What is your hope buoy?

This watercolor illustration is by Sara McDaniel, find her work at Etsy- SaLeaf Designs

When I am feeling unsteady, uncertain, unmoored, irritated, triggered by whatever is current and present in my life—if, and that’s a big IF, I pause and notice, I can feel my face settle into lines and sags. My eyebrows fall, the corners of my mouth slide down, muscles of my jaw tighten and my neck constricts like angry snakes. You too?

So how do I know my face is becoming Medusa? I watched my face in a mirror, inviting irritation and anger in my head, and it happened, my muscles settled into stress face— and it wasn’t pretty.

There are fourty some muscles in the face involved in the act of smiling, some say there are more muscles involved in frowning, but the important thing is that when the muscles around the cheeks, chin, eyes and forehead lighten into a ‘smile’ shape, even if you feel irritable inside— dopamine and serotonin are released in the head, the feel-good chemicals, and you begin to feel more balanced, more at ease. The presence of those chemicals shuts down the stress reaction— for a moment, and you begin to feel happier. Try it, first tighten your face into a grimace that would scare a saint, hold it , then tighten up the face, the mouth in a pucker. Then open the mouth as wide as you can, maybe yawn, roll your head, wiggle your shoulders.

Now bring to mind something annoying, a habitual irritation or sadness.

Get still, and just lift your eyebrows slightly. Imagine you have tiny helium balloons lifting each hair of your eyebrows, then bring those little balloons to the cheeks, the jaw, the edges of the mouth. As if each cell of the face and neck were lightened, lifted and rising to the azure blue sky. Let that lightness into your shoulders, chest, back, and breath comfortably, through your nose if you can. How do you feel? A bit more settled? A little less irritable?

The trick is to keep that cascading effect of those delightful feel good hormones, to not settle back into survival mode. How?

Babies start smiling in their sleep soon after birth, and smile hundreds of times a day. Imagine a baby smiling, the utter joy in those chubby cheeks, and I can’t help but smile. They do this for their own survival; building connections with caregivers. Babies are entirely in the soul state of expansion, where feelings come and go quickly. And, babies haven’t learned resentment and judgement, blame or shame. So this smile, it brings a more constant state of happy chemicals, more ease.

We can bring that baby state of bliss into our experience as well, even though adults get really good faking ‘nice’ and ‘happy’, while feeling the opposite inside; irritated and resentful, kind of like pasting a happy face sticker on an empty gas tank. Those happy chemicals just can’t counteract the inward mind storms.

We all have our tools for balancing our mental/emotional state, I like to bring in memories of light, of happiness. And I smile. And smile.

What buoys me up? Turning my mind toward memories; positive ones. Memories of connection, friendship, silliness, simple fun. Collecting bubbles of memories in my head, swirling like pearls in boba tea, popping juicy and sweet as I savor each one.

One sweet memory bubble; I remember sitting on a cushion of my friend’s boat one summer day. We bobbed along, a beautiful day on the sea, noting and remarking on the different shapes, colors, and sizes of buoys, marking places to anchor for the night. We talked about hope, in the face of things as they are. We agreed that hope isn’t silly, or a waste, it is a revolutionary and radical choice to lean in to the open spaces in the midst of chaos and clouds of uncertainty.  Fear, dread, worry, anger, grief all contract,  limit, darken the mind and body. Hope, gratitude, joy, love— expand, soften, release with a sigh. While we talked, my friend painted a sky blue buoy in her watercolor journal, and right through the center, in light blue, she painted the word HOPE. 

There are two kinds of hope, however. There is the wishing and wanting for things to be different than they are— which isn’t the road to expansive healing. This is a clinging, fearful urge to protect ourselves. This false hope, driven by fear, isn’t hope at all. “I hope I don’t lose my house,” is deep, dark fear, and absolutely warranted when a raging fire threatens lives. But fear keeps us in survival mode, even when the clear and present danger is passed.  This unproductive, damaging fear, or stress reaction, settles in our brains, in our bodies, in our souls. 

If we do nothing but spin in our stories, fear becomes habit, and habit becomes character

I turn, in my head, toward this memory of my friend’s painting. I remember her smiling face, the sparkling waves, the warm sun. I look up as I drive in the grey, sigh, and notice a break in the clouds, a teasing of blue, a curling edge of white. True hope is to notice the beauty around us, to notice and appreciate what is, and open to the possibility of everything. To commit to seeing love and the sacred nature of things over and over and over again.

