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My 40 days dedicated to self care continues through a week of schizophrenic  temperatures as a lead up to spring.  Here’s what happened, in pictures.

Day 6:  Ever come home from work with no idea what to eat for dinner?  And maybe you are so tired that you aren’t all that hungry anyway?  And, really, all you want is chocolate.

There are times when a girl has got to do what a girl has to do.

Chocolate

PS – See that Mo’s Cinnamon & Sugar Bar from Vosges?  It is outrageously delicious. I didn’t think that chocolate could be transformative, but if you ever have a worry, just eat a square of this and all will be right in the world again.  I’m just saying.

Day 7: In the midst of wintry cold days, this particular afternoon held the promise of warmth—happiness was in the air. I went for a long walk at lunchtime and saw that spring was about to sprout.

Spring Coming

Day 8: For me, a big part of self care is feeding myself well. But when I get busy, this is one of the first areas where I fall short.  This week, I did my best to nourish myself with home cooked meals.  On this day, as I began making a warm kale and brussels sprouts salad (topped with a poached egg!), the olive oil in the pan pooled into a heart.

Signs of love are everywhere, even in the kitchen.

Heart of Oil

Day 9: This week my heavy workload made me anxious and uptight, so I buckled down and stayed in the office late to get a handle on everything, with a goal of relieving my stress.  And honestly, I wanted to sleep well again.

These pigeons reminded me that when the work is done, you need to remember to find your flock and just hang.

Pigeons on a Wire

Day 10:  A day of work and a Friday night blow out at the hair salon behind me, and a weekend ahead of me, I walked through midtown.  Always remembering to look up, I loved the sight of the nearly full moon snuggled up to the Chrysler Building.

Full Moon Next to Chrysler

Day 11: Last October, I wrote about a Manifestation Yoga workshop I attended, led by the incomparable Jennifer Pastiloff. (If you don’t know her inspirational work, please check out her awesome blog here. )  I loved it so much that I signed up for another, held on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

I took it as a sign that I was exactly where I was supposed to be as I walked towards the yoga studio and walked past this on the sidewalk. Because happiness—and community and connection—certainly lay ahead of me that afternoon.

The Way to Happy

Throughout the workshop, I marveled at how different I felt from the previous one. Then, it was as if I’d unearthed gigantic oceans of emotions I didn’t even know were crashing against the shoreline of my life.  It took some time to process that, and in some respects, I still haven’t grasped it all, at least consciously.

This time I felt lighter, different, changed somehow.

This year, I’d intended to finally allow myself to be the woman I’d always wanted to be.  This was the year I’d stop with the what-if and what could have been.  This year, I’d stop playing small.  I’d decided let love in, and that afternoon I was surprised to see that maybe, if only little by little, it was working.

Maybe I don’t have to try to be the woman I’d always wanted to be.  Maybe I’ve been her all along and I just didn’t know it.

Day 12: I am fortunate to have a close relationship with my parents.  We try to meet at least once a week over a meal.  This time, we went to Stella 34, a year-old restaurant in Macy’s Herald Square.  I don’t always expect much from department store restaurants, but this was an unexpected surprise.

When I told our server about my gluten sensitivity, he helpfully pointed out what dishes I could eat.  And when he offered us bread for the table, he also said he would bring rice crackers just for me.

Instead of saying, “I wish I had something to give you,” as I’ve gotten used to hearing, this server—this restaurant—actually did have something to give me.  I don’t expect every restaurant to have alternatives for every food allergy, but when one does have options, it makes me feel as if my needs matter.

I was also able to order gluten-free pasta.  After almost a year without pasta, this was a delicious reunion with an old friend.

Pasta

When you begin to take care of yourself, oftentimes, the world will reach out to care for you as well.

That is grace.  My wish is that you feel cared for this week as well.

xo, with goodness and grace.

I had one of those days that felt like a runaway train, reminiscent of that scene at the beginning of The Fugitive when the prison break goes awry and Harrison Ford has to escape an unfortunate demise by jumping out of the train carrying the prisoners before it crashes. My work day started, and ended, like that.

It was the kind of day that was full of meetings that wouldn’t end and piles of work that just grew taller by the minute.

But then as I walked home tonight, I looked up at the moon, just fuller than half, and remembered how important it is to hold close the things you love on the days that feel out of control.  Moon magic made me remember what really mattered.  I was reminded that in the midst of frustration and fatigue, it is important to remember who you are.

That thought brought me back to the Manifestation Yoga workshop I wrote about in my last post, and how we were encouraged to write the rules that we live by. We all have rules, most unspoken, that define who we are and how we show up in our lives.

