Don't Be Afraid to Go There

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Life will take you places and show you things you never planned or expected. It will put you in the paths of others you didn’t choose or imagine. It will amaze, astonish, hurt and disappoint you. It does this, not to make you dread or tire of living it, but to implore you to rise above the challenges, find the joy that is to be had, and make the good parts count.

No one is guaranteed an easy, problem-free life, nor sustained happiness, even if it looks that way for some from your individual perspective. It’s just not realistic, and most circumstances are not what they seem from the outside anyway. A life that invites us to evolve, learn, grow, improve, and enhance our relationships with ourselves and others is possible for all of us, yet only a reality for those who accept the invitation.

Meditating and practicing yoga can only do so much. A positive attitude can only get you so far. Educating yourself on philosophies to live by is just knowledge if you don’t integrate what you’ve learned into your core being and live it every day.

For many, there are issues that require a different level of attention and care. Don’t be afraid to go there. To ask for help. To see yourself and show yourself. To explore your hurts and feel your wounds so you can begin to heal them. To admit you may not know how to move forward in the most healthy and beneficial way. To accept you can’t handle everything yourself. To acknowledge that you will only heal, grow, and cultivate resilience if you first approach what needs to be addressed.

It takes bravery to be vulnerable, not to be closed off or in denial of pain. Denial is useless, and does nothing but perpetuate a problem and impede healing and growth. See a theme here? 💪❤️🙏

#stopthestigma #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthawarenessmonth

Move Forward

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Everything is coming together. All in due time. Be patient. Be Aware. CREATE. Move forward. Love others. Love yourself. GIVE. Accept what is. Improve what you can. Believe in what’s possible. GROW. Take action. Find strength. Trust in you.

⚓️ HOPE.
➕ Stay Positive.
💪 Persevere.

Be integral in making your hopes a reality. IMAGINE. See it. Be Open. It’s all just around the corner. SEIZE IT.


#moveforward #fridayinspiration #newmonth #Feb1

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

November 2018 - An Inspirational Disaster

Leo Carillo State Park campgrounds devastated by the Woolsey fire- Malibu, CA 📷: Sgt. John Regan, CA State Parks, Lifeguard Supervisor, Angeles District

Leo Carillo State Park campgrounds devastated by the Woolsey fire- Malibu, CA 📷: Sgt. John Regan, CA State Parks, Lifeguard Supervisor, Angeles District

Pacific Coast Highway through Leo Carillo State Park after the fire - malibu, CA 📷: Sgt. John Regan, CA State Parks, Lifeguard Supervisor, Angeles District

Pacific Coast Highway through Leo Carillo State Park after the fire - malibu, CA 📷: Sgt. John Regan, CA State Parks, Lifeguard Supervisor, Angeles District

The entries I posted on Instagram in November 2018 started off inspirational, but ended up in disaster, full of news and updates on the unexpected tragic events that took place that month. After my last Instagram entry on November 26th, I went offline and took a seven week hiatus from posting on or even looking at social media.

I completely checked out from it all, needing to focus on the care of my injured daughter, and the healing of my own hurt body. So amidst living through the frightening fire disaster, returning to a home in an area that looked like a war zone, and contending with the debilitating injuries and illnesses that befell me and my family, I remained offline through the whole of December, and made my best effort to enjoy the holiday season in gratitude for my family through to the new year.

A devastating wildfire, a painful spasm, and a serious fracture did a number on life around here for a while, and the following words and images chronicle how everything unfolded in November…

(I’ll get to December later.)


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It’s hard to live life sometimes. It’s hard to keep it all together when it feels like it’s all falling apart. It’s hard to be consistently responsible, helpful, kind, and generous, while also feeling happy, joyful, and sane. It’s challenging to do the right thing all the time. To resist sadness, anger, selfishness, laziness, and pessimism when they rear their heads, and when there are plenty of legitimate sources to justify their existence.

It takes discipline, awareness and intentional positivity to resist being swallowed up by the overwhelm of the big picture, the state of our world, and the perils of humanity. It takes courage and a strong will to resist collapse under the weight of our own quiet heartbreaks and peaceful resignations. To suffer soul crushing defeat, survive it, and rise above. It takes hope, intention, and an unwavering desire to build rather than destroy... our homes, our families, our kids’ spirits, and our own sense of peace within.

But we do it. At least we do our best to do it. We do it because we love life. And because we just plain LOVE. Holding love in our hearts can move mountains. It can get us through the worst of storms; and it can bring us to our highest purpose. It is our saving grace.


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Thousand Oaks is part of an extended community for many residents of Malibu. My kids and I are over there often, most recently this past Tuesday, the day before the Borderline Bar & Grill shooting, at a restaurant only four miles from where shots were fired and twelve lives were violently lost. Newbury Park, a town within the city limits of Thousand Oaks, is both where the shooter lived and where I take my kids to see their pediatrician. We dine, shop, and run most of our errands in this community, just over the mountain from our home.

I took this photo of my son in February 2017 at the mall when we were out in T.O. for our mother/son night while my husband and daughter were attending their annual father/daughter dance back in Malibu. It is just minutes from the Borderline Bar and Grill where the shooting took place. “It could have been us” has entered my mind more than once today, and I have had to qualm feelings of unrest for my kids’ safety as we go about our lives. The fear of losing loved ones has been more pronounced for me since my mom went away for her birthday weekend and never returned, killed by a driver under the influence of prescription drugs.

When these senseless shootings happen, as a victim of unexpected tragedy myself, I go back to how I felt the day I was informed by the police officer on the scene that my mom had died in an accident. I relate with and weep for the those whose lives have been forever changed in a blink of an eye. I know first hand how they have been blindsided by such news, how their existence has been severely altered, and how they now have to reconcile their new reality of living without. They have been pulled into the abyss of tragic loss these last 24 hours. Darkness has blocked out the light and they are just beginning their journey through it. My heart and my thoughts are with them. Even though the rest of us are left to process another senseless shooting in whatever way we can (again), we are the lucky ones this time.


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The Borderline Bar & Grill mass shooting last night and now the Hill Fire in the same town of Thousand Oaks, right over the mountain from us. We have the car packed for evacuation, which may come at any moment; as we have heard they’ve already evacuated five miles north of us. Hoping we can stay in our home tonight and all will be ok... but for now, we are thinking of all those over the mountain that are already mourning the loss of victims in the Borderline shooting, and on top of that, are now battling wildfires.


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Mandatory evacuation for all of Malibu from #VenturaCountyLine to Malibu Canyon/Las Virgenes. We are in the car stuck in solid gridlock on PCH right now trying to leave Malibu. Our home had a mandatory evacuation last night, but we stayed in Malibu at a friend’s house further south where there were no evacuations. Now we are part of the mass exodus to leave, wishing we had just left the area entirely last night. Hoping we will have a home to return to in a few days, and praying for the safety for all the Ventura County Fire & LA County Fire fighters and all residents in the affected areas. 🙏

#woolseyfire #hillfire


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My home is (or was, as the jury is still out on that) located about 18 miles up the coast from where I took this photo, somewhere behind and under that huge cloud of smoke. This was at 11:00am yesterday, and the kids and I had already been in the car for two and a half hours but had only traveled a mile. We stayed at a friend’s house further south from our home down PCH on Thursday night, having left our own home at 8:45pm under a mandatory evacuation.

I quickly packed up photos and various irreplaceable items, as much as would fit in our car with my two kids in the back seat, and walked out the door, leaving 99% of our possessions behind. It is now a day and a half later, and with each passing minute, it becomes more of a real possibility that I may not ever see my home again, except as a pile of ashes where it used to stand. I am heartbroken for my community, as so much of it has already burned; and so many of my friends are already dealing with the devastating news that their homes are gone.

Now, I sit here at my sister’s house waiting to hear the fate of mine - for the other shoe to drop. Yes, my immediate family is safe. Yes, the things we left behind are just possessions. But it is also our home... where I lived when I got married, pregnant, found out my mom died, grieved her, birthed two babies, nursed them, put them down for naps, fed them solid foods for the first time, watched them take their first steps, and took their first day of school pictures each year. Where we measured and marked their heights in pencil with a line and their names and the date on the wall next to the entry closet.

It may all be gone. It may all still be there. Either way, what has happened to Malibu is devastating. I know we will survive, and I know our community will rise up, support those who need it most, and get through this tragedy together. I am just so sad, and I need to allow this feeling for a moment before I face what is to come.

#hillfire #woolseyfire


Our home in Malibu did not burn down on Friday in the #woolseyfire and #hillfire, per the report I received Saturday afternoon. However, the danger is far from over and my sigh of relief will be forever stifled, since at least eight families we know already lost their homes, and those are just the ones confirmed.

Power lines have burned and our community is still evacuated. Wind ceased to blow most of the day Saturday, giving firefighters, first responders, and volunteers a reprieve, and a chance to make some headway on fire containment. Unfortunately, the winds picked up again Saturday evening, and more fires ignited in Malibu. It is going to be another rough day (or maybe days) of wait and see.

One of the many sad notes of Saturday was the news that Leo Carillo State Park was burned significantly. The landscape on and around my favorite Leo hiking loop is going to look vastly different than it does here above (taken last week) when I finally am allowed to hike up to this ocean vista point again and survey the scene. I am weeks away from that reality, but I know it will be hard to look out on what the fires have done to it from this spot.

