Yoga, Cleavage, Laughter & Namaste


Namaste: My son Luka tells me sometimes, after I raise my voice at him:  Now, calm down and concentrate... He is 6. Cracks me right up, and I start laughing, and can not bring myself to continue the tirade :)
Namaste: My son Luka tells me sometimes, after I raise my voice at him: " Now, calm down and concentrate..." He is 6. Cracks me right up, and I start laughing, and can not bring myself to continue the tirade 🙂

image attribution


Each day of December, I am being moved to post by Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge:
Today is Day
29 Laugh. What was your biggest belly laugh of the year?


So, this one’s hard for me. I’ve been sitting here thinking about how little I belly-laugh.

Sure, I watch Seinfeld reruns with Jeff, and we laugh until tears come…at the same old episodes. Like the one where Elaine dances like a freak.

Yes, in my family of origin, including sisters, offspring, their offspring, we completely lose it at holiday gatherings when someone farts. Especially my nephew, but I won’t out him here. Now, my eight year-old grandson is taking up the practice, having been gifted a whoopie cushion from said nephew. This Thanksgiving, when my two sisters and I, our four children, and our growing cluck of grandchildren (up to six now, with five being born in the last thirteen months) made sure we brought the Fart CD so we could regale ourselves, once again, with the pure joy that comes from potty humor.

But, all-in-all, I tend to be pretty serious. I tend to feel things deeply. I tend to write deep poetry and take long walks gazing at the beauty of life. I tend to dance and do yoga with a depth of concentration and intensity. So, when my big belly laugh happened this year, it wasn’t so much as a belly-acher or gut-buster, but it was more about the surprise that came when I could laugh really hard, along with others, at my own expense…in the middle of a hard work-out yoga flow class…taught by one of said sisters (the one that said, “Yes, I’ll take it” when asked if she wanted the ‘wicked-sense-of-humor’ gene just prior to conception. Of course, she is the older sister, so it was already taken by the time I was conceived).

Molly Fox, my sister, is quite the fabulous yoga/nia/pilates teacher. She is well-known on the East Coast for her fitness studio that she had in Manhattan for years in the eighties and early nineties.

It was in her Saturday morning class that my laugh moment of ’09 occurred. It’s not that it was that funny…it was funny to me…and to a class full of yogis. This is what happened.

I was in the front row, as I am wont to do in her classes. We were doing some kind of asana (don’t know the names at all) where  we were in a lunge with one knee on the ground. Molly was trying to get the class to lengthen the spine, rising and extending up from the center of the body, lifting the chest from below. She was explaining it, and then to help give people a better sense of what she was talking about, she came over to me, bent down beside me and said to the class, “Here. I’ll show you.” She quickly looked at me to ask if she could touch me, and when I acknowledged yes, she said, “This is my sister, so I can hold onto her breasts. Lift from here.” Of course, she didn’t grab my breasts. She gently held my rib cage and lifted me from deeper within my body. It was incredibly helpful to feel the difference between what I was doing and what she was suggesting.

I suddenly heard everyone break into laughter. I looked in the mirror. I realized I was wearing a pretty low-cut yoga top, and as she held me by the rib cage, being in front of the mirror with my breasts being raised up, much cleavage suddenly appeared front and center within the ‘very’ present awareness of everyone in the room. I didn’t know if they were laughing because of my being her sister, her comment, the sudden influx of cleavage, (couldn’t resist, Kelly) or all of the above, but I began to laugh, too. It all seemed pretty absurd and gloriously un-seriously yoga like. Molly’s classes are the best, ’cause she is so down-to-earth, so in love with her students, so good at what she does, and so damn funny.

Molly loves and respects the practice of yoga to the depth of her being AND she can have fun with it, which, to me, is the sign of a great teacher. Like Luka, the 6-year old son in the image caption at the top, a good teacher brings us back to reality, to the sanity of life that comes from not taking it all too seriously.

It’s here, in this not-too-serious place, that I can sometimes experience the deepest Namaste.

