“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.” ~Henry Beecher

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Get Ready to Grow with ZorBuddha

It’s the New Year and you may be thinking, how can I transform my life into something different, something better? More importantly, how can I define that better life so that I can start to live it with passion and purpose?

Envisioning our goals, putting them down on paper, and reviewing them regularly is one of the most powerful exercises we can do to get us moving in the right direction and to keep us going that way. Whether they’re long-term or day-to-day goals, having a plan and sticking to it reinforces our intentions and ensures that every action we take is relevant.

I would like to introduce to you a dear friend of mine, Vasco Gaspar, who has developed a tool that helps the user to define, track, and follow through on goals. I met Vasco when we were both members of an online community called The Monthly Coach where we interacted with almost 400 additional individuals from around the world who, like us, were interested in personal development.

During that time, Vasco developed the tool he calls ZorBuddha that served as a stepping stone for his own life. After working as an organizational consultant in Portugal, Vasco’s own personal growth led him to his current life as an author, trainer, public speaker, and an innovation consultant and writer. Zorbuddha is such a neat tool that I’ve decided to give it as gifts to some of my clients. I also wanted you all to meet Vasco and to have him tell us a little bit about ZorBuddha.

Firstly, thank you so much Vasco for taking the time for this interview! I was fortunate to be present (virtually) for the creation of ZorBuddha and I’m excited that I can share it with everyone here.

What is ZorBuddha and what was your inspiration for creating it?

Vasco: ZorBuddha began as a free tool aimed at contributing to increased awareness and positive focus on the part of whoever uses it.

The inspiration came from the need to create something for my own personal use that would help me to be more structured and disciplined. Because I had been reading books from several authors, mainly from the fields of psychology and personal development, I began to notice common patterns in the various currents. I then decided to combine, in the same tool, those that seemed the best practices in terms of personal development.

Who are the authors/visionaries whose work is reflected in ZorBuddha and why did you choose them?

Vasco: I researched more than 100 authors whose ideas have contributed to the development of ZorBuddha. One author who perhaps had a significant impact was Robin Sharma. But there were others, like Stephen R. Covey, Richard Boyatzis, Eckhart Tolle, etc., whose ideas seemed more solid, credible, and balanced.

What benefits can people expect to gain by using ZorBuddha?

Vasco: There are several potential benefits. At the end of ninety days it is expected, above all, that a person becomes more aware of:

- the people he/she cares about;

- the activities that makes him/her happy;

- the things in life that he/she takes pride in;

- the positive things that happen to him/her every day;

- that each day is different and unique;

- what he/she is grateful for in life;

- the activities that he/she can do in order to develop overall wellness.

In addition, it is expected that the person becomes more disciplined and better able to put into practice their ideas and goals, as well as more "liberated" from some mental conditions.

We are of course talking about ideal situations, where people do actually apply all the tools and practices. It is important to emphasize that this is a process that takes effort and requires dedication and discipline. Its goal is not to perform miracles or to be a path to eternal happiness. It is, above all, like a "balance bar" that helps people to stay more centered as they walk their own path.

In fact, a graduate student in Psychology from Lisbon University reported in her thesis the following after studying Zorbuddha’s impact on a teenage population:

"The daily use of this instrument [ZorBuddha], even for a short period of time, seems to promote a greater self-knowledge, a greater sense of what is really important in life, improved problem solving capabilities, an increase in self-esteem, appreciation of the important people in one’s life and the positive aspects of life experiences, and finally, an openness to a variety of experiences."

How has ZorBuddha changed your life (both as a tool and perhaps during the process of its creation)?

Vasco: My life actually changed a lot! At first, in seeking information, I sensed that I was growing but, above all, I realized that there is still a long way to go. With the use of this tool (I used it for more than 400 days) I became more centered, focused, and disciplined.

Today I have made this a journey in itself, drawing tools and other methods around the theme, such as workshops, development programs, articles, music, videos, etc. Above all, I try to find tools and resources that help people and organizations change the world by changing themselves.