For now, I must stay focused on the reality before me. Thank you to everyone who checked in and left notes of love and encouragement on Instagram, Facebook, or via text. I deeply appreciated all of your kind words and concern, and felt the love communicated from near and far. 🙏❤️

Hope for another day begins now. Hope for the safety and protection of those battling, and the victims of, these fires. Hope that peace and comfort will eventually soothe those who have already suffered tremendous loss. And hope that all life and property that has been spared thus far will stay safe and unscathed over this night and into these next few days.


These palm trees stand on our property, just feet from the side of our home. This mountain behind the palms, the sone in the second photo, is above us, right behind our home. The whole mountain burned, the fields adjacent to our home on both sides burned, and the open land in front of our street burned. Miraculously, our home did not burn. We have been assured our home is now safe from the threat of fire... well, at least from this fire. We are relieved and grateful. We are one of the lucky ones.

The list of Malibu families we know whom have lost their homes has grown to 26; and I expect that number will rise as information continues to spread. Kids in my kids’ classes lost their homes. Teachers at my kids’ school lost their homes. Moms I love and have worked with volunteering at school and in the PTA have lost their homes. My daughter’s best friend lost her new home, the one she just moved into a few weeks ago, as well as the home from which she just moved, where she grew up and had my daughter over for countless play dates, hang outs, and sleep overs. Educators and mentors who have inspired, supported, and just been there along the journey of our lives in Malibu the last 16 years, have lost the homes in which they had lived for over 30 or 40 years.

They are all suffering tremendous loss right now. Please pray 🙏 or keep them in your thoughts... or however you chose to send out positive energy 💫 into the world.

Donate to the many relief efforts that have been formed: @we.love.malibu @onelovemalibu @malibufoundation @bgcmalibu90265, offer a hand to help where you can, or just foster a little more gratitude for the safety and security of your own home, if you are reading this from afar, miles away from Malibu.


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Last Monday night, four days after being evacuated from Malibu, we were still taking refuge in my sister’s South Pasadena house. After sleeping in their cousin’s room for three nights, my kids came to snuggle with me, missing home, and their beds. They drifted off peacefully, while I lied there feeling the unrest and sadness of the last several days fully palpable in my body. My neck, where I hold my stress, had been tight for months, building since May, getting worse with difficulties endured in June, July and August, leading to its present state of stiffness and knots.

A yogi and runner, I had knowingly neglected my self care and exercise regimen in the face of adversity for months... a big mistake. Even though my home was safe, I didn’t feel relief. The damage to my body had already been done. The wildfire was the catalyst to my body finally raising the white flag in surrender.

At 5:30 the next morning, I was awoken by a muscle spasm that shot down my neck. My back was frozen in pain and I didn’t know how to make it stop. Bending my neck up lessened the spasm, so I held it in that position. I couldn’t move without pain taking over, so I just lied there, paralyzed in the dark, while everyone else in the house slept. I felt helpless, scared, and I had to pee. I needed to get up, so I silently gritted through the pain. It got worse from there as the hours passed, spreading down my right side to my arm, hand and fingers.

Thus began what is now going on seven days of chronic pain that hasn’t relented, except for some minutes here and there, and while I’m asleep, when I can sleep. I have seen three professionals ~ healers, therapists and doctors ~ and have had several treatments and tests, with no quick fixes in sight... just the expected weeks of physical therapy.

My body has drawn a line in the sand. It has told me it isn’t going to be ignored or neglected anymore. The wildfire that threatened my home and ravaged my town was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and mine. It was a huge wake up call. I am finally returning home today, still immobilized by pain, to begin the work of healing... not only the physical healing of my body, but the mental and emotional healing of myself and my community.


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Finally arrived back home yesterday afternoon, and witnessed the first sunset here in ten days. A sight for sore eyes.

The mandatory evacuation has been lifted for most of Malibu, but there are still some canyons in which people are not allowed to return to their homes, or to survey the damage done to their property. I am feeling a mixture of gratitude for still having a home to which to return, and sorrow for all the loss suffered by my friends and the challenging times ahead for all of us to rebuild our community.

Anyone interested in helping, you can donate to @onelovemalibu, @malibufoundation, @bgcmalibu90265, or you can visit @gabbyreece to find out what is actively being done for the relief effort locally, not only in Malibu, but other affected areas like Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley. Several groups have been formed to help victims of the #woolseyfire in all areas, and she has been disseminating information through her IG posts to help galvanize people into action. 🙏❤️💪


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My sister and brother-in-law have created a wonderful Thanksgiving tradition at their home for my family and my brother’s family, and they outdo themselves each year with an amazing meal and this beautiful setting.

Thanksgiving was especially memorable yesterday, since we had been evacuated here and stayed at their house for five days when the Woolsey Fire hit Malibu two weeks ago. So many lives have been turned upside down since then, and I am feeling so many different feelings about it. Most of all, I feel gratitude for the safety of my family and our home from the fire; but I also feel sadness for all of my friends who lost their homes to it.

When tragedy strikes, clarity for what you value most can often hit you soon after. I feel overwhelming love for the people dearest to my heart, and an aching desire to be with the ones I love whom are not in my physical realm right now. 💗 I feel the void of their presence and miss their touch, while simultaneously feeling the fullness of my heart with love for them. A testament to how much love our hearts can hold.

Amidst all the love and giving thanks, I’m still feeling the debilitating effects of my back injury from a week and a half ago; and now my daughter is also injured from an accident she had on her scooter the evening before Thanksgiving. It landed us in Malibu Urgent Care right before they closed, and luckily they were able to stitch up her chin that had split open when she fell face first on the asphalt street in front of our home. She scraped some other body parts too; and beside the pain in her chin, her jaw is stiff, her teeth are sore, and she ran a 102 temperature for the duration of our Thanksgiving celebration.

We woke up this morning, both of us bedridden and sore, and I was feeling a bit in a state of “when it rains it pours.” Yet I recognize that these physical challenges and injuries we are nursing still pale in comparison to losing everything in the fire. I know we will be fine soon. We’ll heal our bodies over the next few weeks, and then we will be ready and stronger than ever to help our friends rebuild their lives, and help rebuild our beautiful community.

#malibustrong 💪💙


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In bed. Looking up from the flat of my back. Visions of love, loss, limbo, lust, and light abound. 💫💛✨

#backinjury #bedstretches #yogainbed #youwilllookupatmefromtheflatofyourback #aknightstale #william #heathledger


Before all the hills in my neighborhood off the coast of Malibu burned, including this bluff I often hike in the Santa Monica Mountains, I began writing #thirtydaysofinspiration posts, starting on Nov. 1st. I only wrote and posted on day 1-7 before the Borderline Bar shooting occurred in nearby Thousand Oaks the night of Nov. 7th.

The next day, the Hill Fire in Ventura County, the Woolsey Fire in LA County, and the Camp Fire in Butte County, all began to burn up the state of California. I never got to my day 8 inspirational post, instead writing about the bar shooting. The wild fires took over our lives on Nov. 9th, and they burned their paths of destruction through the city of Paradise up north and my city of Malibu here down south.

Tragedy and loss have competed fiercely with inspiration during these difficult days from Nov. 8-25. Still, many examples of bravery, kindness and perseverance emerged amidst the rubble by the first responders, fire fighters, law enforcement officers, community members, and people from near and far, either working to prevent loss, or helping those who have suffered loss. Inspiration at its finest.

Today, on day 26, I wanted to resume my posts on these last days of this very difficult November; but I find I don’t have it in me right now. I feel sad and overwhelmed. I need time to process some things and do some healing. In the absence of my attempt to write something inspirational to share, I want to show some love and appreciation for those on my Instagram feed who often inspire me.

Inspiration can take many forms... in words and images, in art and intellect, and in humans who embody love, courage, strength, beauty, emotional intelligence, kindness, and ⚓️ hope, as they share their gifts and vulnerabilities, and expose their humanity.

Thank you for inspiring me:
@nayyirah.waheed @changeurperception @createthelove @beingisbeautiful @mindfulmft @abbywambach @estherperelofficial @bzblooms @herbadmother @thelastburstofspring @fodadaclothing @timhortonphotomalibu @julieellerton @projecthealthybody_ @dallashartwig @briana_leonard @rootsnwings_malibu @wearemanenough

Thank you all for the truths you share, and the light you shine. 🙏 💙 xo- Lisa

Don't Do It to Look Hot

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Don’t do it to look hot. Don’t do it to get other people’s admiration, envy, or approval. Don’t do it so those you think are hot will find you hot too. 🔥

Do it to take care of yourself, be strong, move free, feel good, and live long. If “looking hot” is a residual effect, and admirers let you know it, don’t let that define you or your self worth.

Physical “hotness” is fleeting; but the intangible force that attracts others to us and us to them on deeper levels will outlast any surface attraction. Depth of character, kindness, respect, and vulnerability are at the core of the connections we make with those who are meant to be in our lives with longevity.

Deep connections will survive casual flirtations and fleeting infatuations every time; so be sure to put equal energy into the fitness of your mind, heart, and soul as you do your body. Redefine your hotness from the inside out.

#dayfive #dontdoittolookhot

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Focus Through It

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When you are challenged to the breaking point and are weary of the climb, remember it’s not going to get easier when you decide to try again... in an hour, a day, week, month, or year.

The only way through any kind of discomfort is *through* it... not around it or away from it.

When you know what you need to do to get where you want, but aren’t sure you have what it takes to get there, focus on how you want to feel when you reach the top. Focus on what you are working to overcome, what from which you want to heal, and what existence you want to live as you move forward toward your goal.

