1994. We had a profound visit. 

Ancestral connections have been slowly lost since humans have been able to traverse the earth so easily. Just the other night we were discussing having mixed European ancestry back several generations and having no knowledge of the sacred ceremonial traditions of our own ancestors. We intend a tour of Europe in the next few years to go dig deep and learn from the elders there. Until then, we are traveling North America’s terrain and gathering all of the wisdom that we can find, especially in the realm of ceremonial practices for healing and inspiration. 

I just realized how cold I am. It is about 5-10 degrees celcius at night in the highlands of Chiapas this time of the year. The buildings are mostly concrete blocks and there is no heating in many homes (including the hostel we are staying at for these two weeks). So I am under a fleece blanket and a Coleman sleeping bag and I’m wearing a wool hat, hand warmers, a sweater, hoodie and down vest with wool socks. And I’m still cold. In a few short days we will head back to the west coast in Oaxaca where it is sweaty and tropical. A huge contrast.

"Free On the Road" with a Quetzal, which is a very rare bird
- one of many excellent VW's we have seen

So I want to talk about the retreat project we are in the midst of.
Where to begin...well, to be perfectly up front and blunt- it appears that most of western society is in the midst of utter chaos and desperation for freedom, unity, connection and health of body, mind and spirit. I really can’t say what the status of the other side of the planet is, but because we are one continuous network of hearts and minds, I sense that it’s at least somewhat similar elsewhere.

What can we do about this epidemic? Ultimately, we need to each help ourselves first and foremost. Begin by healing any and all emotional traumas to the very best of your ability (yes, this is an ongoing lifetime project because new things will arise, but it gets easier and easier). Say YES to whatever you need to (even if it seems really far out and kinda crazy) to heal the parts of you that are wounded, fearful, judgemental, ashamed, guilty or angry. None, I repeat NONE of these things will help you or anyone else to create a better world. So drop them off, bundled in forgiveness, and choose carry on lighter. If you are not willing to face your own dark side, and become BFF’s with it, then do not pass GO or collect any other workshops or courses etc. Seriously. You can NOT avoid these issues and detour around them forever, and think that you can truly help our society to become a more loving place. If we do not love and respect ourselves, we cannot truly know what it is to love or respect others and to feel true connection and unity. You can change careers, move to a new place, have a new partner, etc, and YOUR personal core wounds, patterns and challenges will still be inside of you when you lay your head on your bed each night....until you meet them and greet them and dissect them and make them your allies. I would like to hear an argument against this that can prove otherwise. I have never heard one that stands up to this assessment that can prove that there is any other way to truly thrive and LOVE LIFE DEEPLY. It is amazing how people want to make excuses and tell stories about why they are an exception to this concept. So here is another tip: There are NO exceptions. Admitting that it ALL starts with ourselves is the hardest step to take...try it. That is a dare.

Angel of TRUTH

Two of our friends are offering a two week Sacred Medicine Journey that will be one of the most life-changing experiences one could intentionally sign up for. It is happening from February 4-18. These ladies (with the support of myself and Tanner) are offering two things that go hand-in-hand: week 1 with Dr. Ariel Jones, ND is a week of deep detoxing of the body through juicing, a couple of days of water fasting, and then some simple, clean meals to help your physical body to flush itself out and to prepare to stage two: a week of shamanic plant medicine journeys and integration time with the magical and fun medicine woman, Christina Sol. She has over 15 years of experience with these sacred medicines. 

Having participated in all of these pieces, I can confidently say that these experiences have catapulted my healing (on all levels) and overall state of existence to a place that I couldn’t imagine was even available. Wow! If I could personally pay for everyone I know to attend these two weeks, I would do it in a heartbeat. I can’t do that at this moment, so I will leave that part up to the magic of the universe. I can’t wait to see which 7 people are the ones to undertake take this two week journey with us. 

