Oy to the Vey (Musings)!

Our Bird Named Pangolin

Quarantine has brought some odd conversations but what makes them odd is the quirky memories that make them possible. (Insert: “From viewers like you-” pointing toward loved ones) Don’t you think?

A few conversations I’ve had are as follows:

-My husband asking: “Honey, can we get a sugar glider?”

Me: (After Googling a sugar glider…) “Um… well… … Let’s revisit your request last year: You asked for a for a Pangolin…Well, the entire world pretty much got your request, whether directly or within 6 degrees of separation. That “cute and funny animal” is basically why we’re unemployed and afraid of other humans right now. So I’m not keen on getting a Sugar Plum Glider at the moment. Ask again later.  

~ ~ ~

Now, my husband married someone just as out there, don’t worry. I’ll gladly make fun of myself. I come from a family that taught me to put aluminum foil on the stem of a banana bunch to keep it fresh longer (thanks, Dad). This same family had 5 guinea pigs, a story that includes my mother explaining where one disappeared to: “We had to let Cyrus go in the woods, sweetie” (But that’s a whole other story that may need to make it into my memoir-sorry mommy, not sorry!)

I’ve also had a lot of features on my Life List such as rock climbing and yoga, some common goals other folks have…but there are also a few experiences that are there that’ve caused confusion in my friendships and marriage: going trick-or-treating. Yup. You heard/read that right. Trick-or-treating. It’s okay, I went once, I went once! I’d just like to go with nieces or nephews to get a bit more of the experience.  I don’t have much of a defense except that I thought it was boring since chocolate was already a staple in the house. Why walk for hours when my favorite snack since pre-embryo was in a container?

Added to my life list is a ‘spiritual walk’ across broken glass. My husband, too, walks- walks with his fingers through broken egg shells. Why? Because it’s a way to heal our snail, by ingesting calcium and healing the rest of our aquarium.  He may not get his pangolin or sugar glider but he has his African Dwarf frogs who socialize like him and take after me doing yoga against the leaves of bamboo plants. In all seriousness, we can all learn so much uber-creative lessons from my husband.

~ ~ ~

Some of the best “Oy to the vey moments” however, have stemmed from my Jewish side, my mother. I’ve grown past being the Scapegoat behind them and they’re here now as karma. And Jewish Guilt.

The list is as follows:

-My mother accusing me of breaking the laundry room door AS SHE WAS BREAKING IT OFF THE TRACK HERSELF (I can actually call a witness to the stand for that!)

-Mom again accusing me of keeping the receipt for my wedding dress because she couldn’t find it. Spoiler alert: she found it a few hours later in her bathroom. But honestly, I can only judge so much- I found a Seal CD in my bathroom closet one time (This was back when I had a cd player for the shower, though, so it does make a bit more sense.).

-Mommy still accusing me…this time of having an article that she wrote 30 years ago only to text me 400 days later saying, “I Found it. My bad.”

-And lastly: Mommy Dearest recently accusing me of muting my phone because she couldn’t hear my texts come through on her own…my wonderful 17-year-old niece fixed the settings for her. I did get an apology. And multiple screen shots of the conversation’s inability to evolve.

It’s no wonder that most “Oy to the vey moments” come from my mom-my awesome and hysterical Jewish side! And I totally embrace it. The best part is, we all have those “oy to the vey moments” whether we’re Jewish, standing by the Christmas Tree, or neither!  

So, what are some of your “Oy to the Veys?”  



Un-Trim Forgiveness in 2021-Can we Forgive 2020?

Angel on Christmas tree in between lights.
“I can’t tell if this artificial tree is becoming my altar for forgiveness or if it’s asking me to be the altar for holding and placing items of forgiveness[…]”

My eyes relax and fall into the multi-colored lights across the 3-foot artificial Christmas Tree and I fall back into my first few Christmases on this earth. These were several years before my original family turned into a Rubik’s cube- something that kept shifting into a different pattern.

My index finger glides into the loop of a string like a spoon that glides into a child’s mouth during an hour of nourishment.  Hanging from the loop is the most delicate Christmas ball we have, made of thin glass. A souvenir from my honeymoon. My thumb presses into the image of the B&B that’s painted on it.  Our first week as a family.  My fingers curl around the cap as though it’s a lightbulb. I don’t want to break this. Then I gently place it on the carpet under the bough of the tree. With that removal, I forgive my original family for shifting through the years as it has. Because it happens.

