Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Being a Donkey

If somebody said you were a donkey, I don't think you'd take it as a compliment.   I, however, would like to be a bit more like a donkey. It's not the stubborn part of the donkey that interests me.  Lord knows I've been working on softening my desire to dig in my heels and hold my position. So, the donkey quality that I'm fascinated by is the steadiness of doing the same work day after day.

This connection came to me after a great lesson from Certified Iyengar teacher, Betty Larsen. During one of her technique demonstrations, I commented on her phenomenal virasana.  She told me, "You are just praising the donkey."  I asked her what she meant.  And she said, "If you do the work every day, this is just the fruit of the practice."  "Alright," I said, "I am complimenting your ability to be the donkey and show up every day and do the work."  "Fair enough," she remarked.

I'll tell you, it's hard to show up and do the fundamental work. We all want to express our movement in the biggest form possible. We're thinking, "Super size me!"  and  "I want to look like the women on the cover of the magazine!"  The only way, I think, to safely move in that direction is to build a solid foundation focusing on fundamentals.  Baby movements - sometimes micro - connected to breath with total awareness - feeling the difference - is how the shape shift occurs.

It takes a long time to plow a field. The donkey does not know this.  It just keeps moving forward across the field of its existence. The donkey also does not know what seed is planted and if weeds or wheat will grow.  The donkey doesn't wonder about rain or sunshine.  It just steadily plods across the terrain. And when the donkey eats the wheat - the fruit of its labor - it does not make the connection to its dedicated work in the field.

As humans, we can make the connection. What we often lack is the patience to just keep walking in the same direction.

Working privately with students, I often get to witness their amazement of the power of the fundamental work.  This week, a very athletic gentlemen couldn't stop laughing from feeling his body in a new way - marveling at the contrast after only doing Supta Padanghustasana on one side - and then pausing to feel the difference before continuing on with his second side.

These moments of witnessing the light come on helps remind me to stay steady with the work in my personal practice.  And as my leg swelled to two times its normal size earlier this week - thanks to my joint disease - I offered gratitude to the donkey work that has returned me to my full potential within 2 days.

What we teach as movement therapists is powerful.  I am a living testimony to the work - even if it is donkey work.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

If I Got a Tattoo...

Located at the beach, the gym where I've taught for over 15 years has phenomenal diversity.  And we all rub off on one another.  It's cool to witness not only how the generations influence one another, but also how folks from all walks of life make connections.

Last week, when I popped into a mat Pilates class taught by a good friend & teaching colleague, I was beside a long time fellow "gym rat"- a woman who's taken good care over the decades and continues to move with amazing grace combined with internal strength. As I unfurled my mat beside her, I noticed peeking out from beneath the hem of her paints - a vine - tattooed - and wrapping around her ankle.  I asked her how far the vine traveled up her leg because I envisioned how awesome it would be if it followed one of the Spirals of Anusara Yoga.

Living and working in the beaches area has allowed me to see some amazing body art - especially at the gas station where folks are often filling their tank in not much more than their underwear or a bikini that covers even less!

So, after teaching this morning, I'm wondering if I ever get a tattoo - where and what would it be?  This morning, one of the ideas we worked on is that the arms both draw into center and expand out. And in Anusara Yoga, we specifically draw into the heart space - the essence of who we are.  This energy body idea also connects fully with anatomy and how we are structurally designed. You will totally get this if you study the arm lines via Tom Myers' Anatomy Trains.

From my studies, I know that the work of my hands is a reflection of my heart.  As we joke in class, the more you connect with this idea of "the hands being the 'doers' of the heart" - the less apt you are to hit someone - the less likely you are to give them the finger.  Because, really, truly - that is not your heart's work - that is not who you are.

So, here's where my tattoo would be placed.  A pink heart - for the color of transformation.  A green one for the color of the heart space in the energy body.  And a blue heart - so my words also reflect the essence of my heart more fully.

Also from my studies, I know that the palm of our hands has incredible sensory perception.  We feel a lot through our hands.  We easily discern weight, texture, and temperature.  I've heard that if you placed a quarter on your hand, there are more sensory nerve endings in that space than there are in your entire back.  Our hands are meant to feel.

