Friday, June 8, 2012

20 years from now....

“20 years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

The past months, two years even, have been such a time of growth and change and fear and moving on. It's been a time of letting go of what I thought my life would like and embracing what blessings I have before me now. It's not easy. It's scary. It's wonderful. It's dreadful. It's just life. And I'm darn thankful to have it. There have been moments. because of my health, that I've worried around the clock. There have been days I've been utterly grateful to have had those hours awake. Even if I was a nervous wreck, I was still thinking and wondering how, to quote Mark Twain, to 'sail away from the safe harbor'.

I've had a lot of fun with my Preppy Yogini on Tumblr lately. It's given me the opportunity to just enjoy beautiful things...wonderful places, amazing ideas, fabulous quotes. I love the sharing of information, too. Because I've been fairly housebound for quite some time, it's afforded me the chance to 'travel', even if it's only in my imagination. 

Imagination and ideas are powerful tools. They're even better when they express beauty, joy, hope and daydreams. I hope you'll come over and "visit" my Preppy Yogini "imaginarium" on Tumblr. I have no idea where I'll be in twenty years. I hope it's a place of health, a place of a beauty and a place of joy. In the meantime, I'll take those baby steps towards all of my dreams, even if means moving away from the safe harbor.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Because: A love letter to my children

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts.  A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.  ~Sophia Loren

Because: A Love Letter to My Children

In the past year, my children, now in their late teens, began very seriously understanding their future potential. As their mother, I had always seen the gifts that lay deep inside them as individuals. I also saw the incredible strength they have together, as siblings so close in age. The joke in our household as always been: they are twins, just born two years apart. They each possess a powerful work ethic, an amazing sense of purpose  and a fully defined view of self. They also are endowed gifts that are the opposite of one another.  I respect their individuality. I love them fiercely. I am a Mama Wolf, and they are my cubs. I would do anything to protect them, to encourage them and to help them achieve their dreams. 

And yet, both children, at different times, have expressed a regret that I didn't "push" them more. As my son and daughter ventured out into the world without me, they saw the credentials that other kids have to be at the top of their 'pools'. My daughter wishes that I had not encouraged her to sail, swim, and work each summer. She has expressed a regret that she didn't, like so many kids, go to SAT camp the whole time. She now feels that she'd have gladly given up our Spring vacations to take AP exam cram session courses.

My son, however, feels he did just fine in school and is content with that piece of his life. He wishes, however, that I hadn't encouraged him to golf in the summers, and play soccer and baseball each Fall and Spring. He wishes that I'd enrolled him in intensive skating clinics and that he'd been tutored so that he could have spent as many waking moments as possible on the ice. He wishes that he hadn't wasted so much time with other activities...wondering where he'd be now in his hockey career if he'd had no other distractions.

My daughter is a wonderful student. My son is a fantastic hockey player. Perhaps they aren't exactly where they had envisioned themselves at this point. My daughter isn't yet the youngest woman to ever receive the Nobel Prize for Biology. My son hasn't yet been drafted to play Center for the Boston Bruins. They are working towards their goals, and I honor their ambitions. 

Therefore: this note is to them, my Sun and Moon.

Because I love you, I not only let you have mud fights, I brought out the hose. I let you get as dirty as you possibly could and never once worried about bringing dirt into the house.

Because I love you, I let you stage dramatic battles between G.I. Joe and Barbie, even if it meant finding tiny pieces of plastic ammunition for months afterwards.

Because I love you, I let you bring a bunny into the house without my consent...and promptly fell in love with her because you did.

Because I love you, my heart broke the first time yours did. I cried with you, both on the inside and on the out. I kept a prayer in my heart that you would continue to fall in love, and love would find you right back.

Because I love you, I cheered loudly at sporting events, even when I had no clue what was going on, or who was winning.

Because I love you, I let you wear your pajamas inside out the night before snow was predicted and then danced along with you when our district was announced for a snow day.

Because I love you, I snuggled with you and watched The Lion King (over and over) with you like on rainy days.

