Yoga For Seniors

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Great weekend – Yoga For Seniors workshop- offered by the Charlotte Yoga Club at the Karma Lounge in Charlotte, NC.  Workshop taught by Carol Krucoff and Kimberly Carson both of Duke Integrative Medicine.

Lululemon Hit By Karma Train

Lululemon Hit by Karma Train

Lululemon Hit by Karma Train

The karma train was chugging down the tracks for Lululemon and it finally struck.  When you charge $100 bucks for yoga pants, the results are inevitable.  There has been a recall of the popular black Luon yoga pants that will create shortages of the trendy apparel. It is subsequently driving the Lululemon stock value down.  Supposedly a manufacturing defect has resulted in a ‘level of sheerness’ thus creating ‘see-through’ yoga pants. CEO, Christine Day is finally acknowledging the situation as ‘unacceptable’ even though the pants have been on the shelves since March 1st.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this company, it has definitely been enjoying success with the rising popularity of yoga.  The company’s shares have increased more than 380% over the past five years.  As a long time yogi, I find success resulting from overcharging for yoga apparel to be discouraging, to say the least. I am personally glad to see this misstep.  I know it’s not very “yogalike” to wish ill, but what good comes out of charging too much for yoga clothing?

According to $100 could feed a family of four in Malawi for a year.  Can you imagine what the ancient yogis would have said about people paying this sum for a yoga garment?  Where is the Yoga in paying too much for yoga practice clothes? Yoga means union and expensive yoga pants say exclusion.  If you want a decent pair of pants that will hold up for a couple years of practice, go to Target or better yet, there’s always a good selection at Goodwill.  If you want pizzazz, check out  Jelbel yoga pants are “upcycled”, made out of clothes that would have been otherwise discarded and added to landfills.  Now that feels like yoga to me. 

Sorry Lululemon.  Maybe you can turn this situation into a true yoga practice.  How about donating 50% of your profits to a good cause?  Create some good karma.  Then maybe I could say Namaste to you.

Gabi’s – Where Everybody Knows Your Name

gabiYou’re always glad you came to Gabi’s Coffee Shop in Cornelius, NC.  Like the iconic TV spot with coffee instead of beer and mexican wedding cookies instead of pretzels, it has become a welcomed refuge for many.  When you come in the door, it is Gabi who calls out a welcome instead of a big guy drinking beer at the bar – way better than Cheers.  Sure you can find plenty of good coffee and authentic pastries all made by Gabi, but she and her regular customers are definitely the stars of the show.  Gabi was my first Namaste card recipient because she embodies everything the card says to me.  I believe it was her spark that started the fiery sense of belonging burning so brightly in the heart of this community.  Like a foreshadowing of what could be, my first trips to Gabi’s were a reassurance that I had moved to a place with soul.  I would dash in and out in my usual hurried state and started noticing familiar faces – all shades of the human rainbow, young and young at heart- talking, knitting, reading, working on laptops, holding babies.  I wanted to know more about these people.  Now I take my time, sit down and drink my coffee instead of splashing it around my car as I drive to work.  I have come to know the stories behind the familiar faces and they have come to know mine.  Thank you Gabi for your laugh, smile and light so central to the the heart of this community and mine.  Namaste.




L, L, Lord! and Laurinburg

meandchathie4When Mrs. Ollis, my favorite high school teacher from Scotland High School in Laurinburg, NC, was happy she’d shout out “L, L, Lord!” Not sure where that came from, but if you want to get it right, you have to say two L’s separately then the word Lord.  That’s it.  You’ve got it.  Wherever Mrs. Ollis was yesterday, she said L. L, Lord because Kathie Milligan Billing and I unexpectedly met again for the first time since high school.  Just saying, the last time we were together we probably were doing the “Bump” to K C and the Sunshine Band.  Do the math.  It was a long time ago. 

Both of us were attending an exposition for alternative healing businesses.  She came up to my booth and we just stared for a moment, knowing, but not knowing.  We began connecting the dots.  “What was your last name?”  “Cheeseman”, I replied.  Kathie said, “I’d know those blue eyes anywhere”.  I would know her smile and her blue eyes anywhere. 