I think laugh will be my verb for 2010.

Maybe my noun will be cleavage, simply loving the cleavage that comes with womanhood. It may be about the cleaving away of what I think being a woman has to be from what I truly discover and experience it to be. Perhaps it might bring a softer, more loving embrace of my womanhood.

Maybe, just maybe, being with it all as it unfolds is the Namaste, the deepest bow, to what is.

What about you? I’d love to know, what makes you laugh? What is your verb for 2010? Your noun? Your ideas for bringing fun, laughter and ease to your world? Your best belly-laugh? Your ’09 cleavage story? Your real-life experience of Namaste?


Women and The Social Web of Connection


Each day of December, I am being  moved to post by Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge:
Today is Day
27 Social web moment. Did you meet someone you used to only know from her blog? Did you discover Twitter?

Yes and Yes.

I met a couple of someones in person that I had only known from blogs and or Twitter:

@JonathanFields at his Tribal Author Camp in NYC. Jonathan is all that he seems to be on Twitter and his blog, and even more. His camp was fantastic because he’s a real, straightshooter. He knows his stuff.

@WhiteHotTruth (fiery Danielle La Porte) at my Sunday morning dance in Sausalito. She was out here in California to hold one of her Fire Starter sessions in Oakland. After dancing in the same Sweat Your Prayers meditation for two hours, I finally realized where I knew her from: Twitter. I told her I recognized her from Twitter. We chatted for a moment. Then that was that.

@WildHeartQueen (the lovely Chris Zydel) for lunch after we met at the Oakland Tweetup, just after I joined Twitter. Chris is just as vivacious and lovely as she is in Twitterland. I look forward to more in-person time with her.

Multiple lovely twitteraties at the Oakland Tweetup at @numitea in Alameda, California.


I did discover Twitter in 2009.


But, if I were to look back on 2009 to decide which was THE social web moment, it would be hard to pick just one. I have met many wonderful people through social media this year, which has only strengthened my belief in the basic goodness of human beings, and the desire of humans to connect, share and love.

Twitter love is real. Twitter is (not what I had initially anticipated) a place where people genuinely want to discover support, and learn from others, which can go hand-in-hand with networking and marketing your business.

I’ll share just one story that helps to show this. Last week, I saw a tweet about a blog post on the Winter Solstice. I clicked on the link and was taken to the most lovely enticing post about the Solstice, written by a woman I had never heard of: Marjory Mejia. I was so moved by her post, I left a comment on the page and re-tweeted her initial Tweet about the post. In very little time, a matter of minutes, I received a beautiful, heart-felt thank you from Marjory. She expressed such gratitude for my very small acts of support for her work. She genuinely was touched by the words I wrote.

Multiply this story many times, and you have my best social web moment for 2009. I have met many generous people through social media. I have supported them, and in a reciprocity that seems to be the backbone of Twitter, they have supported me ten times that. In fact, @jonathanfields told those of us who attended his tribal author camp to put in 10X what we ever hoped to receive back in to social media, supporting those people we genuinely felt a connection with. I find that no matter how much I feel I give, I always receive so much more.

The most beautiful thing for me is the connection I am making with women who are discovering their voice through writing and blogging, just as I am. A spirit of comraderie and love is present, in a way that I have not experienced for a while. Way back in 2004, I joined the Ryze network, and promptly established a network on Ryze named Wildly Creative Women. There, I met so many wonderful women from around the world.

The Social Web is most definitely a place where women are connecting with each other, witnessing each other as we write from our hearts, and sharing the emerging feminine consciousness.

I want to give another shout out to @gwenbell. Her wonderful challenge has been a catalyst for so many of us to write more, post more and support more. Thank you.


Citizenshopper to Citizenshipper


image by Ivan Walsh, Flickr

Day 18 of Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Challenge is to be about shopping and spending mad money.

I’m not much of a shopper. I really don’t like it much at all. I can’t spend much time in stores as the experience seems to cause me to leave running for fresh air and green scenery – and, not the green of mad money.

