Sunday, October 30, 2016

Shadow Dancing

Meeting my shadow is essential to being comfortable in my own skin. My self acceptance is deep in my bones. Any parts of me that remain hidden have a subtle psychic hold of me. This has been a year of great depth for me, and I intend to go deeper. Where are these fears hiding? Deep within my body, I hear the cries of the child that has been abandoned. Then there is the reckless risk taker that throws it all away; avoids responsibility, knowingly setting the place on fire: my Inner Teenager. I have a damsel in distress who wants to be rescued, or drown in the endless sorrows and ugliness of her own overt emotions. There are parts of me that are apathetic and do not care. I have selfish parts of me that only do the right thing because I don't want to get caught. Lazy parts of me that don't want to do the work like everybody else or stay awake and aware to the things I need to work on. Let's open the doors and invite these demons in for tea, the way we say we will when we speak wisdom. Many of us talk about the shadow; however, it is often after the fact, once the issue is resolved and wisdoms have been gained. What if, today, we reveal the open wound that is not yet healed?  Let's face the place where there is no fast resolution. Sit in the discomfort and awkwardness of how truly vulnerable it is to be in the "I don't know". Today, I don't. I don't have the answer for you. 
Yes to yoga. To sitting and facing the darkness. 
Yes to hitting the edge. 
Yes to the feeling and emotions that arise in the meditation. To the awkward blankness that meets me in that 20 minute space today. 
Yes to green. Green tea, green vegetable juice and nature. To the choices I make that support self-love and transformation. 
Yes to being naked. Ridding myself of any habit that puts a wedge between my truth and the image I project. No coffee today for me. 
Yet none of these is the whole truth. Always, laying dormant beneath these routines is the darkness. 

It's scary to open my closet to you this way. I don't have a yoga trick for you that will eliminate the discomfort you feel in your life that doesn't quite fit anymore. I don't have the perfect "treat"meant for you. Or the treat that offers you no consequences.

My advice today is simply this: go deeper.

Find acceptance and embrace the parts of you that repel you most (clue: what disturbs you in another may be the very key to your own shadow). Invite them for a green tea and a shadow dance.

Happy Halloween.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Life in the Balance

The pendulum swings again. Yang becomes Yin. Day becomes night. Summer gets replaced by Fall. Today marks the Fall Equinox when light and dark get equal air time. The transition times require careful attention. The air thins, the shadows lengthen. My body readjusts after the extroverted Summer months. Life hangs in the balance. What next? After hard work, we must plan a retreat.

It is in these moments of recalibrating that we tend to fall, literally. Just as if I begin to lose my footing in a standing posture if I move too quickly into said pose, or if I avert my gaze towards something that is moving~the way my mind moves into the future, so can I throw myself off if I plan too far in advance. Presence is required. My attention on this moment. What is needed? Perhaps more energy, a stronger engagement of my thighs, or a shift in my gaze that brings my awareness an eight of an inch back behind my eyes. Balance is active.

What worked for me yesterday, may not work today. My routine was interrupted last week. Just when I thought I had the formula figured out for my self-care, I got thrown a curve ball: an injury. I had incurred a back injury just prior to my book tour, which magically disappeared for my entire Summer, yet as Mercury retrograded my old injury returned. When my body talks, I listen.

Flat on my back, and with no terra firma, I surrendered to the moment. My job is to find balance, and when I am injured, this is just a hint that I am not. What did I need to do? Ask for help. Accept my body as is. Inhabit my body in the present moment; not the way I want it to look or feel, but right now. Rest. Find ways to love myself without extreme action. Get touched in the right ways. Find enjoyment amidst it all.

I did it all. I used social media to reach out for rides to the doctor. I meditated from my bed. I asked my neighbor to bring me water. I had the TLC of my doctor who is hands on and hands down the best magician/healer and I even got myself to the concert that I had tickets for. I just got myself premium parking and brought a pillow.

There is a balance when it comes to self care. The body doesn't lie. It tells you daily what it needs. Each day we adjust to what the body requires. What felt good yesterday may not work today. Yesterday it was Summer and today, it is Fall. I hear the leaves rustling, my wind chimes singing. My allergies kick in, and I need a sweater on my walk. Moment to moment. This is balance.

