holding on while letting go


i am finding time, each night, to sift through a few things that my parents have saved throughout the years and recently sent home with me. my mom is a card giver and a card keeper. i have never been much of either, yet i’m taking the time to read through each sweet card that she saved before placing them in one of two piles; one on its way to the recycling bin and the other to my closet where i have somehow condensed decades of living into two small suitcases. within them, i stash away the few things that i imagine my children might enjoy seeing some day.

i love the little things that i am noticing as i read through these cards—like the shift from my parents signing ‘mommy and daddy’ to ‘mom and dad’ around 1989, how my grandma’s unique character spiritedly splashes out onto the thick paper and becomes conveyed through her eccentric handwriting…and the way that my grandpa ciula habitually wrote ‘love ya’ so that the end of the ‘l’ swept across the entire page.

i smile.

these experiences and people are forever etched in my mind without palpable reminders. still, it is fun to reminisce through the occasional unfolding of these safeguarded keepsakes. while i enjoy looking through these things, i also enjoy an uncluttered and simple living space. at some point, taking a photo of and writing about the sentimental items that i don’t necessarily want to keep, yet appreciate, became my way of simultaneously holding on while letting go.

for now, it is a compromise that works.

“the art is not one of forgetting but letting go. and when everything else is gone, you can be rich in loss.” —rebecca solnit, from a field guide to getting lost

allowing the ‘more’


for years, when i feel really aligned with something—whether it is a vision, an idea, a person, a sight or a situation—i have, without much thought, breathed out and offered up the simple mantra; yes, please, more, please and thank you. it can certainly be true that ‘less is more’, yet sometimes more is more! —more love, more healing medicine, more unguarded life stories, more excitement, more passion, more aliveness, more given, more received.

there are moments when i feel myself pulling back from the ‘more’ in life. fear and/or doubt can be so skilled at penetrating our bold, warrior spirits. included in my daily meditation and intention, as of late, is a focus on continuing to stretch the boundaries of ‘yes’ and ‘more’ in my life—and to move assuredly forward with any changes, coordination and responsibilities that these ‘yeses’ and ‘mores’ might require.

continually, i surrender to the power and majesty of this present, perfect moment—while also further opening up to the wildness and goodness of this life.

new year blessings to and for all.

yes, please.
more, please.
and thank you.


(photo credit; jon ciula)

stillness; a powerful act of self-care


i don’t often think about the words ‘extrovert’ or ‘introvert’ (most of us are probably a blend of both). these words, however, have been surfacing enough during recent conversations to invite more thought about them. a few times, while talking about this subject, others have expressed feeling as though the time they choose to spend alone is somehow frowned upon—as though others question their innate need to step away from a crowd.

there are probably many unique reasons why each soul is drawn to certain ways of living and being—and there are benefits that we receive through both connection with others and spending time alone, in more quiet, still and solitary ways. while it doesn’t always, often time spent alone translates into a meditative stillness. the stillness in our surroundings supports different thought patterns and energy movement.

i truly enjoy listening to and interacting with the people i cross paths with, yet one of the reasons i find myself feeling more quiet, at times, is that i easily pick up on the thoughts and feelings of others. being in a crowd is like walking into an electronics store and having every piece of equipment on around me. it’s overwhelming—and, again, while i sincerely enjoy time with others, i need some time, spent in quiet calm and silence, after a crowded event to regain balance.

i can process through life events, with others, warmly and effectively—yet it’s often in the less frenetic, solitary moments when i feel the most growth taking place and when i may even feel the most connected. i imagine that there are many others who feel and process things in these same or similar ways.

we each receive our own unique list of experiences, during life, that invite us to discover and see things from new angles. we each meet with trials that may elicit potential within our beings that we were previously unaware of.  when we practice stillness, through peaceful moments alone, and allow ourselves to experience the world around us without distracted senses, we—regardless of how off track we may feel, at times—retain an alignment with what is good and right for our course.

in these reserved spaces, free of culturally or personally imposed ideas about what is best and what outcomes should present themselves, we deeply connect with ourselves and we connect with a power within us that presents greater and stronger possibilities than what we might perceive through our logical minds, alone. out beyond the visions, the hopes and the dreams that interweave the plans or intentions of others, we find clarity for our own story.