My fingers reach for another ornament, this time a mini burlap stocking with fake prickly pine and cotton wrapped presents peeking out from the opening on top. This was a gift from an old co-worker. I set the warmth the size of a jewelry pouch in my lap. My palms squeeze and knead through its rough and varying textures. My breath changes a little bit. I don’t think about the beginning of this year because I don’t want this breath. But I decide to work on forgiving the corporate office that let go of me. Because it happens.

My index finger and thumb pinch a nearby lightbulb. The warmth sandwiches in my skin and reminds me of the initial sprays in the shower, warm and safe rain. The tree and I interlace cold fingers. Skin and plastic. Our fingers may look different but the tree wants to be seen and felt and so do I. Our presence to each other is all that matters.

I can’t tell if this artificial tree is becoming my altar for forgiveness or if it’s asking me to be the altar for holding and placing items of forgiveness: delicate forgiveness, soft forgiveness, rough forgiveness.

I take another item. Don’t worry I’m not un-doing Christmas, this is not my intent…although this is the ultimate on-the-go, give and take Christmas we’ll ever see as we plan our doorstep delivery swaps, so we’re already somewhat un-doing Christmas and the rest of the holidays as is…. May as well play with decorations a bit, I suppose….

I play at my altar, or as an altar, like my niece plays with toys at her altar of a coffee table: lining characters up from smallest to tallest; removing them one by one; holding each one; and placing them on the floor, only to line then up again one by one. She takes her actions seriously, being fully present through each stage of movement. I’m merely acting out a lesson that I’ve noticed from the innocence and curiosity of a child. She recycles her toys. She recycles her routine. But because she loves it and is present every time, it becomes her ritual.  

The blue and white ornament that reads “New Home 2018” is the next ornament I reach for. My exhale could easily be mistaken for a grunt. I haven’t been able to love this house the way it deserves and I know I need to apologize and forgive myself for that. I need to apologize and forgive myself for letting dishes slide around viciously in the thirty-year-old sink, and blaming the floorboards for being imperfect. I need to treat this house as a person with its own bones, imperfect foundation, and tendencies from neglect that was not through any fault of its own. We need to teach it to bring in warmth by opening curtains to let the light in.  No house or home is perfect. It’s a constant Rubik’s Cube. Because it happens.  

One thing’s for sure: my reaches take effort.

The highest, most strenuous reach for my shoulder is for the origami angel made out of clay from a best friend. There are so many triangular points to this angel’s anatomy but there’s no real sharpness when I lean the tops of my fingers into them.

I hold her for a while. Each hand cups a pointed wing as each thumb’s direction parallels the direction of its wing. I question forgiving my father for getting sick over 2 years ago. Are others forgiving their own loved ones for getting sick?

This most physically challenging reach turns out to be my most challenging mental reach as it stretches toward another question: can we forgive ourselves for playing games through this year of illness? Can we forgive ourselves for playing Russian Roulette as we’ve wandered out to see each other? The tagline of this game being “It can’t happen to me” whether its “me” or “my family.”

I’m so grateful for this angel. These wings.

The tree looks a bit bare, yet pure, open. Green is the color of rebirth, renewal. In saying that, this can be one of the most beautiful colors, and the most beautiful reminder to understand what forgiveness is. What it means to give ourselves away- the right way- because what we gain is love and kindness for ourselves and everyone, everywhere else.

I invite you to make a list of who or what you hope to start forgiving. You don’t have to actually complete the forgiveness. Just start trying for yourself. When you un-trim your tree in 2021, maybe you shed the weight off of what rebirth looks and feels like. Maybe you hold and release forgiveness, too. And If you’re not sure of an item, just take in its texture and temperature. Know that either way, you are unburdening and simultaneously opening your heart and someone else’s. A twinned open heart is so beautiful and so rare.  

And you may just see yourself as that beautiful pure renewed Christmas Tree.

Because these invitations can be so intimidating and personal, I’ll start with my forgiving:

– My Rubik’s Cube Family of 1998-present

-The parts of my body that don’t work so well

-The crayon line on my pant leg and ball of masking tape in my hair from the blond girl in 2nd grade

-The blond girl, herself

-The new owners of my Dad’s house for erasing our pool

– My own doubts; fears; unmotivated hours; addicted creative hours; crunched nose toward the house

The pattern in my list shows that I can find compassion within these items. I think if there’s an area of understanding then I can find my way to compassion. This is where I also have great difficulty because there are a few people I cannot begin to forgive due to not emotionally understanding the violence behind their impact. Logically we can forgive mental health issues, but emotionally forgiving takes a lot of time, team members, and growth in order to be far enough away.