So, really, could I tolerate the sensation as the tattoo was designed on the palm of my hand?  Am I really willing to feel that much?  If I tattooed this place, would the sensory overload then lessen my ability to feel in my hand and eventually my heart? On the advice of respected tattoo artists, I think I'll pass.

May we lovingly hold our hearts in the palm of our hands.  May the work we do in this world reflect our heart-felt desire. As we breathe, may our hearts feel the ever-present connection to the Great Heart.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Savvy Students Do the Following...

In a recent Pilates Style article (July/August 2011), BASI Pilates Certified Instructor Danielle Connor offers students tips to help evaluate a movement teacher.  I have paraphrased some of her words.

1.  Has the teacher asked important questions about your health and the condition of your body?

2.  Have they given you any background about themselves aside from their certification?

3.  Do they have extensive knowledge of anatomy and kinesiology?  It's not just about teaching the exercises; it's about knowing how the body works so the exercises are applied correctly and safely.  Not only will you see quicker and better results if the instructor is able to explain how your body works, but you'll learn how to apply what is being taught to you to your everyday life.

4.  Do they have a deep understanding of the exercises and how to apply them to your body?

5.  Do they demonstrate and cue the exercises clearly?

6.  Does the instructor have a clear eye?  Are they catching muscle imbalances, movement patterns, weaknesses and strengths, areas of tightness or hyper-mobility?  Are they providing proper, appropriate, and timely alignment cues?

7.  Do they recognize how you learn?

8.  Are they personable?  Do you get a warm vibe from them?  You want to know that the instructor you are working with genuinely cares about your well-being and your results.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Choose Your Door

Following a great session of bodywork, I ran into a convenience store for more hydration. And there on the doors was the message of the day.



On a massage table, you can feel that it requires both a push and a pull to open tissue. In Pilates & Yoga work, we are constantly cueing our students to draw into center (pull or muscle energy) and extend or radiate out from center (push or organic extension). My senior Yoga teacher, Jenny Otto, told me a long time ago that everything in the body is either a push or a pull.

Not only in our bodies, but also in other structures - there's a balance of forces. This balance of opposing forces is why the world's tallest building - Burj Khalifa in Dubai can rise over 2,700 feet  and why the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge can span beyond 540,000 feet.

So, I'm thinking Push Pull is all about life.

When I met my husband nearly 20 years ago at a business meeting in D.C., we walked out of the building together. Being a gentleman, he allowed me to go through the doors first. He quickly remarked, "I see you pushed the door open." He then laughed and said, "I like to pull doors open."

That my friends is the story of our marriage:  the delicate balance of the person who pushes and the one who pulls.

The family joke is that when it's time to leave... my husband is in the car waiting for us. My kids have even received a phone call telling them to get out the door because he is driving down the street. He literally PULLS us out the door by sitting in the car.  

On the other hand, I PUSH my kids out the door. They have learned this lesson so well that they both are sitting in the car waiting for me when it's time to leave. I'm the last one out the door because I've pushed from behind.

In your life do you push more to get things done? Are you pushing forward? Leaning forward at the waist. Striving to get it done? Asking lots of questions? Constantly seeking?

Or do you pull more? Waiting for others to come toward you? Leaning back as you move forward. Do you listen more? Are you drawing energy off of other people?

What puts us in the middle in our bodies, our relationships, and the evolution of our life is the balanced action of both the push and the pull. So to find the balanced action you gotta figure out about you and know -- do you push more or do you pull more?

Observe as you go through doors that can go either way. What do you choose?

Another convenience store where I buy gas has doors that slide automatically on tracks to and from center to open and close. This fundamental imagery cue for connecting to Center was first taught to me by Vicki Sullivan. Imagine at your frontal hip bones 2 sliding doors. As you exhale, these doors slide to the center line of your body.

It's totally a Pull! And for a Pusher like me, it's what I need!  Pull to Center and draw in. But even a Pusher can get too good at Pulling to Center. So, my second thought is "tack the sides of your waist back to the mat." That is a Push or expansion from Center.

