Day 17 of my Bikram challenge came with a realization.  Britney taught and it was solid, strong class.

This was one of the first days where I didn’t pop up and down like a jack-in-the-box from mat to standing and back in between postures.  When I began this challenge, I was frustrated by my need to sit down at times.  I wanted to be strong and consistent and bending over or sitting down disrupted my practice.

Today I actually heard something that has been said in the hundreds of classes I have taken before.  I’m not even sure that Britney even said these words but I finally got them, “It’s what you don’t do between postures that counts.  Less is more between postures.  The less you move the more you get.”

It is this economy of movement that finally hit me today.  All the fidgeting that I do when practicing isn’t only distracting to me and others, it’s exhausting.  It robs me of the energy and strength to do the next posture.  For a stronger practice, I need to economize my movements before, during and after each posture.  By doing only what is necessary I will have the strength and stamina to pull through class powerfully.

Now it may seem like nothing to wipe my face, adjust my sports bra or fix my hair between postures but it all adds up to wasted time and wasted energy.  During that time, instead of fussing, I could be resting.  I could be recuperating.  I could be preparing my mind to give it all I have for the rest of the class.

When you realize you have but so much time and but so much energy for but so many movements, how you use them becomes increasingly crucial.  I can apply this to life outside of the hot room.  Less is more.  Only do what counts–what propels you to next breakthrough.  Namaste.

Full Circle

Here we are closing in on the last few minutes of the last day of the year.  2010 brought many bittersweet revelations, victories & opportunities.  It has been a year of growth and reflection and it’s been as painful as it’s been victorious.

I’ve learned that winning doesn’t always look that way and what you fight valiantly for may not be worth it.  Not every time.  I’ve learned that though I’m sure an incredible destiny awaits me, even in that hopefulness, I underestimate myself & my future.

One of the greatest achievements of this year, besides launching, was November’s 30 days of challenges. Challenging myself to something everyday was exhilarating and exhausting. I’m very proud that I blogged every day and took on something pretty uncomfortable & life-changing everyday. It was a beautiful experience that left me feeling very accomplished…and drained.

The lesson I learned from that undertaking is that while rapid transformation is possible, I need to pace myself in order to maintain change. I did so much in November that I didn’t want to look at this blog in December. This is my first time writing here since then.

While many of the practices are still in place since the challenge, there are a few areas where I’ve absolutely & unapologetically reverted to my status quo.  For instance, I continue with my addiction to lateness & my home regained the clutter I cleared.  Change is a muscle that easily atrophies from lack of use, commitment and accountability.

So here I stand at the end of an utterly magical, mind-boggling year and the usual questions remain.  Now what?  What next?  My answer?  I say anything and everything.

This time, my focus is mastery.   I will take the time master long-lasting transformation.  As long I’m here, I say to life, use me up, galvanize me.  You’re all that I have. 2011 is all about burning like a comet through life.  I look forward to using up every minute boldly, leaving me & my wake unrecognizable and radiating with life & glory.   Bring it, 2011!  See you on the other side!

Challenge Day 30: Score!

I swear I have the 30-day challenge blues.  After pushing day after day, I’m pretty sad that there is no more challenge left and that sucks the wind out of my sails.  Funny since I expected Day 30 to be the day to end all days where I would stand atop the mountain of my achievement and look out with puffed chest congratulating myself for daring the impossible.

I’m sure that I have the blues.  Now that there is no challenge each day, what will I do with myself?  Haha!  Anything and everything. The interesting thing about challenges is that they beget challenges–a sort of challenge-addiction.  Tomorrow or later this week, I’ll ruminate about lessons learned.  In the meantime, let’s get on with our last challenge!

Today’s challenge: Take stock of the last 30 days.  How did you do?  What did you do well?  What did you not do well?  What would you like to continue to work on?  How did it go?  What did you learn?
I’ll be sorting through the lessons learned on this journey for days to come but in the meantime, here are the stats of what I attempted this month:

My closest friends can attest to the wonderful peace I gained in these 30 days as well as the struggle it was to complete these last few days.  I know I couldn’t have done it without them or you.  I also know that I’m not quite done yet.

While I was able to challenge myself to different things each day, I haven’t gained mastery over anything new.  I have an experience of what it is like to live a revolutionary life but I still have work to do.  Each day of these 30 days of challenges revealed so much about myself to me.

The greatest revelation is that this month was a buffet of challenges for me to choose from and work on extensively in the near future.  All the challenges have been interrelated.  They are all pulling for the same transformed, galvanized life.  The next step for me is mastery.

