Happy Summer Solstice!

I am fortunate enough to live in the land of "endless summer," but we still pretend we have seasons. Meaning, it is still "winter" when it is 70 degrees on Christmas Day. So, in celebration of the "official" start of summer, I will post some photos that bear a remarkable resemblance to the "winter" photos that I posted in January. Humor me:) I never get tired of the beach. Can you blame me?

The main thing that most kids enjoy about summer, is NO SCHOOL! Parents, not so much. This means double the work for us, and more sibling disputes to settle. My sons are already testing my patience. I may need to send for reinforcements! .........I wonder if that sleep away camp still has spots open?

I love that the homeowners on the Strand plant so many types of roses. They look and smell amazing!

In any event, the season is upon us, and even though this means my precious beach will be more crowded (isn't it my own personal sanctuary?), I do enjoy seeing all the kids enjoying themselves, and the happiness is palpable in the air.......most of the time.

Happy Summer, and my blog will return next week! xoxoxo

Are you being honest with yourself?

I recently heard a quote that sums it all up for me: "If everyone around you is an idiot, YOU are the idiot." I love this and, even though it is slightly on the negative side, it pulls no punches in letting you know to look in the mirror to solve your problems. I hear a lot of people talking about how "stupid" other people are, whether it be bad driving, work issues, or personal dramas. The amazing part about these people is that they have really convinced themselves that THEY are the only people on the planet who are smart, savvy, or <insert the opposite of your gripe about others>. Happiness quote

Think about the last time you were in a really good mood. Did you feel somewhat invincible? Did you find that other people's behavior did not bother you as much? Then think about the last really bad day you had. EVERYTHING bothered you, and you likely snapped at more than one person for, basically, existing. When you are happy, you exude happiness; therefore, you attract it. People respond to what you are projecting, and that is the best mirror in the world.

This morning, on my walk, I encountered many obstacles. At first, I was annoyed at the group of people who were blocking 3/4 of the path, or the lady who was on the phone and not watching her child, who skated into my ankle. But I realized that I could look at it from several different perspectives, and soon I was able to let it go and even make a joke out of it. They were "wrong" and "inconsiderate" but what was the point of me getting upset about that? They would not change their behavior, and I would waste a bunch of energy being mad, to no end. Instead, I focused on the positive things, and had a lovely exchange with a man walking 8 dogs, asking him "What is your maximum number of dogs to walk?" His reply, "I think this is it!" And we both laughed, wishing each other a great day. It's easy to focus on who is "right" (always ME!) and who is "wrong" (always those other idiots!), but obviously, that is not the path to happiness.


If you are truly being honest with yourself, you will see that YOU are the source of all your moods, and you are choosing what to focus on, whether it be happiness, anger, sadness, or confusion. Yes, we all have emotions, and it is important to honor them, but wallowing in negativity will get you nowhere FAST. Forcing your opinion of what is "right" on others, is not being honest with them. That's called "judging," and it's just another way to give away your happiness.

Happy Holidays: 2013

Have you ever noticed how the holidays seem to bring out the worst in people, including yourself?  The last minute shopping, the pressure to decorate your home with the latest accessories, the cooking, cleaning, and guests from out of town.  Let's not even talk about the money aspect, it's a bottomless pit!  When you are a kid, none of this matters, because you are the one benefitting from it, and you are blissfully unaware of anything, other than the fact that you don't have school, you can sleep in, and there is lots of yummy food to be eaten, plus, you get presents!  Your parents (or the adults in your life) take care of everything, and so the cycle goes.  When you start to have your own family, you accept the role, because that's the cycle. Winter sunsets are the best!

A few years ago, I had lost my job, and had very little money.  I was unable to buy the special food, presents, and decorations.  And you know what?  We were fine.  The kids hardly noticed, and I was astounded at how much easier it was for me.  We still had each other, and the fact that we didn't have a tree, was irrelevant.  The kids told me it didn't matter, and we spent the holidays relaxing, enjoying being together.  They didn't get up early on Christmas morning, because there weren't any presents, but they didn't really need anything, anyway.  We had a nice day, watching movies together and then heading down to the beach for the sunset.

The last few years have taught me many valuable lessons, but during the holiday season, this is the most valuable lesson of all.  Excessive consumerism is not mandatory.  Make your own traditions and enjoy being together.  Take a road trip or a hike.  Make some hot cocoa and watch whatever movies you like.  They don't HAVE to be Christmas movies.  If you are religious, there are many traditions, church services, and gatherings you can attend that are free, or donation based.

We don't need most of the gadgets and junk we already have, much less MORE junk to add to it.  In my family, we have agreed not to get the adults gifts, but spend whatever money we have on the kids.  As the kids have gotten older, they just want money.  This is not really AS fun, but I do enjoy mailing off my cards with gift cards stashed inside.  Since we live far away from our relatives, I enjoy the thought of them opening my card and maybe having a distant memory of who we are.  Someday, we will all be together for the holidays, but, until then, this will have to suffice!

