Finding the sacred in the ordinary...

As I was folding my laundry this morning and eyeing the seemingly endless pile of dirty clothes, I stopped myself from dreading the task. I reminded myself to just breathe. To be in this moment. My body immediately relaxed. I took the moment to be present rather than trying to rush through or find a podcast to distract myself with. This moment is all I have. I listened to the birds chirping noisily at the bird feeder. I smelled the deliciousness of my coffee. I felt the stillness and calm from being present and from quieting my mind. I realized how quickly I am able to shift how I am feeling.

We don’t need to be sitting on a cushion or in a church to feel “spiritual.” When we bring presence into whatever we are doing, we are infusing the sacred into the ordinary. By quieting the little voice in our head, we are giving way for our own spirit to be heard. 

Give your divine self the opportunity to shine today. 

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Letting the truth speak....and listening with an open heart.

Thank you, all, for your condolences about my friend. I rarely post things on Facebook, but I posted what I wrote to you last week. By the end of the day, I had several people tell me they were offended by my post. They wanted to protect Sierraʻs memory/family. I immediately took it down, as the last thing I wanted was to offend anyone I cared about.

On Saturday there was a celebration of life services at Hoʻokipa and a "paddle out." A friend of his spoke on behalf of Angela and his daughters. He spoke of Sierraʻs beautiful spirit that we all fell in love with and how helpful and kind he was. He also openly spoke of Sierraʻs struggles with depression, abuse of alcohol and drugs, and eventual suicide. As difficult as it may have been for them, I was relieved that they wanted to talk about the “elephant in the room.”  His courageous family wanted everyone to know the truth. They also wanted to let everyone know that help is available for any of us, if we were struggling, too. I was deeply touched by their bravery and love. It was a moment of healing for us all. 

When we speak the truth, we are able to use our energy towards healing instead of using it for pretense or show of face. We are able to be more authentic and connected to our true selves. We are closer to an optimum state of healing when we are in alighnment with our truth. We feel better. We can heal.

AUTHENTICITY is not something we have or donʻt have. Itʻs a practice—a conscious choice of how we want to live. Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. Itʻs about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen
— Brenne Brown

I miss you, my friend....

I lost of a friend this last week when he decided to end his life by driving off the cliff at Maliko. It was devastating to learn of his passing and how he chose to leave this world. Sadly, I had felt that I lost Sierra a long time ago when he started his trip down the rabbit hole of drugs and alcohol. 

Iʻve seen many crosses by the sides of the road over the years and had always wondered why people paid such homage to them. I understood immediately, as the shock of the news of his death wore off. I wanted to drive out to the place where he ended his life…to feel close to him in some way. Iʻve been twice now. Neither times was I able to feel his presence, but I left a lei and contemplated the life of my beautiful friend, Sierra Emory. I remembered his call to me this year on my birthday…so loving.

A friend suggested to me to walk the beach and find a rock or shell that spoke to me of Sierraʻs spirit. As many of you know, I collect heart shaped coral rocks. When I walked the beach yesterday, I found several hearts that reminded me of Sierra. One was really big and full…bursting almost from the seams. That was Sierra…bursting with love for his friends and family, especially his two daughters. Another heart was full of bumps and lumps…not a perfect shaped, but still a heart…that was Sierra, too…I placed these hearts in the hands of my statue of the Buddha who sits at the top of a little waterfall overlooking my fish pond that my father built. I feel Sierra there, as the water flows from the waterfall surrounded by the flowers. I feel Sierra while I watch the birds eating at my bird feeder. I feel Sierra as my husband holds my hand in comfort. He is with me…right now, in my own heart.

Good bye, my sweet friend, Sierra...may you be at peace...may you know how loved you are by so many…may your daughters know who their father really is…such a beautiful divine being to your core…may we remember your essence and not your tragic ending. I love you.

P.S.

I will remember you this way…down the waterslide with my son, Ryder, and your daughter Eden. This is who you are.

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How to be less of an asshole...

