Friday, December 23, 2011

Yandara Yoga Institute ~ Review Part One

I recently had the great pleasure and honour to attend Yandara Yoga in Todos Santos, Baja Mexico for their 16-day training.  Where do I begin to explain how wonderful my experience was?  I suppose I should start … from the start!  We arrived just before dinner, and had a brief orientation before choosing our new homes ~ good-sized tents that were placed mindfully around the property.  They had a firm single bed, a little nightstand, and a small lamp.  It was a lovely little haven to return to each night.  We had a quick dinner, vegetarian and absolutely delicious.  Then it was time for Satsang … All the instructors were there:  Craig, Allison, Sarasvati, Shane Christopher, Kate, Amber and Shawna.  They gave us a brief orientation and all introduced themselves.  Then it was time for kirtan!  We sang mantra and kirtan, and I was fully in my element.  The band Jaya will come nearly every night to lead the group in kirtan ~ this I am so incredibly excited about.


One thing I loved about being at Yandara for those 16 days was the mindful living.  They run on solar power, so every time I turned on that little lamp, I felt a connection to the sun and a deep welling of gratitude.  They have composting toilets, so all paper waste goes into a garbage bin.  I found myself just noticing how much paper we were using.  We all got to choose a karma yoga task ~ Susie and I chose boiling hot water for tea before class.  Karma yoga is meant to be performed by devoting the actions to someone in need, or to the group, or to the Universal Divine.  One performs a job very well when it is done in the name of someone else.  Each movement becomes mindful … meaningful. 


After that first day, everything truly is a blur.  The program is structured very carefully so that students can learn as much as possible, and no moment is wasted.  The first week, for me, was all about personal growth.  Our instructors, Sarasvati, Kate and Shane Christopher got us diving into all things yoga immediately.  I remember how tough Kate’s first asana class was, but how it completely took my headache away, and how much lighter I felt after we were done.  Shane Christopher seemed to have a mission to help us to shed the layers that were no longer serving us with meditation and movement.  And Sarasvati was so fully present with an unconditional loving, embracing and compassionate energy.  She truly is amazing.  The three of them together were a powerhouse of information, with deep personal experience to draw on.  I could feel the wisdom in the room.  I will go more into detail with all of this later, of course!


It definitely took a few days for everyone to get settled into the routine.  The schedule was packed every day:

6:30am – 9:00am Pranayama or Asana & Meditation

Every other day we had Discourse (philosophy) with Shane Christopher – which I loved!

9 – 9:30am Breakfast in Silence

9:30 – 12:30 Asana Breakdown (including Assists)

12:30 – 2:00pm Lunch

2:00- 4:00pm Teaching Practice

4:15 – 6:00pm  Asana Class / Satya Circle  (alternating)

6:00 – 7:30pm Dinner

7:30 – 9:15pm Satsang


I will get more into the details of my experience over the next few weeks ~ I have so much to share about this once in a lifetime opportunity!


Sending you love ~ Nicole

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

And That’s The Way the Universe Works

In my last post, I wrote about how the yoga teacher training in Prince George was cancelled.  I tried desperately to make sense of the situation, but moreover, I tried my hardest to have faith.  You hear that all the time, about faith.  But when it is your turn to strain your eyes for some glimpse of light, when stranded in those vast, dark spaces, it feels incredibly difficult.  For weeks after I got the news I pored over “Yoga teacher training” searches on Google.  I didn’t feel desperate, I was just searching methodically for something that would match my needs.  One day, after I’d given up hope of finding anything in the next three months, I casually stumbled across Yandara Yoga Institute.  They conduct their teacher trainings in Baja, Mexico, and because of that, I nearly dismissed it … but for some reason I couldn’t dismiss it.  As I started looking at the information, I realized that this might just be the right fit for me!  The first synchronicity was that it was exactly the same price as the first training I was going to take – but this included meals!  Of course, I would have to pay for my plane ticket … which looked like it could be very reasonable …  Everything began to fall into place.  My husband okayed it, my mom said she could come for the 2 1/2 weeks to watch the kids, we happen to have almost all the money for the trip … No Obstacles. 

