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Wednesday, Christmas Day, 2002

Could I be any more blessed? I say that truly meaning it and not just writing the words to pretend that all is wonderful and perfect. But seriously, I am sitting on a sandy beach on a warm sunny windy day able to marvel at the wonder of the vast Atlantic Ocean in front of me, listening to the waves crash against the shore. I realize I have been somewhat taking my week here for granter. When I think about the minutes, hours, time wasted on bickering with my mother, being angry, etc. This time may not come again but so often I lose recognition of that fact in the moments where I find myself annoyed, bothered, angry, etc. I don’t beat myself up for it because I am a highly reactive, emotional and feeling individual. however, the better I am at replacing those negative feelings with ones of compassion and love, the happier I will be. Sure, I don’t doubt that I will continue to be an opinionated person, but that’s why I have the stage, Jennifer. Use those where they will be most appreciated. And try to come to terms with your family, that they aren’t going to change. I know I write this all the time, but realize that the more you try, the more you set yourself up for disappointment and hurt. Turn to other relationships for support in yourcraft and day to day struggles. Cultivate those realtionships that will make you grow – stronger, better. You just re-connected with Laura to find you have so much in common. Doug is another. YiaYia, too. She is most supportive. I think you know, in your heart though, moving to NYC is not for you right now. Right now you need to embark on your own path – whatever it may be, with the confidence that you and only you know what is right for you. Talking it over with your friends, family, lovers (?), teddy bears (!), whatever, may help you discover these things for yourself by verbalizing what is in your heart – but only you know ad only you can make your decisions based on what is in your heart.

And please don’t berate or belittle yourself if things aren’t going as you think they should or as fast as you think they should. You are where you are meant to be. Remember that. This next year’s endeavors may be tough, but your rewards will be great. And you will be happy. Continue not to lose the love and light in your heart and treat every single person you meet as an opportunity to share your light and bright personality. And your gifts. Sure, there will be some dog days when you’d like to say “Fuck You” to the world. So go ahead. Do it. And then let it go and be done with it.

Monitor your ambition. Keep it focused and don’t allow it to run you ragged. Go after the things you are most fearful of – a successful relationship, career whatever. Just do it.

Connect, Jennifer. That is your strength. No matter how you do it, whatever your medium, connect with people. You are so good at it. As you were walking down the beach just now, something Patty said to you resonated in your head . . . “Look up. Don’t look down or at the floor when you dance.” that is a good metaphor for life, Jennifer. Don’t look down or avoid that opportunity for a connection with people. That’s how you affect people, Jennifer. Communicate with them. Don’t be afraid to reveal or show yourself. Who you are. What’s inside of you. Believe that what you have to express will better people’s lives. Either make them happy or force them to explore parts of themselves and emotions they never knew were there. That is your purpose. Your charge, your calling. That is what I am challenging you to do, to accomplish.

Don’t fear. I will be here – there – in all ways to guide you if you move ahead with courage, conviction and fortitude.

Fitness, Food, Faith.

For years, I tried to change the outside. I believed my happiness and my joy was contingent upon what my body looked liked. I worked out like a fiend. I starved myself. When the starvation thing became unsustainable, I turned to raw food only. When raw food had my digestive system in complete distress I decide to go to holistic nutrition school in NYC.

It was one of the happiest years of my life, not because I learned exactly what to eat, but because I was living in a new city with new friends, surrounded by a community of like-minded people I loved. I was thriving. But when school was over, my friends gone, I once again found myself sad, lonely, wishing life was different. I was still working out – and working – like a fiend.

When all of the coping mechanisms I had employed in the past broke down, I turned to yoga. But unlike the yoga I had been practicing to this point, I sensed there was something beneath the down dogs and chattarungas. While many people prefer to skip the spiritual nature of the yoga tradition altogether, I was starving for it. I had exhausted all other resources to heal myself. Faith was my new fix and something that continues to grow and blossom every day.

Eventually however, I realized the answer isn’t in any of these things and it’s in all of them at the same time. Sometimes a good sweat is the answer. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes a crazy cleanse is just what you need – sometimes it’s the last thing you need. Sometimes more meditation or 200 rounds of mala beads saves you. Other times not so much. Sometimes all you need is a cocktail. Other times, it’s poison.

However, I’ve never found a situation that a good hug and belly laugh can’t cure.

It’s not that I’ve stopped practicing everything I’ve learned along the way regarding self- care – body, mind and spirit. It’s just that I’ve stopped relying on these tools to make things different. All of the trainings and teachings are leading me (notice the use of the continuous tense) to a place of radical acceptance. Can I accept myself in this moment, just as I am? Can I accept my pain, hurt, failure, flab, sadness, grief, anxiety, uncertainty, and insecurity knowing everything is temporal and, at some point, it will shift? To be replaced by joy, laughter, freedom, ease, liberation, success, confidence, and a stunning ass and abs you can count. (Maybe not six, but at least one or two.)

