Elderly. Vital!

Begin again, today and everyday.
First, being a good steward to our earth, as described in this 2.5 minute speech given by our UN Secretary, is most pressing. We each can choose one thing to do each day to support our earth in being a place that is habitable for our children's children's children.

Elderly or Vital?
Just look at this picture for a few moments. If you only had two words to describe this person, would you call him elderly or vital?

In this newsletter let's consider how powerful the messages that we tell ourselves can be. How they can influence our nervous system - how we respond to ourselves and to our world.

In my recent Labor Day retreat a someone called herself elderly. Another woman suggested calling this stage, maturing instead. 

Words carry meaning. Elderly can have a connotation that feels diminutive. Repeated over and over like a mantra it might contribute to not feeling seen, seeming invisible.

Not feeling seen, becoming invisible, can be a response of the nervous system to feeling trapped, no way out. 

When we feel ourselves shutting down, like there's no way out, we benefit from supportive others to lift ourselves up. 

Creating a new response - like the women in our group - gets strengthened when we engage in new ways, from deep inside.

Vitality in our Maturing Years
There is so much more to explore in life, when we have matured with hard earned wisdom from real life experience. And often we have leisure time and other resources to engage in new ways: volunteering, mentoring, writing, caring for others, making music, creating. 

I'm certified as a yoga therapist in the Viniyoga tradition. In this tradition, the maturing stage of life is considered a time to practice focusing our attention inward. It's a time to face obstacles inside us that we might have mistakenly projected out onto others. This inside out integrity helps us share our gifts with clarity. 

Our maturing years can give us perhaps one of the greatest opportunities of our lives. We can uniquely contribute our gifts in our community, with family and friends, with a full heart and a wise mind. 

We can each be a leader in respecting the gift of a life well lived.

PRACTICE - Choose a place where you can be still and free

  • Find a comfortable seat

  • Stretch for a few moments - roll your shoulders back and down 

  • Yawn, sigh

  • Then become quiet

  • Allow your breath to gently deepen

  • As you breathe in, receive the gift of re-energizing that comes with each breath in

  • Literally filling you with life in this new moment

  • As you breathe out, feel your body both releasing and letting go

  • And settling deeply into the vitality of this moment

  • You are enough in this moment

  • Receive each breath as the gift that it is

  • Let yourself be new

  • Letting yourself be new is revitalizing

  • Feel your own genuine vitality right now

Going back to the picture at the top. Just think - this came from a Google search for elderly. Now again consider whether elderly serves our vitality.

Reach out with your thoughts.

I respect that we may grow feeble at some point. For sure, our life will end. Until that time....

To many moments of living with vitality, 


Yoga Wisdom - Reduce Suffering

In a published article earlier this year, from Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, "Yoga Therapy and Polyvagal Theory...", Sullivan et al write:  

"Through yoga, the individual learns both the patterns of behavior and actions, which may perpetuate their suffering as well as a path towards a shift in those patterns for the potential alleviation of suffering."

This is yoga's ancient philosophy. Learning to apply this to the person in front of me, is an underlying principle in yoga therapy. It guides my work.

Becoming self-aware
The process of yoga teaches us to become self-aware of patterns of behaviors and actions.

Self-awareness applies to all the various practices of yoga - and to living a conscious life. At a basic level, yoga poses might be a good starting place to practice self-awareness.

Examples of how to engage in self-awareness might be through considering how a pose feels in your body. If managing something chronic, like back pain, does the yoga pose practice respect discomfort - without further aggravating it?

Clearer self-reflection
At this stage, working with someone else can be so helpful. You learn how to explore the possibility of engaging your attention in a movement pattern. You become more aware of the pattern in your body and whether it supports healthy function or leads to stress.

This is called co-regulation, where your nervous system feels "met" by another nervous system that is safe.

You learn how to do this without shutting down in a dorsal vagal collapse, and without pushing from a fight or flight response, the sympathetic system.Goldilocks. Just right.

The body can play a dynamic role in healing mind and heart. You begin to heal emotional patterns and mental attitudes as you re-learn movement patterns instead of increasing pain and discomfort.

As your practice develops, discernment strengthens. You recognize how your practice is either moving you toward a direction of true inner freedom. Or towards suffering. Gradually your experience becomes your guide.

Transformation takes hold when this kind of inquiry is sustained over a long period.
As you adapt your practice skillfully, and reduce movement patterns and behaviors that lead to stress, they can be gently replaced with choices that result in greater well-being.

We work with the nervous system in a strikingly parallel way. Yoga is a natural way to embody the understanding of your nervous system. Learning from the body is foundational and life changing.