Focus on how the strength you will gain on the journey will fuel your desire to persevere, and how every step you take brings you closer to where you want to be.

#dayfour #focusthroughit

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Newport Coast Golden Hour

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#fbf to when I was down in Newport Coast visiting my Aunt Jan on 10/5/14, four years ago today. I started publishing my writing on my new website earlier that year, so that new creative outlet and my new lease on life really helped fuel me to stay fit. I had been doing a lot of running and yoga, and my body was feeling and looking better than it had since I had the kids. (They were four and seven then.) When you have strong motivators, they can make you focus and thrive in ways you never expected.

It was an amazing time for me. Yet there was some bad that came with all that good. I hadn’t been as attentive a mother as I had usually been, and my passion for writing and all the feelings that consumed me at that time led to some selfish choices. (I wrote about this in my piece “Write On.”) There is a small part of me that wishes I could snap my fingers and go back to that year and do things differently going forward; but the larger part of me, the part that knows time travel is impossible, tells me to take all that I have learned over the last four years and use it to inform my choices over the next four years and beyond... For without the risks I took and effort I made that year, I would not have yielded all I have written thus far. Without the mistakes we make and heartaches we suffer in the past, we would not know what better choices to make in the future. 💪☀️ 👙 🙏💕


#ilooklikeiminacomicbook #newportcoast #crystalcove #goldenhour

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Beach of Humanity

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When the world seems out of control, and you don't know what you can do to make it better, you continue to contribute to the wellbeing of your family and community, and you keep working on improving yourself as a person, family member, resident of your community, global citizen, and member of the human race... and every so often, you walk out into the great wide open, take a deep breath, and remind yourself you are but a grain of sand on the beach of humanity. Even though every grain matters and has its role in constituting the whole, no grain works or exists alone to create or sustain the peace and beauty of the whole. 🌎

#contributetothegood #doyourpart #everyonematters

 

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

Ocean Warrior

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He came, he fought, he conquered.

My son gained a new sense of confidence in the ocean yesterday after he challenged himself to keep up with his big sister while they both boogie boarded in a more aggressive than usual shore break.

I relished seeing the pride in his eyes and elation in his voice as he ran up to tell me of their adventures facing the waves... how he was tossed, flipped and spun around by the sea and lived to tell the tale.

It was wholly dramatic and wildly exciting from the innocent perspective of this six year old's world; and after he finished recounting his saga, he stood quietly and stared out at the surf, seeming to reflect on all that he accomplished.

I cherished being witness to this, and felt like he grew and matured ever so slightly right before my very eyes. 🌊

#lovethiskid #oceanwarrior

 

*Originally posted on Instagram and Facebook

mind body soul truth self love attraction birthday wishes and hotel beds

The idea of traveling to Orange County to spend my birthday in Newport Beach, Irvine, and Costa Mesa came to me in 2014. I had attended college and earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Film Studies at the University of California Irvine many years ago; so I had a lot of good memories from my time there and wanted to revisit some of them.

After seeing Fleetwood Mac live at the Hollywood Bowl and staying at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel in Los Angeles on my birthday in May 2013, I decided to up the ante and escape for an entire weekend away to celebrate my birthday the following year.I got a much needed break from being a mom that weekend away in 2014 (as chronicled in Beautiful Mommy); and thus began my ritual of returning to OC each year for my birthday and then writing about it upon my return.

I wrote Birthday Weekend Away. In Short. Gratitude. after my third getaway last May, a stream of consciousness composition written with a period. after. almost. every. word. A friend challenged me to write about this year's birthday trip as a counterpoint to that piece, one without any punctuation at all (nor capitalization or paragraph breaks).

I took on his challenge, along with a lot of creative license, artistic expression, and a stream of consciousness approach once again. I expect it to create some sort of visceral response for you, the reader... although I'm not sure if it will invigorate or exhaust you. Regardless, I hope it provokes thought, elicits feelings, and, at the very least, entertains.

headed south on a thursday to start my annual birthday weekend a bit early and i couldnt wait to get it underway as soon as possible and reach the island hotel in newport beach on the dot of their check in time because i didnt want to miss one minute of my stay yet it seems the 405 freeway and its slew of accidents and infernal congestion had another plan for me so i arrived an hour later than desired but aint nothin gonna break a my stride nobody gonna slow me down oh no i got to keep on movin up to the valet i breathed a sigh of relief and elation that i was finally there and into my hotel room on the eleventh floor i went where i opened an alternate sliding door to my life like gwyneth paltrow did in that movie as well as the sliding door in my hotel room that led out to the balcony and looked out at the ocean to breathe in the same sea air i breathe at home now just 70 miles down the california coast where the islands in front of me arent the channel islands i see from my deck in malibu but balboa island hugging the newport coastline and fashion island just below me which really isnt an island at all but a big concrete slab with a forest of palm trees where neimans nordstrom and bloomingdales anchor an upscale shoppers paradise encircled by the circular newport center drive providing me with a much different view of the blue sea than i am used to yet i still find it beautiful because it is here and i am alone and loving this place already so i shed my sweater down to my tank top and move my breath and body through a few yoga vinyasas to shake off the impatience and anticipation of my arrival yet the sweater is not the only layer i shed as the cloak of my daily life as a mother wife and caretaker begins to peel off me like a snake breathing and stretching out of its old skin to allow further growth and reveal its fresh new luminous scales that had been waiting patiently below the surface to break out just like my autonomous woman slash mom on vacation skin begins to see the light of day and i feel a bit different now as a door opens and i embrace and breathe in my mind body soul and see this beautiful version of me reflecting back to me through love gratitude and connection with so much to honor and feel and be and so much energy in my body releasing and more wanting to be released but cant so i go for a run to release it by heading down below to the circular road around the man made pleasure island and watch the sunset as i move and feel the gratitude of this day and how fortunate i am to be here to feel as i do to run as i do and love as i do being who i am now glistening with endorphins walking into the gorgeous airy lobby to get snacks gratis at the marketplace before riding the mirrored elevator up to eleven to sink into my lovely room on this first night of freedom with a hot shower and soft white hotel robe enveloping me kindly while i settle in my chaise to lounge and look out at the view of the ocean now dark behind the lights of the city drink my rose kombucha eat my ranch kale chips and reflect on the wonders and gifts of the day and melt into the cloud of a bed before me to read my book until my eyes get heavy and its time to sleep dream and awake to my 45th birthday with gratitude in my heart sunshine birthday wishes on my phone and dreams of kisses cuddles and morning snuggles filling my head that are not to be while here alone in this bed still this bed is oh so heavenly and this day is free open and full of promise for whatever adventures i want to create whatever impulses i want to amuse whatever feelings i want to indulge and whatever reflections i chose to contemplate so first things first i decide to stay cocooned in my yummy sheets with my book open and my body engulfed in the pillowy softness while i read until my hearts content and my stomach calls for nourishment that can be found on a short walk across the street to the island of retail therapy where a whole foods market will curb my hunger and enliven my body with food and drink promising energy vitality immunity and wellness for a small fortune before i return to my now favorite room of all time to my beloved bryan kest yoga session cued up on my ipad so i can breathe deep and fill up with calm and peace while challenging my strength and suppleness with sensuous stretches for my body my muscles my mind and heart yet i cant help but get back under the covers after an hour or more of heat and yoga and body loving tlc to read a bit more of my book im loving about longevity of life science of aging biology of strength privilege of time and blissfully immerse myself in that bedding which smells so fresh and feels so good and tempts me to take a nap right then and there and i think i may have done so for a minute or two before i shake myself up get out of bed and lace up my running shoes for a run on pch to explore the town by foot challenge my body to go further and my mind to let go even further before i pass a store that makes me smile and flash a memory that makes me sigh and finish up my run on the actual legit island of boats yachts slips chocolate covered frozen bananas and world famous balboa bars where i stop my runners pace to a walk and stroll up to balboa beach company where that old bbc logo on the sign outside beckons me in and i find a white logo cap i must get and an anchor ornament i convince them to sell me and a sweet and cute sales boy at least twenty years my junior fumbling over his words to expose his attraction to me his interest in why im in town and his desire to know what i was doing for my birthday that night when i graciously share that i was going to do whatever i felt like doing as the feeling came to me and although it was probably odd and strange to him as it would be to many younger childless lovelies that i would chose to spend my birthday night alone when i could be with people music drinks fanfare and flirtatious men i didnt mind what he may have thought as i knew what i wanted and what i didnt want what i could have and what i couldnt have and remembered what i already have had in spades before for years pre marriage and even in marriage and how the freedom to be me individually for a few days has trumped it all these last few birthdays as i have thankfully gained the wisdom to now be a woman who loves herself enough to no longer let flattering attention define her self worth since even though a sometimes fragile ego gets a nice boost when someone shows they find you desirable vivacious and mysterious the truth is you still ultimately are left with yourself and what is inside your mind and your heart your love and your truth that no one can take away so i smiled and bid the cute and sweet boy farewell with my bbc cap and prized wooden anchor in hand and took a photo of myself right then and there on the streets of balboa island to remember my entry into 45 not the nightmare commander in chief but my birth years knowing there was going to be no one to pose for in front of a cake candle and camera later that night or a song sung while a wish is made even though i discovered a surprise birthday dessert awaiting me back in my hotel room compliments of management which i didnt eat but still appreciated so before eating dinner i decided to finally enter the mecca for shoppers across the street to buy a pair of shoes as a birthday gift to me and then return to my room to place a order for in room dining before taking another heavenly hot shower and re entering the white spa robe i cant get enough of just as my grilled salmon and veggies were delivered on a silver tray courtesy of the oak grill downstairs wow it was beautiful so i dove in voraciously as i was famished from my five mile run and then contemplated watching a movie or soaking in a bubble bath for a while but didnt do either since after applying a lot of eucalyptus mint lotion and slipping into something more comfortable yes yes i mean that divine bed ive grown quite fond of since the first sweet moments i spent on it the day i arrived so i read a few more lovely birthday messages and then a few more pages of my book before drifting off to sleep in a sea of white sheets with miles of empty real estate surrounding my small frame with no one to share it with except in my dreams and in complete contrast to the reality at home where a six year old often infiltrates my space to sleep close to his mama before the sun rises and unwittingly smacks her in the face with a flailing arm while tossing and jolting me out of my slumber to find myself pushed to the edge of the bed so god yes this nights sleep on my birthday night in my island of a bed and on my island of solitary existence was a dream compared to typical nights and those dreamy dreams i continued to have all night were followed up the next morning by no less than two hours of deep tissue massage deliciousness as i was pampered in oil and restorative touches that stimulated every inch of my body to open up and surrender its tightness and lull me to a near sleep before the session was up and my masseuse who is one of the most generous and kind people i know took me to lunch for my birthday at eat chow my favorite restaurant in these parts where good conversation grilled prawns and ceviche were consumed and full stomachs were enjoyed along with a bond of friendship that i am more thankful for with each visit and as i was leaving i realized this weekend was going by way too fast for my final plans were upon me so i ran back to the hotel to wash off the scented oils that had lubed me up good and where i wished i had time for a bubble bath but didnt since a quick change is all i could manage before getting on the road to laguna niguel to see my two childhood girlfriends and eat some amazing food at hendrix a hot new spot just opened and talk laugh and share our lives for hours until its time to bid farewell and drive the winding pacific coast highway back up from laguna beach through dana point newport coast corona del mar then finally back to my room at my island paradise where there was still no time for a bubble bath darn it as i was so sleepy and so on goes my nightgown and off go the lights as i collapse in bed reflecting on my time here with still more birthday wishes to read with gratitude before falling into a quiet and peaceful sleep until early morning when i awake to my last few hours in this place wishing i could stay and knowing that i couldnt since i had to check out by nine to head back to los angeles and dodger stadium where a little league team day parade was taking place with my daughter and her softball team as part of it and their coach my husband me and their unofficial team mascot my son who wore his coach pitch t ball uniform to be a part of the action on the field walking slow behind the girls holding their team banner feeling the excitement of the stadium from below for only a few precious moments before it was all over and then climbing several mountainous flights of stairs to our relief of shady seats in the stands to watch the dodgers play the world championship cubs in an exciting game filled with hits and home runs that i wasnt able to experience fully along with the rest of the fans standing and screaming as i remained seated holding my almost seven year old son limp and napping in my arms while recognizing clearly that my birthday getaway weekend was officially over even though it was only sunday and monday is a holiday yet my time was again becoming their time as my kids began to behave and need and nestle as children do to cause my cloak of motherhood to creep back up onto me to cover my new skin as i knew it had to as i returned to usual life and i then realized i hadnt officially made a birthday wish despite the wish i wished in my heart on my birthday in the hotel so maybe now it was time to wish upon the night sky the wish i will wish forever and a day right along with another lovely wish i know will be realized one day because i believe wishes are dreams that come to us through the truth we feel and are fulfilled through our actions and intentions and since my intent is strong my focus is clear and my hope runs deep for all that i desire for my life i know it will come to me as we all reflect what we are we see what we want and we attract what we focus on so chose to focus on hope light destiny kindness friendship positivity tenderness empathy and love always love because love is the greatest gift we have to give and receive so make sure to give and receive it with your whole heart and your mind body soul will be yours and the reflection in the mirror and the one reflected in those you love and who love you will reveal the authentic you beauteous as my mom would say and more filled with hope positivity perseverance the three things my tattoo symbolizes brighter lovelier truer than you ever imagined before

