Come March With Me For Climate Change!

Tree GlobeI don’t know that I’ve ever been so passionate about anything in my life as I am about the sad state that our beloved Mother Earth is in. My heart aches for her – the plants and animals, oceans, lakes, rivers, and the land that we humans walk upon.

With each year that I grow older my love for Nature expands. Perhaps this is something that happens to everyone as they age. All I know is that it has profoundly changed my life. My head is “in the clouds” a lot these days – literally. Sometimes it’s hard for me to get from point A to point B because I’m so busy marveling at the beauty above.

But our human ways are destroying this precious planet that we think we own. We have been greedy, lazy and arrogant in our ways. We dump chemicals into our water and in the ground, we use up precious resources as if they are endless, and then we try to fix things in ways that only further damage the environment.

Each and every one of us has a responsibility to our Mother. She gives and gives and gives, but we have taken her to the breaking point. We live as though we’re at the top of the pecking order, but the truth is that it goes like this: plants, animals, humans. If our species dies, the plants and animals will do just fine without us. In fact, they will thrive. We need THEM, not the other way around.

So, on this Sunday, September 21st in NYC, I will be joining with thousands of men, women and children from all walks of life to sound the alarm that climate change IS real and that ignoring it will mean disaster for the human race.

Why September 21st? Because world leaders are arriving in town for an emergency climate summit at the UN on September 23rd and we want them to know that we are demanding drastic change. Even the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon will join in this public call for action.

I know many people who scoff at the belief that man is critically impacting climate change. There’s no denying that the earth goes through natural cycles that have little to do with man. But almost every environmental scientist concurs that we have gravely contributed to a situation which is bleak at best, and catastrophic at worst.

This will be the largest climate mobilization in history. The epicenter will be NYC, but cities all across the globe are joining in. Will you join me in showing our love and support for Mother Earth and urging our world leaders to do the same? CLICK HERE to join the People’s Climate March.

Much love,
Barbara

P.S. PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION TO HELP US REACH TWO MILLION SIGNATURES!

The most influential climate change paper today remains unknown to most people (Inside Climate News):
http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20140213/climate-change-science-carbon-budget-nature-global-warming-2-degrees-bill-mckibben-fossil-fuels-keystone-xl-oil?page=show

EPA questions/answers for skeptics and believers alike: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/basics/facts.html

Fracking and climate change:  http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/2014/9/17/opinion-fracking-equals-climate-change

How geoengineering is impacting our environment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsYG5emdZp8#t=450

Posted in Nature | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Ayurvedic Tip of the Week: Early to Rise is the Second Half of the Equation

YellowBirdAtMiravalWebCopyLast week’s Ayurvedic Tip was about the benefits of getting to bed before 10:00 p.m. (Pitta time). Today I want to explain why Ayurveda believes rising with the sun is such a good idea.

6:00-10:00 a.m. is Kapha time. Remember when I said that 6:00-10:00 p.m. was Kapha time, and that it was a slow, heavy, dull energy, and therefore a perfect time to wind down and get ready for bed? Well, that same slow, heavy, dull energy (if we are sleeping during morning Kapha hours) will not give us a restorative sleep. It’s a lethargic kind of sleep that will linger with us throughout the day if we sleep too late.

Our brain becomes very active during Vata time (2-6 a.m.) and our central nervous system is revving up, not winding down. Our bodies are also preparing for elimination, which is designed to happen during Kapha time, ideally within an hour of waking.

Certainly, there are times in our lives when we need more sleep – in times of sickness or during infancy and the teen years. But it’s important to remember that the most restorative and reparative hours are from 10:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m., not during Kapha hours.

Most cultures know that rising with the sun is living in harmony with Nature. Some of us like to think that we’re night owls, but the fact is we are not designed to function like owls and other night creatures.

I almost always wake up before the sun rises. But I was in the habit of letting my morning routine keep me inside. This past week I have made a concerted effort to hop on my bike around sunrise and ride down by the river. Oh, what a joy it is to spend some time each morning listening to the sounds of Mother Nature – the birds and the waves, as well as the beautiful silence. I’ve been ending each ride with a respite under the willow trees.

Are you an early bird or a night owl? Do you feel a difference in the quality of your day when you get to bed early and rise with the sun? Please share!

Happy SUNday!

