Thursday, September 29, 2011

May I Have This Dance? GET JIGGLY

Jazz makes my jiggly parts wiggle! It so hard not to feel inspired when listening to Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, and the like. Their voice and soul hits me DEEP, and the easy swing feel makes the world seem lighter, breezy even. Let go with me and have a dance!

OH YeAH! Can You FEEL it?? Get DOWN...




"On with the dance! let joy be unconfined;
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet."

~George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage


Photobucket

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Leggo My Eggo ... er Ego..

In the pursuit of happiness we search for all things. What we think will make us happy often times loses its ability. It's impermanence leaves us yearning for more, as if we are constantly reaching for an elusive butterfly ...always escaping our touch.

When we lose hold of outward possessions we feel we lose ourselves. We become sad, confused, angry with life... and oftentimes don't even know why we feel this way. Everything and everyone around us contributes to our misery. What we feel on the inside is reflected back to us from outside. It's somehow as if we are so impassioned with our desires, that we identify ourselves as the very object we crave. Somehow we think I am that carI am this job, I am this mother. Then we are devastatingly disappointed when this object leaves us someway. The car breaks down, we lose our job, our children leave to find their own way. We've lost what feels like a never ending battle within. The pursuit of happiness eludes us once again.

Now what? We search for the next thing to fill what we feel lacks within us.... and the cycle continues. Round and round we go... the carnival ride of life... let me grab the brass ring... I see it, it's shiny... it sparkles.. .I reach I reach... ugh! I missed again. Dah-da Dah-da Dah-da-da-da Dah, Pop Goes the Weasel!

How do I find security? How do I hold on to life? The ego always wants to grasp at something.. anything to save itself from what feels like death. If I let go, I die. I need, I want, I have to have... to survive... to thrive... to be happy.

Oh, he is a tricky little weasel, that ego! He disguises himself well. He dresses up in fancy, rich, luxuriously colorful linens. He is a brilliant seducer... a Don Juan... a Johnny Depp... of all that hinders us from real happiness. Do you see him? He's pretty. He knows just how to get us to enjoy just one more cocktail, to fantasize of what it would be like to kiss him, make love to him. Oh, he is good.

Let's take a good look at him. What do we see beneath all the suaveness, the outside shell of seduction? We see someone little. Tiny even. There is no depth there. We know we cannot trust that he is devoted to our well-being. Somewhere we see that his appetite will not be satiated with only us. He will not protect our hearts... he will cheat on us with another conquest... in a never ending search to devour the next best thing.

So how do we end this bad relationship? First, we must recognize it for what it is... a fling. When we are conscious that all our outward pursuits are fleeting moments of pleasure, we are not blinded by the illusion of security. We can enjoy it in its simplicity. We are not attached to it. It is what it is, and that's all that it is. When he digs his little weasel head out again (and he will), we can laugh and even enjoy his company... because he is funny, entertaining even. We can have compassion for his little ways. He wears a top hat and cane... he dances a little show (da-dah da-dah da-da da da dah)... and we love him for it.

Soon, he becomes seduced by our genuine love for him, his heart melts, and we change him forever. Like a child, we carry him in our heart and our heart expands because of it. We love him, because in fact... he is our heart.




Photobucket

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Meditation:

Today I OPEN up to LOVE

Begin by taking three slow deep breaths. 
Focus on slowly sipping the inhalation 
 allow your whole body to let go during the exhalation.

Now imagine yourself on a green pasture 
see the sky, the details - the colors are vivid
To your right see a temple.
This is the temple of your Heart.

Walk towards the temple. 
You are now standing at the doorway of your Heart. 
Inside take notice of what you see. 
Is it dusty? dark? cluttered?
If so, you may choose to do some cleaning. 
scrub the floors, pack some boxes, sweep... do whatever feels best for you right now.

Now, take notice of the altar in the middle of the temple. 
On this altar is a tiny flame.
begin to consciously stoke the fire with the oxygen from your breath
Watch as the flame slowly grows in strength and power.
Continue to grow this flame until the entire temple is ignited with Light

When you are ready, slowly leave the temple
Look back for a final glance to see this temple emblazoned with your Light from within.


Photobucket

Sunday, September 25, 2011

IN GRATITUDE...