period.

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The Gift of Burden

It is the afternoon of Wednesday, April 19th, a couple days after my twelfth wedding anniversary, and I am trying to play catch up on all the outstanding tasks and residual clutter I had put aside for two weeks while we were away on spring break and anniversary celebrating vacations.

I sit at my home office desk trying to rid its surface of what's suffocating it... Kindergarten school work brought home before the break, health insurance paperwork, clipped box tops for school fundraising, and health and fitness coupons, race flyers and vitamin samples from the swag bag I received for running a 10K race just before leaving town.

My computer screen displays the results of the doctor search I had done a couple hours ago on the provider finder of my new health insurance company website. Now a couple minutes after 2:00pm, I can finally call the doctor at the top of the list... surely they'd be back in the office from lunch by now.

I retrieve our landline cordless phone from its stand to make the call, and as I walk back to the desk with it, my cell phone sounds nearby with a notification alert. It's a familiar and comforting chime, the one assigned to the Facebook Messenger app; one that has brought me fun chats and enjoyable interactions with friends and family so often in the past. Yet this time, it's not a link to a good article sent by my sister or a short but sweet note from an old friend checking in on me.

No, today it brings me the opposite kind of news... word that my cousin Christine died this morning, having succumbed to the breast cancer she had courageously survived a couple times already over the past three years. I sit down to read the words written by her brother, "my beautiful and loving sister passed today around 11:30," and immediately break down crying.

I cry for a few minutes before I respond to him with my condolences, and then I cry some more. Through my tears, and still holding my home phone in my hand, I look up at my computer screen at the name of the doctor I was about to dial listed under the specialty I searched this morning: gynecology. The timing was unbelievable.

My annual mammogram was due in March, and I had been avoiding scheduling it for a couple months already because it was going to be a bit of an ordeal... you know, one of those cycles of actions that is more annoying than hard, with so many steps to make it just inconvenient and time consuming enough to want to put it off in favor of things quicker and easier to check off your to-do list.

I had to search for a gynecologist close by, with good recommendations, who is taking new patients, and who accepts my new medical insurance (since the OB-GYN that delivered my son six years ago now does not), make an appointment to get a checkup, pap smear, and prescription for a mammogram, and then schedule a mammogram at the lab to take afterward.

I find that anything to do with health insurance and its confusing coverage is always cumbersome to deal with and makes me wish I had a personal assistant to tackle the minutiae of these tasks. But since it's all me, all the time, I had to take care of this cycle of annoyance myself; and I'd been a bit anxious the last few weeks over the fact that I had delayed in getting it done. Especially since my cousin's words had been replaying in my head, imploring me and all the women in her life to get our annual mammograms each year on time. Since her breast cancer was discovered on a mammogram taken one year after a test that was clear, she wanted to ensure that we all knew how vital early detection was. I had been diligent with my tests ever since; that is, until now.

So it was at the top my list of to-dos for this week; and there I was to-doing it at the very moment I found out breast cancer had claimed her life. I was in shock, not only from the sad news, but from the fact that I received it at the exact time I was finally taking these long overdue steps in my own breast cancer prevention.

After my crying ran its course, at least for the moment, I was determined to call the gynecologist on my screen right then, stuffed up, crying nose or not. I secured the next available appointment for Monday, May 1st, and then called the lab to schedule a mammogram for later that same morning.

There, it's done. I handled it - for myself, and now, strangely, in honor of Christine in this sad moment of unhappy coincidence. So many thoughts swirled around in my head... of sadness, anger, injustice, and fervent opposition to just how incredibly unfair this reality was. Yet I had no time to sort these thoughts out, as I had to leave and pick up the kids from school minutes later. Life was still moving on, and my desire to stop, grieve, and reflect did not surpass my responsibility to take my daughter to her softball pitching clinic or sit with my son and help him with his reading.

I wanted to write. I wanted to get out and process my thoughts on this travesty. I had so much anger to express toward cancer... about its incessant presence in our lives, its suspected causes that could possibly be eradicated if our society was just better aligned with what actually keeps people healthy and less susceptible to contracting it, and its relentless siege on so many people I care about - the latest being my cousin Christine, but also my ex-stepmother Julie, who died of lung cancer just last month, and my neighbor of fourteen years, Karen, who lost her battle with pancreatic cancer last November... three of my people in six months.

But the words didn't come, my head and heart still muddled in grief and indignation. The next few days were full of the usual duties and responsibilities of my life; yet, they were also full of the usual gratitude for my life, so I decided to focus on the good and the grace, and attempted to replace my anger with acceptance.

When I thought more about Christine and the day of her passing, I considered what a gift the burden of my looking up doctors and making a few phone calls was compared to what she had to bear that morning... taking her last breath and saying goodbye to her children, parents, siblings, and entire earthly world up until that moment. I knew her burden was much greater than mine, and was not the gift that mine was - the gift of life, of possibility, of health, hope, and living and breathing to see another day.

