Glad that’s over!

It is over!

April 15th is the day that the government has determined to be our time to fess up!

Most people are resentful and complaining.  It doesn’t seem to matter whether or not they have a refund coming or they have to pay.  No one says, “Goodie, goodie, I get to do all that interesting and fascinating paperwork and purge my files!”

It really all boils down to this:  How much did you make, and what is left over? Find that out and list it on page ten.

THAT is when there is a group consciousness gathering and the energy changes.  People become like wart hogs digging up mushrooms.  The mushrooms that they are seeking are deductions so they can keep some of their hard-earned money for themselves.

Most are simply looking for something to support the really good fiction we are all trying to write.  Not all out of dishonesty, mostly just bad record-keeping. (There is some truth in that statement.)

Even people who never exaggerate about anything consider doubling the amount donated to Goodwill and the church.  They are pressed up against the wall called income tax deductions.

We all begin to look for new logic so we can eek out a decent living.  Politicians would have us believe we are not really paying taxes; our bank accounts are experiencing liberation.

Almost every politician has tried to convince the people that our taxes go to support the things we think they are going for. The key word here is THINK.

AND…  Shred everything.

America was originally founded to avoid high taxation.

The First Gray Hair

Old age is the most unexpected of all the things that can happen to us. 

– Leon Trotsky

When the very first gray hair appears on our head, it is an uncertain juncture in our lives.

We go to the mirror with a sinking feeling and try to pluck out the evidence – one here, two there. But the more we pull out, the more seem to come in. The purpose of this blog is not to say, “Prevent the inescapable.” That is impossible. It is to encourage living in such a way that we may achieve agelessness in body, mind and spirit, as a three-part process. I tease my friends by asking which of them would like to relive their teen years. That question often brings a groan.

Youth has much to offer; and so does the experience of age.

In India there is a joke about a man going to a barber and asking, “Do you have anything for gray hair?” “Yes,” the barber says, “Respect.” Just because we don’t have wrinkles or a gray hair, we may not be alive in the fullest sense of the word. Does it necessarily mean we are young or ageless?

This is the paradox of life:  No matter how we cling to youth through our body, sooner or later it begins to let go of us.

But, if we do not cling to the body – and its beauty – there might be a different result. We see this in the lives of many great saints and mystics. We see it in the neighbor next door, and we see it in some of the famous and the not-so famous.

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Being Ageless In Body, Mind and Spirit

Being Ageless is a choice and it is all about Intention

When you come down to it, isn’t that true of everything? Once I went to a fascinating seminar on the theme of being ageless. Leading thinkers were there giving their takes on agelessness of body, mind and soul. I listened to every speaker and searched for the commonality among them. I was surprised at what I found. Growing old is not a choice, but being ageless certainly is. I will be writing more about that in future blogs as we go along.

But first… Let’s start with intention.

Intentionally, do something different every day! It can be something simple. Go home a different way, maybe even with a different companion. Walk a new path by taking the one less traveled. WE don’t have to go to Bali to try new foods. Try foods you haven’t tried before. I heard about a Jerusalem artichoke today. I want to sample one.

CHANGE IS ESSENTIAL to personal growth and to a fulfilling life.

Keep learning something new

Dr. Andrew Weil, who has written many national best sellers on health and aging, brought up lots of healthy ways of living in that lecture I attended. The thing that hit home for me was his theory of learning new things to remain ageless.

Holding his cell phone in the air, he said, “My 15-year old daughter wants me to learn to text message her and when I return home, I will.” I thought I too would at least learn how to transfer pictures from my cell phone to the computer. I have many friends that can’t operate certain electronics until the husband or grandchild comes home. You will feel so satisfied having learned to do it yourself.

Ask yourself what you resist learning and do that. Whatever it is, try to move past the resistance and realize it is fear that is holding you back.

“Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

Dena, My Dedicated Listener

Having a dedicated listener helps. Difficult decision-making becomes less so when a trusted friend sheds light on a possible resolution. Though sometimes there are none.

If I carry a heavy burden by myself, it is difficult to see the whole picture. The weight of it all obstructs my vision. A good listener pins her own ears back without allowing drama or grief to interfere. There is the possibility of a resolution process.

My friend Dena left this world not too long ago. She possessed a precious gift that she shared time and again with her friends and loved ones. It was one of the most valued gifts I received from her. The longer she has been gone, the more I miss her caring, attentive listening. She gave me so many insights on many of the rocky paths that I have traversed. Sometimes I took that advice, sometimes not.

