10 of 40 Day 36 Body

Today my blog will be a bit different.  Short and to the point.

Love your body no matter what shape or size.  Care for it and keep it healthy and know that you are beautiful. 

Wishing you Grace, Peace & Healthy Living,


“Healthy emotions come in all sizes. Healthy minds come in all sizes. And healthy bodies come in all sizes.”
— Cheri K. Erdman

10 of 40 Day 35 Body

Yoga = union, to unite, liberation

Over the course of the past years I have dabbled with yoga.  I've gone to classes, bought VHS tapes & DVD's (that tells you how long I've been dabbling), practiced on my own and have enjoyed yoga in a crowd at Wanderlust.  I've said before that for me I walk away feeling strong, flexible and relaxed.  But for those of you who have not practiced yoga, please know I also walked away sweaty.  Yoga can be difficult and demanding.  You need to be focused and aware and before too long you will be moving through your vinyasa (a type of yoga that synchronizes the breath with a continuous flow of poses) quickly.  There are many types of yoga, far too many for me to list, but I would like to talk about the overriding relationship between all yoga practices.  The word practice is used because it is believed that no one becomes proficient.  I asked my sister in law, Susan Dooley, who is a certified yoga instructor for the reason. 

"We practice yoga to still the mind.  When this is truly achieved, we are then in a state of Samadhi (enlightenment,or awakened.)  We see our true self and are one with God (or the divine, or our higher power, or our prana or chi (energy)).  Not easy to achieve - that is why we say we “practice yoga” - even if you’ve been practicing for 20 years - or your whole life, we are always learning, growing, becoming stronger mentally, physically and spiritually."  

I love this concept.  That yoga is not just movement of the body but it is movement of the mind to stillness in an effort to be enlightened. 

In addition to these benefits in an article written by Leigh Weingus for mindbodygreen.com there is now evidence that yoga improves your memory.  

"As if you needed another reason to roll out your mat and move through a few downward-facing dogs, new research published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found that a regular yoga practice may improve memory and protect against cognitive decline in the long term.

For the study, scientists in Brazil took images of the brains of 21 female yoga practitioners over the age of 60. They found that yogis have thicker left prefrontal cortexes, which is the area of the brain responsible for memory and attention. As we age, the left prefrontal cortex is the area that tends to thin out, leading to memory loss and impaired attention."

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings have a human experience”
— Yogi Bhajan

Adding to this study and the many other studies that are showing the benefits of yoga, there is a program developed by Jon Kabat-Zin, Ph.D. called MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) *"Many of these programs are taught by physicians, nurses, social workers, and psychologists as well as other health professionals who are seeking to reclaim and deepen some of the sacred reciprocity inherent in the doctor-caregiver/patient-client relationship.  Their work is based on a need for active partnership in a participatory medicine, one in which patient/clients take on significant responsibility for doing a certain kind of interior work in order to tap into their own deepest inner resources for learning, growing, healing, and transformation." "Through a seamless integration of mindfulness meditation and hatha yoga. MBSR taps into the innate potential for healing that we all have."

It is clear to me that the practice of yoga has unlimited potential to change us both within ourselves and our outer self. It is no longer just for hippies/hipsters/bohemians, it is for all of us.  It is a practice of non-judgement. When you walk into a studio it won't matter where you are in your practice, it just matters that you are there to be welcomed and to find your center of peace, to move more freely and with less pain, reduce stress, develop spiritually and enhance your overall health.

Let the critic in your mind go and open yourself up to this valuable practice.  And if you have already discovered yoga and it's benefits bravo.  I hope you continue to grow and thrive!

Wishing you Grace, Peace & Healthy Living, (Namaste)


*Read more about MBSR and Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in the Summer 2017 edition of Yoga International

10 of 40 Day 34 Body

Are you tired?