This year, for me, has been all about obstacles, delays, pushing through doubt and uncertainty, and claiming a new strength.  I know that I have been undergoing a long transition, which possibly began when I moved to Quesnel ~ Nearly six years in the making.  For a long time, I have spoken to myself in unkind ways, telling myself that I’m not good enough, not strong enough, not smart enough. Thinking that I wasn’t a good enough mother. Believing that I could never run 15 kilometres, let alone 50 kilometres.  ~ Having faith in the myths of my mind ~  Granted, most of these comments were subconscious, something much hard to monitor than the blatant words of our conscious minds. 

As I have been meditating every day for the last several months, I have come to truly appreciate that silence.  As I prepare to embark on this new journey, I am setting intentions to come back with a new balance in my life.  I don’t know exactly what is waiting for me in Mexico, but I will find out in less than a week!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Quest for Real Change

In a recent and surprising turn of events, I have decided to try and turn my life into something different than it is now.  I suppose I will be trying to change who I have come to be, in a sense.  Several months ago, I discovered an opportunity to realize a decade-old dream of mine ~ to become a Certified Yoga Teacher.  There was a two-week immersion being offered in Prince George this November, and I signed up for it very quickly.  Everything was falling into place – I asked my yoga teacher to become a Yoga Alliance/SOYA member so she would be able to approve my hours.  I asked my mom if she would be able to come and look after my family while I was away, and she agreed.  I got the books and I began a new routine.  I wake up at 5:30am, meditate and then study yoga for at least 45 minutes before the kids wake up.  This routine has become very comfortable for me, and I actually look forward to this Sattwic time in the very early morning.

The other day, I received unfortunate news … the Yoga Teacher Training was being cancelled due to low numbers.  At first I was very frustrated and sad.  I questioned whether or not I was meant to become a yoga teacher.  This whole situation reeked of my theme this year:  Obstacles.  I felt incredibly upset, misguided by my intuition, which is normally bang on …  And out of this short depression, I began to search for other teacher trainings.  Let me tell you, there are many, many options available in BC alone!  But as I began to search, I realized that I wanted the real thing … During these last few months I have truly begun to enjoy the new habits and routines I am creating for myself.  By carving out time for myself to meditate and do yoga, I have never felt as good as I have today.  My husband and I have even made the choice to eat mostly vegetarian meals … and I have felt such a difference in my energy levels.
Anyhow, during these realizations, I came across the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp .  It was built in 1962 by Swami Vishnudevananda.  The teacher training they offer is a one month intensive program.  Every day there are 2 meditation sessions, 2 yoga classes, 2 lectures, and one hour of service to the ashram community.  One day a week is lecture free.  It sounds like a very intense month, but I feel like I could learn so much at this place.  There is a deep and beautiful wisdom in the spirituality of Yoga, and I yearn to immerse myself into this intensity.  I know that this is what I want to do, and I am willing to wait for it.  I am willing to "earn" it.

There does happen to be a teacher training available November 13th – December 10th, but I don’t believe this is a reality for me this year.  I do not expect my mom to be able to come for such a long time … not this year anyhow.  My rough plan for now is this:  I will take an oath to my own self to continue to wake before my family, meditate and study every book I can find on Yoga.  I will endeavour to live my life as a dedicated Yogi, amidst the unavoidable obstacles of doing so with two children, a husband and a household to look after.  In my life, I have too often jumped into things without being absolutely sure that I wanted them.  This plan, I assure you, is foolproof!  I yearn to be the kind of person who feels continually balanced in her emotions, with enough happiness and contentment to always accept and love others, and to have patience with those inevitable obstacles. 