What do you hope to accomplish with ZorBuddha?

Vasco: So many amazing things have happened since this "adventure” began, for example, ZorBuddha is already in over 50 countries, that I confess sincerely, I don't know. One year ago I couldn't predict that I would be "interviewed" here, or that I would quit a secure job to chase my dream. So, who knows the future? Anything can happen!

My personal commitment is to continue to follow my intuition and to alert people's consciousness through the sharing of knowledge, methods and tools that are valid, secure and solid. ~

To learn more about ZorBuddha and to get the free online version, please visit the website and blog. Watch the video!! You can also purchase ZorBuddha on Amazon.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Letting Go of Expectations

During a packed class the other day, our yoga instructor, Jen, said this: “Let go of any expectations. You have no idea what your best looks like.” What a powerful statement that was. Is it not true that if we think we know our best then we might unconsciously slam into a brick wall when we get there?

I’ve experienced this in yoga class before, although there are certainly postures that I have yet to close the gap between where I am and where I imagine my best to be. This is one of the primary reasons that I continue with my practice–I’m not there yet and I hope to never actually get there. For this to hold true, though, I need to let go of expectations.

This concept also rang very true for me this week. For years, celebrating the holiday in my family has followed tradition and so I have the habit of forming in my mind, my idea of how I would like the events to unfold. Naturally, it never turns out quite how I had envisioned and this year was no exception.

Several days before Christmas, my mom came down with a stomach flu that left her unable to keep down food or water. And then other family members got sick. Long story short, we decided to postpone our family gathering until next week. Since my dad’s birthday falls on Christmas day, I spent the day with my parents cooking for my dad.

So here I was, first time cooking a 7-lb beef tenderloin that had been waiting in the fridge for Christmas and that had to be cooked. Several hours later, I served my dad the most tender meat he had ever eaten with some sweet potato fries, cauliflower a la Alice Waters, and a nice pinot noir.

By this time, my mom was able to hold down vegetable broth with rice for the first time in days, so we enjoyed a meal together watching Ben Hur. My mom was happy that my dad had a delicious birthday meal; my dad and I were happy (and grateful) that mom could finally keep something in her stomach, and we all had a relaxing day.

I could have easily been disappointed about Christmas. But because I let go of expectations, it turned out perfect for the circumstances we had. Even better than I had imagined since I now know how to cook a perfect beef tenderloin. : )

The entire family is getting together next weekend to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. How will it go? Don’t know and I’m not going to think about it. I’m just going to let it happen and maybe be pleasantly surprised.

I want to wish everyone a happy holiday and I hope it's been better than ever imagined : )

Friday, December 3, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

Not long ago, I was waiting at the pharmacy when a woman walked up to the counter. She seemed a bit frazzled as she put down on the counter a 12-pack of ginger ale and a box of saltine crackers. After paying for her prescription, she picked up her things and went on her way. I noticed, though, that she forgot her soda. I turned around to stop her but she was already coming back up the aisle. She could see that I was going to say something to her so she smiled and commented that her mind was elsewhere at the moment.

When I finished in the store, I walked outside and met up with her again. She went on to explain that she was a little anxious because she was bringing her husband home from the hospital. He had been in a car accident and had broken his neck. She went on to say that he had saved his whole life for a fancy Corvette and his first time out in the car he was going too fast, lost control, and crashed.

This is a very extreme example of the point here but makes it just the same: do you spend your life reaching for a goal, only to find that it wasn’t the best thing for you or not exactly what you were expecting?

It is a common belief that once we set our sights on something, everything will be wonderful once we reach the summit. Yet, from my own experience, there are lots of reasons why this may not be true:

1. Along the way, life happens. We hopefully don’t become unconscious while reaching for our goal, but experience life. People, relationships, and events rewire our brains, often in subtle ways that we’re not even aware of, and what we once thought was important or wonderful, becomes less so when we get there.