Nothing warms like a nice fire!

This year, we got a tree, and I put lights on it, telling my son, "You can help me put on the ornaments later."  Well, we never got around to that, and we still think it looks fine.  The cats still like to drink the water, and climb up the trunk. There is no pressure for it to be "perfect" or adhere to any set of rules.  We enjoy the scent of the tree, and the pretty lights.  Next year, we may or may not get one.  It's no big deal either way.

Christmas, and the holidays, are about the Spirit, family, and love.  As long as we enjoy each other, not much else really matters.  Blessings to all of you during this special season!


Are you wearing your unhappiness?

I live in a beautiful beach community, and I try to take advantage of the beach as often as I can.  Yesterday, having just recovered from the flu, I decided to go down and just breathe in the fresh air, taking as long of a walk as I felt I could enjoy.  As I walked along, just breathing and smiling at people, I noticed a group of women jogging towards me on the strand path.  Now, these women were very noticeable because, in this community, you Perfect Day for a beach walk

rarely see obese people.  I think this is a combination of simply "the LA mentality" in which women in particular are shamed into thinking that they have to be thin in order to be beautiful, but I choose to embrace the positive part of that mentality, which is that we live where it is sunny and 70 most of the year, and outside exercise is possible almost every day.  Additional impetus being, at any given time you could be asked to attend a pool or jacuzzi party and if you are not wearing a bikini, you may as well be sporting a burka for all the strange looks you will receive.  Your choices are to remain antisocial, or live somewhere else.  So, this group of significantly overweight women struggled towards me, some at a slow jog, some at a brisker walk, but all with the same expression:  misery.  The woman who was clearly their "leader" was 100 pounds soaking wet, and as they passed me, I heard her spouting a bunch of nutritional facts, using words like "bad" and "crap" to describe choices someone might make.  With her every peppy word, it seemed that the energy of the group spiraled down further.  As I continued down the path, I saw more of these women, who were the "stragglers", and finally, one, sitting on the side of the path, almost in tears, clearly not "having fun."  I almost stopped to ask her if she was ok, but I  did not want to add to her palpable humiliation.  I was overcome with sadness at the shame we inflict on others for simply using food as a coping tool in order to deal with the difficult issue of self hatred.  Their addiction is no worse than the drug user, the alcoholic, the sex addict, or the shopping addict, to name a few.

I have been reading Collette Baron-Reid's book, "Weight Loss for those who Feel too Much," and this has opened my eyes, not only to some of my issues, but to many others on the same path.  How are we helping food addicts by making them feel even worse about themselves?  The Biggest Loser is so painful for me to watch that I have yet to watch one entire episode.  Is our value really all in the number on the scale?  And, if we gain 5 pounds, we are "bad" and "in trouble."  This is only compounding the problem.  I am reasonably sure that if, instead of boot camps and fat free foods, we gave each other positive compliments, aka positive reinforcement, the tides would turn much more quickly. We can encourage others to be healthy and love themselves, and this, in turn, will help them to make different choices to care for their bodies.  I know many trainers who think

Make time for fun every day!

posting photoshopped images of "perfect" bodies is inspirational, but this is the opposite for most people.  This really makes me angry!  The message is:  if you can't be perfect, you may as well stay home and eat chips.  I saw an ad for "Plus size yoga" the other day....YES!  Great idea!  As a society, we have placed the emphasis on the wrong things for too long. Unhappiness makes you want to soothe yourself, and for many, food is that balm.  As a recovered anorexic, I can tell you that NOT eating comes from the same place.  It is all about self punishment and misery in that space.  Until we teach people to really love themselves, they way they are, we can not really help them to care for their bodies in a healthy way.

I am deeply saddened by the trainers and coaches who think they are helping people by reinforcing the guilt and shame pattern.  The fact is, this is so prevalent in today's society because fat is the last accepted prejudice.  It can be used as a cop out for many things, and it makes thinner people feel superior.  "At least I am not THAT fat!"  is something I have heard from others.  I encourage you to have compassion for those who are struggling, and offer loving support, instead of using it to make yourself feel better.  Perhaps you can learn something about yourself in the journey.  Fat is simply wearing your emotions on the outside.  Cancer is wearing them on the inside.  How about if we actually DEAL with our emotions?  That's a novel concept.

Blessings to your and yours today!

What do YOU think?