Because I believe this is how we were all meant to feel.  I begin my journey today, two days before the Witches New year, Halloween.  If you have a moment, please sent me some supportive and loving energy … I think I’m going to need it!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My account of the Tenderfoot Boogie 50km Trail Race

Well, it is about time I wrote the imperfect account of the 50km trail run/race I participated in just a few weeks ago. The Tenderfoot Boogie. A lot of people have regarded me as some kind of hero for even considering running 50 kilometres, but honestly I don't see it that way. It is sad to say this, but I am being incredibly hard on myself for not crossing the finish line that day. I really did have this vision, these expectations, of how the run would go. I knew it would be hard, but I had no idea how much I was really challenging myself mentally, physically and emotionally.

I didn't have lofty goals as to how the run would go. No, my goals were pretty simple: Just to finish, with a smile on my face and no injuries. The first leg of the journey was fairly uneventful. I was feeling good, taking my gels and electrolytes every 30 minutes; Running smart. It was overcast, so not too warm. I kept with my strategy to start running at the back of the pack, so as to maintain my own pace, and not get swept up in the adrenaline of the start. The first part of the run was so incredibly beautiful, especially going up alongside the Cheakamus Canyon. The view was absolutely amazing. When I was nearing the top, I heard a load rumbling under my feet ... I looked to the train tracks not far below me, and there was a massive train heading into a tunnel bored into solid rock. I had such a great feeling of BC, of Squamish, at that point ~ a real rush of a long ago forgotten feeling from my childhood.

After the Chance Creek Bridge aid station, the run became much harder than I thought it would be. The terrain was quite difficult, and so technical in some parts that even though I felt good enough physically to run it, I just wasn't able to. The distance between aid stations felt like forever, and I ran out of water long before I reached each one. I even took a wrong turn onto the highway, and ended up running on the pavement for longer than I was supposed to, against the grain of that Whistler to Squamish Saturday morning traffic.

As I was running the highway, along with reams of vehicles, there were lots of cyclists going by me. I ran on the highway in the hot sun for much too long, and ran out of water and electrolytes well before I got to the Brandywine Falls aid station. But at one point, a man was cycling towards me, and I was feeling tired. As he approached he looked right at me and said "Keep going, you can DO this!" It uplifted me more than he could know ~ whomever you are, I thank you. The trails leading from Brandywine Falls to Whistler were a treat for me ... the size of the cedars blew me away. The feeling of this place was ancient and held secrets I would like to know about.

When I got to the Function Junction aid station, I was frustrated and upset and I felt so done. It took me an hour longer than I thought it would to get there. I crouched down when I did get there and just started to cry. My friend's husband was there and talked me through my moment. I said "It's just so hard". He replied "Well, yeah, that's what it's all about". And I remembered about what running is to me. It has become a spiritual quest to discover my self-imposed limitations. And to let those limitations go. When I said I was done, he didn't give me encouragement like "You can do it". He let me know what I was up against next, should I choose to continue. 1300 metres in elevation. 8 kilometres to the next aid station. 8 more kilometres after that and I would be crossing the finish line. I felt completely defeated, done, emotionally exhausted ... but I said to him "I feel done, but I also feel like I have more gas in the tank". Looking back, I'm not sure if that was even me talking. So after 8 hours of running, sweating, swearing and crying, I decided to take on a little more. I just wanted to do my best. "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift". This quote, one of the many I taped to my gels, made me stop and weep. And so, I began making my way up this massive hill ... I have never been on any trail that was so tough. It just kept going up .. higher and higher and higher. I was still trying to notice the little things ... bits of quartz here and there, tiny mushrooms, the light and the darkness in the forest, that beautiful old forest.

