Friday, June 5, 2009

South Hills Yoga Grand Re-Opening!

After a year-long sabbatical to resolve my health issues, Luna Anita Perkins is feeling great and ready to share the joys and benefits of Yoga with you again!

Maybe it was all that begging God for mercy. Maybe it was the handfuls of nutritional supplements, or eliminating dairy products from my diet, or the endless cups of licorice tea. Whatever it was, I feel better. I've been feeling well for a few months now -- well enough for long enough that I no longer fear an impending relapse. I am healthy again -- hurray!

As I've felt better in my body again, for the first time since my year-long sabbatical began, I have become restless in my mind. For an entire year, both my mind and body were incredibly busy just taking care of my own health, my home and family, researching potential remedies, and struggling to get well. Doing anything else besides self-care and child-care was not an option. But now, with my health revitalized and my body pain-free, my mind has begun searching for ways to focus my renewed energies.

I never wanted to quit teaching Yoga. Letting go of teaching was an extremely difficult process for me. As the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia increased, I was forced to drop classes one by one, until my usual 10-12 classes per week became 4 or 5. Still, I felt a commitment to my students' well-being and to the practice of teaching. Then, a major bicycle accident last June left me unable to use my right hand, and subsequent, sudden-onset vulvodynia left me unable to sit down without unbearable pain. I had to quit teaching. I must admit I became depressed.

Even after my pain and illness subsided last winter, I still felt unhappy. I love my home and family, but I need to work! I feel fortunate that my husband was able to support us, both financially and pragmatically, while I healed and rested. However, unemployment left me feeling lonely, bored, and unfulfilled, as I sat home knitting or reading while my family went off to school and work. I felt restless and disconnected, and I craved the social and creative outlet of my career.

Yoga teaching is my purpose in life, and my source of fulfillment. I just finished reading Edward Hollowell and John Ratey's excellent book, Delivered from Distraction, about living with ADD. One chapter quotes Hollowell's The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness, which outlines five elements we all need to feel happy and fulfilled:

Connecting with other people and with something greater than oneself
Exploration and enjoyment evolve from feeling secure into a state of flow
Self-improvement through repeating an activity you enjoy playing at
Achieving a level of ability at the activity you've practiced, enhancing self-esteem
Sharing your mastery with others leads to recognition, which enhances feelings of connection.

I realized that teaching Yoga is so important for me because it provides all five elements of happiness and fulfillment. I began Yoga practice in 1992 out of a feeling of connection to the Divine that emerged from mystical experiences. I "played" with yoga for many years, practicing on my own, reading books and attending classes at times, but only doing what felt really GOOD in my body. After many years of practice, I began to feel a level of mastery. I attended Yoga Teacher Training in 2002 and began teaching. I kept connecting, playing, and practicing, and teaching stayed enjoyable, creative, and flowing. I completed Yoga Therapy Training, and began my Yoga Therapy practice in early 2006. I began getting positive feedback and glowing testimonials from students. I was actually helping people! I felt more connected than ever. And then my body started hurting….

What can I learn from having been ill?

To appreciate being well!

To have true empathy and compassion for anyone who is ill or in pain

To understand the depths of pain and suffering

To trust that I can be very ill and then be well again

To never give up on myself or on anyone else

To appreciate my husband's support

To let go and trust the process of Life

Yoga teaching also provides all five of my personal career needs -- the five elements I need to enjoy and sustain a job or career:

Every student and every class are wonderfully different. Plus, being self-employed, I get to use all of my various skills -- creating lesson plans, reading and researching, counseling, teaching, coaching, marketing, graphic design, web design, and communications -- so I stay busy!

Setting my own hours helps me balance work and family in a way that minimizes my stress. And of course Yoga itself relieves stress! When I teach, ideas, words, and poses flow through me, and all is ease.

I get bored easily. My mind craves stimulation. The variety and challenges of teaching all levels, and of specializing in teaching students who need individual attention, are endless. Every class is new and interesting, with something for me to offer and something for us both to learn.

