DELICIOUS WINTER CHIA SEED PUDDING!

HEALTHY Yummy APPLE-BlueBerry-CINNAMON-Coconut CHIA SEED PUDDING

Prep time: 30 mins

Serves: 2-3

 

Yummy healthy tummy loving breakfast/snack pudding perfect for cold winter days!

 

INGREDIENTS

·         2 cups 2% Milk

·         ½ cup of plain or honey yogurt

·         ½ cup coconut milk/cream

·         1/3 cup Maple Syrup

·         ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

·         ½ teaspoon ground flax seed

·         ½ teaspoon maca powder

·         ½ teaspoon hemp seeds

·         ⅔ cup chia seeds

·         2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes

·         1 apple, cored and chopped

·         ½ banana cut in small bits

·         1 cup of frozen blueberries

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1.      Whisk ½ cup of yogurt with vanilla, maple syrup, & coconut flakes.

2.      Add milk, keep whisking. Slowly stir in chia seeds.

3.      Stir continuously for about 2 minutes while the chia seeds absorb the milk. Allow the mixture to sit in the fridge for 15 minutes.

4.      Add flax seed, maca powder, apple, blueberries, banana, & coconut cream/milk. Stir for 1 minute. Allow mixture to sit for 15 minutes in fridge.

5.      Top with coconut flakes, apple slices, hemp seeds, cinnamon, almonds…. Etc

 

 

We enjoyed a bowl of pudding + half a whole grain peanut-butter/banana sandwich as an afternoon winter snack! YUM! 

Stay Warm! Stay Cozy! Stay Cool!

~Elissa Cirignotta

Release... the best is yet to come.

jesseeee.jpg

Contributed by Jesse Soto

 

Seasons change. The sun’s journey from horizon to horizon irrevocably (or so it seems) shortens, and with these changes, what is seen by many as a shedding of the year’s hang-ups and newly-acquired emotional baggage climaxes in a pivotal point of transformation: the coming of the new year. This passing of the torch from the beaten and battered you to the emboldened, enlightened scion of truth that the cleansing fires of all the revelations of the past year’s shortfalls and mistakes have molded you into is your rise out of the ashes, your rebirth, your second chance.

Watch out 2016! This time IT WILL be different. The 32nd time is the charm…right?

Sounds great, doesn’t it? With the passing of one year to the next, and a single stroke of the clock, our slates are wiped clean and we again have the ability to be the person we think we should be. We charge on, invigorated by countless self-important soundbites of prose stamped on the sides of bottles and affixed to tea bags, plastered on manufactured memes against a backdrop of a shapely model’s silhouette, gazing contentedly across an impossibly beautiful vista, gone with an upward swipe of our thumbs.

This axis of time is steeped in ritual and cosmology as old and varied as the ever-growing collection of leggings and mats in each of our closets, dear readers. Myself, I’m not that much of a holiday person, but this one day of the year does seem to hold a bit more magic for me, even than perhaps my own birthday.

I’ve always been in love with the idea of transition and moments of transformation, of sudden, irreversible change. Growing up under the yolk of extreme and distorted religious doctrine, the trappings of tradition – holidays, organized religion, and even family gatherings (best to let sleeping dogs lie) – continue to lack significance for me beyond serving as worn-out exercises performed simply because the same was done the year before. The ability to shed the notions and predetermined ideals foisted upon me by people, by circumstance, by the passage of time serves as an exception to my rule, in the form of New Year’s Eve.

It’s on that night every year that I hold a private ceremony, a cleansing of spirit, if you will, which I call my Release Ceremony. I write out a long letter addressed to the year that is passing, and all of the stowaways that I am intentionally shedding and relinquishing from my control and my being. In this letter I record everything I am thankful for and everything which has introduced pain into my life – breakups, friendships gone south, transcendent evenings, great meals, achingly beautiful skylines – and through this homage to my perpetual balancing act, a salute to necessary and destructive creation. When the letter is complete, I light it on fire, burning my scribbles and releasing those moments as I enter the new year with a clear and open heart. Burning these discoveries, revelations, losses, and adventures brands them in my inner narrative and releases them as base matter, once again broken down and assimilated back into the folds of potential.

What is true is that we are only the temporary custodians of the particles which we are made of. They will go on to lead a future existence in the enormous universe that made them. 

-Stephen Hawking

What is also true is that we are only the temporary custodians of our pain, and of all the negative emotions we feel compelled to hold on to and carry with us. Let them go! Give that pain and the energy spent reconciling it back to the universe, where it can take on new life as gratitude, as love.

Now, on to something completely different...

2015 introduced loss into my life in a way I had not yet experienced, and I am so very thankful for the clarity it granted me. With last year’s Release Ceremony, I made goals, set challenges, and purposefully scared and shocked myself with every possible opportunity. I started running again. I quit smoking and the lifeless, dead-end job I hated, and landed one that I love at more than double the salary. As if that weren’t enough, I’m getting my own interior design/terrarium business off the ground, and loving every minute of my hectic pace. I wanted to explode, and I succeeded. Balancing all of this with my day-to-day of living with PTSD and manic depression has been, like, really, really, really hard. 

Life is short and the years continue to speed past (since when can anyone born in the 90’s operate a vehicle or get into BAR?!).

This is your December 2015 challenge, dear readers: create your own Release Ceremony this New Year’s Eve. Face 2015 and examine your year with naked honesty, allow yourself to love even the darkest moments. Ground yourself, love yourself, forgive yourself. As you take your first steps into the new year, mind you the words of C.S. Lewis:

There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.

 

Jesse Soto is an artist living and working in Portland, OR, where he continues to collect abandoned shadows and human memories. An accomplished artist, published poet, and lover of all things green, Jesse spends his days keeping company with Philosophy, the Esoteric Arts, cooking and juicing with his partner, hiking, and appreciating the wondrous canvas of sky above. He can be reached for any number of reasons at soto.notebook@gmail.com

 

*image credit: Jott Robertson

Leaning In

Contributed by Krista Basis, E-RYT 200

 

I’ve been teaching Yoga since 2002. Wow. 13 years. I’ve owned three yoga studios. And most recently started to teach barre at my little cozy space called The Yoga Barre in Washougal Washington.

When I first started teaching barre, I thought “How can I possibly teach both yoga and barre? They have nothing to do with one another. One is spiritual. The other is pure fitness.  What the hell am I doing?”

In reconciling my feelings about teaching both modalities, I realized that I was a part of my beautiful community, and essentially we are all just trying to take care of ourselves. We are sharing stories, connecting, and helping others by just being there. This reminds me that we don’t have to pigeon hole ourselves to being one particular stereotype.  We can love what we do, be proud of what we love to do, and calmly detach from our own preconceived notions about being what we THINK we should be. As we all know it’s a lonely and never satisfying space to be in. Ditch the glitch!

The long and short of it is that I love people. I love to see people take care of themselves. I love to see people thrive. I have always been public service oriented (I spent my early 20’s volunteering and working for the Peace Corps & Avon Walk for Breast Cancer).  I’ve worked waitressing jobs, cleaning hotel rooms, making ice cream cakes for birthday parties. I’m a Usui Reiki Master and Tarot Card lover (and occasional reader with a glass of red wine). If people need taking care, I want in. And the fact of the matter is that’s not changing.  My job in life is to connect with people.

How do you practice Mindfulness?

At home: It’s HARD! There are a lot of distractions at my house. I try to squeeze in my meditation time right before I go to sleep at night. I usually play Yoga Nidra audio clips from Amazon Music (my current favorite is Yoga Nidra II – Yoga Nidra Practice with Healing Sounds by Robin Carnes)

I also try, and fail more times then I like to acknowledge, to turn off all technology and spend time with my husband, child, furry children by talking, hugging, and trying to stay present.  Walking my dog is a joyful part of my mindfulness practice.

At work: No matter who shows up or whatever mood they are in….I try to be present for them. I make space for them- to get what they need and to shake loose. I am supportive, as best I can. Do I let people walk over me? Nope. That is not real Metta (practice of loving kindness). If my students come in being flustered, slightly rude, annoyed, etc. I try to be light hearted and kind. Does it work all the time? Surprisingly, yes, it does. They walk out in a better mood or note that even if they were a jackass…..the light in me honors that sometime prickly person I am as well.  It helps me to meditate on the “All One” messy human show. It’s a good reminder that we need some compassion now and then, especially when we are the little stinkers.

In  my community: I try to help or give when I can. I stay aware and present. If I see that someone needs help – maybe a senior who cannot carry their groceries – or someone homeless at a highway ramp, I offer my support, I give money. I also volunteer at my daughter’s school washing dishes every Thursday. I would love to be Mother Teresa-ing it all the time…. I help when I can and know that I make a difference in my own way every day. I’m enough.  

Why do you do what you do?

This question makes me laugh. Not sure why, but I question it a lot!  I am not sure why I do what I do!?! Logically, I would have a lot more stability working a “regular” 9-5 job with a 401K. And, honest to goodness, maybe I would not stress out so much on a daily basis about what I am going to teach or how many people attended class, how am I going to pay my teachers and bills this month? What I can say is that I do what I do because it makes me feel good about helping others.  That almost every day I am connecting with people on so many different levels….ways that an office job might not afford me.  Sometimes I feel it is my Dharma and that is a comfort.

How does being in the present moment heal you?

Lately, I have been reading “Taking the Leap” by Peema Chadron. She discusses the Buddhist concept of Shenpa (being attached or hooked). I have been using this to heal myself. The practice is taking little snippets of time to meditate when and where I can. I stopped feeling guilty for not spending what I thought was ample time meditating.

Seriously, if you are able to meditate for an hour on a daily basis, I envy you. As for me, running a studio, teaching yoga and barre classes, being mother to an 8 year old, active dog and 18 year old senior cat (who has lots of health issues now) I have little time to be in the NOW. But with Pema’s guidance, I realized all I need to do is:

1.      Acknowledge that you are hooked.

2.      Pause. Take 3 deep breaths. And lean into the discomfort of whatever it is that you are hooked or attached to. Feel it. Taste it. Be curious about it.