Without going into too many details, last week I had a little bit of a misunderstanding with a friend. When I called to apologize for my part (and quite honestly, it was mostly my fault…), he said he was glad to hear from me, as he felt “attacked” (eye roll for the seemingly obvious fabrication for my communication…), I about lost my cool. However, instead of jumping all over him for his magnification of my not so ZEN communication, I took a breath…and then apologized (swallowed some pride/ego)—as I certainly did not mean for him to feel attacked. Over the course of the next five minutes, he told me three times how grateful he was for my apology. We went on to have a great afternoon together when we got together later.

Dan Harris, author of two meditation books (10% Happier & Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics), says that the real litmus test of whether or not meditation is working isnʻt if whether or not you are able to sit on a cushion for longer periods of time without random thoughts coming into your mind….itʻs whether or not you are any LESS of an “asshole” to yourself and others. 

I happened to hear Dan speak about this on a podcast the day after I had apologized to my brother. I found the timing to be rather serendipitous, as I had recently been questioning my success as a meditator, as I often have difficulty with wanting to take the time to meditate. However, I did realize that I am definitely kinder to myself and to my loved ones since I started…definitely less of an asshole! So, on that note, I feel that perhaps my meditation practice has been paying off! So, be kind to yourself when you go to meditate and know that you are making the world a better place by doing so.

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"Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls."--Joseph Campbell

As I have mentioned before, I worked for the Xerox Corporation in San Francisco out of college, schlepping copiers all over the SF area. This was considered THE job to have out of college, as Xerox provided amazing sales training and benefits. Six months into the job and in the middle of a recession, I knew I was in trouble. I hated getting out of bed in the morning. Although I had little love for the job, I was actually having some success with it. Just enough to keep “the Golden Handcuffs” on for a few more years. But, as my heart was not into it, I was passed up for what everyone considered to be an easy promotion. I was devastated. So, with my parentʻs support and the companionship of my little brother, Paul, I headed to Asia to live my dream of teaching & travel. Although the living in Taiwan wasnʻt the dream life, the travel through Asia was truly my BLISS!

I bought a one way ticket from Taiwan to Bali and had saved enough money to travel the next six months by myself. Between meeting travelers from all over the world and experiencing new countries and cultures, I was in heaven. Although I was lonely at times, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. It was amazing how there always seemed to be help around if I needed it and I always found a safe place to stay. 

Joseph Campbell said, “When we follow our bliss, we are met by a thousand unseen helping hands.” When a pesky skeeter gave me Dengue Fever in Indonesia, a couple of Americans took care of me for a week while I felt the effects of “Bone Break Fever.” My angels in Nepal made sure I made it to safety when I had high altitude sickness. When my brother and I were hitchhiking in Taiwan and then Malaysia together, we always were given rides by the kindest of locals. Not to say that there werenʻt moments of potential disaster or danger, but I seemed to always be okay.

After my year abroad, my parents and friends helped me to resettle back in San Francisco where I started working for some Technology startups that were more in affinity with who I was. People want to help you when you are following your bliss!

How do you find the divine power in yourself? The word enthusiasm means ‘filled with a god,’ so what makes you enthusiastic? Follow it. So I have a little word: follow your bliss. The bliss is the message of God to yourself. That’s where your life is.
— Joseph Campbell

Let go of expectations & you may end up just a bit happier!

After Billy and I got married on Maui in 1999, we took a year off and back packed “around the world.” For both of us, our four months spent driving and camping from South Africa to Kenya (11 countries, 14 game parks, and 12,ooo miles on some of the bumpiest roads Iʻve ever been on) in a truck with a pop up tent on the top was the highlight. They will let any bozo into an African game park without a guide, gun, or much common sense (lots of “stupid American” stories were told to us!). You get more instruction at Space Mountain in Disney than you do going into a game park where you are navigating between migrating herds of Wildebeest and dodging angry elephants.