If you are a mind/body teacher or serious student and have not read Mabel Todd's work (1880 - 1956), take advantage of the recent re-publishing of her first book, The Thinking Body. You will recognize many current ideas that folks are making millions from -- ideas that originated with Mabel. While she wrote the book in the 1920's, her writing is clear, concise and current. When you read her words, you will feel like she's sitting next to you today simply explaining how the body works.  Over the past few months, I've recommended the book to many teaching colleagues and all have been blown away!

Mabel's work will give you a better appreciation of the balancing forces of Push Pull in the body. There are lots of ways to learn more about you, your body, how it works, and how to create balanced action. This is just one option.

So, pick your door. How do you prefer to enter a space? Now, learn another way.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Remind Me, Who's in Charge?

When I need to get quiet and listen, I walk - no matter the weather. For a walk, Jacksonville's beaches have been spectacular these past few days!  And the beach has been covered by my favorite shell family - Olividae.  Shells from the Olive family have their own color and design due to a dye the animal secretes continuously over its lifetime.

My home is decorated in a style called "Beach Garbage." All over our house, you will find shark's teeth, sea glass, and sea shells sorted and arranged in containers.  So, when I walk the beach, I am often looking to add to my garbage collection.  

I deal with a lot of garbage.

These past few days, I've been troubled by the question,
"Am I doing enough to bring Peace into my life and the world?" 
Triggering my query was a homeless man's unprovoked verbal barrage while I loaded food for Mission House. Instead of feeling uplifted by what I thought was a generous, selfless act, I spent the remainder of the day confused and with tears in my eyes.  

A walk on a shell filled beach gave me time to commune with God.  As I filled my bag with incredible Olive shells, I could not believe the abundance! As I scooped up shells in clumps of 2's and 3's, I thought,
"This is like service work. We can touch people quickly who are ready to receive."  
I also wondered about timing.
"When is it not the right time for me to be involved?  Like what happened with the homeless man. What could have been different to enrich the encounter? Where did I go wrong? What could I do to remain open and positive?" 
I knew he was clearly angry and a danger to me. As I pondered these thoughts, I reached for another Olive shell. And as the tide came in, the shell slipped through my fingers. And God said to me,
"It's not your job. Let him return to swimming in my vast ocean. One day he will return to the beach. He is not yours.  He's mine.  Don't worry.  I have him."
Feeling comforted, I strode the beach - picking up speed until I arrived at an overload of Olive shells.   They were everywhere!        I froze.      Took a few steps.  I was overwhelmed and didn't know which one to pick up. I asked God,
"How will I know when it's time?  How will I know which ones to pick up?"
The answer,
"Keep going. I will give you special signs. What I want you to do will be clear."
At that moment, I looked down.  And there was a Starfish.

A Starfish is a rare find as well as an abundance of Olive shells!

Like those Olives, we each secrete continuously over our lifetime - creating our own unique outer shell in both color and pattern.  And the best part? We, like the Olives, are ALL beautiful!

Some of us are ready to be discovered in the sun on the beach. Others need more time in the ocean.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Of Service

36 hours from now it will all be over. Kitchen will be clean. Linens washed. Lights out. And I'll be in bed.  

400 people fed.

For the past 7 years, I've coordinated the volunteer effort at our church for First Communion Dinner.   We begin setting up for tomorrow night's dinner in an hour.  

I always marvel at how folks come together to pull off big events. A dark, empty echo-filled space turns into a magical, festive gathering filled with light and laughter and then returns to its original state.  This is the wave cycle of all manifestation.

People come together to be of service - to serve one another. It's what I believe we are called to do.

Today, I enjoyed a morning Yoga practice with a room of strangers, a well versed teacher, and an accomplished group of musicians - coming together to be of service to the greater Jacksonville community.

This morning, I was given the gift of a new awareness of how to be humble and serve with an open heart. Appropriate as I head into my service work this afternoon!

In the physical practice of Yoga, the asanas or postures, we often think of forward bending as a time to bow down to the Highest. Typically, in forward bends, I connect with the inward turn, the opportunity to reflect on my own heart while bowing to the Great Heart.