Gratitude: I am grateful for that I could complete this month of challenges when I’ve done nothing like this ever before

On the horizon: More results, lessons and mastery…the journey – to be continued.

This is the way the world endsThis is the way the world endsThis is the way the world endsNot with a bang but a whimper.1

Challenge Day 29: Dare to Want

One more day to go and suddenly I am incredibly exhausted.  I’d rather nap than blog.  The only thing that keeps me going is my promise.  Good thing I made one, otherwise I wouldn’t have continued.  Thank you for the strength you give me by reading and witnessing my journey.

The last few moments before the end of a grueling marathon can be the worst.  It is in those moments that your mind, body, being resolve whether to finish or to curl up in a ball right there.  The next challenge is important for me to keep going.  Come run with me.

Today’s challenge: Dare to want…wantonly.  Allow yourself to want for no reason.  Want things you’ve never wanted before.  Want until you want no more.  Write it all down.  Change your mind if you need to.  Keep going until you see what you say you want and match that to what you really want.  Write that list about ideal mate that you’ve resisted writing for years.  Go ahead, write it.  Want him and everything.  Go!

Wanting is such a odd thing.  Most of us don’t allow ourselves to want things fearing that wanting things that don’t manifest may kill us or be close to dying.  We treat our wants as if we will never have them and work to push them away.  In turn, we end up yearning those things that we deny.

We suffer when we live as if wanting is a reminder of our inadequacy.  We are stuck believing that we’re not enough to deserve or earn our wants.  What if wanting was a normal part of your day as simple and constant as brushing your teeth?  What if wanting was a tool that you use to design your life?  Today’s challenge is my opportunity to dream to the point of incredulousness, dance into the impossible and shed suffering.  So I will be writing that list and collaging my vision of heart-thumping future.  What have you not dared to want?

Today’s victory: I spent a wonderful weekend failing and winning at most of my challenges.  When I missed the challenge mark, I made sure I went back and hit it dead on.  That looked like heated discussions, impasses and, finally, peaceful resolution.  I’m glad I have these tools working actively in my life.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the incredible community that surrounds, supports and fuels my dreams.

On the horizon: The scoreboard

Challenge Day 23: Always Do Your Best

Today is my last day of exploring don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements.  In the last few days, I have challenged myself to three of the Four Agreements:

  1. Be Impeccable with Your Word
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions

Those agreements have been the most humbling of these 30 days of challenges because they really get to the heart of the things that make my life difficult.  They point to things subtly operating unnoticed and unchallenged in the background of my every day.  I speak carelessly.  I usually believe that everything that happens that hurts me was meant to undermine me.  How I see it must be the only way it is. That is truly a torturous life.  Yet we all live like that at some point until we realize that there are ways of looking at and doing things in life that simply don’t work.  They run the show and they run it badly, leaving our mental well-being in jeopardy.

The Four Agreements attempt to break up the gang of ineffective and sometimes detrimental behaviors to open us up to more options and give us an enhanced sense of freedom and peace.  What does life look like when I pay attention to what I say?  Am I telling the truth?  Am I speaking in a way that uplifts me and others?  What does life look like when I let go of the belief that people do things because of me?  What if the hurt I feel is because of my interpretation and not their intention?  What if I took the time find out what was really so for people in my life instead of jumping to conclusions?  What if I slowed down, asked and listened to what people were saying and requesting of me?  What would life look like?

Over the past few days of implementing three of the four practices, life is lot easier.  I’m not as attached to people seeing things my way or figuring out why people do things.  If I really want to know, I ask.  Then I accept what they say.  I believe the Four Agreements have a lot to do with becoming less attached to people, thoughts, beliefs and just flowing through life.  Practicing them gives you permission to be without necessarily having to know or prove everything.  It has been refreshing.  The last agreement lifts yet another burden.

Today’s challenge: Take on the fourth agreement.  Always do your best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

For me, this challenge is all about being gentle with myself and accepting where I am.  It isn’t a license to not achieve.  It is a license to achieve at different levels according to where I am and making that ok.  I will not expect myself to perform at the same level on few hours of sleep as I would after being well rested.  I will appreciate all that I can do and make sure that I do my best for where I am.  No slacking here, just the discernment to be able to answer the following.  What is my best right now?