Much love,
Barbara

Posted in Ayurveda, Kapha, Self-Care, Sleep | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Expelling Excess Summer Heat Leads to a Healthier Fall and Winter

HotOrColdWebHere in the Northeast, fall is just around the corner. It’s ever so subtle, but you can sense it. Apples have arrived at the farmer’s market and there’s a palpable excitement. The days have still been very hot, but soon the nights will cool down and the wind will begin to blow.

The official date of the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is September 22nd. It’s time to prepare for the seasonal shift that Ayurveda teaches is critical to our health.

The junctures between the seasons are the perfect time to cleanse the body of any excesses which might have built up, both in the body and the mind. Failure to do this is an invitation for disease to set in, if the body/mind is in a weakened state.

During the summer months of Pitta Season, excess heat is likely to have accumulated and might be expressing itself in any or all of the following ways:

  • Skin problems such as rash, eczema, hives, psoriasis or dermatitis
  • Feeling of heat trapped in the body, hot flashes
  • Burning or itching sensations
  • Digestive issues such as heartburn, acid reflux, burping, nausea, loose stools or diarrhea, intense hunger
  • Yellow coating on the tongue
  • Bleeding gums or canker sores
  • Excessive sweating (pungent-smelling)
  • Excessive thirst
  • Feelings of anger, jealousy, criticism, impatience

None of these symptoms, as harmless as they may seem, should be taken lightly. They are red flags of an imbalance that, left untreated, can lead to more serious problems. Pay attention. You do not want to enter Vata Season (Fall/Early Winter) with these imbalances. The energy of Vata will only exacerbate them. Vata moves everything (air is the predominant element) and can drive imbalances deeper into the tissues and channels of the body.

Last year I experienced this imbalance firsthand. A particularly hot summer coupled with my Vata tendency towards dehydration left my body in a weakened state as I entered fall season.

This year I have been cautiously aware and careful to stay cool and hydrated. Having a Vata-Pitta constitution can be challenging at this time of year.

Vata is dry. If the excess heat of the summer is not properly expelled before entering Vata Season, this hot/dry energy will begin to move upward in the body, weakening it and making it more susceptible to colds, flus, allergies, as well as digestive and respiratory problems.

The body will begin to produce reactive mucus to combat the dryness and we will likely blame it on the guy we work with who has a cold.

Mother Nature provides us with foods that are naturally cooling and help to dispel heat from the body. So eat lots of seasonal local fruits and vegetables at summer’s end. Especially effective are apples, pomegranates, and beets.

applesWebLoose stools are a sign that the body is expelling excess heat. Be sure to stay hydrated by sipping water and coconut water throughout the day. Some fresh-squeezed lime juice with a pinch of salt in a glass of water can also help ward off dehydration.

If any of this resonates with you, follow the Pitta-pacifying suggestions in this article and consider doing an Ayurvedic cleanse.

Unlike harsh cleanses which can leave the body in a weakened state, an Ayurvedic cleanse gently clears the mind and body of toxins and brings the doshas back into balance. Fall is a perfect time for such a cleanse. I’m happy to help guide you.

I’ll write again soon with some Vata Season survival tips. Now is the time to focus on a smooth seasonal transition, so for the next few weeks – think COOL!

Much love,
Barbara

 

Posted in Autumn, Ayurveda, Change of Seasons, Detoxifying, Doshas, Fall, General Wellness, Pitta, Self-Care, Vata, Vata-Pitta | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Healing Under the Willow Trees

willow
“If you want to meet the most powerful healing plants in the world, just open your door and step outside.” – Eliot Cowan

This morning I woke up filled with melancholy and it felt so uncomfortable. Why was it there? Was it because it’s Labor Day, a holiday, and I’m home alone? But I like spending time with myself and I had a lot to do.

Yesterday I had a visit from some favorite friends – Stacey, Mabel and Freddie. We just laid around not doing much of anything. Like old times. We live across the river from each other now – not just around the block. We’re not far, but it’s different - a little sad – and maybe that’s where the melancholy came from. I just wasn’t sure.

Instead of turning on my computer or the tv to numb and bury the uncomfortable feeling, I hopped on my bike and went for a bike ride. You know, those feelings of melancholy, anger, shame, guilt, grief, or whatever they may be, don’t just go away if we push them aside. They literally find a place to hide out in our body, and unexpressed, inevitably lead to disease.

I’ve witnessed this happening in my own life and after years of studying Ayurveda and energy medicine, I’ve learned that the only way to get them out of the body is to face them head on. For some people, journaling does that best.

For me, Mother Nature is my ally when I need to process emotions. And luckily, I still have a big old river to run to. When I ride my bike (another great release) and approach the water, I almost immediately feel a change. Often tears come, I feel my breath begin to deepen and my heart relax from the heaviness of the stuck emotional energy.