Wow, Welcome to the year 2013.  I don't know about you, but I am excited for the promise it brings.  I have been working on making lots of changes, and I think many of you are moving into a place where you can share more of yourself with others, and release the fear that has kept us isolated for so long.  A few nights ago, I had a dream, which I felt was the culmination of many things, but the message was very clear:  Focus more on ME, and stop giving my power away. The Dream:

My castle has many beautiful rooms, such as this one.

I found myself in a beautiful castle, decorated with many tapestries and luxurious items, each room more pleasing than the next.  I became aware that, while I did live here, none of the rooms were MINE.  I began to search diligently for a door that would lead to what belonged to me, and I eventually found myself with my hand on a doorknob that I knew led to the basement.  I opened it, and as I descended, the glow was palpable.  I was reminded of Aladdin's cave, as my eyes took in jewels, gold, and piles of treasures, as far as the eye could see!  I knew within the depths of my soul that THIS was MY ESSENCE.  My entire house/life had been spent asking others, "What do you think, what do you want?," and this had resulted in a house/life that, while beautiful, was not my truth.  As I stood in awe of my very pure and original essence, I realized that I had never before truly known my essence, untainted by others' expectations or ideas for me.  I had let my need to "heal" or "help" others, get in the way of what I needed to do for myself!  I bowed my head in gratitude and vowed to myself to always put myself first, from this day forward.  In love, I would give myself my essence, and others are welcome to share it, but no one can take it.

My life has taught me many things, and I am grateful for each lesson that I have learned, for they have been my stepping stones for where I have landed today, which I am eternally grateful for.  My work is not done, by any means, but I know that I have begun a new path today, and from here on out, I will honor myself FIRST, for my pure essence is what I must always nourish.  I am a healer, and I know this is on my path of purpose, but I can heal others from a place of love for myself, instead of giving myself away.  To share your essence and honor your truth is the greatest love of all, is it not?

Happy 2013, wishing you all the best for this next year, and beyond!  Namaste.

Are we having fun yet?

No matter who you are, at some point in your life, you will find yourself feeling sad, or anxious, or even depressed. I was talking with a friend the other day, saying, "I feel like a fraud! I wrote a book on how to be happy, and I am NOT happy today." She pointed out, "No one is happy ALL the time, that's scary!" I realized that the human experience is about all of us, and that includes emotions of all kinds. As we interact with people and circumstances around us, there will always be challenges and obstacles. That is the nature of life, and the entire human experience. The difference between being happy, or sad, or anything else, is in how you handle it. Do you allow one experience to ruin your day? Do you allow one person to make your life miserable? This is an important distinction. When someone cuts you off in traffic, do you scream and yell and stay mad for an hour? Do you call a friend and vent to them about it? Or, do you have a little anger flare up and then let it go? I have noticed, that in the past year, my newfound contentment has allowed me to let things go much more quickly. I don't stay in the hurt as long. A recent painful experience with another person caused me to shed a few tears and feel very hurt. But, I was able to meditate and release the negativity, therefore, allowing me to process what happened, and even though I am still very sad about it, I am not storing it inside my body and feeding off the hurt it caused. I now have the ability to move through it, get under it, and use it as a lesson.

Most of us are moving through life, balanced on a tenuous thread of emotion. A lot of us have experienced so much pain that we have become bitter and cynical. What we don't realize is that we have become the very thing that hurt us in the beginning. We sit atop our castle of pain, with a sniper rifle, waiting for the next person who comes along. As soon as they do anything that could be construed as offensive, BAM! They are now the enemy, and we can proclaim to all the world that we have slain another "bad person."

The problem with this is that we do not give anyone a chance to get past that gate, because we are too afraid to trust. We exist behind our pain, and it is very lonely. We are "safe", but at what cost? Do you really want to live your life in pain? The only way to get past this hurdle is to start taking chances, and come down from your perch. As hard as it is, you must slowly start to trust that not every single person is out to get you. A couple of years ago, I was in this place. I had been so hurt and betrayed that I didn't even trust myself to talk to people. So, I became withdrawn and isolated. I built up walls to protect myself, and I healed. In the recent year, I had to force myself to smile at people. At first, it felt fake. But gradually, people began to respond positively, and I expanded into talking to people. Now, I can smile and speak to strangers without any fear. Sometimes, people are still rude and hateful, but they are the exception. Most people will treat you the way you treat them. And this is where I want to live.

