Friday, December 31, 2010

My Word for 2011

I didn’t have “a word” for 2010. I was introduced to the idea then, but it just didn’t click. This year, it seems to fit more…but in true Lisa fashion, I didn’t really think about it until now.

The last night of 2010. Nothing like a little pressure.

Honestly, I’d thrown around a couple of words. But in realizing I only have a few hours left, I’ve been searching Thesauruses (Thesauri??), cheating by looking at others’ words, meditating in hopes I’d have an epiphany, and gazing into my crystal ball. (Ok, maybe not the last one. But wouldn’t that be cool??)

I felt the pressure to find the right word. After all, it’s going to carry me through an entire year! What if I picked a word and then on January 2nd I think of a MUCH better one, like some perfect comeback that pops in your head two hours after the argument is over…what a failure I’d be! (*snicker*)

To my lovely sisters in the Tribe, I had offered “Dharma”. It had struck something in me. Seemed broad enough. Pretty unique. But it had only plucked one string…not played a chord.


Of course, the answer was the hat on my head that I’d turned the house upside-down to find. Right here. What has been floating around LifeUnity the past few weeks? What have I said it all begins with? (Quiz time – you get a happy face sticker if you guess correctly)


It all begins with awareness.

There are reasons I want to not use this word.

  1. You’ve already heard it. It feels like giving a big drum roll and then opening the 2-story red velvet curtain to reveal…….canned spam. Eh. 
  2.  It is “my word”. The biggie. The one that is already changing everything. How can that be a word of the year – just one year? What happens when 2012 rolls around? Can I use “awareness-est”
  3. It scares me. Honestly. To commit to this is committing to you (and more importantly, to myself), to LIVE this word. 

And while I can get over the fact that the big moment might have been a let-down (this doesn’t usually happen, promise!), and have faith that I’ll find an equally exciting word on Dec. 31st, 2011, that last reason is a stumper.

Living awareness means being constantly aware – of who I am and how I am consequently acting based off of that awareness. It means knowing my phenomenal self and taking responsibility for that self. 

It means that when I’m fighting with hubby and I’m aware that I’m turning into psycho-wife or that he may just be right (if it happens to be 1 of the 999 times that he is), I have to acknowledge that. Out loud. Yeah. Bet the thought of that scares you too.

Or if I read or see something that no longer harmonizes with my song (for example, business techniques that just feel…dehumanizing), being aware of my discomfort and not charging right along with the crowd. No matter how many thousands of people are dancing to the other music.

There are so many more situations I can think of to use as examples, but I’m getting a bit queasy thinking about them. Right here, right now, I’m shaking it off and moving into awareness.

So there you are. My word – my practice - for 2011: Awareness.

I will continue to blog about how this manifests in my life, how it ties in with Yoga and Buddhism and art and running and parenting and shaving and belly blob. I will probably become more adamant about you becoming more aware as well. (I love you and all, but I selfishly don’t want to constantly bump into a whole bunch of sleepwalkers.)

And we’ll continue our journey together, scratching out the 2010 for the next few weeks on documents as we forget our mindful awareness.

In full awareness and with wishes for many beautiful days ahead,

Namaste and Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Messenger

Last night, I had a chat with an amazing friend.  She is not only completely grounded and inspirational, but she also sees me.  That alone is invaluable.

Among other things, we discussed my ongoing awakening to my animal spirit*, the Hawk.

*Before I lose those who don't get animal spirits or feel it is a bit too whoo-woo, just think of it this way: There is something that keeps showing up in my life and it does so repeatedly and in frequently unexplainable situations.  It is odd enough that I am paying attention.  Sound fair?

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I've done a lot of looking into the meaning of the Hawk and have focused on the "seeing the bigger picture" aspect.

During our conversation, my brilliant friend focused on the fact that the Hawk is a "messenger".  That perhaps this is to what I am supposed to listen: I am to be a messenger.  I talk frequently about this...feeling that I innately understand "out-there" things, concepts that may be elusive to others.  Concepts that are crucial to awakened, peaceful living.  Concepts that are generally ignored in the plight of mundane living.  I'm also not willing to fly away to a mountain-top (yet) and meditate on these for years.