In addition, from January 14-21, we have a week of diving into the Gene Keys book and it’s philosophy of self-exploration. It has been an integral part of our lives over the last year and has deeply inspired us to stay our own unique course in life. To each our own and in our own way we will blossom and grow toward true awakening and bliss.

We are offering 3 separate weeks of cacao intensives that we are calling Spirit of Cacao. We will share multiple ceremonies, workshops and daily yoga classes to open up and grow both individually and together as a community. January 21-28February 25-March 4,  April 1-8

The Wisdom of the Chiapaneco OWL

Tanner’s mama, Cori Ellingson, just released her second book called Choosing a Vibrant Life. She shares a lifetime of her trials and tribulations with SO many great tips for living a vibrant and joyful life. Most importantly, she is reminding us that we all have choices and that we each must claim our individual power to create the lives we want to live. Her retreat from January 28-February 4 will be amazing!

Our friend Kelly-Ann La Sirena is a pharmacist by trade and a mermaid-yogini when the sun is shining and the waves are just right. Her passion for movement and ocean medicine combined with her humor and upbeat vibe will surely wrap these retreats in a bubble of fun! She teaches yoga, surfing and stand up paddle boarding. We will be there creating beautiful plant-based meals and making sure that everyone is enjoying their time with us. Her two retreats called Mermaids in Mexico are March 11-18 and March 18-25.

Last but not least, we have 4 weeks of rest and rejuvenation time that we call Back to Basics Retreats. One in late February (right after the Sacred Medicine Retreat) , one at the start of March, one late March (following the two weeks of Mermaid retreats) and mid-April, which will conclude our 13 weeks of retreats. These are the perfect thing if you want a little yoga, nourishing clean meals and a lot of downtime. Ahhhh.

ALL retreats are listed in more detail here: 

So, I just want to wrap up this mega-blog by saying that, although it may appear that the two of us are just kicking back and having nothing but jolly good fun, this is not entirely true. We have been working our butts and our fingers, eyes and ears off for 4 months (and we have nearly 5 more months until we have seen this project to completion) organizing and detail-tweaking this experience for...YOU. With excitement and passion for positive change. Sure, we are super stoked to be able to offer all of these amazing retreats, and we are doing it for not just ourselves, but for humanity
For healing. For community. For connection. One World. One race. One Love. One heart divided into 7 billion tiny pieces. Together we walk the path of the heart.

The coat of arms on the Mexican flag is derived from an Aztec legend that their gods told them to build a city where they spot an eagle on a nopal cactus eating a serpent, which is now Mexico City. 
Watch for the signs....

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Keeping Commitments on this Unscripted Journey

Virginia. It's for lovers.

It seems as though being non-committal has become a strong current trend with the easy-to-hide-behind facade of the Internet and social media. Who is holding us all accountable? No one. It's all on us to be the best we can be. How can I go about this you might ask?

Stating commitments out loud creates an imprint in the ripples of life that somehow leads us down a road of magic. Our latest commitment feels reaaaaally big and so I also thought, "what better way to lock it in than to write about it for hundreds to witness?"  Here are some of the things I have commited to in the recent past and some that are ongoing.  Please be a Cosmic Witness:

We have learned to continually commit to the things that reflect our deepest truths. (This was me all excited at a recent cacao ceremony).

I committed to completing all of the requirements to receive my official yoga teaching certificate for the 200-hour program that both Tanner and I completed this summer. I did it (and Tanner is almost done too!): 30 days of consistent meditation and journaling plus 12 hours of practice teaching and full evaluations of the clases taught. It required a lot of perseverance for the last few months. I have some pretty hilarious accounts of my first summer as a yoga  instructor. I learned so much about myself. Simply priceless.  I may turn it into a short story...someday.

If I don't follow through and cheer for myself along the way, I sure can't expect that someone else should. (Of course, love and support from others never hurts!) Life isn't always easy or simple. Or fun. But sometimes we just have to follow the path that is laid before us. Complete our dharma. Question anything that seems unclear or untrue. Gather more information. When you have done all of the research and there are no more questions left unanswered and nothing remaining unconsidered, there is only one way to go: forward. Push..push...push through. Just do it, as you may have heard.

