Why Walking Away from Responsibility May Be the Best Choice.

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The day I decided to walk away from my job, my son, my house and all of my everyday responsibilities for three-and-a-half months was a decision I will never regret.

Originally, I had planned on going to the south of France to stay with a friend for two weeks this summer. I started looking at tickets and called my friend, Barbara, in France. Out of the blue she said, “You should really come live here for the entire summer.”

At that moment, I didn’t even consider it. It seemed absolutely impossible and undoable. Little did I realize that the small seed was planted, and it was already too late. It started to sprout, at first in passing thoughts, then dreams at night, then full-on daily fantasies. I imagined spending the entire summer, living near the sea with my best friend in the south of France. I spent two weeks thinking about all of the reasons that it could not be done, that it was absolutely impossible for me to leave for that long.

What would the law firm I work for say? Surely I’d lose my job…

Who would take care of my 17-year-old son? Yes, he’s very mature and has had to spend time alone since I’ve raised him by myself and always worked. But seriously, he still leaves a trail of dirty socks and PowerBar wrappers around the house and forgets about all sorts of things I ask him to do. I thought, he totally needs me to stay here and take care of him.

And what about my house? I rent out the basement on Airbnb and live upstairs with my son. Who would make sure that everything was okay and take care the lawn?

And my cat, how would he manage to stay alive without me?

And then, of course, there was plenty of worry about money. Could I find a job in France? Should I take the money out of my retirement account? Would I be able to continue to pay the bills in Utah if I left for the summer?

I was stuck—stuck in fear in uncertainty and paralyzed by the what-if’s. I was letting my thoughts rule my mood and felt anxious and stressed. I was not taking the time to do my daily soul work, my meditation, and to connect with the universe, with god, and with myself. I knew that if I took the time to slow down in silence and listen, my heart would tell me what to do. But I didn’t. I just kept listening to the voice in my head telling me over and over again that walking away from my job, my son, my house, and all of my everyday responsibilities was completely insane and absolutely impossible.

So often we forget that the answers are always there for us if we look within. We know what is best for us, what our hearts long for in life if we can just take the time to pay attention and listen to our intuition and trust in it. For a long time, the trusting part was very difficult for me. I didn’t trust myself to know what was right for me. When I look at those words, I think, how ridiculous! No one knows me better than myself. Though people, family, friends, and society try hard to tell us what kind of life to live and what is best for us, they really have no idea and are simply basing their opinions on their own fears, values, stories, and past experiences.

After two weeks of feeling anxious and unsure, I decided I would go for two weeks as I’d originally planned. I was using frequent flyer miles for my ticket and had exactly 93,000 miles to use. I found the dates I wanted to go in July, and the ticket was 114,000 miles. Going for two weeks in August was the same. Suddenly, I was in panic mode. I only had 93,000 miles. What if I couldn’t go at all? I looked up how many miles it would take to leave from May through September just to reassure myself, thinking it would be much more.

And then the number came up: 93,000 miles.

I truly knew what I had to do in that moment.

I’m a big believer in signs and coincidences, and I knew that this was the universe telling me to let go. To let go of my worries, my what if’s, to trust in life, to take a risk and to go spend three months in France. I’m also a big believer in buying plane tickets first and then making the plans and preparations after. I’ve always felt that if we put off doing something until we’re “ready,” it will never happen.

The Delta window sat open on my desktop at work all afternoon. I must have refreshed it 30 times. Oh, the mental pain of indecision and imagining that we have any sort of control over the future. My heart beat the word yes, over and over again. My soul whispered, do it, the only thing holding you back is fear of the unknown.

At 5:00 p.m., before leaving the office to head home, I clicked on the “complete purchase” button.

My shoulders dropped, my jaw softened, and I felt lighter, almost giddy. It was that easy. Instead of staying stuck in indecision of the unknown, I listened to my heart, took action and right away stepped through a door that was opened to me for a reason. I stepped into uncertainty, adventure, not knowing, and it felt wonderful and light and free.

With only a month before leaving, it was not much of a surprise that everything started to fall into place. The universe was there for me as was my guardian angel and god. And by letting go and trusting them all, I was in a different energy space. An energy of moving forward. And so I did.