Life is flux. Life is change. Accepting it all – not trying to heal or change anything – has been the greatest lesson of all.

I have not stopped learning altogether, either. I’m still a sucker for a good self-help book and a weekend workshop or two. But I no longer take what I learn as gospel or a fix to heal whatever is broken within me. I now take it for what it is: learning. Expanding my mind and my toolbox.

All of this is why I have never been able to create a ‘system’ or program for anything – fitness, dance, yoga, etc. As soon as an idea would come and I’d get it down on paper, I’d change my mind. I’d think of a million and one reasons people shouldn’t be doing barre or  yoga or doing a cleanse or cutting carbs completely. I’d be on to lifting weights or self-massage or nothing at all. And I’d eat whatever the hell I wanted to. I never wanted to pigeon hole myself as the ‘barre gal’ or ‘dance gal’. Like many women, I am ‘all gals’ – and how I choose to express any one gal in particular changes from day to day.

I am attempting to embrace the fact that there are no answers. So I can stop looking. I can stop trying to figure out the un-figurable. My brain, which has been in overdrive for forty some years, can take a break. Quite frankly, the way mine runs, I was sure it would have quit by now. Wishful thinking.

This is a new practice for me, this radical acceptance. I’ve been conditioned to resist relaxation because you never know what catastrophe is lurking around the corner. Doing is easy for me. Being is harder. I’m now on high alert to bring awareness to those moments when I project into the future. When I find myself resisting the letting go, I breathe. I exhale. I dip into the wellspring of wisdom I’ve accumulated over my twenty years of study in the wellness space. After all what good is the thousands of dollars I threw into my studies if they couldn’t help me when I needed them most?

I confirm that there is nothing else but this moment and, in fact, I. AM. OKAY. I turn whatever tricks I need to change the tide of the momentum of my mind. And I do it over, and over, and over, and over again. Until it becomes my new normal.

My Staycation

As of Friday December 21st, I gave myself permission to take a two week stay-cation. I decided due to the expense of travel during the holiday coupled with a deep desire to go nowhere and do no-thing, to stay put in Los Angeles. I was looking forward to sticking around while everyone else left. L.A. is best when half the town leaves. You can get from the west side to the middle of Hollywood in less than 40 minutes. That’s unheard of on even the best of days here in the City Of Angels. I actually enjoy driving as long as I can move unobstructed by other cars. I love driving fast even more. (It’s particularly satisfying driving north on PCH with a stick shift.) I roll the windows down, crank the music, sing loud and feel free. Other times, I just listen to the wind in complete silence. Either way, it’s a meditative experience for me.

I told myself I wasn’t going to work for two weeks. That I would take time for personal projects and self care. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to the last two weeks of 2018. The two weeks prior had been a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I had been feeling tired, lost and sad. I assumed my heavy mood would extend into the holidays and maybe even intensify given the particular amount of loneliness one can tend to feel this time of year.

I experienced just the opposite. The past two weeks has been fulfilling and inspiring in ways I couldn’t imagine. I binge watched my now favorite episodic – Californication. And while for many the show may have confirmed that L.A. is nothing but a cesspool of vapid wanna be artists, it made me fall in love with my town all over again – its landscapes, its debauchery and its ability to continually inspire (and simultaneously ass kick) any who have aspirations for a creative life.

I began writing again. Not in the long form ways (like this blog) that I feel compelled to share with the world, but just musings and short poems and random thoughts – streams of consciousness that may or may not have a public life somewhere down the road. I wrote in ways that were personally satisfying.

I began dreaming again – allowing my imagination to open avenues of creativity for me. Thinking of all the possibilities this town holds, excited for what’s to come and the ride that 2019 will take me on.

And while I told myself I wasn’t going to work – I did here and there. Which proved to me, that no matter what, I know I will always be motivated to move ahead. I suppose I needed that confirmation.

Somewhere in the past two weeks, I began to trust myself more. Trust what I’m feeling called to do. Where I’m guided to go. I let go of the should’s and shouldn’t’s and gleaned what I was doing out of necessity and what I was doing from sheer love.

I drank (quite) a bit, I moved a bit, and I expressed a lot in all forms. By golly, I had FUN. I found pleasure in life in so many ways. I found what has been missing for so many years.

