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I laughed inwardly last week when I heard myself mentioning to Dan that I was a trained yoga teacher. The truth is, I haven’t had a steady yoga practice in a couple of years. There, I said it.

Part of the reason is that my body (on the inside) is filled with scars. My lungs, from malignant fluid. My abdomen, from tumors now gone, from cutting and stitching and clamps that still remain. But this isn’t the only reason.

The thing that keeps me from doing a yoga regularly is a fear of being still with my body, of breathing into it and feeling what’s there the way I used to.

Yoga, for me, used to be a path to inward seeing. Eyeballs on the inside. When I was preggers with Lil’ J, I could rest in supported child’s pose or sit in meditation and not only feel him in there but see him, see the energy field that surrounded him and how he curled snugly between my pelvis and my ribs.

Now when I do yoga, my inner eyes clamp shut when they travel anywhere near my abdomen. They do this because I had to leave my body several times during painful procedures and sickness. I learned to just check out of my physical self, float up out of it, and wait in a corner until the pain was over.

But now I’m fully back in my body, occupying every brilliant cell and healthy tissue. And my inward eyes are slowly opening again. Yoga is coming back to me.

So the next seed of intention for 2011 is renewal. I intend to renew my connection with yoga, one breath at a time.

I start with the breath because I know that taking one conscious breath per day has the power to transform. Seriously. If you stop once per day, close your eyes, and follow your breath all the way into your body, just feeling where it goes, then release, you’ll start to become attracted to the feeling. Then addicted. Then meditation happens. At least for me. I bet for you, too.

So I’ll start with a few conscious breaths per day, follow them throughout my healing, healthy body and begin to open my inward eyes again. The yoga will follow, and my connection to practice will be renewed. It’s my intention.

Here’s a beautiful video by Four Seasons Productions. It features Coleman Barks reciting Rumi’s poem, Only Breath. Enjoy with a few conscious breaths.



*painting credit

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Over the week that we returned from Kauai, the spirit of island lingered in that way that it does. We found it hard to get up on time, we smelled the floral scent in the air, and I felt urged to walk around in a sarong and flip-flops forever.

But holy Kamehameha, nothing says, “You are now back in Sugartown” like getting ready for Halloween on our All-Hallows devoted street. There was Heather’s annual pumpkin carving party.

There was scaring up the place with ghoulish decorations.

And there was the Power Ranger who could just barely wait to don his power suit and hit the streets.

And as they tend to do around this paganish holiday, and this time of year in general, the sacred and the profane crossed paths.

Now, you know I like to keep my secrets when it comes to the sacred. I throw my pennies in the wishing well and don’t say a word. But let’s just say that a certain extraordinary healershamanfriend came to visit and filled our house with her light and presence. And though I’ve never met a being quite like her, I feel I’ve known her my entire life. A more generous soul, I’ve yet to meet. And her husband, I cannot begin. That is for another day.

Halloween weekend for us was about Welcome home to Sugartown, and aren’t we blessed by the people in our lives, and aren’t we always *this* close to the sacred with our holiday and everyday rituals?



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Bhakti Boy

The other day, we went to Waimea Canyon, the immense and lush depression formed by erosion and the collapse of the original crater that formed Kauai millions of years ago.

Three fuchsia leis had been strewn along the lip of the canyon, an offering to the Gods. I wanted to feel a connection to the sacredness of the place, to be inwardly vast enough myself to soak it in.

Little J took off his flip-flops and told us to do the same. “Feel the lava sand, you guys,” he said, closing his eyes. “It’s still warm from the volcano.”  Smiling, Dennis and I took off our shoes, following J’s lead, we stood and tried to feel the energy in the lava sand.

Then the Little One lay down in the red dirt to make a “lava angel.”

He used the top of his head to make the angel’s face.

Then added lava rocks for the eyes. A perfect offering.

Before we left, Little J insisted we do a “family bow” at the edge of the canyon. He had us stand in a circle and touch palms in a kind of triple namaste. Then, following his lead, we all bowed our heads slowly.

My fourth trip to this canyon over the last decade or so. My first real experience of it.