After a long while I was just putting one foot in front of the other. "Run when you can, walk if you have to", as a good friend had said. It was so automatic, and I realize now that under normal circumstances, I would have been very concerned about the fact that the orange and black ribbons marking the route were becoming less and less obvious. In fact, I'm certain that fifteen or twenty minutes went by between markers at some point. I believe now that there must have been an invisible hand guiding my way. I did not get lost. At the time, I did not feel guidance. At the time, I felt as though I were left utterly alone to face this pain ... the physical pain, yes, but the mental and emotional pain most definitely. I am incredibly hard on myself. I kept trying to run through the pain, and getting very angry when the feelings persisted. As if I could have run through it. As if I could have blocked it out. Running brings up some strange feelings at times, and when you are running, you are forced to deal with your issues. They do not go away, and they do not cease. For those who use running to run away ... it won't last forever. And the longer and the further you run, the more those issues will come up. At least, they have for me.

As I went on, there were increasingly more short downhills .... I was horrified when my right knee started to feel tighter and tighter with each down. It became so frustrating to have this beautiful hill that I could run down, but not be able to because that tightness turned into a clicking in the knee, and then to pain. I tried to stretch out my hamstring, my calf, my quad, I tried pointing my toes, flexing, opening my hips ... anything to release the feeling so that I could give 'er down these hills, but nothing was working. I was crying, frustrated, angry and disappointed. I could still run the flats and the uphills, so I did. And then I came to the crest of the uphill I was running. It was the longest downhill I have ever seen. I was horrified, and I started to cry, again. I walked down that hill. I was angry. All I wanted was to run down that hill. All I wanted was for someone to come and help me, but there was no one there but me. I realize now that I can be quite dependant on others to save my ass sometimes. The princess in the tower. This time, I had to rescue my own self. I finally made it to the bottom of this hill and saw a road ... "Wishful thinking, Nicole, the aid station's probably not even there". But it was!! I felt so incredibly relieved and happy ... I ran for ten hours, by myself. I faced some demons out there ... demons that I created, expectations that I had of myself. I know that I absolutely, unequivocally gave it my best. And I think I trust myself so much more than I did before.

I didn't encounter the oneness, the Divine or the wholeness that I thought I would find out there. But I encountered a truth about myself through this suffering. And I busted some great myths I had about life, and about myself.

I don't know what else to tell you.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


What if your only purpose on this earth was to spread love & joy?

What if you used every moment of your life to make this possible? I think for me to personally make this happen, I would need to always move from a state of love.

Yesterday I participated in the beginning of my transformative journey. I attended a Kundalini Yoga Light Shop at the Satya Yoga Studio in Williams Lake, BC. The light shop was led by Yogi Bhajan of Catalyst Yogi.

What I got out of HariBhajan's teachings were many ideas about living my life as my true spiritual self. I can hear my ego and my mind fighting against this shift, and I feel as though it may take some time to integrate the many things that I learned just yesterday. I truly believe that there is a shift happening in the world right now, and I would like to be a part of the light that can guide others into truth and happiness. We are all vehicles for the transformation that is happening right now. We all have a choice to live our lives with a sense of peace, brotherhood and love. You can choose to help others instead of helping only yourself, because in truth, that helpfulness is clearly recognized by the Universe. This infinite and vast place where anything is possible. There is nothing you cannot do!

As of today, I find myself needing to just slow down and pay attention to my inner dialogue, and to correct those thoughts that hinder me. Those inhibiting thoughts we all have ... those limits we place on ourselves .... "I could never run a marathon" ... "I am not ready to teach yoga" ..."I can't keep up with those other people" .. "I don't have enough money for the things I want" ... "I'm not thin enough to wear this or that" ... "I eat too many sweets" ...

Our minds DO create scenarios for us so that we become distracted from living our lives in peace. In order to remain relevant, our minds and egos are consistently creating reasons for us to spin our wheels and go nowhere. As long as we are caught up in some drama, we won't have time to focus on what is real and what is most important. We won't have time to spread joy & love to others because we will be spending that time on believing we aren't good enough to do it. I, for one, am not going to participate in this drama any longer. As of this moment, I am going to let go of fear and free myself to live my life in absolute truth. Yes, I deserve it, but you deserve it too.