So perhaps I am to be the messenger here and now, to share that which (I and) others need, to do so in the muck of the real world.

This alone wasn't that new, but the other aspect she brought up - that perhaps I am afraid to do this - was like a punch in the gut.  A pleasant one, if there can be such a thing.

The fear that I don't understand the message well enough to share it.  The fear that I won't share it in an appropriate manner and the message will get lost in translation.  The fear that I'll get too preachy.  The fear that I won't get preachy enough and will just be a soft self-help guru while the true depth of message lies untapped and unheard.

I am continuing to be with this, knowing this is where today, tomorrow (and 2011, if I want to think in those terms) is taking me.  I know that those of you who read this need what I have to say in some form or fashion (be it about my personal story or other), and that i need to hear you just as much.

I am hurrying this post as life scurrys on around me - hubby & kids are ready to leave.  Time (and to-do's) march on.

But moving into who I am, I knew I had to share this message first.

(Please share: Is there anything you've heard recently - with ears or otherwise - that is calling you to listen??)


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Plans, Procrastination, Problems, and Inner Peace

The short version:

Plans for New Year's Eve fell through.  In my thoroughly chaotic mind, this connected to business-related success-driven actions and my recent aversion to all-things-"success-based" and caused a thorough review of my motivations and inner peace. (Yep, welcome to my world.)

I learned a lesson, am feeling more satisfied, but still have no plans for New Year's Eve.

The longer version:

We had plans to stay in a condo with family on New Years Eve.  Because of our procrastination (another lesson: don't make plans based on reservations that haven't been made), they filled up.  We are now left with the choice to go nutty (call all around to find a hotel with availability and hopefully a suite so the kids can sleep while adults stay up, find a place to board the dog, potentially spend way more than we were planning - all in the name of "doing something" on New Years) or staying at home for a quiet celebration.

I will admit - I'm bummed.  I tend to get easily disappointed when anything I'm looking forward to falls through.  The situation didn't even have to be an actual plan.  If the seed was planted in my head and then it didn't happen, it's just as disappointing as if an actual event fell through.

It's the same with the mini-marathon in 2011 (which I may not be able to run do to a possible surgery - more on that later) and a fancy new website.  I can deeply envision success with both.  I have my positive visions of crossing the finish line; of clicking on and visiting a site that makes me smile.

It is so hard to accept what is.  I stumble after what could be.  We all do.  The drive for success is completely based on what could be.

Now don't get me wrong.  I don't think this drive is bad per se.  It keeps us moving instead of laying in bed all day and wasting away.  To live, to experience new things, we must know and embrace change.  And why not dream about, have some sort of conscious part in that flow of change?

The danger comes because in clamoring after success or the race or the party, the "what could be" becomes "good" and the "what is" becomes bad - that which we are trying to move away from.

The more I focused on what could be, the more I didn't want what is.

And therein lies the problem.

Actions become motivated by aversion.  There is a big difference between acting (thinking, dreaming) while in acceptance of our current circumstances and acting to avoid those circumstances.  Change happens either way, but our inner peace differs dramatically.  2011 is going to arrive whether I'm ready for it or not.  Whether the midnight switch (and, depending on whether my lesson is learned, each moment after that) involves peace is up to me.

What is is all we have.  If we can't appreciate that, we certainly won't appreciate what was or what will be.  On Friday night, I will probably be at home with sleeping kiddos, clinking glasses with hubby at midnight as we watch the ball light up on t.v.  If I just observe that, I feel quite fortunate to be in that position. 

But just in case: if anyone in southern Indiana knows of any good (family-friendly but adult-interesting) New Year's parties, you can still let me know...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


This holiday season, more than any other, I appreciate the meaning of "busy".

In the past 9 days I have driven over 1100 miles.  (And yet, I have not gone outside a 180 mile radius of our home.) In one day alone, the kids and I drove over 8 hours...starting and ending at our house.  I've attended 6 parties and spent the night at our own house less than half of those nights.

In the midst of all of it, I kept saying yes to each new opportunity.  I was exhausted.  The kids' bedtime became non-existent.  I drove on snow-covered roads where lanes were invisible and drivers just staggered themselves appropriately.  I all but disappeared from my blog, FB, and Twitter, the clutter in the house kept growing as we'd run in, re-pack, and head back out, and I'm pretty sure I missed an appointment or two in there.  (Sorry again, Kathy!)  