This morning, while in Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose), I went into a forward bend. The Assistant came by and walked his fingers up my spine from just behind my heart to the base of my neck. A soft, gentle reminder was all that I needed.

While we are honoring the Divine Heart, we long to connect to this Love. So, even in a forward bend, we have the opportunity to "Lift up our hearts to the Lord."

I guess I've been caught up in the idea that my heart lifts in backbends and standing poses.  

Wow, what a thought that I can be close to the earth in a position of surrender and still extend my heart - reaching and expanding into the Presence that connects us all.

I knew this. I just needed a reminder. I needed someone to serve me.

The lights are still on. We are all gathered here. And it's not time, yet, for our final rest. So, let's keep feeding one another!

May we continue to serve well.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Eye of My Mother's Heart

We all thought our mothers had eyes in the back of their heads.   We couldn't sneak a cookie or a kiss without her sensing it. Growing up, I felt my mother's gaze restricting me.   I would often catch her staring at me.  And I would sharply say, "What are you looking at?"   I saw her stare as reproachful or admonishing.  In reality, she just had a neutral face.   And now as a mother myself, I know she was just marveling at her creation in awe and amazement.   I realize she was not looking at me with her eyes, but with her heart.

The eye of my mother's heart sees in all directions.

The eye of her heart is not just in her front body.   The eye is at the back of her heart as well as along her sides - the full circumference of her heart space.  Maybe this is why we feel that our mothers have eyes in the back of their head.   It's their love that permeates and infiltrates.

My mom's "eye feelers" are constantly out sensing who is in need.   My mother recognizes accomplishments. She sends cards and notes of encouragement.  And offers "corrective" speeches.  She makes phone calls reminding us of another family member's birthday.   Despite the suffering effects of Parkinson's, my mom, with garbled speech, will call to connect.   With shaky hands, she writes her notes. While her physical body may be struggling, the eye of her heart still clearly sees in all directions.

If fortunate enough, each generation has the protective, teaching, guiding "eye of a mother's heart."

My kids think we have movie cameras in the house watching them (we don't). What they feel watching over them is my love.

My children have not asked me, yet.  I am ready for the question.  I have an answer.  Thanks to my mom.

Question: "What are you looking at?"

Answer: "My love."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Changing the Way We Think About the Body...http://www.anatomytrains.com/ligaments

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spinach's Hollow Tubes

Harvesting our garden's abundance, I made spinach walnut pesto today.  Since our crop is huge and to save time, I picked a few spinach stalks and quickly snipped the leaves.   I had no idea that the main stalk was just a hollow tube - a marvel that got me thinking.

With my bare feet in the soil, I pictured the hollow tubes inside of me.   Fallopian tubes.  Aorta.  Ureter.  Intestines.  Esophagus.  Colon.   Eustachian tube.  Bones. We are an amazing creation!

Like the spinach stalk, we want our bodies' walls to hold structural integrity.   Allowing free flow and unobstructed exchange of materials - permeable when needed and a barrier at other times.   Our tubular construction allows us to be light.

For the size of the spinach stalk, it, too, is extremely light and the outer walls strong.  I can see all the way up the tube - a soft green light bathes the empty space.  

We are nothing but space.   Scientists continue to prove we are mostly made up of space.   When we look at the smallest building blocks in our bodies - there's lots of space.   Somehow, we have organized into this creation.

Touch your fingers together.  The only reason when we touch our fingers together that they don't just pass through each other or merge is that the atoms are repelling each other.

So, I am thinking - the only thing holding us back from complete dissolution or complete absorption is our repulsion to the idea.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Respiration Animation - Very Cool!

Thank you to Jenny Otto for finding this animation!  Thanks to Betty Larsen's brother for this translation for the video!  And to John Charping, Betty's husband, for sending the translation to me!  Jenny, Betty & John are my senior teachers.  Each of them are incredibly generous!  Most of all, thanks to the creator of this animation!

1. The total respiration for all (everyone).

2. 7 levels. Hypophyse is the pituitary gland.

3. faux du cerveau is fold of the brain.