Advertising our new big commitment. 

I committed to continuously writing this blog 4.5 years ago! Sometimes I think to myself, "I cannot understand why anyone reads these random ramblings of mine. I'm not anyone special and I certainly don't have some magical answer to the mystery and challenges of life". Nearly 16,000 visits to this blog later, and here I am writing another entry. 

I needed a break from my more "serious" work to get some of my thoughts out in writing. I am lying on a bed, where we are visiting my father in the house where I grew up. In the background I can hear the nocturnal summertime crickets and cicadas singing and chirping in the darkness of a strangely warm mid-October night in rural Pennsylvania. Autumn, again? Hmmm. The remnants of a Gulf Coast hurricane blew through here today, bringing a feeling of turbulence and mystery...

Some more creative advertising! Shine!

Roughly 18 years ago (longer than this but in my conscious mind, this was the actual turning point) I don't think I realized it at the time, but my soul committed to walk a different path than the one I was shown as a child and a young person. That early path was strange, scary, dangerous, dark and unkind in many ways. When I decided to sharpen my machete and clear myself a new path through the metaphorical jungle of life, it was a massive and terrifying leap of faith. I have turned around many times to see what I have left behind me, but the wild jungle grows over the past very quickly and I have no choice but to persevere and press forward. Sometimes the way forward is bright and inviting. Sometimes it's tangled and rough and makes one cringe. Those moments when I just want to sit down and throw in the towel are the moments of TRUTH. I now know that these most challenging points along the path are also the ones that can launch me to new heights and most importantly, a deeper truth within myself. Spiritual growth spurts.

These days, I am steeping in a brew of mixed emotions. I feel blessed to be me and to feel well-equipped with a toolkit of experiences, intelligence, wisdom and wit mixed with a sprinkle of humor. I feel thrilled to be offered so many amazing experiences and adventures.. I feel like Harry Potter mixed with Aladdin and Peter Pan and like I'm in and out of Oz! Wheeeeee!

Rainbow soles. Gather together!

At the same time, this path often feels extremely lonesome. Tanner and I are so damn grateful that we have each other. The world around us (especially here in the USA) seems to be bubbling up with fear and turbulence and we strive to keep a blanket of peace and groundedness draped around us. The winds of change whip our blanket around and we hold it tighter. Braving the elements, we sail our magic ship out to sea, not knowing what tomorrow will bring. All we can do is keep going. We have all come too far to stop now.

Together, the two of us have committed to taking another huge leap of faith and said YES to an unexpected offer. We have been offered the use of a small retreat center near the ocean in southern Mexico. The owner has never met us, but is trusting her place in our care. Our Spanish is mediocre at best, but we are practicing every day to improve our ability to communicate with the locals. We JUST completed our yoga certification program, but we know how transformative a daily yoga practice can become and we want to share that gift with others. We all need community. Now more than ever. We can not successfully create this community vision alone. We are striving to create something larger than we are to call in those who need this too. Like a beacon. A lighthouse.

We are taking a significant risk, and we are trusting that through this commitment to creating a safe space to nourish and support ourselves, and invite others to join us on this unscripted journey, that we will, in turn, be supported. 

Ok that's the last one. For now. 