Give Up on Meditating!

pond2So the first 2 weeks of meditating twice a day has been like taking cover under a warm blanket when your body needs to sigh out the cold, that heaviness in the bones. I know, I’m supposed to detach from ego cravings here, but it really has been a treat to carve time and do this for myself. And you know, studies have found that positive physical changes in the brain can occur with a sustained practice. By focusing and relaxing, we actually have the power to create new pathways and cells for ourselves. This explains why memory, stress, emotional intelligence, and learning can be strengthened after 60 days (magic number for forming a habit!) And, for those with PTSD, this really strengthens the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing one to shy away from being in fight-or-flight in the sympathetic nervous system.


Someone may want to tell cats that!


Anyway, if you’re still skeptical with meditating, that’s ok. I have come and gone with what works for me. I’ve loved meditating on my own, but in class, I’ve been on the edge of my seat because I jump at everything. So it wasn’t that I didn’t want to meditate, I just needed to find where and how was right for me. Like being a writer at a mobile work station, I need to find out how I can be a mobile meditator.


I really look forward to getting up 15-20 minutes early, and doing some slight stretches on the yoga mat to prepare my spine for sitting still.  This is what yoga is intended for: Yoga has been known to warm the body up for hours and days of meditation. The gentle flow of mine begins before 6 a.m. This is when I explore spinal twists, pelvic tilts with Cat/Cow pose, and open my back with either Child or Embryo pose. I try to remember, though not always, to do legs up the wall. This is great to reverse blood circulation, especially if you’re sitting all day. This is also helpful for varicose veins and blood clots in the legs if either run in the family or you have a history of it.  Check with a doctor if you think it’s something you want to try.


I’ll stretch the calves after seated forward fold prior to meditating. After my 8-10 minutes of meditating, I’ll march in place to re-ground myself and visit standing forward fold. This brings in some yang yoga. For those of you who are not familiar with the yin and yang styles of yoga, Yang is the more active practice of yoga where Yin Yoga is more sedentary. So, in the morning, I am sure to move my spine, shoulders, and legs. I wake up as much of myself as I can before heading out the door. I sit all day so to have any movement is greatly appreciated.


When sitting on my bolster just seconds before dropping into my meditation I’ve been getting more and more used to neck stretching and exercising the muscles in my eyes. Huh? Exercising the eyes? Yup! I do this by imagining an analog clock and following each number around with my eyes- clockwise two times and counterclockwise two times. While I set my timer on the phone for 10 minutes, I will admit that sometimes I do open my eyes or begin to come out of it just a minute or two before my timer dings its melody.


The first morning of my new habit, my focus was not on my belly breath at all, but instead on my shoulders that were rising up and down. Later that day, after belly dancing, I dropped into my evening meditation and I was much more focused on my belly breath.  Since then, I’ve been remembering my core breath more and more. For the first few seconds each time, I will stay there and then usually melt into the mantra So Ham. The Hindu translation is “I am He/I am that.” I don’t have any real connection with this mantra so in the future I plan to explore more phrases, possible mudras ( hand gestures), and even yoga shapes to meditate with.


Sometimes visual thoughts pop up and catch my attention like a cat noticing subtle movement from a hidden place. I re-focus my breath from the beginning of an inhale. I don’t necessarily need to match my inhale to “So” and exhale to “Ham” but I find myself doing that because I simply like it. Dialogs will randomly show up, too. Whether it’s a dialog that has been had or will be had. Again, I re-focus on my breath and find the So…then the Ham….


No, I am not “perfectly still” and will admit this truth, too. I try to sit with tightness in my shoulders but occasionally I will twist the slightest bit to see if anything cracks. My eyelids and jaw tighten almost immediately upon sitting so I’ve made it a habit of checking in with those features. If I notice anything else that’s held in tension I just start a breath over. There’s no score chart. It’s just me and my breath. When I give up trying to perfect any tension or breath pattern, I just exhale a bit harder and sink into relaxing. I give up, sort of speak, but by giving up on “trying” here, I give up and give in. And guess what? I welcome the health benefits into my body and brain!



Resource used:


60 Days to form a Habit? Let’s Motivate to Meditate!

Deepok Chopra states that it takes 60 days for a habit to form. Did your lust for wanting to run every day just vanish from reading that? Is that not one of the most daunting things you’ve ever come across? You’re not alone. I heard that on one of his televised programs and mentally groaned.