Kathie had a few stories to tell.  She is a wife, mother, animal activist, wellness warrior, and 3-time cancer survivor. You can read more about her at  Her story will make you want to jump off your couch and get moving.  When I gave Kathie a Namaste card, she pulled out her roll of “You are Beautiful” stickers and gave one to me.  No.  I am not kidding.  Can I hear an  “L, L, Lord” ?

Kathie, you are right.  You can’t keep those women from Laurinburg down.  Until we meet again and I know it will be sooner, Namaste.

Local Love

deborah youngSign One.

It was local love at first site. Well maybe not for Deborah, but I felt a connection and knew that there was something special behind her welcoming smile. I met Deborah Young of Deborah Young Studio at  the Bella Love ‘Tawba Walk event in Cornelius, NC where she was taking pictures. Knowing she represented a business in the heart of Cornelius, her presence was an encouraging sign.  A sign that represented a caring spirit and the growing local connectedness of businesses in my community.

Sign Two.

Deborah was a speaker at the Lake Norman Women’s event organized by the Chamber of Commerce.  Her gutsy attitude rocked the house as she gave her time to provide straight talk business advice to women business owners.  How to stay alive in business?  Deborah’s advice? “Find your passion.” Not only does she care about local business, she cares about helping other aspiring businesses. A bigger sign labeled “Wow!”. I had to let her know how she inspired me. When I did, Deborah passed along an invitation to her local upcoming talk.

Sign Three.

The third sign should have been posted at the entrance of the Lake Norman Peninsula club. Inside Deborah’s brilliant passion for  community – this time a global one- made lights unnecessary. Her pictures and videos told the story of her work with war and poverty scarred children of Afghanistan through the organization Solace for the Children.  I learned about the generous spirit of more local big-hearted people who spoke fervently about the needs of these children and how their lives had been changed through knowing them. Countless people in our community have opened their homes with love, provided free medical care, and given their resources of money and time. This is the definition of humanity at its best. It is the very spirit that gives meaning to life.

I’m proud to know there are people like Deborah Young in my community.  Her type of caring erases dividing lines and brings people together, making the world community a better place. It makes the light in me shine brighter.  I honor the light in you Deborah Young.  I would have taken your picture with a Namaste card but your professional shot with the girls who were helped by Solace for the Children says it so much better.


(For information about Solace for the Children, contact There is a need for clothes, over the counter medical supplies, toothbrushes or even hosting a child.)

Run Jane Run

Dick-and-JaneAs a young kid I spent a lot of time wondering if I could ever get time back.  The same scenario played over and over in my head. Walking home from school, if I bent over to tie my shoelaces, would running catch me up to the exact place on the same point of the sidewalk I would have been if I hadn’t stopped?   Did the stopping matter if the running crossed it out? Running might get me to almost the same spot.  But how could the exact same spot on the sidewalk be figured out and would it be the same time on the clock, both minutes and seconds? My young brain was trying to figure out if you could fool the clock, if hurrying could erase the time spent doing something else. 

The game in my mind still plays out and the theme is essentially the same.  If I spend time doing one thing, can I fit it in without taking time from something else? The frustrating conclusion is still the same.  You cannot add to the clock. Hurrying cannot get your time back. Believe me, I’ve tried.  My mother always says I try to fit 10 pounds of shit into a 5 pound bag.  On a nice day she’ll say potatoes.  This has obviously been a lifelong struggle. 

No matter how hard I try, the truth remains.  There is no time machine that can fast forward, erase, or rewind. No matter how fast you run, if you are doing one thing, it will take time away from another thing.  You are left to consider; How do you want to spend your time?  If you are doing something important like tying your shoes so you don’t trip, that is time well spent and may even save you time later. If you are watching an episode of the latest reality show, maybe time is not so well spent.  No matter how hard you run, you won’t get it back. Novelist/boxer Floyd Salas says; Only love and time are priceless. I try to remember that.  I’m still struggling, but at least I know the answer.