In my head, I repeat part of a meditation I learned long ago; may all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. May all beings be free. May all beings be free. May all beings be free. Including me.

My head argues with me, trying to stuff some dread in between the words, but I am stubborn in my repetition, focused on my breath and this moment. Nothing dramatic happens, I finish my drive, and pull up in front of another friend’s house. She waves from the open door, and we smile. This is where hope lives, between smiles, between friends, and as I get out of the car, my smile deepens.

I can let mindless worry and fear drive me, or I can train my mind to tune in to compassion, gratitude, expansive hope and light. This is a subtle and daily practice, a choice over and over to live in an ethos of love. 

Creativity has the power to look pain in the eye, and to decide to turn it into something better.” 

And this one too——

in the end, it really is about finding the light.”  From Bittersweet by Susan Cain.

Daily Energy Balance Challenge: If you are interested in a quick daily boost; soul hygiene to balance your subtle energy system each morning so you feel buoyed up, please consider joining my Patreon page, next week, as we start our Daily Energy Balance Challenge. The first free 5ish minute video practice will be posted Sunday, May 21, also the night of Heartsong Meditation and Yoga Nidra at 7PM. We use the energy of the new moon to bring in new hope, happiness and light.


A Mindful Journey: Joyful Resilience

The word ’mindful’ appears now more than ever; mindful eating, mindful life, mindful shopping, almost 2 million hits on google alone. When I think of the word mindful- I think of awareness. A mindful moment isn’t necessarily filled with comfy zen calm, when I stub my toe I am suddenly and powerfully awake and aware of the throbbing in my foot and the immediacy of the pain. I am experiencing a definite moment of mindful awareness of my present time experience. Yow!

But then, my stress response fight or flight mechanism kicks in to ‘protect’ me, and I might spin off into reactivity, anger, fear, judgement for my ‘perceived’ clumsy movement to the ‘apparent’ negligence of street cleaners or dump trucks, who knows. I could fester on this particular event for years. Maybe.

This is mindlessness, a habitual pattern of chronic mind wandering that keeps you and I in reactivity, judgement, fear, wanting things to be different, the places most of us spend most of our time and energy. Research finds that up to 90% of our thoughts are repeats. All just as the mind was designed to do, to help us remember tasks, protect us from harm, and keep us going day to day in our stressful lives. While our ancient animal brain loves patterns and habits, and is designed to keep us alive into the next moment, it doesn’t care about our long term wellness, vitality, and joy. So, while we are marinating in our culture of stress response, increasing our overall ill health as we move about our days, how do we evolve our ancient systems to help us find wellness, avoid chronic issues like disease, addiction, discomfort in mind, body, and soul? Can we?

I believe the answer is yes. We can build our resilience, deepen our compassion for ourselves and others, and increase our confidence, hope and joy all while enjoying better health, wellness in body, mind and soul. With a deeper calm, peace and ease, our creativity blooms, our passion, joy of life and desire to serve humanity grows too. Sounds like a world I want to live in.

I created Mindful Journeys as an embodied healing practice to bring mindfulness in body, mind, and spirit with ease for everyone. There are thousands of ways to achieve a mindful, awake and aware consciousness, all designed to help us move through life with more ease, vitality and clarity, and I have tried most of them. I remember in my 40’s after a painful divorce crying in my therapist’s office and asking if my life would ever stop the roller coaster ride, and would I ever find some calm. She just nodded, sympathetically, I guess, and I went home and took my antidepressants. I started an intense yoga practice in a hot yoga studio, attempting to sweat away my misery, and it did empty me out, but I didn’t feel joy.

I tried meditation too, many kinds, and mostly felt like a failure. I couldn’t find anything that seemed to work for me, that I could stick with. I knew I needed something, desperately. I’ve done the gamut of panic attacks, mental and physical break downs, a horrible menopause, and lots of pharmaceuticals. A few years ago I met a wonderful compassionate counselor who truly understands embodied healing, and with her care I felt my body and brain reset. I can’t stress the importance of support on any wellness journey, I am so grateful to family and friends for their support in my journey.

During Covid lockdown, I learned qi gong, an ancient healing practice designed to bring health and wellness to targeted organs and systems, a sometimes strong and powerful practice, sometimes very simple movement. I gained an advanced yoga certification from a wonderful wise woman, a Buddhist teacher and master yogi who showed me the connection of mindful awareness, buddhist dharma teachings, and the purposeful movement of yoga— not the exercise-y Yoga Fit I learned years ago.