2. Our goals change. Again, as we experience life, we discover our true passions and interests emerge and may not agree with what we originally believed. I spent over a decade working on my degree, thinking I would run a research lab. But I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do at all. The education is invaluable and something I am undoubtedly grateful for, but it’s not where my true passion lies.

3. Goals never end. As Nelson Mandela said: After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. Reaching a goal is a great accomplishment and something to be very proud of, but we don’t stop living when we get there and it doesn’t mean we should shift into neutral. As humans, I believe one of our main objectives is to continuously grow–as long as we are alive. Reaching a goal actually provides us with a stepping stone on which to begin our next climb.

4. We believe happiness lies in achieving the goal. How many of us have said, “When I get ______, I’ll be happy”? We postpone our happiness, thinking that we need to become “someone” or acquire “something” to be fulfilled. Through my own life, I’ve realized that this simple yet profound cliché is really is true: It’s the journey, not the destination, for a few reasons:

- Being happy and passionate during the journey makes it more likely that we will reach our goals. A positive attitude and gratitude for what we do have at any given moment are the keys to attracting more good things into our lives. While striving for something, this mindset will clear the way and allow us to accept and appreciate more of the same. Therefore, be patient and enjoy the ride.

- When we get there, our happiness won’t be temporary. It’s true that the new car, the bigger home, and the new job will give us happiness, but only for a short time. Our levels of happiness will return to their set points. If the dial was on lukewarm before reaching our goals, after a few days, weeks, or even months, we’ll naturally return there. But if we’re happy along the way, we’ll remain that way even after the novelty and excitement wear off.

- Think about the time spent on the road to achieving a goal. Often it can be many years. When we get there, we are likely not the same people we were when we began doing the work. Life during this journey has offered us a wealth of experiences, opportunities, choices, and lessons that influence the end result. The goal is really just a culmination of the journey and the better the journey, the better the destination. In other words, the destination may actually change along the way into something even better than originally planned for or imagined.

Whatever it is that you’re working, striving, or reaching for, consider it a beacon, guiding you in the right direction. It’s a reason to reach in the first place and something that creates focus. Honor each step along the way as vital to your success. And while you’re moving forward, enjoy and be thankful for the ride. When you get to the top, it may not look exactly as you imagined, and that may be a good thing. : )

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Memories and Lessons

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a blog with an interview from my Uncle Don where he told a wonderful, funny story that reminded him about the goodness in people.

During part of the interview, he talked about the people that held the most memories within him and which ones provided the most influence throughout his life. You can watch him discuss it here:

One major influence on his life from an early age was his family. He had 5 siblings that all had different personalities and points of view and this, he recalls, gave him a wide variety of ideas and relationship dynamics from which to learn.

He talked about his time with his family on the farm and how the kids would always be scattered outside, in the woods or the in barn exploring.

The other day, he told me that between the 6 of them, they were always able to generate some sort of mischief : ) One day, they found their father’s chewing tobacco behind the barn. After forgetting that they were not supposed to swallow it, they all walked into the house with green faces to appeal to their mother, then proceeded to get sick to their stomachs! I guess it wasn’t funny at the time, but it was a cute story.

Other major influence were people that taught him lessons that he needed to learn, like a young man whom he looked up to that disciplined him for the way he treated the man’s mother. You can hear about his reaction in the video.

Who else stuck out in my Uncle’s mind? A man who was as strong as an ox and worked on construction sites as a hod carrier, who handed the masons containers of mortar as they were laying bricks. Yet, underneath that tremendous strength was a very kind, generous, and grateful man who always offered to help the people around him.

We all have those memories and people that stay in our hearts and minds forever. What and who are some of yours?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chocolate Bliss - Part 3

If you read Chocolate Bliss - Part 1 and Part 2, you met some talented chocolatiers and saw some beautiful and delicious (trust me on that one!) chocolates. One of the highlights of the 2010 Chocolate Show in NYC for me, was a demo by Jacques Torres. Over the course of 45 minutes, he showed the audience how to mold a Christmas tree, make and assemble the branches, and garnish it with pretty gift boxes with ribbon. Out of what? Why, chocolate, of course!!