Of course it’s not always my heart – depending on the emotion, it could be felt anywhere. But I seem to often feel it in my heart center. Today, as I rounded the bend on the boardwalk to head home, I came upon five willow trees lining the path. I put on my brakes and hopped off my bike. “Oh glorious willow trees on the Jersey City side of the river – I found you!” They aren’t as mature as the ones on the NYC side, but big enough to envelop me with their shade.

I have loved willow trees since I was a child. They inspired some of my very first drawings. I didn’t pay so much attention to them during my busy years, but my heart would often skip a beat as a memory was jogged when I saw one in passing.

Today they were calling me - literally. I’ve had my head buried in a book called Plant Spirit Medicine: A Journey into the Healing Wisdom of Plants by Eliot Cowan. I can’t put it down. The author talks about the healing we can receive from the spirit of the plant, without using or eating from it, simply by being in its presence.

Plants that grow where you live or lived are the ones that seem to offer the most effective healing. It was no accident that these willows stopped me in my tracks this morning. Pay attention to plants and animals for which you feel a deep bond.

willows2I laid on the ledge under the trees, wishing I could be directly on the Earth, but grateful to be able to rest my head under their branches. Then I got quiet. The breeze was blowing and the gentle fronds seemed to be brushing away my melancholy.

If you squint your eyes and look at the edges of the tree you can literally see the trees energy field. To me, it looks like millions of little amoeba darting around. When the sun is out you can sometimes see them in a rainbow of colors.

Warning: You can lose track of time very easily lying under a tree. Trees are powerful, living gifts to us that we so often take for granted. We need them more than they need us, that’s for sure.

willows1It’s funny how writing at a desk can be so hard but get out in Nature and clear away the yucky emotions and the words just start to flow. I’ve been away from this blog, struggling to get back to my writing. But these thoughts just flowed while sitting under the willows. I believe they helped me get the words out, along with the sadness.

Do you think I’ve lost my marbles or can you relate? I hope maybe this will inspire you to let Nature help you cleanse stuck emotions. It’s free and easy and doesn’t require popping a pill. And it’s not a bad idea to share with your kids the joy of laying under a tree without a cell phone or video game in hand.

Much love,
Barbara

 

 

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August: Don’t Forget Your Dose of R & R!

Rowing on Lake Leelanau, Northern Michigan

Rowing on Lake Leelanau, Northern Michigan

By now you might know about my penchant for rowing. Not the racing kind, but the slow, gliding across the lake, looking at the clouds kind of rowing. It makes my heart skip a beat just to know that I’ll be heave-hoing in just a few days.

I had a taste of it last weekend on a lake in Upstate NY when my friend, Robin, and I went searching for turtles. I got to row… :) And yes, we found a few of the little green reptiles – sunning themselves on lily pads and then cooling off in the murky water. We were mesmerized.

It seems that Europeans deemed August the month of R & R. As an American, I’ve always been envious of their practice of taking the whole month off to rest and rejuvenate. What’s wrong with our culture that we revere long hours of work without any play?

Of course the month in which we choose to rest is irrelevant. When I was a child we would take a one-week vacation in either July or August. Almost always we would pile into the station wagon and head up to a cottage on a lake in Northern Michigan. Up North, as we Michiganders like to say.

This was no summer home with expensive water toys. The six of us would cram into a little log cabin with barely any privacy. I don’t remember a kitchen – more like a single countertop where my mother managed to cook us meals and whip up Vernor’s floats that she would make with milk and sugar instead of ice cream.

Kuba Kaska Cottages were situated on tiny Crawford Lake near the town of Kalkaska. You won’t find any mention of them on Google. They were pretty unremarkable, but they were heaven to me.

If we wanted sunshine, we hung out in the front of the five tiny cabins where we played badminton, and if we wanted shade, we went out back by the lake. Each cottage had their own hammock attached to huge shade trees and a rowboat. The smell of pine trees wafted in the air.

If we wanted a treat we went over to the owner’s cottage where there was a counter filled with penny candy. And if we wanted blueberries we crossed the road and picked them ourselves.

I was terrified of swimming as a young child and the lake was mucky, but each morning I would wake up, run out back and turn the rowboat over to look for frogs. Then I would row (sometimes by my little self) across the mini-lake to the other side where turtles were always sunning themselves on the logs.