All this learning and support began to coalesce in my head. I began training in the use of energy medicine (think acupressure points) tools and techniques as well, and began to weave together a practice that is both accessible and valuable to everyone. My students are all ages, and tell me they feel empowered by this practice, just as I feel. It is an experience of building joyful resilience.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

I know that many people are intimidated by yoga— and honestly, most of us find common yoga poses like Downward Facing Dog or even a Forward Fold pretty extreme. My hubbie has been doing yoga with me for years and he still groans a bit when we do a forward fold.

But yoga is not just physical poses to put a body into, it is purposeful movement developed over thousands of years to stretch, expand and impact our subtle energy system, calming and centering our nervous system— and all the organs of the body. And stretch any tight or tense muscles and tendons! Other ancient practices like qi gong and tai chi provide similar health benefits.

Energy wants to move, and needs space to move. When we store ’stuck’ energy—anything negative really—like all that chronic stress we live with day to day, it settles in our tissues, organs, all the way to our cells. Scientists say 90% of our current health concerns come from our response to stress. If that is true, then mindful movement, woven with a purposeful breath practice, and a focused mind can literally save our lives.


Remember the light.

When I was a kid, I stood at the doorway of my bedroom, took a deep breath, flicked the light switch and leapt to my bed. To avoid the bed monster’s snatching claws, right? I lay still as the dead, listening to my own breathing, the pounding of my heart, not daring to move. 

I don’t know how long it took for sleep to take over, sometimes I lay there for hours, staring at the patterns in the wood of my bed’s headboard, or the shifting shadows on the ceiling. I lay there watching the shadows morph into devil horns, twisted trees, and hunched backs of the undead until I finally gave in to sleep. 

In my defense, we owned three cats who chased my feet from under the bed, embedding those tiny claws in whatever flesh they could snag. Some monsters are real.

I don’t leap from my doorway anymore, but I sleep curled on my side, my face to the door. Habit. I don’t analyze it, I just fall asleep that way.

I take my dog for a walk around my neighborhood in the dark early morning. Holiday lights twinkle from many houses, framing buildings in pink, red, green, blue. I love those little twinkly lights, little stars we put on strings and trundle out, winding around our homes when the skies get darker and colder. Reminding us that the light is returning, as it does. That darkness isn’t permanent. 

My heart pounds a bit as we walk into the small wooded area between homes, the young me takes a big breath with the older/wiser me as we walk confidently into the dark. Some monsters are real, so I wouldn’t take this walk without a noisy barker on the leash. And I am careful, these woods are framed with porch lights, and neighbors. Also, furry Emma would defend me to the death.  Or we would both run away, more likely.

Confidence grows with perspective, wisdom, experience, and generally I am able to breath with fear, feel it in my body, allow it to make it’s journey through me unfettered.  Mostly. When I can’t release the grip of fear, I breathe, and breathe and watch the sky.

A friend said the other day, “Have you noticed the skies are darker now? I mean, than ever?” I nodded. A collective darkness of worry, fear and anxiety about our future on this planet colors our perspective, infecting the air with fear. So much more insidious than a virus.

 So, yes, the skies are darker now. What do I do? I breathe. I feel my feet on the solid ground. Allow my own earthiness to meld with the strength and surety of muscle, bone, dirt. Just in this moment, I am ok. I remember things I love. My dog. Walking. Morning coffee. And if I am not convinced, I tap my forehead, my chest, my arms, my legs— sending a rhythm of movement through me like the morning winds.

Waking up.

 Even on a morning when the clouds are thick grey blankets squashing the light, if I really focus, I see them move. There is no solid. Not in the sky, not in me. I know there is always blue above the grey, and this perspective helps fear to move. Remembering that all weather arises, abides for a time, and dissolves is freeing. I don’t have to attach to any of it.

The dog is eating now, I am drinking tea, looking up every few moments to see the progress of the sky’s light show. In these few moments, the space out my window has changed and changed and changed again. Those first slits of grey light widened into whitish lines slicing the clouds to pieces that drift away on the winds. A flock of dark birds, backlit, flit across the horizon in a messy V. The blush of sunrise lifts, coloring the spaces a baby pink. The masses of heavy whale clouds have lumbered on, the earth warms with the light, and now the flush of morning inks the wide horizon and the blue grows intense, as if the world was blinking, stretching, sun tapping on sky’s shoulder, “Wake up.”