Sometimes the universe knows just the right amount of push-risk-challenge-gift-adventure-magic to throw across our path. Scary. Exciting. Terrifying. Exciting. Crazy. Exciting. What are we thinking?! Exciting

As I was writing that piece above, my father walked in to give me this piece of paper that he found in a pile of stuff he was sorting through in his office. It's an email that I forwarded to him almost exactly 3 years ago, to share with him a pivotal moment in my life. I faced one of my biggest fears: public speaking. I commited to speaking about being a Highly Sensitive Human to a packed community hall of 60 people. I was invited to speak to the group and I resisted so hard but the elder couple who invited me would not take no for an answer. Thank goodness. I had no idea where to even start. However, once I finally commited, I just woke up one day and the information literally downloaded through me and I turned it into a visual presentation using PRESI. The presentation went so well that I could barely wrap my mind around it. The next day, I received this beautiful note from the host:

It has made me wonder why I am not still sharing this information with the world. I know that there are many, many people struggling to make sense of a world that feels overwhelmingly complex and intense.  People are seeking truth and striving to find purpose and meaning in everyday existence. Some are so crippled by the pressure that they can barely function (Been there. Many times.) If you're one of the many, have faith. Together we can encourage and support our sensitive siblings to rise up to this occasion of our incredible evolution on this planet. Reach out.  Do not hide your gifts. Do not stay small. We all need you. 

(Oops. I just found this and it kinda fit here perfectly.)

I don't have the answers for each individual person and their unique set of challenges and circumstances. That has become deeply evident to me and has been a very tough thing to accept. What I do have is a deep sense that everything is perfectly in order, for all of us, as chaotic as things may appear on the outside

On the inside, I know that all is well and that if I keep listening to that calm and grounded inner teacher, and just breathe, take one step...and then another...

Eventually, someday, I will return to the point where I began this wild journey, and hopefully I have some good stories to share with you along the way. 

Oh. And PS. EXTRA sleep is something I have also felt the need for lately. The earlier nights of autumn are bringing earlier tiredness. And many people have been sharing about their extra need for resting. I feel the energetics are really taking a toll on people all over. Some are aware of it and some are not. It seems like the springs keep winding tighter for humanity. Like many people are metaphorically (and some literally) holding their breath in anticipation of what is unfolding on earth...give yourself the nurturing and kindness that you need to be ok in each moment.

Join us at our Mexico Retreats in 2018:

Here is our Cacao Connection website:

And our New for 2017 YouTube channel:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Los Milagritos aka Little Miracles

Join us at Los Milagritos in Puerto Escondido, MX January-April 2018 for our Back to Basics retreats! Community. Yoga. Ceremonies. Plant-based meals. Connection. Ocean.

"Are you more concerned about appearing consistent or following your heart?" This is a question that Ram Dass asked in his 2005 audiobook called A Spiritual Journey (I recommended it) We listened to it recently on a road trip. I replayed the question several times because he made it all seem so simple, and I knew that was a very potent and potentially transformative question. 

In fact, this question sums up the reason that so many of us are afraid to take a leap of faith or to change our lives in some big way. Most of us have a deep fear of looking uncertain, confused or "flaky" to our families, coworkers and friends. It's been engrained into our culture from a young age that we must decide who we are and what we believe and then stick to that. There is not much encouragement to explore oneself or ask deeper questions about our own experiential existence as the years of changes wash over each of us and inevitably reshape our realities.

Graffitied inspiration in Burlington, Vermont

The two of us ripped that bandaid off a while ago and let me tell you how incredibly liberating it is to simply not mind what anyone thinks about our choices (someone still manages to strike a chord...occasionally, but even then it's a learning opportunity for us). We have been questioned so many times that I couldn't even begin to count.  We have also been referred to as careless, ignorant, dreamers, not living in reality, drifters, gypsies, hippies, whatever. We laugh because it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. That is their perspective and we laugh because we know that we are happy with the choices we have made. At the end of our lives, what else matters? Live a life of passion, love and truth and you cannot go astray.

Tanner working on the foreword for his mama's new book called Vibrant Living 

We recently joined some friends at a beachside vacation home on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We have been fortunate to find ourselves near the ocean many times over the last 4 years. Mother Ocean is a powerful reminder that we are so small and that nature has the last word. It also reminded me that each day brings something so new and so unpredictable that we must simply learn to surrender to the changing tides of life. Change and float, or get swept away in the neverending waves. 

