Always carry a bikini in your purse

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Photograph of a TheBus 40' Gillig Phantom bus ...

TheBus in Honolulu near the intersection of Beretania and Bishop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, I can breathe. At least until tomorrow. I flew last night to Oahu for my second MPJE exam in a week. Last Saturday, I took the one for New Mexico, and today I took the one for Washington state. It all started out on a positive note…..

I arrived at Honolulu International Airport in the afternoon, with my purse and briefcase on wheels. I was spending the night, but I figured I didn’t need a full change of clothes….just a couple shirts and a bikini folded into my purse. Always be prepared! Walking up to the bus stop, I spotted a man I work with on a project. I use that phrase loosely, since I didn’t even remember his name. He was fiddling with his iPhone. “Aloha,” to which his reply was, “The bus comes at 5:51.” It seems he found some cool way of tracking the buses on his phone.

As luck would have it, we sat next to each other on the bus, across from two military boys who had evidently not been whooped into shape enough during boot camp. These boys were straight from the midwest, had never been on a city bus, were probably excited about the nightlife in Waikiki,

and were loud and obnoxious. Eight-year-old boys on a big field trip, but with tons of testosterone.

I reintroduced myself to the “bus keeper,” and we talked the best we could given the ruckus around us about a grant just released by CMS, and somehow about the school his son goes to. It’s for dyslexic and/or gifted children. In fact, he moved to Oahu so his son could go there, but he works all week on Maui while his wife stays on Oahu. Now, that’s Dad of the Year, in my books! He said a few times that “it’s really expensive.”

It’s called Assets, and I intend to look into it. While I want to stay on Maui, the prospect of a job is slim to none. My daughter is highly gifted and the typical underachiever.  Not only did he (his name is Tony) turn me on to a grant and Assets, he also turned me on to a website for tracking the buses on Oahu. If you Google “the bus”, you will find the website. The buses each have gps on them, so you can find out real time how far they are from you.

Next adventure, the hotel. I had no idea where I was staying, but I knew it was in the outskirts of Waikiki….Equus, boutique hotel. Hmmm.. The front desk seemed nice enough, with a waterfall audible in the background. The desk clerk gave me my key, said to head back out and around the building to the high rise in the back. He pointed to the security code for the building and told me I was on floor 26. Whoa! 26?! I have been on Maui too long. I did what he said, but was a bit confused. High rise doesn’t sound “boutique” to me.

Western Sushi found at Wegmans Supermarket

I found my room, and it was a tiny condo with kitchenette. The bed was a Murphy, and I almost tripped on it trying to walk by, given the 12 inches of clearance between it and the wall. It wasn’t beautiful, but it had a stove, so I could boil water for my Throat tea, and it had a great view of the city. Sushi sounded good for dinner, so I searched Places on my phone and decided to head toward Waikiki a block or so.

When I found the building, there wasn’t the sushi restaurant I found, but something much better! It was Aloha Sushi, with everything to go. Hot dog! I was in business! One spicy ahi and some poke nigiri, all wrapped up, and I headed back for my last study session.

I set up my computer so I could face the city lights and the ocean and got situated with notes and sushi. Suddenly, fireworks went off right in front of me!  Boom! Boom! I had my very own show for 3-5 minutes. Honestly, the timing couldn’t be better, and I took it as a good sign.

I had a hard time falling asleep that night. Spinning in my mind were all kinds of business ideas. The whole plan was laid out, and I battled whether to get up and write it down or stay in my meditative state and hope that I would both fall asleep and remember everything the next day. I decided to stay in bed, but I might as well have gotten up.

The room next to me housed some young, rowdy females up for a good time, and they traipsed in and out of their room every few minutes. They were obviously drunk by the fact they were practically yelling to each other in the linoleum hallway that was ten feet long from the elevator to both of our doors. I cracked my door and grunted “some people are trying to sleep,” which they ignored. A call to security seemed to work, or they were just too busy praying to the porcelain god or passed out. Regardless, I finally got about 4 hours of sleep.