Photo by brenoanp on Pexels.com

I sip my tea, Emma circles the rug, sniffing, and settles into a small ball to snooze. Now the pink, orange and white light dances, showing off in a saucy firework show. There is still a stubborn grey fog settled around the land, we live in a wet place, and fog is persistent, only lifting when the earth is warmer. I busy myself with syntax and editing, a few minutes to refill my cup.

I look up, now a dark blanket is spread across the sky, skinny edges closest to the horizon silvery white. Another cloud of birds wing across my vision. Arise, abide, dissolve. Arise again. Clouds, seasons, days, lives, moments.

Emma has moved to the couch, resting her head on a cushion. In her vision, she can keep a watchful eye on me as I sit at the counter, typing. A longer walk is most likely in her future, so keeping an eye on my movements is paramount. She knows, I will stretch, move, get up, and put on my shoes. We will walk into the shifting light, maybe with rain boots, (me, not the dog) maybe not. 

And tonight, when the darkness settles, the outside lights will blink on, Emma will settle back to rug, a candle will be lit— a little bit of sun in the night— and a sigh will form as we breathe with it’s glow. 

Gratia is grace + kindness

I could feel the excitement rising as I walked down the wooded path. I had a bag of candles in one hand and my cell phone in the other. The path was covered with a layer of big leaf maple leaves, brown and gold and wet, so no crunch as I walked over them. It was only about 4 PM, but this is the winter season, already the light was falling. As I came around a curve in the path, huge stones monoliths rose in my vision, this giant stone circle— an anomaly here on the western coast of the US, passion project of Chuck Pettis, the owner and creator of Earth Sanctuary meditation gardens on Whidbey Island. A place of sacred intention, the perfect spot to stage my meditation on gratitude.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how surface and superficial ‘thanks’ can be. I realized this form of gratitude is a social contract. We call it common courtesy; a culture’s rules about when something is done for you, the appropriate response is appreciation, thank you, because this is a contract, an expectation. If it’s a rule, with an expectation, and if it’s important to me that people follow rules, and my ego is now involved in that expectation, as it will in any kind of contract, then if I don’t get the expected result for my action, I feel irritation, or resentment, or frustration, or disengagement. My judgment arises that I am in the right and you are in the wrong and if this is what we think gratitude is then we’re missing the deep and beautiful depths of the crystalline azure alpine lake of real gratitude, which comes from gratia— in Latin, meaning grace and kindness entwined.

As I set the candles in the center of the 30 foot stone circle, the sky darkened. I adjusted my headlamp, and checked my cell phone battery. Getting low, already. I prayed for the energy to last, to speak words from spirit, to offer this gift, a time for being in the nourishing presence of darkness, and turning with kind devotion to the Light. If you would like to listen to the replay of this meditation podcast, click on the photo below to take you to the crowdcast replay, the link is also below the photo.

I wish you peace, grace, love and kindness,

Terra Lea

REPLAY: https://crowdcast.io/c/1ytqh7g8grll

Stirring the Dark: Episode 2

What became of Little Red Riding Hood?

This podcast episode, another retelling of an ancient tale, meditative storytelling for adults. We begin with a journey back, to the development of our identity at age 7-9 years old, and breathing into that identity, sending intention and compassionate energy to that version of our young selves. Snuggle up, listen in, as we re-imagine the tale of Little Red.

Cleaning the Gook on the Window. Or, how to love myself with integrity.

red framed glass window with white curtains
Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

The window I face during morning meditation has a streak of bird poo on it. High enough that when I am seated and focused, I don’t see it. When I get up, I do see it, but I choose not to. I literally look through the gook on the window at the beautiful autumn leaves, pretending the shmutz isn’t there.

I want to live with integrity, telling myself the truth, even when I don’t want to hear it. I want to have more and more clarity in my life, and be more tuned in to my intuition. This clarity that I seek means I have to be more and more honest with myself, not in a judgey, ‘you are such a failure and you just can’t see it” way, but a very objective presence that asks;

Are my actions, thoughts and beliefs aligned with my heart’s deepest yearning, my soul purpose?

This kind of reflection takes some sit still time. Just to be, and listen, pay attention to what pops up, and get curious about that too.