Most of us are. In the past, for me, tiredness really hit at 3 p.m.  The way I would combat the tiredness was to go for a Starbucks run.  I now know since eliminating caffeine, it wasn't the coffee that was helping me wake up but the actual act of going to get it.  Throughout the day your brain gets fatigued and you need to take breaks.  Get up, walk around, get outside if possible. 15 minutes of movement away from your computer or whatever task you are doing can recharge you.  

Another issue with tiredness is the lack of sufficient sleep in a quiet location void of distractions. How often do you fall asleep with the television on or wake up because of some random text or update on your cell phone.  And how often do you wait until way too late to actually go to bed?  Is it time for you to make sleep a priority?  Getting to bed earlier, removing the electronic distractions and using simple sleep inducing techniques like lavender on your pillow or in your room, clean comfortable sheets, lowering the temperature in your room to 67 degrees, staying away from food before bed, eating foods that are high in melatonin and magnesium at night and stretching or doing yoga before bed. It can also help to journal, by letting go of your thoughts to paper and including the things you are grateful for allow your brain to let go of the negative and rejoice in the good. (I also recommend writing your thoughts and whatever list of things you have to get done as soon as you wake up, this allows you to be clear headed as you start the day) Adding meditation and exercise to your life can also help you to sleep longer and deeper. 

And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.
— D.H. Lawrence

After making changes to your lifestyle if you're still tired, it may be time to speak to your doctor.  Excessive tiredness can also be a sign of a bigger problem.  And I do implore you no matter what your age to find the root of the cause.  For me, it was a blockage in my heart. I spoke to four doctors about it, but because of my age and lifestyle factors they did not see that it was a warning sign.  Of course, not everyone that is tired has a heart problem, but take your care seriously and know what your instincts are telling you.  You know your body better than anyone.  Pay attention to how you feel, do the necessary things to live a healthy life and be your best advocate.

Our bodies and brains need rest to function at our best.  Spend a week working on a good night rest and see what a difference it can make. 

Wish you Sweet Dreams, Grace, Peace & Healthy Living,


10 of 40 Day 33 Body

In 2008 I ran my first 1/2 marathon in Arizona with my brother.  It was one of the most emotional days of my life.  As a kid I did not participate in sports. Unfortunately, my mom didn't think girls should play sports. I don't remember why I started running or when but it was as an adult probably around 24 years old. When I crossed the finish line I cried.  I was overweight, my body hurt and I accomplished something I never thought I could.

 9 years later I ran my 4th half marathon in Sarasota, Florida and today I signed up for my 5th. It seems like I should have run more than 4 in the course of 9 years.  But a few things have derailed me. Although I have run a number of 10 K's, there is nothing more satisfying than running 13.1 miles. I am very proud every time I cross the finish line. 

One thing I know for sure is that running is an individual sport.  You have to get out and hit the pavement on good days and bad, you have to stretch and wear knee braces and prepare yourself mentally.  You have to pay attention to what you eat before the race and how much you hydrate.  It is more than just taking a jog and for one I am thankful for it.  If you haven't run 13.1 or 26 miles you may not be aware, but there is a feeling you get.  As you place one foot in front of the other and feel your accomplishment with every step.  Many call it a runners high. This feeling happens during strenuous exercise as endorphins are released. 

When I talk about running, I am not just talking about exercise.  Running is the food we put into our bodies, it is the water we drink, it is massages and it's the mental connection. You can replace the word running with tennis, basketball, baseball, football, yoga, volleyball, soccer and on and on.  Whatever the sport our bodies thrive when working them and feeding them both mentally and physically.  

We know that our mind and our body are in sync with one another.  And that we need both in good working order to be at our best. Often times it would be easy to stop at mile 10 and just be pleased that you made it that far.  I have injured my knee on a 1/2 marathon in Atlanta, GA.  and just kept going because I couldn't imagine not finishing. When I am on the treadmill I always get on with a set time or mile marker, and I always surpass that time.  Mentally, I just know I have to.  

For me the best part of running is the time to clear my head.  And when it comes to a 1/2 marathon it is seeing the finish line knowing that I have accomplished something special.  I compete only with myself and my last best personal record (PR). I set goals and work hard to achieve them.  Obtaining my goals fills me with purpose and pride. 