Because I love you, I let you just be who built forts, who made sand castles, had sleepovers, roasted marshmallows. I wanted you to be kids who'd learn to water ski in summer and snow ski in winter. I let you camp in the back yard, build a tree house with your Daddy and made you picnic lunches to eat 'in the great outdoors'. 

Because I love you, I've encouraged you. I've subtly pushed you out of your comfort zones. You may not have noticed, but I love you enough to just helpfully spread your wings ever so slightly. And when it was time for you to fly? You just didn't realize your wings hadn't always been opened a bit...making the transition to fly that much smoother. 

Because I love you, I am not just encouraging you to continue on your journey. I'm encouraging you to soar.

Because I love you, I am confident that you gained strength from just being normal, happy, laughing, playing kids. And, now I'm confident that  you will be amazing adults. 

In fact, you are already are. And I love you.

Friday, May 11, 2012

What do you do?

"Pop quiz, hotshot. There's a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?  "~ Memorable quote from the movie, "Speed"

I have to admit that I'm a sucker for action movies, at least for some of the time. As much as I enjoy a period piece (usually starring Kate Winslet or Keira Knightly) or a romantic comedy, there is something about the adrenaline that comes from imagining yourself right alongside Bruce Willis in "Die Hard". You wonder if all of the the pieces in the puzzle will come together to make for a perfect heist and a clean getaway. You envision the perfect blend of cool, sexy, brilliant and quick mindedness to be with James Bond. In an everyday life of bill paying, parenting, housework, home maintenance and other mundane chores, being in a completely impossible situation, so outside the norm of driving kids to school, gives you the freedom to wonder how you would make the best decision possible, in the most extraordinary series of events, and all would  be well in the end.

There's a great line in the movie, "Speed", in which the insane, resentful former cop, Dennis Hopper, is trying to extort money from the LAPD. In an unbelievable (or believable only in Hollywood) series of events, Keanu Reeves, plays the brash young cop willing to jump aboard a hijacked bus, filled with both hostages and explosives, in order to save the day. Save the day he does, of course, being 'our hero'. And yet, I couldn't help but wonder at Dennis Hopper's pop quizzes to the 'pup' of a newbie detective. He put Keanu Reeves' character into the position of making instantaneous decisions that impact not only his own life, but the lives of others.

When it comes to real life, it's awfully hard to make a decision on the spot for most people. I think that I can relate to the snap decisions of Hollywood's glorious heroes because I'm a snap decision maker myself. I'm a "go with my gut" instinct kind of decision maker. I rarely weigh options. I never make pro and con lists. I think about my choices for a nanosecond and I make up my mind. I rarely regret the decisions I've made...even if I have to acknowledge that the ramifications led to a learning experience. I recently read that more than 80% of American adults have a great deal of trouble making choices. These decisions can range from large ones (such as a potential spouse or the purchase of a home) or small ones (such as what to serve for dinner). I was flabbergasted by this statistic, and yet, I can appreciate that decision making is challenging. No one wants to make a mistake, and therefore, is stymied from moving forward. Any choice, this piece went onto say, is potentially wrong, and thus, decisions are put off indefinitely. 

Both of my children had very big decisions to make this year, regarding their futures. I was on pins and needles for them both. I was desperate to know what their choices would be. They, on the other hand, were rationally, calmly and logically proceeding to eliminate what wasn't going to be a good fit, and factor in what would be the best option for their respective futures. I was wanting them to dive into the deep end of a choice, head first. Why? Because that's how I've always done it. I have learned something very important from my young adult children: waiting isn't the worst thing in the world...waiting can help a person solidify her rationale in making a decision or investigate his alternatives thoroughly before committing. I respect this process more than I can say. I just get itchy, living with the unknown...perhaps that's why I find it so easy to relate to the snap decision action heroes: they don't have to mull over colleges or cities. They just throw themselves into the action.

The past month has been a time of growth for all of us. I have learned to appreciate a more measured, analytical decision making process. I still am the impulsive one in the family, and probably always will be. But, I can appreciate a judicious deliberation now too. And yet, at the next fork in the road in my children's lives, I'm scared I'll turn into a virtual Dennis Hopper once again, and over the walkie-talkie, ask, "Pop quiz, hotshot. What do you do? What do you do?". 