4. The cervical diaphragm absorbs and neutralises the tensions originating from the top and the bottom of the body.

5. All of these anatomical parts are probably obvious.

6. The diaphragm nerve plexus is the central part of the diaphragm (white zone).

7. The perinée (inferior part of the pelvic basin between the anus and the genitals) viewed from above.

8. The perinée viewed from below.

9. The viscera follow the movement of the thoracic diaphragm and push from top to bottom on the pelvic diaphragm.

10. The psoas (the two anterior lateral muscle pairs of the second dorsal vertebrae, in synergy with the thoracic diaphragm, puts the lumbar column under tension providing stable support to the diaphragm pillar.

11. The sacrum makes itself vertical and puts the posterior musculature of the spine under tension.

12. The posterior muscles of the spine activate the ribs like the slats of a shutter and places them in position to inspire.

13. Same as #4.

14. The superior ribs have a movement like a pump handle. The inferior like a bucket handle and the middle ones have a movement mixed.

15. The abdominals, active in forced expiration, give support to the diaphragm and to the viscera.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Moving Hearts

We have all experienced our hearts moving.  It's even a cliched saying... google it.   "He/she/it moved my heart."    There's a coming home when we recognize the moments when we literally feel our heart shift.  Maybe it was the flutter of your heart at the moment of a sweet, tender, first kiss.   Perhaps, it was the birth of a child - and you felt your heart move through expansion.   Maybe it was witnessing a disaster story - hurricane, tsunami, earthquake - and another individual's struggles moved your heart to feel their pain.   Perhaps it was your own grief that you felt the ache of holding on or the heart gripping in fear.   Our hearts move all the time - both in beat and emotion.   Our practice is to celebrate the spectrum in the light and the dark.  It's all there for us to know better - to sense and feel the texture of our experience - to see ourselves more clearly.   The full spectrum of the heart's movement is life.    It's not the isolated moments of the kiss, the birth, death, ending of a relationship -- it's the transitions and how our  heart can freely move between these places that is life.  We welcome it all.   This is what we celebrate - that our hearts continue to flow.   Our hearts continue to beat.   And we support each beat of our heart with our breath.   The inhale of infinite possibilities.   Infinite ways to respond to what is occurring right now.   The exhale - letting go and trusting that our hearts truly will "go on."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Fascial Fitness

Here's a wonderful article on Fascial Fitness.   Enjoy!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Driving with the Brakes On

I just pulled in my driveway.   As I stopped the car to grab the mail, I set the parking brake.   As I continued my slow journey up the drive to the garage, I realized the brake was still on.   Have you ever driven with the brakes on?   You can feel the drag inhibiting movement!

Well, today, I sensed my body's brakes more fully - the brakes that turn on in my right leg and hips to inhibit my full movement potential.   What a great realization!   I am so grateful to be studying with Iyengar teacher, Betty Larsen and her partner, John Charping.   I highly value their clear teaching and generosity as I am learning new ways to access my body.  I do have to admit that at one point, Betty did have me literally on bended knee and questioning my muster.

As I think about these braking mechanisms in our body, I wonder their reasons.

Is it fear?
Fear of physical pain?  Mental pain?
My body's protection of something that has yet to be revealed to me?
Or can I fall back on my joint dis-ease as primary culprit?

We not only have brakes in our physical body, but also in our relationships with others and our selves.   I can think of all the times I held back, stopped short of giving and loving more fully.

As I study with senior teachers who so easily give what they love, I gain more insight into this practice.

Offering thanks to all the teachers who have come before me.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Awesome Article about our Fascial System

This is a well-written article on the importance of mapping and recognizing the Fascial System in our bodies.  Please read Part One and Part Two (a clickable link from the article).

Click here to go to Part One:   The Magazine of Yoga

I believe we are on a radical ride and witnessing a shift in how we view our bodies.   The two-part series is a "must read!"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What's In - 2011!

Growing up in the D.C. metropolitan area, one of my favorite things to read each New Year was The Washington Post's List of What's In & Out.   I often come up with my own list - certainly not as long or covering as many categories.   My students often hear my "predictions" in class.   This year, I thought I'd share my thoughts publicly.