The process of creating something so pretty would be reason enough to watch the show; however, Jacques’ sense of humor gave us plenty to laugh about! For example, he tells us a funny story, breaks the refrigerator, and jokes much of the time. That doesn't stop something spectacular from unfolding, though. In the video below, you’ll get to see the fun and watch talent in action as Jacques and his team skillfully create their Christmas “chocolates”.

As I put this video together, I realized that there were also some important lessons to be learned here about making chocolate trees and about life:

1. Start small, then as you build your confidence and skill level, move onto something bigger. In other words, don’t attempt to build a 10-foot-tall tree out of chocolate the first try. Start with a 12-inch model and once you’ve mastered that, aim higher.

2. Have fun with what you do! This is so important in life and was one thing that stood out the most for me while watching the show. Jacques and his team were clearly having fun! Then again, what’s not to like about working with 30 pounds of chocolate? : )

3. It all about the techniques. Jacques made it a point to tell us that he was teaching us techniques. It wasn’t just about the tree and gifts. It was about the tools and methods he used to make the molds and carry out the assembly. After leaving there, the only thing that would prevent us from creating something spectacular out of chocolate (if we so wanted) would be the limits of our imagination. So delete the word fail from your vocabulary and go for it!

4. You can't go wrong when you create something beautiful–for the sake of beauty itself. It brings joy to people, and that is something worth expressing your talents for.

I hope you enjoy the show. I surely did!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chocolate Bliss - Part 2

As promised in Chocolate Bliss Part 1, this post is entirely devoted to three chocolatiers who work either with 100% raw cacao beans or a combination of raw and roasted chocolate.

As a budding holistic health coach, I was very excited to discover this world at the NYC Chocolate Show. Why? The chocolate is organic and minimally processed, ensuring that the abundant profile of nutrients is preserved. They use minimal amounts of unrefined, all natural sweeteners, so that the chocolate is not too sweet. In addition, the products feature health-promoting herbs, fruits, nuts, and other superfoods that not only taste fantastic with chocolate, they turn it into something medicinal!

As a side note, I’ve come to the conclusion that chocolate goes with just about everything, because there wasn’t a combination that I didn’t like at the show or anywhere else for that matter!

Who doesn’t love a piece of dark chocolate at the end of a nice meal or when they’re feeling blue? Now just imagine how much more that bite of deliciousness can accomplish when it’s surrounded by more health-promoting goodness!!

In the video above, you will meet Jennifer Love, a co-founder of NibMor Chocolate and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), where I am currently studying. Their bars are raw, organic, gluten- and dairy-free.

They also have a line of hot-chocolate mixes, including one that is sweetened with maple, a personal favorite of mine, and another blend that combines several beneficial spices, including cloves, cinnamon, and fennel. If you like your salsa medium, you’ll enjoy this cup of chocolate!

Antidote Chocolate, founded by Red Thalhammer, combines 50% raw with 50% mildly-roasted cacao beans in their 84% organic, vegan and gluten, dairy- and soy-free bars. They are also infused with moringa, a superfood I was originally introduced to in Rwanda, which is actually given to patients with HIV and has also been cultivated and used medicinally in India for thousands of years to treat over 300 ailments!

The bars are designed to empower the inner goddess in us all (!) and combines flavors like ginger and goldenberry, red hibiscus and berry, almond and pepper, and one of my favorites: lavender and sea salt.

The third super chocolate I discovered at the show was Gnosis Chocolate. The company was founded by Vanessa Barg, also an IIN graduate. It features cholesterol, gluten, dairy, and soy-free products that are also made without the use of refined sugars.

In addition, Vanessa takes her passion for superfoods to the extreme in her products. The company produces a raw, organic, hot chocolate mix that’s sweetened with palm nectar from coconut trees and includes a potent mixture of foods/herbs, and spices, including maca root, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and dong quai.