3.      Move on. Do not make it a competition that you win or lose.

I cannot tell you how many times a day I do this. It is simple. And guess what? I have had so many big moments of revelation. Before I would have thought that I needed more time to acknowledge all of this “issues” that I am carrying around. But, for me, I realized that all I need to do is pause, lean in and move on. You don’t need to keep replaying the old stories. You can quickly take in what you need, acknowledge it, and get on with your life.  I am learning to lean in.

krista fam.jpg

Krista is a Massachusetts gal who loves to travel.  She has visited and lived in Mexico, St. Vincent, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, Trinidad, South Africa, Lesotho, Costa Rica, Italy, Turkey and most recently Thailand. She loves to hike with her husband Dan, daughter Zoe and miniature Australian Shepard Annie in beautiful Oregon.

Krista teaches at her little studio The Yoga Barre most days. She also has the honor of teaching at Karma Yoga in Clackamas, OR and The Love Hive in Portland, OR. She's grateful to have such a wonderful community who opened there arms wide in the Northwest. 

Enough is Enough

Enough is Enough

By Elissa Cirignotta

 

 

 

 

This month Elissa Cirignotta was a guest blogger on he Manifest-Station. The Manifest-Station is an online magazine created by Jennifer Pastiloff with Angela Patel and Melissa Shattuck as editors.

Read the full article here

Excerpt:

I am enough. We are enough.

I am enough and I always have been. I am whole & I am part of your whole. I am complete. I am perfect.

I have experienced how easy it can be to forget this truth. Time and time again. I forget that I’m connected to the intelligent ebb & flow of life. I forget that my essence is pure. I forget that within me, God can be found.

Becoming the Person My Dog Thinks I Am

Becoming the Person My Dog Thinks I Am

Contributed by Anita Howard

 

 

 

One summer day in 2012 I happened upon a Ted Talk by Adam Baker entitled, “Sell your crap. Pay your debt. Do what you love.”  In that talk, Adam challenged his listeners to one important question, “What does freedom mean to you?” 

There are certain moments in life that can be traced back to true turning points, where you begin to reconsider, unravel and evolve.  This was one of those moments on my path.

I’m a self-described “Earthy” girl wild about plants and animals and living in harmony with nature on this planet.  For the past 15 years, I’ve followed my heart and volunteered with various animal care and conservation organizations including a wildlife refuge on the Emerald Coast of Florida, a wildlife conservation center in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia and farm sanctuaries, an equine therapy center, City Dog Country Dog and the Oregon Humane Society here in the Pacific Northwest.

So I asked myself, what does freedom mean to me?  This was the answer that I kept coming back to…

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

This passion for animals and the environment ultimately drove me to create an eco-friendly tiny home to minimize my footprint which now advocates for my chosen lifestyle.  The house utilizes solar, rainwater catchment, composting, and wood heat. It is approximately 10% of the average-sized home in Portland.  As a happy herbivore, I grow much of my own fruits, vegetables and herbs. Between whipping up nourishing smoothies and cultivating my meditation practice, I’m rooted in the belief that the earth freely offers the resources to sustain a balanced life.

What is my work?

I am becoming the person that my sweet rescue dog Kingston thinks I am.  I became certified in naturopathic animal care at the Northwest School of Animal Massage in Seattle, WA, retired from my desk job and recently launched a full-time practice nurturing happier and healthier tomorrows for pets through therapeutic small animal massage, holistic aromatherapy, and gentle Reiki energy work in addition to pet sitting. 

Living lightly with natural resources and ultimately choosing to do what I love as a vocation is the happiness that Mahatma Gandhi spoke of. 

Happiness is my freedom.

How do I practice Mindfulness in my community?

I created a “Paw It Forward” program to further my commitment to community service and donate therapeutic massage sessions to hard-working service animals and shelter animals in need. 

What’s the best advice I’ve ever heard?

“When someone you love walks through the door, even if it happens five times a day, you should go totally insane with joy.” – Denali, the dog (and his human Ben Moon)

Why do you do what you do?

To put it simply, I live for the benefit of all sentient beings on this beautiful blue-green world.

Today is a very good day to ask yourself…

What does freedom mean to you?

* * * * * *

Anita Howard is a lover of the natural world, animals, plants, stargazing, altruism, Rumi poetry, open hearts, gypsy meanderings, enchanted forests and is naturally drawn to benevolent spirits that swim against the current.  She is a Master Practitioner and Teacher in the Usui System of Natural Healing known as Usui Reiki Ryoho and the owner of Now and Zen Pet Massage & Natural Care offering pet sitting and holistic pet care throughout the Portland metro area.  To learn more, visit:  http://www.nowandzenpet.com/

 

 

If you would like to follow her journey on Instagram: @nowandzenpet or find her on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/nowandzenpet


Dreamweaving

Dreamweaving

Contributed by Kate Rutter

What is your work?

In the past, coming face to face with this question triggered an immense amount of confusion, shame and deep rooted self-judgement. It has taken me a long time to find my place in this sweet, ever-changing world. I’m not implying that I have arrived. More accurately, I realized I wasn’t ever going to arrive. Our life - made up of wants, needs, desires, expectations, emotions, connections, etc - are always shifting shape and I believe the real mission is to find balance and peace in the present moment on the journey towards nothing and everything, trusting we are right where we need to be. 

I moved to Portland in the summer of 2011. Over the last four years I’ve had more than a handful of jobs most overlapping on on-going. My work has included ::

 

 

shop girl

hair styling

wardrobe styling

art direction

floral design

jewelry design

essential oil educator

co-host of a women’s gathering

 

 

 

 

 

Most of my adult life I have been self-employed, hired freelance or worked as an independent contractor. This type of work has its pros and cons just as anything else, but it definitely takes a lot of faith and hard work. I have solid skill sets in both logistics and the arts. Being able to oversee and envision both aspects of left and right brain is a blessing and a curse. It can easily lead to burnout and control issues but also allows for self-sufficiency and rapid growth.  My dad started his own business and I grew up in the Midwest, thus indicating my work ethic is solid. More importantly, my time here in Portland has helped me realize how important it is to balance work and rest.

Since my relocation, I’ve taken solo entrepreneur business courses, a digital photography/Photoshop intensive, classes in textiles, metal-smithing and ceramics, trained under a florist, and studied plant medicine.  I was seeking experience and craving knowledge. It felt like every time I told someone my story, especially in a business course, they all said the same thing - Find your niche. Define your market. Just pick something. But my gut was saying otherwise. My intuition told me to keep looking, keep studying, keep learning. When a new job, partnership or derailed opportunity presented itself, my heart said Try it.

So, that’s what I did. I surrendered to the flow. I let go and I allowed my life to show up for me. All I had to do was accept. I didn't know why I was doing these things and I didn’t know where they were leading me. I had a new plan everyday - I'll be an herbalist, a shoe-maker, a visionary, a farmer, a teacher (these were all real considerations by the way).  There have been moments where it has been hard for me to keep up with me. I realized that although I was surrendering to the flow, I felt more like I was floating away. I was constantly thinking about what job I would have, what I was going to do for a living, what I was going to be. That’s how we are trained to think. We study and then we become something - a nurse, a firefighter, a mother, an architect. I found it more and more difficult to define myself and my work. I wasn’t in a box. I didn’t have a label or title and that was very confusing. But again, in my heart I felt safe and I knew my intuition was leading me somewhere.

When I was asked what I do, I did one of two things. I respond with my work history, usually going something like, "Well, I've been a hair stylist for the last 12 years. I studied fashion design and ended up graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Textiles. And, you know, what do you really do with an art degree? So, since I had a trade I just kept doing hair. Oh, and I make jewelry." And later, when I thought I was moving forward, it went something like, "Well, I used be a hair stylist, but I kind of retired because now I'm only in the salon once a week. I have a company called HeartCave and I design jewelry and make essential oils blends that are connected to symbolism, intention and communion. But, it's more than that. Its bigger than that. I just haven't been able to define it yet. Oh, and I want to be an artist."

What I noticed was, I quickly relied on my past to give value to my current work or spoke of confusing details about my unknown future and desires to be an artist. Why did I feel the need to justify my present with stories of the past or the future? What is an artist anyway and how do I be one? Where was I right now? What do I do?

I began to get curious about myself, my place in the now and what made me unique. It wasn't until I was prompted to write this entry that I really got honest about it, realized where I have arrived and began to feel immense gratitude for trusting my intuition to guide me to a place beyond my wildest dreams. What a blessing this platform has been. Happiness is the immediate emotional response to gratitude. Simply by feeling grateful we conjure up joy and begin to manifest further joy in our lives. Thank you Elissa. Thank you Happy Mindful People. Thank you self - for being brave and getting real.

So, the burning question, What do I do?  Well, still lots. But I've found the common thread! My purpose is to connect and create. I connect with people, plants, myself and Source. My medium for creation shifts between metal, textiles, essential oils, imagery and manifestation. The point is, I feel inspired and balanced. I am safe and I am able to provide for myself. I own a business authentically aligned with my passion and purpose of beauty, intention, symbolism and communion with whoever is called to listen. I softly fell into a position working freelance for a company that I firmly believe in. They too are balanced in creativity, spirit and business. Their work has depth and integrity. My position within the company has a familiar title but my work is beyond a role I could have dreamt up for myself.

Owner of HEARTCAVE - a space devoted to creating and curating of ALL THAT IS :: the timeless and majestic, the oneness between all beings and the collective consciousness.

www.shopheartcave.com

Creative Director at The Wild Unknown

www.thewildunknown.com

 

How I manifested my reality ::

What I haven't mentioned about this journey is my focus on personal development. It began with my relationship to nature and my daily practice of communing with essential oils and flower essences. All beings have a vibration measured in megahertz. Human vibrate between 60-80 MHz. Plants are anywhere between 80 and 320 MHz. Feelings also have a vibration, or frequency. Feeling like love, joy and gratitude resonate higher than feelings like sadness, anxiety and depression and it is difficult for lower vibration feeling to remain in existence around high frequency feelings. Simply by communing with plants we can raise our vibration.

I also made it a point to start identifying as an artist, creating my life. I think in pictures. I turn feelings into photos and vice versa. I learned how to use my practical, career-based skills to support my true work - being a dreamweaver deeply rooted in trusting the universe and the art of manifestation. I continue to dig deep - figure out what inspires me at the moment, how I want to feel and what I want to call in. I develop a tone, fine tune the concept and direction and create a moodboard. This creates non-duality in my life. My work and my pleasure centers of creation and connection are one. Instead of thinking about what position or career my skills would fit into, I started thinking about how I wanted to feel when I worked. I took note of pleasurable activities. When I sat in the park surrounded by the trees, I left feeling really good. For me, that didn’t mean I should be a park ranger or landscaper. I simply took note of the feelings. I started to write them down, words like - calm, graceful, rooted, free, inspired, alive. I started collecting beautiful imagery of plants, spaces, places and people from print publications and sites like Pinterest. Anything I got online, I would send to be printed on photo paper. It was important for me to see and touch them in real life. I’d pull swatches of fabric that felt sweet on my skin and go to the paint store for colors that reflected those feelings. I began treating my life as I would a client and that allowed me to show up for myself with greater clarity and accountability.