I could sit for hours watching these amazing creatures. My whole life seems to have been filled with turtles – in my dreams and in my waking state – and it all started at Kuba Kaska Cottages.

Even as crabby teens we would head out on that rowboat, acting like it wasn’t cool, but I was loving it anyway. I can’t believe I found this old photo of me with my sister, Sue, navigating the murky waters of Crawford Lake.

Sue & Me copy:webWhen I started to write this post I didn’t think I would be taking a nostalgic trip down memory lane. But I began to realize that so many of the things I love to do to relax – to rest and rejuvenate – were seeded in my childhood. Reading, laying in a hammock, rowing a boat, watching movies and being in Nature.

In the world of mind/body/spirit medicine, R & R is critical to our well being. We can’t possibly expect to maintain vibrant health if we don’t take a time out.

Ayurveda would give this advice regarding R & R and the doshas:

VataThis is the dosha of depletion and anyone with a lot of Vata in their constitution needs a little R & R each day. Like a baby needs to nap each day, so Vata-types need to replenish the energy they so easily expend.

PittaPitta is the hot dosha, in body, mind and spirit. They are insatiable learners and while their idea of a perfect vacation almost always includes a stack of books, sometimes mental rest is sorely needed. That’s not to say reading will unbalance them, just that it can create more stress if they never take a break from it.

R & R out of the heat of the day is ideal for Pitta-types. An early morning walk or swim, sitting under the stars, and walking in the moonlight are all very Pitta-pacifying forms of R & R.

KaphaKapha R & R should include the least amount of laying in a hammock taking naps during the day, I’m sorry to say!

Kapha-types can easily succumb to excess – excess weight, excess holding onto things, excess lethargy. Ideally their vacations should include lots of physical movement which will ultimately rejuvenate them and rev up their metabolism.

Please don’t take this to mean that a Vata-type should lay around all day, a Pitta-type should stop reading books and never see the light of day like a vampire, or a Kapha-type can’t ever nap on vacation! Everything in moderation is key and just try to think in terms of the opposite of what your dominant dosha tends towards to strive towards balance.

VataSlow down
PittaCool down
KaphaKeep moving

This article is in memory of my fun-loving mother, Bernadine Sinclair (aka Bernie) who, it appears, also loved to row.

Bernadine Sinclair

Bernadine Sinclair

Wishing you all a relaxing end of the summer. I will be back in September, hopefully rejuvenated with lots of information and stories to share with you here.

Happy August!

Much love,
Barbara

Posted in Ayurveda, Doshas, General Wellness, Kapha, Nature, Pitta, Relaxation, Self-Care, Stress, Vata | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Everything Looks Brighter When You Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Jersey City

Downtown Jersey City

I know, I’ve kind of dropped off the blog radar. I needed to give myself a break and focus on the task at hand – getting settled and exploring my new neighborhood. But you’ve all been on my mind and so I wanted to check in and say hello!

People are asking me how I like Jersey City so far. Depending on the day, you might get a vastly different answer. I’ve had days where I’m utterly blue and wondering why oh why I listened to that little voice that nudged me across the river.

I look around and see desolation mixed with massive construction. Tired old buildings and vacant lots overgrown with weeds. I’m going to be honest, at the risk of offending some people – Jersey City is not a very pretty place.

And then I meet another warm and welcoming neighbor, or discover Milk Sugar Love, a sweet little new-to-the-neighborhood ice cream shop across from a park surrounded by beautiful brownstones, and my whole perspective shifts.

There are some pretty awesome people in Jersey City…and that ice cream is to die for. If you didn’t read my latest Ayurvedic Tip of the Week about ice cream for Pittas, click HERE.

MilkSugarLove

Milk Sugar Love

I’ve often thought how different NYC looks when it’s sunny versus a cloudy gloomy day. Sort of like The Big Apple versus Gotham City. I always felt sorry for new-to-the-city tourists whose first sight of NYC was through a wet, dirty lens.

I am VERY affected by my environment. Even as a child I could feel in my body either discomfort or a sense of serenity from the space around me. The thought of working in a hospital or office building under harsh fluorescent lights makes me shudder. So does the A train. Adjusting to my new environment has been challenging and I keep wondering “Where are all the trees?”

But…I AM adjusting. I am grateful for a meditation practice that has helped keep me in a place of calm observation rather than hasty judgement.

I knew when I first got that message that there was more to this move than just the physical part of it, or even the financial part of it. I had begun to isolate myself in a city of millions. I was becoming more and more content to be alone in spite of all of the opportunities that were right in front of me.