What can you do in the next 24 hours to spread joy and love?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ongoing Transformation

We are continually transforming, whether we are aware of the process or not. Sometimes a transformation takes place over a looong amount of time, and you didn't even know you were getting anywhere until the journey was through. It is not easy to be aware of your shortcomings, obstacles and negative patterns. In fact, it takes a lot of strength to be honest with yourself, and to face these destructive ways of being. But it hurts more to ignore the way you limit yourself. It hurts a lot to look back and see how we limited ourselves even as children. I catch myself saying things that limit my own children now. Sometimes I call myself on it right in front of them because they deserve to believe in their highest potential. I have actually said to them, "You know what, you shouldn't listen to what I just said. You can do anything you want to do". Aren't we here to reach for that highest potential?

I made a decision this winter that I am no longer going to limit myself with my thoughts and actions. It was a huge revelation for me to say this out loud, but I didn't know that this statement was going to be challenged. I just assumed that this declaration would be like all my other declarations: I believe in this new statement for a while, get really good at recognizing the pattern, and then drop it when my interest wanes. This time I don't have the opportunity to repeat myself. This time I actually must face my lifelong pattern of behaving weak and slow and not good enough. I am challenging these beliefs because I want to be strong. I want to rise up in all ways and seize this life I have always wanted to have. I want to be the person I have always wanted to be. This highest potential that I've denied myself for so long.

My vehicle for this transformation is my own two legs. I will be running a 50km ultra marathon, on the trail, in June. This is happening in my hometown of Squamish. I have also decided, after ten years of wanting it, to enroll in yoga teacher training this Fall. And I am so excited to be in this place!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Mother

My feet are light and effortless,
the spirit of the Mother
floats me across her land
like a feather
up steep craggy hills
over roots that reach for me
there is no better place for me than
time spent with the Mother.
And when I ask what I can do
to honour this land of ours
I hear her whisper in reply .....
honour me in your heart

Honour Me
breathe my air
and walk my soil
drink my waters
and with all your soul
Honour Me

By Nicole Aracki

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pushy Wind and the Curiosity of Bluebirds

Marathon Training has been going really well. I am finding out how strong I really am, and I can see now why so many people have been cheering me on! Running has brought out in me so many gifts I never knew I could tap into. Yesterday I was running towards a fork in the road, and was trying to decide which way to go ... straight, up the hill that goes on forever? (I should be getting those hills in) ... or turn right and take the more meandering, undulating road? All of a sudden, I got vertigo and nearly fell into the ditch. I quickly realized that I hadn't actually felt dizzy at all ~ it felt more like someone pushed me. I have a sneaking suspicion that one of my guides actually did push me, in order to get my attention. After all, I did end up choosing the more meandering route, and was richly rewarded. It seemed that every animal along the route was unapologetic in their interest in my presence. The horses in one field began trotting alongside the fence behind me. There was a lone hawk trying to get my attention, but he was bombarded by a couple of territorial crows. The hawk showed up later in my run by soaring above me and landing in a tree, where I couldn't see him. As I peered up into the trees, looking, he flew out again to land on a tree where I could take a look at him. And the most curious and interesting sight: I was running alongside a pasture and noticed a flock of small birds to the right. They were flying up and down, altogether, and at first I thought they were waxwings, as I've seen them all winter. Then they landed on the fence and all I saw were dots of blue - there must have been twenty little bluebirds! As I ran towards them, they would fly off the fence, one at a time, and would land on the far end of the fence. They followed me for a few minutes, curiously observing me. Now, I have never actually seen a bluebird, and I was completely taken by these little blue wonders! I don't know what the next year holds for me, but these little birds, for me, are the mark of the many changes that have been happening deep within me. For all I know, those birds could have been some part of me, looking at my own self and marveling at tthe differences. I am finding an inner confidence, a mental strength I was so afraid was not even there, and a physical endurance I was petrified to even attempt to make my way towards. To me, those bluebirds represent Pride in my accomplishments. I am doing so many things that I never thought I would or could do. And I am so done with limiting myself. I am a vessel for unlimited potential, and I am ready to take on more challenges. And if I can do it - You can do it. Sending out love ~ Nicole