Best advice ::

Be compassionate, first to you. If you haven't felt true compassion for yourself or your circumstance, you're just going around feeling sorry for people. Follow your intuition. Allow your life to take shape without force. Trust your experience. Release resistance. Detach from outcome. Make space for rest and self-care

Ways to support and clarify Who am I? And what am I doing here? Practices to evoke consciousness and awareness of self.

  • Practice the powerful of the pen. Write down goals, desires, feelings you want to have and anything that inspires you.
  • Start a collection of images that motivate, stimulate and awaken your dreams.
  • Have conversation with like-minded people. These people will likely start to form your tribe.
  • Commune with nature
  • Work with essential oils
  • Meditate
  • Move/Practice Yoga
  • Bring awareness to the breathe
  • Eat foods that support your body
  • Read

 

Favorite Books ::

The Book of The Heart Amit Singh

Partner Earth Pam Montgomery

Plant Spirit Healing Pam Montgomery

The Secret Lives of Plants Christopher Bird

Yoga for a World Out of Balance Michael Stone

The Power of Now Eckhart Tolle

Ways to sink into the heart ::

Give thanks

Be kind

Practice non-violence

Speak truth and avoid gossip

Go to nature

Stare at the moon

Buy or pick flowers

Peel an orange, slowly

Donate or give something away, like a compliment

 

Dirty Feet, Happy Heart

Dirty Feet, Happy Heart

Contributed by Kristina Komorowski 

 

 

Imagine with me a little girl in a white sundress, sitting on her great-grandmother's porch. Now, follow this little girl as she stands up and walks through the screen door into the house. She walks innocently around and  in-between the grown-up’s legs and pensively around the knobby feet of the large armchairs that are scattered around the house. She stops and turns her attention to a brown wispy bundle on the table. She carefully and suspiciously picks it up, making sure the adults do not see. The smell meets her nostrils before the strange bundle does. Curing onions. Beautiful golden bulbs, flaky and speckled with soil.

I was a rebel, or at least I liked to think of myself as one. I turned away from college life, wanting to be free of the obligation to study day in and day out, choosing to fulfill my life with music, parties and as little responsibility as possible. Like most of us do, I eventually realized that I had to settle down and start behaving like an adult. I worked retail and then an office job and finally settled nicely into the role of mother. When asked as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up (in the back of my head, at least) the answer was always the same: A mom! I quickly realized after having two beautiful boys that my dream job wasn't the calling I had thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, I love being a mom and I adore my children but it didn't give me that feeling like I'd finally opened the door and found what I had been looking for.

I became so deeply wrapped up in putting my family before myself that I saw my personal goals become even more distant. I did this for so long that my closest of friends encouraged me to get a hobby. I remember distinctly sitting with a glass of wine in my hand and tears in my eyes crying, “What am I supposed to do?!”

I'll never forget the day I discovered my calling. It was the type of moment where life stands still and if you don’t pay attention to the sign, you could easily miss it. I was hurriedly unloading groceries fully aware of the clock ticking towards dinner time and I grabbed a few onions to toss into our vegetable bowl.The smell stopped me in my tracks. As I lifted the crunchy sweet bulbs to my nose and inhaled ever so deeply, I was immediately brought back to my inner little girl wearing the white sundress smelling great-grandmother's cured onions. Couldn’t I grow these? Shouldn’t I grow these? Surely I can grow these. The thoughts ran rampant. I excitedly began opening this door. I searched for various gardening techniques online, I purchased a few books and read countless blogs about urban gardening. It wasn’t enough for me. I needed more.

I decided to start small, taking a few months of classes through The OSU Master Gardener program. Luck had it that my youngest son was sick the day they presented the vegetable growing portion of the course, so I experimented with the knowledge I read from our handbook, and soon began growing food out of raised beds my husband built. I quickly found out that I got more pleasure sharing what I grew with my friends and neighbors than I had ever imagined was possible. I could hear my passion about the plants when people would ask me basic gardening questions or how I grew my own food. Something was happening and I wanted to continue exploring this new found love. I began to find more farming and gardening books in the free boxes around town, I began following masters in the industry on social networking sites and by reading University publications. I found myself so flooded with accessible knowledge that I needed to hone in my new craft. I knew that I could read sun up to sun down but because that required time that most mother’s do not have, I decided instead to take the plunge and ask for help. I recognized that by putting in the time now this new passion of growing food would likely benefit my family, my community and my soul for a lifetime.

Today, I am a student of the Beginning Urban Farming Apprenticeship program which is a part time farming program that teaches adults the beginning elements of food production. I am confident that I have found my calling! Despite the current Portland heat wave this summer, I’ve been proudly and happily digging, sweating, harvesting, watering, and knowing that my efforts will soon pay off. I’ve cried on the farm numerous times, allowing the soil to absorb the pain of the busy world. Being connected to the soil brings me to this state of tranquility that only those who’ve dug in the earth can really understand. The soil is a healer and not only of the body and mind, but of the soul. It brings out your angels and demons. It will make you feel strong and it shows you your weaknesses. Listening to the bees hum, the leaves rustle, my breath as it exits and enters my body, the groans of pain and the cheers of excitement over a newly harvestable food source is what makes my soul come alive. I am a totally different person in the elements. I have found a new side of myself that I never knew existed. I am powerful and yet weak, open, vulnerable, humble and thankful. Working with men and women who share the same goals only intensifies my experience. I am beyond grateful for being able to be a part of a community where we all ache for the ability to share our food and knowledge with the people around us.

I want to share this journey with everyone I meet. It was the soil that helped me see what my gifts are.  I am a nurturer. I nurture the soil, I nurture my children, and I will forever continue to nurture my soul. 

Trust your inner voice, your inner child. Stay inspired and honor your gifts. Lastly I encourage you to ground yourself daily. Go stick your hands in the dirt.

I dare you.

“The Meaning of Life is to find your gift. The Purpose of life is to give it away.”  -William Shakespeare

Kristina Komorowski is a Texas native who moved to Illinois after high school. She fell in love with a Polish man and together in the Winter of 2010 they created a home in  Portland Oregon. They have 2 beautiful children in SE Portland and dream of life on a small farm. They love everything nature and get great joy in sharing their rich bounty.

Kristina is currently a student of the Beginning Urban Farming Apprenticeship program. See more at their website to learn more:http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/beginning-famers/BUFA

If you would like to follow their journey look for Kristina on Instagram: @Mamakomorowski or send her an email: kkomorowski13@gmail.com

Finding a Path

 

 

 

Finding a path

Contributed by Allison Burt-Tilden

 

 

 

 

 

As a small child growing up in 1980's Portland, I felt like I had it all: a loving family, a nice home with lots of other children nearby, and a secure spot as teacher's pet at school. All of this came crashing down shortly after I turned seven. My parents declared bankruptcy, my dad had to sell our home and his flourishing business, and we began living a pattern of chaos that would last more than a decade. My parents fought bitterly until their eventual divorce, I was enlisted as a secondary parent to my two much younger siblings, money was always an issue, and we moved every six months on average, often living with my grandparents in between rentals. Needless to say, I developed some pretty gnarly anxiety and as a result, I started to struggle in school.

By the time I turned 18 I had already dropped out of high school and gotten my GED. Despite having worked full-time for a couple of years already, I had no idea how to manage money or how to find my purpose in life. I went to work, paid the rent, paid the bills, bought some food, and spent whatever was left on make-up and clothes. As a life-long lover of fashion, I used my free time to read high fashion magazines and shop, which was my main joy in life. As far as I could figure out, life was about working so that I could shop.

In my early twenties, I was overjoyed to make the move from the service industry to an office job – and just like that, I fell into real estate. For a high school drop-out, it seemed like my golden ticket; a good salary, benefits, evenings & weekends off, and most of all, stability. Never mind that the work itself didn't interest me, I was doing what people are supposed to do. Naturally, it didn't take long for me to feel completely dissatisfied. Remembering how easy it had been to fall into my job, I gave my notice and went back to the placement agency to ask for something else. That's when my total disregard of news and current events first bit me in the ass. The year was 2002 and apparently the country was in a recession. After six months of unemployment, I got swept back into real estate after finding a series of dead ends elsewhere. Apparently my experience was quite sought after.

For the next ten years, I slogged my way through the industry. I worked in escrow and in mortgage, I worked for a listing brokerage, I negotiated short sales, I went back to mortgage – and what I remember most of those years is being utterly miserable. I dreamed of quitting and going to school - but for what? My interests were so varied and the harder I tried to decide on a path, the more confused I became. Part of me has always wanted to do something in science or health care, while another part of me desperately wanted in on the fashion world. No matter which ideas I entertained, I always felt like someone who was peering through a thick glass wall and I couldn't imagine ever getting past.

The turning point was slow in coming and in some ways, I feel like it's still happening, like I'm at the halfway point through a revolving door. It all started with meeting people at parties and dreading the inevitable question: 'What do you do?' I didn't want to talk about it! I would reply that I hated my job, that it doesn't define me, that I wanted to do something else, something in fashion, and ultimately, all the reasons why I couldn't make a change. This is where I want to take a moment to thank each and everyone one of those people who were such good sports listening to my negativity, but mostly, I want to thank each and every one of them for also telling me: Just do it.

 

It took years and probably a hundred such meetings and discussions before I had the epiphany. There I was at another social gathering, introducing myself to someone new and dreading the inevitable. 'So what do you do?' came, but this time I answered, 'I'm a blogger'. Granted, at the time my blog was more of a personal thing and I hadn't shared it with many but that simple sentence enabled me to think of myself outside of the real estate box, to talk to someone about something I genuinely enjoyed doing, and to give up the negativity that was really starting to grate on me (I can only imagine how it came across to others). Sure, I was still working in mortgage but suddenly it was just my day job - something understood as just a means to an end and not really worth discussing.