In balance postures, we learn to live present moment. Energizing our stance. Stilling our gaze. Checking in. I used to wish I could just know how to fix it, get the job done, or do the right thing. But today, I love that life is constantly changing, forcing me to engage and dance with it like grace in motion. Life hangs in the balance. I dance.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Self-care Intensive

I found myself waking up this morning in a post-Summer stupor. I really allowed myself to relax, expand, and let go over the past couple of months. After unwinding from my book launch and tour I just wanted to play and have fun. I wasn't overly concerned about being pristine in my diet or super rigid in my exercise routine. A little bit goes a long way. I love indulgence as a spiritual practice, but when I go unconscious it can turn right around on me.

I found myself 7 lbs. up and a little lethargic, so I know that I need to play the reset game. Today I put myself through an intense regime of self care. Here's how it went:


  • More than 8 hours sleep. Since I wanted to make sure of this and to rise early, I turned off all electronic devices and put myself to bed like I was my own baby at 9 pm. That's right, folks. 



  • Upon waking, I moved to my meditation area and spent 20 minutes in silent contemplation. Inhale. Exhale. Continue. 



  • Journaling for 20 minutes clears my mind of needless thoughts. When I keep running a thought through my brain again and again, I remember that I may be detoxing an idea, much like when I crave sugar it means that the sugar is actually leaving my body in that moment. Writing helps to usher my automatic thoughts out. 



  • Dry brush my body followed by Epsom salt bath. Look it up. Dry brushing is good for circulation and the lymphatic system. The skin is one of the major ways the body detoxifies. You can get a dry brush glove at your local health food store when you are picking up your epsom salts. 20 minutes to soak, if you have time. 



  • The work out. I did a 100 minute work out. Barre/yoga and spinning. I got my stretch and tone plus cardio. Ready to go! 



  • Green juice at the co-op and stocked the fridge with healthy eats. Lots of organic produce, Kombucha for a treat beverage, water water water....Drink at least 2 liters a day. 



  • Next, some creativity and writing. Reading and exploring some new ideas was possible after all of this opening and emptying. I was starting to feel really stretched out and receptive after all of the attention I gave to my physical body. The endorphins help to elevate my mood and stimulate my mind. 



  • Being of service is a huge part of what heals me and helps me to feel good. I set aside some time to mentor a friend. We are reasoning things out and prioritizing. When I reach out to help another by sharing my experience, I benefit ten fold. 



  • The rest of the day will be tasks like post office, bills, reconciling my accounts and work on the computer, followed by a field trip to a part of my city I rarely visit. I am taking myself to a class that I haven't been to~stretching myself to try something new is another way to reset myself. 


Even one of these activities can be beneficial, however as I reboot my health regime, I have decided to have a self care intensive once a week through the end of September. Join me!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Creativity, Sexuality and Play

There are three primary topics on my to-do list these days: Creativity, sexuality and play.
As fun as all of this sounds, believe it or not, they are often the first areas of life that we shelve. Making money, taking care of children, being of service, health, relationships all seem to come to the forefront as adulthood responsibilities call. I have flung myself into the realm of juiciness and joy with fervor as a get my last gasps of middle aged life before (gulp) the third act!

1. Creativity is the life force itself. Creating is the song of my heart. Everything I am today is a creation of my own making. The culmination of creative energy has brought much to fruition: books, DVD, workshops, talks, and years worth of classes (my disposable art) under my belt. Even my former acting career has flowered and flourished bountifully. I am reminded each time I receive a $100. residual from Cheers, which I did thirty years ago, that my creativity lives on. However, what more is beneath the surface? It's been so long since I have painted for fun, written a poem or made a model city out of clay. I am craving the act of creativity just for the sake of creating! So I have begun. Each day, I take some time to write, draw or make a cake.