This can be a slippery slope, especially for artists who generally need a lot of alone time to think, to germinate, to create. Add in an introverted nature and well, I might have ended up in a cave. The reality is that we humans need contact with each other – and our hearts need connection.

Connection. If I could only use one word to describe why I think I’m here, that would be it. And second would be community. I am quickly finding both in my new little neighborhood. Not that I didn’t have, or couldn’t make, new connections in NYC. I’m just trying to figure out why I was led here.

Just the other night I returned from a meet up with a group of volunteers working on the People’s Climate March coming up on September 21st (more to follow). When I returned to my building and went to say hello to Patrick, the friendly, funny concierge, he introduced me to one of the other tenants named Rohan who was standing there.

As I began to talk about the meeting and the March, Rohan’s face lit up and he said “Can I help? I want to get involved!”. So Monday night he joined me in the city to hand out flyers and try to get people to commit to the March.

I’ve been invited to three parties and have pulled myself out of my anti-party stance to mingle and meet my new neighbors. The are an extremely creative, warm, open and welcoming group of people. Without exception, they all say that they stay because of the sense of community that exists in the building and with other artists in the area. Here’s proof that I actually went to a party:

partySo, where is the NATURE? I invariably ask each person I meet this question. They get it right away, and assure me that it’s here – you just have to seek it out.

I’m finally getting around to explaining the title of this post. Desperate for trees, I hopped on my bike in search of Liberty State Park where I was assured I would find lots of trees, birds and flowers. It was very hot and I started out too late. I got lost but pushed on, determined to find the park.

I crossed a little footbridge which was a good sign because I remembered someone mentioning it. In front of me were two paths, one to the left and one to the right. I went right and headed up a hill. All of a sudden I heard that little voice in my head say “Follow the yellow brick road” and I kid you not, I looked ahead and saw that the path changed from asphalt to a brick path (It wasn’t yellow, but it was close enough.)

I biked onto the brick road and there looming in front of me was the Liberty Science Center looking like Oz itself! I just cracked up!

Science CenterI turned back around and eventually found some trees but never made it into the part of the park that I’ve been promised will satisfy my Nature craving. It was just too hot.

I turned around, however, with another shift in perspective. Things can change in an instant if we’re open and receptive. As I biked home I passed some tree-lined streets and stopped in at Subia’s Organic Cafe and Market where the three ladies who run it have pictures of Amma, Mother Mary, and various deities on the walls and behind the counter. My friend, Monica, helped them redo the store and she told me when she first introduced me to these women – “Just wait, Barby, they will be praying for you whenever you need it!”

Everyone here seems intrigued by Ayurveda and energy healing and are eager to learn more about them. Maybe another reason I landed here.

And in the fall there will the the annual studio art tour in my building where I’ll have the opportunity to show my work – the old, and hopefully some new.

When I lived in NYC I was never the “write in a coffee shop kind of gal”. There were a gazillion places I could have plunked down to write. Sometimes I could write in the park, but for the most part I had to be isolated at home to focus.

Today I sit outside at The Warehouse Cafe, next door to my building, writing this post. Out on the patio are an assortment of plants that you can tell are nurtured and loved. I recently mentioned on my Facebook page that the owners were thrilled to adopt some of my plants that wouldn’t thrive in my new space. So I can sit and write in the company of some of my plants as well as some very nice human beings. :)

Cafe

The Warehouse Cafe

I apologize that this post has been all about me! I’m hard at work revamping this website and hope to be bringing you lots of fresh new perspective, information and even some art in the very near future.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to ride my bike to Milk Sugar Love! Yum.

Much love,
Barbara

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What a Difference a Week Makes!

Apt

Starting to look more like a home.

I feel as though I’m slowly coming back to life. It has been one week since I moved across the Hudson River from NYC to Jersey City. Not a big move, by many people’s standards. But a big move for me, for sure.

They say that three of the most stressful life events are the death of a partner, divorce, and moving. Well, I can count all three in my life experiences in the last decade and can attest that moving is right up there stress-wise. There were times last week when I thought I was going to fall asleep standing up or collapse into a bucket of tears. I felt so depleted I could barely function.

Enter accepting help from friends. This has always been a challenge for me. I don’t want to ask for help. I don’t want to inconvenience my already-busy friends. I learned all about receiving when my partner Ralph died. It took something that serious for me to let down my “I can do it myself wall” and allow others to nurture me.

