Finding love in the Whole Foods parking lot

On a recent Saturday in July, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. We all do it. Maybe we slept poorly, or ate or drank something the night before that didn’t agree with us. Maybe we were awakened at midnight by a feverish child or we had a weird dream. Or, maybe there was no good reason at all. Just a funk.

Or, a midlife crisis. Whichever.

Upon waking up to this mood — because it was right there to greet me when I opened my eyes — I felt my breath catch and my heartbeat quicken. Pretty sure I’m having a heart attack, I thought. My breath began to stop and start, big pauses in between. Anxiety crept in.

Well, shit. This is going to be a bad day.

So I started breathing. If there’s one thing that yoga has taught me… it’s been this: BREATHE.LIKE.YOU.MEAN.IT.

Hearing your breath, you can’t help but start listening to it, listening to YOU. The flow of oxygen wakes everything up, and for me it hits the ignition on that force of my life, connecting me back to myself, connecting my body to my mind.

The day dragged on. I breathed through it, accepting that it was an “off” day. I drove to Whole Foods, where I figured I’d pick up a few items and head home to watch a movie, alone. Had a bit of trouble parking. Nothing new there.

But I finally managed to slip into a sliver of a space. As I was getting out of my car, I received a text from my friend, Kate.

IMG_4866

This involved driving northward 15 miles to get home, where I’d have to rifle through my closet and find suitable attire. Maybe apply some makeup. Be wedding-ready. Only to turn around again and head south 20 miles for the oceanside ceremony and reception. Hmm. Well, let me think abou-

OKAY!

Last minute invitation to a wedding to celebrate two excellent people? With a band and a whole lotta dancing?  You noticed she said ten minutes, right?

Total no brainer. I so love a party. I so love to have fun. But, mostly I love to celebrate people.

Nineteen minutes later, I was dressed and Kate and I were cruising to the wedding. I had met the bride and groom once before, and I liked their energy and big hearts. They seemed like two people who unabashedly loved to love. As we arrived, I tried to blend in with the crowd…of whom I did not know a single soul. Going to a wedding as a last minute date felt a little like eating at a restaurant, alone. Little out of my comfort zone. But did I mention there was a band? And oceanside views?

IMG_4589

IMG_4578

The ceremony was gorgeous, and I’m actually not talking about the seascape. Seeing the bride come down over the grassy hill, her Mom and Dad on each arm, I began to cry. Such a sweet, sweet sight. Such LOVE. The way Dad looked at his daughter’s radiant smile, the way Mom’s fingers were so tightly sheathed around her youngest daughter’s hand. And the dimples on the bride’s face so visible, her face beaming like the bright sun.

For a moment, my less than splendid day got a whole lot worse as old movie reels began to play in my head surrounding my own parents’ divorce. And as I thought about parenting my own children without a partner by my side. But lest I get swept away by my own sentimental seas, the ceremony continued with beautiful music and words, each reading recited with heartfelt affection. In what felt like a minute, with the ocean so mesmerizing and glimmering behind their heads, the bride and her groom were married, sealed airtight with a kiss, and the lively reception began.

I mingled. And mangled. A couple conversations. Still a little unable to turn around my day, I pushed myself to socialize and meet new people. Everywhere I went, there was tremendous girl power. It seemed every woman there owned her own butt-kicking business or had penned a book that I added to my mental bookshelf, or was a wellness educator or a love coach or who was simply and wildly, compellingly awesome.

As a group, we collectively danced to the band as if we’d all won the golden ticket to the best concert of our lives. The vibration in the room, if you can call a tent next to the ocean a room, was sky-scraping. The energy was buzzing – so much that I felt if I reached out and touched an arm, the arm of a stranger –  there would be an electrical stream of some kind, permeating my soul.

When I finally came face to face with the beautiful bride, she pulled me in for a titanic hug. So glad you could be here, she said in my ear. It’s so… perfect. And then. That current. That SPARK.

KAPOW. 

These people are all so HAPPY, is what I’d thought just a few hours before. These people have found Utopia and apparently it exists right here in Southern Maine.

Yet I’ve studied enough about yoga and Buddhism to know that these people actually hadn’t found Utopia at all. They’d created it themselves. Each of them, in their own way, had made a choice. Carve out a space of contentment and live there. Or retreat into a place where you’re always searching. Searching and fact finding for a supreme sense of well-being that GUESS WHAT?