What is it for you? What goals have you set for yourself and how are you achieving them? What is your finish line?

Out on the roads, there is fitness and self-discovery and the persons we are destined to be.
— George Sheehan

It is important to set up goals, to know exactly what you want to do and how you are going to do it. It is imperative that they are achievable and that you have a plan. And for me, you need to have a finish line. A place that you can set your measuring tape to - a place you know that you have accomplished what you set out to do. It could be a race, or a graduation, or a weight loss or gain goal. Or possibly a yoga pose that escapes you, like a headstand. It could be a financial goal you've set or a customer gain.  It could be any number of things.  But knowing what you want and setting up a plan to achieve it takes thought, work and many times courage to make it happen.  

Don't stop after you read this blog, really take a moment to consider your goals and how you will meet or exceed them. Consider your deepest desires and start the race, you too may be overwhelmed with pride when you cross the finish line. 

Wishing you Grace, Peace & Healthy Living,


10 of 40 Day 32 Body

I like working out, I like running and I like yoga.  

Using weights make me feel stronger, when I am sore the next day it reminds me that I am doing something good for my body. I like having a personal trainer https://www.lifestylefitnessandmassagetherapy.com  so that I can learn the right way to do the lift, push or pull and I feel more comfortable knowing that I am working the correct muscles. 

Running clears my head and makes me feel energized.  I love the idea of my heart rate increasing and oxygen filling my lungs and body.  I enjoy both outdoor running because I am able to enjoy nature and indoor/treadmill running because it is controlled.

Yoga...really who doesn't love yoga.  You stretch your body, work out kinks and calm your mind at the same time. 

Some people may say they do not like to exercise, but I love it.  So, when I stop exercising I am always baffeled.  When I look at it from the outside in, I think I always stop because I put exercise last on my list of priorities.  Always figuring that I can do it tomorrow.  Then tomorrow becomes the next day and before long I haven't worked out in a month.  I may jump on the treadmill here and there or do some yoga but I have lost my consistency.  By the time I am ready to get back into it, I've lost my strength, endurance and flexibility. 

I believe there are two ways to combat the loss of consistency.  The first is to have a trainer or a group of people you work out with.  I say a group, because it is easy to give yourself an excuse and if you are with one other person you may excuse each other easily but if you add a couple of people, suddenly you feel left out if you are not with them. And a trainer because you are accountable to him or her and when you go to the gym you have a friend in your trainer.  You will feel more comfortable and you will have a plan set up for you so that you don't aimlessly wander around not knowing what you'll do or how to do exercises properly so you end up on the treadmill for a bit and go home.  Eventually, you just don't go at all. 

The second way is harder.  You need to put yourself first.  You need to prioritize your health.  Finding time these days can be difficult, but if you look at your day, really look at your day you might be surprised that you actually do have the time.  It may be making your lunch and going for a walk instead of eating out, or not checking your Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and E-Mails in the morning and taking that time to do yoga or a run.  Maybe, you will go to bed earlier and TIVO your favorite show so that you can get up earlier and meet your trainer at the gym.  You probably have more options than you realized, but it comes down to one thing - Your Priorities.  

For me, I am back at the gym on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, on the treadmill or pavement on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and some type of yoga daily.  This may seem excessive, but all it is, is scheduling exercise at the same time everyday.  Just like I make breakfast or brush my teeth daily.  It will and is just a habit.  A good habit. One concern I have is that,  I will be out of town for 12 days in the next couple of weeks, so I will need to find a way to get my exercise in at the same time everyday while I am away and get back to a consistent schedule as soon as I return. In the past I would tell myself to wait to start my exercise routine until I return,  but leaving soon is not a reason not to start today or in my case yesterday.  It's time to put my health as a priority!

How about you? Are you ready to care for yourself? Are you ready to make yourself a priority?