X Days Left Until You’re Dead, Get Off Your %$#! or Life is Beautiful

Banksy-life-is-beautifulJoking with a friend some time ago, I mentioned writing a book entitled; X Days Left Until You’re Dead. Get Off Your %$#! The Newbery Medal winning work has begun (blog post). Accuracy is a must. Acorrding to an online life calculator, Survey Says! 12,326.05 days or 4.82 dog years at my current age of 53. All joking aside, there is purpose to this madness. It would be nice to know exactly how much time each of us has on this beautiful earth. On the 16th of this month, my father died when he was 54. He and my mother had been married 33rd years.  My mother said it seemed like just yesterday that they met. At the time the statement seemed dramatic; now, not so much. Thirty years ago, my husband and I met. Some days it seems like 100 years but that’s another post. Soon AARP will be knocking on my door and I am determined not to be surprised. I want to live each day with appreciation and the knowledge that this life is finite and the length cannot be determined with a calculator. Who knows how many days we have left? With all of its highs, lows and in-betweens, Life is Beautiful.  Right now you have this moment. How will you live it?

A Calming Breathing Practice for this Season


love thyselfA nice yoga practice for the winter season is a Three-Part-Breath. It is warming and nurturing for the body and spirit. The deep and slow breath sends a signal to your body that you are safe and happy.

Start the practice by sitting or even lying down. Keep the spine erect, shoulders relaxed. You could use a blanket to cover your body or wrap around your shoulders.
Place your hands on your belly. Exhale all of your breath. Begin taking a slow, deep, breath through your nostrils. Feel your belly rise with your breath. The lower part of your lungs expands and creates a type of internal massage.
Move your hand from your stomach to your ribs as you continue to fill with air, feeling the ribs expand with your inhale. Move the breath all the way up to your collar bones.
Exhale naturally until you return back to the bottom of your belly.
Begin again, breathing in very slowly starting with your belly first, moving up to your rib cage, then to your collar bones. Practice 3 rounds and sit or lie quietly for a few moments before arising. Smile and give yourself a hug for taking a few moments to relax.

Leaning Into the Sharp Point

inhale exhalePema Chödrön ordained nun, author, and teacher in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage  talks about “leaning into the sharp point” as a metaphor for facing our fears and insecurities with courage.  Ani Pema is the first director of Gampo Abbey, a  monastery for western monks and nuns in rural Nova Scotia.

Chödrön writes “…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holdingback. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”

Lucky is not the first word that comes to most peoples’ minds when dealing with bad news or any other negative emotions.  Nevertheless when we are irritated or resentful, we do “perk up”. When we are embarrassed, we feel fully human, vulnerable and yet ready to react to the emotion.  We may want to run away, yell or blame. We are definitely moved.  Do we lean in when we experience anger, resentment or jealousy and try to see it clearly?  Do we thank the messengers that can provide insight to our character?  Are we willing to sit with our vulnerability? These moments can be our teacher just as a spiritual leader can be a guru for us.  When we gather our courage to lean into the sharp point of the negative emotions instead of numbing the feeling and rejecting how we are stirred; we give ourselves a gift, a growth opportunity.  The moments are ever present. The actions we take can define our character.

Meditation is a wonderful tool for sitting with our emotions, welcoming our teachers without self judgment.  Breathe in self compassion.  Breathe out disappointment.  Breathe in peace.  Let go of anger.  Breathe in love.  Exhale gratitude.

Broken? No way. Well Maybe . . .

There is a mysterious link between our brokenness and our ability to give to each other. – Henri Nouwen

Slam! Three chapters into the book, Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen were enough to gain my perspective. Agreement on this book was not to be found between me and my friend of forty years who had given it to me. Her soul was touched by the language. My Religious Humanist soul was annoyed.  The conception of being “broken” smacked too much of that guilt thing. Plus, as a woman with Multiple Sclerosis who proudly lives life out loud both physically and emotionally, a self-definition of brokenness did not appeal to me. The book quickly joined the small library perched by my bed and was soon covered by a tempting murder mystery with a twist. In the meantime, all book discussions were evaded in case the topic arose.

Occasional attempts were made to find my own spiritual meaning within the chapters. Wading through the prose, meditations and prayers was a tedious task.  Most perturbing was the chapter entitled Brokenness. What dismal soulless speech.  Where was the essence of strong human will?  My inspiration comes typically from amazing stories of real people overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles.  My friend, a Christian, is more comfortable with parables of human imperfection and redemption. In spite of our diversity, we have always had the ability to find mutual respect and understanding of each others’ perspectives.  Certainly connections could be found beneath the flowery descriptions.