Sometimes the nurturing roles get reversed. The weekend before my move, my daughter, Amy, flew in to help me pack boxes and stay focused. Even when we weren’t focused on the move, having her there helped keep me grounded.

On moving day my friend, Manon, stayed with me all day. From packing up last-minute  items at my old apartment to directing the movers on where to put everything at my new place, she stayed with me until the end, on the hottest day of the summer, so far.

I was a zombie. A zombie who had forgotten everyone’s advice to pack an overnight bag. No toothbrush to be found, no sheets, no clean towels. I decided to just collapse on the mattress. Actually, I did this for the first two nights.

My friend, Stacey, having just moved herself two weeks ago, with three young children (one broke his arm just days before the move) and umpteen things on her own plate, insisted on coming over on moving day to bring lunch because she wanted to make sure I had eaten something (which I hadn’t). She fretted that she couldn’t do more, but little did she know that her constant moral support was every bit as valuable.

Once I was officially over on the Jersey side, I found myself completely overwhelmed and frustrated. I was bone tired but surrounded by boxes and crates, plants that needed attention and seemingly much less storage space than I had before. My artist’s eye wanted everything done NOW but I lack in the organization department – big time.

Enter Monica Abbatemaggio. I first met Monica and her sister Barbara about fifteen years ago when I wandered into their tiny but amazing little boutique in Tribeca just a couple of blocks from my apartment. We became fast friends and to this day, most of my dear NYC friends I met through the girls at their shop.

Sorelle Firenze (means Sisters of Florence) was more than just a store with great clothes. It was a place to stop and have lunch or a cup of tea, maybe a glass of wine, and always always some laughs. These two beautiful sisters not only are masters at styling, they are organizing geniuses.

Monica lives in Jersey City and when I woke up six weeks ago with the thought “I have to move NOW” and kept “hearing” a little voice say “Look in Jersey City”, Monica was the person I called. She ended up finding me an apartment in the building next door to hers and began her selling job on Jersey City. :)

Back to friends, and receiving. On the fourth of July, Monica’s only day off all week, she came over for four hours and whipped me and my place into shape. I had woken up that morning just wanting to bury my head under the pillow. I felt sad, frustrated and lonely. I felt like I was living in a chaotic, messy hotel room. Monica would have none of it.

You know how we all have something we do that we’re gifted at? Well, organizing spaces is Monica’s. She is super-organized (a Virgo) with an incredible eye for beauty and she moves at lightening speed. She is an organizing tornado. In fact, most of the pictures I took are slightly blurry because she was in near constant movement. Well, okay, they might also be blurry because I was exhausted.
MoniIt was a beautiful thing to behold. Going from room to room, Monica found a place for everything, and her creative solutions to what I saw as unsolvable problems blew my mind. In just a couple of hours, I started to see my new home taking shape. She had found sheets for my bed and completely organized my kitchen.

When Monica left, Manon returned, also giving up part of her fourth of July. She swooped back in to help me unpack the rest of the giant blue eco crates that were still left towering in my apartment. Manon Chevallerau, a postpartum doula by profession (talk about nurturing!), is also a gifted artist/designer who loves decorating and arranging spaces. So, again, I was in the hands of someone with a critical eye. When she finally went home, I sat in the dark watching the fireworks outside my window, feeling vastly different than I had when I woke up that day.

After a couple of good night’s sleep, I began to venture out into my new neighborhood. Getting lost is a great way to find your way around and I’ve discovered lots of good places within walking or biking distance.

It still seems surreal to me that there are so few people on the street. It’s quiet and I’m struggling to get used to that. This is a perfect example of Ayurveda wisdom. We need the opposite of what is in our nature to balance us. My Vata craves excitement and movement and busyness, but it needs calm and quiet and stillness for good health and longevity. I’m hearing birds chirping in the morning when I wake instead of cars and horns. That’s a good thing, right?

I went for a bike ride by the river on Sunday and when I looked at the NYC skyline I saw it through a completely different set of eyes. The dense “concreteness” of it made me pause and think about the rapid pulse of the city and its physicality. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a NYC hater all of a sudden. I will always love the city and am grateful to be just a five minute commute away. It’s different being on the other side. Time will tell how I adjust but I feel pretty positive that I already am. That apartment in the city that I cried for three days about leaving? Hasn’t crossed my mind. Isn’t that amazing?

NYCI’ve learned so many lessons during this move. I learned that having lots of awareness doesn’t make you immune to the difficulties, but it can sure help you pass through them much quicker and with a little bit of grace, if you’re lucky.