But the more I contemplated it, the more I wondered if maybe her burden was a gift, in an entirely different way. Maybe being free of the pain she had been suffering was a gift, more than I could ever understand. Maybe surrendering and not having to fight anymore to live on this Earth was also a gift to her. Maybe ceasing to endure more chemotherapy, chronic discomfort, hair loss, unrelenting sickness, and emotional turmoil was the absolute greatest gift she could have received that day... a precious gift, all wrapped up in the burden of grief felt by those she was leaving behind.

me with my cousins Christine (far right) and her sister & brothers - 6/28/14

me with my cousins Christine (far right) and her sister & brothers - 6/28/14

I was unable to visit Christine while she was sick. Time, distance, severity of her symptoms, and honoring her wishes for privacy made it so. The same was true of my ex-stepmother Julie and dear neighbor Karen... both of them also choosing to share their experience of illness and dying with only their closest inner circle during their hardest days and most delicate moments.

And who am I, or anyone, to protest these wishes? Unless you are the one lying there, the circumstances around death don't come on your terms. As a bystander (however distant or close a friend or family member you may be), death doesn't follow your course of action or wishes for what you would like to see happen before it arrives. It comes when it comes, and those of us left behind must accept the terms of it, whether we like it or not. Sometimes in death, we don't get to chose what we say, don't say, hear, or don't hear. We aren't the ones dying, so we don't get to call the shots.

It's only in life, in relation to our own life, that we are truly granted the opportunity, choice, and power to say what we feel, express what we believe, and experience moments in which we get to hear and feel what we want, if we are lucky. We are mere spectators of other people's lives, unless they invite us to participate; so it is up to all of us to seize those moments and opportunities to intersect and connect with each other, and make our time here as full and fulfilling as possible. Indeed, there is no doubt we are all connected, but as we come into this world alone as our own being and entity, we also leave this world alone, free to go where our energy takes us.

When I received the details of Christine's memorial service, I discovered that, ironically, it had been scheduled for the morning of May 1st at the very time I had made my overdue gynecologist and mammogram appointments. Of course I've changed them to attend the funeral; but when I finally get to them next week, I will be thinking of Christine. I will remember how much she loved her life, and how she fought for it until she could no longer do so. I will remember her spirit, her determination, her loyalty, her dedication to her family, and the enduring legacy of love she left with them.

And when I get my annual mammogram each year after this, I know I will also think of her and remember how this test, however bothersome to schedule or painfully uncomfortable to go through, is another one of those gifts of burden I will happily bear to live this life I'm so grateful to live.

 

🙏   Rest in Peace Christine, Julie, Karen, and all the beautiful souls we have lost to cancer.

Textures

"It was called 'Textures', because you could see three different kinds of texture: the driftwood, the sand and me." - Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch (1955)

For some inexplicable reason, I thought of this MM quote from one of my favorite films of hers when I was looking out at this view during my beach workout this morning. I think maybe it came to mind because I noticed how many textures, colors and shades I could see before me, and how my view kept changing and morphing as the clouds moved by, the waves crashed and retreated, and the shore and sea creatures appeared and disappeared from sight.

Over the course of an hour and a half, I saw various flocks of seagulls land and take off, a large squadron of pelicans soar gracefully overhead, and a pod of baby dolphins frolic in the water right in front of us, several of them jumping full body out of the water before diving back in.

I snapped a photo before I left the beach of the rectangle frame in which all of this activity had occurred; yet by then, only the simple elements of beach, ocean, and sky remained. No matter... still a gorgeous view itself.

#beachworkout #zuma

 

*Originally posted exclusively on Instagram and Facebook

Freedom

Running at Zuma Beach - Malibu, CA

Running at Zuma Beach - Malibu, CA

Freedom from... 

_____________________


Today I am feeling free from things that had bound me for so long.

It's gratifying to cut the cord from those thoughts and behavioral patterns that no longer serve me, my life, or my overall well being.

It matters not that you know with what I personally fill in that blank; but rather that you know what YOU do... or at least what from which you still wish to be free.

Whatever it is, have faith. It IS possible.

Be patient. Do the work, persevere, and it will happen.

#fillintheblank

 
 
 
*Originally posted exclusively on Instagram and Facebook.

Hope ~ Positivity ~ Perseverance

About a month ago, I shared a piece I wrote about getting my first tattoo in September 2014. Many people liked and shared it, and a lot of the comments that followed were about wanting to see the actual tattoo.

If you haven't read it yet, read it here and then catch back up with us after...

Mid-Life Clarity

"I'm getting a tattoo."

When I made this declaration to a friend some months ago, she quickly decided that there could be no other explanation for this insane notion than that I must be going through a mid-life crisis.

Huh. Wasn't expecting that reaction.

Read more>>

When I wrote MId-Life Clarity, I never thought of sharing the actual tattoo image, as the photo above of me getting inked was all I posted. It was so personal to me at the time that I didn’t want or feel the need to share the specifics. However, since then, many people have connected with the message and have asked to see the tattoo that inspired it.

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Running at Zuma Beach on a crisp, clear and quiet morning is one of my favorite things to do. I like the clear sky, sparkling water, and empty beach in front of me, on days in the off-season, when there is hardly anyone there. I have the long boardwalk to myself then, except for a few dog walkers and a couple surfers heading to the water.

Running is definitely my therapy those days when I need it most; and it helps me channel the calm and patient parent I strive to be when I pick up my kids from school each day.

The last time I went for a run, I took a photo of my tattoo to share here. It is three symbols - an anchor, plus sign, and seed of the wawa tree - and they stand for Hope, Positivity and Perseverance respectively.

Together, the three represent the things I believe are the most essential elements to live a meaningful and joyful life. They are the H.P.P. of H.A.P.P.Y. Along the 'Bu.

Read WHAT'S HA.P.P.Y.? for the full meaning.

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The Trick is to Keep Breathing

I'm sick. My head feels like it's full of cotton packed in tight and my nasal passages are so stuffed that even after using half the tissues in the box to blow my nose, I still can only breathe through my mouth. My lips are raw and so severely chapped that they burn. Ouch.

When I crawled into bed tonight, curling up under my teal afghan a dear friend knitted for me, all I could feel amidst the discomfort and exhaustion was a need for comfort and peace. I lie here and I just want to feel warm, cozy, and safe. I want to feel that everything is as it is supposed to be... me nurturing myself back to health and doing nothing but relaxing with that focused intention. I want to feel like there's nothing in the world more important to me than getting rest and recovering.

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Achieving this peaceful state of presence and acceptance is always a challenge... for me, and I would guess, for many others. I have already been sick for a week now, and the myriad of the things I wanted to do, believe I have to do, and feel I need to do, all have not been done (and are not going to be done) any time soon. The important "must-dos" of my mind have been moved to the back burner, proven to be nothing more than precious "want to-dos".

After muddling, almost sleepwalking, through the necessities and responsibilities of life that couldn't be put off, all in a cloud of stuffiness and in a body full of achiness, my personal to-do list has gone straight out the window this past week. The big plans I had - to publish new blogs, to submit articles to editors, to clean out my clothes closet - all have easily fallen by the wayside, while I continue to lie under my afghan, drink my hot tea with honey, and incessantly blow my persistently stuffy nose.

Feeling this way can throw your priorities for a loop and quickly demonstrate how little power you have over your life when you're not feeling well, and when it comes to the things you wanted to make happen. Accepting the fact that you don't have the strength, clarity and capacity to actually do those things in your weakened state is not easy. And as a recovering perfectionist and moderate control freak, it's hard for me to not be disappointed or deflated by this all too apparent truth.

But as my mind turns to the people that lost their lives in last Friday's Paris attacks, along with those who loved them, my perspective shifts. It's only been a week in which so many people have been living in this new reality, in the aftermath of tragedy, and I know it has already changed them and their lives forever. I understand from my own experience the shock they felt (and are probably still feeling) upon discovering they've lost someone... so suddenly, so unexpectedly, so devastatingly; and I cannot help but feel an equal mix of empathy, sadness, and frustration. I also feel a hesitant gratitude... for my life, and for the safety of my loved ones.

All I really have to do right now is keep breathing. That's it. If I do nothing else, even in light of not getting much done last week, I can at least just do that. BREATHE. Breathe and be grateful that I am still here on this Earth... breathing. I lie here, breathing in and out, and fully recognize the privilege I have of doing so, even if it is only through my mouth and past painfully dry lips.

I GET TO DO THIS. I get to lie here, in my comfy bed with my cozy blanket, and I get to feel the warmth of my life in all its overwhelming, overbooked, and over-complicated glory, while the virus that has taken hold of my immune system gives me a reality check, and gives my week's to-do list the finger.

And for this I am so fortunate.

As our world was collectively shaken by the tragic events of last week, ALL of our individual existences are subject to a reality check... on why we are doing what, when, and how; and how we are affecting ourselves and each other in the process. I began feeling really sick on the day the attacks took place, and as I lie here now a week later, still sick, I see that not reaching my goal of posting a new blog, nor accomplishing all the other tasks I deemed significant or important, is far from tragic. Heck, it isn't even newsworthy. It's a trifle, a mere delay, a setback easily recovered from. It's a blip on the radar of this blog's life. Of my life.

But those people that lost their lives to terrorism last week? They don't get any more opportunities to fulfill their goals or reach for new ones. They don't get another chance to live their lives or realize their dreams. Yet, I do. I get more chances. I get more time. I get to be here still.

Finding forgiveness for the evil in this world is hard, but finding gratitude for the good in it is easy. And it is SO VITAL.

Recognize the good in your life. Be grateful for it. Celebrate it. Cherish it. SEE IT... for it is most definitely there, living and breathing all around you... even under that mound of used tissues.