A preface detailed the close relationship between author, Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest, and his longtime non-practicing Jewish friend. It described the book as fulfillment to a promise to this respected friend who desired spiritual insight that made sense out of life in the secular world. While the religious community had many texts, his friend felt there was a nothing about God, love and faith for those who had long ago left religions filled with words that held no power for them. The knowledge of this promise was intriguing and kept drawing me back. Like the murder mystery, perhaps there would be a twist. My intuition said Nouwen didn’t hit the mark for them either.  Determined to find meaningful connections, quotes and prayers were reexamined.  The troubling chapter on brokenness was given the most attention.

What can be learned from a period of brokenness and how can it present an ability to give to others? 

Most of us have experienced dark times when we have felt vulnerable.  A diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis at age 41 was one of those times for me.  Scared, the fear of the unknown took over me.  A simple trip over a crack left visions of imminent paralysis. Feeling frail and sorry for myself, I was broken. At my lowest point, reaching out was my only option.  Naming and expressing my feelings helped me to find ways to cope with my fears. Someone shared yoga as a tool for relieving my anxiety.  Peace was finally found from the subtle movements. Strength came from communicating the newly found power.  My confidence grew and my spirit started healing.  The desire for more knowledge led me to find a studio then eventually to teacher training with a higher goal of sharing the empowering nature of the practice.  Now a great joy comes from the bond of trust developed between me and my students. My experiences of brokenness have humbled and helped me to reach out and remind them that they are not alone.

There is a mysterious link between our brokenness and our ability to give to each other.

The Power of Yoga

frog poseIf you practice yoga, you know it makes you feel good.  The power of the practice is undeniable.  What price would you put on a bottle of “yoga state of mind” that follows a soul stirring class with a relaxing savasana?  There is scientific proof to support what you feel in your body as a yoga student.  EEG’s and brain topography scans provide physical evidence of the correlation between mood and brain function.  There have been many studies of the brain over the past 30 years and now there are brain maps that indicate areas of happiness in brain function after practicing yoga. A yogi doesn’t need a brain scan to understand positive effects on the body, mind, and spirit.  Texts derived from an extended study of the nature of the mind were written thousands of years ago to provide the guiding principles of meditation and yoga  These ancient texts are the oldest forms of neuroscience known to man. With all this supportive evidence, why do we sometimes deny ourselves the opportunity to experience something so powerful? When we are the busiest, we need yoga the most.  Whatever the reason may be for you, if it has been a long time since you have experienced the power of yoga; your bottle of “yoga state of mind” is always waiting for you. Treat yourself now and often.  Community Yoga has a shelf full of bottles. With soft pillows, blankets and lavender filled eye masks, the visit will nourish and strengthen you.  The more you put the ancient principles into practice, the better you will feel. Slow down breathe, relax, have a bottle of yoga.

Lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu. May all beings, everywhere, be free from suffering.

We Will Remember – The Work Begins!

“Have you heard about the children?” Speaking out loud those texted words from my daughter to my coworkers quelled the joyful chatter of our plans for a two week holiday break. In somber stillness we retreated back to our desks to search for information and found the unspeakable truth.  “Children, teachers, elementary school, 26 dead.” Gathering back together for the final goodbye, waves became hugs and wishes for fun and good times turned to “Please take care”.

It’s been a few weeks since those texted words shot through our office suite. Sitting back at my work desk on the first day following the break, the recollection of my last computer search saddened me.  While reflecting, an email popped on my screen.  It was an invitation to the home of fellow yoga teacher and friend, Carol Anne Lawler. At her home there would be a discussion between her fellow clergy and others about the issues of gun violence awareness, mental illness, and/or  increasing isolation. She hoped the conversation would spark the beginning of making a collective difference in the larger community. The light of 26 precious lives will shine on through good and caring people.  

We will not let them be forgotten. We will hug each other, speak out and work together to prevent senseless violence and loss. Today’s Namaste card goes to Carol Anne in honor of her light. Let it inspire you. Blessed be.
If you are interested in the work of this group, contact Carol Anne at for information.

Joy! It’s There.