Soon enough I’ll be starting my meditation challenge. In case you missed my first post, I attempted a 28 day challenge a handful of years ago and after about a week gave up. This time it is a bit different. This challenge is not 28 days, it is to meditate every day, to form a habit of being relaxed and conscious of my body for a few moments. I also want to be able to meditate twice a day, morning and night. Last time’s challenge was only once a day. Yea, it’s very daunting. I’m crazy. I know. BUT… the thing that has changed is that I am very much more educated  about the benefits of it through my therapeutic yoga teacher training and continuous self-study.

As I read and learn more and more, I become highly inspired to just get to meditating already. I’m pretty sure this is the key- to become motivated about the habit in advance. And the secret is to stay motivated. 

I really want to share this initial inspiration with you, my curious reader, because if it motivates me and creates a fire of excitement in my core, then there’s a chance it can offer you the same feeling in your core. I hope you’ll choose to dive in with me (perhaps at your own time) and see and feel for yourself what breathing and a conscious effort of focusing can offer you. I believe it carries self-gentleness and compassion over in different relationships  and throughout a life. Yes, I’ve read that in books over and over,  but, in the small hidden pockets of time that I’ve had with meditating I’ve found that to be true. Now I want, and more importantly, need more of that. Do you?

Here are some notes from a few books that make me impatient to begin my journey, my new and healthy habit:

-Meditating is consciousness based medicine, it’s not a religion. If you want to incorporate it into your religious ritual, by all means! It is, in and of itself, a creative endeavor!

-It’s  a creative endeavor because there is no right or perfect  or best way to meditate. There are endless meditating and breathing techniques out there and more than one will resonate with you. Meditating is letting your conscious mind go beyond the “I” of yourself, it goes into the witness part of your soul, and you just be. Be with that part of you witnessing your stillness, (or attempt of stillness), witnessing your breath, witnessing thoughts that come and release in your mind. That’s all the witness is. In a nutshell it’s higher than the habituated way of thinking.

-The heart rate variability can be heightened with meditation. “EH?” What is HRV?

Okay, so when breathing in, whether through your nose or mouth, you’ll find that your heart rate is faster here than on your exhale. This change of heart beat reflects in our autonomic nervous system. When the heart rate variability is high, it means that the system adjusting the heart rate on your inhale and exhale is responding flexibly to your breathing changes. It’s doing its job well and in a strong effort. When the variability is low, that means something is impaired or the system is becoming more rigid.  So you want to increase the HRV, increase it to keep your cardiovascular system flexible and to keep resiliency in your stress response system. Basically, we want breathing tools and healing tools at our disposal in order to control the HRV. Think of it as doing different yoga poses (or “shapes” if you teach trauma yoga) with our breath.  We get creative with what breathing shape we choose and as we do, we contribute to our internal flexibility as opposed to our outer flexibility.  If our breathing rate stays steady throughout a long duration of time- as in over many years- and we don’t check in and play with our breathing tools, diseases may set in. I include a list of breath techniques at the bottom of this post that I tend to gravitate towards, so feel free to choose one or two and explore with those on a daily basis if meditation is not your thing. Make yoga of the breath your habit for 60 days! And as I record more blogs, you’ll also have a reference as to what breath I’m describing.

-Meditation stimulates the vagus nerve (the “wandering” nerve).  What’s the vagus nerve?

It’s the longest nerve in our body that sends pain and stress signals to and from our mind. It also regulates heart, lung, and digestive functions. When you activate this nerve, you cannot be in fight-or-flight mode at the same time!

Tiny tid bit: Yawning, laughing, singing, and eating stimulate the vagus nerve. If you notice, these activities  are within the neck, where the nerve extends. With any of these activities, you change your breathing pattern and that playing around helps to increase flexibility!  If you sit at a desk all day and cannot show off your vocal pipes without being called into the office, be sure to get up for 5 minutes each hour  to walk around and activate your vagus nerve that way!

-Chopra thinks that the practice of yoga is the best way to go when moving from sympathetic overdrive (fight-or-flight) to heightening the parasympathetic system. So my plan is to meditate after practicing yoga of the body. I say yoga “of the body” here because today I’m explaining how to be flexible inside ourselves, in our internal systems, and using different breaths as different poses is an easier, hopefully more accessible metaphor for understanding how to exercise that flexibility. Otherwise, yoga itself is one with breath and body and movement. But more on that another day.

-Pain signals are in our body so we can be aware of them. It’s a form of communication.

– Experienced meditators feel pain more quickly  but suffer less than beginning meditators.

Why? Because the anticipation of experienced mediators lessens.  Anticipation is just as bad as the pain itself.  Their baseline is lower. This resonated a lot with me because I jump and sometimes pain follows in my head so just to lessen that anticipation, I’ll take it! I highly recommend this tidbit to anyone with PTSD and anxiety. You’re not alone.