Embodying Compassion: How Yoga Can Help Us Cultivate Compassionate Responses

Our autonomic nervous system (ANS) evolved to keep us safe. It scans for signals of danger or cues of safety without involving our conscious control, all the time. If the inner alarm of danger sounds often we may find ourselves in a chronic stress response, our system gets accustomed to distress.

The good news is that although our nervous system may have gotten used to being distressed, we can draw on yoga practice and philosophy as ways to help regulate the nervous system’s response.

Developing compassion is an example of a lifestyle practice rooted in our yoga tradition, that can help us on our journey of learning how to self-regulate.

Where to Start?

The journey starts with self-awareness.

As a “yoga” person, a benefit of our yoga practice is becoming increasingly self-aware of how our body feels in asana, while practicing breath awareness, in meditation. We are often able to be present for the body’s messages. We get a sense of where we’re starting from. Then we can learn how to reshape our nervous system.

Tuning into the body isn’t going to be easily accessible to everyone. Perhaps at times in our earlier lives, we were taught to value intellectual pursuits over physical awareness. As a result, dropping into a body experience might seem foreign, unknown or unfamiliar.

For others of us, difficulty in connecting with our body experience may be associated with trauma. As a response to trauma—an experience where we felt isolated yet needed the safety of connection—our body began to shut down. This can manifest as a numbing, not feeling body sensations in certain areas.

We might feel very critical or self-conscious about our body.

To support healing we need to respect our own and our students’ experiences. It’s good practice to get curious about our participants’ experience rather than have assumptions about their moment-to-moment body experiences.

Training the Innate Response

The ventral vagal state of our autonomic nervous system is online when we experience compassion. We need enough anchoring in this ventral vagal state to creatively solve problems, see bigger perspectives and engage in meaningful interactions with others.

Yoga practices like movement, breathing, self-study, meditation, and sound, can help us gradually reshape our nervous system toward greater compassion.

These kinds of practice are often most effective when we have some understanding of the particular practitioner. 

Daniel Goleman, in his article published in The Washington Post, “Wired for kindness: Science shows we prefer compassion, and our capacity grows with practice” confirms that simple practices such as remembering moments of compassion and warm feelings we’ve shared with others have been shown to train the muscle of compassion. It engages the innate response that mammals have to care for their young and to increase the possibility that we’ll care for someone in need.

Go Compassionately

Yoga Sutra (Patanjali), I.33: Maitri-karuna-muditopekshanam sukha-dukha-punyapunya-vishayan bhavanatash-chitta-prasadanam

Baba Hari Das, spiritual founder of Mt. Madonna, translated this sutra, saying that by increasing our compassionate response we develop ekagrata, one-pointedness of mind. Practices involving ekagrata can be a method to reduce unnecessary suffering of the mind through skillfully bringing its attention to qualities that are a true refuge, such as karuna (compassion).

Gary Kraftsow adapted the writings of T. Krishnamacharya: “Control the breath. Focus your mind. And direct it into the heart. That is the meaning of Spirituality.”

Yoga Sutras teach that compassion is a natural remedy to thoughts or feelings of hatred or harm. Compassion removes impurity of thoughts that can lead to such actions that unsettle the mind.

Commenting on this sutra Bouanchaud, author of The Essence of Yoga: Reflections on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, writes, “It is illusion to wish to impose them (these qualities) on oneself. What is proposed is analysis, which allows us to improve our reactions and responses.”

We can’t force ourselves to become compassionate. We can hold an intention to cultivate compassion as support in training our mind’s focus, bhavanam. We can get curious about how to be authentic in cultivating compassion in our circumstances.

Turning to our nervous system is a great place to begin.

Making Meditation Relevant to Real Life

I spent many years feeling challenged in seated classical mindfulness practice. I just kept hitting up against inner critical voices.

If your nervous system has become sensitized to protective responses, to keep you safe from danger, you might find that mindfulness doesn’t come easily. This is common among those who’ve experienced trauma.

From the perspective of neuroscience, we don’t want to strengthen habits of self-doubt or non-compassionate responses, in our practices.

Linking Breath to Asana

Consider linking with breath in a natural way throughout asana practice. Create moments of pause when the system can come back into balance.

A Gesture to Embody Compassion

A gesture from the Viniyoga tradition is to lightly touch your heart/center with your right hand. Feel your own safe touch. Then as you’re ready to breathe in, open your right hand and arm out to the right and follow the movement with your gaze. This feels like a gesture of opening, of receptivity.

When you’re ready to breathe out, gently touch your heart, again following the movement with your gaze. Repeat several breaths, linking gesture with breath and attention.

Honor the rhythm of life, opening and closing. Being out in the world, and turning inward.

Expanding out to take in something nourishing, then bringing it home.