Given how not busy my life was, I had plenty of time for social media and other distractions. However, I had no desire to post much of anything. I had nothing to say. I was too busy LIVING my life rather than pontificating about it. A whole day would go by and somehow, I just couldn’t find the time for Instagram.

While I know my life will ramp up as the New Year moves forward and that I am never completely free of the darkness that sometimes distinguishes my light, I am going to try my darndest to carry these past two weeks with me. The ease. The joy. The disinterest for what I thought my life was supposed to be or look like. Because I’m too busy enjoying what it is.

Warrior Spirit

Moksh” the woman said to me, looking at my left forearm, just above my wrist. I didn’t even have to follow her gaze to know she was referring to my tattoo, the Sanskrit symbol for moksha – loosely translated as spiritual liberation or freedom. Many Hindi speaking people have commented on my inner arm marking. It’s led to some lovely conversations and connections I may not have had otherwise. This was no exception.

Yes. I knew she knew so I said nothing further.

She nodded.

Do you pray? She asked.

Every day. I replied.

Good.

There was what seemed like a long pause as I considered the black and white tile outdoor table next to me. It may have only been a couple of seconds.

You’re a warrior.

A little caught off guard, I looked at her with a look of surprise gauging by her response.

You have a warrior spirit.

So I’ve been told.

I thought she was going to drop a full on Vedic reading right there in Cost Plus on a random Thursday afternoon. Instead she stayed silent. I simply said Have a nice day and walked out.

I didn’t know what else to say. There was nothing else to say. I knew what I was.

Once outside, I paused a few feet out the door and felt a swell of emotion, a few tears rolling down my face. Ah, yes – the familiar tears of a warrior who doesn’t know how to drop the shield. The tears that came from being seen, by a total stranger no less.

This interaction has been sitting with me for the past few days and a theme that has been resurrecting itself for months.

As the Bhagavad Gita lays out so beautifully, life is not about floating around, jumping from one ecstatic spiritual experience to the next. Life takes place on a battlefield as we do our best to slay our karmic debts so that we may evolve towards liberation when we move into our next life. There is no doubt the battlefield is where I’m most comfortable. Running around, overcoming challenges, fighting for the next victory – both in the material and spiritual worlds. I’ve become quite adept at walking through the fire and in many cases, I even court and cajole it. But what to do when the fight is over or I’m just too tired to wield a weapon? Well, therein lie my most recent lessons.

I feel like there’s no time to rest. We as a species seem to be in such dire straits that it’s going to take every one of us who are called to do this work to do it 24-7. Humanity is at a tipping point and it’s all hands on deck if we don’t want this ship to sink. Yet, there are days, like today, when I’m just too tired. Sure, I want to go to kirtan. Sure I want to get out in nature and convene with Her. But on the first day of my moon cycle after teaching one class, running a few errands and some light household chores, all I can manage is a yoga nidra practice, and laying in my space with my eyes closed. Waves of cramps keep me fixed on the floor. Chanting even feels taxing. As I’ve become more attuned to my body and my cycles, I know I should rest and rest seduces me like a forlorn lover, and yet – yet. It’s so darn uncomfortable to lay down my sword and my shield and allow myself to be held.

I rub my swollen aching belly, wondering where my leaner, warrior like shape disappeared to. I feel soft. Squishy. I don’t necessarily like it.

So, like a child, I rest my head in my Mother’s lap. I let her stroke my hair and I hear her whisper It’s okay. I cry. Not working is, indeed, my work.

(WO) Man

After a morning meditation the other day I was inspired by the idea of a woman’s circle. As I often do around new ideas, I created a mind map (see photo) to get a sense of what its purpose would be and what it might look like. Instinctually I wrote down the word ‘woman’ as (WO) Man. This said a lot to me about the very nature of what it means to be a woman.

Essentially, as a human race, we are all man. The Shiva energy or the supreme consciousness resides in all of us. But check out the difference between woman and man. Two letters. WO. Immediately I thought WOMB. The thing that makes women unique is literally our reproductive organs. I know some of you are reading this and saying ‘duh.’ But think about it. Your vagina, cervix, fallopian tubes, uterus, ovaries – all of the pieces and parts and energies that involve a female reproductive system – are just that. An intricate miraculous system that reproduces. A container that houses all the forces of creation. Holy shit.

This is our Shakti energy and women, this is the true source of our power. Our ability to create. Our ability to nurture. Our ability to give birth. Whether to another human being (I’m always blown away by that quite frankly), an idea or a movement. Our power does not come from shaming others – male or female. Our power does not come from executing a witch hunt or crucifying perpetrators. Our power comes from our ability to heal – ourselves and others – in the kindest most loving way possible. Which, by the way, may include a bitch slap every now and then if the nice approach doesn’t work. In fighting for our right to feel safe and free, let’s not lose what makes us so powerful. Our softness. Our nectar – the very source of our divinity.