I spent many years working in offices and retail stores, hiding my spirituality and my flamboyance in order to fit in. As a Yoga teacher, I get to be myself. I share freely of myself with my students, and I feel truly accepted and appreciated by them, just as I accept and appreciate every one of my beloved students.

This can be elusive, for sure. I believe the previously-stated five elements (connection, play, practice, mastery, and recognition) lead to fulfillment. For me, fulfillment comes from doing something meaningful that helps others and the world in a positive way. Teaching Yoga is filled with meaningful opportunities to promote healing and human development, as well as joy and peace. How fulfilling is that!!

I feel grateful to once again be able to sit in the seat of the teacher and share the blessings of Yoga with everyone who feels inspired to come to me. Starting now, South Hills Yoga is open for private classes and Yoga therapy sessions (the South Hills Yoga website is back online!).

I find private classes, especially one-on-one, to be the most rewarding -- this is the traditional root of Yoga teaching, and it really works. I can tune in, listen, and provide the personalized instruction that each student needs, without the competition, distance, or distractions of a group class. I enjoy helping students develop a home Yoga practice that works for them. And I keep the price reasonable -- only $40 for a full hour, and if that is a hardship, you are welcome to bring up to three friends or relatives and split the cost.

To my friends, family, and loyal students, I thank you so very much for all your loving support through the hard times. And to everyone, I look forward to seeing you at a South Hills Yoga class soon!

Luna Anita

Thursday, February 26, 2009

10 Things I Have Learned From Being Sick

Oh God, please, I don't want to be sick anymore. I want to be well and happy and live my life and attain peace and fulfillment. But if I have to be sick, (and it seems that I do, since I have been sick for so long, and I have already tried everything to become well and failed), then please, please, let it not be for nought. Let my experience of illness benefit myself and others. Let me learn, grow, teach, and touch others' lives in a positive way.

10 Things I Have Learned From Being Sick:

1. That the Body is not the Self.

2. That the body's insistent demands can be heeded or ignored, by conscious choice.

3. I have developed self-discipline, at long last. I can swallow terrible-tasting medications daily, if needed. I can abstain from things I love and crave, like sugar, dairy products, chocolate, gluten (pizza and bread!), and even sex, to help myself feel better.

4. That so-called "experts" are not necessarily trustworthy. I have been misdiagnosed, wrongly advised, and prescribed medications that made me much worse. Now, I trust my inner voice and my body's clear messages over and above the advice of any doctor or professional. I know myself best.

5. I have learned to be an excellent medical researcher and holistic health scholar, out of dire necessity. I have learned so much about yoga, natural healing, nutrition, nutritional supplements, food sensitivities, herbology, homeopathy, ayurveda, amino acid therapy, psychiatric treatments, pain medications, sleep remedies, and much more. Ask me anything!

6. I have learned to lean on others for support when needed. I much prefer to be independent, and am very strong-minded. But when the chips are down (and they often have been, in recent years), I have learned to ask for help, and to let others take care of me. I especially thank my husband and my parents for their help in learning this lesson.

7. I have learned to let go of perfectionism. I cannot do everything exactly the way I want to do it anymore. For awhile, I was overwhelmingly frustrated by the limitations of being ill. Many days I can barely get out of bed. Even doing one or two things half-assed is a major victory. My ego wants to excel, but my aching body and unstable mind really need to just get by. So I have learned to just get by, and to be okay with that. The girl with a National Merit Scholarship and straight A's at Yale has learned many humbling lessons from being too ill to work.

8. I have learned to have so much more compassion for others. I used to be jealous of other people who seemed to have easier lives than mine. I now know that we are all struggling, in our own individual ways, as the wheel of Samsara turns. Having an invisible disability makes me look a little closer at all the "normal," healthy-looking people I meet, since I'm sure I look normal and healthy to you, and I'm not.

The more I look and listen, the more I realize we all have problems, we all suffer, we all are learning from our challenges, we are all beautiful, and we are all in this together. No matter what, I try my best to be kind to everyone I encounter. No matter how I'm feeling, I can at least smile and acknowledge each person's humanity and divinity: "Namaste'."