I learned that it is absolutely necessary to let yourself feel and express every emotion that arises. This, to me, was critical. I believe it helped me process my decision to move, find a new place to live, mourn and let go of the old, and make it through the actual physical move.

I learned that everything doesn’t have to be done immediately. Every wall doesn’t have to be painted, every picture doesn’t have to be hung right away. This is where I do battle with my artist’s eye. I am so visual and affected by my physical surroundings that it pains me to not have everything looking beautiful NOW.

Just when I needed to hear this the most, my friend, Cathy, wrote to me: “Remember, it takes months to form a child, let the apartment have time to form too. No need to rush. Just enjoy the unfolding. No need to push, just glide in like coasting on a bicycle. Wind at your back, instead of in your mind.”

So many of my friends are going through moving experiences of their own right now. I have been thinking of each and every one of you this past week – sending you love and good wishes for an easy transition.

And to all of you who have checked in with me via phone calls and texts and Facebook messages – well I just LOVE you and am so grateful to have you in my life. Your messages lifted me up and carried me through one of the toughest (but positive growth) experiences of my life.

With love,
Barbara

P.S. If you’re moving and need help setting up your new place or you just plain need help organizing and clearing clutter, give the Sorelle Firenze sisters a call. HERE they are in action!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Self-Care, Stress | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

This Sweet Song Changed My Whole Day!

I wanted to take a break from packing, cleaning and fretting to say hello and share something sweet with you. A mix-up by my movers has given me a one week reprieve and allowed me to breathe a little more before the final chaos of moving gets underway.

Funny how the Universe works. My initial reaction when told “Oops, we don’t have a truck for you on Thursday!” was disbelief. But after it settled in, I realized it was a blessing in disguise. I have been using the mantra “Let go and let God” over and over throughout this challenging process. Seems to be working!

On Tuesday, when all of this chaos was in full swing, I was noticing how ungrounded I felt. I knew I needed to get out, go for a walk in the park, do something other than pack and purge old things. But I had so much to do!

I snuck a peak at Facebook and clicked on a video that a friend had shared. Oh my goodness! It completely changed my mood, my outlook, my day. I have been singing this sweet song for two days now!

You can say what you want about the Internet and Facebook. I know that there’s a lot of negatives there. But the connections we humans are making, changing each other’s lives, lifting our spirits, is undeniable and precious.

This video of a father playing the guitar while his little girl sings a song is more than just a cute video. We really do have energetic roots that go down to the Earth! We need them to stay grounded and centered.

And there is such pure love and respect going on between father and daughter. My Ayurveda-obsessed eye could tell that dad has a great deal of Kapha energy. Kaphas have a lot of the earth element and are very grounded, loving, and extremely family oriented.

I couldn’t get the video to embed directly to my website, so click on the photo below and it will take you to my Facebook page where you can view it. I promise you, it might be the best 2 minutes and 7 seconds of your day!

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 8.27.09 AM

 

Enjoy and I hope you have a beautiful day!

Much love,
Barbara

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Learning What I Teach

boxesHave you heard the saying “You teach what you need to learn”? What a truism that is! I’ve written so many articles about feelings and stress and breathing and meditating that I’ve lost count.

Now I’m in the midst of chaos. I’m moving after being in the same apartment for many many years. But stuck in limbo because I need to sublet the old place before I can completely move to the new one. Jersey City beckons me to come get to know it, but I’m paralyzed among boxes, a to-do list that keeps rattling around in my head, work that needs to be done, and lots and lots of uncertainty.

When I was in Arizona last week with my energy healing group, I went for a craniosacral treatment. The therapist was immediately drawn to my head and said “Oh my, your brain is over-active today!” I burst out laughing!

I had decided to make the trip in spite of all that needed tending to back home. I thought the peace and quiet would rejuvenate me. I like to get up early and go for walks in the desert when I’m there. But my body had another plan. I was so fatigued the entire time I felt like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz when she finds herself in a field of poppies. I’m always saying “Listen to your body”. And so I rested.

The Sagittarius in me is ready for a new adventure. But the Taurus in me is feeling uprooted. Last night I wanted someone to swoop down and figure this all out for me. An efficient organized Pitta. :) Instead I heard a message. “Go to sleep!” it said. So I went to bed and my night was filled with fragments of moving dreams. “Go away!” I wanted to shout. But I knew that my subconscious was just helping me work it all out.