stillness allows us to hear what might not be effectively coming through amidst the noise of our routine life and living. even during our most alone-feeling moments, it can infuse us with a sense of hope and trust in the perfection of our life path. it brings an awareness to the connection and interplay between our mind, our emotions, our breath and our body. it supports tapping in, bringing up, working through and letting go.

we thrive in community, in feeling connected, in embracing all with a spirit of divine  love. we also thrive in allowing the time and space—as much as we need—for quiet, soft moments to work their magic unveiling and integrating us into the sacred network of universal intelligence.

yes, connection is essential to our well-being. stillness, too, as a simple act of self-care, is powerful.


(elephant journal, november 2014)

salt water; alternative to chemical lawn sprays


During the late 90’s, I began to really center my attention around a handful of things that I could manageably direct my time and energy toward with an effort to make some sort of difference regarding the ways that we interact with our planet. By then, it was apparent to me that population growth was the largest threat to our imposing resource use and to the natural stability of our planet. The collection of “stuff” (the journey that our material commodities take from production to packaging to transport to purchase to use to landfill) and the reckless use of chemicals directly upon our Earth—both residentially and agriculturally—were two other wide-spread customs that I chose, through education, advocacy work and devoted personal practice, to focus on.

I spent several years researching agri-chemical companies—the products that they mass market and the cumulative effects that these sprays have on the wildlife they are consistently applied to—very much including us. I hand delivered letters to those surrounded by agricultural land and allocated time to reaching people through local media. During this stretch, I spent many hours out in the field, talking with farmers—often silently taking note of the visible nervous system effects in the older generations.

Though I slowly surrendered to the reality that my time and efforts were creating little change, the large-scale use of herbicides and pesticides has, throughout the years, remained an issue that I feel very passionate about. So, when we moved to a new living space last year to discover a certified bundle of poison ivy around our home, it became important to me to find a feel-good compromise between our wellbeing and the wellbeing of the small piece of land that we have the opportunity to work with and to nurture.

As much as I love and appreciate poison ivy for the beautiful plant that it is and the role that it plays in our ecosystem, many of my friends and family members are amongst the estimated 85% of our population who reacts to it after an up close and personal mingle.

Many years ago, I used salt water on a couple of poison ivy plants around the home that I was living in at that time, and it was really effective. After a bit of research, I decided to add vinegar to the mix, and discovered that both brews—salty water and salty vinegar—work impressively well.

  • 1 gallon vinegar or water
  • 1 cup salt

Mix together and carefully spray on leaves of plant. This blend isn’t picky about what it will eliminate from your yard space.

Admittedly, I have a difficult time even spraying this mix on poison ivy. While I choose to occasionally (and mindfully) use this brew on the above-mentioned plant, I don’t use it for any other plant. Instead, my family and I embrace the beauty and value that these herbs have and add to our lives. Dandelion, plantain, clover, sorrel, chickweed, thistle and many more incredible, nutrient-rich greens make their way into our kitchen during their growing seasons. They are welcomed gifts.

Each year, millions of pounds of chemicals are carelessly sprayed on gardens, lawns and, extensively, on farmland. These harmful brews make their way into the bodies of the animals living in and on this land, our bodies, our waterways—and, irreversibly, into our groundwater supply. Research in Germany has revealed significant amounts of glyphosate (used in Roundup) in the urine samples from those living in the city. I am certain that similar results would be found in any country where spraying has become customary.

**Please share the above spray mix with friends and family who routinely spray their gardens and lawns—and help decrease the amount sprayed on our farmlands through supporting local, organic farms and farmers.


(elephant journal, april 2014)

laughter medicine


I adore a good chuckle. Not just any variety of chuckle—a really hearty one. The kind that leaves you gasping for air, clutching your mid-section and complaining about how much your face hurts for minutes after. I love the variety of laughter that arrives when all inhibitions are released; when there is no worry about what’s right, what’s acceptable, what’s proper or how or what others are seeing; laughter that urges you to reach out to someone, if only to avoid falling. Beyond blissful is the type of unguarded laughter that instantaneously invites others to this euphoric place, alongside you; even if they have no idea what you’re laughing about.