So here we were, on an adventure of a lifetime and so many people who were so concerned about what our Y2K plans were going to be. We werenʻt certain, but I wanted it to be something special, for sure! (Like traveling around the world for a year isnʻt special enough???) As we made our way from Malawi into Tanzania after Christmas, Billy was really not feeling well. He had no interest in talking about our Y2K plans, as his stomach was riddled with all kinds of worms and parasites (which we didnʻt know yet.) Poor me. I was stuck with a sick husband in the middle of the bush feeling dusty, dirty, and disappointed that my Y2K celebration was starting to look like it would be nonexistent. 

So, on New Years Eve, as we were looking for a place to park our Landy (Land Rover) for the night, we stumbled across a dank motel outside of a small National Park, called Mikumi. There were seven rooms at this well worn motel and there was only one room left--as a van of Brits had made reservations a year in advance to spend Y2K there! AND, as there was only one room with air conditioning which the manager gave to us as he didnʻt want there to be an all out brawl between the Brits. Happy, the well suited name of the very happy hostess, showed us to our room. We were thrilled to have a shower and to soak in the luxury of air-conditioning (did I mention it was Africa HOT in Africa in the summer and our carʻs air-conditioning was non existent??)

So even though I wasnʻt going to be whooping it up on Y2K, I was feeling pretty satisfied with where we ended up. Billy was asleep before 8:00 p.m. and I dozed off for a bit…before I was awoken by the annoying sound of a drum that seemed to be playing right outside my window. I was not a happy camper. My visions of a good night sleep with an air conditioner was quickly starting to evaporate as the drum continued to play…and then was joined by a few more drums! I was not pleased and put my clothes on to go out to complain to Happy and the manager. My idea of the perfect evening was ruined!! 

SO, as I made my way out the door, I was quite surprised to see about 50 of the villagers from down the road gathering and listening to “music.” At that moment, I saw Happy, gaily skipping over to me. Before I could say anything, she grabbed me by both hands and indicated that she wanted me to start dancing with her. Her smile and energy were contagious. My anger melted away as we started moving to the beat of the drummers. Then, the Brits joined in!  Before we knew it, another 50 villagers showed up who also started dancing. Happy wouldnʻt let me out of her site the rest of the night. We danced till midnight and then drank some champagne the Brits had brought. I was so present in those moments. SO aware of where I was, listening to the African songs and the rhythm of the beating drums, dancing under the stars, while whooping it up and yelling out my Carlita Jones Mexican cat calls. The women were dressed in brand new brightly colored sarongs that they had bought for the festivities. Their exuberance for the dancing and singing left me in awe. The children ran in between the dancers giggling with delight. The vibration of everyoneʻs energy was off the richter scale. I wished my husband was well enough to be with me, but felt grateful that he could get some much needed rest.

I felt grateful that I had let go of my attachment of my idea of what the perfect Y2K should look like. It is a moment in time I will never forget. What the universe provided for me WAS the perfect way to bring in the new millennium. I could have never planned it to match up to what actually transpired. I remind myself of that evening whenever I get fixated on wanting things to be a certain way. I try my best to let go of the attachment of needing to know how things will turn out. 

So, let go of your attachments of needing to know how things will be. Have faith that things will fall into place exactly how they should. Accept and live in the moment…making it beautiful.

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Accept...then act.

Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it...this will miraculously transform your whole life."--Eckhart Tolle

Asking for help might be a little bit hard to do....

In 1995, I left my very corporate job at Xerox and  my panty hose for Asia where I had wanted to fulfill my dream of living in another country while teaching English. After a month in China & Hong Kong, my brother and I found jobs in the not so lovely city of Taichung, Taiwan where I spent the next 6 months dodging traffic while wearing a surgical mask (pollution). It was nothing like the fantasy I had concocted in my head. I let go of that dream rather quickly, but made enough money to travel for the next six months by myself through South East Asia (my brother met a girl and he stayed).