“Yes, but how did the test go?” you ask. Well, I made it there early, was finishing my second pint of coffee and feeling the haze lift.

Regular Starbucks Coffee tumbler, as sold in 2...

Regular Starbucks Coffee tumbler (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I felt okay going into it, really (that’s what they all say). Plus, I had locker #3 (my lucky number), and then I was seated at desk #3. That just had to be a good sign! Fourty questions into the 90 question exam, I realized I was almost on time (meaning I had no grace time), and that I clearly didn’t study well enough for this one OR the last one. About 1/3 of the questions warranted a WTF?! from me. I honestly don’t know how they come up with these scenarios.

I left the test center last week feeling like most people leave. “No way I passed that exam.” After today, I left feeling completely dejected, so I did what any girl would do. I went to Ala Moana Shopping Center and bought myself some perfume.

Then, I headed to the beach, plopped down my briefcase and purse, changed into my bikini, and got me the first dose of sun in two weeks. After timing myself and flipping like bacon, I rocked a few downward dogs, pigeons and headstands.

Back to the mall for some shoes on clearance (not much makes a girl happier when she is down). I managed to catch my flight on time, where I wrote down some great notes about what I needed to do this next week. Now, here I am, sitting on my lanai with twinkling lights above me, a glass of wine to my right, a soft tropical breeze, and this hacking cough I can’t get rid of.  Tomorrow is a little “me time” before I catch up on the rest of my life….

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The universe is speaking. Can you see it?

Sometimes there are just too many coincidences coming together to believe that they don’t have some type of significance.

Some say coincidence is merely that. Some say that everything happens for a reason. Certainly, when you start to notice patterns, then you become attuned. Things start making sense. You follow your intuition and delight in the synchronicity of life.

Where do you stand in this debate? Are things foretold, our destiny predetermined? Are we mere pawns that some all-knowing being uses for his amusement? OR, are we all part of a divine dance of life, where sometimes you take the lead, sometimes you follow, and sometimes you sit out, hoping for a better song?

I don’t believe anymore in coincidence. I always felt that when multiple things were going wrong in my life, it was a sign that I wasn’t on the right path. I needed to engage my spiritual compass and reassess my direction. When things kept falling into place, I figured I was doing the right thing. And I don’t mean “right” by anyone else’s definition. I mean Right for You, at that time, in that space.

I am writing this because of something amusingly serendipitous. One of my biggest struggles lately is realizing and embodying my dharma. I think it’s a struggle of many, but for now it is pretty paramount with me. Also, I am realizing that my heart is not as open as I had hoped, and my body is reflecting that in not-so-subtle ways.

Saturday morning, I go into class with my beloved teacher Skeeter, and she talks about dharma. There is always an intent to each Anusara class, and Skeeter seems to speak directly to my problems each time. Of course, she is speaking of things we all battle with, but it is always so timely and pertinent. So, dharma was the theme. That afternoon, I posted a blog about this article, which talked about receiving love through our backs, behind our heart.

Today after class, my friend Amanda says that she watched this great movie Hugo, and that it is all about realizing your purpose in life. I never watch movies, but it sounded great, and it was about a kid around my daughter Keely’s age. Keely and I watched the movie tonight, and it was surreal.

The boy Hugo has this automaton that he is trying to fix, an amazing wind-up robot using only gears for motion that is supposedly able to write (the movie is set in the early 1900’s). There is something so special about this robot that it won’t work unless you have a special key. This key goes into a heart-shaped hole in the back of the robot, separate from where he gets wound up. The article, the class, the movie all seemed to reflect each other…. all within 36 hours.

So, without the heart, one cannot fulfill his purpose. With the heart engaged, we can find our way. It’s that simple, right? Yes, if you take the time to fix where you are broken, and if you have the key to unlock the heart. It’s there all the time.

The universe is speaking. Can you see it?