Gnosis chocolate bars are hand-made and laced with blue-green algae, which is actually a source of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid important for healthy brain function. They have several delicious varieties, including Coconut Almond, Fleur de Sel, Cool Peppermint, and Superchoc, which is blended with a powerful mix of raspberries, goji berries, reishi mushrooms, maca root, and acai.

If you’re interested in exploring the world of raw cacao and getting a dose of “healthy!”, I encourage you to try the delicious creations of NibMor, Antidote, and Gnosis Chocolate.

Here’s to our Health!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chocolate Bliss - Part 1

Less than one month ago I posted a blog about a visit to the Chocolate Springs Café in Lenox, MA where I interviewed the owner, Joshua Needleman. It’s a place you absolutely want to experience if you’re ever in the Berkshires.

Little did I know that I would soon be writing about chocolate again. Twist my arm! But seriously, when I discovered that the Chocolate Show was being held in New York City last week, I jumped at the opportunity to attend. This was the show’s 13th year and the first time for me.

So after my early morning Bikram yoga class, I boarded a train for NYC then sprinted down to W 18th Street to the Metropolitan Pavilion. My chocolate nirvana began before I even walked in the door with a sample of Callebaut callets that were a mixture of white and dark chocolate. From there, it just got better.

Just inside, we were greeted by some chocolate goddesses–mannequins dressed in the chocolate line from the fashion show on opening night. The beauty of chocolate is that whatever you can dream, you can do it with chocolate! This was evident by the stylish, elegant, and sometimes outrageous creations that were modeled here.

On to the tasting! There were over 60 chocolatiers that showcased their products and I tasted a wide array of treats including dark chocolate bonbons from Jacques Torres Chocolates, dark chocolate covered orange peel from Valrhona’s (a favorite chocolate of mine for baking), and Guido Gobino’s Crema Spalmabile Cacao, a rich, spreadable blend of chocolate and hazelnuts from the Piedmont region of Italy. Heaven on a spoon!

Then there were the Belgian toffees and dark or milk chocolates paired with nuts or filled with fruit or caramel crèmes. Once more, the dark chocolate and hazelnuts from Galler caught my eye and tastebuds. Toffee Taboo from Sendall Chocolates was a crunchy layering of toffee-coated almonds and cashews on Callebaut chocolate with white chocolate drizzled on top. Every bite was worth the indulgence!

If you love peanut butter, then you would have loved Jer’s Peanut Butter Bars and their pretty confections. Jer himself told me the story of how his company came to be. He left his corporate job to follow his bliss and has become a huge success! You can hear Jer describe his journey in the video above. It’s inspiring stories like these that continually remind me that we should all have the courage to chase our dreams! How can we possibly be anything but successful when we’re doing what we love??

Please stay tuned for Chocolate Bliss – Part 2, which is devoted to raw chocolate. You’ll meet three chocolatiers who use either 100% raw chocolate or a blend of raw and roasted cacao beans, together with spices, herbs, and superfoods. These products are right up there with broccoli and kale!

If you’re crafty and love Christmas, you’ll love Chocolate Bliss – Part 3, which features Jacques Torres and his team demonstrating how to make a Christmas tree and gifts (complete with pretty chocolate ribbon!) out of chocolate! He’s funny and entertaining.

Have you had enough chocolate yet? Of course not!! : ) xo Peace

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Faith in Good People

Love to drive by the runway to see the planes come in!

I’ve mentioned this before on my blog, but over the last several months, I’ve spent a lot of time with my dear Uncle Don who’s been recovering from illness. During that time, we’ve talked A LOT. About how he’s been feeling, health, diet, his experiences growing up and while working on the railroad, current events, books that we’ve read, or interesting articles. He’s an avid reader and loves National Geographic and always fills me in on interesting environmental or wildlife stories.

He also has the most vivid and event-driven dreams and has an uncanny ability to remember them in acute detail. I’ve heard many of them and believe that some would qualify as screenplays for sci-fi movies.