Jamie Oliver is a Revolution

Since he first appeared on his debut televised cooking show, "The Naked Chef," I have adored Jamie Oliver. His infectious enthusiasm for food and his no fuss, simple to make recipes defined his appeal; while his unique food lingo and one-of-a-kind food prep demonstrations kept both me, and the world, wanting more.

Fifteen years later, he is that same guy. Nothing has changed... nothing except now Jamie Oliver is a one man, global juggernaut of restaurants, cookbooks, websites, food awareness, food advocacy, and food education... a FOOD REVOLUTION.

Today is Food Revolution Day, an annual campaign founded by Oliver in 2002. This global event provides a special opportunity for people around the world to ignite change in food awareness and food education throughout their own communities and a mobilized world community via the internet.

This year, the campaign includes Jamie's petition on change.org to enlist millions of people to fight for food education by creating a movement so powerful that all G20 governments will be forced to take action. The concept is to inspire government to do the right thing and mandate compulsory practical food education in schools worldwide - education that could make a huge difference in the lives and health of our kids and that of future generations.

People around the world are joining in and spreading the word, urging their family, friends and co-workers to sign and share the petition through hand written signs - literally, signs written on their hands. I too am showing my support and advocating Jamie's petition here on my website and through social media, and decided to create my SIGN IT, SHARE IT pics while my four-year-old was playing in the bath last night. I hadn't yet closed the Photo Booth app on my computer before he appeared at my side... wet, naked and wearing his hooded towel, curious why I had words on my fingers and anxious to pose in some of his own pics. While I pressed the trigger a few times, he proceeded to basically run amuck and pose for his shots. The result? See for yourself...

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Juxtaposed with my originals, it's funny how my son so obviously took over and consumed the former blank space to my right. A perfect visual metaphor for how kids fill up our lives with fun, laughter and chaos. It is also absolutely fitting that he appear in these photos because, after all, this campaign, this petition, this DAY, is a revolution that was started to also benefit his future - in food, health, and happiness.

Thank you, Jamie, for being the revolution you are.

For more information on Food Revolution Day, to get involved, or most importantly, to SIGN and SHARE the petition, please visit foodrevolutionday.com.

Fun with Hubs in the Pack-En-Dub

Quick trivia lesson: The Pacific Northwest (the region comprised of the states of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, along with the province of British Columbia) is sometimes abbreviated to simply "Pac NW" and pronounced "Pack- En-Dub". Maybe you already knew this, but I just learned of it because my husband and I recently returned from a trip up there. Our ten year wedding anniversary is this month, so we decided we were going to take a trip somewhere to commemorate the occasion. We first thought of going on a cool couples adventure retreat, where we could mountain bike, trail run, do yoga and eat organic meals for days on end. We also considered taking a spa getaway somewhere secluded to indulge a bit and rekindle our romance.

Then reality hit us. Realizing we had to fit a trip in during the kids' spring break three weeks before our actual anniversary and accepting that we better do it somewhere close so we didn't waste too much time on travel, we resolved to stay on the west coast. And who are we kidding, our youngest is still only four and I wasn't jazzed at the thought of being too far from him for too many days in a row. Mama has separation issues, I admit.

So we settled on the "pack en dub" and dropped the kids at the grandparents' house in central California before heading up for a short six day jaunt. Not the grand anniversary trip I had pictured in my head months before, but it was time away nevertheless. Any break from the norm is therapeutic, and spending time essentially masquerading around as a carefree, autonomous couple, one unhindered by school schedules or bath and bedtime rituals, was a pleasant departure. We galavanted around cities we had never seen and explored places we had never been with the freedom and abandon of teens without a curfew... or at least that's what I envisioned we were doing. In reality, it probably didn't look quite like that. 

   

To start, I had a terrible cough, so bad that we seriously considered canceling the trip just a few days before we left. Although it seemed to get progressively better as the days rolled on, it still put a damper on enjoying an anniversary trip during which your husband apprehensively kissed you between hacking coughs for fear of catching it himself. Wildly romantic, I know.

Second, as we have such different ideas of what constitutes fun these days, we were hard pressed to find activities we both were equally excited to participate in. While I am the art museum type of tourist, a seeker of local culture and historical landmarks, curious and excited to explore the sights, sounds, eats, and haunts a locale is known for; my husband likes to exist on the fringes, be the anti-tourist, and runs in the opposite direction of the traps that attract most visitors, looking to forge a new trail off the beaten path, usually somewhere in nature and outdoors, with no plan or idea if the direction he is going will be worth the effort or will be a complete waste of time. The planner in me found this very unsettling, and the adventurer in him felt my desire to stay in the city and not explore the unknown (and risk wasting any of the limited time we had on this trip!) was confining and made him very restless.

We went to Seattle first, and both loved it more than expected. We arrived there early in the morning, like 8am early, after waking at 4am to catch our plane, and our first stop was inevitably Pike Place Market where we happily discovered The Crumpet Shop, proceeding to stand in a crazy long line out the door for a well worth it breakfast. Walking the market was amazing, with all its levels and hollows, and impossible to explore in its entirety. We strolled by the original Starbucks and found the sidewalk in front of it was so crowded with lookie-loos and the inside of it was so packed with tourists that we both agreed (yay!) that that was one place we could live without experiencing. Instead, we got coffee at Storyville Coffee Pike Place - a cozy nook we loved so much that we went there twice in our short two days in Seattle. Yes, the coffee was yum, but what sold us was sinking into the comfy, cognac leather chairs in front of a warm fireplace while sipping it. Heaven. I also met up with a dear college friend of mine at Storyville, whom I hadn't seen for over twenty years, for a coffee, a sweet, and an hour long chat. That lovely hour was nowhere near long enough for us to fully catch up, but seeing her was a wonderful perk to the trip.

At night, the market emptied out and the streets were wet and glistening after being hosed down from a day full of visitors, fresh fish and floral sales. It was peacefully quiet when we finally wandered into Matt's in the Market for a late dinner and were the last to be seated for the night. Looking out the restaurant's huge arched windows at the looming Public Market Center clock and sign lit up in bright red neon, we thoroughly enjoyed this quaint yet classy eatery, dining on the most incredible halibut and sea scallops we had ever tasted.

The final attraction of this first city in our two-city romp was the Space Needle, despite his trepidation and resistance to visiting it. Once we were at the top, watching the sun set over the water and looking out at that spectacular view, he was slow to admit that I was right and it may have just been worth the trouble of behaving like a tourist and waiting in a line to experience it.

We then took a three hour train ride from Seattle down to Portland and stayed in the Southwest section of the city, smack in the middle of the bustling downtown. Walking around amidst intermittent rain showers, where I swear no one carries an umbrella, we gazed up from below the colossal Portlandia statue, stood in the long line of hipsters and vagrants at VooDoo Donuts to sample pastries covered in Oreos and Butterfingers, witnessed the fire and flair of a theatrical Spanish Coffee order at Huber's Cafe, and enjoyed an extravagant Peruvian dinner at Andina in the hip Pearl District. But above all, one of the greatest treats during our three days in Portland was visiting with two of my oldest and dearest childhood friends who have both lived there for over twenty five years. They were kind enough to give us the grand tour of their city, and we were grateful they took the time out of their daily schedules to be such gracious hosts.

Most unexpectedly, we next found ourselves bearing the freezing cold temps (i.e. freezing cold to this wimpy So. Cal. girl) and spraying mist of Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. We had to rent a car and drive thirty miles outside the city of Portland to do this, and that took some convincing on his part to get me to agree to it. As we're in the car so much at home, I was looking forward to a week solely on foot and not having to ride in a car at all, other than an Uber lift from the airport. But despite the bit of driving, it was now my turn to concede that his detour out of the city - with its fresh air and lush green scenery - was a welcome reprieve from the grit and noise of the downtown cityscape.

   

My nagging cough be damned, I was determined to get in at least one yoga class while in each place, and before we left home, I had already picked the very studios I wanted to visit. In Seattle, hubs and I took a power flow class with Chandra at Yoga to the People, a donation-based yoga studio that originated in New York City and has expanded to Seattle, Berkeley, and San Francisco. The class was full and Chandra was a kind, effective instructor. After class, our appetites guided us to look for food right away, and we were fortunate to find a fantastic lunch at Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe. Then in PortIand, I alone took a power yoga class at Yoga on Yamhill, a small, donation-based studio in the heart of downtown, right next to the MAX Blue Line light rail. Studio owner Paul Terrell and I have a common bond as students of Bryan Kest, and it was lovely to attend his class and enjoy the familiarity of a kindred yoga practitioner.

All in all, it was a short, yet fun, excursion; and being able to recapture a bit of that pre-kiddo vibe and enjoy a somewhat carefree vacation was well worth the weeks of pre-planning and incessantly hacking and coughing my way through the Pac NW. Truth be told, it was not a trip free of conflict, as we had a few arguments that I could have done without. Nevertheless, we put forth our best efforts to make it special, and to celebrate still being married after ten years of, well, marriage. It seems six days in two bustling cities full of attractions and distractions was inevitably not going to be a magic pill that transformed us back into the starry-eyed newlyweds we were on our ten day honeymoon. It was, however, a welcome reprieve from the whirlwind that is parenthood - of PTA meetings, little league games, spelling tests, toddler potty mishaps and early morning wake ups.

It was also a lovely introduction to the Pacific Northwest, and what I know is only the tip of the iceberg as far as seeing this beautiful region. We can't wait for our next trip up there and take the opportunity to explore the Oregon coast, Washington's Orcas/San Juan Islands, and maybe even the Canadian cities of Victoria and Vancouver. Now that will be a trip the kids won't want to miss.