It’s not like I don’t like things. I like them too much. I just don’t like spending time shopping for things.

When I looked back on 2009 to reflect on where I have spent most of my mad money, I realized four things about 2009 and shopping:

1) I began the year with much more stuff than I had in 2008. My mother passed away in 2008. I found many meaningful things that belonged to Mom that I wanted to keep. I brought them home. Over the course of this year, I began to really consider what I own, and how much of it I really needed. I realized, I want to pare down consciously. I’ve got some work to do on this. It’s always been hard for me to let go of things. I seem to bring things in, without taking things out.

2) I became more conscious of the unconscious identity I had adopted (fed my our media and advertising ways) of consumer rather than citizen (shout out to Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money), and the effect that has on not only our planet, but our psyches.

3) I noticed I had a pattern of buying things on sale, or things that were a good bargain, rather than consciously choosing beautiful items that I feel drawn to adorn my body and home with.

4) I desired to spend more of my money on good, wholesome, organic food, which caused me to spend a bunch of money on food.

So, if I have to be honest about where I spend my mad money, I spent it at Whole Foods. It sounds sort of funny as I write it, but it’s so. Shopping at Whole Foods is much more peaceful and green-filled in a whole different way.

Workin’ on moving from citizenshopper to citizenshipper.

This post is part of Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge
Day 18 Shop. Online or offline, where did you spend most of your mad money this year?


Destruction is Creation’s Handmaiden


I come from a long line of female artists. My mother, her mother, and her mother, were all painters. I used to paint, many years ago. Now, mostly I write. And dance.

Coming from this maternal lineage of artists, I have always highly valued create expression of any form. I guess that’s why I eventually left the tech world and settled into work that revolves around creativity and coaching.

Up until this year, only one of my mother’s paintings was hanging in my own home. It was a gift for my birthday a few years back.

That changed when mom died last year. By the end of 2008, we had gone through 52 years of layered treasures as we sorted through her belongings. She had lived in the same home for all of those 52 years. It was a many-month, river-of-tears, process to sort through everything she left behind. Sifting through the layers, we discovered more of her paintings, as well as those done by my grandmother and great-grandmother. We sold the house in the last few days of 2008 to a family that promised to love and care for the house my sisters and I grew up in.

Once we sold her house, I these treasured pieces home. I didn’t hang them immediately. I guess I wasn’t quite ready.

Then, one day in March, I decided to hang them. One was my mom’s favorite. Another one, I found out in her shed (I guess it wasn’t her favorite). The third was a water color that my great-grandmother painted almost 100 years ago. My home changed after these paintings were hung. Each day, I stop to appreciate them.

Just yesterday, as I was preparing to write this post, I found out from an old neighbor that mom’s house had been demolished. Bulldozed. The house, the garden, the brick walks she had lovingly created, destroyed in order to build a McMansion in a primo part of Silicon Valley. Mom, and her house, are gone. I know life moves on. This is now their new home to build.

I know that destruction is creation’s handmaiden. There can’t be one without the other. How easy it is to celebrate creation. How difficult I find it is to stomach destruction.

I wish I could end this post happy. I can’t. Right now, I’m grieving yet again.

This post is part of Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge
Day 13: What’s the best change you made to the place you live?


When I Was A Boy


One of the things near to my heart is gender healing. I see gender healing as the foundation to healing the human predicament. So, when I came across this song, I wept. Dar Williams has gifted us with a beautiful song that so poignantly speaks to what happens to both boys and girls when we become conditioned out of our natural balance of both masculine and feminine qualities.

What if we had grown up believing we are both a boy and a girl? ‘Cause we are.


I won’t forget when Peter Pan came to my house, took my hand
I said I was a boy; I’m glad he didn’t check.
I learned to fly, I learned to fight
I lived a whole life in one night
We saved each other’s lives out on the pirate’s deck.