Today’s victory: As part of my exquisite self-care I have been practicing giving myself permission to stop working instead of toiling endlessly.  The work will be there when I return.  I need to unplug and I make sure that I stop before I burn out.  Another victory is getting this post up well before midnight.  It’s been a while since I’ve done that. Yes!

Gratitude: I am grateful for the ability and will to figure it out.  I can strategize my way out of anything.  I am grateful for my mind and its acuity.

On the horizon: The elephant in my life

Challenge Day 18: Laugh it Out

Today was almost a bust for exquisite self-care since I did not sleep a wink last night.  I was on the phone until sunrise repairing a rift in a deep friendship with guffaws and love.   She was worth it.  Laughter brought us back together and brings us the challenge of the hour.

Today’s challenge: Find at least one moment each day to laugh without reservation. Let something tickle you and go all out with it.  BonusLaugh at yourself.

Often, we take ourselves and our lives so seriously that we spend more time worrying and grumbling than living. When everything is significant, how can we figure out what really counts?

It really pays to have a good, deep laugh daily.

Health Benefits of Laughter

  • Stress Hormone Reduction
  • Wards off Depression
  • Better Breathing
  • Muscle Relaxation
  • Immune System Enhancement
  • Pain Reduction
  • Cardiac Protection
  • Blood Pressure Reduction
  • Improves Stamina in Athletes

Read more about those benefits here.

With this challenge, I will find a moment each day left in this month of norm-jarring challenges to not take myself or my life and its trappings too seriously at all. Even more so, when I’m involved in a difficult interaction, I will ease up and find the laughter missing from the situation. Heartfelt laughter is healing and I will be getting at least one good dose a day.

Today’s victory: I allowed a conflict to resolve itself by letting it be instead of trying to fix. It worked out better than expected and I didn’t suffer through it.

Gratitude: I am grateful for friends who are as fanatic about things like Harry Potter as I.

On the horizon: Going with it

Challenge Day 14: Empty Your Cup

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been noticing a bit of finality and fatalism in the conversations that I’ve been hearing.  I kept hearing “nevers” and “it will never be the sames” and so on.  At first I wanted to dismantle the absurdity of such statements with a cool dose of “how do you know?”  Seriously, I thought, if you know so much about the future, can  you tell me about next week’s Mega Millions?

Then I realized that I do the same thing in conversations with myself and others: predicting fate with a certainty reserved for oracles.  How do I know?  Why must I always know?  The antidote for that is today’s challenge.

Today’s challenge: Adopt a beginner’s mind.  Give up the arrogance that you already know.  Give up your view that you know everything and that your view of life is the only way that it is.

When you already ready know, there really is no room for anything new.  If you want to create anything new, there needs to be space.  The following story illustrates this:

A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s overfull! No more will go in!” the professor blurted. “You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”

Read more from Darren Henson on

Since I am committed to building a life unlike anything I have already seen, Beginner’s Mind helps.  This is simply giving up being right.  It takes rightness to a place of cluelessness–a place where knowledge can be developed and acquired, not assumed or dug up. Such thinking entails the ability to encounter fresh experiences with the innocence of first inquiry.  Here are some characteristics of Beginner’s Mind:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Wonder
  • Naïveté
  • Curiosity
  • Playfulness
  • Fascination

Beginner’s Mind is curious, flexible and more committed to questions than answers.  Its delight is in wondering and it is willing to try out new possibilities without being stuck.  Amazement, wonder and awe are the realm of Beginner’s Mind.  When we adopt a mind that doesn’t know, we are open to unlimited possibilities and we discover that

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be enjoyed.  — Unknown

A Beginner’s Mind creates a new twist in this journey for me.  Anything and everything is possible.

Today’s victory: I was doing great today and then I wasn’t.  I’d put ego aside and I was so wonderful and then something set me off.  All I need to throw a wrench in these days of challenges is a conversation or two with people.  It’s very easy to be gracious while sitting in front of my computer.  It’s another ballgame when I take those challenges and involve people and their opinions and button-pushing.  Today’s victory was simply doing everything in my power to remain committed to my challenges.  I did not give up on the conversation.  I was able to step back and observe my reactions, ask for a time out and jump back in and try again.  In the end, I was rewarded with peace and all is well.  Now that is the little victory that could.

Gratitude: I am grateful for each day I awake with the mistakes of the past solidly lodged in the past, facing a brand new blank canvas awaiting my creation.

On the horizon: Compassion

Challenge Day 13: Once More, with Passion

As I reach the arch of this month of challenges, I wonder how long will the momentum last.  When will I run out of steam?  Challenging myself to meditate every day is great way to center and refuel and, with today’s challenge, I’m injecting a much needed fuel enhancer into my month.