So, one afternoon, the light was shining so sweetly through my window, I stopped to admire it for a breath, and my eyes rested on the gook. Instead of my habit to avoid, distract and pretend otherwise, I focused on it. I stepped closer. I felt the shame rise up like a blocked drain. I felt my cheeks get a bit warm, definitely feeling the embarrassment that I let that gook stay on my window, not for a day or two or even a week. A year. Maybe even a bit more. I remember the fall leaves last autumn, when that bird swooped by, and back then I hoped that the rains would clear that right off, but rain doesn’t fall sideways here, so the gook stayed, and I convinced myself that it was ok. Normal. Expected, even. And that it didn’t matter and maybe even wasn’t a problem. In the scheme of things, it isn’t that big of a deal, but that isn’t the real problem— the problem is that shame, self-blame and judgement are the icky sticky low slime in the bottom of our souls that make transformation, truth and integrity really, really hard to come by. The gook wasn’t the problem, the shame I felt about it was the problem, and until I dealt with it, it wouldn’t clean itself.

If this is interesting to you, and you’d like to hear about the cleaning of the gook, and what deep, earthy love for ourselves looks like, AND do a mindful movement practice with me to boost your ability to let that schtuff go; any pattern, or behavior, or belief that causes the suffering of shame or judgement, and feel pretty easeful and peaceful in the process…see the video below.

Next maybe hop on over to my Patreon page, the site of all my current content. This Patreon video is free to everyone, and if you want access to other great stuff, try it for a week free, and see what you think! You can unsubscribe anytime, no information is kept, this is a safe place for us. Thanks for reading, happy Autumn cleaning!

Stirring the Dark: Pandora’s Gifts

Stirring the Dark: Episode 2 Stirring the Dark

What became of Little Red Riding Hood? This podcast episode, another retelling of an ancient tale, meditative storytelling for adults. We begin with a journey back, to the development of our identity at age 7-9 years old, and breathing into that identity, sending intention and compassionate energy to that version of our young selves. SnuggleContinue reading "Stirring the Dark: Episode 2"

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The Only Way OUT is IN.

Rhythms of the elements echo in our bodies, breath, and blood. Elemental air, water, earth, wood and mineral reverberate in every tissue, organ, and cell. These building blocks of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, sodium— all inform our human growth and development from first breath to last. The more we tune in to our earthiness, the more we align with the cosmic flow of life force, of qi, of prana. The more we feel the flow, we feel at ease with ourselves, our experience, our bodies and minds. We rise; lightened, lifted from the chaos and confusion of life in present time.

The only way out of chaos is in— making a conscious choice to turn away from distraction, competition, comparison, opinion building, justification or delusion. With kindness to our patterns of survival, we tune in to our elemental natures, releasing our need to stay in our heads. We don’t need to know from the brain down. What our inner elementals are calling for is to know from the body — up. Wisdom lies not between our ears, but between our ribs, between our hips, between the soles of our feet.

To Come into balance mentally and emotionally sometimes needs a little oomph. And how brilliant is the Universe that we have incredible tools right at the end of our arms—healing powerhouses! 

This particular acupressure hold connects acupressure points called neurovascular reflex points, intersections of blood, lymph, nerves, and energy, connected to the elemental rhythms of energy. Water points connect to fire neurovasculars, bringing ease. Fire points connect to wood, drawing nourishment. Wood points are informed by earth points, bringing stability. All these points weave energy to bring balance, peace and comfort. The imagination, the opening to the possibility that this just might be true deepens the effect.

If you are feeling a little off balance, confused, overwhelmed, irritable; try this acupressure hold. Pause and notice your state- without judgement or blame, then feel your feet on the ground. Rub palms together, shake them, then rub again, until you feel the warmth of increased heat. Cross pinkies, place little fingers between eyebrows on the center of the head, push in and lift up, stretching the forehead toward the hairline just a bit. Rest thumbs at the temples, fingers at hairline, and breathe. 

Imagine energy magnetizing to your hands, flowing in a calm, peaceful river through the head, back to front, ear to ear. Imagine these trustful streams of light flowing with the breath. 

This movement connects us energetically to natural rhythms, draws in the healing power of connecting fingers to forehead, then linking to the healing power of the Earth and Sky. Try a few breaths, or a few minutes, then assess any change. Celebrate any shift with a smile!