The highlight of my six months backpacking through Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Nepal was my time spent trekking in the Himalayas. While in Kathmandu, I had met some guys from Australia & Isreal and tagged along with them to the Everest region where we took an old Russian helicopter to start our trek. Needless to say, the overly macho Aussies were not that excited to have a chick tag along. I made sure they knew that they were not responsible for me.

The culmination of the ten day trek was reaching the summit of Gokyo Ri (17,575 ft). We left at 3:00 in the morning to summit the last peak to watch the sun rise over Mt. Everest. Nothing short of spectacular. More than the sun rising itself that sticks in my memory, is the deft silence experienced while hiking at that altitude. I remember a couple of birds flying by at 17,000 feet and the sound was deafening….like a couple of F-14ʻs roaring in between the peaks. Other than that, only the sound of my breath could be heard.

After returning to our lodge that evening, I noticed I wasnʻt feeling well. In the morning, I told the guys to scoot on out, as I didnʻt want to be the chick that kept everyone waiting. I took it slowly, as it was going to be a 6 hour trek back to the village of Namchee Bazaar where we would spend the night. However, after an hour and losing my breakfast with blood in my vomit (sign of high altitude sickness), I knew I was in rough shape. SO, I took a seat on the side of the trail to study my options. After a while, a couple of Yaks with some Nepalese were headed up. They took no notice of me. After another couple of hours, a young couple was coming down the mountain. They gave me a brief head nod and when they started to continue on, I tentatively said, “Excuse me."

After living a life of feeling that I needed to prove to the world that I could do everything on my own and that I didnʻt need anyoneʻs help, I was now in a position of really needing some help. “Excuse me, but I…I….I…think I need some help.” It took everything in my power to let go of the attachment of I DONʻT NEED ANYONE to “I NEED HELP.” I was a sobbing sack of potatoes when I explained that I was too weak to carry my back pack and that I had vomited blood. As this Scottish couple had just helped the first woman to summit Everest without Oxygen and unaided by sherpas (Alison Hargreaves), they knew that high altitude sickness was nothing to mess around with. The very large bearded Scottsman put my pack on top of his and his girlfriend lifted me up to help me down the mountain to the next teahouse. Coincidentally, the doctor from their Everest team, was shortly behind them and he insisted that I needed to get down to a lower elevation. 

There were two options to get me down. I could either be strapped to the back of a Yak or a porter could be hired to carry my bag while I walked behind them. As sick as I felt, I knew I could not give up my attachment to being in control and strapped to the back of a hairy beast whoʻs shuffling gait along the rocky path of the steep himalayan mountains would have been too much. So, I settled into a walking pace of slow and steady for the next four hours behind my porter and the kind doctor. When we reached the village of Namchee and to the safe altitude, they found me a lodge and I checked in for the next week to decompress and heal from my adventure ($3.00 a night!).

Since that time, Iʻve learned to ask for help. Letting go of my need to do it all alone has enriched my life in ways I never dreamed. Learning to ask for help is a strength. It was just one of my many attachments to an idea of who I thought I “should” be that didnʻt serve me anymore.

What attachments or beliefs do you have about yourself that donʻt serve you anymore? Letʻs take the time to explore this as we meet for meditation and fellowship tonight.

Namaste!

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Letting go of attachments...

When we moved to Maui 18 years ago, we fell in love with Haiku. We bought a home with 3 acres on land that I LOVED. I thought I would die there, as I was so attached to our home and land. After several years, my husband wanted to move to Paia to be closer to the beach, but I wasnʻt budging. I really felt that we were happy because of living on this beautiful land. 

However, all that went out the window in 2006. In the course of ten days, I saved a little girl from the crashing surf (I thought we would both die) and then while windsurfing at Kanaha, found a 77 year old man dying in the water (he had also been windsurfing and had a heart malfunction.) To say it shook me up, would be an understatement. The combination of both events brought me into the present moment with a lesson of non attachment like nothing else ever could have. To understand the fragility of life and how it can change in an instant helped me shift my priorities quickly. I realized that it didnʻt matter where we lived. It opened me up and helped me let go of my attachment to our home. Within six months, we bought an old house in Paia and moved closer to the beach. I never looked back. 

