"There is nothing
But Choose Love!
For to Be!
What a Blessing!
What to do...
And it does it
It's only a choice...
It's a powerful
From an "I"...
Life's Greatest Invention!
When time is lost!
Not to rise...
To a state,
But to be...
And to know,
Did I fail to mention...
The Gift of Ascension...
To Raise up Love...
Our Soul's True Intention!"
Love & Blessings
So, I have this fabulous neighbor Lainie, who is taking Yoga teacher training! Every tuesday night I go over to her house where she and several other teacher trainee's (is there such a word?) meet and we practice their homework which is an absolute blast! We always have healthy appetizers yummy wine and some pretty incredible conversation.
Last week I was in the mood for something light, so I brought this plate of luscious, California strawberries (they were huge, sweet and perfect!) and a fruit dip. You can buy this premade but why bother when it's so easy to make. Just mix a cup of vanilla yogurt, 1/2 a cup of mascarpone, several tablespoons of cream or half and half , 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla extract and honey to taste. That's it! Simple and delicious!
When it comes to building a life founded on your dreams part of the process must include a "creative space", which is a wonderful opportunity to just "be"! Gavin Pretor-Pinney offers one option for taking "breaks" or better yet, making space for some of the simple pleasures that life has to offer!
It was Coco Chanel who once said “Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.” I’m very sure that she was right.
I was recently looking at some old pictures of myself and was truly amazed. It was a composite of images of myself at 17, 25, 32, 45 and one taken just recently at the age of 53. I looked in the mirror and realized that I quite enjoy what the passage of time has done to my face. I now have plenty of wrinkles and I don’t go out anymore without a bit of lipstick, perfume , styled and beautifully colored hair.
I also refuse to lie about my age which gives me an extraordinary amount of pleasure. Besides, painting my lips every morning at my dressing table gives me a chuckle as I remember my mother and how she was never without her lipstick. She knew what she was doing. She had a twinkle in her eyes that came from having lived life well. She never stopped learning and she never stopped leading the way. She was an example for me early on that you could be your self and look pretty fabulous at any age. Up until the day she died my father was absolutely bewitched by her. More importantly she had all kinds of fun continually becoming that woman!
I consider myself very fortunate to still be surrounded by some pretty fabulous older women; all of them still physically beautiful , dynamic and brilliant. One will be turning 82 next month and one has just turned 87. Neither of them look a day over 70. They possess the adventurous spirits of the 30 something’s without all of the drama.
They love high fashion and glorious cosmetics, thankfully using them without trying to hang on to any sort of dewy youthful glow. When I‘m hanging out with them I’m aware of a constant flood of images and stories that come only from having lived an exciting life and I’m acutely aware that only with new experiences do we continue to live that fully. One is writing a book and the other has a calendar of volunteer work that would exhaust most of us. I’ve only mentioned a couple of them but I am lucky to know many more. I am grateful for these friends as they give me a way to escape the constant flurry of advertising that tells all of us over 40’s that it’s time to roll over and die. These women don’t play dress-up; they are (as my niece says) “ All That!” I want to be all of them when I grow up. In the absence of my own mother they are teaching me to step up confidently and lead the way.
I don’t know about you but I’m fairly stubborn and I don’t intend to age gracefully. I intend to age fiercely and fearlessly, sliding into my grave feet first and with a smile on my face born with the joy of having been alive! When I think about all of the older women who have inspired me, I realize that they all have this trait in common. They crave new experiences. They are not afraid to have reinvented themselves, some of them many times in their life. They are not afraid to speak their minds and they have never stopped learning. They have ceased to worry about being beautiful because they know exactly what they look like and love to make the most of it. They know how to love and allow themselves to be loved, even when it hurts.
Their elegant faces are lined with their smiles, tears and gorgeous shades of Chanel lipstick. They practice yoga, go for long walks with their dogs, go to college and spend their free time painting or in meditation. They entertain with ease. They hang out with lovely men , not because they have to but because they want to. Most importantly they have stopped wasting their time being afraid to die.