I'll just try very hard not to use explosives. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What was lost....

You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.  ~General Douglas MacArthur

Today is one of those picture perfect, elusive Spring days in Maine. My family often joked that Spring in Maine was a "stealth" season....not making more than one appearance between Winter and the 4th of July. Thankfully, I was able to get outside and enjoy the milder temperatures to walk my two big dogs. Instead of the usual jaunt out of our neighborhood and scramble up the hillside, I decided to shake our destination up radically. I chose another neighborhood not far from ours. The dogs thought this was Mardi Gras and enjoyed all the new schools, the squirrels they had yet to intimidate and new spots to, well, 'visit'. It was great. I ran into a woman I hadn't seen in nearly two years with her dog. We stopped to visit, let our pets touch noses while we caught up.

"I heard you'd been sick. I'm glad you're doing better, " this woman said to me.

"Me, too!," I smiled.

Then, really looking at me, shaking her head and making eye contact, she said, "You just LOOK so different. I never would have recognized you. But, at least you're alive. That's the important thing."

Stunned, I said my goodbyes and staggered off, feeling punched in the emotional pit of my stomach. I realize that I don't look 30 anymore. I also realize that I don't look like the skinny yoga instructor I was just 18 months ago. I have a closet of clothes that are too tight and a mirror that shows every inch of of my body's changes, due to surgery and the following complications. I also see that every line on my face, the worries, the pain, the fears and the anxiety I've experienced. I'm not blind, nor do I live in a bubble. I understand what I've lost. I also understand it can never be recovered, given my new set of physical limitations, as well as my age. And my unexpected conversationalist was correct. My being alive is the most important thing. I am here. I am well enough to take Dakota and Murphy on long jaunts. I am excited for my daughter's prep school graduation. I am looking forward to my 25th wedding anniversary with my husband, my son coming home from Florida and my mother spending the summer in Maine. I have many blessings to count. I treasure each and every one of them. 

And yet, this woman's comments did shine a spotlight on an issue that many women my age feel, cancer patients or not: we are no longer recognizable as the women we used to be. Oh, maybe some of us have pushed back the clock a bit and held off the inevitable. Maybe there are more magazine articles telling us that "50 is the new 30". The fact, however, is that time marches on. As Dolly Parton says, in "Steel Magnolias", "And if you're not careful, it'll march right over your face!". We may have been pretty, we have even been beautiful, we may have been sparkling, we may have been just breathtakingly, achingly young. We are no longer those dazzling girls. But, we have something pretty spectacular: we are here. We are wise. We are careful. We can see the bigger picture. We are creative. We are grounded. We are fabulous. But we still find ourselves in a tailspin when someone calls the 'smaller picture'..the one in the our attention.

Love handles? Crow's feet? Thighs that even Buddha would hate? Bah! Humbug. We are alive. Let the young girls have their moment in the sun. Let them enjoy it. They'll cross the bridge and join us here on the other side and say, "This is scary, but it's great." It really is scary. It's scary to not recognize ourselves. But it's much scarier giving in to despair. I'd rather be who I am...with the appreciation for all I've learned along the way...than be who I was. Pretty, or not. Therefore, we can tell those belles, coming across the path towards us, it *is* great.

However, I still wish I could fit into my old jeans. Some days.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

And all shall be well...

For a number of years, I've written a blog called The Preppy Yogini. Bits and pieces of this blog have made their way into various yoga and book circles. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had The Preppy Yogini be so well received. It's been a lifeline for me in many ways. I've met some incredible people through The Preppy Yogini and it has opened doors for me in ways I never could have imagined. 