Wishing you Grace, Peace & Healthy Living,


*photos: 1. Wanderlust (5k, Yoga & Creative Choice) with my Family  2. Back in the Gym  3. Dirty Girl Mud Run with my Friends (5K & Obstacle Course)   4. Trainer Zachary demonstrating the next Exercise

10 of 40 Day 31 Body

10 of 40 Day 31 Body

Running in Rosemary Beach, Florida

Running in Rosemary Beach, Florida

The past 30 days have flown by.  As I was putting together this idea of 10 of 40 I was most concerned about the 10 spiritual days.  It’s interesting that during those days the words came to me very easily.  So, as I move into the last 10 days I now wonder “Will body be the most difficult?” Let’s face it there is nothing easy about body.  Whether you are like me and have had a 40 year battle with weight or like my sister in law who has to try to gain weight (this can be as difficult and as frustrating as losing weight)  while eating a no oil, nut free, avocado free whole food plant based diet. Taking care of ourselves can be very difficult.


I struggle with two areas in particular.

1.     Staying consistent with a work out regime.  Which I find truly baffeling.  My son is a personal trainer, I love to run and work out and I find yoga not only beneficial for relieving back pain it also helps tremendously with stress. So why then don't I stay consistent? This will be a question I will be discussing over the course of the next 9 days a lot. 

2.     Snacking, Portion Sizes and my Dedication to a whole food plant based diet that does not include avocado, oil and nuts. Again, I’m baffeled.  I know the science, I know the benefits and I know the consequences. I am 100% committed to a vegan diet which is mostly whole food plant based, but there are still times when chips or Ben & Jerry's vegan ice cream call my name and I answer. 

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.
— John F. Kennedy

So, as I embark on this journey I ask you to come along knowing that I don’t have all the answers I just have lessons to share as I learn them.  I will be returning to the gym after a six-month hiatus.  I took this time away to begin with to train for my half marathon in Sarasota, Florida.  And then I didn’t return. Why, I don’t know.  But the more I read on the subject the more I believe that having a group of people I am accountable to is key.  So, my friends need to watch out – I’m coming and I will be asking you to join me.  Another part of the next 10 days will be yoga.  I will be sharing with you my home routine that I enjoy and I will check out a class or two along the way, I will be running and walking and I will be posting tips from my son certified personal trainer and licensed masseuse, Zachary Miller and my sister in law Susan who has her 200-hour yoga instructor certification. 

You will read about the usual book recommendations but mostly you will receive quotes of encouragement and understanding that life can be complicated and we often times give up on the thing that means the most…OURSELVES!

Wishing you Grace, Peace & Healthy Living,


10 of 40 Day 30 Spirituality

Connecting the Dots.....

Over the past 9 days I've written about Faith & Religion, Love, Nature, The Rubin Museum, The 9/11 Memorial, Commercialism & Christmas, my Childhood Church, Inspiration, and Forgiveness. But today I want to write about the next generation.  Spirituality, Faith, Religion whatever you want to call it has changed for the next couple of generations.  It appears to me that they are not looking for the same thing my generation and the generation before me was looking for.  

Spiritual Connection happens in many places

Spiritual Connection happens in many places

If you look back over time the three places people connected where home, work and church.  Then a few of years back the third place became the coffee shop, thanks to Starbucks. At this point church moved into the fourth place. And I believe, the placement of church is changing again. What I am hearing is that church is moving down the ladder of connection because the next generations are interested in places where they meet and commune with others in nature, like hiking trails, or at the outdoor neighborhood brewery, or at meditation, yoga, spin and workout class, amongst other places.  They find these places less judgmental and accepting them for who they are. They are looking for places that are fused with a bigger picture which includes peace, love, kindness, equality and local service to others.  They look forward to discussions about their differences and sharing their opinions. They research and they are reading and viewing articles and videos from all over the world from many different vantage points. 

The next generation is looking for the energy you can receive in church, but they are unsure if you can still find that energy there, so they are looking elsewhere.  They are seeking places that aren't as caught up in the rules and places that don't discriminate based upon gender or sexual preferences. 