Once that first shift occurred, suddenly, I realized I was indeed a blogger. I started brainstorming new content ideas, I pushed my boundaries (like, a lot), I upped my game, and I started sharing the results with people. Crazily enough, they liked it! Blogging is not my ultimate goal but it has helped me in so many ways. I now understand my talents for writing and photography and how I can apply them to my love of local & indie fashion. Most importantly though, I have learned that not only can I step outside of my comfort zone, I can re-define my comfort zone.

 

Four years later, my blog has a small but steadily growing following and I work as a contributor for a really big blog (honeykennedy.com - check it out!). I'm about to take the next big step in putting myself out there for even bigger jobs in fashion writing and photography - I'll be honest, it's scary as hell! When I look back at miserable me sitting in a cubicle, processing loan applications and hating life, I remember the hard work and determination that has, so far, gotten me out of that cubicle, resulted in a body of work I'm pretty proud of, and helped me make real connections with amazing people doing amazing things.

When I think back to all the praise I received for my writing in school, how much I enjoyed learning photography from my dad, and how much time I spent engaged in anything and everything fashion related, I see that this has been my path all along. Despite having not had the best role models when it came to living a happy and purpose driven life, nor any real education to speak of, I found my path, and not only that, I'm working on forgiving myself for finding it later than some others. Finally, I see a glimmer of light over the horizon and it’s lighting my path. 

Allison Burt-Tilden is a Portland based indie fashion blogger and freelance photographer. She's the creator & editor of Votre Grande Soeur and a contributing writer & photographer for Honey Kennedy. When she's not working, you can find Allison enjoying a burger at one of her favorite spots on N. Mississippi. Follow her on Instagram @votregrandesoeur.

Intervening

 

Intervening 

Contributed by Robbyn Peters Bennett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing that I speak openly about the need to end spanking, people often ask me for advice on how respond to a parent who threatens or spanks their child in public.  Their fear of course, is the offending parent will strike back with the classic response, “mind your own business” or “who the hell are you to tell me how to deal with my child!”  And then later on, is the child the worse for it?

Alice Miller, author of “For Your Own Good,” talked about the importance of the Witness in helping a child buffer the effects of abusive treatment. A witness sees and acknowledges the suffering of the child.  I suspect in some cases, a witness who voices disapproval may cause a parent to feel shame, which may further provoke the parent to blame or attack the child at home. At the same time, the child does hear another point of view beyond the message of “I am bad. I do bad things and deserve to be hurt.” The child also hears, “it is not OK for me to be hit.” This is a very powerful message.

Sometimes, witnessing may be the only thing we know to do.  The role of being a witness for a child has often left me with a lingering feeling of dissatisfaction.  Yes, I spoke up, but I still felt I was abandoning the child to his fate and was unsure if I had really helped the parent.

Awhile back, I tried something different. I was at the airport with my granddaughter who was six at the time. She was getting ready to return home after a sweet summer visit.  We were both pretty sad.  We wandered into a gift shop looking for some kind of craft she could enjoy on the plane ride.  As usual, I was overloaded with bags and suitcases and I accidentally knocked over a toy from the display. I’m not always the most graceful and my granddaughter started to giggle at my exaggerated “oops” face. A woman standing nearby let out a sigh of relief, “Oh god. At least it isn’t my son!” A young boy about my granddaughter’s age was launching through the isles flopping his legs and arms about nearly missing the candy trays and dental floss display. It was like his body was floating through space where there was none.  His mother grabbed his arm and pulled him out of the store. Just watching those two gave me a pit in my stomach.

My granddaughter and I found our way to the waiting area after we purchased some greasy airport pizza. The worst. We ate a few pieces just in time for the intercom announcement, which was urging her to board. She waved me goodbye after our elaborate hug, handshake, love you more than the ocean is deep goodbye ritual. My heart ached with that deep sadness that comes from your children and grandchildren living too far away, followed by waves of love and gratitude. My husband and I decided to wait and watch the plane take off, a sweet and lost ritual in today’s airport experience where usually only passengers can linger at the gate.

It was then that I saw the mother and that rambunctious boy sitting on the floor, also watching my granddaughter’s plane.  The mother was yelling at the boy, threatening to spank him “if you don’t knock that off!” Things were escalating and the mother rose up to grab hold of him. It always makes me cringe when I hear a parent threaten a child. My initial feeling is always an urge to retaliate against the parent. It enrages me.  I took a deep breath and heard myself exhaling. Her son was becoming more and more upset, yelling back at her, and then it happened. He punched her and ran away. He did to her, what I felt like doing.

Maybe it was my grieving heart that opened me up to the suffering of this mother. Maybe it was because he hit her. But when I looked at her furious face, I could feel her exhaustion. I could feel her feelings of being defeated, overwhelmed, and completely alone. I walked over to her.

I just let all the judgment and anger go.  I opened my heart to her and felt tears welling up inside of me.  I gently rested my hand on her back and said, “Be kind to yourself, mommy. I can see you are doing the best that you can.”

I guess in that moment it didn’t occur to me that she might turn her fury on me. She slumped down and started to weep. She cried and cried and told me everything.  Everything. How her son is autistic and he gets crazy, how her teenage daughter who is on the plane hates her because she didn’t do right by her when she was younger, and yet she did the best she could and didn’t know what to do, and how she is working full time and moving soon and needs more time with her son, and isn’t sure about how to make ends meet.  She talked and she talked, sharing her worries and pain. I mostly listened, while rubbing her back and smoothing her ponytail, gently pulling the bangs from her eyes. I listened. As she talked, she softened. I listened, nodding, and understanding. Her son, who had been ramping up for a fight, started rocking himself moving a little closer over time.  The mother didn’t seem to notice.  She had so much she needed to tell me. As her tears subsided, her son crawled into her lap. She held him, kissed his forehead and started rocking herself with her son in her arms. “Thank you,” she said, as I stood up to go. I don’t remember what I said at that point. The whole day was so surreal.  I know I didn’t change her life, and that her son would continue to struggle along with her. But somehow, the harshness of life seemed a little less so.  There was this moment where this mother found relief and her son found comfort, and I felt compassion where I often mostly feel despair.

What we see in others is so often just the surface of their deep struggle and suffering.  Parents who bully and aggress their children are parents who are out of control and who need those of us who can, to connect with them. Feeling into the world of another person and problem solving with them takes time. In neuroscience, it is called co-regulation.  It sounds scientific, but it really is an art form. We all want our children to manage their emotions and relate to others with courtesy, warmth, and empathy.  Children learn these skills by developing the self-regulatory equipment of the brain and this essentially happens through our connection with them.  Deep connection is the art of co-regulation.  Psychiatrist Alan Shore, MD explains how the development of self-regulation occurs within relationship with another brain. We essentially are our relationships. The beauty of co-regulation is when we are able to stay connected with another person who is distressed, feel into their world and create a sense of safety, we feel better.  When I was able to connect to the mother at the airport, when I was able to listen and rub her back and understand – I felt better. I felt connected.  Connected to her, to my family, to the little boy, to my granddaughter, to all the mothers and fathers that struggle and to myself as a mother and even to myself as that vulnerable child.

Robbyn Peters Bennett is a psychotherapist, educator, and child advocate who specializes in the treatment of mental health problems due to early abuse and neglect. She also helps parents whose children struggle with tantrums, anxiety, bullying, and ADHD using sand tray therapy, with a sensitivity to advancements in neuropsychology. She believes children do well when they can and that behavioral problems stem from unmet developmental needs and lagging skills.  Her work with children supports the attachment between the child and parent,  so that the child's developmental needs can be met within the parent-child relationship. 

Robbyn also works with adults suffering from anxiety, depression, and symptoms of post traumatic stress.  She works from a Jungian perspective, and believes that the psyche contains the seeds to its own cure. To learn more about her work, go to http://robbynpetersbennett.org

 

The Ritual Reveals Itself

The Ritual Reveals Itself

Contributed by Kelly Sunrose

 

 

 

 

 

The spring is a special time for my practice. I celebrate the anniversary of my practice (18 years, half my life) as well as the anniversary of my becoming a yoga teacher (9 years, a quarter of my life). It’s only natural to reflect on how things have changed, the expansions and contractions, the elements that have remained constant (in a sense) through all of that time.

I carried around a book about meditation for 7 years before I started to sit still. “You can’t hurry love, no you just have to wait.” The Supremes sang the truth.

Somewhere between my very first class and today, the state of being that is yoga began to reveal itself to me until I had the visceral, embodied memory that it is, indeed, my natural state. The times of longing for it were manufactured by my own ego. My attachment to the story that I’m separate, less than or greater than everyone else.

abhyasa vairagyabhyam tat nirodhah

stillness is the result of practice for many years without attachment to the outcome.

-Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, 1.12

My morning practice has the potential to set the tone for my entire day, so I am devoted to it. The work is to remain open to whatever happens during that practice.

At least five days a week, this is the sacred ritual that begins my day.

My morning ritual really begins the night before. I create conditions that support an early morning by winding down early. When my 4 year-old daughter gets in bed at 7pm, I slip into my evening-wear, tidy the house, turn on the robot vacuum (game-changer for a working mom, by the way), shower & lay out my clothes for the morning and retire to my bedroom to read or watch something on my iPad. (This is my social-time with my husband, so I am looser with the rules about “no tv in bed.”) We are usually fast asleep by 9pm (we adopted this particular ritual about 9 years ago).

I wake up feeling super-refreshed between 5 and 5:30am. (I do set an alarm as a back-up, but don’t really need it if I adhere to the 9pm bedtime.)

Quiet as a mouse, I tip-toe downstairs once I’m dressed and washed.

While I wait for water to boil, I step outside into the first sounds and smells of morning. Non-attached listening is one of my favorite meditation practices. Morning is so good for this.

I make myself a brew of hot water with lemon, and sometimes ginger, turmeric and honey. This practice is newer for me, but it feels SO good to start the day with water. It’s usually too hot to drink right away, so I carry it to my meditation cave to hold in my lap while I ready to sit.

For the last 9 years, I’ve meditated consistently. Mostly every day, but I like to be loose about it because… practice without the non-attachment for me is the road to suffering. There were times when I was still practicing law and again when my daughter was a baby where I would make myself a little crazy just to get in a 20 minute sit, and that very rarely leads me to Yoga, so I am loose about it. I know that I am a kinder human, a better mother, a more loving wife when I meditate, so I treasure the practice. I treat it like my sweet necessary luxury.

After I sit, I move a little bit. Many days, it probably looks like I am just rolling around on the floor, but there is a lot of intention behind that rolling. Locating the balance of effort and ease in the movements requires attention.