Wisdom Within

Compassion is how we were designed to nurture our young and be stirred to action when someone is in need.

Some micro-practices can tie into real life:

  • When you felt the compassion of a grocery cashier arranging help for carrying groceries out to the car.

  • When you read about generous outpouring toward those who experienced a crisis.

  • When you pause because you recognize that you are reacting to someone you care about, that’s in need, instead of being with them compassionately.

Take it a few breaths at a time. Let compassion wash over and soothe over your body, wherever it’s safe to let it in. Notice how your nervous system responds.

Compassionate responses are part of our human nervous system, part of our yogic heritage and can be embodied in simple yoga awareness practices throughout the day. Increasing compassion benefits us to live more aligned with the best of our humanity and we can learn to direct it back to our own selves.

Republished from

Back Care Blessings...

Here's a yoga short to give you a tip for regular low-back care. The important thing is to listen to your body, don't push into any areas of discomfort and feel free to reach out with a question if you have one.

This was part of my daily practice when I was caring for a low back injury. It gently increases awareness of habitual postural patterns, brings circulation to the spine, and lengthens and strengthens your back. 

My low back appreciated the loving attention of this practice very much.

Click here for the link. Hope you enjoy!

Let's stay in touch! Every week, I share a free newsletter with my best tips and inspiration to help you feel more ease and resiliency amidst the challenges of daily life. Sign up for my newsletter here:

Native Compassion

Right now in our culture there are many messages and decisions that do not honor differences among us. Instead they seem to be intended to rally us into a frenzy of fear and protection. 

It is our native impulse to feel compassion. We extend compassion toward those who are suffering and who experience unnecessary suffering. Everywhere.

At times perhaps our compassion extends toward those that cause suffering. We may even sense that the suffering they cause others is a mirror of their own isolation and suffering. 

When our system gets triggered by seeing so much suffering, we often need support and caring trust to embody our native compassion. Our compassion and wisdom grows through warmth and clarity. Then we can sustain ourselves for a longer view.  

Wishing us all well. We can be compassionate together.

Let's stay in touch! Every week, I share a free newsletter with my best tips and inspiration to help you feel more ease and resiliency amidst the challenges of daily life. Sign up for my newsletter here:

Check out my Published Article

I'm sharing my article, "Discover Your Nervous System's Rhythm and Movement." It was recently published in Yoga Therapy Today by the International Association of Yoga Therapists. And it's used with their kind permission. 

It's exciting and it's an honor for me to be published and recognized in my own profession! My life and work have brought me full circle and into new relationships with my yoga community.

The article gives yoga colleagues, practitioners and anyone interested in the nervous system - the polyvagal theory - a way to relate to the theory through reading some of my experiences as a yoga professional. It's a big shift away from this theory being intellectual. My article brings this knowledge home, to help you start transforming how you live and respond to your own body and in relationships. 

I hope you'll enjoy it. As you read it, reflect on your own life experiences. I would love to hear your questions and comments. Click here to read the article. 

Let's stay in touch! Every week, I share a free newsletter with my best tips and inspiration to help you feel more ease and resiliency amidst the challenges of daily life. Sign up for my newsletter here:

Making Room for What is Right Here

I just returned from camping in the Redwoods. There is a deep stillness in those ancient settings of trees, some that have lived for 1500 years or more. 

Several gifts to share from this time away. One is about taking in stillness where it's needed. Another is to recognize the role that nature has played and does play in so many healing journeys. And the other is respecting that for some of us being in a setting like this doesn't feel safe. 

The truth is that we each have unique needs and what works for you might not work for me and vice versa. So please practice kindness to yourself as you read this. 

How Nature Can Help us Heal
I've learned that some of us turn to nature for soothing when feeling connected with other humans it's too painful. If we've felt hurt in relationship with another, we can begin to meet the need for connection in nature. Perhaps you too can relate to taking refuge by leaning into a tree. Dropping into a wave while surfing. Feeling the wonder of a rainbow painted in the sky. The calming of a gentle breeze on your skin.

It seems that those timeless moments speak to a place inside our nervous system that recognizes stillness and connection. Stillness is a biological part of our human experience.

The experience of stillness is one signal of our nervous system. Recognizing the variety of our nervous system's signals can begin a journey of curiosity about how our own system evolved. Learning about our nervous system is like leaning against an ancient Redwood tree. Our nervous system story is ancient. 

Take Away Practice: Taking in Stillness Where we Need it
Sitting for a timeless moment among the Redwoods, I felt anunconditional regard. A quiet embrace that held every part of mewithout judgement or condition. This compassionate encounter tended to younger places inside that have felt a lack of this kind of care.