9. I have learned to pace myself. Pushing myself makes my illnesses push back. I tend to be driven, but I know now that I am not in the driver's seat. This particular experience of being alive -- with fibromyalgia and manic-depressive illness -- forces me into the passenger seat.

I used to convince myself I was in control. Now, I flow with my moods. I yield to my pain cycles. I don't push my body around anymore. I heed my body's wisdom, trust my inner voice, and hand over the steering wheel to my Higher Power. Being ill has taught me to let go and allow my life to unfold, naturally.

10. I have learned to let go of the many "should"s and "have-to"s of life -- because I've had to. I used to be ambitious, with a strong, people-pleasing streak, and would do things just to impress others. Now, being ill has given me an excellent alibi for avoiding anything I don't really want to do anyway -- especially things that are not really good for me.

For example, I used to drink alcohol and smoke weed and sometimes wind up in the wrong man's bed. Now, thanks to being mentally ill and medicated, I cannot drink or toke at all, and am able to avoid all sorts of unhealthy dramas. I also no longer eat sugar, stay out late, overexercise, overwork, or overstress -- or else I pay an immediate and drastic price. Overindulgence or excess stress leads to mood swings (which often become suicidal thoughts) and pain flares (which often debilitate me completely).

So, ironically, being ill has forced me to be healthy. I take really good care of myself now. My diet and lifestyle are balanced and healthy -- no matter what that other people around me are doing, and no matter what other people expect me to do. Bye-bye "should"s -- Hello self-care.

So, I've learned a few things from the struggles I've been through in recent years. So, God, what do you think? Maybe I've learned my lessons? Maybe now can I be well again???

Feel free to comment or email me your own list, or any thoughts. Namaste'.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Heredity and Environment

Remember that whole hoopla about "heredity vs. environment"? There was so much debate, for decades, over what the cause of human behavior was -- heredity (i.e. genetics) or environment (i.e. upbringing)? Eventually, everyone agreed that it is both, always both -- an interaction between our heredity and our environment makes us who we are. I believe it is time for a similar consensus about the real cause of chronic illness -- it's not just lifestyle (environment) or just biochemistry (heredity) -- it's both, and more. Who we are and what we do are both important causative factors of illness.

Who we are -- our genes, our personality, our dosha (ayurvedic type), our innate strengths and weaknesses -- interacts with what we do -- where we live, how we eat, how we use our bodies and minds, how we interact with others and our environment. It is the result of this interaction between who we are and what we do that can lead to chronic illness.

A "strong" person -- a person with a strong constitution, a strong will to live, kapha-dosha, resilience, and hardiness -- can withstand a harsh lifestyle -- a stressful environment, say, or an unhealthy diet -- and not get sick. A "weak" person, on the other hand -- timid, sensitive, vata-dosha, prone to self-doubt or inner self-sabotage, perhaps from a long line of malnourished and overworked ancestors -- may succumb to serious illness simply from the stresses of daily life. However, as the stresses of modern life increase, more and stronger individuals will be affected by our common, unhealthy environment.

We cannot change our constitution, or change the past. We can only change our present and future -- reduce stress now and from this day forward, and reduce our probability of becoming or staying ill. But really, it is all a numbers game. Your probability of becoming ill decreases if you reduce stress and live a healthy lifestyle, and it increases if you are under stress or make unhealthy choices.

However, not everything is under our control. All of us are exposed to the toxins that modern Western society has created. Here in Oregon, for example, a recent study found that average Oregonians have all six classes of toxic chemicals in their bodies, including mercury, phthalates, PCBs, PFCs, organophospahte pesticides, and bisphenol A.

The most serious result of pollution is its harmful biological effects on human health and on the food chain of animals, birds, and marine life. Pollution can destroy vegetation that provides food and shelter. It can seriously disrupt the balance of nature, and, in extreme cases, can cause the death of humans --

Healthy lifestyle choices can help mediate and reduce the dangerous health effects of stress and pollution. Relaxation exercises such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, and walking can reduce the "stress response" (fight or flight), stimulate the "relaxation response" (parasympathetic dominance), and minimize the impacts of stress on the body.