I’ll be posting more tidbits along the way to keep our motivation going! Look out for tidbits on gray matter and what happens with it as we meditate!


Some Breathing techniques (my favorites!):

Coherent Breath: Sit either upright or become comfortable on your back with knees supported. Inhale for 5 seconds, exhale for 5. It’s suggested that if you are 5 feet or under, 4 seconds will suffice and if you are over 6 feet, 7-8 seconds will do.  (Taller people tend to have greater lung capacity)

Double Breath: Inhale through the nose quick then longer, tense the body, then exhale out through mouth quick then longer.

Pursed Lip Breathing: This rebalances the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the body. While sitting, inhale for three seconds through the nose and exhale through the mouth for 6 seconds. The exhalation is twice as long as the inhalation. Bringing the breath up to 4:8 is okay if you feel comfortable doing so.



Here are the awesome resources I used to bring you some of the highlights of meditating (and breathing!)

  1. The Healing Self by Deepok Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi
  2. The Healing Power of the Breath by Richard Brown and Patricia Gerbarg
  3. The Breathing Book: Good Health and Vitality Though Essential Breath by Donna Farhi







Reintroducing My Mind to My Body

“Move and write and find the breath for your body…”


“I trust the quiet. I trust the dark.  I trust my breath to keep me safe in this space […] I’ve never had so much fun just by breathing.” 

I smirk and take a breath as I read over these words from the first day of my 28 Day Meditation Challenge. I recall moving into the first night of this project with an open and safe mind. My thoughts occasionally played like a movie reel, though I continued to sit. In her memoir, Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert describes wisdom as giving the only possible answer in the moment, and in each moment of my movie reel, I knew to simply be.

And I loved being.

I only continued with the meditation challenge for eight nights. Some evenings I would hold chakra stones in my hands (chakras being energy points in the body-more on that as I blog. Promise!), some evenings I would practice mudras (hand gestures) and just sometimes, I would find myself bellydancing into a yoga sequence instead of being “perfectly” still. Meditation, yoga, dance, are each a practice of being and not a “perfection” of being. This is half the battle of our ego (more on ego later). Stay humble in practices. Practices in physical exercise, mental exercise, and human interaction exercise.

Though I was very much my own adult while on this meditating journey, I was told by someone close to me not to share my personal connections/experiences. Almost immediately I could feel a shadow of fear over me, as though I was doing something wrong. I knew that one person- one person with a different viewpoint was not entitled to un-do my experience, but I couldn’t shake it.

And anyway, how  is mediating not personal? Instead of hiding, I gently pushed my curiosity out toward my critic and fellow readers two nights later:

Appropriately enough with my throat chakra (energy) closed off, critics muted my voice even more. “Don’t put your thoughts out  there.  Only write a paragraph about your meditation and nothing personal.”  But, wait a minute…  If one is completely honest in the practice it can be emotional,  intellectually confusing, and intense as things surface. To write “I sat. Inhaled. Exhaled. Felt better” doesn’t say anything about one human’s experience with connecting to a higher power, with what their belief of yoga is. 

There are many yoga trainings that include a three day meditation retreat where the trainees focus on the eyes of a partner and meditate on the question “Who/What am I?” Among the groups, many tears are shed as many unresolved issues and unacknowledged tensions either rise or perhaps completely release with that simple question. The idea of meditating is to, indeed, detach from different levels of distractions but as long as one concentrates on the breath- their recycled energy-how can one’s own journey of meditating not be personal? Doesn’t it take courage and strength to commit to such an honest act of being? And doesn’t reawakening after one moment of vulnerability dissolve weakness, not hold a soul in it?


Watch me write.


“Watch me write!” Boy was I ever gung-ho! Fast forward four years later, I should only be so wise today-  my body has been scurrying around all morning, my breath only moving when I sigh in frustration. My belly is tightly held in place while my chest hasn’t risen or fallen. Only small annoyances are pinching, and if the small things are all that I feel, I am in serious need of meditating and moving on a regular basis.

Not only is it time to re-visit that challenge but also create a lifestyle that includes the right to be creative and expressive.

Since being muted years back, I have had several transitions occur: some beautiful, some independent, some heartbreaking, but through all of these changes, I know I could’ve taken care of my breath and mind better.

It’s time. Time to be gentle and also loud.

Come with me as I record my happenings on physical and mental movement  through  dance, yoga, and meditation!

Meditate on this:

What are your thoughts on meditation being personal? Do you agree or disagree? Why?