And I would do it all again.

The only difference?  I would remember my self in all of it.

We all tend to get busy -- whether it is a project at work, family schedules, an art project with a deadline (*ahem* - Sketchbook Project....), classes...  In fact, many people seem to thrive on it.  Yet most people, like myself from this past week, just wind up feeling exhausted and cranky.  (Yep - cranky momma.  Not a pretty site.)

What sticks out to me is two main points:
What exactly you are busy doing or being and Where You are in all of it.

I was fortunate to be busy connecting with others.  Seeing friends and family, sharing stories and drinks, travelling with well-behaved children and singing Christmas songs (over and over and over and over and...).

At the end of it, though, I just feel wiped.  In the interest of maintaining the "busy schedule", I let go of healthy eating.  I let go of my yoga practice.  I let go of connecting with all of you - even if just for a short "hello".  I let myself go.

So even though I was busy and happy, I was slowly draining myself of energy.  If I would have kept this up, I would have unconsciously started relying on others for energy (using emotional tactics to draw anger or sympathy, physically relying on others to do things I could have done myself, etc.).  If I had to guess, you know someone like this - or have been there yourself.  (We all have.)

As the days continue - holiday season, new year resolutions, exciting upcomings or not, I invite you to pay attention to your "busi-ness".  When and where and why are you busy?  Are you really there when you feel busy?  How do you feel when you are done?

As for me, I plan to hide some of this holiday chocolate and continue with the laundry.  I'll find the kids somewhere in their pile of toys and pull them out for lunch.  I'll continue to reflect on 2010 and dream of 2011.

But busy or not, I'll keep re-membering myself.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Still Here

Yes, I'm still here.

Amidst unexpected travels, nights away from home, unplowed roads, blessed times with friends and family, coughs and colds, family history - and stories - bubbling up from ancestorial depths, wine, far too much food, and repeated nights of no sleep until after 2 a.m. ....

I'm still here.

I have regrets that I haven't been able to share with you all that has occurred, to pass along some fascinating wisdom that will begin to germinate on this Winter solstice and grow into....well, an even more fascinating 2011.

I hope to return with more regular blog posts next week.

Until then, may you each enjoy blessings among the chaos.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Early Morning Reminder

Sometimes, we are asked to slow down.

This morning, I woke at 6 a.m.  It was, of course, a morning where I could have slept in.  School had been cancelled due to the snow and hubby was home until the afternoon anyway to help with rousing children.

My body had other ideas.

Instead of lying in bed trying to squeeze my shut eyes into submission, I gently shuffled into the kitchen and prepared some warm chamomile tea.  I then moved into the living room and turned off any lights behind me.  I sat in front of our large window, letting the tea warm me from the inside, and watched a quiet storybook before me.

The snow was still blue from the dark morning sky.  A substantial overnight storm had erased any traces of previous attempts to clear the ground, creating a glistening sheet that left no hints as to where the road might be.

The whir from the laptop fan started to enter my consciousness (a grating noise that before, I suppose, I'd learned to ignore).  I shut  it off and returned to the hug of silence.

And it was that that most held my awareness.  The silence.  Even the trees seemed to hold themselves in statuesque positions.  No movement.  In other scenarios, it might have been eerie.  Here, in that moment, I was deeply comforted by three words that popped into my head:

Death.  No breath.

Leaves were gone, all signs of emerging life blanketed under this light blue pile of glitter.  Everything held still.  No wind.  No breath.  And it was so absolutely beautiful.  It was as it should be.

With no breath, no cycle of in and out,
no seasons, no clearing out with the exhale and the winter,
no renewing with the inhale and spring,
life would cease.

I wonder - how close do we wander to death each day as we stifle our own breath...our physical breath as we limit deep breathing, rush through days...and our spirit's breath as we lay down in submission to "shoulds" and expectations.

I flirt with the thoughts of death that enter my head - not in a macabre way, but with the silent, still, pristine form that death brings to a vibrant life.  The transition that occurs.  The last exhale of this body so that we may inhale into a new space.