This is the beginning of THE GRATITUDE series. Share with me 1-5 things you are grateful for today. Let's spread the JOY and LOVE of life to one another. ~ 

TODAY I AM GRATEFUL FOR: 

This Moment...


This 'Turning' Red Pepper...


This Gifted Carseat....


This Very Patient Pup...




JOIN me in GRATITUDE...  What are you grateful for today?

Photobucket

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

*
As a bird, I perch my love on high
recognizing all things as beauty.
Everlasting light of mine,
I embrace the recognition of my sorrow 
and Fly Free towards the Sun
Blazing Hot the awakened seed of my potential 
i soar
i soar 
OH Love i soar on high!
ever-bright
ever-new
my Love,
i fly to you!


 

Photobucket





Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How to Gain More Energy - 5 Ways to Relax Into Being

1. Learn to MAKE LOVE to Your BREATH ~ As if sipping the finest liquor or eating the most decadent dessert, slowly bring in oxygen as your lover united. When we take moments of ecstatic breathing, our body fills with exquisite energy.

2. Make WATER Your BEST FRIEND ~ Hello friend, thank you for nourishing me! Use a colorful water bottle, buy an elegant wine glass, create inspirational stickers to decorate glasses, have water contests with your co-workers.... Do whatever it takes to replenish your liquids in a more enjoyable and attainable way.

3. FEEL Your FEET ~ Take moments throughout your day to connect with your feet! That's right, feel your toesies touch the Earth. Feel the solidity beneath you. This experience can bring you instantly back to your ground of being which revitalizes your energy.

4. SCAN your BODY ~ What's happening within? If your digestion feels sluggish, you feel tension and tightness, or you're filled with anxiety... coat your insides with love. Create a mental picture of liquid relaxation and 'paint it' on the walls of your inner body.

5. LOVE on YOURSELF ~ Ugh, negative mental talk is soooo exhausting! If you find yourself spinning into chipmunk chatter, humble yourself with a nice bow to that which you do not know. Have compassion for your journey thus far. You are a diamond whether you know it or not. 


Photobucket





If you enjoyed this post you might also like how-to-stop-blaming-others-5-ways

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Day I Stopped Using My Dishwasher - One Way to Simplify Life

Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have even lived a more simple and meager life than the poor.
— Henry David Thoreau

About 2 years ago, Nate and I visited Thich Nhat Hahn's Deer Park Monastery. We had the amazing experience of enjoying a walking meditation with the zen master himself. It was beautiful to witness such a simple exercise speak volumes to the participants.




During our visit, we received lunch and ate inside their cafeteria where we noticed each monk/nun had their own 'cubby hole'. Inside was a single bowl and utensils. I remember looking over at a monk eating silently with his little dish being sooo mindful of every bite. I felt so distant from that, as I scarfed down my veggie sandwich (wishing for some turkey) and being chatty-chatty with my family. 

Well, that experience stayed with Nate and I. Nate had been asking me ever since to simplify our dishes. Although I loved the idea of it, I thought it way advanced for my capabilities! He kept mentioning it over time, and I would simply laugh and smile at him. 

...Until now. Feeling the need to have more time for myself to explore creativity, I decided I was ready to simplify as much as possible. So, we did it! We sold our second set of pots (yes, we had two sets), and stored our dishes, silverware, and glasses for guests. We each have one bowl, dinner plate, small plate, glass, coffee mug, fork, knife, and spoon. And, it's AMAZING! The time saved on doing dishes alone has freed up energy. We no longer have piles of dirty dishes to attend to. 

 Truly, it has inspired me to see where else I can simplify.
Removing yet another layer of 'stuff' that buries me from a real connection to something greater. It feels so good, like I'm getting closer to Truth.

                                                         


Photobucket 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chalk Art - INFANT ART PROJECT 2


Such a challenge to find good art projects for the wee little ones. We just happened to have had crayola chalk in the house + watercolor paper. So viola, art project #2.

 

Zosia enjoyed herself for about 15min. It didn't seem to hold her attention as much as the paint project. I did keep it out for her, and she returned a few times to explore again.


I loved watching her draw lines of color. It's so fun to share these moments with her. Really everything is exciting to a child. They are so new... everything is fresh! It's a great reminder to see the world from this prospective. 

Ever-new I rest in this moment with no judgements, just total acceptance.