2. Sexuality. Oooh. Aaah. Yes. Feeling my body. Being present. Breathing. Feeling sensation. Sensing. Noticing where I am magnetically drawn and what repels me. The very same energy that is creative is sexual. We are all created from sexual energy. The dance of opposites and that play in its ultimate form is you and me. I've been making it a priority these days, mostly to be present in my body. Nothing to accomplish. Everything to experience and explore. When channeled, this energy can create an entire being, so the more I am connected and feeling alive~the more I am able to create.

3. Play. Yes! Play is the most important element in my life. In my work it has been paramount. I must enjoy and feel childlike in my dance with life. It is this feeling of exchange, of heart motivated movement that I come alive and truly become myself. My real self, the me that I have been since I was 6 years old has not changed. She needs fun. She needs to mix it up. She needs to approach life and feel its impact in this way. Just like a child. Just like a pet. Dance, cartwheel, make jokes with the barista at the coffee shop. Say something surprising. Give a hug. Skip across the street. Make popsicles. This life is a beauty to enjoy!

This homework is optional. This assignment is extra credit. I'd love to have some company. Wont you join me?


Thursday, July 28, 2016

My Summer Vacation

 As the sun shines upon me like a bright spot light on the center stage of my Summer, I find myself on an adventure in Morocco. I am steeped in a foreign culture and new customs, languages I do not speak, music I don't understand and I am soaking it all in. Life is just like a drama; a play. Be willing to play your role with gusto and remember that these moments in time are fleeting. One thing I can say for age is that this concept feels more real...so many moments of my life, now gone, were half lived. Today I remain open, present and grateful, for I only have today. 
Our collective environment around the first leg of Summer has been eye-opening, nerve-wracking and down-right disturbing. What role are you playing during these turbulent and exciting times? Change is occurring; that is certain. It's time to speak up, take a stand and be yourself. I have been examining my own views, fears and position on so many topics. It feels most important to go within to check with my heart before I express that outwardly. How can I take more responsibility, and where can I be more open as I move through this rumbling and tumbling world? I find it particularly interesting that I am visiting a primarily Muslim culture amidst our xenophobic American attitudes. I can tell you that from where I sit, the people are good, lovely and simply living their lives in as wholesome a way as possible. I have adjusted completely to burkas, donkeys and no helmets on cyclists. I have even seen two accidents that were dealt with calmly. Ive seen goats up close and men pausing for prayer on the regular. 
My inner strength comes from the pauses that I find in my thinking. I can admit that I had fears traveling at this time and into an Islamic culture, but fears did not hold me back. Now that I am here, I wonder what I was so worried about. How many other adventures and experiences have I cut myself off from due to my unwarranted fears and ideas that I have been fed. Of course, I am human. I must use my tools to detach myself from the national conditioning that I have been insidiously programmed with. Centering myself through stillness, emptying myself through writing, and surrendering with intention as the day unfolds helps me get calm and relaxed before I step onto the stage of my life with openness and spontaneity. When I am in this state, I am always lead to the next right action. I have been so fortunate to play with you in person during my Yogalosophy for Inner Strength book tour. Thank you for attending and sharing the experience with me.

Onward to the next adventure!
Love,
Mandy
Moroccan sunset from my room.

The old city. Tanger.

Beach day in Tanger.


Beautiful city.
Rosy hue on Morocco.

Lotus

Hello goat. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Home is Where the Heart Is

Chicago, you gave me a warm welcome. I was reconnected with a radio show host that I quite like as a human. I met some true blue fans that felt like family.You gave me new friends who took me in, and gave me rides. You gave me a delicious breakfast.

New York City, you gave me a beautiful temporary apartment in a part of you where Ive never spent time: Gramercy Park. You gave me a local farm to table restaurant and my new favorite coffee joint. You gave me old friends, lots of visits to magazines, interviews and on-camera appearances. You gave me rainstorms, sunlight and an incredible rainbow. You gave me intimate conversations, martinis and long walks. You gave me a place to wait for a new phone.

Long Island, you gave me an early morning drive with a small dog in my lap and Hamilton the musical playing on the stereo. You gave me comfort, the ability to zone out completely, naps and laundry to fold. You gave me sticky heat and thick fog. You gave me space and support. You gave me the down time with a close friend that I can really relax with.