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Earth Energy

With the season changing after a long, cold and sometimes brutal winter, my thoughts are turning to New Life. Now that I can finally see some grass in my yard, however brown it looks, I am beginning to fantasize about my garden. The excitement is building as we anticipate the little green shoots to start representing themselves. I planted about one hundred bulbs in my front garden - all naturalizing - and I can't wait to see how they multiply this year ... especially my darling daffodils, the sunny faces of Spring! There are, of course, other seeds that were planted last year as well. Seeds of thought, seeds of love, seeds of Intent. Those are the things that will grow as result of my thoughts and feelings during the colder months of the year. I have a great fondness for all four seasons, though you will catch me in the moment saying "Spring is my faaaavourite season", or Fall, or Winter, or Summer! It is because each season represents something that is happening deep in the earth, and also deep in our souls. We are inextricably connected to this earth and the waves of feeling that pass through it. When we connect to nature, we are connecting deeply to our own selves, and to all people who walk upon this earth as well. This common experience - walking upon the earth - is something that is easy to take for granted. It is your choice as to whether or not you acknowledge the gratitude of the earth for your presence. How do we honour the Earth in return? The answer is simple: We sit silently in reverence for it. We take the time to just Be in nature. There is something ancient and sacred about simply being quiet in and amongst the trees of a forest. There is something indisputably holy about sitting on top of a cliff or a hill overlooking a river, a forest, or the ocean. The peace that is there for you is immediate, and perfect. You can offer your energy and your blessings to the earth, and that is so worthy of your time. We all know that the earth is going through some vigorous change right now, and it seems to be in upheaval. It seems to be unbalanced. Is it possible that the earth is reflecting the state of mind of so many of us on this planet? Many many people are disconnected from the roots of survival - our land - and this is not something that can nourish us. It is interesting how a disaster can bring people together ... to mourn, to give attention to the planet, to bind ourselves to one another with true thoughts of peace, compassion and love. Perhaps this beautiful planet is crying out for this. Can we humans be proactive and start being more mindful and more deliberate with our actions? Honestly, I am not talking about recycling, green energy, hybrid vehicles, or anything else that perpetuates the myths of money in our society. I'm not trying to get you to "think green" or to feel guilty about the extra packaging on your favourite granola bars. My motivation is, and has always been, Energy. Sending out my love ~ Nicole

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Finding One's Way

We all have a purpose on this earth. Maybe this is something that you've heard before, but never truly considered. What would it mean if you actually had specific things to accomplish, orchestrated right down to the minor details? What if there are things in your life that will keep coming up for you until you deal with them? You know the things I'm talking about - uncomfortable things, challenging things, seemingly impossible things. What if you were your only obstacle to obtaining a sense of true, lasting peace? What could this mean?

This has all been coming to light for me, personally, since I picked up
"Sacred Contracts" by Carolyn Myss. I have always believed that I chose this life, the scenarios, the people, the challenges. I remember as a child reviewing the romantic relationships that I would have, being clear that the first love wouldn't be the only love, and knowing that there would be a truer love awaiting me. I also remember consciously choosing to forget my "contract" in order to fully live this human life.

This message of order was brought into clearer focus still when I attended a Women's Lodge with
Dianne Tharp of Ayami International. We were asked to create a life's mission statement for ourselves. By focusing on what makes me ... me, it truly brought my whole philosophy about life into clearer focus. The things that I've always held as rules for myself are very important actions and lessons, and are a huge part of what I have to offer the world. My one governing rule is very simple, and was something I first learned from my mom: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This is how Jesus worded it ... But when researching this very simple idea, I came across a beautiful plethora of quotes from all different religions:

Buddhism: "Hurt not others with that which pains yourself."

Judaism: "Thou shalt Love thy neighbor as thyself."

Hinduism: "One should always treat others as they themselves wish to be treated."

Zoroastrianism: "Whatever is disagreeable to yourself, do not do unto others."