Wishing you all the very best of holidays! Say Hello to someone new today:)

Mother's Day 2011

When I was born, I was the girl my parents always wanted, after three boys. My brothers were wary of me, since I was welcomed in such a different way than my predecessors. They were to use me as their human guinea pig for many years to come, and the verdict was, "Yep, she cried. I guess that firecracker between the toe is painful."  My mother was overwhelmed and underpaid, as she was a typical housewife, with four kids to wrangle. We were expected to go to church three times a week, and not bother my mother, or we would get a spanking when my dad got home. If he walked in to us fighting, we were likely to go to bed without eating dinner. The first time I tried a cigarette (and threw up) at the encouragement of my brother, I tried to tell my mother but was hushed quickly, "That must have been a dream, your brother would never do anything like that." I learned that anything I told my mother was likely to get this response, unless it was good news. If I was hurt, or sad, or confused, I was to go to my room and not come out until I "was happy again." I idolized my mother, as she seemed to be able to always be happy, and not let anything or anyone make her upset.  As a child, I wished I could be like her, and always smile, no matter what happened. I began to write when I was 5 or 6, and I would hide my book under my pillow, so that anytime I had a problem, I escaped to my room and wrote, or read, until it went away. My mother used to tell me to "Stop reading and go outside!" but it was the only way that I could be sure that no one would hurt me. I would read for days on end, and it became my escape. The city librarian knew me by name, and became exasperated with me after I had read "everything in the children's section." She sent me upstairs at the ripe old age of 7, where I discovered the much larger world of young adult literature. I was set free in this wonderland, and thus began my adult education. From time to time, my mother would ask me what I was reading, and I almost always lied, since she would not have liked me reading "Goodbye Mr. Chips" at 8 years old. As the years have turned into decades, I have realized that my mother was genuinely doing her best to hold it together for us. As I have grown, and am now also a mother, she and I have come to a certain understanding about our relationship. I do not judge her or hold her accountable for my life's struggles. I thank her for her part in what made me the woman I am today. Though unwittingly, she helped me develop tools for life, and, I am happy to report that I have discovered a certain amount of inner peace. Knowing that hers was born out of the same instinct as mine, self preservation, is somewhat enlightening. There seems to be a very fine line between inner peace and insanity, and while she may have skirted the edge of that gap for some time, I think she and I have found a place where we can both exist in our own form of peace. So Happy Mother's Day, to all of you, and to my mom, who I respect and love with all my heart.

How high do you go?

I was explaining to my teenager the concept of a "pain threshold," and as I was telling him how, as newborn beings, we have nothing to compare our pain to, and so every little bit of discomfort is an occasion for crying. This is truly the epitome of "living in the moment". As we grow older, we experience more pain, and we realize it has an end, and we start to understand that certain types of pain are more uncomfortable than others. Emotional pain is also learned, manifesting early on as fear, usually of punishment or even physical pain. These emotional lessons cause us to make choices which are designed to avoid pain, and thus begins our lesson on denial and self deprecation. The pain threshold increases, and as we grow older, we start to understand that we can actually "check out" of this emotional option, using distractions such as alcohol, sex, drugs, and food. We block our pain and therefore we block our lessons. if you take pain medication for your physical pain, it can sometimes result in you re-injuring yourself, since you are blocking your nerve's communication with your brain, which is your warning from your body. In the same way, blocking your emotional pain can cause you to continue to repeat the same mistakes and therefore, never recover from that injury.

The last few days have been painful for me, and I have been tempted to create distractions for myself. But as I sat at home last night, more alone than I have been in a while, I found a place in myself which enjoyed that, and welcomed the pain as a teacher. Today I feel a little sad, but it is nothing I can't "handle." Relationships teach me a lot about myself, and when the other person is in more pain than I am, I have to reach inside myself and use the resources I have created from past pain. This is a gift, and one I use quite often. Creating the space to let this happen is key. Hope everyone had a great holiday!

2009 gives way to 2010

The holidays are always a time of great reflection for me. I see people I haven't seen all year, my family and friends from back home. It generally give me that much-needed "restart" and even though it isn't always comfortable, it leads me down a path of questioning my choices over the past year. Last year I ran into a old flame, and we spent a few magical nights together, only to have reality crash our trip down memory lane. As I look back at it now, I understand what I needed to learn from that experience. As one of my favorite songs says, "Life throws you curves, and you learn to swerve." When I was 20 and had no life experience, my relationship with him seemed like magic. Now that I have been down a few more paths, I see him for who he really is, and that is not someone I can share my time with. Over the years, I have met many men who seemed to fit into my life at first, but over time, it became clear that it was actually NOT a good fit. I'd like to think that I've learned a thing or two in my time on earth, and one of the lessons I'm reminded of today is the one of compassion. Only this time I need to have compassion for MYSELF. It's easy for us to lose sight of the fact that yes, we make mistakes, and yes, we make bad decisions. But that is the way life works, and there is no reason to beat yourself up about it. All we can do is move on and make sure that we remain positive and moving forward.

As another year comes to an end, I look back and realize how many lessons I've learned this year. Many of them were quite painful. I suffered a few losses which still hurt my heart. But in the end, as my good friend told me today, we always end up with the things and people that we are supposed to. Welcome home, and Happy Holidays to all my dear friends and the special people in my life.