The law firm gave me a leave of absence. I rented out the basement apartment to long-term renters and hired someone to take care of the lawn. I put all of my bills on auto pay and took the money I would need out of my retirement account. The hardest part was leaving my son alone. But he was my biggest supporter. He was the one that told me, “Mom, you have to go. You love it there, your friends are there, and you’re always happy when you go to France. I’ll be fine mom. You can trust me. Besides, I love being alone at home.”

I had to believe him and trust him and know that this was his truth, his choice. “Won’t you be lonely I asked? I don’t want you to feel like I’m abandoning you.” He rolled his eyes and said, “Mom, just go.” I ended up buying a ticket for him to come stay with me for a month. That way he would be spending the month of June and August alone and the month of July in France with me.

I put together five different resumes in English and French. Anything I had some sort of experience in, from bartending to teaching yoga to travel writing to working as a tour guide. I packed my bag, took the cat to my parents house, and the morning my son drove me to the airport, we played his rap music so loud and laughed so hard I cried. We were both so excited for this time of freedom for both of us.

I’ve been here for six weeks already and guess what? My house hasn’t burned down, my cat is getting spoiled by my parents, the renters in my basement apartment are great, and my son did just fine at home by himself for a month. He got himself to work every day, and had the time of his life with his friends. He arrived here in France last week.

In the six weeks I’ve been here, I’ve bartended a bit, taught some private yoga classes and done a lot of travel writing. I’ve been interviewing the most wonderful people and making new connections and working on my website. But most of all, I’ve slowed down. I allow myself to luxuriate in stillness each morning, to adore my time alone, to meditate and walk outdoors every single day. I swim in the sea for hours and float on my back, staring up at the blue sky until a wave crashes over me and I get saltwater up my nose and in my eyes. I feel like a little girl again. I’m learning to play. I spend more time feeling and less time thinking and doing.

I do my soul work every day and live in such a space of gratitude. For this opportunity, for my life, for the sun, the sea, the trees and for my steady beating heart and my calming breath.

I’m learning that listening to and following our intuition are the most important things that we can do to find meaning in our lives. I know that there is an entire world inside myself to explore and nourish each day and that this inner world is much more important than the outside world. It’s all we really have and no one can take it away from us. The type of inner world we choose to build is entirely up to each of us.

I’m learning that’s it’s okay to simply walk away from responsibility for a short or a long period of time. It’s okay, and it’s good to simply take a break from the things that weigh us down.

It’s our personal responsibility to walk away from what the world tells us we should be doing and to embrace what our soul, our heart, and our intuition is calling us toward.

“I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again.” ~ Anaïs Nin

Click here to read this article in elephant journal.

How to Come Back when we’ve Lost Connection with Ourselves.

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I often ask myself why some days I can feel so connected to myself, to this world, and to others—and why other days it seems so elusive.

I know that feeling connected to life starts by feeling connected to myself, and to do that I need to be in a place where I’m able to accept and love myself. To believe in my wholeness and my goodness.

Sometimes it’s as easy as getting a solid eight hours of sleep and not drinking too much wine the night before so that I wake up feeling energized and positive. Other times, it’s quieting the chatter in my head about how I’m not enough—not good enough, not smart enough, not capable enough, just not enough of anything.

When I find myself stuck in that space in my head where I’m beating myself up with my thoughts, I’m in a state of negative energy and it’s much more difficult for me to listen to my heart, to breathe deeply, and let go the things that are causing me worry and stress.

I once read a wonderful analogy that we are like oil and vinegar, like a bottle of Italian salad dressing with the bitter, red vinegar resting on top and the smooth, golden, molten oil resting at the bottom. Before we can pray or meditate, we need to pour out the vinegar until all that is left is the oil. For me, this means sitting in a place of stillness, closing my eyes, and taking a few moments to be still and breathe. Allowing the vinegar to evaporate as I exhale out fear and uncertainty and breathe in love and acceptance, until all that is left is buttery smoothness.

Then, in this place, I can connect with God, with the universe, and with my guardian angel, which I think of as my triple deity, and feeling that I am utterly and completely loved and accepted exactly as I am, by all three. I can then love and accept myself wholly. The feeling of separation seeps away, and I find myself feeling strong and connected again. I know that I am good, that I am lovable, and that I am perfect exactly as I am in this very moment.

As I focus on all of the simple things that I have to be grateful for, as I focus on all of the people who I love so much, my protective outer shell and my hard edges begin to soften, and I am able to anchor myself back into love. Stepping away from fear and I melt into this moment, knowing that everything is okay. I remind myself that all I ever have is this moment and that everything will always be okay.