Laughter is such an innate, unlearned response. Infants begin to smile during the first few weeks of life and begin to laugh only months into their journey. It is awe-stirring that we are all born with this intrinsic affinity towards smiling and making noise out of pure delight for…errr…whatever we find funny. For anyone (that would be all of us?) who simply feels really incredible after a hearty laugh, laughter having measurable benefits won’t come as a surprise—or maybe even an interest. However, for those with enough intrigue to intermingle the whole beautiful, riotous mess with a smidgen of science, here are eight very good reasons we all should lean into a belly laugh (or 20) every day.

Laughter relaxes the whole body.  
A good, body-involving laugh evaporates stress and relieves physical tension, relaxing muscles for a stretch of up to an hour after.

Laughter releases endorphins.
Merriam-Webster’s definition of endorphins: any of a group of endogenous peptides found especially in the brain that bind chiefly to opiate receptors and produce some pharmacological effects (as pain relief) like those of opiates.
My simple definition of endorphins: feel-good, feel-happy chemicals.

Laughter boosts your immune system.
I’ve come across several studies that suggest that laughter helps to boost your immune system through decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells/infection-fighting abilities, improving the body’s overall resistance to disease.

Laughter protects your heart.
Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow,  decreasing high blood pressure, which can help protect against a heart attack and other cardiovascular complications.

Laughter dissolves distressing emotions.
Go ahead. Enjoy a good laugh the next time you and your partner are spiritedly processing through a difference. It’s so difficult to feel nervous, angry or sad while you’re deep in authentic laughter.

Laughter holds us in the present moment.
When we’re laughing, we’re focused on whatever is funny in the moment. We’re not replaying the past or worrying about the future. We’re simply enjoying what is here—what is now.

Laughter helps us connect with others.
Simply written: it feels good to laugh with someone. It feels great to laugh with someone. It feels great to laugh with anyone. Laughter is a sort of bonding cement—deepening the bonds that we experience with people we’re already close with, and forging bonds with people we’ve only recently met. Feeling connected is, in general, one of the most important foundations of good health.

Good humor shifts perspective.   
This allows us to see situations in a less menacing light. Just as I was beginning to write this, my daughter (already in a questionable mood) stepped it up a notch or three on the voice decibel meter. Out of seemingly nowhere, I told her that she was acting like a pirate. She followed up with announcing that I was acting like a recycling can. We went back and forth, eventually wrapping up this nonsensical back and forth with “acting like a smurf’s knee.” By that time, we were both laughing so hard that we could barely understand each other. The moment was entirely transformed. Neither of us could recall what she was upset about to begin with. The ability to laugh, play and have fun with others not only makes life more enjoyable, it also helps to revamp problems and strengthen connections with others. People who incorporate playful humor into their daily lives discover that it renews not only themselves, but has a ripple effect—reaching many of the people surrounding them.

Regardless of how badly we might feel or how tough things may momentarily seem, laughter has the ability to immediately transform our surrounding matters. It has the ability to bring us into a cozy space; to a place of pure joy and bliss; to a new and more balanced perspective; to happiness, over and over again. There’s really nothing quite like a really good, from-the-gut, tears-streaming-down-the-face, nose-wiping, can’t-quite-breathe, where-did-the-seat-go, belly-aching guffaw.

To those for which a good laugh happens far too infrequently: the invitation is always there to just laugh. Laugh heartily. Laugh often. Laugh while you’re rolling out of bed. Laugh while you’re making breakfast. Laugh while you’re making love. Laugh, solo-style. Laugh in large crowds. Laugh while you’re crying. Laugh until you are crying. Laugh when your heart hurts. Laugh when your heart is happy. Laugh when it feels appropriate. Laugh when it feels inappropriate. Laugh until you have no idea what you’re laughing about…and then laugh some more.

And say cheers to consistently finding ourselves amidst a hearty concoction of unrestrained medicine. No doctor or therapist required.


“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” 
—Victor Borge

“Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they ought to be.” —William Hazlitt

“Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live.”
—Andrea Levy


(om yoga & lifestyle; april issue; 2014)
(organic lifestyle, 2012)