After practice, I drink tea or (on occasion) coffee. A hot drink in the morning is a practice in mindfulness. Boiling the water, selecting the cup, steeping the tea, pouring the milk, holding the cup, smelling the brew, the very first sips. It’s a ritual of joy.

When I begin my day this way, the rituals keep on coming. I am in relationship with presence and able to attend to what and whom are with me. I am so grateful for this practice.

 

 

Kelly Sunrose began practicing yoga 18 years ago under the glow of the Hale Bopp comet. Kelly is grateful for every teaching that has illuminated the path, from the grocery store parking lot to the top of Meditation Mount. Kelly has been teaching her signature blend of investigative, devotional yoga since 2006, when she was certified to teach by the Shambhava School of Yoga.

Kelly continues her studies with Kira Ryder, Erich Schiffmann, Patricia Sullivan and many beloved others. Since 2009, Kelly has shared full-length videos and audio recordings of her classes at sunroseyoga.com. In 2015, she joined the teaching family at Yoga Anytime (http://yogaanytime.com). She creates spaces and experiences for transformative practice in-person and online.

She lives in Portland, Oregon with her family.


Acupuncture and the Lesson of Impermanence

 

 

 

Acupuncture and the Lesson of Impermanence

Contributed by Anne Carruth, Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Practitioner

 

 

 

 

 

As an acupuncturist, I am regularly asked how I got into Chinese medicine.  I think people assume that I had an awe-inspiring acupuncture treatment that jump-started me onto this path.  Or perhaps a longtime fascination with Chinese culture that evolved into a study of Chinese medicine.  Truth be told, I leapt into acupuncture almost by default, and wound up learning how to both wield needles, and embrace the ebb and flow of life.  

Back in the day, I was searching for a complete and holistic style of healthcare.  One that emphasized preventative medicine and physical touch, and focused just as much on a patient’s emotional stress, lifestyle, and diet, as it did on their physical symptoms.  When I couldn’t find this in traditional western medicine, I visited a rolfing institute, toured a Buddhist liberal arts campus, researched nutrition programs, and personal trainer certifications.  I pin-balled from one option to the next, but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon the Colorado School for Traditional Chinese Medicine that I found a path I truly resonated with.  The program encompassed everything I was looking for in healthcare, so I decided to trust the universe and jump in.

That was ten years ago, and my work as an acupuncturist has proven to be immensely fulfilling.  Chinese medicine is an incredible field that has educated me on disease processes, herbal remedies, acupuncture points, meridian theory, nutrition, the management of stress, pain, emotions, and more.   But the most valuable lesson acupuncture has taught me, is that of impermanence.  I see it in both my patients and myself every day, and it has changed the way I view my life and my health.

Acupuncture ultimately boils down to movement.  Our bodies and minds are constantly moving, regulating, thinking, responding, filtering, adjusting, pumping blood, breathing air, taking in fuel and excreting waste.  My role as an acupuncturist is to enhance wellbeing by balancing these movements within the body.  Stagnation of qi, blood, or nutrients within us allows for pain and disease processes to set up.  Acupuncture prevents stagnation by promoting the smooth, even movement of these things within our bodies.  In fact, the only time we are ever static is when we die.  Wellness = Movement = Impermanence.  Thus, we are impermanent.  We are constantly changing and so is the world around us.  And acknowledging that you are impermanent – that everything is a balancing act, a cycle, a flow - is as liberating as it is motivating. 

Impermanence means that everything you are experiencing right now – in your mind, body, and environment - will change.  Negative things will eventually shift, good can become great, and great cannot be taken for granted.  It means that poor health can always be improved upon, and that good health needs continual support to remain good.  Knowing that everything I am right now will evolve, motivates me to set positive intentions, and gives me solace when things aren’t going as planned.  Impermanence provides opportunities to improve all aspects of your life.    

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have given me knowledge about healthcare in all the ways I was hoping for, but more importantly, they have taught me that we are truly impermanent, that we are constantly changing, and that life is supposed to work this way! 

So, in my professional opinion, I recommend that you:

  • Embrace change! 
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff…it’s not permanent.
  • Set intentions to move forward in all aspects of your life.  Don’t let anything get too stagnant.
  • Remember that it’s never too late to start.
  • Be present.  THIS moment only happens once. 
  • And smile.  It just makes everything better
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Anne Carruth is a Midwest girl, who has followed her career, family, and love of the outdoors from Ohio, to Colorado, and finally to Oregon.  After completing her undergraduate studies in Ohio, she earned her Masters in Denver at the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  She now holds a Masters of Science in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and is certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).  

Anne’s philosophy on health is founded in preventative medicine and a holistic view of the mind, body, and spirit.  She embraces the traditional Chinese model of treating the “branch” and the “root”; thus treating one’s symptoms, as well as their underlying cause. This approach enables her to treat a wide variety of health concerns, ranging from pain to the common cold.  Anne loves her work as an acupuncturist and feels privileged to help others achieve their wellness goals.  Her gentle needling technique and compassionate approach make her an ideal practitioner for children, sensitive patients, and those new to acupuncture.  While her extensive training and clinical experience enable her to tackle the most difficult of cases.

 

Schedule an appointment with Anne at Portland Natural Health. (Portland Natural Health Bio Page)

You can also find her at the next Taking Care event.

Two steps foward, One step back.

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Two steps forward, One step back

Contributed by Zoë Shipley

 

 

 

 

When I began my first year as an AmeriCorps member at a low-income middle school in Oregon, I knew I wanted to make a positive impact, but I wasn’t sure how. When I heard about another member starting a group that focused on being kind to one another, I happily stole her idea and created my very own Kindness Crew. As an avid Free Hugger, I knew I loved performing random acts of kindness and I figured that creating an after school Kindness Crew would give me a chance to do even more RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness), while showing students how rewarding and fun spreading kindness can be!

I spent weeks planning out a curriculum, looking up various uplifting videos, and gathering ideas for RAKs we could do around the school. When the class started, I had a small group of wonderful students who were very excited to get going. We wrote in gratitude journals each week, shared stories of kindness, performed RAKS, and came up with ideas for how else to spread the love. I was delighted with what we were doing and was certain that I was changing lives and making a difference.

A few weeks in, I learned from one of the students that she was being bullied by a group of girls, one of whom was in my Kindness Crew. I was shocked! Naively, I had assumed that coming to a 1.5-hour class once a week and doing nice things for others would completely eradicate any chance of any of my students ever being mean to anyone again! I was supposed to be transforming them into compassionate young people who stood up for each other and said nice things! This was definitely a reality check.

What I realized from this early experience - and from many subsequent experiences that left me wondering if I was really making a positive impact - was that I needed to be patient. It’s easy to start these kinds of programs with all sorts of idealistic notions and to be frustrated when they don’t immediately turn out the way we want them to. But change takes time and gradually occurs from the accumulation of many small, often unnoticeable changes.

Despite my own perceived failure after those first few weeks of Kindness Crew, I continued the class and did my best to be a positive and kind role model for these kids. I designed a Kindness Crew mascot, the Kindosaurus, and ordered t-shirts for our group, strengthening our identity and making us more visible to the rest of the school. We decorated kindness-themed buttons and distributed them to students at lunchtime. We took field trips to local nonprofits we had raised money for and learned about issues facing the community. We decorated bookmarks with kind sayings and left them in random books around the library.

A year and a half later, I’ve got many teachers and other students sporting our now iconic Kindosaurus shirts in support of our group and our mission. People throughout the school recognize our “brand” and staff have started assigning random acts of kindness as a consequence for bad behavior. The entire school recently participated in the Great Kindness Challenge of 2015, which aims to create a culture of kindness at schools by providing ideas for RAKs and encouraging all students to perform as many as possible throughout the week.

Since my first rude awakening, I’ve also gathered a small collection of what I consider to be student success stories. One student in particular, was quite a handful when he first joined my class. I talked with him after almost every class and asked him to seriously consider whether he really wanted to participate in a positive way. He remained in the class and continued to take small steps in the right direction. One day, I found him writing on his knuckles with permanent marker - when he showed it to me, he had spelled out “LOVE IS LIFE”. I wouldn’t say that he has make a complete turn around - just the other day, he and another boy were caught passing around a note that said “Personal Ass Licker” (is that really the kind of insult kids come up with these days!?). He still has days when he comes to school angry and unhappy and he rarely replies when I smile and say hi to him in the hallways. But I have seen him perform small acts of kindness more and more often and I know that on some level, his participation in Kindness Crew is making a difference. So I continue showering him with the love and kindness I know he so desperately needs and I do what I can to provide a positive adult relationship and role model in his life.


As teachers, we rarely get to see the long-term impacts, either good or bad, that we have on students. We do the best we can and hope we are sending them off to the next teacher a little bit better than when we found them. And as far as changing the entire culture of our school to one of kindness and compassion, we have a long way to go. But the short-term changes I have seen both in the school wide atmosphere and in individual students has been tangible. Due to the nature of my position, I will be moving on after the end of this school year and it breaks my heart to think of leaving my beloved Kindness Crew in the hands of the new member. But I am grateful for the lessons I have learned from my experience here and believe that if we continue putting our positive energy and love out into the universe, it will come back to us in one form or another. Good things are coming.

 

Zoë is a Portland native who grew up at the Oregon Zoo. She enjoys hoola hoops, trampolines, climbing, yoga, chocolate, traveling, and people and music of all kinds. Her favourite weather is hot and sunny and her favourite animal is the Steller Sea Lion. On the weekends, you can find her hiking, playing board games, making music, and enjoying potluck dinners with friends.

https://www.facebook.com/ZoeShipleyPhotography/timeline?ref=page_internal

Teach Kindness

Teach Kindness

Contributed by Sheri Louis

 

 

 

A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions and the roots spring up and make new trees.

      -Amelia Earhart

 

 

I have read and seen many articles lately calling children entitled, saying that they have a lack of empathy and bad sportsmanship.  I have done a lot of research some of which includes observing children at play and what I have come to realize is that children are inherently kind. They want to be connected and when they feel disconnected some of these negative behaviors can be played out. 

Instead of asking how can we force our children to be kind and grateful, a better question might be, How can adult interactions model and reinforce a childs innate need for connection and kindness?

In the not so distance past, parents and grandparents had an expectation that what they said was valued and the children must obey.  Children were most likely raised in a punitive way.  Today's research shows this is the antithesis of kindness and instead breeds anger, resentment, and unkind behavior.