One evening at sunset, Tanner was instructing me through a yoga sequence, and at the end, I laid back on the beach in savasana. He led me through a systematic relaxation process and I soaked in the crashing rhythm of the waves along with the laughter of the sea birds. He concluded the exercise by saying "breathe as though every cell in your body is breathing". The ocean went silent for several moments that felt eternal. Like all time and earth's animation stood still. Then the sounds became powerful and deeply rich as a huge wave came crashing onto the sand behind us. If you need a spiritual recharge, nature can be like a solar panel for the soul. It is so incredible what taking a few minutes in the sunshine can do for my optimism levels. Actually, I'm soaking in some morning rays as I write this. I'm also enjoying the colorful flowers that we planted a few months ago on the front porch of my childhood home. We chose red and white to remind us of our home base in Canada. We are visiting with my dad here for about another month and then we will head south for the Mexican frontier. (Hmm. That garden is also Mexican colors...)

While we were down at the coast, we stopped through Virginia Beach and were directed to the ARE (association for research and enlightenment) center, founded by Edgar Cayce. Cayce was a mystic and was known for his intuitive medical readings of thousands of patients. The center was three floors and was so full of incredible books and catalogues of his work that I just felt overwhelmed by an invisible thick energy.  I haven't felt that too many times and it was tough to explain, but I said to Tanner that I couldn't stay in there for long. We left with a book based on his channeling on Reincarnation and Family Karma. Of the hundreds for sale in the gift shop, that one jumped out at us. I look forward to diving in when some time opens up for that. 

The day that we left North Carolina, there were thousands of Floridians fleeing hurricane Harvey. The roads were super full of cars with Florida license plates.

On this road trip, we listened to another audiobook called "The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down" by Haemin Sunim. If you listen to only one audiobook this fall, I suggest THIS ONE. It is packed full of beautiful reminders and little bits of inspiration. 

Yesterday, I was out for a sunny stroll in the heat of an extended New England summer. I had one earbud in and I was relistening to this audiobook. I wanted to write down a few of the gems that I had heard the first time around. Here are a few that I thought were worth sharing:

"No matter how powerful the medicine, when one is forced to take it, it can become poison." A great reminder for all of us when we think that we have the answer to someone else's challenges. We all need the freedom to choose what feels right for us and to go through our own stuff.

A reminder along a walking path in Burlington, Vermont

"Do not try to control those around you. If you cannot even control your own mind, what makes you think you can control others?" Yup. Good one!  We have witnessed many couples unconsciously attempting to control each other and that is never a good thing.

This part I paraphrased because I listened to it about 5 times and still don't think I got it down verbatim:  If you are truly committed to spiritual awakening then the whole world becomes your teacher. Your spirituality does not deepen because of those who praise you. It is the people who challenge or insult you that are your true teachers in disguise.

This is so true for me. Those moments where I question my core values and intentions based on someone else's version of who they perceive me as are the moments where I have to journey deep into my being and check in with my core intentions. Sometimes it's a dark and murky journey, but I have never failed to come out the other side stronger and shinier. Gotta explore those shadows!

I got out of the car and walked down the block to snap this one. It's on point.

So then...a few moments after typing this above bit of wisdom from Haemin Sunim down on my phone, I came upon the largest snake I have ever seen in the wild. It was as long as I am tall and had the girth of my wrist. It laid all wavy across my path and it just stared at me without even a flinch. I watched it for a few minutes and then walked around it while keeping a good distance away. I knew it was there to tell me something I needed to hear. It was surreal like a dream. So I looked up snake spirit animal medicine to remind myself what the message might be:

"Transmutation is the key word here. The shedding of old skin and emotions and transforming them into something bigger and better. If Snake winds itself into your life know that change is in the wind and that you are at the center of it all as the catalyst. Make sure that your intentions are clear and that you have a clear sense of the direction that you need to strike out in. Snake is letting you know that these changes are safe and that there is no need to fear them. 