Over the next 5 years, I anticipate our increasing awareness and marketing of these 4 things:

If you've not heard about this connective tissue, google it and join the fan base!  Here's a great two-part article.  

This is the root of all our ailments - so some say.   If we can decrease inflammation in the body, we can cure many chronic complaints.    Of course, I have specific opinions on how to decrease inflammation that include a whole foods diet and natural remedies before trying synthetic alternatives.   Top researchers are on this topic and more articles about their work are appearing in the mainstream press.

Curvi-Linear Movement
We move in arcs and curves -- not straight lines.   We will see more movement modalities focusing on movement that is not purely linear.   A benefit of this type of movement?  Opening fascia & decreasing inflammation.

This one will be hard for most Americans to digest.   I think we'll join the rest of the world and will eat insects as a protein source fairly soon.  Of course, it will have to show up in a protein bar that's marketed for weight loss or as a no-fat protein powder added to smoothies.   And, this protein source will need a fancy name disguising that it's insects.   I think we Floridians could make millions from this - especially with the size of some of the Palmetto bugs living in the walls of our homes! : )

My advice for all of us in 2011, ask lots of questions.   Quoting from the documentary Enlighten Up, Gurusharanananda said, "There are no stupid questions.   Only stupid answers."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Iyengar Teachers - Local!

Once a month, from January through April, we have the opportunity to study breath and/or asana with Iyengar teachers, John Charping, PhD. and Betty Larsen, Iyengar Certified.   They will be in the Jacksonville area at the Palm Valley Community Center on the following dates.

Developing Inner Calmness - $75 for all 3 or $30 per session
January 30, 1 - 3:30 p.m.
February 27, 1 - 3:30 p.m.
April 10, 1 - 3:30 p.m.

Moving Inward toward Self Discovery - $60
March 12, 1:30 - 6 p.m.

John & Betty are phenomenal teachers - with over 30 years experience.   El Grabar is the hosting teacher & you may contact her with questions.   (904) 534 - 8546 or email El.  Registration flyers with more details are also on my website.   At my site, please click "workshops."   www.longlisa.com

These workshops are appropriate for all levels.   John teaches breath like I have never before experienced.   I guarantee you will have a new and deeper appreciation of fundamental breath work (really good, too, not only for advanced practitioners, but also those who struggle with breath or are new to breath!).   He has distilled years of studying & practicing into a powerful & beneficial practice.   Betty's asana teaching is beyond top-notch.   Her knowledge, details, and sequencing combined with a wonderful disposition will infuse your understanding.   I have had the pleasure of studying with them and am completely smitten.

A local event with highly experienced teachers as your guide in a light & intimate setting - you couldn't ask for anything better!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bad Things Happen

It's been 29 years.

I just put the pieces together a bit better this morning.   The trigger?  A conversation with my high school daughter after I returned from attending a Vigil for my friend, D's, father.

I came home from the Vigil unsteady and stumbling, literally.  For over 12 years, I have witnessed my friend, D, rise to meet each obstacle that life has presented her.  These past 3 months, D has faced more than most will encounter in a life time.    From nearby and a distance, I have gleaned D's story not only from her, but from her mom and dad.   And now, the man, her dad, who repeatedly encouraged D to continue standing unexpectedly transitioned from life on Earth.   I think he left way too early.   Yet, who am I to judge?   And, I try to understand  - yet again - why bad things happen to good people.

It's been 29 years.

I offer thanks to Rabbi Harold Kushner for his timely writing of the classic book When Bad Things Happen to Good People.   Just before Christmas this year, I stumbled upon an old copy in the St. Vincent dePaul Thrift Store on Beach Boulevard.   I began re-reading it over the holidays.

Over 20 years ago, this book initiated my slow return to God.   Rabbi Kushner's writing helped me begin to understand my anger as well as sort through one of life's hardest questions - "Why do bad things happen to good people?   Why do we suffer if God is supposed to be goodness and love?"   In one of his arguments, the Rabbi clarifies "the laws of nature."  