Today’s challenge: Find passion in all that you do.  Don’t just do it.  Do it with passion.  If you can’t find the passion, don’t do it or find a way to find your passion.  Live each day, moment with a dose of passion, big or small.

Going through the motions is sufficient for an adequate life.  It falls pretty short for the extraordinary, unrecognizable one that I’m aiming for this month.  I’m not going to do my challenges because I said so and don’t want to be disappointed if I don’t make it.  I’m doing these challenges because my life is at stake.  Without them, I’ll end up drowning in the numbing mediocre.

In choosing this month’s challenges, I’m working areas that are quite important to me.  Since my life depends on this, why not put my life’s energy into the rest of the challenge days?  If I cannot do a thing with passion then I won’t challenge myself to it.  Going even further, if something is not worth putting my whole self into it, I won’t do it.  Laundry gets done because clean clothes elevate me.  Writing is an honor I give myself.  The mundane, the extravagant, the minuscule–all of it will be done with passion.  It’s time for me to go with passion or go away.  I’m here to stay and feel and marvel at each moment while I’m at it.  How about you?

Today’s victory: I managed to haul 6 bags of sensitive documents to the Upper East Side Shred-a-thon as promised on Day 8.  My shreddables became a thing of the past when a lovely gentleman dumped the bags into a huge bin that his ProShred truck swallowed.

My knight-in-shredding-armor from ProShred

I watched my documents transform in this nifty monitor.

Papers go bye-bye hi-tech

The paper will be recycled into industrial paper.  New life for my clutter.  That feels good.

Gratitude: I am grateful for my uncanny good luck!

On the horizon: Making room for something new

Challenge Day 9: Finish Things

I’m starting today’s post with an unexpected surprise.

Today’s victory: I checked my site traffic just for kicks and saw that it more than doubled thanks to a generous mention from another site.  I’m a huge Bikram yoga aficionado with a number of 30-day challenges under my belt and it was Heather Molina’s timely, informative Bikram Yoga Tips for Beginners that got me on my journey with ease and clarity.  For that I am grateful and I’m grateful again that she mentioned me in her blog about her experience at this Fall’s Bikram Yoga Teacher Training.  I look forward to following her footsteps in Bikram Yoga Teacher Training in the Spring.

Today’s challenge: Finish things or declare that you will never finish them and let yourself off the hook so you can focus on what you love.

Every time I don’t finish something: blogging, conversations, projects–you name it–it chips away at my belief in myself and adds itself to a pile of failures that, in turn, makes it difficult for me to finish anything else.  So, today I am putting in a plan to complete things that are important to me and I’m letting go of the burden of having to do things I will never do and just don’t care to do.  I will continue to re-organize my home.  I will not kill myself to alphabetize and re-read all the books I own.  I will not create projects that do not excite me and I’m repositioning myself as the diva of what gets done and discarded in my life.  Watch me.

Gratitude: I am grateful for secret, sweet moments where I can finally melt and all I am is the space between two sets of locked eyes.

On the horizon: Writing my heart out

Challenge Day 5: Gratitude Attitude

Tumbling down subway steps in stilettos today challenged being peaceful.  As the adrenaline subsided, I rubbed my bruised knee, jiggled my ankle and went back to being peaceful.  I was able to return to peacefulness as I surveyed my body, grateful that I didn’t do anything to warrant an emergency room visit.  I fell well.  Disaster was averted.

I noticed that gratitude has a lot to do with maintaining peace.  When I go to a space of being thankful, I simply cannot continue to be scared, worried or irritated.  Gratefulness is the kryptonite to be being distraught, which brings us to today’s challenge.

Today’s challenge: Practice being grateful no matter what, especially in situations where that would be your last thought.

I’ve been noting what I’m grateful for in my 30-day posts and this challenge expands on that.  My challenge is to bring gratitude into situations where I normally wouldn’t, bolstering the peace I promised to gift myself this month.

Today’s victory: Bringing peace to today’s nonstop animated conversations.  I can be passionate and peaceful at the same time.  Peace is not numbness.  It scoops out a very safe, delightful place for me to enjoy people even when they don’t think like me.

Gratitude: I am grateful for the delightful bed that awaits my closeness every day.  Its love, unconditional.  Its acceptance, steadfast.

On the horizon: Making space for beginner’s mind, adventures in no complaining, and writing that much this month