It is somewhat like we've made a turn back to a more 1960's approach to life and faith.  It's interesting if we look at this turn - and it's imperative for those of us who believe in the institution of church that we do see this change.  Because if we don't, churches will begin to disappear.  Even those that call themselves "contemporary" a very old term now which is a blog of it's own.

What do you do? How do you connect? And are we listening? It wouldn't be the first time that something disappeared over the course of time that in retrospect was a long time in the making but no one was looking closely enough to stop the momentum.  I believe church is important. It is important because there are lessons to be taught through scripture and music, there are relationships that help our "villages"develop and feel safe, there is service to others that is done locally and globally, not just monetarily but also with hands on work. I would be very sad to watch the end of something that has the opportunity to teach scripture, then explain what it meant at the time and then explain what it means today and how we can use those lessons. Religious institutions have an important place not only in our past but in our present and our future.  They are here to educate, comfort and connect and to help us look beyond ourselves. 

I believe the church should be asking: How do you show understanding and let down the guards of our past, while expressing openness and acceptance? And can you do this when you still have people who will walk into church and say "you're sitting in my pew" or "We've always done things this way, there's no reason to change"?  I don't have the answer, but this I am certain of, if we do not pay attention, if we do not listen and if we do not drastically change in some ways we will be closing many doors that need to remain open. And that will be an epic loss.  It's time to start the conversation and to begin building bridges between our differences. And if you are reading this, and you say "our church is open and accepting and doing all it needs to do" I hope you are correct, but I implore you to look again....because sometimes we do not see the forest through the trees.  

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
— Matthew 22:37-39

Wishing you Grace, Peace & Healthy Living,


10 of 40 Day 29 Spirituality

Yesterday, I worshipped at my childhood church.  When I was a kid it was a vibrant alive energetic church with many organizations and a large congregation.  But times change and today my church is a shell of its former self. The congregation of my youth has either moved away, passed away or moved on.  There are still people there that I know and appreciate.  People who work hard to keep the church going and support each other.  For this I am grateful.  My mom still attends and participates as an usher, a counter, in Bible Studies, selling flowers and pumpkins during fundraisers.  My Dads name is on a plaque downstairs honoring him as their first president of the United Methodist Men and my brother is on a plaque along with others as an Eagle Scout. My family is connected to this church and it's history and I am honored to be a part of the memories.  

When I think about the changes to this place, I called my church home and family for 18 years I guess I should be sad.  But I am not. I feel blessed to have experienced the relationships, the laughter, the opportunities to learn and grown in faith.  I feel blessed to have had a place as a child and young adult that I knew was safe and where I could develop my belief system.  So, as I see this place, this church that I am not sure will make it into next year, I smile and remember the good times. The times when my friends and I prayed together. I smile as I recall my Dad teaching my Sunday School class about Paul on the road to Damascus with his friend Mr. Fernandez. I think about my brother receiving his Eagle Scout award in the basement of the church, I think about playing Mary in the Nativity story, singing in the youth choir, going on retreats, alcolyting and dressing up like a UNICEF box to ask the congregation to support this wonderful charity.  So, how can I be sad when so much good has taken place.  I just have to remember that change happens and with change often times rebirth leads us to our next great adventure. I will be in prayer for my beautiful church and I will look forward to seeing what comes next and cherish the past that I so appreciate. 

What about you? Do you have a church family you love or have loved? If so, keep in mind we are all needed to help it continue to thrive and grow for ourselves and the next generation. We cannot take for granted the impact our connected church community can have on an individual or a family and on the people the church is there to serve.  