Healthy dietary choices such as eating fresh, raw or lightly-cooked, organic fruits, vegetables, sprouts, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and lots of filtered water can fortify and cleanse the body to ward off many health threats.

Nutritional supplements can also strengthen and shield the body against disease. For example, omega-3 oils protect the heart and connective tissue, and antioxidant vitamins such as A, C, E, selenium, coQ-10, and quercetin can destroy the pollution-created free-radicals that may lead to cancer and other illnesses. So a healthy lifestyle can help protect you, despite the toxicity of our modern world.

So, if you are ill, make new, healthier choices, and you will increase your odds of healing and reduce your odds of getting or staying ill. But remember, if you still don't get better, it is not necessarily your fault. It may not be your fault at all.

Perhaps you were never breastfed, you were raised on junk food, and like all of us you were and are exposed to thousands of toxic substances. Perhaps as an adult you have been single-parenting or experiencing major work and financial stresses. And maybe now you have a chronic illness that isn't getting better despite all of the supplements and herbs and medications and exercise and broccoli sprouts in the world. Please don't blame yourself. It's not your fault. Just do your best, and let go of the rest.

First, it may take months, years, or even decades of healthy living to heal the injuries of the past. Second, even if healthy-living doesn't "cure" you, it can and will improve your quality of life and prognosis immensely. Third, even if your current illness doesn't disappear or even visibly improve once you've changed your lifestyle, you may be preventing the emergence of other, more severe illnesses or a worsening of your current illness. You new life-changes may not make you better, but will most likely prevent you from getting worse.

Finally, living well is its own reward. By taking care of yourself, you are healing. You are learning to love yourself and live with integrity. You are setting a positive example for your family, your friends, and everyone you know. Your example of holistic living may prevent untold numbers of other people from getting ill. Healing is its own reward.

Be well, or die trying. That may sound morbid, but the joy is in the journey. We may never "get healthy" (as in, "get perfect"), but we can live healthy, and enjoy what life we have, with self-love and integrity. Rachel Naomi Remen says it best in her Kitchen Table Wisdom essay "Life is for the Well":

What she thought was that you had to be without symptoms to enjoy life, to go to the theater, to have children, to love. It was as if life was only lived by well people, could only be lived by well people....She has stopped pursuing the perfect health she once had, and does what she can to strengthen her body in simple, natural ways....Laughingly, she says that she has made a substitution in the cross-stitched sampler that hangs on the walls of her inner life. It used to say, "Life is only for the well." Now it says, "Anything worth doing is worth doing half-assed."

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mid-Life Mom is Growing Up

I look at how happily married I am, and I believe it's because I was single for so long first (finally married at 38), and I therefore got the full single experience out of my system. I look at how happily parenting my new-mom friends are, and I believe it's because they were childless for so long first, and they therefore got the full childless experience out of their systems.

However, I started parenting young -- solo-parenting a child with autism -- and I am still busy parenting, and I feel somehow cheated out of the life-phase of childlessness. I finished school and less than 18 months later I was expecting a baby. I never got my "ya-ya's" out; never got that "me" time all young adults crave.

Perhaps, developmentally, I am stuck at Erikson's "identity versus role confusion" stage. When it comes to my identity, I certainly feel confused! Well, of course, I am 40, and I have in many ways progressed in my spiritual and emotional evolution. I always put my kids' needs first. I don't drink or get high (anymore), I'm in bed by 10 (p.m.), I attend parent-teacher meetings and help with homework, etc. etc. I'm a mom. That part of my identity is clear.

But part of me never got to finish growing up. Part of me wants to experiment and explore and finish figuring out who I am. I know I'm a mother; I fully accept and cherish that role. But, what else am I? Who else am I? I never got a chance to answer those questions, because I was too busy changing diapers and arranging play dates.