If working with Elementals is interesting to you, please consider joining my Patreon community. Protected, no ads, safe and easy to change at any time. Free membership gains access to weekly content, members access free audios, videos and invitations to live events and classes.


Looking into the face of fear

6197443243_1fc67fcca2_o by BioDivLibrary is licensed under CC-PDM 1.0

I know it’s not Halloween yet, but I couldn’t resist. Pretty awful illustration of a terrifying squid, right? Only a mother could love.

One day I was talking to a friend about fear; I asked what she was afraid of. She said, “Nothing, I’m not afraid of anything!” And the truth is, she is pretty fearless. But fear is a tricky one, and hides under so many of our patterned responses, we may not even know that fear is the base of whatever we are experiencing. Understanding the nature of fear and all the ways it manifests gives us the knowledge to address as we identify the source.

Fear is contraction, a tightening against unwelcome input. Different that what we expected or wanted, maybe possibly painful, wrong or bad, fear is the energy that says to our bodies, minds, hearts; everybody BRACE.

This is elemental, primal stuff we are experiencing, the same tightening our ancient cave dwelling ancestors felt when they heard a growl coming from deep in the sleeping cave. And, we have not evolved from that primal response, we do the same thing energetically as those folks did, we tighten, and we start telling stories of judgement and blame.

The only way out is in. If we keep contracting with more anxious energy and drowning in the ‘what ifs’, and ‘here we go agains’, more tightness is just more tightness, ease and peace a distant memory. So, what if we flip the narrative, play with the terrifying visage of fear, and treat it differently, so we get the ‘treat’ of peace and ease.

Think about something that causes you to feel anxious, irritable, sad, confused, alone, overwhelmed, for just a minute, bring one hand across your forehead, connecting the healing energy of your palm (we all have it) to the neurovascular reflex acupressure points on the forehead, that bring nourishment to nerves, flow to lymph and blood. Bring the other hand to the solar plexus, a gathering of nerves at the center of the body, right at the edge of the ribs. Keep thinking of whatever fear face contracts your body and mind— really ‘be’ with it, as you breathe and hold these powerful points. As you hold, you are teaching your brilliant primal brain that going into fight or flight mode is not necessary, not today. Feel the ribs expand and soften with the breath, drawing on the power of a full exhale and full inhale to release toxins (fear’s faces) and draw in nourishment. Take a moment to appreciate how cool it is, that we have tools for ease right at the end of our armbones. Give yourself a good squeeze, go on, wrap those arms around and give your sweet self a hug, you deserve it.

Fear says,

I can’t control things. I’m not safe.

Love says,

I got you. Right here, you are ok.

Give me a hug. Breathe.

Fear says,


Which story do I choose: Divine constellations of light or blowing a fuse?

Star from the Lizard Constellation Photobombs Hubble Observation
Star from the Lizard Constellation Photobombs Hubble Observation by NASA Goddard Photo and Video is licensed under CC-BY 2.0

Our tour group of eight kayaks followed our guide like wandering ducklings out into Desolation Sound, off the north coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The sun was low in the sky, the clouds shades of purple and magenta, tree lined shores dark in shadow. We were on what we hoped to be a night-time bioluminescent kayak tour to see sparkling marine algae. We tried to keep our expectations low as our guide Cait told us  several times, it at all depends on the light.

My hubbie and I, in our double kayak, slid around the edge of a small island, looked at rock formations, and birds, pointed out seals playing, reflected in the water by the orange sun sinking over the bay.  After a couple of hours, we followed our guide, circling back into the shallow lagoon,  headed for a clump of seaweed near the shore. 

Cait said, “we’re  bound to see more of the bioluminescent plankton in the shallows at water’s edge where the shadows are deeper.” My arm muscles ached a bit, so I rested my paddle over my lap, the darkening of the sky mirrored in warm seawater. I listened to the splash of my husband scooping the water behind me, grateful he was still paddling while I took a minute’s rest. I was tired, but eagerly focused my eyes on the water. As the tides flowed in and  swirled, now and again a tiny spark of light, almost microscopic, and so fast I wasn’t sure I saw it—  moved past us as we pushed  through. The light was so small, and less than a second, it hard to believe it was really there. I wondered if my wishes were causing my imagination to go wild. 