Confucianism: "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others."

Christianity: "Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them."

I certainly don't know what the rest of my life holds for me, but I do have a clearer focus on the direction I'd like to lead my life in. I want to be a person who helps others to feel positive, confident and peaceful. I want to live my life in a way that spreads joy and love to the world. Here is my personal life's mission statement:

I will be a confident role model and an inspiration to others. I will strive to connect others while enjoying the magic and the goodness of my connection to the Divine. "Harmonious Spontaneity".

All we can really do is to be more conscious in the way we decide to encounter our lives. Maybe that means taking the time to really consider our reactions to people, places and situations in our lives. Maybe that means setting an intention at the dawn of each day. These are all things that make life simpler, but perhaps this is the key to living a fulfilling life. All I know is that I am taking a vow today to be more mindful of my reactions. That is something I have control over.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Marathon Training

I decided to be brave a few months ago, and I have begun training for a marathon. I am still trying to figure out why I feel this need to train for something so big. Especially today, when my muscles are tired, and I'm still fighting to get myself rehydrated .... my mouth is so dry.

Why do we willingly challenge ourselves? What is the point of such a venture? These are the kinds of questions that held me back many times from achieving wonderful things. Once upon a time, I walked away at the sign of any challenge - big or small - and now I am taking on one of those big feats, and I'm not sure why! I suppose I want to prove to myself that I can do this. There is the question of failure, always. But I am beginning to know about failure, and sometimes the best lessons are to be had from it. The only person who recognizes your failures is You. I know I am not going to be the very best at this, but I can do my very best today, and when I look back I will be proud. Proud that I saw the challenge, took it, and trained four days a week, tried to eat the right foods, tried to drink enough water, tried to get in tune with my body.

It is fascinating how much our bodies say to us, and how many times we disregard these messages. I can see how easy it is to lose touch with our physicality, by simply ignoring. It is becoming clearer every day that I need to pay attention to the signs and symptoms of my body. I cannot ignore my body's reactions to certain foods, to coffee, to sugar (groan). But I feel encouraged by this training to put only the best fuel into my body, simply because I feel better when I eat well. All such simple concepts, but so easy to ignore! Especially the sugar ... I am a baker after all ... But even in that way, I feel challenged to bake things that are low in sugar and fat, adding extra healthful ingredients to get the highest level of nourishment from all food.

I don't know what road I will be weaving through in my mind throughout this training, and that scares me a little, I admit. But I am quickly discovering that this running is forcing me to face some very basic facts about myself. At this point most of me wants to skulk away, avoiding these things: I am addicted to sweets. I don't spend time preparing healthful foods for myself, but I will do it for my kids. The idea of a challenge still freaks me out. I don't listen to my body.

But I am now facing these facts, and I cannot wait to see what kind of person emerges from these strong legs. My strong legs.

Here is a little recipe I created that is very healthy!

Stuffed Avocado Salad

Slice an avocado in half lengthwise, remove the pit. Scoop out the green goodness and dice. Toss in a bowl with cooked Quinoa, diced tomato and diced orange peppers. Drizzle with Apple Cider Vinegar & Olive Oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine well, and serve in the avocado shell. Happy eating!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Playing with Stones, Crystals and other Gems

Last weekend, I was strolling through the mall, without kids, and on the way to do my grocery shopping. I happened to stumble across two tables laden with beautiful stones & crystals of all shapes and varieties. After talking with the man who was presenting the stones, I told him I was going to choose something, but that I had to settle down ... I was looking with my magpie eyes and not with my heart. He knowingly withdrew his energy from me, sat down and allowed me to choose, without interfering. I am very attracted to raw stones, and I also like to wear them as pendants, so that cut down the list considerably. I was attracted to a bright turquoise stone, that I'd never seen before and a dark blue stone that only could have been Lapis Lazuli. The other stone turned out to be Amazonite. ( I will post pictures a little later).