Bryan Kest: The Man Behind the Power of Yoga

photo ©Bryan kest power yoga

photo ©Bryan kest power yoga

So I decided I was going to write about Power Yoga innovator Bryan Kest... and then, I couldn't.

I was so compelled to comment on my eighteen years as a student of his classes in Santa Monica and online, as well as on my recent experience completing his Power Yoga Teacher Training Intensive, that I thought the words would just pour out of me; so much so that I would have a hard time editing them all down to an approachable, readable post.

But when I sat down and put fingers to keyboard, no cohesive thoughts came out.

How could this be? How could writing about this man, whom I often jokingly, but actually quite seriously, refer to as my guru, elicit a loss for words? I already wrote a blog post on equanimity last year (The Most Important Word You Don't Know) that was inspired by him and his teachings, so I didn't think writing this one would be any different.

But it was. I felt overwhelmed with so many ideas and feelings and stories that I didn't know where to begin. I wanted to do him, and the impact he has had on my life, justice; but I didn't know what I could say about him or his philosophy on yoga that wouldn't just be parroting him or that hadn't already been said or written by dozens of others before me.

Then I stopped. I smiled. I recognized the judgment and the comparing and competing I was doing in regard to me writing this piece. I realized I had to let go and accept "what is" - to find my equanimity - and just let the words flow, unburdened by expectation of a specific end result and unhindered by worry of how it would be received.

And that was it. That was all I needed... the yoga of writing. That was the lesson that all of those classes, all of my training, all of the years of personal practice has taught me. Ironically, Bryan's teachings came through as I was struggling to write about those very teachings.

I let go of my notion of what I thought a written piece about him, his classes, or his teacher training should be like. I began to write without judgement or criticism of what I was writing, without comparing what I was writing to other articles I had read on him, and without competing with them to make mine as good, or as resonate of him, as they did.

This is what came out; but what it says about him doesn't compare to what the journey of writing it says about him.

Bryan Kest is a unique human being in that he is a man who is totally honest, exposed, and vulnerable; yet still retains his masculinity, charm, strength of character, and self-confidence. In my experience, this is not something many men are willing or able to do. It's an amazing and rare combination not often seen... someone who loves deeply, is authentic and open, is wholly present and fully committed to connecting with others without guise or image saving façade; yet still maintains an aura of strength, mystery, conviction, and undeniable likability.

I believe Bryan is such an effective and well-respected yoga instructor, and has been for the last thirty years, because his philosophy on the goal of yoga is completely void of any pretense, convolution or self-importance. He simply shares what he knows to be true, and presents it in such a clear and logical way that anyone can grasp it. His raw and straightforward delivery washes over you like a wave of truth, and resonates so deeply within; not only because it's a truth you don't often hear, but also because it's the one you need to hear the most.

He is extremely passionate about his yoga practice and generously disseminates to his students all he has learned over his own thirty-eight years of practice; as well as what he continues to learn with each passing day. Essentially, Bryan walks the walk of the talk he talks in his classes. He knows that yoga works because he does it, practices it and lives it, every day, on and off the yoga mat.

When I attend Bryan's class, I go to attain and maintain overall mental and physical wellness - to quiet my mind, to keep my body alive and toned, and to practice non-reactiveness. Bryan likes to say, "This is all such simple stuff, but that doesn't mean it is necessarily easy." And he's right, it's not... not the poses, not the mindset, not the yoga practice in general. It challenges, confronts, shines a mirror on and exposes so much of the crap that we carry around and perpetuate on a daily basis... our reactiveness, our competitiveness, our penchant for comparing ourselves to others or to former versions of ourselves. Bryan's gift is his ability to empower us (or as he would reframe it, to inspire us to empower ourselves) in our ongoing effort to eradicate these tendencies in our lives, to make the goal of doing so more approachable and attainable, and to guide the way for us to also live a less stressful, more benevolent existence, on and off the yoga mat.

For more information on Bryan Kest, visit PowerYoga.com.

Milk & Cookies

(My guest post on Veggies Don't Bite)

When you have children, feeding them is one of the most important matters you face from the moment you discover you're pregnant. In utero, what you eat, they eat. And then when they are born, the same responsibility remains, starting with the decision to either nurse or bottle feed them.

I breastfed both my children the first year of their lives, give or take a month for each of them. It was an easy choice for me to make prenatally, even though there was nothing easy about actually doing it once that baby came out and needed to eat. 

Yes, there were those magical, life affirming moments with both of my kids in which I felt intimacy, comfort and satisfaction as I nourished their little bodies with mine; but those moments were rare and fleeting. For me, from the standpoint of the *post-partum, hormonally-imbalanced, sleep-deprived, and geographically-isolated newborn mother that I was, twice, the whole endeavor was mostly just, HARD.

It was exactly like trying to feed my kids real food now. Well, not exactly. Now, it's harder.

Healthily feeding my non-infant children in this world, in this country, in this day, in this age… it's a daunting prospect for me, as I suspect it is for most parents. Since the food supply in the U.S. is riddled with genetically-modified, chemically-processed, hormonally-pumped, and pesticide- & toxin-laden Franken-food (wow, it has more hyphenates than me!), due diligence is required to navigate the sea of potential poison disguised as consumable food in today's grocery stores and restaurants. 

If you have any inclination to provide your kids with a regular diet of clean, nutrient-rich, whole foods, ones free from artificial preservatives, synthetic pesticides, ripening agents, growth hormones, irradiation, etc., then AWESOME! You're already one step in the right direction. Continue on by educating yourself, ignoring what the FDA deems "safe", and accepting that what most advertisers tout as "all natural" really is not at all. (For more on this, watch Only Organic's funny and enlightening video "The Natural Effect")

As a firm advocate of the saying (that I am just making up right now), "What you bring into the home is a reflection of your beliefs", I recognize that my children see how I shop and eat what I buy; and in doing so, they are ultimately learning from me what foods are healthy to eat.

No pressure there.

But since you can't monitor every morsel that passes their lips without acting like a crazy person or scarring their psyches for life, I wouldn't recommend even trying. Instead, try to live by the 80/20 rule: feed them organic, non-GMO, clean, whole foods 80% of the time (at home, in markets such as Whole Foods and Erewhon, and at farm-to-table restaurants) and let the chips of the other 20% fall where they may (at birthday parties, during playdates, and at summer BBQ's).

And then relish the small wins… like when my kids consider yummy indulgences to be an organic banana or apple slathered with organic peanut butter (with no added sugar or hydrogenated oils) or a bowl of whole milk plain greek yogurt with local raw honey and Qi'a Superfood on top.  

Shifting our kids' perspectives from the norm of today's flawed social structure is a strategy available to all parents - the key is to find ways to be creative and innovative in your approach. After all, we are the ones they have looked to since infancy for sustenance, nurturing, comfort and guidance. And since all children are susceptible to be equally brainwashed by Disney movies and cartoon character food packaging, it stands to reckon that they can just as easily (and arguably more so) be conditioned by us, their parents, in ways that will positively impact them, their bodies, their minds and overall health, for life.

And if that's not more vital and important than you and your kids being able to belt out all the songs on the Frozen soundtrack, than I don't know what is.

~

Below are two of my most popular sweet ideas for treats that my kids love and ask for often. They are sweetened only by fruit sugar and contain a few simple ingredients, all of which I get organic. 

This first recipe is one I found online a while back, although I don't remember where. There are many variations on it, some less healthy than others that include added sugar, flour and butter. The version I make has no refined sugar, and is also dairy-free and potentially gluten-free, if need be...

Applesauce Cookies

These cookies will be fine left out at room temperature the day you bake them and  maybe  one day after.  If they haven't been gobbled up by then, you best put them in the fridge to maintain freshness… no preservatives!

These cookies will be fine left out at room temperature the day you bake them and maybe one day after.  If they haven't been gobbled up by then, you best put them in the fridge to maintain freshness… no preservatives!

Ingredients:

  • 3 RIPE bananas
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 2 cups rolled oats (gluten-free or not, your choice)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional, but a yummy, sweet addition!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Put three ripe bananas in a bowl. Mash them with a fork until somewhat pureed.
  2. Add the apple sauce, rolled oats, and almond milk to the mashed bananas and mix with a spatula until well blended.
  3. Stir in the raisins, vanilla and cinnamon until combined.
  4. Place tablespoon sized dollops of the mixture on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
  5. Shape and flatten cookies to your preference, as they won't move or change form during baking.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Makes 2 dozen (24) cookies.

~

I experimented and came up with this next treat one night about a year ago when I was searching for something to feed my kids that would satisfy their sweet tooth but not pump their blood streams up with refined white sugar. I was inspired by my memory of years ago, single and kid-less, when I would put Medjool Dates and soaked raw almonds in my food processor to whip up a naturally sweet and healthy puree-type snack for myself to eat with a spoon after a long run or as a late night treat. Slight modifications to that original concoction make these "bites" much more palatable and more fun to eat for kids...

Date Almond Bites

My son and I love them rolled in coconut, but my daughter doesn't; so I split the dough and roll a portion in almond meal and the rest in coconut... everybody's happy.

My son and I love them rolled in coconut, but my daughter doesn't; so I split the dough and roll a portion in almond meal and the rest in coconut... everybody's happy.