After 2006, I found a new sense of freedom. I realize attachments hold us back. I now know I could be happy living anywhere (or almost anywhere!) by focusing on the present moment and appreciating what is happening in the now.

What can you let go of? What is holding you back? 

The root of suffering is attachment.”—The Buddha

"To live in the present moment is a miracle." --Thich Nhat Hanh

When we multi-task, our body releases dopamine (a happy hormone that gives us instant gratification), so it encourages us to keep switching between small mini-tasks. However, it also increases our production of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. When our brain is constantly shifting gears, it pumps up the stress and leaves us more exhausted, even if the day is just beginning!

Our IQ literally drops!!! It lowers our work quality and its efficiency. 

SO! Take a deep breath and pause! When we focus on one thing at a time, it brings us into the present moment. We are cultivating this wise awareness that keeps us calm. When we are calm and our nervous system is relaxed and our body is in its natural state of healing!! 

One of the best ways to focus on one thing at a time, is to put away your cell phones! Stop checking your email/texts/facebook while you are in the presence of someone else. Give them the gift of yourself!

Do activities in clusters. Sort your to do list in pieces that can be completed one after another. When online, close your windows and tabs, as you go. Even if you think you might want to go back to it!

"It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world." --Og Mandino

How many of you wake up in the middle of the night with your to do list running through your head? That running list of everything that needs to be done…no matter how many checks you mark off in the day, it doesn’t seem to get any shorter! It’s like the laundry…endless.

What an opportunity to practice mindfulness in our day to day living! Stop and breathe. Know that the science shows that we are not more productive when we are multi-tasking and “trying to get everything done.” Focus on one thing at a time. Be mindful of what you are doing. As I was rushing to make my dog’s breakfast before I could rush to the computer to write this, I took a breath and paused. I stirred with some love and gratefulness for this puppy who has brought so much joy to our lives. I set it down with a deliberate intent of taking a moment to recognize this happy and delightful four-legged being (who is VERY much a teenage puppy!). 

When we are more mindful during our tasks, it is easier to find that sense of calm. We can be present. We can appreciate the ordinary beautiful moments that string together to make a more rich and meaningful existence.

If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment.” — Amit Ray

"In the middle of every difficulty lies an opportunity."--Albert Einstein

During meditation, when emotions such as anger arise, it is important to acknowledge the anger. Last week I had mentioned how I had a person in my life whom I let disturb me greatly in life and in my meditation. Anger would arise and I would acknowledge, “anger” (or more realistically, I would become angry! Even in my meditation!!) What was underneath the anger? Looking a little deeper, I found sadness, hurt, and disappointment. This person had been a friend at one point; someone I had enjoyed being with. So, allowing sadness, hurt, and disappointment to arise and acknowledge, made it easier to let the “anger” sail by. Acknowledging these thoughts and emotions, rather than suppressing them, helped in my letting the anger go, along with the sadness, hurt, and disappointment. 

The more we practice this in meditation and in our daily lives, the easier it becomes to letting these more difficult thoughts and emotions go.  Remember that meditation is a practice….a life long one that helps us to stay grounded and present while we cultivate a wise awareness. Go easy on yourself!

"Meditation is not about stopping our thoughts, but recognizing that we are more than our thoughts and our feelings." --Ariana Huffington

Last week we focused on going into our intuitive center/meditation sanctuary. From this place we can be aware of our thoughts.
The goal of meditation is to acknowledge our thoughts and then let them continue to sail on by. We don’t focus on eliminating painful thoughts or feelings, we recognize them and know they are just passing by. We don’t prolong pleasant emotions, either, during meditation.
They are also just sailing by on that sailboat!

When experiencing a difficult thought, return to your intuitive center and focus on your breath. 
Our goal is to become mindful of what is going on, but to not become attached to it.