Our guide explained that those microalgae absorb sunlight,  are mostly found in the upper layers of the sea, and release that charge of light with movement. She assured us that when the darkness was at its height with shadows deep around the lagoon, by about 10 PM, we would see the luminescence, that it was there, it’s just that our eyes couldn’t see it yet. We continued  around the lagoon, focused on the darkening waters; a tiny sparkle here and there, appearing and disappearing, and then, it happened just about 10 o’clock as she said. We couldn’t see starlight in the sky yet, but the stars stirred in the sea beneath us.

Swirls of light followed the pattern of  water moving away from me, my paddle a paintbrush, the sea my canvas. Wanting to get closer to this marvel, I put my hand in, waving my fingers in figure eights, grateful that my husband was patiently continuing to maneuver slowly while I played. I think I could’ve done that for hours— each time I slid my hand through, a new constellation of pulsing light blue light emerged between my fingers, and under my hand. I felt like God, playing with stars.

If we are to believe quantum physics, then we are the same matter as stars, the same energy, so those constellations in the sea or in the sky exist within and around me as well. Even if I can’t see it, I feel it, I know when I am about to ‘blow a fuse’, ‘explode’, need to ‘power down’, or ‘energize’ or just maybe just not in feeling in the groove, in the flow.

Movement causes a change in our patterns, releasing energy whether we are micro-algae or humans. Mindful movement, with focused awareness, not multi-tasking, and focused on healing intentions, gratitude, appreciation, wonder—even awe that we the same energy as galaxies— maybe engaging the imaginative side of our brains (we all have that!) remembering that there are no good or bad parts of us, just stars, moving in the water and sliding through the sky. Healing is individual, but also powerful in community.

I specialize in therapeutic movement, using yoga, qi gong, energy medicine, acupressure massage, reiki, weaving ancient tools together in a modern format that is accessible to all.

Watch a video or audio here on Patreon, (safe, ad free community) or contact me for in-person healing sessions, 1:1 or in local classes. Wellness and ease in body, mind and spirit is our birthright.

“Nurture the darkness of your soul, until you become whole.”

Lao Tzu

Happy face sticker on an empty gas tank?

“I’m fine.”

“No, really, I’m fine.”

“Just fine. Really.”

I don’t believe it, do you? Our American culture teaches us to play ‘nice’, pretend all is well, that we are ‘fine’, when we are not— cuz’ nobody wants to be around a drag. Nobody wants ‘bad vibes’. And the truth may be that we are pretty full up with our own anxiety, and can’t really carry anyone else’s.

We are all holding some amount of stressed energy, so if we think we are fine— it may be worth taking a look at how quickly we get irritated, how often we complain to friends or partners, how judgey or triggered we feel, how quickly we label things or people, maybe show low energy, can’t relax, or let go of a need for sugar, salt, or other addictive behaviors?

It doesn’t serve us to live with self-blame, calling ourselves or others—lazy, stupid, or other labels that do nothing but keep us in that stressed, hyper vigilant state where we just can’t relax, and we feel miserable and empty on the inside, while we paste a smile on the outside.

I know I sound like the drag now, but all this anxious energy has an effect on our bodies, it shows up as constant low grade inflammation, and generally we deal with that anxious energy with comforting behaviors, or addictions that don’t help us heal. This then develops into more chronic problems if we aren’t finding a mindful way to release, nourish and balance. The good news, is, and yes, there is good news, we can find balance. In fact, our bodies, and our subtle energy systems are primed and designed to seek balance and ease.

I am always on the lookout for new tools to add to my energy toolbox, and I love it when I find a tool, or refine one that seems to be even more powerful, engaging, and nourishing—and lately, tapping is that tool for me. We have that expression— ‘Just shake it off”, but really, the effective way is to adopt an intention of release in our minds then literally shake! All over. Like a dog! It will be a lovely, honest world where you see someone get frustrated in the grocery line, then just shake all over, and go on their way, smiling into the rest of their day. My dogs do it all the time!

We tried this practice in live classes this week, and it was a hit, I hope you enjoy it too, please let me know if you made your own modifications or intentions, I would love to hear!

Is this my deepest heart’s desire?

When I was seven, I hurried to the gym after school for ballet class. We giggled in the bathroom, wriggling into pink tights and black leotards, pulling on flat pink leather slippers and settling into our spots on the gym floor, as the record player music swelled with Tchaikovsky. Our warm-ups began with butterfly, knees bent and open wide, soles together as we held our ankles and flapped our leg ‘wings’. 