When the heart speaks….move

Aside

I remember when I first started Anusara yoga, and the teacher said to ‘melt your heart.’ I really didn’t get it, and I am still in the process of “getting it.” In fact, I always will be, and that’s one of the wonderful things about yoga. Forever a student.

One of the first thoughts I had when I realized this was an actual theme in Anusara was of Gelsey Kirkland, a ballerina I idolized when my life WAS ballet. Her first book Dancing On My Grave fascinated and scared me. Her passion for dance and perfection drove her to severe anorexia and cocaine abuse. It scared me because I wanted that intensity. I wanted to let the passion overtake me and drive me, to give in completely to it and see where it took me.

Her next book The Shape of Love amazed me. In it, she was coaching a dancer in a role that she had herself danced. She was trying to get the dancer to stand up from a chair with her heart. Over and over, she told the girl to try again. I forget how long it took (over an hour), but she would not give up until the dancer initiated and continued her movement with her heart. Gelsey really strove to get to the root of things. She was obsessed, but the beauty of the purity of what she strove for changed my view of dance and ballet forever.

Now, half a lifetime later, I am again tapping into that part of myself in both yoga and dance. Some days are better than others. I am different now. I am older, stiffer, bigger (not saying much, since I was anorexic then), a mom of a teen, and a doctor of pharmacy. For years, I went against my heart, and instead went to school. I did dance for a bit during that time, but realized I had to finish my degree, so quit dance yet again.

During that long 10 years of my life, I tried to compensate by being a gym rat, running in a marathon, competing in endless triathlons, and then cycling.  When I broke my hip in 2008, I couldn’t swim or run, so I ended up sticking mostly with cycling for the next 3 years. For three years, I was bent over a book or a computer and bent over my bike, cycling ’round and ’round in a uniplanar existence. Head down, I plunged ahead toward my goal of a terminal degree, striving for excellence, pushing, pushing, pushing my limits all the time.

Now, my psoas is tight, my sciatica is flaring up, and my heart is barely peeking through it’s little house. So, I did what I always do when I need to get back to my roots. I started yoga class.

Enter Anusara Yoga into my life.

I found myself quickly emerged in a practice where the benefits carried themselves over into my life off the mat. I am learning to listen to my heart, to feel my heart, speak from my heart, and one day to move from my heart.

I bring this all up because of an article I read today titled Love As Alchemy.  It spoke of receiving love through our backs behind our heart. Our backside, the Divine, the unknown, where we build trust. The Love that is always there. I have had a painful tightness for about 2-3 weeks now right behind my heart, between my shoulder blades. I almost feel that if I bring my should blades together tightly enough, my spine would pop. Many times, I have wanted to ask someone to press on it, for it felt like if someone pushed really hard, my spine would pop and release there, and the pinching would go away. I figured it was from the kayaking I did, but I should know better. It’s my heart, which has recently been through a lot.

I had been thinking of being a channel of love, rather than collecting it behind my heart. I guess there are multiple ways to view it. You can move love through you, soaking it up to nourish your soul, then giving it your flavor and offering it back into the world. You don’t hold onto it like a material object, but it forever changes your make up. Your cells come alive and dance, and you FEEL love. Your heart swells and glows, radiates and pulsates, with the in-pouring of love. And love is all around us. When we open up, we can fill that well, nourish our cells and our soul and offer it back to the world.

It can be scary to open up our hearts, but we are only opening to divine grace, so what is there to be afraid of? Afraid of being fully me? Afraid of my own beauty and brilliance? That’s silly, and yet it happens. And so the mission to open and receive love so that we may transform ourselves and offer love back to others continues.

Feast of Love

Today was filled with hearts. While putting on my eye shadow, I noticed a heart shape where the bottom of the container was showing through the cake. What a great way to start my day! Then, my yoga teacher was talking, and I noticed that the way her bangs curled, combined with the curling in of her hair made a perfect heart. I almost asked her to stop so I could take a picture. To finish off my day, while driving home, it was raining and the windshield was fogging up, so I turned on the AC. It made the water condense on the outside in ….not just one, but TWO hearts, lying comfortably side by side, right in the middle of my windshield.