My children are growing up and will someday move on. Meanwhile, any jobs I have held besides mother-in-chief have been the kind that let me put my kids first -- in other words, low-paying and part-time, with no hope for advancement. In other words, my resume is a tangled mess of underemployment and unemployment -- a bridge to nowhere. I hope it's not too late to finally blossom into my fully realized adult self.

I realize my timing's a bit lousy, this being the world's worst economic recession and all. Still, I need some time to learn about and develop my individual identity, so I can better contribute to the larger society.

That means completing my education -- graduate or professional school -- and experimenting with roles and occupations -- am I an artist? a counselor? a mediator? a yoga-communitarian? What are my true priorities? Assuming parenting tops the list, what else is most important to me?

With my kids born 10 years apart, I've been home playing Lego's far too much, for far too long. My mid-life crisis feels like a deep desire to step out and define myself in the world. I will keep one foot firmly grounded at home on "mother" earth, as I step boldly into the unknown to "find myself." Despite being a responsible, middle-aged, mother-of-three, I am eager, and ready, to finally grow up.

We all need to do what we need to do. Listen to your inner voice. Follow your excitement. We are not just doing or being; we are continually becoming. Allow your blossoming to unfold. Blessings to all....

Monday, January 26, 2009

Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith
by Wendy L. Brown
copyright 2007

Standing before a fork
in the road
there is not a right answer

or truth cast in stone, there are
choices and plans and desire,

there is the heart of fire and
twist of fate,
there is the unveiling

of who you are and who you
are becoming.

This I have found after
bargaining with my hopes

and my destiny. There is only
a still quiet voice within

that tells me trust what you
know and then surrender,

leap if you must, let your wings
unfurl, let your angels play catch.

We drink dreams from a
sliver of moon.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Eugene Yoga News & Events - January/February2009

Eugene Yoga - Lots to Do!

Yoga Day USA - Free Yoga for All Ages - this Saturday, Jan. 24th
National Yoga Day is In Eugene! - Enrich Your Life, Participate!

Yoga Day USA is sponsored by Yoga Alliance. A non-profit organization, Yoga Alliance is the leader in setting standards for yoga education and teaching. This local event is also sponsored by the Eugene Holistic Healing institute (

There is a style of Yoga to suit everyone regardless of age, body type, or fitness level. You don't need to be flexible; you just need to be open to the possibilities.

What to bring: your own yoga mat if you have one, or if not, just bring a bath towel or folded blanket, plus bring couple of pillows for the relaxation in the end of each yoga class.

River Road Park Recreation Center:

1400 Lake Dr.
Eugene, Oregon 97404 Visit:

Saturday, January 24 , 11:00am - 3:00pm
Schedule of classes:

-11:00 - 11:45 am: Intro- Yoga for Beginners/All ( by Suman)
-11:00 - 11:45 am: Yoga for Kids (by Min Yi)
-12:00 - 12:45 pm: Yoga for Seniors (by Glenda)
-12:00 - 12:45 pm: Yoga therapy/personalized yoga (by Suman)
-1:00 - 1:45pm: Yogic dances and relaxation (by Madhu and Suman)
-1:00 - 1:45pm: Chair Yoga (by Lila )
-2:00 - 2:45pm: Chanting, Bhajan, Kiirtan (by Shanti Shivani)
Pre-registration is required for Yoga Day USA:
Call Park office
541 688-4052 to sign up!

Cost: A donation of $5 is requested (to benefit local homeless youth at Station 7)


Kirtan Concert - this Friday, Jan 23rd - 7:30-9:30 pm
Location: Yoga West, 3635 Hilyard Street, South Eugene
Artist & Music: Sat Kartar Kaur - Ethereal devotional chants to groove-driven mantra dance anthems. She has recorded and led sacred music events worldwide for over 30 years. She has wonderful audience participation and has received critical acclaim in Yoga Journal magazine. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Tickets can be bought locally at Tsunami books, 2585 Willamette street, or Yoga West before or after class.

Prenatal Yoga at Yoga West, 541-343-7825
Pre-Natal Partners workshop - Friday Jan. 30th, 7-9pm.
$15 per couple in advance/$20 at the door.
For pregnant couples, or those considering pregnancy.