One afternoon, after warm ups, the teacher spread her legs wide and turned into a full split, one straight leg in front, one behind, flat to the floor. I gasped. She held her arms high triumphantly, I decided, and as she turned and smiled, my adoration grew exponentially. I remember wanting to slide easily into splits like my teacher, but as it was, when I turned into a split, I was a full foot off the floor, hunchbacked, my back leg bent awkwardly. There was no way I could lift my arms up, they were planted along side me, keeping the whole shape from capsizing.

She encouraged all of us to practice each day, telling us to take pictures of our progress to encourage meeting our goals. That afternoon, I coaxed my mom to get out the Polaroid camera out and take a photo of me in my awkward shape, a hopeful grin on my face. More than 50 years later I remember pinning that photo to the cork board by the door of my bedroom. I can almost see the hope in my eyes, my long brown pig tails, pink tights, bent legs, curved back. I practiced every morning and by the weekend, my mother took another photo. I held it in my expectant hands, slowly watched the picture crystallize, and pinned it to the board to compare; yep, I was definitely a few inches closer to the floor. Now I was really excited.

Each day I practiced, and hounded my mother to take another photo for the board. Day by day, the space between my legs and the floor grew smaller, my back leg straighter. I don’t remember now when I finally felt the floor steady under me, when I lifted my arms into the exultant shape of a conquering hero, but I do remember how that felt. I stood a little taller all day. When it was my turn to share in ballet class, I slid into my splits and raised my arms gracefully, my classmates cheered and my heart pounded, every cell of my brain lit up with celebration. 

We all have infinite potential for growth, realizing our highest selves, expanding into ease in body, mind and heart, living in a state of hope, faith, joy, grace, bliss, no matter what the world is like around us. While this potentiality for expansion is always present, our capacity in this moment is limited by our patterns, habits, relationships, loss, fears, past pain and suffering. There is no magic leap from constriction to achievement, no instant mantra to manifest miracles without the work.

The work, we all know, is the dedicated day-by-day-by-day practice, whether it is growing a garden, running a marathon, or doing the splits. We build our resilience, slow and steady, breathing into our fears and any other emotions that arise as we doggedly keep at it. That’s not very exciting, and won’t sell a 30 Day Challenge subscription. The less sexy truth is that the seed of change is kindness; not comparison, not wishing we were like someone else, even if that someone else is a past version of ourselves. 

The body that I carry today is entirely different that that seven year-old body. Oh, there are similarities, but cell-by-cell, I am entirely a different being. This isn’t bad news, it is just the truth. Bones thinner, tendons tighter, patches of scar tissue, less dense muscle mass, more fat cells and inflammation. I have truly lived in this body, and I am infinitely grateful for every one of my hundred trillion or so cells. 

My potential is not diminished, but my capacity is different. Can I still work toward the splits, taking photos with my phone and posting online to document my progress? Sure. Do I really want this? 

If I check in kindly with my heart, the answer is—not really. I want a goal today that matches my potential and works honestly and kindly with my capacity, so I grow without injury, without pain. I can open to potential growth that fits my capacity, and create a pathway that will be achievable and joyful for me, that I can celebrate  with family and community. 

So here’s my path:

  1. Create a goal and sit quietly with it. Hands to heart, tune in, asking my heart—is this goal in alignment with my deepest heart’s desire? If not, what is? 
  1. Create a plan, a backwards design. If my goal is to do a headstand, what is the step that comes just before I rise into a full headstand? Then what needs to happen just before this? And before that, working my way right to this very moment of today. This is a messy process that I will revise over and over, until I create a pathway that works well for me, my body, my capacity. Step by step.
  1. Every morning, and every night just before I fall asleep, I draw into my heart and mind the feeling of achievement, of sharing success with loved ones. I imagine that feeling flooding my whole body, let a smile arise, then dedicate myself to the practice I need to meet my goal.
  1. Document progress; take pictures, use sticky notes, document every little change, share that change with supporting family, friends. 
  1. Every time there is a set back, and there will be, I bring my hand to my heart center, and tell my heart thank you for holding this dream. I adjust my goal planning, and re-dedicate myself. 
  1. Celebrate every change, no matter how small. Find heroes to inspire. 
  1. Drawing in love and appreciation inward, every day. No matter what happens with my goals and aspirations. Kindness breeds growth, no matter the goal.