Each moment like this is an opportunity to strengthen one of the resources we need for healing and to live fully. To extend kindness to ourselves, where we need it most.

Consider where might you find refuge in nature. Make a sacred time, unhurried, and give meaning - invite soothing where you would benefit inside. Invest your attention, your awareness wholeheartedly. You might devote yourself again to coming home to yourself.

Let's stay in touch! Every week, I share a free newsletter with my best tips and inspiration to help you feel more ease and resiliency amidst the challenges of daily life. Sign up for my newsletter here:

Some Important Values About Business and Why Work with Me

As someone in business, it's good to talk shop once in a while. Here are some values that are important to me and what you get when you do coaching with me.

1. Integrity
This is so different from perfection. 
I am dedicated to giving my best service.
I follow through on my commitments. I make repairs when I need to. 
As a coach, I aim to meet you right where you are, help you get empowered around using tools that fit your needs, help you meet your goals and take your next steps. To do this I continue to be mentored in my work as I develop the unique blend of skills I provide.

2. Service
Many of you know that I devoted nearly 20 years of selfless service at Kripalu Ashram, from 18 - almost 38 years old.
I value service in my community and globally. From time to time I volunteer in support of various needs and causes.
I continue to offer complimentary talks locally and online.
I also offer a free 20-mins. chat to anyone interested in my services, to help you take your next step.

3. Donations
Like many of you, my husband and I have been making regular contributions to a handful of organizations whose work we support including Partners in Health, Southern Poverty Law Center, Doctors Without Borders, Tibetan Nuns' Project, Beyond Toxics and our local food bank. 

4. Pricing
My small, experienced digital team supports me in offering my services. 
Offering quality service online makes my work accessible to a greater audience. Participants from all over join together in creating community!

When you coach with me you get: 

  • my solid background in adapting yoga for various needs for over 26 years;

  • tools of how to adopt positive neuroplasticity into your life and/or practices to rewire your brain, to support strengthening inner resources that contribute to living fully and to resilience - that I've developed in leading year-long study groups;

  • my growing expertise in my online course that applies principles of Polyvagal Theory in a down-to-earth way. You begin to reshape protective responses of fight-or-flight or shutting down in collapse and experience inner freedom as you move toward greater flexibility in your nervous system states;

  • the evolution of my solid marriage that grew from many choices to grow together;

  • life experience in becoming resilient, integrating trauma, loss, and injury;

  • deep inquiry/practice in several spiritual traditions;

  • an opportunity to strengthen in the places that need support, take in the beauty of life, and live with more and more sense of your innate wisdom and goodness;

  • a work in progress.

I take my role to heart. I value your commitment to working together and look forward to sharing this life journey, full of all kinds of surprises.

Let's stay in touch! Every week, I share a free newsletter with my best tips and inspiration to help you feel more ease and resiliency amidst the challenges of daily life. Sign up for my newsletter here:

Use this link to share this article.

Whatever challenges are ahead we will face them better together

Here I want to acknowledge the challenge of climate change, of change itself, and offer the support of good company and practice. Your nervous system is responding to the messages it receives. Coming together with others in a safe and caring environment, exploring skills to help you respond to your nervous system's cues, is a fairly reliable way to come back to your center.

Climate change
Climate change. It continues to hit home where I live.

Our area experiences higher temps and smokier wildfire summers.
Other areas are flooding, having hurricanes, earthquakes, high surfs, increased humidity, volcanic eruptions, losing coastlines. And the list goes on.

My gut is sending me signals. There is a sense of tension that is palpable at times.

I remind myself to accept. There truly are things I cannot change. It's not beingcomplacent or avoiding the facts. This is part of the human curriculum - life is full of change and change is often challenging. 

My family and I, and so many of us make choices to be conscious. Still the collective needs resulting from global climate change are bigger than ever. 

Part of me resists. How did this happen, how have we come to this moment? Yet here I am, here we are. 

Whatever challenges are ahead we will face them better together. Being isolated won't help us find the solutions we need to face these tough times. 

Learning to extend kindness to yourself, in real time, as you learn to manage your system's responses, can be a valuable life skill to embody more and more. 

Let's stay in touch! Every week, I share a free newsletter with my best tips and inspiration to help you feel more ease and resiliency amidst the challenges of daily life. Sign up for my newsletter here:

Listening, then hearing each other's perspectives

It's precious to share moments of real connection. We settle into a feeling inside that we're just fine, warts and all. 

When we listen to each other with an open mind and heart, caring for the experiences each other has had, interested in the learning that's come out of difficulty, our nervous systems co-regulate. We support each other in finding our way back to being more balanced and creative.

Hearing each other's perspectives helps us understand and clarify our own perspective. 