I think that this one aspect is the reason that my friends always seem lit from within every time I’m with them. Having faced the fear of old age from a very early age, they stopped worrying about what the future would bring and concentrated on creating a completely vital and totally interesting present while laying the groundwork for a fabulous future. They are all wise enough to have learned that physical beauty is just one small part of the package and that who they are inside is what shows up on their faces. If you’re going to get wrinkles anyhow, it pays to let them be created from living, not resisting the long path towards the inevitable.
To be sure, living can be challenging at times, but would you really want it any other way? I’m of the opinion that we should absolutely demand of our lives what we really hunger for and then ruthlessly chase it down. As one of my dear friends says, “ I love growing older because I’m finally learning how I really like to live!” proving to me once again that youth and sex are indeed totally wasted on the young! So seize the day, your favorite lipstick and dance into your 50's like you've never danced before.
Stop worrying about what has been. Live and love well and never leave home without planning for a bit of mischief to brighten your day. My mother liked to say "Always remember to stay interesting dear because if YOU bore yourself to tears can you imagine how anyone around you will feel?" Brava Bellissima!
All of these women are me, at very different ages. The young girl at the lower right was 18 and at the top left a young married 28. There's the precocious and happy little kindergartner in the middle who didn't know that her world was about to get rocked by an abusive grandparent and a series of hostile teachers who still thought that left handed kids were the devils spawn. They didn't know then that trying to switch a kids dominant hand could exacerbate the ADD which I struggled with for years until I learned to work with it instead of against it. The most recent "Me" is the one with the purple scarf, taken the morning of my 53rd birthday.
I recognize the young (18) girl by her eyes of course and her determination to have her voice heard in the world. Her message was "You can't make me and I'll do it myself." I was determined to control my destiny which I did in a dysfunctional haze of my chosen primary foods of drugs, alcohol and sex. It was the late 70's; the era of wanton free love and all of the abuses that came with it were part of my playground. Finally after much family support and therapy, I was able to create for myself a healthy relationship with the fabulous man who has been my husband for thirty years. At that time I began what has become a life long and passionate devotion to womens studies and traditions , sex and sensuality. I figured (quite practically I think!) that all of that experience should turn into something. As I dove further into my studies with Integrative Nutrition my true purpose for doing the program suddenly clicked. I knew in an instant that I wanted to help guide other women through that maze.
One day during one of the lectures about sexism and eating disorders, I was listening to a young absolutely gorgeous plus size model speak to the experience of being a large woman (size 12!) and her struggles to become a size 2 within what was obviously a sensual, voluptuous body. I thought back over the years to my own struggles with food and body image, although never anorexic or bullemic I spent years trying to crash diet this very curvy body of mine into a size 8 when I'm really a natural 12 to 14. Once I tossed a bottle of Clairesse Golden Blonde hair dye onto my head in an attempt to keep my boyfriend at the time because he wanted me to be a blonde. I've used my sexuality to manipulate men and in turn fell into destructive patterns of self-loathing and addiction. I've been raped by my own bravado as well as a man that I should never have trusted. What I know is that I put myself in those positions. I'm not justifying what happened to me by some sort of strange "I'm karmically responsible" conversation. No always mean No. However what I will say is that I was way too stubborn and stupidly bold to know what I was doing to my soul and at the time I put myself in a seemingly endless round of compromising positions. Instead of nurturing my passions I exploited them in an almost bullemic attempt to control them. Binge and purge, Binge and purge over and over again, each new man or drug false proof that I was in charge of my life that was spiraling out of control.
It all ended when I found myself living with a man who was incredibly violent...the outward mirror manifestation of my shadowy side. The Native Americans have an old saying that of two wolves, the one that's fed is the one who lives. In short because somehow I knew that if I didn't I would die, I learned to eat well !