And I remember that night
When I’m leaving a late night with some friends
And I hear somebody tell me it’s not safe,
someone should help me
I need to find a nice man to walk me home.

When I was a boy, I scared the pants off of my mom,
Climbed what I could climb upon
And I don’t know how I survived,
I guess I knew the tricks that all boys knew.

And you can walk me home, but I was a boy, too.

I was a kid that you would like, just a small boy on her bike
Riding topless, yeah, I never cared who saw.
My neighbor come outside to say, “Get your shirt,”
I said “No way, it’s the last time I’m not breaking any law.”

And now I’m in this clothing store, and the signs say less is more
More that’s tight means more to see, more for them, not more for me
That can’t help me climb a tree in ten seconds flat

When I was a boy, See that picture? That was me
Grass-stained shirt and dusty knees
And I know things have gotta change,
They got pills to sell, they’ve got implants to put in,
they’ve got implants to remove

But I am not forgetting…that I was a boy too

And like the woods where I would creep, it’s a secret I can keep
Except when I’m tired, ‘cept when I’m being caught off guard
And I’ve had a lonesome awful day, the conversation finds its way
To catching fire-flies out in the backyard.

And so I tell the man I’m with about the other life I lived
And I say, “Now you’re top gun, I have lost and you have won”
And he says, “Oh no, no, can’t you see

When I was a girl, my mom and I we always talked
And I picked flowers everywhere that I walked.
And I could always cry, now even when I’m alone I seldom do
And I have lost some kindness
But I was a girl too.
And you were just like me, and I was just like you”

Dar Williams’ music is the music that rocked my world in 2009.

This post is part of The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge (by blogger Gwen Bell):
Day 10 Album of the year. What’s rocking your world?


Growing Whole in the Darkness



“All beauty contains darkness.” ~ Daniel Odier

Learning to see, and then act, outside of the current patriarchal structure has been a journey of ever widening circles, much like a spiral. It is the journey of living the feminine, a way of life that is very different than that which I was taught to know. It means trusting what is revealed in each moment of present awareness, and feeling for what is ripe with the promise of birth. I go in and out of living this way, but as the circles of understanding grow, I find myself opening to the darkness of the feminine to receive Her guidance.

When this guidance is revealed, the only thing that lies ahead is darkness, the darkness of the unknown. The only thing known is that one choice, the one thing that is the most obvious choice. My mind struggles with the darkness, wanting desperately to know what lies ahead, and yet I also know in my heart that this darkness, this unknown, is the mystery of life waiting to be revealed. The divine mystery is the new, is this darkness from which all emerges.

What I am learning to trust in is the strong pull of this knowing. You might call this intuition, but for me, as I live deeper into the cells of my own body, it is knowing.

I found, what I guess you could call the ‘best’ book of 2009, this way. I saw it on a friend’s desk and knew I must read it. The pull was unavoidable. A friend had given him the book, for reasons he couldn’t understand. He had no intention of reading it, but for some reason had not yet given it away.

I would call this book a gift. A gift given and gratefully, and voraciously, received. Not all of the book kept my rapt attention, but the parts that did carried me deeper into the darkness, deeper into the parts of myself that were thirsting for light. I was yearning for gnosis. Through a marriage of the wisdom of this book and my own willingness to allow a new kind of knowing to emerge from within, I began to deepen my trust in this darkness.

The book that has so many dog ears, cracks in the spine, lines underlined, recommendations to others, is Dancing in the Flames: The Dark Goddess in the Transformation of Consciousness. The authors are Marion Woodman and Elinor Dickson. In my knowing, this book can be a guide book for the journey into darkness that we all, and most especially women, must take. As Woodman states, “The evolutionary imperative within the collective unconscious is pushing us toward a new level of consciousness.” We must learn to stand alone, in our own wholeness, if we are going to survive. And, learning to stand alone means diving into the darkness, to come to know ourselves again in a whole new way.

As Odier shares, there is beauty in darkness. It is the rich soil from where all of life emerges.