I can still hear her say, “Stop going back to an empty well!” I did it anyway, and still, she made the time to listen again. She was dedicated to finding a way to help me see, hear and understand a better way to navigate life.

Once I told her about a family member who was always doing no-shows. When I didn’t take her advice and kept going back, she suggested, “Bring a book and plan something to do in the area, just in case.” Now why couldn’t I have thought of that?

Another time, I met her at a discount store. I arrived late, only to find her with a shopping cart filled with clothes, in my size. She said, “I remembered you needed a coat to attend your upcoming conference. Here are some on sale.”

Dena gave of her time, which is finite for all of us. We talked daily when possible for almost half a century, and told each other our innermost feelings and thoughts. I felt I had in her a comforter, a therapist, a priestess, and a dear friend. She was dedicated to giving her time to freely listening.

I intend to pay her gift forward. It is a precious gift, not only to listen, but to remember what one has told you. To carry good things forward, that is Being Ageless.

The Nightgown

Jeremy Irons once said, “We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they’re called memories. Some take us forward, they’re called dreams.”

It’s the time of year when we go through our stuff and decide what to discard and what to keep. We are all sure to encounter a memory or a dream while sifting. I have long known that it is not the ‘stuff’ that is the real problem, but the memories that are attached to it.

Recently, as I was sorting the stuff from my lingerie drawer that had seen its day, I came across a memory that had once been a hope. The item is now tattered and sort of gray… where once it had been snowy white.  I threw it away, but I guess I am preserving it by writing about it.

I had been admiring the nightgown for weeks. It was a Grecian, sexy and romantic beauty for only $29.00 (obviously a long time back).

The white nightgown had a gold Roman key design running across the bodice and down the side of a daringly high slit. It was a voluminous number with lots of sheer layers, and was to be worn off the shoulder on one side.

I was married then, and our anniversary was coming up. I planned a romantic evening with wine chilling and candles everywhere. The gown had been purchased with every bit of the spare change I had been hoarding. When the long anticipated night arrived, I went into the master bath to prepare myself. The object of my affection waited in the bedroom, sipping the champagne which he had stepped out of character to buy.

It was quite a while before I could navigate myself through the many layers. Finally, I thought I had it! Oops… my head began to emerge from the armhole. I slipped it off and tried again and that time my arm came out of the head hole.

Meanwhile, my partner was becoming impatient, “What is taking so long?” he snarled in an impatient voice. He kept complaining louder and louder, so I responded in kind. It seemed we were never on the same page, and so, frequently butted heads.

On my next try, my head and arm came together out of one hole. It was then I realized how stuck I really was.

I called to my husband for help.  He demanded I come out and stop all this silly fooling around. That was too humiliating, so I screamed, “NEVER MIND!”

Suddenly I heard it… that tearing sound… a rip.

I dissolved on the floor in tears, stuck in the creation.

I had imagined myself a goddess, a Cleopatra, a sexy dark-haired temptress. I was a klutz, that’s all I was.

In the meantime, the husband fell asleep and was snoring heavily, the champagne bottle beside him.

Making one last try, it all fell together.  I glanced in my full-length mirror and liked what I saw, but it was too late. Carefully folding the tear-stained gauze, I retired it in a drawer, together with my dreams. Grabbing my old fuzzy pink shorty nightgown and the leftover champagne, I went downstairs.

An hour later my doorbell rang. It was my brother Ray. He helped me finish the wine, told me I was beautiful, and wiped away my tears.

I think that was the night I began to know my marriage was finished, and I knew I wouldn’t be wearing that little number again any time soon.

I got rid of the man, but kept the nightgown, which became a hope, and, by the way, I wore it again.

Years later, I went to the movies with a friend. The film was “A New Leaf” with Walter Matthau. His wife was wearing my nightgown on their wedding night. I watched as she tried to get into it…. soon she was as entangled as I once was, getting the neck and armholes all mixed up.

I fell off my seat laughing.  My friend was horrified at my uncontrollable madness, and I was having trouble not wetting my pants.

After a while, I began to calm down. On the screen, Walter was patiently adjusting his wife’s gown. They kissed. He told her she looked beautiful. It was a happy ending.

Memories, hopes, stuff.  What we all really want is for our dreams to one day come true. Mine did. May yours, too.

My Inner Child, My Inner Brat

Some people seek to find themselves by going to a guru or by seeing a therapist; I have tried both. Others look for themselves through reading or traveling. There are a myriad ways and plenty of experts to help you get or stay in touch with yourself.