Listening is a way that we support each other in feeling heard, valued, respected. That our point of view matters, that we matter.

Heartfelt listening opens up the channels for us to express kindness and compassion. When we feel compassion we literally feel moved to action because we care about each others' suffering. 

Feeling ourselves connected with each other helps our physical well-being; helps us calm down; helps us find our unique way through whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.

We have busy lives, sometimes we get too busy for little things, like listening and feeling that someone is listening to us. Listening and feeling listened to, can always make a difference. 

Let's stay in touch! Every week, I share a free newsletter with my best tips and inspiration to help you feel more ease and resiliency amidst the challenges of daily life. Sign up for my newsletter here:

The nature of connection

You got to see behind-the-scenes when my recent e-mail went out without your actual first name. My apologies for any communications you receive that arrive with mistakes. I aim for that to be the exception to the rule. 

Last week we volunteered a couple of hours to hang out with 4th and 5th graders. Southern Oregon Land Conservancy hosted a field learning adventure in local Oredson Todd Woods. That + taking walks in our local park inspired this newsletter.

It hit me between the eyes, the reason I like to know the names of flowers and trees is because it helps me feel like I know them. I start to recognize them walk to walk or from year to year. It's like the folks I know and call by name and they call me by name. 

Nature is a place where we can grow the feeling of being connected. Feeling safely connected is vital for us humans. Our nervous system needs to feel enough safety to function optimally and maintain homeostasis. For many of us, nature provides a place to feel like we're home.

I wanted to share some of what we learned and what we saw from our time with the kids, and pictures from our own recent hike at Lithia Park in Ashland. 

Photos are of: 

  • Us at Lithia Creek.

  • Wild delphinium-larkspur-ish looking beauties.

  • Ground cones - these are blooming! After they bloom they resemble pinecones.

  • Indian paintbrush - just getting ready to burst open.

  • The bark of ponderosa pine, one of our familiar conifers. Called the jigsaw puzzle tree because of its interesting fire resistant bark.

Spring is a time when connecting with nature can give a feeling of being home.

Let's stay in touch! Every week, I share a free newsletter with my best tips and inspiration to help you feel more ease and resiliency amidst the challenges of daily life. Sign up for my newsletter here:

3 Tips for Practicing Yoga

I want to give you 3+ tips for practicing yoga:

1. Be true to yourself. First be true to your own body. Don't force or push in any areas of injury or chronic/acute discomfort. Learn ways to move that don't stress places that are already working hard, that are doing their best to function well for you.

2. "If you can breathe, you can do yoga." ~ attributed to Krishnamacharya, an inspired Indian teacher that influenced many skillful yoga teachers in America

Get used to noticing your breath from the beginning of your practice. Align yourself and your practice with steady, relaxed breathing throughout.  

If you already do this, then sit for three to five minutes at the end of your practice, every time you practice. Sit comfortably on a chair or the floor. This is time to focus gently on your breath. Feel your breath, mind and body settle into their own natural rhythm again. Appreciate the wholeness you feel that is intrinsic, part of you.

3. Consider how you want to strengthen your capacity to live in more balanced ways. For example, reflect on where in your life, work or relationships you would benefit from: more calmness, more kindness and compassion, more clarity, more openness, more confidence. Dedicate your yoga practice to growing courage and strengthen the areas where you need support. 

You can notice whether your yoga/exercise/movement practices have stayed the same but your body has aches and pains, or you're facing a tough time, and your needs aren't being addressed. Maybe you are worried about a change in work or health. Maybe you have a recent diagnosis.

You and me and all of us are invited to seek out and notice those places of doing the same old, same old. Now is the time to reclaim your ability to move your body, shape your nervous system and your mind in new ways - all life long. It's an important lesson that consulting with seniors and elders for 24 years, taught me.

Become aware of the ways you've adapted, innocently, to challenges in your life. Walking with a limp when your knee hurts. Not breathing in a full, relaxed way because of stress at work. No judgment, just compassion, doing the best you could. Now though, it's a new day, maybe there's a new possibility for you.

4. Claim your strengths and accomplishments. For example if you've been focused on a goal and achieved it - maybe you found a practice to care for your low back to relieve pain. You've been diligent, attentive, and now don't have the low back discomfort pain anymore. 

It feels good to do your best and benefit from your effort. Honor the disappointment when you don't get the outcome that you hope for. At the same time, really take inthe gifts of your dedicated practice and effort. You are making a stand to do/be your best. That's incredible.

Maybe you've begun a daily 5 minute practice of sitting and breathing consciously. This is a simple, life changing practice. You're developing the ability to settle down. That's a huge step forward in becoming more and more self-aware. Well done. Keep on going.