This morning, as my tea dwindled, I admit to returning to bed.  When I re-awoke, the snow plow had bustled up the blanket that had captivated me and the world was again panting all around.  But that beautiful moment of silence, that slow melting into breath and death through my living room window, has stayed with me.

For parents, for workers with bustling jobs, for anyone whose mind is not as still as the trees with no wind, I wish you even one morning where you too can experience this bliss.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Follow my Guest Post!

I'll share my story with you today....just not here.

I'm honored to be guest posting today over at Dirty Footprints Studio.

Go HERE to check it out!!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Life Lessons From a Silly Band

First, I want to thank you all for the beautiful comments yesterday.  Knowing a post that I wrote from an authentic place spoke to so many is comforting and encouraging.


I continue to be tickled by the ways this emerging awareness manifests in my life.

Yesterday we were sitting down to dinner with our kids.  Our daughter had a frustrated look on her face, so I asked what was wrong.

Holding up her silly band* with both hands, she cried, "It won't go back!!".  (*For those non-parents, silly bands are a fun fad right now of flexible bracelets that have an original shape and will return to this shape once removed from the arm.)

I smiled and suggested she just let go.

Sure enough, when she stopped pulling at it and set it on the counter, it popped back to its kitty-like shape.

Not to be easily consoled though, she then furrowed her brow and said, "But it won't make a star!".


I won't go into our parenting techniques from this point forward.  Here's what I think is cool about this experience, though:

1)  Practicing awareness in yoga, when writing, when mediating, when breathing, when....leads to increasing awareness when I'm not intending to practice.  It would have been easy to suggest she eat instead of play and miss and very beautiful moment for us both.  Instead, I got a nifty blog post out of it.  (Ok, ok...the point being that the benefits of practicing go beyond the practice itself.)

2)  Let go.  Stop pulling at life to try to find what you want.  It really is right here if you'll just let what is, be.

3)  You can't make a kitty into a star.  (Imagination games excluded here.)  Why whine about what isn't?  Either go buy the star or appreciate the kitty.  Change the situation and/or appreciate what you have.


Monday, December 13, 2010

A Quiet Decision (Moving In)

My dear blog friends,

As I explained to my dear hubby this morning, a week away from a blog is like a month away from work.  An unexplained (of sorts) absence.  For this, I apologize.  Allow me to share what I can as to what has been going on behind the scenes.

This is how I see my social studio:

BLOG:   The main area of the studio - the lobby and many adjoining rooms.  A very open, airy space that smells of dried lavendar and chamomile.  Art painted by friends who have visited adorns the walls (sometimes painted directly on the walls).  White poofy chairs and couches, reclaimed wood tables, shelves full of books, and some display racks waiting to be filled with my art-for-sale surround the room.

I sit behind the "About Me" desk (yeah, I gotta get that written) and mull around adding more and more to the studios.  I throw yoga mats here and there, leave small wisdom notes tucked in plants for you to find, use the powder blue chalk to leave a joke on the tiny chalkboard plaque hanging by the window.  You explore, learn, and grow in awareness.  (And hopefully, you chat with me via comments as you have time.  Otherwise it gets kinda lonely sitting there.)

It is here that I greet you, that you get an impression of what "LifeUnity" is all about.  You can explore the classrooms of my ideas, stay awhile and take a class (meaning - for now - just pick up some information based off what I share - actual classes will probably be down the road).

FACEBOOK:   The cafe off to the left side of the lobby.  It is here that everyone sits down on unbelievably-comfortable-but-posture-supporting chairs & couches & floor pillows, shares a chai (I suppose you can still come if you don't like chai, but be prepared to be converted), and discusses.  It is where we share our stories back and forth.  We settle into comfy chairs or just stop in for a quick "hi!", toss out some random ideas, and laugh.  (Many times these conversations carry over into the blog as we move back and forth, but the smell of the fresh-baked croissants in the cafe certainly adds something to the ambiance.)

(Join us in the cafe here)

TWITTER: The display window.  There isn't much room but these windows can be chock full of colorful goodies.  (You'll find me hanging out at the front door sometimes too, so when you're at the window we may share a little chat!)