Wishing you Grace, Peace & Healthy Living,


10 of 40 Day 28 Spirituality

Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower

Yesterday I spent the day at the 9/11 Memorial.  In the past I have said I would not visit this site.  But as I stood at the Memorial outside the museum I recognized that I wanted to pay tribute to the people that had not only died there but also the people that survived.  I must say that this place was as spiritual as any church I could be standing in.  It was filled with stories of heroism and hope, love and caring for people known and unknown.  One story that stood out was a team of people that carried a wheelchair bound paraplegic down the stairs.  Exhausted after walking down numerous flights, the group sat down in utter tiredness and disbelief outside the building, when suddenly a group of rescue workers started screaming from all directions "You can't stay here" "Get up and RUN, RUN, RUN. This powerful moment was amongst many other outstanding moments of courage and fortitude.

Inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum

Inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum

Throughout the day there was one thing I knew for sure, God was there, God was there with the rescue teams from the fire department and police department that ran in as everyone was running out.  God was there after, as teams of people continued to search and painstakingly look for those both dead and alive.  God was there as flags were raised and as our country and our world cried together.

Outside of the Memorial Museum at the 9/11 Memorial Site

Outside of the Memorial Museum at the 9/11 Memorial Site

The world, our world was changed after that fateful day.  And I like to believe we changed for the better.  We remembered what was important and we remembered what it means to love one another.  As I walked the halls of the memorial I was thankful for all the people who showed us what it means to be a child of God, what it means to be a citizen of this country and what it means to be a committed member of a community.  

God showed up in many ways that day and the days that followed.  And as one wall says so very poignantly "No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory of Time" - Virgil

Wishing you Grace, Peace & Healthy Living,



10 of 40 Day 27 Spirituality

I had the great fortune of visiting The Rubin Museum of Art located at 150 West 17th St, in N.Y.C. www.rubinmuseum.org yesterday. As stated in their mission statement  "The Rubin Museum of Art is a dynamic environment that stimulates learning, promotes understanding, and inspires personal connections to the ideas, cultures, and art of Himalayan Asia."

I was struck by two exhibits in particular.  The first was on the 6th floor called "The World is Sound"  This amazing exhibit actually doesn't really start on the 6th floor but on the 1st with a Le Corps Sonore (Sound Body).  It is a sound installation that flows through the Museum's vertical axis, from a resonant bowl up to the ceiling on the uppermost floor.  The work is the ultimate expression of Ellane Radigue's "Sonic Labyrinth,"  I love labyrinths, so you can imagine just how inspirational a sound labyrinth can be as you climb the incredibly beautiful spiral staircase and listen to the sound waves.  It is truly an amazing piece of listening art, that coincides perfectly with the idea found on the sixth floor of "Listening with Your Whole Body" specifically, using Tibetan Buddhist principals. You will experience listening as you lay down, as you place your hands on the walls and hear chants, as you watch videos that show the impact of the vibration of sound and as you look at art throughout the floor.  

A photograph of ladies drying fabric in India by Henri Cartier=Bresson. 

A photograph of ladies drying fabric in India by Henri Cartier=Bresson. 

The second exhibit that I connected with was Henri Cartier-Bresson: India in Full Frame.  This exhibit was filled with the photographs of the famed photographer and his visits to India.  He captures the people and the country with such depth that you feel like you are there in the picture.  I was struck by what he and his camera found which included pictures of Gandhi after fasting for political purposes, just before his assassination and his funeral including the procession.  The images are striking and the work of this artist is worth a visit to The Rubin or of course at The Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris, France. 


The entire experience made me much more aware and considerate of the Buddhist religion.  I have often said I am an advocate of meditation, but this exhibit truly showed me a deeper connection to this practice and the impacted it can leave on a person and the world.  I am a reader and appreciator of Thich Nhat Hanh.  His book "Living Buddha Living Christ" is a perfect example of a man enlightened to see the connection between our two religions and knowing that the similarities outweigh the differences. 

~ “We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality.” ~
— Thich Nhat Hanh

I think it is clear to say that I would recommend this experience to anyone visiting or living in the NY area.  It is a experience to appreciate through all of your senses and especially in this time of noise and distraction it is a  breath of fresh air and opportunity to really truly...... listen

Wishing you Grace, Peace & Healthy Living,