Today’s post is Day 4 (best book) of Gwen Bells’ Best of 2009 Blog Challenge.


Sometimes, Life is Like Pasta


Sometimes, life is like pasta – in the simplest moments, when the heart is set free to enjoy the little things it loves, life is served up al dente, or ‘to-the-tooth’. In these simple moments, taking it in, (life that is) is like savoring rich, warm pasta, that is soft in the mouth, but still has a firmness that feels so right.

In these al dente moments, there is a rightness to life, an alignment where one feels so much a part of the ebb and flow, of the community, of the day. It’s like life and you have settled down for a warm meal and you enjoy each other’s company. The surroundings don’t need to be posh, and what’s happening doesn’t have to be good and big and splashy. Life is just there, served up to be savored.

A few months ago, I had a meal with my honey, Jeff, where life was served up just this way.

Jeff and I were in the city, San Francisco. We had come from Berkeley, to enjoy the annual fleet week, where the Blue Angels put on a show over the San Francisco Bay, using the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz as their stage props. Unusual for October, the day was gray and foggy, and really cold.

When the show was over we trudged up from the Marina to Chestnut street, ready for a hot meal. It was only a few minutes before 5:00, but we were cold and hungry. I remembered a place to eat that we had been to once before – E’ Angelo Trattoria. Fortunately, they opened at 5:00 on Sundays. We made our way there. By the time we entered, there was only one table available – so surprising for 5:00 on a Sunday.

The restaurant is very traditional Italian. The wait staff is Italian by birth, and that day many of the patrons were Italian. Ever since I spent three months studying in Florence, I have so enjoyed moments when I get to have a taste of Italy here in the States, even if just for a meal. That day, there seemed to be lots of kids out with their grandparents, one group sitting right next to us. It’s such a sweet sight to see two elderly people, totally enjoying their young grandchildren.

The special that night was Beef Short Ribs and Pappardelle. Now, I hardly ever eat pasta…only when I’m in Italy. But, this night Jeff and I both ordered the special. This is when life served up the most amazing meal, al dente. I can still taste the flavors of this amazing dish. The pasta was just right, and had been blessed with a virgin olive oil and seasoning that melted right in my mouth. Pappardelle comes from a verb that means to ‘gobble up’.

For some reason, everything just came together that night. Life served up a rich, beautiful moment, and I was lucky enough to notice and take it in.

Day 2- Gwen Bell’s blog challenge, Best of 2009


Libido, Hana & The Sensuality of Life



Today, I’m writing as part of a December blog challenge, The Best of 2009. In this challenge, I’ve been asked to write about a topic each day, a topic that focuses on the ‘best of’ for this year. We’re given a prompt for each day – to use or not – but today’s prompt, What was your best trip in 2009?, is way too juicy for me to pass by…juicy, because my best trip for this year was the two weeks I spent in Maui.

Ahhhhhhhh… Just writing that begins to bring it all back. The sun, the fruit, the amazing water, Haleakalā, and Hana. Oh, and my Libido dance workshop. Yes, all of these delicious things were rolled up into two weeks in paradise. I personally don’t know how anyone lives there and gets a lick of work done.

The trip began when I read about a 5 Rhythms dance workshop on Libido to be held at Studio Maui over three days in July, one of which was my birthday. How could I resist? Maui, libido, dancing, all to celebrate my birthday. When I told my partner Jeff about it, he was in. You see, his birthday is five days after mine. We just happened to be born the same year, five days apart. We always try to find some great place to go and unwind for our birthdays. While Jeff doesn’t dance, he was more than game to find something to do on Maui for those three days that I would be dancing.

We landed a few days before my workshop was to begin, and started out by just lying on the beach in West Maui. The water was divine and I let myself just melt into it, and into the warmth of the sun. We did nothing. For two days. Swam. Slept. Ate. Drank in the sunshine. Then, we packed up and traveled to Haiku, a small town on the North side of the island.