Having observed many students and children (including my own) at play I have realized that kindness has an amazingly positive impact on children.  It spreads more kindness, gratitude, and love.  I began really practicing mindfulness around being kind but also around being more grateful for everyday moments.  I have been making a conscious choice to change my attitude and notice what is good about my day, myself, and my children.  I have been working on staying present and noticing what is happening right now.  It can have a very simple and powerful impact on yourself and others.

Lastly, kindness helps you become more confident, more compassionate, and a more loving person.  If those benefits weren't enough, kindness also improves your health as it lowers your stress levels. Children and adults can benefit from all of these things so it is time to start spreading some love.

 

Here are a few simple ways to randomly act with kindness:

 

  1. Make eye contact and smile when you pass a stranger.

  2. Tell a friend about something kind you noticed them doing.

  3. Prepare a meal for a friend who needs it.          

  4. Be appreciative and gracious when you receive a compliment

  5. Write a teacher a thank you note.      

  6. Take a walk in nature.

  7. Tell one person every single day that you love them.

  8. Tell yourself, every single day, that you love YOU.

  9. Create something.  Sit down and paint a picture, write a journal entry, make a collage, build a birdhouse, or sew a pillowcase.

  10. Do something that makes you feel OH SO GOOD!

Manifest

Manifest

by Elissa Cirignotta

 

 

Dreaming is part of the human condition. All of life is made up of pure creative energy and it is our birthright to co-create our lives and manifest our dreams. Whether it be Honest Abe’s road to Presidency, Mr. Bell’s brilliant telephone, Queen Beyoncé and all of her bright shiny wonders, or my secret (not so secret anymore) dream of one day becoming Oprah’s protégé.
It all starts with a dream, a seed, an idea. We are intended to be dreamers. The dreams of mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers all over the globe are my dreams and my dreams are the dreams of all humanity.

Read the full article here:

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/01/dream-big/

 

Elissa is the co-founder of Happy Mindful People, Certified 200 hour Yoga Teacher,  Certified Special Education Teacher, aspiring author, cat lover, rainbow chasing, Oprah loving visionary, inversion junkie committed to making happiness a daily priority. She's an eternal optimist who believes dreams do come true. Be a part of her 2015 #365daysofsplits journey by following her via:

Twitter: @happymindfulpdx, @ecirignotta

Facebook: www.facebook.com/happymindfulpeople

Instagram: @happymindfulpeople, @elissacirignotta

 

Or send a hello to elissacirignotta@gmail.com

 

“We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.”  Nelson Mandela

 

"I make Chocolate."

I Make Chocolate.

Contributed by Sinead Byrne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I tell people on the mainland that I live in Hawaii they usually express some degree of amazement or wistfulness. When they ask what kind of work I do I often answer in an almost off-handed way, trying to soften the double-whammy of my life circumstances...

"I make chocolate."

Eyes get wide. They laugh and shake their heads as they sandwich these two facts together; not only do I literally live in a tropical paradise, but my work-life is centered around the most universally loved and joy-inducing edible item known to man. There's almost a hint of a shrug in my bearing as I nod and smile in response to their disbelief. The smallest trace of an apology colors my face as if to say, "Yeah, who knows how I got so lucky." Truth be told, however, I know exactly how it's happened.

My life has been a series of crystal-clear decisions. I've always had a knack for teasing out my soul's desire and heading off in that direction (however unlikely) with determination and level-headedness. This has left me with a wake of experiences that might seem quite randomized to the casual observer, but which were all necessary, natural steps on my journey. By the time I turned 22 I had completed an intensive theatre program in London, participated in a 3-month teaching internship in a rural village in Ghana, written a thesis and received a BA with magna cum laude honors, worked in a backcountry chalet in Glacier National Park, successfully thru-hiked the entire length of Pacific Crest Trail, and moved across the country twice on my own dollar. It wasn't until this second move, when I landed back in my homeland of upstate New York after 5 and a half years of flitting from place to place, that I reached an interesting impasse. Upon my return to my geographical starting-point I found myself struggling with something I had never felt before: lack of direction. I had a degree. I had gone on adventures. Going back to school didn't seem right (there wasn't anything I particularly wanted to study). Going on more adventures didn't seem right (I was out of money, and, though I'll probably never tire of adventuring, aimless travel without a purpose to tie my experiences together didn't strike me as the thing to do.). I had reached the foggiest fork in the road of my young life. I was face to face with one of life's trickiest balancing acts; how do I honor the past, enjoy the present, and provide for the future? How do I compose a perfect harmony of time?

There's nothing like a good moment of clarity, and my subconscious breathed a sigh of relief when I finally had mine that winter. In a word, CHOCOLATE. I thought about chocolate everyday. I ate chocolate everyday. I daydreamed about growing my own cacao and opening my own chocolate cafe- everyday. It may sound silly, but when I got real with myself and took stock of my passions and dreams, chocolate really stood out. It was a part of my day-to-day life in a way that nothing else was. I started to spread the word amongst my friends and family ("I think I want to make chocolate for a living"). Some of them were supportive, others were not, but most were confused-- after all what did chocolate have to do with theatre, academia, humanitarianism, or outdoor pursuits? Where was the logic here? I would have agreed that this latest goal had come entirely out of left field, had I not known that it originated (just like every other venture I'd undertaken) from that reliable place of calm certainty smack dab at the center of my being.

So, why Hawaii? If my original moment of clarity can be summed up by the word "chocolate," then the key word for my specific approach to this line of work would have to be CACAO. I was not content with the idea of mere chocolate making; in the spirit of the whole know-where-your-food-comes-from energy sweeping the nation, I wanted to be involved in the entire process, from tree to bar/truffle.  Like most tropical plants, cacao is a great lover of rain, shade, and temperatures above 60 degrees Farenheit. As such it can only be found growing in a band 20 degrees North and South of the equator. Hawaii just barely sqeaks into this category at it's position of 20 degrees North and is therefore the only state in the U.S. that can cultivate cacao. Though the Hawaiian cacao industry is still in its infant stages (with only about 100 acres planted state-wide) anyone in the business will assure you that Hawaii is destined to become the Napa Valley of chocolate. As consumers continue to become more and more rigorous in their demand for locally/sustainably/ethically sourced products, the future of Hawaiian cacao is looking brighter by the minute. So it was simple, really. If I wanted to grow cacao, and I wanted to stay in the United States, I had to move to Hawaii. What a bummer, right?

Seven months later I found myself living on Oahu working for a totally rad bean-to-bar chocolate company. I had never visited Hawaii before I moved out here. I didn't know anyone who lived here (although I did have the job lined up ahead of time). I had never even dabbled in chocolate making. I didn't really have much except for my passion and conviction. In this situation, that turned out to be enough. I spent six months working on Oahu before moving to Maui where I currently live and work for a visionary company called Sweet Paradise Chocolatier. I spend two days a week in the kitchen making truffles, two days a week working on the cacao farm, and one day a week selling chocolates at our boutique retail shop. I have the honor and joy of spending my work week creating one of my most favorite things in the world. I get to learn the ropes from an accomplished chocolatier and business woman. I get to spend lots of time outside in a gorgeous place. I get to help spread the gospel of fine, craft chocolate, reworking the public's approach towards chocolate one farm-tour at a time. I get to eat lots of chocolate.

My three-part time harmony is currently humming along quite nicely. I still have to give it regular attention, tuning it slightly here and there, endeavoring to never leave a single note neglected. With so much tugging at us all the time it's often too easy to drop out of key, or to let one part overshadow the others, and it's only through constant reevaluation that we can keep ourselves from falling into discord. I'm continuously seeking the perfect blending of past, present, and future chords, guided by those moments of clarity that resonate within my being on all three levels. So yes, I live in Hawaii and make chocolate, and sometimes that can strike even me as being too dreamy to be realistic in the long run, but, at the end of the day, I'm so deeply certain that this is where I'm supposed to be that the thought of doing anything else seems truly disingenuous. Life goes on, and there's no predicting what's around the next bend, but for now I can say with a delicious mixture of solemnity and delight that chocolate is at the center of my life, nourishing my soul, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sinead Byrne is a backpacking, adventurous, bright eyed chocolatier living in Maui. Check out what they do at Sweet Paradise http://www.sweetparadisechocolate.com/ or order some delicious chocolates just in time for the Christmas Holidays.

Attitude of Gratitude


 Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life. ~Rumi

The attitude of gratitude is one of the most reliable methods of developing inner joy. It’s an attitude that humanity should adopt 365 days a year. This isn’t a profound blog entry; it’s more of a reminder to say “Thank-you”… all the time. It’s good for you and it’s good for others around you. We are constantly faced with obstacles and new challenges and it’s through modeling how to embrace life that we teach those around us how to embark on their own journey of self-study. That’s right, showing gratitude for all of it, the ups AND the downs. As though it isn’t important enough in and of itself, remember that our younger generation, the littles, are watching our every move. They are learning how to tackle life through our example. It’s a big deal and a big job. That’s why we asked moms and dads around the world how they help teach gratitude to their children.