Already resides inside of you.

I know this to be true, this was not a newsflash. But this concentrated version? This extensive group of specialized awesomeness all in one latitude?

They were sending me a message.

You woke to a not so special day. You’re feeling a little dispirited.

So lift yourself up again. And this time, try living there.

831e4acb4b2ff56c94d51ae778f152db

It doesn’t mean there won’t be another lousy day. Or that those we love won’t pass on. Or that illness won’t become a part of our own immediate landscape.

This life cycle, it happens. I wholeheartedly understand that.

But it does mean — and this is a choice — that contentment is available to you. It’s simply a matter of opening your heart up enough to reach out and capture it.

 

 

She’s a poet and she knows it.

Growing up, the thing I always liked most about summer was its speed.

So slooooow.

It suited me so well then. It still does. My get up and go pretty much ups and leaves come June 1. My body craves the sound of the ocean, the bright blue sky days with sun blaring overhead and cloud conversations softly sailing by (that one looks like a man’s profile! that one, a unicorn!). The warmth of the heavy evening air. The feel of crisp, cool sheets on the bed and the trilling of birdsong out my window.

God, it’s so good.

Go ahead and grab some for yourself. Grab it with all you’ve got.

It’s a quick season — even in all of its slow splendor.

 

5b2495be91f83ba292666ee50d042ba6

 

The Summer Day

by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Honoring Maya

Powerful words from the beautiful Maya Angelou, who passed away last week at the age of 86. I feel a strong connection to her words. I hope you might, too.

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.

I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a ‘life.’  I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.

I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou

Standing in the Fire

Inspired by my friend, Erin, I’ll be posting poetry here once a week. If it resonates, terrific. If it doesn’t, maybe read it again. :-)

c2bd47e8630599b78fe1c4b22615b73b

THE INVITATION

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

 — Oriah Mountain Dreamer

[Artwork by joeandcheryl.com]

Motherboard

Lately I find myself doing too much. Too much around the house. Too much outside of the house. Too much brainstorming, too much tidying, too much errand-running, too much picking up of the cat poop. Too much driving, too much rushing, too much cooking, which then brings that dreaded cleaning part.

Too much time spent in my head.

Oof. That’s the hardest one.

Maybe that’s why I’ve had a headache for three weeks. 

Yet how to get away from it? I can’t just lock it up, go on vacation. It’s a BRAIN. Things are pretty freestyle up there.

So, you know what I’m going to say, right?

Yoga. It all comes back to that for me. I realized — as most yoga teachers do at some point in their teaching — that I wasn’t working on my own practice. And if I was, it was to “practice” teaching. (Brain to self: Did I already do the twist on the left side??)

Gee, that’s relaxing.

Spending more time on my mat means bringing the yoga teachings into my everyday life. Into my every. single. day. When I connect with my breath, it’s as if the world comes ever so slightly back to its axis. Sure. There will be slip-ups and PMS and a day from hell. But at its core, yoga nurtures and feeds the spirit. It reaches back behind the motherboard (I don’t really know what that is either) and starts to rewire the brain. It fires up new neurons.

You, old dog. Yoga, new tricks.

Let’s not forget: doing the actual poses, that’s awesome. But yoga is much more than that. It’s the time spent on the mat that preps you for the rest of your day/week/month spent off the mat.

Yoga on the mat + off the mat. It’s the perfect marriage.

3d3f999a725d4dfc3485abeb2fa490b4

For those of you don’t practice yoga, or think the postures (asanas) are too hard or too slow or too sweaty or too boring or too woo woo, I assure you it’s not. Maybe you want to lose weight, or calm your anxiety, or maybe you want to restore both your mind and spirit (there’s nothing maybe about that). If yes, give it a try. And then give it a try again.

f74a178b8b8cc5c51a488fb862f34a31

You may not reach enlightenment with one practice. But you’ll have put yourself on the very road to get there.

She liked it.

The other day I spent half the day cleaning out and organizing my 9-year old’s bedroom.

She’s in training for Hoarders, something had to be done.