My next question was Can men be included in this process? Yes. Should men be included in this process? Absofuckinglutely. They NEED to be included. But unfortunately, we’ve created a culture such that when either a man or a woman wants to explore, heal, and/or share their sacred feminine, they feel unsafe. Because that which has made women absolutely beautiful and unique and sexy and oh so powerful has been objectified. The very essence of our divinity has been scrutinized, disregarded and disrespected. We have all contributed. Men and women. We have allowed it. We have participated in its growth and dominance. We all must take responsibility for our part and we all must do our own work to heal it. Women cannot simply point our well-manicured fingers at men and vilify them.

Until we re-create a culture where it is safe for all of us to fully express and celebrate Her, it is necessary in some instances to hold separate containers for the work that all of us need to do. Thus, for now, my offerings will be limited to females so that they feel safe to be naked, vulnerable, and soft. I wish we could all dance with Her in the same room. To proudly express to the world all incarnations of Her and join and unite with Him in unabashed joy and pride. We are not there yet. But it is my prayer and hope that one day, sooner than later, we will be.

On Being Bulletproof

There’s a first for everything. The first kiss. The first time you had sex. The first job. Your first (and hopefully last) wedding.

This week, I was fired for the first time. Likely, the last. I’m simply not cut out for the day-in-day-out of a nine to five. Wear this. Show up now. Go home then. Do that. Don’t do this. Don’t speak up. Don’t share your thoughts. Swallow it down down down like a bitter pill. I felt like a slave to someone else’s dream. Slowly, surely stifling every bit of my individuality and expression. It was a blessing. Not even in disguise. A flat out blessing.

For over two months, I’ve been working in a lab – a place that offers cutting edge technological advancements to improve your life. Whether you want to increase your physical prowess or it’s your brain you desire to upgrade, all of the equipment in Bulletproof Labs is designed to ‘biohack’ your biology. This petri dish of human improvement is the newest development in biohacking guru Dave Asprey’s cult like brand Bulletproof. I’m in awe of the genius behind the latest and greatest in performance advancements and have great respect for the mad scientists raising the bar on what it means to be healthy. But during the Bulletproof Conference a few weeks ago – a full on weekend dedicated to upgrading the human experience – it dawned on me – I don’t want to be Bulletproof.

I’ve worked my whole life building defenses, securing my fortress. I don’t need more armor. I don’t need more ways to be perfected. I don’t need more measurements – more tools to tell me how much body fat I do or don’t have or the phase angle of my cells.

What I need is more joy. I need more heart. I need more forgiveness. I need more ways to express myself. More yin for the yang in my life.

Bulletproof touts that it can make you “Superhuman”. Does the world need more superhumans? Or more human humans? Feeling humans. Caring humans. Kind humans. Forgiving humans.

The more we try to protect ourselves from the pitfalls of life, the harder the lessons will fall. It’s a futile battle. The challenges will still come. The hurt and the struggles – there is no way to become invincible against life’s pains. The danger is thinking you’re impervious to them. Your kryptonite will always find you.

Originally, I joined the team at Bulletproof in hopes of helping people connect to a deeper part of themselves. To remove the armor, shed the layers and get a glimpse of what was beneath all the muscle, tendons and bones of their human space suit. Ultimately, my purpose seemed to get lost in the attempt to gain control of my biology. In today’s Photoshopped, Instagramed, carefully curated social media culture, we attempt to shield ourselves against what it means to be imperfect, flawed humans.

I get it. In this day and age, it’s hard to feel. To be touched and moved. To be sensitive can be heartbreaking. But the more sensitive we become to each others’ pain, sorrow, disappointments, joy, and triumphs, the more we understand we are not alone in our own. I still believe the best biohack is a hug.

I enjoyed playing in the Lab, experimenting with my own body and psyche. There were some benefits that came with utilizing the technological hacks, notably the ones that have the ability to access the energy and causal bodies. (I’m now a big fan of cryotherapy, one perk of the job I will miss.)

But measuring and perfecting is my Achilles heel – it can send me into a spiral of criticism and negativity. I love the idea of Bulletproof and believe we should always be striving to evolve. (Full disclosure – I use a lot of the Bulletproof products myself! I trust they are of the highest quality.) But it’s the manner in which we do it – the message that shrouds the methodology. I know there is a place where science and spirit meet. I saw that at Bulletproof and I’m grateful to have seen the hard data that supports the path of science. Ultimately however, I find the softness of spirit feels more like home.

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