Feeling like I am not enough, like my life is not enough, takes me out of the space of gratitude and by finding stillness and presence, by noticing my thoughts without judgement, I can change the tape that is unconsciously playing in my head and consciously choose new thoughts. It’s something that I need to do over and over again each day, and it’s a powerful tool to bring myself continually back into presence and living in this moment. I slide back into living from my heart instead of my head. I bring my focus back into simply being, instead of doing.

I don’t know if everyone struggles with this inner battle of connection and disconnection or if it’s just me.

For many years, especially during adolescence, I felt like I didn’t belong. I grew up in a very conservative environment where religion played a large role in being liked, popular, and accepted. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in, and this was often a lonely place to be. I felt different.

I knew there was something about me that was different on the inside, and so I started to do everything I could to show that I was different on the outside. I went through my punk rock stage, dyeing my hair bright purple, wearing a silver studded leather jacket and combat boots. smoking filterless clove cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and listening to angry music.

I found my place in a group of peers and friends for a while, but still I often felt myself to be on the outside. A year later, I tried out a Grateful Dead hippie stage for a few years. I let my hair grow down to my waist, wore tie-dyed t-shirts, and smoked pot with my new peer group and friends.

I kept looking for a way to belong from the outside-in, instead of starting from the inside-out. My teenage years were not easy, as I continued to search for a place where I felt like I belonged and where I felt connected to myself and others.

I’d started dancing when I was four years old and continued until I turned 14. Friends became more of a priority than dancing, and so I stopped going to dance classes and started going to parties. The years in between 14 and 18 were tumultuous as I searched for something, some group to belong to, to make me feel whole and accepted and connected.

When I went to college and decided to major in dance, everything fell back into place again for me for a while. I was a dancer. I ate, slept, breathed, and dreamed of dancing every second of the day. I had an identity and a group of friends I felt connected with, and I spent my days in dance classes, moving my body, being inside my body and out of my head, feeling instead of thinking, and living from the inside-out.

My passion and connection to dance carried me through college, to New York, and then to Paris. Something about living in France clicked with me, and I felt a limitless sense of freedom and connection in this country. This feeling stayed with me for the 12 years I lived in Paris and danced professionally there.

My son Matisse was born in 1999, and I left both dancing and Paris a year later, returning to the city I grew up in. Leaving the two things that I was most passionate about had a profound effect on me and everything came to a grinding halt.

I felt completely lost, disconnected, uncertain, and scared. The only feeling of connection I had was with this beautiful precious baby boy of mine.

I found myself back in the hometown I’d worked so hard to get away from, surrounded by painful memories, living in my parent’s basement raising my one-year-old son all alone.

Every day was a struggle, and the only thing that kept me going and ultimately saved me was my son. He was the reason I had to keep going. He was my one glimmer of light in all of the darkness. He was my hope, my dreams, my heart, my soul, and my love all wrapped up into one tiny two-fisted package. His smile lit up my heart, and I spent every moment of my days and nights with him in my arms. He brought love into my life like nothing ever had before.

Somehow, I got my own apartment. Somehow, I recreated myself and began a new career and a new life. And somehow, I raised him and supported the two of us all by myself for 16 years. Somehow, I’m still alive to even tell this. I always knew that I had a guardian angel, but I never knew that God was right there by my side as well.

During these 16 years, being back in the city I’d been born and grown up in, I felt just as disconnected as I had as a teenager. Once again, I found myself feeling like I was the outsider looking in. Knowing I was different. Trying to find my place, my tribe, and once again looking for connection from the outside-in.

I couldn’t find it. I searched everywhere. Everywhere but inside of myself that is. Which is where it lay dormant, waiting for me to be ready again. I stayed busy and achieved and accomplished and built a thriving career and did everything by myself. I refused to ask for help. I rejected the idea of God, even scoffed at it in disdain. I didn’t allow myself to slow down. I didn’t allow myself to face my silence, my loneliness, and my pain.

I was in a horrible relationship for six years, and it was when I ended it three years ago that I knew my life had to change. I was back on a familiar path of self-destruction and self-hate, and it was all because I felt so empty inside. So disconnected from my life and myself. I felt like I’d lost myself in this relationship and forgotten who I was and the things that made me feel alive. The things that keep saving me over and over again were my son, my perseverance, and inner strength.