(See what's currently on display here)

NEWSLETTER:  This is the beautiful studio up the well-worn wood stairs that you can access once you sign up (in my studio, I envision a little clipboard with a pink glitter pen.  Virtually, you can just sign up here.)  It is the area that contains information not accessible to others just browsing around.  I'm still working around with what I'm carrying up those stairs, so we both get to enjoy the discoveries.

I'm on Flickr and SmugMug and Vimeo and YouTube and LinkedIn and all those...but I don't venture in those rooms often.  Someday I may move the boxes of stuff stored there into a main-floor studio room.  Or I may hire movers. Who knows.

So what does this have to do with my absence?

Before this, I was more interested in getting the rooms set up.  Creating an environment for you and for me, making sure to display items appropriately, pushing couches here and there, trying to get the "right" items in the display window.  I received a lot of positive feedback (thank you!) and encouragement to keep going.

But each day, I would leave my social studio.  I would go home to a house where I didn't practice yoga, I wasn't the same balanced me that wondered in the cafe, and where I all too often let paints sit unused instead of splashing it on the walls.  And I was getting tired.

I would return to the studio with less and less inspiration to paint, fewer ideas for conversation, total blocks as to what to include in my studios.  And absolutely no jokes.  I was running myself dry.

The past few weeks I have been here and there at the social studio, but have spent more time just meditating in my small corner altar.  What has it led to?

A quiet decision.

I am moving in.  I am moving into my social studio.  I am moving into myself.  I am moving into right here, right now.

There is nowhere else to go, no one else I want to be.  To help me re-member this, I'm going to stop trying to go somewhere else and be someone else.

Words sound trite which is a huge reason I haven't blogged recently.  Trying to find -or perhaps worse, create - words to communicate where I am right now is like giving you a bouquet of roses that are made of rolled up papers describing the roses.  You may be able to picture it but there isn't really a way to experience the essence of it without giving you the actual rose.  And unfortunately, I can't do that.  The rose can only be found in Practice.

But keeping the rose to myself is fairly selfish.  So I will do the best I can to continue to share...even if it is just  origami.

For now, this means moving in.  Expanding myself enough that I incorporate both the social studio and my home into one being.  Opening enough that I never leave.  Making my practice such that my conversations with my hubby, my mother, the barista, my son's teacher, and each of you radiate from my true self...that I don't yell and stomp out of my house only to float into the lobby of LifeUnity with a blissful smile on my face.

Words words words.

I have noticed many changes occurring in many of you with whom I am connected.  Job changes or departures, new titles, losses and gains, love and deep anger.  It is an uneasiness that I think all of us are feeling.

I have no advice.  I can only share where I am and open my studio to you, to allow you to explore, stay as long as you wish, but eventually walk out the door and into your own practice.

I do hope that each of us stops trying to move so much.  Moving out of uncomfortable situations, rearranging things to get more visitors, being store owners in our social studios and humans at home.

Until then, I will continue settling in.  Please, share some chai with me.  Find some inspiration (a breath) around the studio.  Leave a comment for me or for another visitor to discover - keep the conversation flowing.

I will be here - more than I have been before.

I extend to you right now an open invitation to do the same. 


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Reality Check

At 9 a.m., I was given a Reality check.

This morning my husband ran a few tests on us as part of a health initiative his company is doing.  (He's a pharmacist so he just brought the tests home - which is a huge bonus when the temp is under 20 degrees F.)  Basically, if we meet certain standards we get money in a health savings account.  Nice, eh?

After 12 hours of fasting and an odd early morning craving for my iced chai, we began.  My tests were flying along - excellent cholesterol (yay for vegetarian diet!), great blood pressure, blood sugar fine, weight normal, BMI ok....then....boom.

Reality. (Yeah, don't look too closely.  I took this picture without the scale on.)

The body fat percentage.  I won't list my exact numbers, but I am "Over Fat".  AAAAAUUUGGGHH!  (I was blessed with good genes - I'm 5' 8.5" which means that weight/fat usually just spreads out.  But because of that, I am deceived into believing it is not there.  I guess tighter jeans should have been a clue.)