Pre-Natal Yoga classes
Sundays, 3:00 - 4:30 pm. - February 1st. - April 26th.
For more info see


Eugene Yoga Network
A new group is forming for all Yoga Teachers, Yoga Students, and Yoga Practitioners in the Eugene area who are interested in networking, community (satsang), and working together to promote the benefits of Yoga for our larger community.

Next meeting: Sunday, February 8th - 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Where: Dharmalaya Center, 356 Horn Lane (off River Road)
Ideas for the Agenda:
--Outreach Yoga - yoga for service to our community (yoga for the homeless, street youth, women escaping domestic violence, etc.)
--Local Yoga Teacher Training opportunities
--Yoga Conference - opportunities to contribute to planning and organizing a Local Yoga Conference in 2009
--Networking and Fellowship
-- Bring your ideas and enthusiasm!
For information: Call Luna 556-7144 or Dharmalaya 342-7621

Also at Dharmalaya:
Yoga Day - Saturday, February 7th - 10:00am - 4:00pm
A full day of immersion into yoga practices and lifestyle, including vegetarian lunch, yoga, meditation, kiirtan, and yoga philosophy.
Call Dharmalaya for more information and to register: 342-7621


Freedom Yoga classes
See for a complete schedule.

Children's Yoga Classes at Freedom Yoga Studio, 1633 Willamette
with Kelly Merrill
For Grades 1 - 5
Wednesdays 3:15 - 4:15 pm
Email Kelly for details: or call 465-9642


Inspiring Kirtan and Devotional Music with Fearless Love:
Location: Tamarack Wellness Center, 3575 Donald Street
Saturday, January 24th at 7:15 pm
Saturday, February 21st at 7:15 pm

Eostar and friends sing and chant inspiring spiritual music to uplift the heart and soul. You're invited to sing along in the ancient language of Sanskrit - no experience required! Listen at Donations accepted.


And finally, despite the mysterious disappearance of my website,
South Hills Yoga is reemerging in 2009, with a renewed focus on providing Yoga Therapy (therapeutic yoga for healing and holistic development that goes "beyond asana").

To provide a healthy balance, I will be scheduling a limited number of private yoga therapy sessions for individuals in our community, with workshops to come. Cost is $40/hour.
Location is the South Hills Yoga Studio. Call or email for more info:
Luna 556-7144 -

May 2009 usher in a new era of peace and blessings for all beings. May the Light shine brighter and brighter within each of us, and may it radiate outwards and light up the world! ~Namaste'

Monday, January 12, 2009

Obstacles are Question Marks

Even if you don't like the music,
Get up and dance!

Even if you don't like the situation you are in, you still must somehow respond to it -- so why not respond with joyous enthusiasm?

I used to think that obstacles were stop signs. When life put up road blocks, I would take that as a sign that it was "not meant to be," and I'd turn around and go back. In response to an obstacle, I would often completely reverse course. After 40 years of that, my Life Map looks like an arcade paintball room -- splashy ricochets in all directions. I never knew which way to go -- I just kept doing U-turns in the hope of finding an obstacle-free path. I never did.

So now, at midlife, I'm experimenting with a new life philosophy. Obstacles are NOT stop signs. Obstacles are question marks. When you're moving forward in a certain direction, an obstacle will likely appear, in order to ask you, "Do you REALLY want this?" or "How BADLY do you want this?"

If you want to continue on your current path passionately enough, or if you desire the intended outcome badly enough, you will leap over, circumvent, or plow through any obstacle along the way. In Yoga, we call that fierce determination "Tapas" -- the inner fire. If you don't want it that much, you'll see the obstacle as a brick wall and give up.

Obstacles are tests of your intention and determination. If you see an obstacle, don't just turn around and go back. Pause, tune in with your inner voice, and then follow your excitement. Your intuition will respond to an obstacle either with "Nah, it's not worth all that trouble," or "I don't care what it takes, I'm DOING this!" Listen to your intuition, and respond appropriately.