My life is truly blessed, for I see love all around me.

Stay In Your Heart

My yoga teacher, when I reached out to her in a moment of weakness, said to ‘Stay in your Heart’….. I feel this is part of what she was referring to…

“On this day of your life, Amy, we believe God wants you to know … that it’s your heart that knows who loves you, not your ears or eyes.

Listen to the words, and you can be fooled. Look at the actions, and you can be fooled. Feel deeply into your heart, and then you will know the truth.

Who makes your heart soar now?

Well, what are you waiting for?”

Bali By April

I have recently found myself immersed bit by bit in a beautiful community (kula) of loving, compassionate, artistic and fun human beings. We share our hearts and our souls, and we celebrate each other’s triumphs, both on and off the mat. It is in my first immersion that I met Amanda Petranek, who is traveling to Bali for her Anusara yoga teacher training. What a beautiful, strong yogi! I know she will be an amazing teacher, and I want to support her passion. She is raising money to go, but it’s not just for the cost. Read on her site why she is doing this, what her vision is, and how you can benefit from it too!

Still Waters Run Deep

Don’t let the Bunny reference fool you.

The smile, humor, and hop in the step are the surface of the lake. When the waters are disturbed at any level, the surface reflects, but does not mirror, the magnitude of the disturbance.

I am capable.

Of immense strength and resolve, but also intense vulnerability and surrender.

Of undying love and devotion, but also absolute indifference.

Of exalted joy, yet also debilitating despair.

Of raging fury, yet utmost compassion.

Finding that balance between the two extremes is a daily struggle, but also a perpetual joy, for it is my awareness and attention to finding that balance that teach me so much about myself, and about others.

I am capable.

Of navigating the deep waters, for my emotions are my reflection of all that lies deep in my soul.

Ultimate Me

I am full of ideas, full of emotions, full of sudden physical limitations, but they are truly only learning opportunities. I am learning to pause, breathe, take in the moment, open to the possibility of more than I know. Everything I need I already am. I just need to clear away the malas and be my Ultimate Me.

What is the Spirit of Maui?

Deutsch: Sonnenuntergang bei Kihei (Maui/Hawaii)

Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

How would you describe or define the Maui Spirit?

We all know Maui is special and attracts many amazing people.

So, tell me please, how do you describe (in one sentence or one word) the island of Maui, no ka oi?

Starting off on the right …..heart

Today, I went to a yoga intensive with Kelly Haas, who is visiting the island. She is a petite thing, but oh so strong! I am continuously amazed at the strength, combined with suppleness and resilience, of the Anusara teachers I encounter. We started our three hours with intentions for 2012, focusing on what we want to cultivate.  Among several things, I want to live more fully from the heart, to be a channel of positive, loving energy. Anusara teaches, among many things, to surrender first, to melt the heart. This is truly key to so much in the postures I was not able to complete.

Then, we started right in with half moon pose. Oh yeah. Then to hand stand.  I have only just started doing hand stands and inversions, so am a bit behind the curve, so when they started to get into some of the balances and hand stands, I couldn’t finish the first progression, let alone the second one. You know those beautiful pictures of yoga instructors doing crazy things out in nature? Yeah, we were doing those. At least, I was attempting them. I found myself getting frustrated, which surprised me. It had been a long time since I had felt that way. Patience, Amy. Like Kelly said, treat every posture like an etch-a-sketch and shake the posture away each time. Start fresh.

Kelly Haas

We assisted each other in all of the postures, which was a great way to bond and trust and to better understand each posture for ourselves.  It’s so nice to be able to help someone complete a posture that they wouldn’t be able to do without your assistance. It’s amazing to be supported so that we can feel the completion of the posture. I left super hungry and worn out, which was awesome. I also left ready to dive deeper, knowing that with the right knowledge and application, I will be doing those someday too. What a beautiful group, and a fantastic way to start 2012 off!