Seven years ago there was a person in my life who I let disturb me greatly. I would go down into the rabbit hole of “what ifs” and play out different scenarios that would vindicate my anger. Although vindicated in my mind, it left me agitated and tense. My children could immediately sense that “Mommy had lost it again.” These continual dialogues in my head were taking too much of my mental and emotional real estate. 

Once I recognized what was happening, it was the start of letting go. I would feel the anger arise, but I wouldn’t chase it down the rabbit hole. I would name it--anger-- and then focus on my breathing and while going into my intuitive center. These people and situations are our teachers in helping us to evolve on our spiritual path. The quicker we can learn from them, the easier it is for us and the less likely that they will continue to play out in our lives.

Gifts from an illness...

Eight years ago, I was struck by a virus that left me with room spinning vertigo for four months and having immense fatigue for another six. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had a genetic immune disorder called Hypogammgloblunemia which made it difficult for my body to fight infections. 

The vertigo rendered me pretty much useless to continue my life as super mom/PTA mother of the year/photographer. My friend, Joan Berman, came to visit me at the beginning and told me, “There will be gifts from this illness.” Although I couldn’t relate to that statement at the time, her words rang truer than I could ever have imagined. I went from living a life without stopping to becoming the queen of my couch. TV and reading were not an option with the room spinning. I had to learn to sit still. I went deep into my meditation practice in order to stay sane. When your world is going round, you can feel a bit on the crazier side of things. (My poor husband!)

My illness was a game changer in profoundly beautiful ways that I could never have expected. Being forced to slow down (or stop completely) gave me the gift of time, introspection, and a chance to reevaluate what was important. I was forced to learn how to say no and understand the lesson of not trying to please everyone. Letting go of all the weddings I had booked for the year was difficult and then it became a relief. Accepting help and learning to ask for help expanded my heart in ways I couldn’t imagine. I became a human BEing instead of a human DOing. I learned to just be and accept that I had no control over the speed of my recovery. I became more grateful for the simple things in life. I appreciated the human body and mind in an entirely new way. The gifts are countless and for this, I am grateful. I have never taken my health for granted again.

After my health returned, I let go of my photography business and spent more time with my family and taking care of myself. I am careful to not overdo it or over commit myself. I take the time to enjoy “the smelling of the roses" and my life on Maui. I feel a sense of contentment and peace that I know I probably never would have attained without my illness. 

Regardless of what you are going through, know that there WILL be gifts. Sit quietly and go within. Acknowledge to yourself what gifts there may be. Feeling grateful for the little things can easily snowball into feeling grateful for the BIG things. If you aren’t at that place yet, that’s okay. Be gentle with yourself. Be kind.

Missile Crisis on Maui

I am sure many of you have been experiencing a wide range of emotions after Saturday’s impending missile threat. I know I have.

With my children taking cover in the bathtub with me as we waited for the hit or more news, I had an acute sense of clarity. I was fully present in that moment like no other. I looked at my kids and wanted so badly to be guaranteed of a future for them—I was okay with it being my last day, but I wanted more for them. However, I know we are never guaranteed anything. That moment definitely put the “never take anything for granted” platitude into perspective. Nothing is promised to us.

When we received the news that it was a false threat, I breathed a sigh of relief. However, it took me another 24 hours to even start to feel normal. The shock on my system was significant.

When I woke up yesterday, the day after the no missile crisis, I had a motivation and excitement for the day that I hadn’t experienced in awhile. I savored my breakfast and walk with my daughter, I bought flowers to plant in my garden, I was happy to host my son’s 6 friends so they could watch a horror movie, I relished in the love from my parents who called to check on me, and I felt an overwhelming sense of contentment as I snuggled with my husband. 

When we live as if nothing is promised to us, we can treasure the moments more fully. Truly, each moment is a GIFT. This knowledge helps us to become more present and grateful for the ordinary. 

Take the time to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. Pause throughout your day to appreciate the simple things. Today IS a gift. This moment IS a gift. It truly is.