Insurance companies refer to earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters as "acts of God."  I consider that a case of using God's name in vain.   I don't believe that an earthquake that kills thousands of innocent victims without reason is an act of God.   It is an act of nature.  Nature is morally blind, without values.   It churns along, following its own laws, not caring who or what gets in the way.    But God is not morally blind.   I could not worship Him if I thought He was.  God stands for justice, for fairness, for compassion.   For me, the earthquake is not an "act of God."   The act of God is the courage of people to rebuild their lives after the earthquake, and the rush of others to help them in whatever way they can.     (bold emphasis, mine)

Yes, that's what I believe.  I am remembering so much this morning.  My lovely daughter, Ava, was also the catalyst.   After arriving home last night, I crawled into bed and asked her to come talk with me.   I told her I missed her.   Ava's high school days are long, and she's not home much.   She then spoke to me of adolescent things - peer pressure, social cliques, fitting in, and friends.  I listened.

And this  morning, I pulled a college text book from my shelf.   It's THE book that broke me down my senior year at Syracuse.   I remember sobbing in my professor's office telling him that the book was clearly stating everything I had believed to be true, and I just couldn't continue reading it.   The information was direct and raw.   I did finish The Birth and Death of Meaning by Ernest Becker and have re-read it several times - though not in at least 15 years.   Today, I will begin re-reading it again.

I just found the passage I was looking for that Ava's sharing had helped me remember.

Only during one period in our lives do we normally break down the barriers of separateness, and that is during the time that the psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan called the "pre-adolescent chumship."   It is then that we are striving hardest to establish this integral domain of our inner identity, and our chum helps us.   Remember that time?   Sitting around on the curbstone and communicating so directly in what you are thinking and feeling, hoping and dreaming.   And you understand everything you communicate about your mutual insides.   It is uncanny.   Unhappily, the years pass and one goes into the late teens and into the career world.   The "outer" or public aspect of our lives takes over:  we begin to deal in exteriors, in shirts and ties and calling cards, in salaries and ranks.   One of the reasons that youth and their elders don't understand one another is that they live in "different worlds": the youth are striving to deal with one another in terms of their insides, the elders have long since lost the magic of chumship.

It's been 29 years.

Brenda LaVigna was my chum.   We met in middle school, and our time together was intense, hilarious, and magical.   I've not had a relationship like it since.  In 1982, my senior year of high school, 2 weeks before Christmas, she died in a car accident.

Deep sobs now, 29 years later - for my loss and all of our losses that come from living and our desire to connect with one another - and our desire to connect with something far greater than us.

I spent many years in the dark.   My back coldly turned away from God.   So much of my Yoga studies are concentrated on the ideas of not-separate (non-dual) and connection.   Decades of searching led me home.   I am a practicing Catholic.   I have western views and do have to compartmentalize aspects of the structured "Religion" that don't sit right.   I guess, I'm not a blind sheep.  I have been given the gift of discernment.  Christ's teachings do resonate with me and my mixed family feels welcomed and at home at St. Paul's Catholic Church.   One of my most favorite things about my Catholic faith is communion.   All you have to do is say, "Yes."   There is no mountain to climb, no sweat house to enter, no long hours seated on a meditation cushion.   And, yes, I do do those things... but to keep me connected to God - my Divine Spark.   Each time I receive communion, I feel God's presence with in me.  It's pretty darn cool.   Really, it's rather hot.    I get very hot - kinda sweaty.   A clairvoyant friend told me when I feel that heat, I am, in that moment, connected to Spirit.   It's so awesome that it moves me to tears every time I attend Mass.   It moves me to tears when I'm on top of a mountain witnessing the beauty of creation.   It moves me to tears sweating on my mat when I feel the magnificence of my body's creation.    And it moves me to tears doing my family's dishes when I am serving creation.

It all begins with "Yes."   All you have to do is say, "Yes."  God is goodness and love.

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child with in my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Yes!   Thank you for the questions Stevie Nicks.   The answer is "yes."

Yes, Rabbi Kushner, you are right.
The act of God is the courage of people to rebuild their lives after the earthquake, and the rush of others to help them in whatever way they can.
I'll be saying "yes" at the funeral Mass today for my friend, D's, dad.   I do believe he is partaking in the greatest love-fest, ever.