And yet, as I wrote in a piece called The Bohemian Sloth, I've felt myself stepping away from my Preppy Yogini persona. I've spent the past 15 months battling cancer, and its physical aftermath, for the second time. No longer am I a yoga instructor. No longer am I particularly preppy. It's been a time of great changes in my what I can do, in what I want to do and to what I will aspire. Blessed Julian of Norwich was an anchoress in the 14th century. She was quite literally walled into Norwich Cathedral. She had two windows: one opened into the cathedral, so that she could be a part of the worship in the church. The other window was outside. It allowed her to receive food (and I'm assuming, to get rid any waste). More importantly, it allowed her to speak with people, to pray for them and to be a part of their lives. She was a mystic and a little "out there" in her theology. And yet, she was also ahead of her in many other ways. She felt God's presence as a Loving, Kind Mother. Imagine that concept in the medieval world!

While the idea of being walled up anywhere is terrifying from a claustrophobia standpoint,  I have to admit that I felt some affinity for Blessed Julian for the past year. While I've done some traveling and I have gotten out of the house, I have also been home more than ever have. I've always been a doer, a mover, a goer and a 'be right in the thick of things' kind of woman. I've worked, I've volunteered, I've gone out to lunch with friends and noodled around art museums. I have spent more time in quiet contemplation, over the past year, than ever before. It's a heady thing. I've had to learn how to simply be in peace without anyone else to entertain me. I've learned so much in the past year...most of it having to do with meditation, harmonious quiet and silent images. I'm done a great deal of praying. I've read a tremendous amount, even for a bibliophile like me. I've come to appreciate the beauty in stillness in a way I never had before. I've always been an admirer of Blessed Julian, but I've come to understand her better...even in the smallest know what it's like to simply be alone.

My new blog,  And All Shall Be Well, will not be  a collection of my own life experiences and lessons from, as I had in The Preppy Yogini. It's my goal to write short essays that may be used in meditation, for inspirational reading, for prayer and for uplifting imagery. This won't be a running diary. Rather, it will simply be a tool for others to use in their quests. I like to describe myself an Episcopalian with dashes of Jewish roots and twists of Zen. I feel honored and blessed by Native American, Celtic and Norse traditions. And All Shall Be Well is most definitely written with God in mind and in heart. But, I'm hopeful that, whatever one's faith tradition, there will be illuminating pieces that will speak to many. I plan on drawing from many sources for my own inspiration.

St. Paul wrote in Philippians, "Finally, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."  It's my hope that the pictures I'll paint with my words will uplift and will be worthy to 'think on'.

(Note: I will not take down The Preppy Yogini, I've accomplished what I had hoped to..and will continue to update. But, I hope you join me as I work on And All Shall Be Well. Namaste, Peace and Thank you.)

Saturday, February 4, 2012


"Better joy in a cottage than sorrow in a palace..."    ~ Proverbs

Every child remembers a favorite Christmas. For most, it's the year they received a bike under the tree. For others? A set of slot cars, a pair of ice skates or a trunk of dress up clothes. Yet others? It was that much dreamed of doll, GI Joe or set of puppets. I enjoyed most of those, without question. And yet, my favorite Christmas was the year I received a Holly Hobbie Play House. This wasn't a to pretend to move my tiny doll family about. This was a small cottage sized playhouse completely made out of cardboard. It was adorable. It had trompe l'oeil design of an adorable cottage. Little did I know that my parents had, quite literally, stayed up all night putting it together. (And later on that day, they realized that they had disassemble the darn thing and put it back together in my room!) 

Until we moved, I spent every waking moment in that playhouse. I brought pillows and blankets and enticed our dogs to come hang out with me. I read. I played house. I played school. It was my sanctuary within my sanctuary. I felt happy, safe, free to be creative and utterly joyful there. I never worried about needing to clean it (it was too small to really get untidy). I never thought I might lose anything or that things would just vanish. It was manageable. Additionally, it was just how I wanted it. No one helped me...I simply brought in there bits and pieces from around the house....a favorite silver frame, my books, the soft leopard blanket my mother had sewn, my father's lap desk (which served as the perfect actual desk) and a little antique trunk to hold my "treasures". It was the most essentially 'me' space I've ever had.