And yes, I am sharing this slightly embarrassing fact with you.  Why?  Because it is part of my story.  Because being honest hopefully encourages you to do the same.

I'm really not that distressed over it - just awakened.  I am not going to try to lose weight.  Let me repeat:  This is NOT about the weight.

I am, however, going to get that fat percentage number down.  I consider it a challenge.  I am well aware that all of these standards are fairly arbitrary; that overall I am quite healthy.

However, how I do one thing is how I do all things.  How I deal with this one small obstacle to total physical health is how I will deal with one small obstacle on my path to peace.  This is just an objective measure of something that I've known - my health is sliding.  In paying attention to my mind I have forgotten my body.  And yet, without my body, my mind too will disappear.

I want to ensure that anyone who reads this does not take this to mean "over fat" or any form of low or high weight is a "bad thing".  It will have consequences, to be sure, but people whose weight fall in the "normal" range also have health causes and effects.  It is part of the blessing of having a experience what having a body means.

I enjoy being aware.  I can now make conscious decisions based off a more true-picture of myself.  I can see that fat that is hiding in there.  It is the same reason I do yoga, art, meditation -- to understand a more complete picture of myself and the world around me.  To be aware.

"Wherever we are we are our true person" 
-Master Linji/Thich Nhat Hanh

Via a body-fat scale, meditation, paint, yoga, deep reflection, and whatever methods I can, I choose to constantly remind myself of that person so that I may radiate that being.

I'm going to make the whole process as peaceful as possible.  That means I'm not "dieting" per se but going to be much more mindful of my food.  I'm not greatly altering my workout schedule but I am going to pursue more active living.  And one thing you can be sure of?

I'm not giving up my iced chai.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nothing To Do, Nowhere To Go.

I have nothing to do.
I have nowhere to go.
And I am waking up to who I am.

(a variation on the title of a book I am reading by Thich Nhat Hanh.)

I am still here, missing several days of blogging, hundreds of Facebook updates, and thousands of Tweets.  I am not shunning the online world by any means - I have met the most fascinating people here and have no intentions of letting these relationships go.

I am, however, resolving to dance with this state of being as long as it takes to embody the dance.  That means not walking off of the dance floor to take care of that which previously seduced me.  I will learn these moves until my muscles embody every turn and twist, until my face memorizes the feel of the breeze that blows past.

I don't know what this means in the outside world.  I don't yet know this dance and where it will whirl me to.

I will dance with the dishes, dance with the bills, dance with the painful memories that are surfacing.  Dance with my anger, dance with the decisions.

The computer that sits just off of the dance floor blinking with unread messages?  The financial security that whistles softly from beneath the bleachers that can be mine if only I focus on Business instead of this "pointless" dance? The Sale signs that tempt me just out the door, leading to hundreds of bargains?  Those fears that keep sneaking on the dance floor, laughing like a bullying high school girl, trying to trip me up?

I have nowhere else to go but here.  
I have nothing else to do but this dance. 
I resolve to live nothing else other than what is.

Lest I leave you with just some random peak into my reality, I challenge you:  DANCE.

Tell me, you wise being (for indeed you are), what does your dance look like right now?  Jazzy?  Slow-dancing to soft music?  Do you enjoy your dance partner?  Are you afraid? Guilty? Tired?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Rising Above Myself

Do you ever have those dreams from which you just can't wake up?

I'm having one of those this morning.  I am walking around in a true fog.  Part of me still remains in that dream.  It is one from which I am choosing not to depart - one that I know has things to teach me.

I do not want to divert my thinking from that place lest it disappears forever.  So I will share with you this morning something I shared with the Tribe last night (the amazing group of women who have been through the BIG process), part of portrait work.

This is the art:
(Brighter here than in person.  Some day I'll learn how to make the two match.)

This is the poem:

The time has come
to break all my promises
tear apart all chains
and cast away all advice

Disassemble the heavens
link by link
and break at once
all lovers' ties
with the sword of death

Put cotton inside
both my ears
and close them to
all words of wisdom

Crash the door and
enter the chamber
where all sweet
things are hidden

How long can I
beg and bargain
for the things of this world
while love is waiting

How long before
I can rise beyond
how I am and
what I am


How more perfectly could I state my being?