Silly Bandz, Rainbow Loom elastics, books upon books upon books, so many that she could institute her own personal Dewey decimal system. Gobs of Polly Pockets (have you ever stepped barefooted on a Polly Pocket doll? It’s an 8 on a pain scale of 1-10), lone American Girl socks, several broken necklaces, endless supplies of sea glass, 19 acorn caps, several reams of stickers, probably 52 dried out markers, 5 booklights that don’t work, koala bears that cling to pencils, the contents of 17 goodie bags, and Valentines from the last three years of school. This was just the first bin.

Did I mention the number of animals on her bed?

IMG_3229

What can I say about my earnest yet life-curious let’s-bring-in-all-my-stuff-for-a-hug kind of girl?

Collector girl.

Adventure girl.

Collector of song lyrics and gum wrapper girl.

Lover of all things animal/nature/theater/the written word girl. Hater of any of the above being passed along or, gasp, thrown away.

So let’s just say I tidied up a bit. Did a furniture re-org. Made some space on her dresser and hung a few pictures. It felt good — it looked even better.

When she came home home from school and walked into her new room, she blurted out, “Wait a minute. Wait. just. a. minute. You redid my room and DIDN’T EVEN ASK ME?”

The fury.

I braced myself. I could handle it. It needed to happen.

She flopped down into the beanbag, her new reading nook, and flashed a giant smile.

“I LOVE IT. This is the nicest room a girl could ever ask for. Thanks, Mom.”

Relief. She liked it.

She paused, looked pensively out the window, thin slats of afternoon sun falling over her hair and face.

“It’s just missing one thing,” she said.

“Oh?”

“Well,” she paused. “A ball pit. I’ve kind of always wanted one. Like, with a bridge — so you can jump into it.”

Right.  A ball pit. Maybe next time.

 

SIT BACK AND NAMASTE AWHILE

It’s official! I’M A YOGI!

EllenCady_20140305-65415

{photo credit: Darren Setlow}

ELLEN –> YOGA TEACHER

Or would that be Ellen COMMA Yoga Teacher?

Of course, this means I have to actually teach yoga to be a teacher but hey – one class down, copious amounts of awesome classes to go.

I. AM. SO. EXCITED.

And, hey, I’m blogging again. That’s pretty super.

[My resume is blowing up as I type this.]

Of course, I’m still a mama to my girls. My internal life-skills-meter just keeps rising.

Why? Because turning 40 was good for me. Turning 41 was even better. Life is SO beautiful. Each day, a freaking gift. And I’m choosing to grab hold of all of it. Maybe even by the balls.

b1516bb81e6dab90af6def51d6455f68

I’ve earned my wings over the last couple of years, and becoming certified as a yoga teacher was just what I needed…that push out of the nest. Caring less for what people might think about me, and a whole lot more for how I perceive myself. Holding space for people in my heart, absolutely. But having compassion for my own gifts, too. We could all could use more of that, right?

A little self-love never hurt anyone.

Stay tuned for yoga classes, or contact me for private instruction. Pass my name along. I may not be Instagramming selfie handstands while on a paddle board in Costa Rica…(not yet anyway), but I promise you that I am a well trained, very accessible, and thoughtful teacher whose life has been changed by this practice and its teachings.

At the very least, follow along with me and maybe you’ll learn something about meditation, maybe learn a new pose. Or perhaps you’ll simply get a laugh or two, because — I admit — I try my best to offer up some of those.

4d4a8d4db3f7dd6f40452e6b127d4c72

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of chuckles, some Namastes.

LAUGHTER AND LOVE. THE BEST MEDICINE.

Forty-one

Woke to the birds singing outside my window. Cool breeze wafting in through my window. Ahhh. My birthday.

And then, suddenly, high pitched screams of my 6-year old saying, “You’re the worst sister in the world!” only to be followed with “Well, I hate you and wish I didn’t have a sister!!” The sound of a door slamming. Then another door. I gathered my chicks in the hallway – neutral ground – tried to coach them through it. Hug it out perhaps? No takers.

“Hey ladies. Guess what today is?”

Chloe looks at me like a fox might look at a rabbit just before it goes for the jugular.

Hope does The Thinker. “I don’t know. What? It’s your birthday?” she says.

“YES. And so I’d like some peace for my birthday. Which means no arguing before 7AM.”

Hope, exasperated, says in a flat tone: “Fine. Happy birthday.” Slams her door.

Chloe slams hers, too, and manages to say through the door: “I’m not in the mood to say happy birthday to you right now. I might be later.”