It's no wonder that I've loved cottages ever since then. As an adult, I've been incredibly fortunate to have had a lovely roof over my head at all times. From my husband's and my first apartment to our current house, we've never been without the safety of shelter. Additionally, I've had some wonderful help from my mother with furniture and from my mother in law with painting each room. And yet, compromises are always made. Whether it's making do with furniture because it's serviceable, or finding the happy medium between what I find beautiful, and my husband finds too feminine, that majority of the spaces in my house are a testament to adaptation. Please don't misunderstand. I love my home, my husband, my children and our animals. But, every decision to change, or not to change, a space requires modification on my part. I am grateful, beyond measure, for the loving family I'm blessed with. However, I continue to daydream about cottages. Small, charming, folksy, shabby chic, historic, quaint, girlie and scrumptious...I've wanted "a room of one's own", thanks to Virginia Woolf, most of my adult life. Mine just happens not to be a room. My "room" is a tiny house of my own.

When I first came across this cottage in The Grower's Daughter, I fell in love. A former hunting cabin, the cottage was renovated by a Wheaton College graduate, when her husband and she chose to downsize dramatically and moved into a wooded property with very little in the way of luxury. The cottage became a labor of love, a refuge and a sanctuary for the builder. As Wheatie myself, I related to the the builder's aesthetic sensibility, her taste and her desire. I love the way in which every nook and cranny is used. I am passionate about the white, Victorian-meets-Shabby Chic style. I love the roses. I love the chandelier. I love the sleeping loft. I love the pink. I love the lace. I love the doorknobs. I love the china. I love the little porch. I love how utterly immaculate everything is. There isn't dog hair all over the white draped furniture. There aren't hockey bags opened up on the porch. There isn't a gaggle of (however beloved) teenagers draped over every surface. There are no half finished glasses of juice everywhere. It's peaceful. It's dreamy. It's private. 

I'd love to have this cottage in my own backyard. I can imagine climbing into the bed (using a ladder I'd put on wheeled tracks), with a cup of perfect tea and a stack of my favorite books. I'd leave my cell phone back in my house. Although I would install indoor plumbing (unlike this dream cottage, that's a non-negotiable for me), I would keep this cottage just the way that it is otherwise. I'd eat things like cucumber sandwiches and sliced mango. I'd wear Victorian inspired dresses and sunhats. I'd wrap myself up in fur blankets when it would get chilly. I could write uninterrupted. I could sleep without being disturbed. I could hear myself think. It would be my own space. Just for me. No sweaty athletic apparel on the floor. No Ramen noodles left to congeal. No unending sports games on television at the loudest possible volume. No television at all, actually. It would be peaceful. Calm. Relaxing. Serene. 

I realize this is a pipe dream. Even if such a magical abode just appeared, as if conjured, I know that it wouldn't remain perfect for long. My two dogs are immense and release enough fur every day to create a smaller animal. They'd be scratching to be let in within seconds. I know my husband, ever the space-needer, would be eyeing my cottage as a possible home for his lawnmower, plow and boat equipment. I'm sure my kids would lobby to make my cottage into the teenager hangout.While I'd be at the store, I'm sure I'd arrive home to find my charming decorations out, and the ping-pong table and TV in. Along  with the iHome blasting music. My fantasy sanctuary would become doghouse, storage barn and media center the moment my back was turned. Maybe that's why it's best left a fantasy....I can keep it beautiful and perfect in my imagination in a way I'd never manage in real life.

And yet...there's a perfect place under the pine trees that would be just dreamy. Do you think I can keep it a secret?

Sunday, January 29, 2012


"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."  ~  Dr. Seuss

I feel truly, exceptionally and powerfully blessed. So many people have dropped me notes to wish me well and to encourage me over the past year. I have no idea what my life would be like, had my life's course not veered into unknown territory. However, one thing that I do know: I'm eternally grateful for those special folks who have reached out to me. I'm encouraged by your stories, by your thoughtfulness, by your willingness to get to know me and by the new friends I've made. In addition, you have all asked me some good questions. Rather than repeat myself, I've decided to do a Q & A segment on Preppy Yogini. I've done this on other blogs, but not here. So, I hope that I'm managing to answer most of your questions. If not? I plan on doing another one in time. Thank you again for all of your kindness and understanding.