You think this is just
another day in your life?
It’s not just another day.
It’s the one day
that is given to you today.
It’s given to you.
It’s a gift.
~ Br. David Steindl-Rast

Honey Badger without the honey....

After three weeks of being with family over the holidays, I was absolutely toast by the time I got on the plane to come home on Friday. It was really wonderful to see everyone and have everyone together. However, I made the mistake of hosting back to back visitors between Maui and the mainland. There was no down time for my immediate family and/or time for yoga, meditation, and self care. (First world problems, I know!) My resiliency flew out the window. With the slightest annoyance from my children or husband, I became the honey badger without the honey.  Of course, I felt terrible for my outbursts and they all gave me plenty of space upon our arrival. Not the state of mind that I would ever choose to be in….SO, needless to say, I have spent some alone time meditating, doing yoga, and finding my center. This honey badger is no more. 

“The stability we cannot find in the world, we must create within our own persons,” sums it all up on the importance of cultivating self care and self love. Especially, during these seemingly crazy times. When our inner world is stable and calm, we are better equipped to handle whatever arises. We can respond with kindness and compassion and that, my friends, creates a better world for everyone.

"Don’t spend a lot of time imagining the worst-case scenario. It rarely goes down as you imagine it will, and if by some fluke it does, you will have lived it twice."--Michael J. Fox

As my daughter, Malia’s, sixteenth birthday approached, I had many people asking me if I was sad or upset. That getting her driver’s license somehow symbolized her leaving the nest more so than any other milestone. But, I wasn’t upset. I was actually really excited for her (and not just because it means less driving for me!). It’s the same excitement as I felt when she took her first steps or the first time I saw her coming down the mountain on a snowboard. There is something exhilarating as you watch your child experience the joy of feeling independent and free. Yes, it is one step closer for her leaving for college. However, it has been one step closer each day since the doctor let my husband cut the umbilical cord 16 years ago and he exclaimed, “It’s like cutting squid!”

Part of a mindfulness practice is focusing on the moment at hand. Embracing it. Feeling it. Being there 100% and not worrying about the future. Meditation helps us become more mindful of each moment. And it IS a practice. In my 20’s I spent countless hours worrying about whether or not I would meet the right person, get married, and have kids. It was a lot of wasted energy! Michael J. Fox, the actor who has Parkinson’s disease, was asked repeatedly if he was worried about the future after his diagnosis. I loved his response, “I don’t spend a lot of time imagining the worst case scenario. It rarely goes down as you imagine it will, and if by some fluke it does, you will have lived it twice.”

So, it’s the same for thinking about my children leaving the nest. I don’t—or at least I try not to. I know they will leave one day and I will live it when that day comes. So, for this moment right now, I am going to enjoy and celebrate their steps towards independence with them and take all the hugs I can get in the process!

Namaste: Recognizing the divine within

When I finished college in 1990, I proudly joined corporate America and donned my panty hose and business suits and went to work as an Account Representative for the Xerox Corporation in San Francisco. After the honeymoon of being part of the establishment wore off, I realized I detested selling copier machines. No matter how many “document solutions” I was able to provide, I still hated getting up in the morning.

After three years, I left with a one-way ticket to Asia with my brother, Paul (Thanks, Mom & Dad!) After traveling through China and Hong Kong, we settled in Taiwan for 6 months to teach English…what I thought was my dream job! However, living in Taiwan was not my dream place. I left my brother and traveled through South East Asia for another 5 months by myself. Of all the countries I went to, the time I spent in Nepal was definitely the highlight of my year abroad.

I had heard the Nepalese greeting ‘Namaste' before, but I didn’t understand it’s true meaning. A kind Nepalese porter explained that the greeting meant, “the God in me sees the God in you,” or “the divine in me honors the divine in you.” After spending three years of trying to be someone I wasn't, I felt seen for the first time. When the Nepalese greeted me with “Namaste,” they truly looked me in the eyes, saw my soul, and embraced me for who I was. It was magical.