The inner work begins  . . .  January is here with its gloomy gray weather.  Holidays have passed, celebrations have ended and the difficult work of stoking your inner fire has begun.  It can be slow and sometimes painful work.   When the dark of day lasts longer than the light you are given more time to reflect, accept, and grow if you choose.  You may decide it’s time to contend with a habit, an unhealthy relationship, or a grudge because it’s shadowing over your inner light.   

As the process unfolds, consider these words of hope given to me during a time of struggle.  “You never forget joy”.  Your soul knows it, remembers it.   If your joyful light is being shadowed, know that you were created to live your life with joy and share it with others.  Letting go of the limitations to your joy makes space for its expansion. 

Gradually the light of day will grow longer.  Incrementally the sun is working to reveal its full majestic expression.  Your magnificence will unfold like the sun.  Remember your joy by passing it on to others or if you aren’t feeling it, allow the joy of someone or something else to inspire you.  Yoga serves as constant source of joy for me.  A gentle stretching practice always eases my soul and strengthens my spirit.  Every day, if I maintain my awareness, I see someone who inspires me.  Yesterday I was inspired by Deborah Johnson. She has a passion for sharing wellness with others.  Even though she is busy Mom of younger children, Deborah takes time to share what works to keep her family healthy in terms of food choices and other nutrients.  Her gentle light shines on me and others, encouraging the flames of our inner fires.  I gave her a Namaste card to honor her inner light.

You never forget joy.  Look around you.  Look within you.  It’s there.  Namaste.deborah

Play That Funky Music White Boy

play colors

Grief  flows  into your life with the force of a tidal wave, the steady slow pace of a rising flood, or sometimes as small laps on the shore of your consciousness. Its waters have the power to confuse delightful hues of orange and yellow as they wash over them with earthen brown and create a sick shade of green.  Sweet violet swirls with ebony black and vivid whites with steel grays .  Confusion and sadness are the murky mess.   Waves of grief have knocked me over, left me circling  in dark water and often have pulled me under.  My understanding of the unpredictable, overwhelming nature of grief  has come from my most significant losses.  The waves created from the suicide of my brother three years ago still wash in with great unpredictability. Search for understanding often leaves me circling.  Gratefully, as time passes, the waves no longer pull me under. Questions without answers remain but peace comes from honoring his life through memories of the good times we shared. There were many.  Our love for music and dancing was epic.  Alabama’s southern rock , Boston, R & B and disco; it didn’t matter.  The beat made us move.  A good stereo at family gatherings were a must.  The meal finished and chairs moved aside, we’d crank up the tunes, belt out the words and groove.   My calm comes from the hint of his grin as one of our favorite dance songs starts to play.  Stereo pumping, my hand  reaches out from the water for his and we hit the dance floor once again.  Play that funky music white boy.  I miss you.

repack your life







One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations – – –
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – – – determined to save
the only life you could save.

~Mary Oliver


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Springing on Field

Mother and Child

Let It Spring!

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Pope Francis Offers Powerful Words for All


In his inaugural speech Pope Francis offers two moving statements.

We must not be afraid of goodness.

Let us never forget that authentic power is service.

Each of us holds great power.  May it be used for goodness.

Namaste Pope Francis.

We Are One

honeyIf you haven’t yet treated yourself to the music of Sweet Honey in the Rock, here’s a taste of one of their songs.

We Are One. Yes we are. Namaste




We Are . . .

For each child that’s born

a morning star rises

and sings to the universe

who we are.

We are our grandmothers’ prayers.

We are our grandfathers’ dreamings.

We are the breath of our ancestors.

We are the spirit of God.

We are

Mothers of courage

Fathers of time

Daughters of dust

Sons of great vision.

We are

Sisters of mercy

Brothers of love

Lovers of life and

the builders of nations.

We are

Seekers of truth

Keepers of faith

Makers of peace and

the wisdom of ages.

We are our grandmothers’ prayers.

We are our grandfathers’ dreamings.

We are the breath of our ancestors.

We are the spirit of God.

For each child that’s born

a morning star rises

and sings to the universe

who we are.


(c)1993 Ysaye Maria Barnwell,used by permission Barnwell’s Notes Publishing. Recorded by Sweet Honey in the Rock – Sacred Ground CD