You are also being reminded to stay connected to the self through of both the tiny vibrations in the earth, and the warmth and smells of the air and sky. When we learn to connect with our surroundings, we can continue on the path of growth, and discard the trappings of the past."

Yup. Great reminder in the form of a giant serpent in my path. Roger that.

I will end this blog post with tidbit that I paraphrased from Ram Dass's book: 

The newly awakening are like a tiny tree. They need shelter and nurturing to keep growing. They then grow and become shelter for others who begin to awaken." And the process goes on and on...

We are each a tree in the forest of galactic changes. Be that shelter for someone else and remember to seek it when you need it most.

Los Milagritos Guest House is the quaint Mexican retreat space that we will be managing for three months at the start of 2018. We intend for it to be a safe and sturdy tree for those who wish to find a supportive and transformative space to further their own growth and self-unfoldment this winter. We will provide plant-based meals and yoga everyday, as well as weekly ceremonies and community circles. Come join us for a reality reset. Go back to basics, and then grow from there. Find our retreat info on our Facebook pages: One World Wellness (link at the top of this website) or on the Los Milagritos guest house Facebook page!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Can We Get Back to Basics?

A babbling brook flows lazily past us as we lounge in the humid August heat of rural Pennsylvania. 

The sycamore trees are incredibly tall and chunks of their bark are dropping all around making rustling sounds in the forest. The sprawling top limbs of the trees look all smooth and whitish, while the trunks remain gray and covered in bark. The first signs of autumn are showing as the occasional yellowed leaf flutters to the ground in the breeze.

We are spending another two weeks of fun and learning with my nephew. He's approaching 11 years old and would happily spend all day, every day in nature. He repeatedly requests to hang out at "a body of water". He brings his little net and hunts fish, frogs, crayfish and anything else that crawls or swims. (Like a carbon copy of myself when I was a wee kiddo.)

The last time I was here at this stream with Tanner, about 3 weeks ago, a woman appeared with her dog and she was wearing a black tank top with bold, white lettering that said "GO FOR IT". We said hello and told her we really liked her shirt. She said thanks, and said that she normally doesn't venture into the forest and to the stream alone, but today she decided to break out of her normal routine and go out adventuring solo with her pup. She said that shirt gave her the push to just do it. 

In our culture, most of us are taught to play it safe. Stick to what we know. Follow the formula that is already tried and true. Think inside the box. Don't venture outside what is comfortable and familiar. Fear the unknown. Blend in with the herd. Etc. Etc. 

Well, that's not how we have been living for the last 4 years (probably longer, really?) and we needed a reminder on that day to keep on keeping on being  ourselves. Her shirt was just perfect!

Interesting state motto. It was worth stopping for.

We had been feeling a bit frustrated about the lack of forward momentum in our realities and felt a bit confused about what our next step might be. 

We inquired about residency at the yoga ashram and never received a response. We both also applied for work there and no follow through came from that either. We found that all to be fairly bizarre and not to mention, quite unprofessional, so we finally decided that it was not our destination and it felt like an energy drain for us both to keep pushing. We aren't meant  to be a part of that organization right now and that is A-OK. When one door closes, we have to be awake enough to recognize the other doors when they open. 

I will speak for myself in saying that my trust and patience in the universe were really stretched to the supa-dupa max over the last month. I found myself wondering what the heck we were doing in this part of the world and where we could be headed, if not for there to continue studying yoga? New ideas and scenarios presented themselves, but each new trail of breadcrumbs kept leading us into a wall. Hmmmmm...

We have had a handful of mini-redirects from the adjustment bureau of the universe. One week, Tanner had a high fever and headache for several days, which was fairly limiting for him. Time for resting and resetting. In addition, our car has been acting funny on occasion, sending messages and warning lights that make no sense to us. Mechanics can't even seem to figure out that issue. At least she drives fine, inspite of that. 