Here's a personal story for you that illustrates the point:

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved art, and was really talented at it. She was ably drawing faces when she was only 20 months old. She loved to draw and paint and play with clay. She impressed her parents and everyone she met with her artistic abilities and creative enthusiasm. Her parents nurtured her with praise and enrichment activities. The girl also loved to dance and sing and make up stories. She even invented her own language, and wrote and illustrated her own books. She was very creative and imaginative throughout her childhood.

In high school, the girl took every art class available. Unfortunately, the art teacher there was not nurturing, and treated the girl harshly. The teacher told the girl's mother, "even though she is talented, she will never make it as an artist." The girl, then 17, told her mother she wanted to go to art school. The mother said, "no" and insisted the girl do something more "practical."

When faced with this obstacle, the naive girl turned around and went the other way. She attended university instead of art school, and majored in psychology instead of fine arts (which she minored in instead). She received a bachelor's degree, got her first job in advertising, which she was very good at, but disliked.

She was disillusioned by her options in society, and galvanized by her work in the peace and women's movements. She wanted to do something positive and alternative. The girl, by then a young woman of 22, moved to an intentional community, and learned about natural living, whole foods, communal childcare, and how to live happily in nature with other people and less stuff.

A year later, she came to Eugene and became pregnant. She focused her life on her child's needs and wants, putting her own life second. Her son, it turned out, had autism, and needed extra care. She tried to pursue a "practical" graduate degree in counseling, but she did not enjoy her classes. In the face of the many obstacles faced by the single parent of an autistic preschooler attending graduate school, she gave up and returned to Eugene.

After being inspired by The Artist's Way, the young woman tried to fulfill her dream of becoming an artist, working alone several hours a day in her garage. But without training or support, she floundered, and soon took a retail job in a bookstore. Many boring and low-paying office jobs later, she worked for awhile as an interior designer for a home builder. She enjoyed the creativity, but selling carpet for subdivisions felt like selling out. She quit. She became a yoga teacher, and later a yoga therapist. Yoga teaching fulfilled her social and spiritual needs, and was also somewhat creative.

She had another baby, a girl who began to show signs of artistic enthusiasm and talent. Watching her young daughter's love for drawing, painting, and clay, listening to her stories, songs, and imagination, the mother remembered her own childhood and her own creativity. As she spent many hours drawing and sculpting with her little daughter, the mom's love and passion for art reemerged, as did her dream to attend art school. She decided to try again.

She signed up for a sculpture class at the community college. One week before class started, she was involved in a debilitating bicycle crash. Her shoulder was in pain for many weeks, and her right hand was in a splint for a month. She dropped the class.

The next term, she tried again. She signed up for a drawing class. A month before the class started, she had a toxic, allergic reaction to an antibiotic, which made her so sick she could not work or barely leave the house for several months. She could not even sit comfortably in a chair. She dropped the class again.

But she did not give up. The desire did not fade; it grew stronger. The following term, she signed up for another drawing class. So far she has completed the first week of class, and is doing well. She is enjoying it, and her enthusiasm is bubbling up from under the surface.

She is going to keep trying, keep overcoming obstacles, and keep pursuing the long-dormant, neglected childhood dream. She, and her daughter, are artists. When the question mark was raised, "Do you REALLY want this?" -- the mom said "YES!"

Samskara Subtle impressions of one's own past karmas, or actions. Fixed notion or habitual reaction formed by one's past. The innermost wall of the city of life is constructed by the samskaras that hold the aspirant's attachments and pleasure-seeking desires.

When the need to move forward is stronger than any obstacle, there are often deeper forces at work. Respect what you cannot understand, listen to your inner voice, and follow your excitement.

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”
--Joseph Campbell

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Even Moms Need to Live Fully

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
Anaïs Nin (1903 - 1977)

Fear tends to paralyze me. I tend to avoid taking risks and hide under the covers, in a futile attempt to avoid bad things happening. Risk-taking, however, does not always lead to tragedy; sometimes wonderful things happen. And sometimes bad things happen even when you're home sitting on the couch -- or because you're home sitting on the couch! You may be doing something routine and familiar, and when you least expect it...WHAM-O! Yet what at first seems like a catastrophe may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you... or at least a rewarding learning experience.