So, after all this time and with all of these wonderful memories, I decided it would be nice to have him share some of his wisdom with everyone. The other day, I sat down with him in front of my video camera and recorded close to 50 minutes of conversation and insights into what he feels makes a good life and what, in his 82 years of life, stands out the most as having an impact on him. I will be posting what he had to say in shorter segments.

In this first video below, he tells a sweet and sometimes funny story about a trip he made out West. In the end, when he thinks back on the experience, and the relationships he developed along the way, however brief, he draws an inspiring and heartwarming conclusion. I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Take off the Mask and Show Your Beauty Behind it

Yesterday, for Halloween, my daughter came over with the kids for dinner and then trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. After we ate, everyone put on their costumes and got ready to head out. But when the time came to leave, our 4-year-old didn’t want to go. He was afraid–mostly of the scary masks. So I stayed in with him to pass out treats while the others went out into the neighborhood. But if kids rang the doorbell wearing masks, he wouldn’t go near the door.

I thought about this after. Why is he so afraid of masks? Yes, some of them are scary and most are not very becoming, but he knows they’re not real; he knows there’s someone behind them and he knows that they can be taken off. And then I thought about the fact that he’s 4 years old and maybe he doesn’t really understand what’s not real. He doesn’t know yet how to be anything but authentic. He hasn’t yet reached the age where many of us put the mask on and leave it there. That point in our lives where we start to believe that we have to be a certain way to please everyone and to be accepted. How many of us are in this boat and as a result, unhappy, unfulfilled, and scared behind the mask?

I believe that most of us truly want to see, hear and feel what is real. We may not always like what we get, but at least we know where we stand. Real is a far more profound teacher than fake or phony. We can better tap into and understand our own authenticity if those around us are expressing their true selves and we can, in turn, help others to do the same. And when we understand exactly who we are, we can better grow into the people we want to be. And this is what true beauty is all about.

So can we all take off our masks and store them for Halloween? Hope so…

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Escape into Chocolate

Joshua Needleman and me at Chocolate Springs Cafe - Joshua invites you all to "Escape into Chocolate"

One of my all-time favorite movies is Chocolat, with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. It’s about a woman and her daughter who move to a small French village, open a chocolate shop and stir up the rigid community, ultimately helping them to let their hair down, be human, and to love. Second to none in this move was the chocolate. The bonbons, the cakes and desserts, the hot chocolate–you name it, it was all beautiful.

Ahh, chocolate. It could possibly be the perfect food–or maybe the perfect drug. It is complex–much like wine and coffee–having over 500 chemical compounds, including theobromine, a cousin of caffeine, and phenylethylalanine, a substance that is released in the brain when we fall in love. But to reap the benefits of chocolate, it must be good quality and of course, consumed in moderation.

Well, after visiting the Chocolate Springs Café in Lenox, MA about a month ago, I decided that the chocolate there was among some of the best to be found in this area. Better yet, the café, which is a unique blend of European and Japanese design, is warm and inviting and a great place to sit on a comfy sofa with a cup of divine hot chocolate and a delicious desert that’s almost too pretty to eat!

And if you’re there, chances are you’ll meet the owner, Joshua Needleman. He’s a brilliant and passionate chocolatier who makes all the beautiful and mouth-watering creations found in the café. The last time I was there, Joshua was nice enough to let me do a video interview with him that you can watch below.

In part 1 of the interview, Joshua explains how the raw cacao bean is transformed into the melt-in-your-mouth final product and shows us the creamy ganache that goes into making his hot chocolate.