I learned to feed my burning passion for life by allowing myself to fall flat on my face but then get up again. Once I got up and looked around at the wreckage, I was able to see that there was another pathway open to me and that was by walking a path of personal integrity, accountability and most importantly allowing the space in your life to become your most authentic self. I love being a woman and all of the experiences that it has brought me, even the tougher ones.
Our first periods, losing our virginity, falling in love, marriage, pregnancies, menopause and the deaths of our own mothers bring us not just physical changes but deep soul rocking spiritual ones....We have a sacred wisdom that's just waiting to be tapped into and often we cover up our passions with layers of fat or addiction simply because there's no one around to talk to who won't judge or to show us the way through the maze to the unique and passionate life that is waiting for us.
Could one conversation change your life?
I've discovered that I love to work with women and having been to hell and back as part of our work together I'm thrilled to walk the path out with you again and again, guiding you and helping you choose to embrace the richness of the WHOLE world that's waiting for you.
Many people over the years have asked me about my involvement with alternative medicine, most specifically my use of herbal remedies to address the various maladies that periodically plague me, my friends or my family. As we find out with increasing frequency about the corruption of the large pharmaceutical companies as well as the continuing dangers of the untested drugs that they create, I think that it's natural to have become more curious about holistic methodologies and their effectiveness. The overuse of antibiotics in America has created some of the scariest and most resistant strains of Staphylococcus and other superbugs that we've ever seen and having had a 3 year fight with one of them (a strain of Klebsiella that only 2 antibiotics could fight, one of which would have knocked out his kidneys within 6 months)that eventually killed my father, I do believe that there is cause for alarm. I've seen a dramatic rise in the number of people turning to alternative remedies for self healing and daily I'm asked for suggestions to increase immunity.
Although there has been much improvement, health insurance (or lack of effective coverage) is still at the forefront of the current political debate. It's clear that it's become time for a powerful paradigm shift relating to the way that we deal with illness.
I became familiar with herbal medicine very early in my life, because as a child I had an Irish riding instructor from County Galway who hardly ever used veterinary medicine to treat her beloved Welsh ponies. Colic , which is a horrible impaction of the gut was never an issue with our horses. Every morning she would boil flax seed on her stove and create a jelly to be given in the mornings feed. We rarely wormed our horses with the fancy new paste wormer filled with chemicals, but kept them parasite free with the pine and spruce that she kept in the pasture for them to eat.
She constantly rotated her pastures and I noticed that our horses were eating all kinds of different plants that were growing with rarely any ill effects and they ate them readily. Horses that seemed a bit lackluster ate certain plants and when I pointed them out to her she was always able to tell me what was ailing them because of what they were eating. One day, one of the horses went straight for a patch of yellow dock which she told me indicated a weakness in his stomach. After a day or two he brightened and was much happier and far stronger than he'd been several days before. Not a miracle cure at all, he was just an animal who trusting his natural instincts to choose the plants that would help him heal. It was pretty amazing stuff for an impressionable 12 year old to see. We used tinctures of chamomile and beer in the bran mashes that we made to help promote calmness and vitality before horse shows. We rarely used chemical liniments, relying on herbal vinegars that we made with saltpeter, sage , fresh mints and comfrey leaves. I use poultices of comfrey to draw out abscesses and instead of relying on injections to help keep my thoroughbred stallions sperm count up during breeding season I added artichokes and Guinness stout everyday to his feed until the season was over.
I think that it was only natural for me to question the amounts of medicine that were being used by my family Doctors to "promote health" , because I had been exposed to something so different in my very early years which made complete and total sense to me.
In my early 20's after a tangle with birth control pills, antibiotics and the ensuing amount of damage that they did to my body, I really swore off of the convenience of modern medicine as the last resort when I fell ill, always the last.
In my mid 20's (I'm 55 now!) I was fortunate to find a wonderful teacher named LaWanna Rine who is a very experienced herbalist and healer. I still work with her to this day, she's always got something new and wonderful to teach me!