This is what they had to say:

 

  • Our family has a gratitude jar on the dining room table with slips of paper and a pencil.  If anyone in the family notices or recognizes that someone is being kind they write it down and put it in the jar.  Once a week, we read the pieces of paper and discuss the kindness that was associated with the action.  It helps refocus our entire family on acts of kindness and the feeling of gratitude to others.~Sheri Louis, mother of 2, Portland OR

 

  • Every night we each (including parents) share at least one thing we are grateful for and one kind thing we did that day. It is amazing the refocus it has created in our daily reflections and in the valued importance we as, a family, place on gratitude and kindness. ~Colleen Reuland, mother of 3, Portland OR

 

  • Teaching my children gratitude doesn't come in a form of a plan or formal training...it comes from a way-of-life, a flow of gratefulness that comes from the heart. As a mom I have to lead by example even when I don't feel like being or expressing gratitude. Other ways of teaching my children gratitude include reminding them to say "thank you," talking about what they appreciated about their day at the dinner table, asking them what they are thankful for during holidays such as Thanksgiving, etc. I also think it's important for them to understand how to be thankful for each other so we often talk about what we appreciate about one another. ~ Valerie Reed, mother of 3, Belleville PA

 

  • At dinner time we discuss the days "highlights" and one thing they are thankful for today. Even though it will move toward low lights inevitably, it is an opportunity to notice what is going well first, and then what is difficult. Putting the positive in first seems to create a nice balance of positive reality in order to make space for the challenges in life. ~Christy Strange, mother of 2, Portland, OR

 

  • We take a moment together to pause and be thankful for both the big and little things in life -- from taking in the awe of the sights and sounds of Mother Nature on a hike, to the cozy perfection of a mug of hot cocoa together. We also try to go around the dinner table and say one thing that we are grateful for from the day, or sometimes we do that same thing just before going to sleep at night. ~Marie Tindall, Mother of 2, Portland, OR

 

  • My daughter taught me gratitude. You can see she is grateful for every hug, every kiss and every “I love you”. ~Karen Blomstedt, mother of 1, Portsmouth RI

 

  • We talk a lot about water and food waste. Last year my 6 year old son raised over $800 for Charity Water in Kenya. ~Sarasvati Hewitt, mother of 2, Portland OR

 

  • I teach my daughter about gratitude by seeing her share her gifts to the world. I honor that and then tell her "thank you."  I feel so grateful to see her light shine in that! ~Kelly Sunrose Conner, mother of 1, Portland OR

 

  • I talk about gratitude with my son during dinner. We don't say "grace" but rather offer a blessing which usually involves putting words to the gratitude that we have for all of the gods and goddess' and all of our guides and teachers. We thank them for our health, our strength, and any other quality we feel important to offer thanks for on a given day. We offer gratitude for the farmers and all those involved in making our food accessible. And finally we offer gratitude for one another, I thank Zion for his compassion and his kindness, and he often will thank me for my presence. We take turns doing the blessing. It is a part of our day that really touches my heart. I love this time where we are able to look inward and express our love of life with clarity. ~Sondra Bloxam, mother of 1, Portland OR

 

  • With my oldest we talk about what we are thankful for and why. We practice gratitude by saying thank you. I think kids learn by example and repetition so we sometimes play a game of gift giving where they can practice how to show gratitude for a gift.  ~Denae Weaver, mother of 2, Green Bell PA

 

  • We volunteer at a food bank. At night during prayer we talk about the non-material things we are grateful for. We try to teach gratitude through modeling it. ~Ursula Rocha, mother of 3, Alexandria VA

 

  • One way in which we teach gratitude to our kids is by taking them camping for a week every summer. When we return home after a week of being outside in the elements, our small house with its running water and air conditioning seem like a palace! ~Molly Cohen, mother of 3, Franklin MA

 

  • My boys are 8 and 10 and for as long as they remember we have taught them to give on their birthdays. Every other birthday they choose an organization to donate to in lieu of receiving gifts. The process of choosing the organizations and presenting the gifts has humbled them. In their preschool years, we would make a gratitude tree that hung in the house. We would add paper leaf cutouts with grateful notes on it. It was always overflowing with leaves that didn’t fall with the change of the seasons. Now I think the best way to teach gratefulness is to model it. Hearing dad thank mom for dinner, hearing mom thank dad for all the time he puts into coaching their teams, telling the boys how wonderful it is when they help around the house… it all makes an impression on them. One I hope they carry into adulthood. ~ Caitlin MacNeil, mother of 2, Portland OR

 

  • Every night at bedtime we each talk about one thing we are grateful for. I try to expose them or increase their awareness at least to the fact that there are other children in the world who might be homeless or ill. I think stepping outside of their paradigm is important and it fosters gratitude. ~Jill Whitchurch- Dixon, mother of 2, Vancouver WA

 

  • In general I try to model gratitude by thanking people for even the littlest of things, like, “Thanks, Ms. Maria, for putting a clip in my hair so I can see better.” I also try to point out the beauty in nature, like an interesting cloud, how the breeze feels on your face, or the color of the grass. I see my daughter starting to do the same now! ~Elizabeth Wegner, mother of 2, Alexandria VA

 

  • Through yearly giving tree projects we buy gifts for families that don’t have enough money to afford them. We also donate all of our old items- including scooters/bikes/clothes to homeless shelters that house families. We talk as a family about our good fortunes and do what we can to help others in need. ~Michele Bell, mother of 2, Lake Oswego OR

 

  • Children know how to say thank you but they must learn how to feel thankful. I think modeling thankfulness and kindness are the most powerful instruction tools we can offer our children. ~Kristina Komorowski, mother of 2, Portland OR

 

 

The Body is Here and Now

The body is here and now.

Contributed by Anna Chapman.

 

 

 

 

 

The body is here and now.

That is all it can be.

 

I love food and always have. I love the way it tastes, how it looks, the colors, and the smells. Growing up I was raised by a father who showed love through cooking and preparing food, and a mother who showed love by removing food through portion control and eating restrictions. As you can imagine for a small child this was very confusing and caused turmoil in regards to what and how much I should eat. Compounded by the media’s obsession with how a woman’s body should look this was a recipe for a very confused little girl.

Growing up in Guam and Hawaii with typhoons, earthquakes, home robbery, and racism as the norm, added to the internal turmoil I felt.  My home was full of love and food yet I was living in a turbulent environment with a slightly confused state of mind. There were and continue to be many extraneous circumstances that shaped the person I have become and one of the coping skills I developed early on was that food was safe.

By the time I was 11 I was on my first diet, and had a gym membership. At 15 I was “diagnosed” with over eating disorder (Which I now believe to be a sham), and at the ripe age of 22 I weighed in at 417 pounds in the unhappiest mental state a person could exist. Until I had hit what I could only assume was rock bottom, I hadn’t truly felt anything in years. I was sad all the time. It was numbing; an overflowing of sadness that didn’t evoke anything but avoidance. Until that point I had not wanted to deal with, let alone understand why I couldn’t stop eating or why overeating was so physically painful yet emotionally nurturing. Why was I broken?

After seeking help from family and friends I initiated a change. I began researching, working out, and eating healthier. But the real problem I’ve come to understand had nothing to do with food.

Let’s fast forward 5 years, where here I stand more than 100 lbs. lighter, equip with a wealth of knowledge about food production and nutrition. But none of that matters to me anymore, I no longer weigh my worth in pounds.

In the past five years I have been pealing back the layers of who I am, and why I am the way I am. I’ve dug deep into my childhood and healed many old wounds. I have found and reclaimed my relationship with this perfectly amazing body. I’ve developed compassionate self-talk that nurtures myself when I need love over food. I have realized that my body was never against me that it kept growing to keep me safe because I was never able to tell it that I could take over as an adult. I no longer need to worry and go into starvation mode, because I am safe. And the most profound wisdom I can give you is to start an open line of communication between your mind, body, and soul.  Be curious and open about what it is that you do not want to feel.

Mindfulness has been my biggest gift within this work of self-discovery. The moment I check out of my experience my body goes into autopilot and I start doing things I haven’t done in years. Two of my favorite tools that link mindfulness and the body require nothing but an open mind and a playful curiosity.

  • #1. Mindful Eating: Start by creating your meal, whatever it is prepare it with all your senses. Smell your food, take it in with your eyes, and be present while you are putting the meal together. Once its ready dim the lights, turn off all devices (even music), set your place beautifully with a candle on your favorite plate. Sit down and take three deep breaths, arrive in your seat with this beautiful life force meal you have created. As you start to eat chew your food, take it in with all your senses, feel into your body as it goes down your esophagus and into your belly. Don’t rush the next bite, enjoy every mouthful and only eat what appeals to you. If part of it is not feeling good in your body, don’t eat that part. Take in only exactly, and as much as your body wants. If you aren’t sure what this feels like, be present and see what happens if you physically ask, “Body, do you want more? Are you satisfied?” When you are done take a few deep breathes and just give your body a moment to let the experience sync. Feel gratitude for the fullness of the moment.

 

  • #2. Body Awareness Appreciation: I’m a big advocate for self-talk. Throughout the day I am usually having a conversation with my body and soul… often even out loud. When I used to workout my words were very aggressive, “DON’T STOP, KEEP MOVING, PUSH PUSH PUSH!” What I realized years later, is that my body didn’t like being spoken to in this way. Now I practice appreciation, if I go for a run I’m saying, “Wow look at you run, legs you are amazing pushing me forward, arms you are so strong, belly thank you for the strength.” I usually throw in a few, “You are such a brilliant goddess, I am in awe of you” moments as well. When I dance I feel into the movement and delight in the new ways I am able to move. When any part of my body hurts I give gratitude to it for working so hard and for holding me up and for being so strong. This little shift in body awareness and appreciation can be profound; it makes movement more fun and much more fulfilling.

 

I invite you to try these tools, and to be conscious of what you are feeling; specifically when you are checked out of your experience with regards to food and body awareness. It seems easier sometimes to disengage rather then open up to the seemingly hard and uncomfortable parts of life. But this is where growth happens, it’s in the uncomfortable places that we see how strong and stable we are. Trust life and know that you are divinely supported... that you were given the perfect body. Live from a place of love and openness where everything is possible.

 

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Anna Chapman is a hippie-goddess-yogi-cat-lady, living in Portland Oregon. She is passionate about healing her body and discovering the beauty that shines from within. She is offering a workshop in collaboration with Soul Coach, Kathy Carlisle November 15th and 16th called “Dare to live from the inside out”. Inspiring attendees that this life is happening for you not to you, offering tools to live a full, vibrant, and magical life. She also offers one on one Body Love sessions to help bring in positive self-talk and body appreciation through compassion and love. She is a firm believer in the fact that no one is broken, and once we can shine a little light on the dark parts of ourselves we see there is only love there. To find out more about Anna, visit www.iamannachapman.com

 

 

 

Become interested in your body, we are not interested in it most of the time. We have ideas about it, ideas about the shape of it. We objectify it, we label it, but we are not particularly interested in it. Your body is your piece of the universe you have been given, you have been handed this body for the time you are here on earth. So you might as well become interested in it, because unless you begin the process about what its like to be where you are then you can’t be grounded. The mind will bounce from the past to the present with ideas, but the body is here now, that is all it can be!
— Geneen Roth

 

Art as Healing

Art as Healing

Contributed by Rhoda Miller.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don't know if creativity is an innate or cultivated characteristic. I do know that what creativity I was born with was nurtured from a young age by my parents and an influential art teacher I was blessed to learn from for 11 years through my childhood. I also know that at the lowest, darkest times of my life, I have clung to my creativity and art like a life preserver in the middle of a raging ocean, and without fail, it has held me up every time. I've often heard people talk about having pets for their ability to love unconditionally, and it may sound silly, but that is what art has done for me. Art has always given back to me in a way no human or pet ever could. 