My thoughtful younger sister gifted us birthday tickets to see Nahko and Medicine for the People on the waterfront in Boston a few weeks ago. That was quite an adventure. Apparently, marijuana is legal in Massachusetts now. I have never been in such a huge cloud of pot smoke in my life. MFTP were an opening act and there was also a reggae band from the Caribbean and they were encouraging the crowd to light up their weed, eh Mon. The music was great, as always, but the east coast crowd just didn't have the buzz and enthusiasm that the west coast crowd has for Nahko's messages. Hopefully soon their inspiring message spreads eastward. Optimism and unity are needed here (and everywhere) as far as I can tell. 

 We headed northwest to Vermont to visit our long-time pals in their new abode. We stayed for about 10 days. Tanner helped out with installing some new flooring and I mostly helped with cooking,  tidying and prepping some details for their upcoming wedding. 

Part of the intention of our mobile lifestyle has been about having the flexibility to support various family and friends in many locations and all stages of life. We are now approaching a point where we are just about ready to move on to a place where we can spend some time nurturing ourselves. What an idea! Constant travel and immersion into other people's worlds can take a toll on mind, diet, exercise and routines. Everyone needs a time out here and there to reset and rejuvenate.

Through our travels it has become more and more clear how our current societal model strives to train, direct and then trap each generation into striving for the "American / Canadian Dream".  (It's pretty much the same formula in both countries.) In general, it seems that most people that we know are less than happy and less than healthy. This is no accident. It's appears that it's all part of a master plan to create a society of cheap labor and mindless slavery to keep the wheels of growth and progress turning smoothly. Because after all, that's what really matters, right? Or does it? Someone is laughing behind the scenes of the grandest puppet show. Buy stuff, borrow money, work a lot, pay a lot, consume more, climb the success ladder, repeat. 

Who's idea was this anyway?! Why aren't we finding an alternative to the collective madness? Does anyone else feel like this is simply crazy?

Stress is so prevalent everywhere that it seems as though it's draping thickly over this part of the planet like a blanket of stupefying smog. Many folks are hardly keeping it together and barely making ends meet. When you aren't in it, it's very apparent. It's always easier to see from the outside looking in. You must step off of the wheel, even briefly, to see what I am seeing. It's not pretty.

Perhaps, I'm reflecting, just maybe, it's time to stop and question a few things? Such as: Why are we all here on earth in this amazing time of unmatched technology (and constant information influx) and how can we use it to our advantage? What do we actually need to live fulfilling and joyful lives? How can we begin to make that a reality? 

Best answer: We've gotta just get back to basics. It's time for a reality reset. It's the only thing that makes any sense right now. 

There seems to be too much fogginess, fluff and distraction for most of us to think and operate with any amount of consistent clarity. It's like a zombie nation everywhere we look. Smart phones and television. Alarmist news headlines and scare tactics. I feel like we are the weird ones most of the time because we are among the minority who are actually aware of the traps that most of our society has accepted. I feel so aware that it can be extremely lonely, frustrating and often deeply disturbing to try to communicate or make any progress with the rest of our brothers and sisters. 

Let's help each other to bust out of this insane pattern. It just doesn't have to be this way. It's not necessarily simple to make the changes, but with persistence, and baby steps, life can be better. We can choose to put time and effort into a joyful existence or we can put the same time and effort into maintaining a chaotic and exhausting existence. We each have choices.

The two of us have done some deep, deeeeep digging and we have concluded that it's time for us to share some of what we know in a retreat setting- away from familiar distractions and societal standards. We have thrown the idea around in the background for a couple of years and we are finally ready to GO FOR IT...

***Early 2018 in Mexico. Stay tuned for more details this fall. Mexico is calling. Can you hear it? It's sounds like coconuts and crashing waves. Mmmmmm.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Stay Wild, Child

The eyes of a child notice even the tiniest of critters. This inch worm was inching across a footbridge on a forest adventure. Inch by inch we all get to where we are going....