Playing with children is also very therapeutic; you get right down on the floor with them and ‘just do it,’ as Nike says. At the age of 103, my yoga teacher was still doing just that. I too, stay in touch with my inner little girl this way. That way you don’t lose yourself. And, the good news is, if you already have, it’s never too late to find yourself again.

My girlfriend, Mary Carol, artist and comedienne, contacts her inner child by writing with her left hand. She is highly creative, and uses this tool to fully engage in the discovery and imagination that are stored in our feelings. Sometimes those feelings are not a part of our conscious awareness. Writing with her left hand, she says, is a safe tool to let those thoughts and emotions come to the surface. She gains inspiration and answers that way.

I remember reading a series of books to my children many years ago, about the ‘I’ that lives within each of us, the big ‘I’ and the little ‘I’ that tell us when we are good or bad.  It sounded a bit like a conscience, which I routinely prayed my children would develop.

Regularly, they were trying to kill one another. At one point, I was so desperate, I handed a baseball bat to each of them, with instructions to go out on the deck and beat each other to death. Sick of the fighting, I was prepared to live only with the victor.

Fortunately, they refused that option. They really loved one another; it was my attention they craved. That was during pre-teen years for Tammy and Kirk, and Erik was still a baby.

I digress. My point is that the inner child does not judge, is not intolerant, and is not concerned with what is proper or improper; he or she is about freedom and imperfection. I think that everyone has enough rules and regulations in their lives already. Enough “have to’s” and “must do’s.”  We can all use a strong dose of silliness, every day.

I went to a fun workshop once, where we were told to create a mirth kit. I can’t remember what in the world I put in mine. I do remember that I had to contact my own little girl just to be able to come up with any imaginative ideas.

I decided to interview my own inner child again today. Her name is JoJo. I asked, “JoJo, what do you like to do best?”  This was her reply: “I like to misbehave at boring meetings and parties, like sticking a spoon on my nose or making faces at snobs. I also have sudden urges to dance wildly to African music. Sometimes I just want to take all my clothes off and dance in the rain. I would like to walk barefoot on pretty lawns and steal a few flowers now and then. I would also like to be truthful and always say what is real and right. That’s about all I can think of right now.”

There is a real possibility JoJo just may have done all of those things.  She has proven to be the salvation of my life. Because of her, I will never be alone in my sorrow, and she reminds me it won’t last forever. My inner child is a brat and deserves to have fun, to laugh, and to play.

So do we all. Put a little silliness in your life.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

“It’s all about love” and, you know, it really is.

Valentine’s Day is the day to really think about it. We can never really figure love out. Since time immemorial, poets and song writers have been trying to. We mere mortals have been saying things like, “I love you as God does.” I don’t know that any human can make that startling claim, but maybe when Sun sets on my life, I just might get to ask that question.

Life really is all about love. Not only loving those who are in our lives now, but also the ones we have said a temporary goodbye to.

Thought you might enjoy this. It was written long ago by the Universe just for me, and now, purposely, has shown up for you.

The Top 10 things dead people want to tell living people:

  1. They are not dead.
  2. They are sorry for any pain they caused.
  3. There is no such thing as a devil or hell.
  4. They were ready to go, when they went.
  5. You are not ready.
  6. They finally understand what they were missing.
  7. Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of the moment you arrive.
  8. Don’t try to understand this now, but life is exceedingly fair.
  9. Your pets are as crazy, brilliant and loving there, as they were here.

And, the thought I gift you with on this Valentine’s Day, my MANTRA:

10. Life is much too short to be lived badly.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!

New Year… New BALANCE

This year I decided not to use the word resolutions, but rather to create a plan that might help bring more balance to my life in 2015. Balance being a state of being that you achieve when all aspects of yourself are in harmony.  We all have felt that way briefly, but I want it to be more than briefly.

I wanted to figure it out so the plan would be more likely to succeed. I believe that a balanced life means one has the time and energy for both work and play. You know, when you feel as though all is in sync.  Living a balanced life can help one experience happiness, and likely fulfill wishes for a more contented life.

Perhaps achieving balance requires us to assess what is important to us that we may or may not be in touch with. There are many demands in our lives that push us to choices that can keep us off balance and have a detrimental effect on our energies. Habits, relationships, health, career, you name it. To create what you need IS to figure out just how much time you are willing to devote to the different areas of your life.