He tells a fascinating story in part 2 about the inspiration that allowed the Chocolate Springs Café to materialize and presents a unique and symbolic model, made from chocolate, that he submitted to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation as an idea for a new World Trade Center! This blew me away!! I know you’ll enjoy seeing the model and hearing him tell the story. And if you’re ever in Lenox, MA, make it a point to stop in at the café for a treat for you or someone you love. You’ll be happy you did. Enjoy everyone!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Passion for Yoga

If you’ve been visiting my blog then you may already know that I’m a Bikram yoga enthusiast. I’m pretty dedicated to my practice and credit it with helping me to strengthen my body as well as to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’m not alone in this regard. Many people tell that Bikram yoga helped them to recover from illness or injury or that it played a significant role in discovering their life’s passion. To understand how this happens, it would be best to see for yourself; however, I will say that what goes on in class is a microcosm of the rest of our lives. We’re encouraged to focus, work hard, choose form over depth (i.e., do a little bit right versus doing more, but incorrectly), dissolve any limits that we’ve imposed on ourselves, have patience, and never give up. And as we develop these skills in class, so can we apply them outside in the “real world”.

Last year, I competed for the first time in the New York Regional Yoga Asana Championship in NYC. This was a personal challenge for me because up to that point in my life, I had never competed in something like this. Just the idea of performing on stage alone, in front of an audience was challenging enough–never mind the actual yoga. In the end, I was so happy I faced my fears and did it, and it was a very happy and fulfilling day for me.

This year, I watched the competition, which was equally a treat because as a participant last year, I had missed all the beautiful performances. In addition, Connecticut participants competed at Patriot Place in Foxboro, MA in the New England Regional Championship. This was a fun (and beautiful!) venue and I was able to watch the show with some of my fellow yoga practitioners and instructors and meet some new people as well. You can watch some mind-blowing poses by several of the women competitors here:

Another benefit of watching the show was that I got to mingle with the audience and meet some of the very passionate sponsors who were there showcasing their products. In the video below, you can meet Troy and Ashley from Sambazon, Laura, a Bikram instructor who also sells Shakti activewear, and Juli from Zico. It was a joy to meet them all and to even learn some interesting things that I didn’t know! If you’re a Bikram enthusiast or work out frequently, you’ll appreciate some of the information here:

Yes, it was fun to watch the competition this year; yet seeing everyone work through their 3 minutes on stage had me thinking that it would also be fun to compete again. : )

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saving Grace

My companion at Chocolate Springs Cafe in Lenox, MA : )

Although I am thankful to say that I rarely have one of those days, I did one day last week. Without going into much detail, suffice it to say that it began very early and the overall mood was hectic and stressful. In addition, I had my 4-year-old grandson for the day so that I could bring him to an appointment. And later in the day, I received some unsettling news and was given a last minute change of plans for the next day–both of which caught me off balance and escalated the levels of stress I was already experiencing. In the end, it was a juggling act and a test of mental and emotional strength.

That night, while lying in bed, after my daughter had picked up my grandson, I thought about the day. I thought about the emails and the phone calls and the noise and the stress. And I thought about the moments when I was working on my computer and my grandson would run into the room to talk and ask me questions. I thought about his doctor’s appointment and how he got a little scared and needed a little comforting. I thought about the minutes when I would stop what I was doing to squat down and wrap my arms around him. I thought about how we played Cars on the computer while he sat on my lap, and how he ate two bowls of kale chips : ) I was amazed at this. I thought about how he laid next to me on the sofa and how his curiosity, innocence and pure, beautiful smile comforted me throughout the day. It could have turned out so very different and if he hadn’t been there, it sure would have. But because he was there, this wonderful bundle of energy saved my day. And for this, I am eternally grateful.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Life in the Fast Lane

I’ve mentioned before that I commute to Boston for work a couple of days per week. There are tollbooths along the way. Each one has several Fast Lanes where you can drive your car through without stopping to pay the fee or take a ticket – you just receive a monthly bill based on the toll fees you’ve accumulated. I haven’t signed up this convenience yet and the other day, while on my way to Boston, I thought about whether or not it was such a good idea after all. Since I’ve begun to make this trip, I’ve had some quick but very pleasurable exchanges with some of the tollbooth attendants. Most of the time, they’re pleasant and I usually drive away feeling good. I’m familiar with many of them and with some, I’ve even been able to buy rolls of quarters for parking if I was out. I guess I like the personal interaction that I experience by going through the slow lane. And, anyway, when the traffic is heavy, the fast lanes are even more backed up than the pay lanes.