Few words are needed to share the magic of our week of camping and forest adventures with our ten year-old nephew. Pennsylvania is a magical place and the wilderness here is so full of wonder. Enjoy....

Newts love cool, wet mossy forests. Little boys love newts. 

Mushroom magic is abound during the wet summer storm season. Children are amazing mushroom spotters.

This heart mushroom!!!

Wild blueberries are everywhere now. Best blueberries ever.  I have missed their  sweet tart flavor for the last 13 summers!

Exploring the river banks with uncle Tanner. Snakes, frogs and crayfish are all around.

A happy boy rests on the shores of Conservation Island in Promised Land State Park, located in the Pocono Mountains of NE Pennsylvania. 

No wonder I love Vancouver Island! The resemblance is amazing. I have so much gratitude for all of the magical places I get to call home. 

A summer well spent. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Are You Breathing? REALLY breathing?

I painted this sign outside of a hostel in Mexico two and a half years ago. It was the first time someone asked me to instruct yoga classes.

If I was a cell phone, my energetic battery would be at the thin red line just before it shuts itself down. 

My inspiration battery would be at least 100% though. Possibly ready to recharge other batteries!

I have never ever been so inspired and so exhausted simultaneously. I am feeling like I can barely walk around without feeling totally tired. Which is why I'm curled up in a plush chair in the tea lounge. It's our final evening of the yoga teacher training. The emotions are big and there is an air of sadness because we are all parting ways tomorrow. My mind is also so expanded that I feel like I am dreaming.

2017 Himalayan Institute 200-hour YTT class. Photo by HI staff- thank you!!!

Today we each took a turn instructing the entire class. It was deeply moving to witness the massive transformations that have taken place for all of us. I had to get a pile of Kleenex to make it through the morning. A good cry can be so nurturing and helps to release deeply held emotions. (Except it often messes with my nasal breathing when my sinuses get all puffy.) 

My ability to breathe has never been so amazing. I had the realization during this course that I have not been breathing correctly for nearly 35 years! Shocking, right?! Tell me about it. We have been practicing breath training daily. One tool that is a miracle worker (if you're open to practicing) is called a breath pillow. It's a cloth sand-filled bag shaped like a crescent moon, between 7-10 lbs. It's weight, when placed on the abdomen just below the rib cage, for only a few minutes each day, allows one to feel the diaphragm pressing into the abdomen to expand the chest cavity, therefore supplying the body with the maximum amount of nourishing breath and strengthening the diaphragm. I was definitely not doing this my WHOLE life. It was a very tricky process to convince my unconscious memory and my cellular memory to allow my diaphragm to release its decades-long grip. When it finally happened, it was like coming up for air after being held just beneath the surface of the water for far too long. I was lying in bed ready to sleep when I felt it (after just a week!) On my back, I took the deepest breath I have ever taken. I got so excited. I said to Tanner "I feel like I have whale lungs!!!" I have been sleeping so much better, too.

Now, the trick is to continue maintaining this openness and continuing to strengthen that mysterious muscle called the diaphragm that helps to keep us alive and thriving. 

There she is. The beautiful diaphragm. 

I had a day two weeks ago where I traced my whole life backwards. I had asked myself how it is that I am here right now. As I traced back all of people and events that lead me here to finally become a certified yoga teacher, my heart swelled with heaps of gratitude. I have been blessed with so many supportive friends and acquaintances. I have been walking (fairly) steadily down a path of deepening spiritual realms. It continues to deepen with each leap of faith and each excavation and examination of my own inner world. 

May we all consider exploring deep within ourselves to shift our collective experience as humanity. As the peace of our inner worlds expands, our outer worlds become filled with more love and joy. Who doesn't long for that? 

The next steps for us are a) completing our required teaching hours and b) completing our 30-day meditation journals. Then our certifications will be official. We hope to be sharing the magic of yoga with the world before very long. Where? That part remains unclear, but time reveals all. 

A nourishing nature break from yoga school by a babbling Pennsylvania brook. Ahhhhhh....