Toronto, you gave me a bedroom in an old students home where I was fed, welcomed to lay in the sun, watch movies on Netflix in between all-day interviews for radio and an appearance on a talk show that I haven't been on in years. You gave me a driver who needed my help. You gave me an adventure of being locked out of the place where I was staying....with my hosts. You gave me precocious children and floppy big dogs. You gave me a spinning bike in a basement and a glass of red wine. You gave me healthy, delicious greens. You gave me an Enneagram book in my guest room, that took me way back to memories of the '90's.

Rhinebeck, you gave me grounding. Oak trees, local organic foods that were cooked for me and served in the common cafeteria. You gave me willing women to practice with and to go deeper with during my long trip away from my home base of Los Angeles. You gave me bad reception, non-dairy chocolate, and a library filled with books on philosophy, religion, psychology, yoga, meridians, sexuality, health and mysticism. You gave me a sauna and nature.

New York, you gave me a second chance, and a few surprises. You gave me laughter and the opportunity to make a new friend. You gave me anticipation of passion, and long baths. You gave me activism and activity. You gave me friendly business meetings and make up artists. You gave me a short fuse and immediate opportunity to come clean.

D.C. You gave me play, an upgrade and a roof deck. You gave me great weather, the white house and the feeling that I was privileged. You gave me the Frank Sinatra Suite. You gave me a heatwave, #DCPride and willing participants. You gave me a fine host and a pair of cheap sunglasses. You gave me animal crackers and an organic manicure that lasted an entire week. You gave me two airports and a missed flight. You gave me a breakdown and a breakthrough.

Los Angeles, you gave me the chance to unpack, regroup, repack, revisit, revise and unwind just in time to leave you again.

Corte Madera, you gave me incredible weather, a surprise extra class, an athletic bunch to push, a bedroom with skylights, friendship, new friends for a pool side hang, walking into a strangers house by accident on fathers day, the last 5 minutes of game 7 and an historic moment in the NBA, a good nights sleep and organic cherries.

As I travel for this tour, I am finding love wherever I go. Truly living the meaning of "Home is where the heart is". Thank you thank you thank you. See the love wherever you land. Happy Summer Solstice.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Happy Accidents

I remember being in an art class in my mobile school for experiential learning. The first lesson was: "There are no mistakes, only happy accidents". This stuck with me, probably because I am such a natural born perfectionist. The idea that art transcends linear thinking, judgement and structure is a lesson I can (un)learn. I am perpetually faced with happy accidents, and challenged to remember this kind lesson in acceptance.

Just today, I woke up at 5am Eastern to make my Sunday early morning flight. As I arrived at the airport, groggily checking in just 90 minutes before take off (thinking: "I don't really need to be at the airport 2 hours in advance. I've cinched this."), it came to light that I WAS AT THE WRONG AIRPORT! Oh, how I wanted to blame someone, or force my way on to a flight from that spot...yet I knew better. I simply observed my frustration with myself grow and swell in my throat.

When I got into the taxi to take me to the correct location, my driver kindly reminded me that I could maybe make my flight. Perhaps it was delayed. Then he said something that struck me: "Everybody makes mistakes. But you never know. Maybe it will get you somewhere 10 minutes later for a reason." I knew he was right, because I started to release my tears. I was trying to make it right. I was being very hard on myself internally, thinking that if I got my way I could correct this debacle. What a relief. Acknowledging and accepting.

I didn't make the flight. I am happily at the airport, organizing and enjoying my four extra hours here. I was reminded of yesterday at my class/book signing in D.C. There was a miscommunication, and so there were no books! It seemed tragic when I found out, but my publishing house came up with an even better solution: those who would order the book would receive a two for one and get my first book along with my second. Perhaps an even juicier deal! A very happy accident.

I'm taking deep breaths, reminding myself of that famous saying (was it John Lennon?) "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans". How true. Let's experiment together, and allow the saying "everything happens for a reason" not to be an annoyance, but a guideline for staying present, fluid and adaptable. This way, we can enjoy the discovery process, and be gentle on ourselves and others at the same time.

May you make a beautiful mess today!
receive your happy accidents with joy!