We have so many opportunities these days to forgo the face time with people. We have online banking and shopping, we can purchase our movie tickest at kiosks at the cinema or order movies through the mail. We make donations online, we can even order a meal over the internet. These are all contemporary conveniences designed to make our lives easier, streamlined, and faster.

Yet, I think about my time in Boston and who I interact with, besides my colleagues, on a daily basis: the tollbooth attendants, my friend Gene who raises money for the homeless, workers at some of the local restaurants while I’m waiting for my food, other customers who are waiting near me, a woman who was selling chocolate at the farmer’s market the other day, the security guard at the bank, the wonderful bank teller who I told the other day, “You’re good,” because she was concerned that she was giving me too many options and she apologized with a big smile on her face (she’s a doll and I love to see her), even the meter maids, who most people complain about . : ) No, my days in Boston would not be the same if I wasn’t able to take a few minutes or even a few moments and talk with these wonderful people or just say hello. As trivial as these occasions may seem, they have formed real relationships and they're the best parts of my day because they always bring me joy. Sometimes I believe that these moments are the real reason I’m there in the first place.

Yes, I could sign up for the fast lane but I’m not sure how often I’d use it. Maybe I’ll just continue to take it slow…

Friday, September 17, 2010

See Below...

I was talking to a girlfriend the other day and she was saying that she gets quite a few emails forwarded to her from her boss that on the top line simply say: See below…

She then went on to say that she felt it was time for her to have the authority to delegate, to pass things on, to write “see below”. Today, I was cc’d on an email that said “see below” to the main recipient, and I just smiled.

I have to say, that in the past, I was one of those people that always felt like I had to do everything myself and would never ask for help. Or, in a position of authority, I would never want to assign a task to someone . Some say that’s a trust issue or a control thing. Or maybe it’s because I wanted to feel like superwoman­—like I was capable of doing it all. OK, I’ve gotten over that and in situations where I simply have too much on my plate, I’m not afraid to ask for help. At this point in my life, I know what I really want to spend my time on and if I can get help with some things, it allows me to have more time to spend on the other things. What I have seen by doing this is that not only does it free up time to work on my priorities, it builds relationships. It builds a sense of teamwork; it builds trust; it makes people feel worthy and confident. It also gives me the time to reciprocate. This is one of the best things about it, because it feels great to be helpful, and to feel worthy, etc. And in the end, I think we’re all here to help each other out.

Are you willing to ask for help?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Are You Committed?

Another lesson from yoga – sort of. For about 9 months, I’ve been practicing yoga almost daily at a studio in Simsbury, CT. There are a number of different options for purchasing classes, either individually or in blocks of classes or time. Since I’ve begun, I’ve been purchasing one month at a time for a number of reasons. Another option is pay by the month but to have the funds automatically deducted from your banking account. The benefit of this is that the price/month is much lower than buying individual months, but it requires a 6-month commitment. Today, my month was up and I told the owner, Richard that I wanted to switch to the autopay for 6 months. His reaction: “Oh my gosh, you’re committing!” I just smiled and said, “I thought you would have known by now that I’m committed.”

A couple of hours later, I was talking to a former exercise instructor who told me that a high percentage of the people who used to sign up for one year memberships at her club would never show up.

So where’s the commitment? Is it in the signature on the contract, or in the credit card? No, it’s in the person. It’s in the person who shows up everyday at the yoga studio to practice or at the gym to workout. Not in the credit card payment that goes through and not in the unused gym membership. As always, actions speak louder than words–and ink. And what makes me feel good about my choice at the yoga studio is that even though Richard would have financially benefited more from me continuing to pay by the month, he was more excited that I chose the 6-month commitment. This reaction speaks very loudly to me that he’s committed too. : )