It’s Sunday morning and part of my routine is to put my houseplants out on the fire escape. I water them and let them spend the day outside. I love my plants. I won’t have anywhere to do this at my new place. But truth-be-told, that same fire escape comes complete with filthy air from the busy street below that has covered my windowsills with a black soot for fifteen years. I have been breathing this, and so have my plants. Not so good.

PlantsThere is a rooftop in my new building where I will be able to escape. Who knows? Maybe I will even be able to see the moon (and dare I say, some stars) – something that is a challenge where I live now. I am looking for silver linings everywhere.

I returned from Arizona to find an orchid I had bought last year with over a dozen buds! I’ve never had orchids before and all I did was faithfully water it once a week. When I saw the new life it immediately took me out of my state of stress. I felt my body relax and I started to cry.

As hard as this experience has been, and will continue to be for a while, I also find myself drifting through it, as if in a dream. With each emotion that comes up (and there have been many) I have been honoring them and letting them express and pass through me.

Fear, uncertainty, sadness, loss – they have all been here. I feel them mostly in my heart and in my gut. Especially my heart. And so I have given special attention to my heart – nurturing it, using essential oils and literally placing my own healing hands on it when it feels overwhelmed with emotion. Breathing, sobbing, releasing.

And writing. With all that I need to do today, I felt compelled to write this and share it with you. So, thank you for being on the other end – caring enough to read and offer me your support.

You see, I am learning to RECEIVE. Something that has been a challenge for me in this lifetime. My wonderful friends have come to my aid – packing boxes, keeping me calm and focused. Helping me with the things that are just not my strength. Manon, JoAnn and Gloria – you have gone above and beyond and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

My friend, Seema, recently told me a Chinese proverb that she always reflects back on when feelings erupt. It is simple, yet profound. It can be the difference between good health and illness, life or death.

“Emotions were meant to be felt, not stored.”

And Ayurveda! Oh, how I am using your wisdom! People thought I was a little impulsive making my moving decision so quickly. I knew exactly what this was about.

Last Vata Season (fall/early winter) I distinctly remember thinking “DO NOT TRY TO MOVE DURING VATA SEASON!” My constitution is Vata-Pitta. Many years ago, before I knew anything about Ayurveda, I would say to my friend, Mary “There’s this dichotomy within me – I want to be organized, but I don’t have the tools!” Classic Vata-Pitta!

I knew that Pitta Season (now) was my best bet for moving. What little focus and organizational skills I have are most present in the summer, when my Pitta is high. So, even though this is difficult for me, it would have been a hundred times worse during Vata Season.

I offer my little story here as food for thought. Some of the methods that have helped me to come to this level of awareness are meditation, self-reflection/writing, Ayurveda, and even music and dancing. Nothing takes me out of a sad or frightened funk like putting on happy music and dancing. I am in the moment and I can feel the stress just melt away. Oh! And a bike ride! :)

What helps you feel your emotions and release them? Please share! And thank you, again for the love and support I feel from you as I take this journey across the river.

Much love,
Barbara

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Anxiety, Ayurveda, Breathing, Change, Self-Care, Vata-Pitta | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Ayurvedic Tip of the Week: Resting for Better Digestion

Resting Dog copyResting for 15-20 minutes after a meal is a great practice that Ayurveda encourages.

Approximately 60% of our daily energy goes towards digestion. If we rest for a bit after eating, our body can perform this important function more efficiently – rather than sending the energy elsewhere – to the brain and other organs needed to do things like read, write, watch TV or exercise.

Did your mother always tell you not to go swimming after eating? Mine did – and for years I thought I would get a cramp and drown if I went swimming too soon after a meal. My over-reaction created more anxiety in an already anxious child. But Mom was definitely onto something.

John Immel of Joyful Belly Ayurveda says: “After eating, blood rushes to the stomach to supply stomach glands with fluids. The food is mixed with acids and slowly turns into a sauce. About fifteen minutes after eating, the food is fully hydrated and blood flow to the stomach relaxes somewhat. To ensure a proper supply of blood, rest at least fifteen minutes after eating.”

I have found this simple practice of resting for a few minutes after eating remarkably effective. Being quiet, doing some gentle breathing and avoiding multi-tasking definitely helps my digestion. I’m not saying it’s easy to drop those habits we get used to doing during and after meals – but it’s certainly something to strive for.

If you are somewhere you can rest on your left side for a bit – this helps the digestive process even more.

And if you’re someone suffering with serious digestive issues, I highly recommend giving this tip a try.

No more running down the street eating pizza or a bagel, New Yorkers! You don’t need that added stress!

Much love,
Barbara

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