Ever since I became unexpectedly pregnant at the age of 23, I have been mostly conservative in my ways (especially compared to the wildness that got me pregnant in the first place). Since fate hit me over the head with that surprise sledge-hammer, I have been mainly self-protective, sedentary, housebound, and hiding from the world that so shockingly side-swiped me. Children are a blessing, of course, and I "took the high road" and dedicated my life to being a good mother, but what a devastating shock when I was just a child myself!!

At times I've reached out from my Cancerian shell, only to scurry back into my safe haven at the first sign of adversity. I attempted to pursue a graduate degree, for example, when my son was in preschool, but gave up because I felt I was shortchanging him by being gone too much. The biggest risk that I have always been unwilling to take is to be a "bad mother." My own mother went back to work 80 hours a week when I was 9, and I swore I would never do that to my own children. So anything I've tried to do that risked my prioritization of parenthood has been short lived at best.

And now I'm 40, half my life is over, I've spent the past 16+ years playing it safe, and where has that gotten me? The kids are fine, and they'd rather interact with their computers and their friends than with me. Meanwhile, I'm middle-aged, with two chronic, incurable illnesses, and a very boring, pedestrian life that isn't much fun, isn't fulfilling, and doesn't really suit me at all! I've been living for the children, waiting for my turn to come first. If not now, when?

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
-- Mark Twain.

Of course, I'm not going to abandon my kids or my husband, and I don't advise throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. I'm not advocating stupid risk-taking, like having unprotected sex with strangers, ignoring your doctor's advice, or binging on junk foods. Take care of yourself, and act consciously and conscientiously. But even if you are ill, or have five kids, or had a run of really bad luck that made you scared to leave the house, get up in the morning and live your life to the fullest.

Each day is precious, and no one is getting any younger. Remember what you liked to do when you were young and carefree, and add some of that excitement back into your hum-drum life. I like: art, dance, music, writing, reading, nature, sunshine, travel, walking, hiking, biking, taking classes, learning new things, exploring, creativity, lovemaking, cuddling, flirting, talking, listening, communication, touch, spirituality, yoga, meditation, being near water, boating, playing with kids, making something new, working, playing, resting, balance and harmony. What do you like, that you haven't done in awhile?

Dare to Live Fully
Say Yes to What You Want
Experiment and Explore
Don't Be Afraid
Hiding Won't Protect You
Risking Won't Hurt You
Life is To Be Lived
Keep Your Eyes, Hands, Mind, and Heart Wide Open
Apply Yourself
Let Nothing Go To Waste
The World Needs All of You at this critical time in history.

SHINE Your Light in the World

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Here are my three New Year's resolutions for 2009:

"We are all one."

I want to connect and contribute to community and society. Working with others to serve the greater good, with integrity, would bring more fulfillment than being isolated at home. These four walls have been closing in more and more since my health has declined, and I yearn to reach out and rejoin society in a meaningful and helpful way.

"It's never too late to have a happy childhood."

I want to reawaken my dormant childhood dreams and live them! If not now, when? Art, writing, travel, and other creative adventures beckon.... I already feel old at mid-life, and I'm not getting any younger. I have my share of family responsibilities and personal challenges, no doubt. Still, I'm eager to play and enjoy my life while I still can.

"I'm ill -- not dead!"

So, I'm sick... so what? I've spent most of my time, energy, and money during the past six months struggling to get well. I am about 80% better now, and that's good enough. To spend any more time-energy-money trying cure my incurable illnesses (and likely failing) would waste more precious months of my life. I've been home sick far too long already, and time's a-wastin'. Even though I am ill, I am still going to LIVE my life!

"L'Chaim" -- to life!

May we all live life fully and completely in the coming year, and contribute whatever we can to the evolution of society and the healing and happiness of all beings.

Happy New Year to All!