It's an accomplishment to come back to a practice that has dropped off. 

It's important to exercise in different ways. Bring a yogic sense of honoring your body to whatever you practice and celebrate how you're applying more wisdom in self-care.

I wish you well in your practices. And hope to share yoga with you.

Let's stay in touch! Every week, I share a free newsletter with my best tips and inspiration to help you feel more ease and resiliency amidst the challenges of daily life. Sign up for my newsletter here:

Tuning into Our Nervous System To Build Resilience

Tuning into Our Nervous System To Build Resilience
Today’s takeaway is a practice to support the nervous system.

Here's the link to today's audio

Here's the link to today's Google Docs pdf

A practice of grounding:
Tough things happen to all of us. This practice is about coming back, to feeling the ground under our feet, that our lives still go on even in difficulty. Practice in calm times means more resilience when it gets stormy.

Take a moment and let your body settle in.
Become aware of your breath.
Bring a little attention to the ground. How the ground supports the chair that you are sitting on; the ground is the foundation under the house or workspace you are in. 
The ground goes deep into the earth.
Feel how the earth supports you, gives a solid base.
Allow your body to relax a little. Take in feeling supported by a solid base.
Notice the places where you feel supported: your seat, your lower legs, your spine sitting comfortably tall. Wherever you notice your body settling.
Take several breaths, stay connected to the feeling of deep support.
Feel how your body shifts in subtle ways as you take in the feeling of stability.
Calmness, peace.

You might bring to mind an image of a great tree, one that has been rooted for many years, perhaps hundreds of years.
Its steady presence, still and enduring.
Invite your breath to deepen.
Take several breaths. Breathe in strength, breathe out feeling tall and upright.

Imagine the many storms that this tree has weathered, branches broken, fires burnt, limbs fallen down. Yielding to the fury.
Yet it stands tall and mighty, as though these only brought out a deeper rootedness and stillness.
Breathe in rootedness, breathe out your connection to the ground.

Like a great tree, feel the place inside you that is a shelter you can return to when life’s storms are fierce. Feel it in your own body. Letting go, softening, yet firmly rooted.

Take a few moments. Feel the nourishment of your roots, your trunk, your crown, as your whole being settles.

Feel how your body remembers what it's like to settle into stillness after a storm.

About this kind of practice:
We’re strengthening our ability to engage the dorsal vagal part of our nervous system, in its role of giving us experiences of deep stillness. In this place, our digestion is supported, our system feels “at home.” We strengthen our capacity to shift from one experience to another. 

Why practice:
We know that there will be some hard times. Getting a simple practice like this into your life helps you grow a resource of inner calmness that will come to your aid when you need it.

Let's stay in touch! Every week, I share a free newsletter with my best tips and inspiration to help you feel more ease and resiliency amidst the challenges of daily life. Sign up for my newsletter here:

My other half

My other half:
My other half completes me in so many ways. He shared this quote with me and has lived it in our almost 23 years of married life.

"With every encounter, make it your aim, that people are better off for having been in your presence." - Charles Swindoll

Nature of relationships:
National Geographic recently ran a wonderful two page mini-article (Vol 23, No. 6), Talking Trees. Research validates again and again that, "Beneath a patch of forest soil lies a vast interconnected web of life." Tall, mature trees - in our area they might be Douglas Fir or Ponderosa Pine - reach high above the forest canopy for sunlight. Through photosynthesis, they end up with reserves of sugar beyond what they need.

Those stores are shared with fungi that lack sugar. In exchange the fungi feed the roots of these grandparent trees with nutrients that the fungi get from the soil.

Baby trees are fed and nurtured through this same network. Baby offspring of a mature tree receive its preferential care and nourishment.

So when we take a walk in the woods, we're actually seeing an interconnected web of life. These webs span something like 180 feet by 100 feet and more. A forest with healthy elder trees becomes more resilient to stressors, like pests and changes. 

How we manage our forests affects whether the trees in our forests have healthy or stressed relationships. If trees are clear cut there is no web of life. If strong mature trees are selectively removed, remaining trees send chemical signals of stress that trigger defense responses, through the same network. Too much stress burdens well-being and creates devitalization through the whole web.

Creating sustainable forests is the mission of our local group, Lomakatsi. Theirs has become a recognized model worldwide of promoting healthy relationships of our forests through stewardship. They too form vast beneficial partnerships across local, state and global private and organizational efforts. It is a privilege to support their work. 

Take Away:
Remember a moment of true connection. It might be a memory in nature. Sense the wholeness that you are part of. An innate sense of being connected with all that is -  that can never be taken from you. Live in that sense that connects you with everything else -  moments at a time, all day long. Each day. Feel that you are interacting with your life from that place a little each day.