Photobucket


If you enjoyed this post, you might also like Infant Art Project 1

Friday, September 16, 2011

*
I am the Space 
that absorbs your cries 
and Opens for Joy.
Teach me what I do not know about myself.
 Blind, I feel my way from the Inside out
expanding always into ever-deepening LOVE.





Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's Not Voodoo, Woo-Woo, or Wackadoo - What does it mean to LIVE CONSCIOUSLY?

Creativity is the foundation of LIFE. We make an act of creation during every choice we make, in every thought. Shall I have an espresso this morning? Yes. There it is! I've created a new moment for myself. I'm not waiting for something to happen to me, I'm choosing my Way. We are all ARTISTS of our life. When we begin to awaken to this understanding, life becomes simple yet extraordinary. We begin to desire the brightest colors, the best possible materials, and to refine our technique for living. This is what it means to LIVE CONSCIOUSLY.
 
To be CONSCIOUS in life, is to have a heightened sense of awareness of the present moment, and to continue to refine our approach to living in order to actualize our fullest potential as a human being. We are ALL on a journey towards true happiness and peace. It might feel unattainable at times, especially when we are knee deep in the struggle. But this discomfort is an important part of the journey. The discomfort is the opportunity for growth. There's a Buddhist saying 'That which is the greatest challenge, holds the seed for the greatest potential'. When we recognize these seeds of potential, the pathway ILLUMINATES and we can make the choice to follow it towards true happiness.

A way to look at it, is as a Pac-Man game. As we are moving about in our 'everydayness' or grazing on the path of white dots, we sometimes are met with challenges - the ghosts. When we overcome these challenges we receive the cherry and advance to the next level of being! When you look at life as an ever-new adventure, you feel truly ALIVE! 

When instead we let the waves of the world WHIRL us around or let our past habits blind us, we are not awake to this pathway. We go about our days with low-grade depression and an undercurrent of anxiety. This anxiety is the inner conflict of not attuning to our AUTHENTIC SELF which always knows its direction towards peace. This loss of connection to Self creates confusion and a sense of being lost, which then leads to low-grade depression or worse. 

How do we stay in HARMONY with our Authentic Self?

  •  Become Aware of Internal Sensations Within the Body Imagine a time when you had felt the most disconnected to your Authentic Self. While you are reliving the experience, begin to take notice of what is happening within your body. Examine what sensations you are feeling. Tension, jitteriness, cold, numb, etc. Now start to notice where you most feel this sensation – in your stomach, arms, throat, etc. Get as specific as you can. Now imagine a time when you felt most connected to Self. What does that feel like within your body? Calm, peaceful, light, spacious? Really take notice of the difference between the two experiences. When you fine tune your awareness of your internal body sensations, you begin to develop a radar system to stay on track towards happiness.    
  • Invest in Purifying Habits – Just as a marathon runner needs to train for the big event, it would be helpful to us to make healthy choices for our body, mind, spirit. Everything we think, do, and see effects our consciousness. We absorb our environment AND our environment is a reflection of who we are. What we think contributes to our actions. In order to make our Authentic Self more available to us, we must let go of habits that no longer serve our best interest for being. The great thing is, as we grow more into our true Self we become more sensitive in general. It’s harder to watch Televison shows/movies about violence, anguish, and despair for our personal entertainment. Poor diet choices make us sick. We even pick up negative energy from other people and become uncomfortable. This sensitivity is a part of the refinement process towards unbelievable JOY. 
    • Make Friends with Your Imperfections As we begin to recognize life as a ‘personal journey of never-ending growth’, we begin to see the difference between where we’ve been and where we have yet to go. This confirms our life as ADVENTURE! In order to remove more layers of old habits that no longer serve our Authentic Self, we first have to make peace with where we are at right now. This means LOVING yourself with the most sincere COMPASSION.    
       
    We are on a mountain, climbing, climbing day after day. We are now conscious of this mountain, conscious of our climbing, and fully engaged with our whole being to our adventure and goal in reaching the highest peak. As we climb we become painfully aware of the seeming struggle of each foot placement and of how much further we have yet to travel. When we finally reach a plateau, we rest. We rest in our accomplishment thus far. We know we have more work ahead of us, but at this moment we accept this new space as it is. 
      Photobucket

      Monday, September 12, 2011

      Finger Paint.. er...Body Paint... er... Mess = INFANT ART PROJECT 1

      Zosia had her first experience with COLOR and ART! I honestly couldn't wait to share a moment of creativity with her. It's a challenge to come up with infant art projects that are safe and interesting for little ones. Finger-painting with colored flour and water was our first experiment.