Part of the beauty of Intuitive Healing Meditation is the recognition of the divinity within ourselves and each other. We are spiritual and divine beings having this temporary human experience. It’s so easy to get caught up in the material world and the superficial nature of modern society. But, when we can recognize our divine nature and see beyond our earthly pursuits, we can live a more meaningful and purposeful life. We can accept ourselves and each other by being vulnerable, present, and authentic. 

So, NAMASTE to each and every one of you. I see the Divine in all of you. Take the time to recognize it within yourselves and those around you.

FYI: Suffering is optional

I am embarrassed to say that my biggest problem right now is how I am feeling about my UberMom driving responsibilities. (Total first world problem, I agree!) I have a working car, I can afford gas, and I have two healthy children who need to be chauffeured to different schools and their various activities. There are some days I am in the car for 3.5 hours. I’ve been doing this for years. It seems to only be really bothering me of late. Perhaps it is the fact that my driving job for one of my children is winding down, as she is about to turn 16….perhaps I need to do some more yoga and meditate. Regardless, I am dismayed that with all my Dali Mama quotes in my head, I am still letting it bother me.

I know this isn’t a real problem (I have had those in my life), but the fact that I am letting it bother me is a problem. If we learn how to deal with these little guys, then we can move more smoothly through the big stuff when it hits. This week’s meditation helps us to change our response to the issues at hand. As Buddha says, “Pain is Inevitable. Suffering is optional.” 

Rather than to continue to suffer and take my resentment out on my fellow drivers by showing less Aloha, I meditate on ACCEPTING the situation for what it is. Eckart Tolle states, “Accept—then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it…this will miraculously transform your whole life.” One of the best ways for me to ACCEPT is to practice gratitude. I give thanks for my car, money for gas to drive my kids, the fact that I have my kids, that my kids are at the right schools and are healthy…etc., etc. An attitude of gratitude DOES help in shifting my response. I also meditate on releasing my resistance to the situation. I then fill myself in with the trust and knowing that everything is as exactly as it should be. I only have a few years left with both my kids. I want to know that I was truly PRESENT for them by focusing on the moment together in each and every moment.

Whew! I feel better already. 

I  know that I have practiced for the real issues when they arrive…may I handle them with more grace and aloha! But, I am not going to give the future one more thought...I am off to pick up my son!

Experience the AWE!

Two weeks ago, I met my husband, Billy, out in Hana with Ryder and his two friends. He had spent the first night with the boys and then met me at Hamoa with three tired teenagers. He mentioned that they had been up since sunrise.

As the boys napped on the beach, I took in the beauty of Hamoa...our favorite beach on Maui. Being in nature allows for your nervous system to relax. For some reason, Hana seems to take it a step beyond and I felt like I was being “held” energetically in a loving and supportive way. 

We camped out in Kipahulu by the 'Ohe'o pools. Between games of hide and seek and burnt s’mores, the boys were in heaven. When I woke early the next morning, I took the long way to reach the ocean to watch the sunrise. When I got there, I couldn’t believe what I saw....the three boys standing out there to watch the sunrise for themselves. It about moved me to tears...that three 14-year-old boys would choose to get up and take in the wonder of a sunrise. With the recent disasters and chaos in the world, it gave me a sense of hope that I hadn’t felt in awhile.

Dan Bova, a writer for “Entrepreneur" writes, "Experts including Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., co-director of the Greater Good Science Center at UC-Berkeley, have researched the mental and physical benefits of experiencing awe—defined as witnessing something that is vast, difficult to even comprehend, and, well, awesome. Research has found that being around something that brings on awe leads to a reduction in stress, an increase in open-mindedness, and a sense of being a part of something bigger and greater than ourselves."

As part of a healthy mindfulness practice, get outside and experience the AWEsomeness of Maui. Especially when you are feeling down—know that there will always be a sunrise after the darkness of the nights. And, there will ALWAYS be rainbows after the storms we experience in our lives.