Let the stress of past lost connections gradually be nourished by vital new connections, within you and around you, rooted in strength and goodness. Tend to your well-being as you tend to that of others. Stand your ground. We need each other.

Let's stay in touch! Every week, I share a free newsletter with my best tips and inspiration to help you feel more ease and resiliency amidst the challenges of daily life. Sign up for my newsletter here:

It's the Little, Little Things

Start making a to do list

First note the things you want to accomplish today. Then take about a minute and make a short list of things that bring a smile to your face and a warmth in your heart.


If life is challenging right now appreciate what works relatively well (your car, electricity, the good food available in your grocery store, that you have a home, that you know good people in your life) or difficulties avoided (woke up this morning as compared to not, didn't say everything that came to mind to say, pipes didn't freeze this winter....). 

Sink into a calm feeling inside and recharge. Spend a few moments there throughout the day.

The challenges will still be there - and you'll have a little renewed energy to deal with them.

Things like:

  • Taking a nap

  • Talking to a long time friend; connecting in a heart way

  • Singing with our ukelele group, or on my own, or with my husband

  • Taking care of my body - moving those tight places, going for a walk

  • Seeing the light on the hills, the afternoon sun, the morning light as it washes over the mountains and says, "Good morning!" or "What a day this has been!"

  • Getting out in the garden, it's been a warm winter (good news/bad news); doing garden things; getting help pruning fruit trees

  • Talking to our birds that come and feed at our feeder

  • Being warm when it's chilly or cold outside

  • Feeling good about a goal I accomplished; about a way I reached out to do something that took me out of my comfort zone

  • Ringing our meditation bowl - it has a lovely voice


Find one thing, or a handful of things that warm you, soften your mind and ease your burdens. Let the feeling of calm hold you for about 10 seconds. 

Enjoy reshaping your brain by giving attention to what is really wonderful (or relatively good/okay) in this moment. 

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Elephants that fly

A little something to share with you today...

1. A wonderful person,  Dr. Rick Hanson (his new book is out, click on his name for a link) says, Keep On Going. It's the idea that we are going to see things through. Yes we're in a mess and yes, we're not done yet either. For example, a new day is just starting as I write this e-mail. In this one day alone there is a good amount of time to dig my chops into a few important tasks and make a little difference.

Making a difference might be attending a community event to become educated about local issues, it might be working in my garden, showing family and friends that they make a difference to me. It all counts because we all count.

This advice has served me well in learning new things, taking the next small step instead of doubting my contribution, smiling when possible instead of frowning, doing the very thing that makes my knees knock, being kind for moments at a time, being genuinely grateful at times each day.

I wonder how you might be applying these words in your circumstances, and where else you might consider bringing them alive. They are part of a focus on growing inner resources that includes things like grit, determination, and patience.

2. Here's an online resource you might enjoy. Thanks to my mentor, Linda Graham, (her soon to be released new book can be pre-ordered) for passing it along.

3. Last, I do my best to make sure that what I believe doesn't cause harm to you, to me or anybody else.  I liked this song that JPR played. Re-interpreting these lyrics in my own way keeps the feeling of how having faith in something that's worthy of the heart, like having faith in being courageous for example, serves me. 

I feel fear and with some wisdom, I Keep On Going.  

There are so many good people that are already rocking this world with kindness, open eyes and hearts. I am pretty sure you are one of them. I hope we just Keep On Going. Slow and steady wins the race.

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Reflections on Charlottesville and our Nervous System

Excerpts by David Whyte from Facebook post on 8/17/17. Shared with the author's permission.

"First, the easy part to address, our despair: the world at present seems to be a mirror to many of our worst qualities. We could not have our individual fears and prejudices; nor our endless wish to feel superior to others, nor all our deepest flaws, more finely drawn and better represented in the outer world than are presented to us now in the iconic figures and even the weather patterns that dominate our screens and our times.