      It's pretty simple... all you need to do is:
      • get paper/posterboard as a 'canvas' 
      • mix equal parts flour and water in a medium bowl
      • divide flour mix into three separate containers ( I used baking ramekins)
      • add food-coloring or fruit/veggie dyes to the mix ( I used red, yellow, blue)
      • setup a large 'mess' blanket or work in an area where it's okay to get messy
      • have a towel ready for immediate delivery to bath after project


       At first I was trying to teach her to dip one finger in at a time to color on the canvas. It surprised me how 'neat' I was trying to be. After a few minutes of teaching her, I surrendered to  her own exploration of the experience. Immediately she went to paint herself. It instantly brought me back to memories of painting myself for hours as a kid. I used to love making intricate details on my body with paint. It is so cool to have those moments of personal reflection while parenting your own child. 




      By the end Zosia was covered in paint! She really enjoyed spreading the paint all over the place. Flipping over the ramekins was a big event for her and me. I had to totally surrender to the mess and she rolled with joy in and out of the puddles. 



      It is a great sensorial experience for her... feeling the texture of the paint, watching the affect she has on the canvas, seeing the difference between the three colors. She really enjoyed herself, and after about 45 minutes, she was finished. It was tricky getting her from the porch to the bath without getting paint everywhere.

      All in all it was great fun! I learned to surrender my will for the sake of the moment and reconnected to past memories of pure concentrated joy!

      Zosia's First Work of Art



      Photobucket

      Wednesday, September 7, 2011

      How to Stop Blaming Others - 5 Ways to Bring More JOY into Your Relationships

      1. Take Responsibility for your own MIND THOUGHTS ~ Your perception is everything. No one can control how you feel about a situation but yourself. Make your centeredness your primary choice for being.

      2. Recognize we are all on a JOURNEY of Self Discovery When you know that we are all working towards a higher goal of becoming truly happy, you begin to respect the process for others. Allowing space for the unfoldment brings joy.

      3. See Your REFLECTION ~ That which bothers you about others may be a direct reflection of that which you are not ready/willing to accept about yourself. Example: "My neighbors are overweight, rude to each other, and are neglectful towards their pet" = "I have a tendency to be lazy and can make poor choices for my diet, I sometimes speak to my husband disrespectfully, and sometimes choose not to take my dog for a walk"

      4. Grow Your SELF AWARENESS ~The better you become at being the observer of your own thoughts, words, and actions, the easier it will be to make higher choices. To know your limitations is a powerful key to unlocking your potential.  

      5. LOVE thy Neighbor ~ There is no room for judgment when you Love.

      Photobucket

      Tuesday, September 6, 2011

      *
      i am the bird inside
      listen deeply, you will hear the message
      buried beneath my heart ~
      Let Go My Love, i sing
      Feel Joy My Love, i sing
      begin anew



      Sunday, September 4, 2011

      How I Use Montessori to Raise a Confident, Focused Child

      While I was pregnant I would often peruse the child rearing section at BN to get some ideas on parenting approaches. I happened to stumble upon the book 'Montessori from the Start: The child at home, from Birth to Age Three" by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jesson. To be honest, it was the cover that intrigued me…2 wooden toys, simple. 



      I opened it and immediately felt connected to the ideas that were printed. Ideas like honoring the infant as a human being in development, creating an environment of simple beauty, protecting the child's concentration, and allowing the child to develop their independence and assist themselves. There are only a few photos inside, but they amazed me. Seeing a 9 month old drinking from a small glass and another playing independently with one toy, made me curious on what I could learn from this book. I am so grateful to have purchased it that night.

      The concepts are based on discoveries made by Maria Montessori, a medical doctor in Rome during the early 1900's. She held several observational studies, watching and discovering how a child naturally develops. She then based the development of her educational approach on these findings. Her goal for education was for assisting "the development of a complete human being, oriented to the environment (that is aware of his place in the natural creation of the universe) and adapted to his time, place and culture (prepared to meet the challenges of a specific historical period). " Explained by the authors, "The only reason that each of us is here on earth is our ability as human beings to meet these needs of the human spirit: needs of art, music, religion, and all other areas of self-expression and love for creation and humanity. It is by these means that we contribute to our particular culture and social group, and can change them for the better." Ding! Ding! Ding! (went the imaginary bell I have in my head) sounds like truth to me! So, Nate and I committed to trying on a Montessori approach to parenting Zosia.