I recently read something by Madisyn Taylor that sounded to me like a good plan,   but I changed it up just a little…

Imagine your life is a house made up of many rooms. Draw a house and give each part of your life its own room, the space and size of each one determined by its importance in your life NOW.

You may discover that certain elements of your life take up an inordinate amount of time and exhaust your energy, leaving you with few resources to nurture the rest of your life. You may want to spend less time on those and more on the ones that fulfill you.

Now, draw the house again. You can include work, family, play, solitude, indulgences, meditation, reading, service, exercise, or working on yourself in healthy ways. Create each room with the idea of a balanced existence in mind. Put your house somewhere you can see it daily, as I did. Make changes when you need to, and let it be a balanced map for you to attain happiness, health, and fulfillment.

See you at your new house.

I wish you a happy and balanced 2015.

The Frost Is on the Pumpkin

“The frost is on the pumpkin” does not always translate to mean something about temperature. To some of us, it means getting a bit “long in the tooth.”

I took a trip to the cosmetic counter simply because I was feeling a bit “frosty” and was in search of beauty and lost youth. I wrote about it, and the response was overwhelming.

Women wrote, called, and took me aside at gatherings. They wanted to talk about how they related to that piece. To sum up what most of them said… “I have been there,” “I have done the same thing,” etc.

I began asking what REALLY scared them about aging, and Snoopy (what I secretly call myself when interviewing) got some surprising and some not-so-surprising answers. I am not mentioning any names. I promised a protection program to all who spoke freely. Most of the people I talked to were worried about more than losing their looks. They were worried about what growing old represented.

Losing your memory or your marbles was high on the list.  Fears about money, loneliness, disease, and loss of sexual interest were just a few of the fears that were mentioned. Many women were terrified of being alone. Some already have trouble booking a lunch or dinner with one of their children and wonder what it might be like not to be needed anymore.

Having children is not an insurance policy; many people with children are often alone in old age. It is those fears that keep us running to the colorist, manicurist, and whomever else can disguise those marching lines called wrinkles. It’s our fears that send us off to have Botox, plastic surgery, and whiter teeth than we were actually born with. But what lies under those worries? I think there is an even deeper anxiety.

We don’t want to give away our secret, the secret that is crouched and hiding, but always ready to spring forward — the secret that aging is the precursor to dying. We all, sooner or later,  become aware that we are on the side of life where the sun is going down.

Death is the great wound of the universe, and the apprehension of death is the source of most of our fears, because we all know that there is no escape from it.

In this country especially, we worship youth, and talk very little about sliding off into the unknown; in fact it is rather taboo. I even hesitated about writing this, thinking some people would find it unsettling.

I remember when I did volunteer work for hospice; people told me that they just couldn’t understand how I could BE with those people when I knew they were going to die. I would say, “Why? I’m with you and you’re going to die.”

Once, I was telling a woman about a mutual friend of ours that was critically ill, and she asked me not to speak of it in front of her husband because he was the same age. Did she really think that not talking about death would make it go away? I am not suggesting that our minds should linger there, but I am suggesting that we deal with those fears, because then the intangibles become more important.

The moment of “now” becomes more exciting to explore. The soul shines through when we are content and unafraid, and that’s the part of us that I believe never dies. Accepting death might be a call to live more fully.

Superficial beauty will fade as surely as the frost will come to rest on the pumpkin. Vitality, wisdom and enthusiasm can keep your face looking young. Find something that ignites passion in your life. It might be a surer way to turn back time than all the aforementioned ones.

My mother left a note for all of us when she died. It simply said, “You kids have made me so happy.” My mom had a very hard life. So, my question is:  How do we live our lives so we can end them on a note like that?

Yoga

Yoga may not cure everything, is what I have told many students, but it will make your journey towards healing easier when used properly.  Yoga is medicine for your body and mind.

Exploring the power and experience of yoga has taught me to teach only from my heart.  It always has been my path and why I choose Indra Devi as my master teacher. It was she who appeared when I called.

It is my endeavor to bring the profound passion I feel for yoga’s ancient teachings into the contemporary lives of my students of all ages and needs.  My certifications have led me to teach yoga to special children and senior populations, as well as special adults. Yoga is for everyone. I taught a paraplegic once because if you can breathe, you are doing yoga.

Besides being the perennial yoga teacher and student, I have studied Tibetan Buddhism and draw inspiration from Gelek Rimpoche and many others as my spiritual teachers.  My dharma name is Joie, which was a description given me by my students and special friends.

I teach from the perspective of “Yoga body, Buddha mind.”

I look forward to sharing yoga with you.