  1. How did you come up with the name "Preppy Yogini"? I did blog piece on this very story about six months ago, called The Bohemian Sloth. When I was doing my yoga teacher training, I was blessed with many fantastic instructors. Unfortunately, one was just hideous. He was a cross between Attila the Hun and the worst Kindergarten teacher ever. He made fun of people. He pushed students to the point of injury and he was simply a rotten person, let alone a terrible instructor. When I questioned his methodology, he spat out, "You're nothing but a preppy yogini". He meant it as the most derogatory slur imaginable. I wear it like a badge of honor now.
  2. You talk about Maine a lot. Are you from Maine? Yes...and no. To a true, iconoclastic Mainer, I am not. I wasn't born here. Therefore, I'm from "away". But, I have spent many years here, first as a summer person growing up, and then with my husband and our children. I grew up in California and New York, and went to school in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, before moving to Europe for four years. I enjoy living in Maine, but I also love traveling to other places. I get itchy feet if I'm in one place too long.
  3. What made you become a yoga instructor? How did you become one? I had been practicing yoga for years before my first cancer diagnosis in 2003. I had three surgeries in just 7 weeks. It was tough! But, yoga was instrumental in helping me recover. When I was well enough, I resigned from my job in traditional education and studied at Kripalu and Gentle Spirit Yoga for my 200 hour R.Y.T. certification. I felt tremendously encouraged by own instructors and this inspired me to pursue my own path in teaching.
  4. What's your favorite yoga style of practice? What do you recommend? That's like asking a mother who her favorite child is! I have honestly enjoyed every form of yoga I've practiced. I believe that every class, regardless of yogic 'arm', has the potential to be fabulous for all levels. It really comes down to the teacher and her willingness to give of herself to her students. For beginners, I generally recommend classes that are Hatha based, or that offer Yoga Foundations. It's a great starting point.
  5. You have mentioned being sick. What was wrong? How are you doing? I'm doing much better! A year ago, I was slowly starting to walk around and drive again. Unfortunately, my Sarcoma based cancer returned. This time, my surgery and procedures were even more invasive...and I'm also 8 years older, making my recovery that much more difficult. The form of cancer I have is not treatable by radiation or chemotherapy. Surgery is my only option. I had some pretty intense setbacks, but I'm on the road to recovery again. It's just a very slow road. Think Los Angeles traffic at rush hour slow.
  6. Why have you stopped doing book reviews? I am still reading up a storm and look forward to writing reviews again on this blog. When I created Ellen's Thirty Day Book Challenge last Spring, I actually ended up reviewing more than 30 books, since I had an impossible time narrowing my list down. I burned out on writing book reviews for a while, as a result. 
  7. I like your writing. Have you been published? Years ago, I was published in Parenting, Mothering, The Doula and several other magazines aimed at that life path. I haven't been published since then. I hope to be again. I'm working on several different pieces...but all seem to be longer than magazine articles. I look forward to continuing my writing. While it would be an honor to be published, I truly write for myself and my own spirit. Anything beyond that would be fresh butter cream icing on a very dense carrot cake.
  8. What other hobbies do you enjoy? Beyond writing, reading and yoga, I love design. I think I'm actually a frustrated art director in a yogini's skin! I also love animals...I have two dogs now, but have had horses, cats and one very special bunny during my life. I love good wine, scintillating conversation, travel and long walks on the beach at sunset. Seriously though...I really do love long walks on the beach at sunset.
  9. Are you still teaching yoga? Can I join your class? Unfortunately, my last surgery, the complications that ensued, made teaching yoga impossible for me. I am adjusting to a new definition of normal. If you're going to be in coastal Maine or the greater Scottsdale, Arizona areas, I'd be happy to recommend some amazing teachers. I am taking 3-4 classes a week again, and am enjoying the simplicity of being a student at this time.
  10. What's next for you? I wish I knew. I really wish I knew! I have no idea. I do know that it's time to figure out who I'm going to be as a grown up. It would be nice if the universe sent out smoke signals to give me a hint. While I'm looking for said clues in the heavens, I'm doing a lot of volunteer work in my community. And drinking far too much tea. 
Thank you again. Best wishes. Enjoy. Namaste!