Art pulled me from the depths of what could have been a vast depression after my sister, SaraLisa, ended her life when I was 19. A sophomore in college, having recently changed my major to art, I poured myself into creative expression as a form of healing for the first time in my life. For several years after SaraLisa's death, I was very resistant to traditional counseling; I have later come to realize that I am a very internal processor, one who can sit on my thoughts and emotions for weeks without being able to make sense of them. In the early stages of grief, often my only moments of great clarity were found through creating art. In the lowest times following my sister's death, I sank deep into myself and was often only pulled out through visual expression, writing, and the sheer determination to continue living. 

Throughout the years, many people have told me that something good would come of her death. Life events of such enormity are never able to be quantified, nor would I ever begin to find equal the exchange of my sister's life for my expanded artistic repertoire. What I do know is while my loss has brought me great pain, my pain has inspired multiple facets of creative expression that I may have never otherwise experienced. 


Years later, I had the wind knocked out of me again, slowly and repeatedly this time, over the course of a six year relationship and a series of lies I desperately wanted to believe. My therapist likened it to Chinese water torture, each lie another drip. Divorced, childless, and paying a mortgage on a non-profit salary was not where I pictured myself at 31. However, even as I felt the ground shifting again, I was overwhelmed with a vast sense of inner calm; I had already overcome more than I could have imagined and certainly I was stronger than ever before. Also, hadn’t millions of individuals in the history of the world faced tragedy and hardship and yet prevailed? Surely my human experience was not inherently unique.

Again I found myself purging my emotions through creative expression. Tired of keeping secrets and pretending at normalcy, I found huge reprieve in creating a series of paintings I shared with my community in a solo show just 8 months following my separation. Titled “Within”, the series explored depth and layers and sparse barrenness. While my art is incredibly nonobjective in nature and I was purposefully sparing in my artist statement at the time, sharing my work left me feeling inside out and scrubbed raw for all to see. It was necessary for me to realize hiding would no longer suffice for surviving. I wanted more from life.

I credit art more than any other one thing in my life for bringing me great healing. Art has taught me to be gentle with myself, as nothing ever comes out on canvas in the way I imagine it, and I have learned vulnerability by sharing my work with others. Healing never happens in a vacuum or through one mode of processing alone, and I believe the proper combination of these is different for each person. Art is something I take with me wherever I go and I know as long as I have the ability to create, I will feel like a whole person with a world of possibility at my fingertips. 

 

The italicized portions are featured in the book Be Your Finest Art by Joanne Miller and Dorsey McHugh, published this year.

 

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Rhoda Miller is an Ohio transplant living in Harrisonburg, Virginia. When she’s not busy running, creating, hiking, or catching up with friends, you might find her at her day job as a Crisis Response Coordinator at the Collins Center. She shares her art and other musings on her website.

Yogi Youth, an interview with Catalysta

Yogi Youth

Mind-body activities like yoga tend to favor adults, but Elissa Cirignotta wants to show that youth can benefit just as much, if not more.

Amanda Muench

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Image by Tammy Kim

Mind-body activities like yoga tend to favor adults, but Elissa Cirignotta wants to show that youth can benefit just as much, if not more. Developing bodies and minds are at the root of yoga’s rewards. And there are rewards enough to encompass the teacher as well.

Tell us about your work.

Elissa Cirignotta: I am a lead teacher and co-founder of Happy Mindful People. We teach kids, teens, and adult yoga and mindfulness classes. Through movement, mindfulness, and social skills we introduce concepts like kindness, gratitude, developing empathy, and being a compassionate person. Our classes keep bodies active, minds engaged, while simultaneously practicing how to use the breath as a tool for peace and calm.

I’ve come to believe more and more that the lack of social emotional instruction is a significant missing link in our society. The curriculum we have written is based on our research on adolescent brain development and reinforces skills needed to combat the emotional changes that often lead to aggression, angst, and lowered self-esteem. Our hope is for all children, all teens, and all adults to have increased control of their bodies, awareness and appreciation of their breath, and gratitude for their magnificent lives.

How does your work make a positive difference to society?

I am lucky enough to get to spend my days teaching kids, teens, and adults how to love bigger! We practice and discuss what it means to love ourselves and learn ways that we can care for our bodies. We talk about the impact our words and thoughts have on our outlook and we collectively practice living our best life. We learn the importance of listening to our breath and we use it as a tool to find calm during stressful moments. As all muscles need strengthening so do our imagination and gratitude muscles! We teach kids and teens how to use their imagination to create their reality and have fun. There is no age too young to practice self-acceptance, calm, and gratitude.

The tag line for our company is “Scatter seeds of kindness and grow peace.” We are all seed planters doing the best we can using the tools we have. My job is to be a reflection of this mantra and help others find personal healing.

As you became committed to a purposeful career, what were the internal doubts or external obstacles that challenged you?

Initially my fears were all financial. I was a special education teacher, behavioral specialist, and Special Ed facilitator for 8 years prior to this leap. Even though my income may have been fairly conservative I still had a set salary, benefits, and job security. How could I possibly make it without those things? I struggled with the fear of financial doom for the majority of the first year. It’s been a practice of re-writing my story and letting go.

What practices or techniques did you or do you use to challenge these obstacles?

I take deep breaths. I jog and take long walks spending time in nature to gain perspective. I make sure my body is getting adequate exercise. I practice yoga, every day. I drink lots of water and tea. I get up and try my very best every single day. I say thank-you all the time.

There are 5 affirmations that I keep tucked into my journal and I say them often.

“I am open and receptive to all the good and abundance in the Universe. Thank you Life!”

“All is well. Everything is working out for my highest good. Only good will come out of this situation.”

“I go forth in perfect faith in the power of omnipresent good to bring me what I need when I need it.”

“I live in harmony with myself and the world around me.”

“I am love.”

There is no turning back. And there’s reason to let fear guide your decisions. The money appears when it is needed. I am learning to trust my instincts and follow my gut while also tapping into local resources and deepening my connection to those that are committed to teaching love and wellbeing.

How did you find a balance between financial stability and a career that makes a difference?

Perseverance and practice. I’m still in a phase where I work really hard and sometimes very long days to sustain myself and that’s ok. It’s a part of my journey and a part of this creative tapestry that is my life. I am just crazy enough to believe that I can change the world and brave enough to try and do it. I’m choosing to trust my struggles and use them as a guide to happiness and global transformation. Each opportunity we are faced with is chance for us to learn, grow, and heal. This year I’ve learned how to live on a very small budget and prioritize my needs and wants. There are no regrets.

What advice do you have for those who want a career that benefits the common good?

There is no reason not to follow your heart. Speak your truth. Find your passion, listen to it, nurture it, and be it. Reach farther than you can grasp because one day you may find you’ve touched the stars. The sky is the limit! Choose love.

 

 

For more info visit Catalysta at http://catalysta.org/pioneer-qa/

Mindfulness vs. Mindlessness

Mindfulness vs. Mindlessness

Contributed by Justina Hertzler

 


Mindlessness, aka losing my mind, often overwhelms me when I'm at my most vulnerable. Those times when I have to accomplish something in a short period of time while maintaining the calm amongst two tiny people who can sense my growing anxiety. A place I've been in several times over the course of writing this entry.  "Just a minute," or "give me a sec," are flying out of my mouth left and right, while my brain switches into multitask mode.  As if on cue, tiny number two hones in on my location, starts yelling, signing "milk," and demanding to be picked up.  This causes tiny number one to scream and run around the house, inciting dog, assuming the loudest gets the most attention (which is mostly true).  I check the time, feel my anxiety level ratchet up a notch, and push on, despite feeling paralyzed by the noise, and growing needs of the kiddos. Insert favorite mindfulness practice.  Slow down.  Stop multitasking all. the. time.  When I calm my mind, peace settles around us, and time seems to slow down.  It allows me to get down on my children's level to assess their needs, and block out the distractions whirling around in my head.  It may be but a lingering moment, but it feels like an accomplishment.  It’s my answer to my despair about the speed of life.  Intentionally taking one task at a time, literally keeping a slower pace, has been a relief.

 

One might wonder why, if I so desire to slow down, am I'm often hurrying my three year old.  "Lets go, we have to hurry" was a common command at our house until recently.  Resisting the urge to constantly hurry my children, mostly the three year old, is a daily practice  That's not to say that I'm never in a hurry, or that I don't try to quickly usher my children out the door at times.  I've just decided to remove "hurry up" from my vocabulary, attempting to respect the environment we all share.  It also makes for a more pleasant exit.  I adopted this the instant I read Hands Free Mama, "The day I stopped saying hurry up."  My three year old is always mindful, always noticing, always with insight into our adult lives, and she is slow.  As she should be, that is the freedom of childhood.  Instead of rushing her, I give her more time to process.  Instead of hurrying her out the door I make time to engage in what she is doing at the moment, and take it in with her.  Deleting "hurry up" is a reminder to savor this time with my children, rather than rushing mindlessly from activity to activity.  

 

During the day I have very little time to myself to just think.  My youngest still naps twice a day, but her sister is on overdrive from morning until night.  Talking to me or at me, engaging me at every possible moment, is a trait that I work hard to embrace, but gets the best of me at times.  I really enjoy peace and quiet.  No background music during the day (unless we are having a three year old dance party), no ear buds on runs, no special play lists for long drives (probably a pod cast or two, I'm not that crazy), so the all day barrage of three year old banter is tough.  My reprieve comes when I'm nursing the baby to sleep, in three 20-minute windows.  It's tempting to take my phone into the quiet dark room and mindlessly browse the web while she is nodding off to sleep.  But this time feels sacred.  Instead I've committed to just being during naptime.  Rocking back and forth with a sleeping baby and just looking at her, being mindful of this place in time.  No phone.  It's my favorite.  There really isn't an email or text that can't wait.  My children notice when I have too much going on during the day.  Having time to collect my thoughts rather than checking status updates, keeps us all sane.  

 

I want to be here, in this season of life as long as possible.  My three year old can't wait to be a "mommy with a kid, a baby and a daddy (husband),'' but I'm hoping to take the slow road to that party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Justina Hertlzer lives in Lancaster Pennsylvania with her two beautiful daughters and Brew Master/Frisbee throwing husband. She is a Registered Nurse and Magical Mama committed to holistic health, mindful parenting, and global transformation through personal healing.