Ingredients:

  • 5 dozen (60) small Deglet Noor Dates, or about 20 large Medjool Dates, if preferred
  • 1 cup and 1/4 cup Almond Meal (divided)
  • 1/3 cup Shredded Coconut, unsweetened (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Place the dates in your food processor (removing the pits if using Medjool).
  2. Pulse until they form a paste.
  3. Gradually add the 1 cup of almond meal until combined. 
  4. Do a taste test. Adjust the date to almond meal ratio to get the consistency you like. The paste should be sticky and not too crumbly.
  5. Form into 1" balls.
  6. Roll the balls in either the remaining 1/4 cup of almond meal or 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, or a combination of both to fit your family's individual tastes.

Makes 4 dozen (48) 1" balls.

*For more on the "new mom" hyphenates I described above, check out my post Booby Prize.

The Road to You

When I was a kid, I wasn’t much of an athlete. I never participated in any team sports, nor did I have any kind of athletic goals. I think the reason was the not-so-unique combination of shyness, insecurity, and a fear of taking risks. Yet these qualities only reared their ugly heads when I was around people I didn't know. As I was often under close observation in public as a child, seen by many but not heard by most, my shyness was in direct correlation with the pressure I felt to be perfect and the feeling of being sized up and judged by others.

Alternatively, my daily existence at home was one of privacy and security, without the intrusion of close neighbors and with tons of room and freedom to play. Running around our green fields and orange groves, and lying on the lawn daydreaming while gazing up at the blue sky and tops of olive trees, my home life as a child rendered me a bit anti-social when out and about in the world. No perfection, structured rules, competitiveness, or team cooperation was required to climb the huge fig tree on our property. Existence and free play at home was non-confrontational, non-judgmental, and void of any pretense or façade. There, I was free to be me; and there is where I most wanted to be.

I did take ballet at five years old, but my mom said I had to stop at six because she didn't think I took it seriously enough. I was SIX. Not sure what she expected, but I obviously wasn't fulfilling her expectations. My older sister and I also took ice skating lessons for a while; but the appeal of being like Dorothy Hamill wore off pretty quick when the discomfort of frozen toes and wet tights got the best of us.

1979 - My sister and I outside the Topanga Mall Ice rink in Woodland Hills, CA

1979 - My sister and I outside the Topanga Mall Ice rink in Woodland Hills, CA

In junior high, my report card of A's was blemished by the B's I received in Physical Education (and ironically, Typing). I wasn't awkward or uncoordinated in any way, I just didn't like to participate in P.E. My skinny and not so tough girl persona defined me as the antithesis of the athletic-type; or at least I allowed it to define me that way. I dreaded running laps around the school track, especially on those really hot days in the valley where you felt like you were going to melt into the pavement. I took a rare risk and tried out for cheerleading in the eighth grade (with the hope of breaking out of my shell at school), but, not surprisingly, I didn't have the pep required to make the squad.

Instead, I took piano lessons, loved art projects, and collected rainbows and puffy stickers. I also escaped into stories, sometimes in books, but most often by watching sitcoms on TV and movies on VHS tape. I can recall many days after school sitting down on the couch watching hours of Three's Company, Diff'rent Strokes, and The Facts of Life with a sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies in hand, and with no desire to be anywhere else.

I recognize now that I definitely used television and film to escape the realities of my life during those early teenage years... medicating the disillusionment and stress of dealing with my parent's divorce and the sadness and upheaval of losing my childhood home (the aforementioned ranch with the green fields, orange groves and fig tree). 

Television and film really did their job for me, suspending my disbelief and beguiling me into a intense love affair with fictional narratives and old cinema in those impressionable and formative years. And as a skin-'n'-bones teenager, my indulgence in those Thin Mint cookies didn't prompt me to see physical exercise as a necessity. Couch potato-ing suited me just fine.

In college, I gained some significant weight after a whole year of eating dormitory food consisting of bagels & cream cheese, pizza, sugary cereals and soft serve ice cream. Since I grew up in a house of wheat bread, Quaker Granola and fruit roll-ups (sure signs of "health nut" parents in the 70's and 80's, but laughable by today's standards of health and wellness), as opposed to my friends' regular diets of Wonder Bread, Fruit Loops and Ding Dongs, I had thought I had a good sense and palate for healthy eating.

Yet that first year of freedom to indulge in whatever, whenever, showed in my fuller, rounder face and body, and the "freshman fifteen" I gained was actually more like twenty. It didn't help that I spent most of that first year at UC Irvine sitting in class, studying, writing essays and term papers, and watching movies. 

My sedentary existence was curbed by sophomore year when I shared a dorm room with Giselle, a female student athlete on a track-and-field scholarship for long-distance running. Of course, she ran cross-country in high school, was in great physical shape, and had the most muscular legs I had ever seen on a girl... the stark opposite of my physique, one a bit plump for my thin frame with no muscle tone of which to speak. My new roommate was a physically healthy and mentally positive person, and she became my first close friend that was into fitness or competitive sports.  

Her introduction into my life was also my introduction to running. For the first time, I wondered if it would be something I would like to do. I remembered my aversion to the track in junior high, but the idea of running now intrigued me. She agreed to teach me about training for endurance running, showing me how to run using the proper form and technique, how to pace myself, how to breathe, and where to focus my attention.

I began to run regularly that year and loved it. It worked for me. Finally, I had an alternative to sitting and escaping into the latest romantic comedy romp. Going outside for a run gave me a place to be by myself with my thoughts... to feel empowered to be the me that I was, as I was.

My world changed. My body transformed. I saw it morph back to the skinny version I had in high school, but this time it came with some muscles and curves I had not enjoyed in adolescence. I ran consistently all through my junior and senior years of college, and it kept me fit and relatively sane as a Film Studies undergrad, when my daily existence involved watching endless hours of films, editing endless hours of footage I shot, and sitting for endless hours at the computer writing my Film Theory term papers.

I continued running after graduation and throughout my 20's while working in the film industry. It remained my source of strength and empowerment those years of working on film sets and studio lots where, often frustratingly so, my youthful and attractive female frame and countenance got me more attention than my skill and passion for the art and entertainment I wanted to create. I looked to running for peace, quiet, acceptance, introspection, and blissful solitude in a life and career that didn't afford me these virtues often, if at all.

In the year 2000, a fictional Nike ad campaign for women's running was the focal point of the film What Women Want. In the ad, the image of a woman running alone on a road is seen while the following is heard: "You don't stand in front of a mirror before a run and wonder what the road will think of your outfit. You don't have to listen to its jokes and pretend they are funny in order to run on it. It would not be easier to run if you dressed sexier. The road doesn't notice if you're not wearing lipstick, does not care how old you are. You do not feel uncomfortable because you make more money than the road... And you can call on the road, whenever you feel like it, whether it has been a day, or even a couple hours since your last date. The only thing the road cares about is that you pay it a visit once in a while. Nike. No games. Just sports."

As a single, professional woman, who was also a runner, I LOVED this. It spoke to the twenty-seven year old version of me who ran a fast three miles a day at least five times a week. I connected with the sentiment behind it and the comfort of not feeling measured by or valued for my looks, my job, my youth - at least not when running. The freedom from the judgment of society in general, and Los Angeles in particular, was palpable when I ran. Alone, just me and the road, that freedom and feeling of pure acceptance was very powerful.

Today, these many years later, I am still running. I get the same feeling now as I did when I began. While running, there really are no games - no one to impress, no one to try to look good for, no one to try to amuse or pretend to be amused by - it's just you, moving your body, feeling the wind, relishing the solitude, and basking in the peace that comes with time to yourself, to your own thoughts, to living life at your own pace.

I sometimes wish I could put life on pause - slow it down, take a breath. Do some things before other things inevitably have to occur. Pause a moment in time and FEEL it - experience it for what it is, independent of everything else - before everything else has its chance to weigh in. I feel like I'm racing the clock so often that there just isn't enough time to fit in the things I want to say, do, feel, write, accomplish, BE.

So instead, I take a mini-vacation every time I run. Running, to me, is my life on pause. My mind is free to think what it wants, my body is free to move how it wants, and I feel free of any limitations and restrictions that may currently weigh on me. Using my physical strength to move my body forward down the road is such an amazing feeling and gives me an inner strength and determination not found elsewhere.

That sedentary, skinny, screen-obsessed kid eating piles of cookies and binging on sitcoms and rom-coms would never have thought she'd feel this way when she grew up. But it seems the journey of life is like a road you run on, leading you to you - the you you are going to be as you grow, mature, love, and learn. The you you are going to live with all of your days.

I've slowly come to recognize that this "you" is ever changing. That you aren't strictly defined by where you've been. That where you are and where you are going are yours for the making, and that the road of your life will continue to define you throughout this life's journey. 

There is no getting away from it. It just happens. Without your consent or even sometimes without your knowledge, the curves, detours and dips in the road of your life will change and define you in ways you may never have expected or could have ever anticipated. I never would have thought I would be a runner. Not judging from where I began. But I am. And I am so grateful for that.

If you can't or don't like to run, I guarantee that you can get a similar experience, with equally beneficial feelings and results, from a number of other physical activities that may be a better fit for you and your personal journey. Just find what works for you and DO IT. Take those moments to feel like your authentic self within, independent of all the judgments and labels of others. Enjoy the freedom from all of the comparing and competing that plagues our society and honor the you that you are - perfectly imperfect - exactly as you are inside and out, right now.

I find it on the road. The road leads me to myself, and I love where it takes me.