LaWanna has been a practicing herbalist and aromatherapist for decades and graciously taught me by example. I spent many hours with her helping her to prepare teas,salves and tinctures and walking through her woods while we gathered the plants that we would use. Her herbal practice is a very complete example of a whole body system for healing. She is is totally vegan and she practices her yoga and meditation everyday. She uses herbs from her property and water from her spring to create her healing teas. She uses aromatherapy in the wonderful treatments that she gives and her powerful medical intuition as well as her vast knowledge of the body's systems are her most profound diagnostic tool. She is to this day, the only herbalist that I've ever met who I would trust with the dosage of the more poisonous herbs such as poke root, foxglove or celandine because she knows how to use them with the safety and precision that we wish that our Doctors practiced with their candy box of pharmaceuticals. I was very lucky to find her and she taught me that the practice of herbalism is everyones birthright, something to be shared and not hoarded.
LaWanna encouraged everyone in her circle to learn as much as possible so that you could live well wherever you found yourself and not be at the mercy of a medical system that she felt had betrayed our humanity. She also was very firm about her belief that eating with the seasons ,harvesting and growing your own foods as well as wildcrafting your own herbs provided the most potent medicine for body, mind and spirit. She taught me to use fasting, whole foods and mini cleanses as tools to promote a healthy digestive system thereby creating a strong immune system. She's also 86 years old, still teaching and wildcrafting in her woods. She's really quite a remarkable woman!
Now that so many natural herbal preparations can be found in our local Whole Foods store and even in grocery stores that are not traditionally "Health Food " stores, it's more important than ever to learn as much as you can about this old and wise tradition of healing. Herbs are indeed natural, but they are powerful medicines. There are many wonderful books available by herbal legends such as Susan Weed or the late Juliette De Baricli Levy as well as home study courses that you can purchase and enjoy at your own pace. I still use holistic remedies on all of my animals and the vet when I find something that I cannot treat myself. By the way in case anyone is wondering, I always vaccinate all of my animals for Parvo and Rabies.
Herbal remedies in most of their forms are very gentle yet powerful and effective. They should not be taken carelessly because they can be as toxic as the drugs we are trying to avoid. Take the time to do the research and always remember to consult your pharmacist if you are taking any other prescription drugs. Herbs can mix poorly with many pharmaceuticals, so it pays to proceed with with caution. No herbalist in this country can legally prescribe herbs , so be very careful if you run across one that tells you to take something and prescribes a dosage for a certain illness as it's a pretty sure sign of either immaturity or arrogance on the part of the practitioner.
What I strive to do instead is what my friend LaWanna taught me to do,I suggest and educate and try as much as possible to empower people to create their own template for their healing journey. Use your own good judgment and learn as much as you can. You'll have a lot of fun doing it..I promise!
In this age of global uncertainty and instability , I truly believe as LaWanna does that it is so very important to be able care for yourself and your family with as much self sufficiency as possible. We are fortunate to live in a world where so much is readily available to us including excellent chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists. However, the tradition of herbal medicine for healing has been passed down from generation to generation and it belongs to everyone, not just a chosen few.
Thankfully, it is a traditional, yet sophisticated and effective folk medicine that can be readily utilized by anyone who cares enough to truly take the time to learn about , respect and understand fully the properties of the many herbs that are so readily available to us all.
I love to listen to the thoughts that run through my mind. Of course, everyone likes to hear themselves talk, those who know me would say I am blessed with that for sure. But I also like to hear myself think. Not just to ramble on to myself but largely in part because I can actually process thoughts that lead me to a state of peace and even joy. Which is the topic of this particular post; Conscious Foreplay Leads to Happiness!