So as a reminder of who I am, here are my rules for a good life:

  • Be kind, and treat everyone as your equal.  My parents taught me through their actions that everyone deserves your kindness.  Many a late night I would visit my father in the office to find the cleaning lady sitting in a chair, the two of them in the middle of a deep conversation.  She mattered as much as any CEO who has crossed his path.
  • Hang with people who do the same.  I find out everything I need to know about a person by how they treat servers in a restaurant.
  • Laugh often, deeply and heartily.  You know the saying “angels fly because they take themselves lightly?”  Well, so should you.
  • Be in awe of the world.  Let it amaze you, and let its magic carry you through the day.  For me, the wonder of the ocean, the sunrise, the sunset, the moon all bring me back to my essence.  Figure out what in the world rocks you to the core of your being.
  • Give good hug.  Wimpy hugs make me feel like you don’t want to be around me.  Get in there with a full-bodied embrace.  Yes, it’ll make some people uncomfortable, but they just need to know what love feels like.
  • Food is the best medicine.  Honor your body by feeding yourself well.  Your body will then honor you by letting you experience your life with vigor.
  • It’s okay to have chocolate chip cookies for dinner every now and then.  Rules are made to be broken.
  • It’s okay to have cheese for dinner every now and then—but only if you have quality cheese and a good glass of wine to go along with it.
  • When people offer you their love, accept it.  I’ve let good men get away because I was afraid to hold a gaze or an extended hand.
  • Learn not to leave love unsaid.  If you love someone, let them know. Momentary awkwardness is infinitely better than a lifetime of wishing to have been brave.
  • Pay attention.  I used to roll my eyes (on the inside) whenever Oprah talked about gratitude as a practice.  And then I wrote about my most grateful moment of the day for 30 days straight and it changed my life.  It changed me. Let gratitude shape you.
  • Remember to say thank you.  Kindnesses big and small need to be acknowledged before the moment passes and they are forgotten.

With that rule in mind, last night I was deeply moved by the kindnesses shown by Katie Devine of Confessions of an Imperfect Life and Jennifer Pastiloff of The Manifest-Station.  They shared my blog post with their “tribes”, followers and families and opened up my words, thoughts and feelings to an entirely new audience.  For their grace and generosity, I am deeply grateful.

There is a famous quote by Meister Eckhart, “If the only prayer you ever say in your life is thank you, it will be enough.”

And so in the spirit of that quote, as well as my rules for a good life, to Jen and Katie I say, thank you.

Yesterday afternoon I took part in a yoga workshop.  At least that’s how I described it when people asked what I was doing this weekend, but it’s kind of a misnomer. Because while there was some yoga involved, it was more of a life workshop, almost a chiropractic adjustment for the soul.

It was led by Jennifer Pastiloff, a writer/inspirational yoga instructor, though that description does not do her justice either.  Through yoga, music, and her words, she helps people create breakthroughs in their lives.  If you don’t know her work, check out her beautifully written blog, The Manifest-Station.

In the class, we did yoga, wrote in journals and shared ourselves.  I’m in awe of how brave everyone was in sharing themselves with a room full of strangers.  So courageous that most of us were in tears at some point during the class.

In one of the exercises, we had to partner up and share who we are by completing the sentence “I am…”  The thought behind it is that any sentence that begins with “I am…” is a sacred declaration of ourselves and sets the experience of how we will show up in the world.

I knew instantly what mine would be.

I am love. 

After we declared who we were, we had to look in the eyes of our partner for three minutes straight, without saying anything.  It was unsettling and uncomfortable: we giggled, we made funny faces, we blinked furiously.  But then for a few brief seconds something clicked, and we connected and felt a deep recognition.

It feels goofy to write it, but it was palpable and it was real.

I’m still processing the afternoon, but I do know when it was over I felt transformed from the person I was when I walked in. I floated out of the class, calm, centered and all filled up with love.

I flung myself into my city, finished my Saturday errands—and went on complete and total sensory overload.  I ended the day exhausted, spent and cranky.  I was asleep by 10pm.

But today I felt renewed as I walked around Brooklyn with my father on this clear, windy fall day.  We enjoyed the beauty before us.

And, I saw the signs of what I’ve been seeing these last few months.  Perhaps I knew my “I am…” long before I gave a name to it.

Perhaps this is what I’ve been manifesting in my life.

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And this couple symbolized the love of one another.  All against a beautiful backdrop of a New York skyline.

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What are kind of love are you manifesting in your life?

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