      It began with the decision to skip the crib and instead use a child-bed (essentially a futon on the floor). Boy, did we get the crazy-eye from people when we mentioned this! But, I tell you, we are soooo happy we made this choice. Now that Zosia is crawling, she is able to get up in the morning independently at 9 months and go to her toy shelf to play and explore. It was such an amazing mama/papa moment to wake up and peek at Z playing alone, confident in her own abilities. (Because of this freedom, the room is designed and organized with safety in mind and we do have a gate at her door). 

      Another fantastic idea we used was to create sensory exploration with a 'treasure box', which is filled with different objects from around the house. The idea is to choose objects that vary in size, shape, weight, texture, and so on. My little scientist would sit for 30 min – 1 hr investigating her box. It's really fun getting everything together. I love challenging her with new objects. It's awesome to watch her explore. She really is like a little scientist… picking things up, dropping them, comparing two objects in each hand, tasting it, unraveling it, etc. It is a great tool to engage little ones and develop their concentration and focus. 









      One of the Montessori mantras is 'teach me to do it myself ' . This takes a lot of patience and commitment by the parent. For me, it truly is a spiritual practice... can I be still for my child? can I breathe into this moment? can I honor her as she discovers her sense of self? It is well worth the sacrifice of selfishness. This is how Zosia teaches me. And, I am so grateful for the lessons. :)




      I will continue to share with you our Montessori adventures as Zosia continues to grow.

      ~ MamaBird





      Thursday, September 1, 2011

      How I Began to Grow and Eat Food from My Patio

      Making conscious choices about what we choose to eat can be a very empowering experience. Even more empowering (I've recently discovered) is growing your food with your own two hands! I had so much fun starting an edible container garden on my patio. Being a complete novice, I trusted my veggie fate in the advice of the owner of a local nursery (www.sunshinegardensinc.com) who gave Nate and I a brief tutorial. He looked at our cart (where I had aimlessly chosen a veggie variety) and directed us on how to begin.

      He stressed the importance of a good potting mix. It's important not to use regular soil when planting with containers because it can be too dense. This doesn't allow for proper drainage, which can cause root rotting and other nutrient deficiencies. He suggested we add a cactus mix at equal parts to our potting mix to help keep things light and airy. We purchased GreenAll Organic Potting Soil and EB Stone Cactus Mix.

      He then gave us specific planter/planting advice on some of our vegetable garden choices such as:
      • planting Onion bulbs a couple inches down from the surface in order to allow maximum growth (otherwise they become green onions) and also to plant them alone or away from other plants to avoid 'onion stink' to spread throughout the soil
      • Strawberries should be placed in their own pot and a special strawberry planter can be purchased (we chose to use a wide top ceramic pot) 
      • Beets need to be nestled deep into the soil and not crowded to allow for maximum growth 
      $82 later, we brought home 4 large bags of container soil, 1 large wide mouthed planter and the following edible plants: Onions, Beets, Strawberries, Red Bell Pepper, Patio Tomatoes, Romaine Lettuce, Lemon Verbena, Lavender, and Cilantro. I (half) joked with Nate that I felt I just brought home more babies!

      Some of the online resources I used to find specific information and inspiration on edible container gardens were:
      http://www.container-gardening-for-food.com/
      http://lifeonthebalcony.com/
      http://www.no-dig-vegetablegarden.com/container-vegetable-gardens.html
      http://www.rootsimple.com/
      http://www.superbherbs.net/

      Also, here is a great documentary (http://www.dirtthemovie.org/) on the importance of our Earth's natural soil to our whole ecosystem:


      It has been 10 days since, and every morning I wake up and eagerly peek outside to check on my babies. I feel so close to their little growing bodies. It's such a pleasant feeling to know that the love and attention I put into the care of these plants will be reciprocated with the nourishment of my body. It's a true reflection on the nature of life ~ that which goes out always returns.

      Lavender


      Romaine Lettuce



      Strawberries

      Mixed Romaine & Onions
      Zosia assisting

      How does your garden grow?