This is a time for us to learn self-knowledge, which is always an examination of our blind spots, our vulnerabilities and our flaws as much as our virtues. Nevertheless, despite the inherited human difficulties writ large across our heavens and our screens, we have never lived in a time, when more people as a proportion of humanity have been as well fed or housed or presented with astonishing possibilities of which their ancestors could only dream. Looking at my daughter’s face I would not want her living in any other time in the whole of recorded history than this one; she has more opportunity, more chance of being treated with respect in her work than any of her long line of struggling female ancestors going back before the Neolithic. She lives in a world of feminine autonomy that Jane Austen, only two hundred years ago could only imagine. It is only a matter of time, if we follow through on this conversation, before most of her less fortunate sisters in the world have the same gift. Taking this last example alone, fully fifty percent of humanity has a more dignified, more empowered, more respected future than ever before. The present pseudo-science from a Google engineer, even if it hovered within stretching distance of the truth, ignores all the equivalent disabilities of the masculine in the world it has shaped, it is representative of a last rearguard shot before we embrace the reality of women taking a full place in the shaping of our society. As to the natural world, it is not all bad: in the North of England where I grew up, all of the polluted rivers of my childhood have been cleaned up and are beginning to burgeon again with life; Bald Eagles soar over my present house near the Pacific Ocean, where there were none just decades ago, and very personally; in this very personal human life, looking at the portrait looking back at me on my desk, my mother could come back today and experience none of the prejudice she would have felt as a young Irish girl on first coming to England in the fifties.

Science tells us that we are shaped biologically, very early on, to prefer the facial characteristics, the accents and the skin tones of those who nurtured us. But what is more inspiring and is also scientifically proven, is that we can learn to trust faces, learn to trust and even enjoy words that are at first not familiar, and learn to live with different tonal qualities other than those that first brought us into the world, and that this extends to the non-human world of nature of which we are also a part and which gives us the foundation of the very air we breathe. This necessary education into ‘otherness’ is mostly effected by parents or societies learning not even to name the ‘other’ people in our lives as black or white or anything in between, and that this radical act of un-naming inclusion, both in parenting and in our societies in general, might be the most central, the most difficult and the most courageous and crucial conversation of our times.

Life is fierce and difficult and gives us every excuse for defensive prejudice and easy hatred, but there is no life we can live without being subject to its griefs, its losses and heartbreak. Half of every conversation is mediated through disappearance. Thus, there is every reason to want to retreat from life, to carry torches that illuminate only our own view, to make enemies of life and of others, to hate what we cannot understand and to keep the heartbreaking world and the people who inhabit it at a distance through prejudicial naming -but – it therefore also follows, that our ability to do the opposite, to meet the other in the world on their own terms, without diminishing them, in celebration and in creating something new, is one of the necessary signatures of human courage; and one we are being asked to write, above all our flaws and difficulties, across the heavens of this, our present time."

You can read the entire essay here:

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After making a pair of sock puppets that were well received, I lost interest. I've felt some obligation to hold onto the stuff - the stick-on goofy eyes, the multi-colored yarn - but have no desire to craft anymore.  

Guilt has kept me holding onto to stuff like this. "I should do more."


When I let go my insides let go. And then I realize I've been holding on when really, maybe it's time to let go. 

On that subject, here's a poem, a gift from my neighbor Lisa. It speaks to the ultimate practice of letting go.
She Let Go


1. Respect personal history. Loss is a real deal. When we've lost much, little things seem to matter more.

2. Sometimes I can touch a good-bye lightly without getting swept away out to sea without a rudder.

At other times I've tried too hard and held more than I possibly could. Holding on for dear life.

This time can be different. Touching lightly, coming back, a steady moment again.

3. Celebrate love - good times -  caring - those moments of glueing the eyes on and seeing who those socks wanted to be.

4. Being held by all that is true and good. How it has been and always is part of us even when we have to leave it.

5. Saying good-bye, at times with help from friends and loved ones, with phone calls, taking breaks, not alone.

Simplifying with its own rewards - more room inside. Slowing down, letting that take hold. A deep breath. A new moment.

May it be so in a way that heals, opens, releases.

Deepest gratitude to the life that we all share in this breath.

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Making room for each other

A personal prayer, centering or meditation practice is so important. Growing peace inside ourselves isn't something we can put off for another day. There needs to be room inside.

The most important thing is that whatever form of practice we choose, we feel it is a genuine expression of our heart. Our practice will serve us best if we feel truly aligned with it.

One example is Tonglen. Tonglen is a Buddhist practice aimed at relieving suffering. Our own suffering and that of others. This article guides a Tonglen practice, offered by Joan Halifax. She is noted for her extraordinary commitment to Social Justice and Hospice care. She's a Zen Buddhist teacher. 

Keep Reading

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Our front yard occasionally serves as daycare. 

It was 104 degrees here yesterday! I was out watering in the afternoon to cool the plants down a little. There's a a shady spot near the house where a rhododendron grows. Out from under it, a young baby deer, spots and all, stood up and gave me a long, curious look. 

I responded to this baby like I would a lost child. Where is your mother? And then I felt responsible. Do I feed a baby deer? I googled and read that moms often drop off their babies in a safe place while they forage. Sure enough the baby had been claimed later.

It reminded me of how there are tender parts in me that need shelter. The trust to acknowledge when I'm tender. And the wonderful beauty of being found.

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