In a crude sense the folly of consciousness before it awakens to its true nature or spiritual wisdom is a lot like foreplay. You can engage in it as much as you want, "it" being the voice that talks to you while you read this. That's right, I'm not the only "mind babbler" in the room. It is something most of us do every waking moment. And there is no limit to the creativity that can be expressed or the time that can be spent there. But what is truly different about this particular foreplay as opposed to sexual foreplay is that you cannot just get down to the business of a spiritually awakening climax as quickly as you want to. In other words, unlike a sexual orgasm you cannot decide to just skip this process we are comparing to foreplay and suddenly awaken, although I will assert that you still need an intention to move in this direction.
Why not go straight to the climax? What makes awakening different?
Well, when engaged in sex you can decide when you are going to shift from foreplay to the business of an orgasm, and in some cases control the moment of climax! With a spiritual awakening however it is quite different because of "who" is engaging. The process of awakening as it relates to spirituality is one where the doer, that's you, undergoes a profound shift in awareness that transforms all of your underlying motives. The context of one awakened is without "independent" motives. In other words, the one-ness of the awakened state is very different from the physical existence or perspective we are tied to (consciously) prior to awakening. I know that can be a lot to digest, but stay with me for a minute...
You are awakening to the essence of what you are and as such you become one with that essence - you awaken to the moment to moment nature of being. Don't bother trying to "think" of what that would be like or what the end goal is about. Instead, use your imagination to venture out into this wondrous and beautiful but unknown territory referred to as spiritual foreplay. A territory where you head in a particular direction to experience something wonderful, exploring, discovering, but not knowing what it is, until you arrive. Because by the very nature of what is described here you cannot know it until it is fully realized, much like waking up every morning from a deep sleep!
So, as with sex, to begin such a journey you must first intentionally plant the seed in your mind using your imagination (unintended pun), the wonderful seed of a new and profound joy that is your experience of life, beyond anything you can think of, but one you are capable of creating through your very own imagination.
What have you got to lose? This is just an adventure of the mind, using one’s own imagination!
So I leave you with one more distinction for foreplay as it relates to spiritual awakening. Experiment! Just like a healthy sexual relationship involves strong intimacy and creativity, a spiritual awakening is not something you are going to bump into uninspired. And just like the work of a good relationship, you might not always like what you see at first as you work to move into this territory. Anyone who has done any type of self reflection, in any area of their life, knows that at some point you need to take a deeper look at the focal point of this topic - you. I can assure you that it is completely worth it!
Besides the obvious benefits and attraction to spiritual foreplay, I will assert that this specific inquiry is a means of transforming any area of your life to exactly what you want it to be. Whether it's resolving a particular challenge, achieving some goal, or just creatively playing in this wonderful space of infinite possibilities called life. That's because you are working with foundational components of what actually produces results in your life. Who you are being!
This approach isn’t just for people who are successful and motivated, working to achieve some new goal or focused on a specific area of one’s life. If you're feeling a lack of motivation, not happy with where things are, that life is not living up to what you think or feel it should be, that is a fantastic sign that you have a new seed that wants to grow. A seed that simply needs your attention, your inquiry.
Anyone who wants to accomplish something, whether already successful or not, begins that journey knowing that something is missing. It can be a goal you want to achieve or a sad feeling of not having something you want in life. Either way, it's just a matter of getting to the source of these “inspirations” no matter where you perceive yourself to be. So when I say you can achieve anything or overcome any obstacle I am talking about using the folly of spiritual foreplay to achieve your desired outcome. If you are not giving any time to thinking about the nature of your life and happiness you may be missing out on something -- something big! Your personal brand of happiness!
So to bring this post to completion using our comparison, the process of spiritual foreplay is an inquiry! There is no reason to feel guilty, you’re not breaking any rules, nothing transmitted you can't deal with, you’re not indulging in something you shouldn't. You are simply "inquiring", which you will find to be a very rich, rewarding and enjoyable experience.
So I invite you to this new foreplay, to the examination of the context of your life, the foreplay of your conscious thoughts and of a new awareness of your Being!
Be Well! Be Blessed!