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Little J and I were bright awake at 6 a.m. (still on Sugartown time, which means we actually slept-in two hours!). Letting Dennis have a few more well-deserved hours of rest, the Little one and I slipped out in our bare feet, and headed down to Brennecke’s Beach. We arrived just in time for sunrise.

Little J, in his too-tight goggles, his skinny, long limbs, and volcanic energy, charged into the waves like some kind of crazed fish who’d just seen the ocean after a long while of trying to live on land. His little fists pump the air with excitement, and his cries are born of something between delight and pent up frustration.

I fly in after him, flinging my hat, sunglasses and towel away from me.

Together we dive and splash and gasp and laugh. Every wave, though totally expected, knocks us down like some wild news that we were the last to hear. We’ve gotten good at this, as a family, I realized. We don’t try to take a wave until it’s right upon us, crashing down. Then we dig in our feet and brace. If it is too strong and drags us under, so be it.

In the space between the waves, we laugh hysterically, pointing at each other like new-found friends. Exhilarated.

This goes on for at least an hour, and I’m totally spent. It’s more energy than I’ve exerted in a long time. The only way I can get Little J to rest is to bury him in the sand up to his neck. This works for a short while since he’s laughing so hard, the sand is falling away faster than I can pile it. He can’t resist the urge to unearth himself and races back into the water.

I follow suit, but now we’re floating. Not bashing against the waves. The golden light of the early sun plays on the water, our skin. It flickers and mingles with what I can sense as healing energy that rises up from deeper water to just below the surface, where we’re suspended gravity-free, at last. It is somehow a perfect baptism by the alchemy of saltwater and surrender.

I think of Chris and Bob, Monica’s parents. Kind enough to share their Hawaiian home with us, they’ve made this retreat of renewal possible. Little J and I shout a loud, “Thank you!!” that we hope will fly across the two oceans that separate us and fill their hearts with the spirit of Mahalo Nui Loa during this difficult time they’re facing. We send them (and you) love and energy to crash through unexpected waves and to float when you can.



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Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest - John Lyes

Dennis’s friend from childhood, Ryan, is a special one. He speaks slowly, his heart shining through every word. His eyes twinkle even. He’s a writer and an encyclopedia of literature. And he once handed me a book of poetry that helped me through the worst of my journey.

Dennis and Ryan got to spend the entire day together on Sunday, digging out the front yard and replanting. Ryan is a landscape designer, and we were lucky enough to host his first installation right in front of our house.

The spot has been covered in hard, compact soil and rocks, and beneath that, a tarp. It’s no wonder that everything we’ve planted there has struggled to survive. We’d done our best to beautify the area, but the things we planted had nowhere to send their roots, no way to breathe in soil choked up for so long.

So Ryan and Dennis dug up a good portion of the area, pulling out the tarp, clearing the rocks, letting sun and air in for the first time in God knows how long. Then they filled it in with light, fluffy soil, first by setting piles, then spreading them out. You should have seen Ryan’s face brighten before the spreading began. “This is my favorite part,” he said again and again. As the energy surrounding the plot lightened and swirled, I could see why. He brought life and beauty to the doorstep of our daily lives, spreading the fresh dirt with his bare hands like a shaman pulling life energy from the ground.

The project is not complete yet, but believe me when I tell you that we can feel the difference their work has made. So much stagnant, pushed down weight has been lifted. Now roots can spread and life can go on, renewed and refreshed. Ahh.



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The backyard playhouse D is putting together for Little J

March 29, 2010. Last night, little J and I rushed over to the neighbors’ house just in time to see a boy blow out eight candles on his birthday cake. There were six on it the night we moved here. Two years ago today, the sun was setting on our very first day in our new house in Sugartown. Can you believe it?

It’s been twenty-four whole months. And yet it still feels like we are just now getting started, just beginning to lay the groundwork and scaffolding for our life here. Just starting to make friends outside of the amazing extended family made up of the neighbors on our street. Just starting to think about Kindergarten, a new roof on this old, cozy house, bikes without training wheels, and maybe, in a year or so, a dog. (Don’t tell Little J yet!)

The very best of life is right in front of me and all around me. I feel so lucky to have all of it. It’s spring time and everything is full of sweetness, love, and promise. I know Little J agrees.

Little J and neighbor T

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