Dancing libido was beyond description. 5 Rhythms has been my main practice for over seven years now, and I know it is what has kept me sane as I have dealt with life’s offerings: death, birth and all the experiences in between. The workshop invited us to open to, and dance, our libido, what Carl Jung refers to as, “…the energy that manifests itself in the life process and is perceived subjectively as striving and desire.” While we usually think of the more narrow definition of libido as sexual desire, it is really so much more. Dancing this energy of desire and sensuality, creativity and expression, was a very powerful way to open to the sensuality of Maui. Little did I know at this point just how sensual a land Maui is.

Dancing the 5Rhythms is such a compassionate and loving way to exlpore realms of self that have been pushed into the shadow, realms that seem to powerful, dark and primal to allow out in everyday life. The dance is a way to let the body bestow its wisdom and ability to heal upon the psyche. Being in a room with so many other dancers exploring this primal and love-filled energy is a gift of major magnitude, for there aren’t many places in our culture where we can learn to be comfortable with this power that rises up from the core of our nature. I emphasize love-filled, for my experience during this workshop was of the magnitude of the power of this love. Love is at the heart of our life-force, the force the is the heart of all creation.

After the workshop was over, we made our way to Mama’s Fish House – very much a touristy restaurant, but an incredible dining experience, too. My birthday dinner there was most memorable, as my entire being was still aglow from my dance experience.

The next morning we made the trek to the top of Haleakalā. Being on top of the island, looking down into the crater is an experience I’ll never forget. The beauty and power of this place is something you can’t describe in words. I’ll just let the pictures speak for me…


We then made our way back down the mountain and over to the coast, where we picked up the “Road to Hana”…and yes, it is quite a drive! You can buy T-shirts that say, “I survived the road to Hana’. The lush green of the vegetation as we arrived in Hana took my breath away as it lured me into my most animal nature, awakening something very old. I knew I had come home…it was as if I knew I had been here before. The only other time I have felt this totally delectable feeling in my body was when I was in southern India, in Varkala. There is something about the tropical land (Hana is as close as you can get to old Hawaii from what I understand) that just soothes my body and soul and brings me into complete presence with the land.

Each day we were there, we would wake up before the sunrise, walk across the street to Hamoa Beach (yes, our cottage was across the street from one of the top 10 beaches in the world) and swim as the sun rose. Almost every day, we had the beach to ourselves.


Ever since I was young, I have loved fresh fruit. I could live on it. That’s the other thing I loved about this trip. Each day I feasted on the most luscious fresh fruit that we purchased at roadside stands. We were even served fresh bananas, right off the tree, in Haiku, by the woman we rented our apartment from.

The land in Hana just feels so welcoming. In writing today, I realized how certain cultures seem to know they are part of nature, unlike our culture here in the States, where I hear all the time people say they are going to ‘go spend some time in nature. When I was in southern India, I felt completely one with my surroundings, not just a visitor in nature. I felt this same way here in Hana. I could just breath in and drink up the divine force that is both the creator and creation itself. We don’t have to go to nature. We are nature.

Each morning in Hana, I would sit and feel the warm tropical breeze across all parts of my skin and experience the sensations of my sensual animal nature. The sun, the wind, the water, the fruit, and the earth all fed me in a way that felt as old as earth itself. I felt held by the Great Mother, the Big Womb of Life, and began to know another part of me that had been dormant for so many years, perhaps even lifetimes. It was very simple. And profoundly humbling. The earth still holds us, even though we haven’t been such loving, grateful children to Her. In Hana, they are so respectful of the land, the ‘Aina‘. They get that She holds us and they revere Her.

Upon my return from Maui, I realized I now know myself more deeply, more sensually, and more primal than before. It’s all right here within us, this libido that is our creativity, our sensuality, our primal life force. Oh how we try so hard to deny our nature- that we are nature, that we are animals with a big, over-active, self-reflective brain, and a divinely sensual, loving life-force. This is at the heart of wild creativity.

This was my best trip of 2009.

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