I have been wearing the Amazonite for several days in a row now, and it is singularly the most calming stone I have ever met. On a normal day, I am relatively calm, but with two young children, my balance gets upset more than once every day. It takes a lot for me to stay level-headed, happy and at peace. But with this piece of Amazonite around my neck, I feel more calm, more relaxed and more at ease than I have in many years. I am so grateful. In "The Crystal Bible", Amazonite is described as follows: "This is an extremely soothing stone. It calms the brain and nervous system and aligns the physical body with the etheric body, maintaining optimum health. It balances the masculine and feminine energies and many aspects of the personality. It is a stone that helps you to see both sides of a problem or different points of view. At an emotional level, Amazonite soothes emotional trauma, alleviating worry and fear. It dispels negative energy and aggravation." The book does reveal more about the stone, but this will give you a rough idea ...

Stones, crystals, rocks and all other forms of minerals truly have so much to offer us. It is my belief that stones hold more than just scientific information ~ There is a wealth of spiritual information that is coming straight out of the earth upon which we tread. Stones hold the memories of our planet. It is up to you and I to ask the right questions. Here is a simple meditation you can do with your stones in order to cleanse them of negative energies and to prepare them for use:

Get into a comfortable position. Some people like to sit cross-legged with a straight back. Others may have an easier time lying down on the floor. If you choose to lie down, don't get so comfortable that you feel sleepy! Have your stone nearby, but don't hold it yet. Get yourself settled, body & mind, breathe in and out through the nose. When you feel that you have slipped into a quieter space, pick up your stone. Continue to breathe in and out, focusing at the point between your eyes on the exhale. Feel your breathing start to coincide with the pulse of the stone.

Now visualize white light surrounding the stone, penetrating it, cleansing it of all energies. When you are finished the stone's energy should feel somewhat neutral. Before you charge your crystal, it is wise to ask the stone to reveal itself to you. You may ask "what do you have to offer" or "what can I learn from you"? Wait quietly for the answer, and be prepared that it may sound like your own voice ~ because of this, it can be easy to miss the answer! Now you may charge your stone. Charging a stone is basically like programming the stone with your wishes. For me, with the Amazonite, I asked for a calming quiet energy, and to be notified when I am getting anxious. You can say "I charge this stone with _______ energy. Please guide me with your energy, and notify me when I stray from my truth".

Other ways to cleanse a stone include bathing it in the light of a full moon, passing it through the smoke of burning incense or a smudge, or washing it with cool water (check to see if it's safe for your particular stone - some stones will disintegrate when in contact with water). Enjoy!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


It has been a long time since I wrote an honest post about myself ... or at least it feels like it. During that time, I am certain that I have strayed further away from myself than perhaps ever before. But not without reason, of course. Being slightly outside of myself allowed me to check out my life objectively, and I am back to life with some new things to add.

For the first time since my eldest child was born, I have stopped wondering what I am going to do with my time once both children are in school. I feel that all the projects I've been a part of in the last few years have planted many seeds in many places. ~ Mom to Mom Support Group ~ Woman & Spirit Workshops ~ Baking By Design ~ So many opportunities yet to be presented that I can hardly wait to find out what they are. It is amazing. And the stress and the worry about having time on my hands has vanished. In all honesty, I can't wait to have some time on my hands. Time to devote to myself, to meditation, to running, to yoga, and eventually to some sort of paying work. At this point in time, I find myself wondering if I need to commit to anything at all? Who knows, maybe I will bake a few cakes one month, and do reflexology or energy work the next month. Maybe I will own a business, or maybe I will work for a corporation. Whatever happens, my number one priority will be to my children ~ being home for them when they get home from school. Having that time to connect with them before the rush of dinner and homework. There is the possibility that they would rather play with their friends, or watch television ... but I know I will get my time in with them.

For today, I am enjoying their littleness. They are great people with big personalities and contagious laughs, and they have so much they want to share with us. All my kids seem to want from me lately is my Time. And thankfully, that is something I can give to them wholeheartedly.