Slowly, I started to find myself again by doing the things that I’d stopped doing. I started to travel again, to spend time with friends, to go out dancing and move my body. I started going back to France again every summer to visit and reconnect with the friends and the culture that had brought me so much joy for so many years. I also practiced, studied, and completed numerous certifications and started to teach yoga.

Through yoga, I discovered meditation and prayer. Especially when I injured my back and couldn’t practice asana, which is the physical limb of the yoga wheel.

The two things that brought me back into that place, that feeling of connection and belonging, were being in an environment that I thrived in and taking time each day to sit in stillness, breathe deeply, and get in touch with my soul. From the inside-out.

I now know that this is what brings me connection and that the years, the months, the days, and the hours that I felt disconnected in the past—and the moments I find myself feeling disconnected in the present—are simply because I am looking at life through my thoughts and not listening to my heart speak to me.

And, so, on those days when I feel disconnected, I need only to start from the inside-out, to find a space to sit in silence and let the vinegar evaporate, to sink softly into the oil, and to bring my attention to everything I have, everything I am. I pray, I meditate, I focus on all of nature’s beauty, and I see my own beauty. I bask in the goodness of all I have to be grateful for, and I find the preciousness of my life within.

I take care of my body, but I work on my soul. And, in this place, I find wholeness in myself, have compassion for myself, and connect to my true self. From there, it’s easy to feel connected to the world and to everyone around me.

We are not separate. We separate ourselves from others by feeling alone, by believing that we are not enough when truly we are all more than enough, perfect in our messy imperfection, exactly as we are, in this very moment.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

And say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

~Derek Walcott

Click here to read this article in elephant journal.

Auron Resort, (ski in the winter & hike in the summer), Auron

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Auron is located just 90 kilometers from Nice and is a great place to visit in both the summer and the winter. It’s one of the most beautiful ski areas in the southern alps, located at the gateway of the Mercantour National Park.
It has the intimacy of a small village nestled in a ski area that combines quality and technical pleasure of 135 km of trails that extend across 4 territories: Las Donnas, Sauma Longue, Demandols and Lieuson. Auron was founded around 1930 and has a beautiful small chapel with a romanesque bell tower and timber lath roofing, which is really typical of the southern alps. The village itself itself is located at 1140 meters and is directly linked to the Auron ski area through the Pinatelle cablecar. It’s charming with mountain architecture and an Italian style.

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There is a swimming pool in the village as well as tennis courts, horseback riding, archery and fishing offered.
The resort offers 135 kilometers of ski runs, 43 slopes (8 black, 16 red, 16 blue and 3 green) There are 16 lifts, 3 cable cars, 3 drag lifts and a tearlift.
The resort offers 135 kms of ski runs
43 slopes : 8 blacks, 16 reds, 16 blues, 3 greens, 16 skilifts : 3 cable cars, 9 chairlifts, 3 draglifts, 1 tearlift, at an elevation of 1600 to 2450 meters. It’s located right above the Tinee Valley near the town of Saint-Etienne-De-Tinee.

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I was there for a week this summer and was amazed at how spread out it is. It’s absolutely breathtaking and I hiked every single day. There are rocky roads and broad flower filled meadows to hike up towards the ski resort, as well as well cut trails for both hiking and mountain biking. There are hikes in the area that range from one hour to 2 days.

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I absolutely loved to go out in the morning and hike up for an hour or so and then sit in the shade and have a sandwich before hiking back down to the village. I rarely saw other people hiking since the trails are so vast and spread out.
I loved my visit here and hope to come back this winter to ski.

Sport 2000, outdoor apparel and activities store, Auron

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This is a great little store located right in the heart of the ski village of Auron. You can rent skis, boots and winter sports equipment here in the winter and in the summer rent mountain bikes and electric bikes to explore the many trails of the ski resort.

There is a great assortment of clothing, all high quality and reasonably priced. The store carries brands such as Sun Valley, Odlo, Duvetica, Kiltec and Poivre Blanc.

It’s open every day, from 8:30am-7pm. Ask for Pascal, he runs the store and will help you get set up with anything you need for your outdoor or indoor activities.

I had forgotten to bring my hiking shoes with me and purchased a wonderful pair at the store. Comfortable, sturdy and fashionable. I love the ski coats they carry as well and the summer clothing selection. It’s the best place to rent sports equipment for yourself or your family during your stay here in Auron.

Place du centre, 06660 Auron
I loved my visit here and hope to come back this winter to ski.
Tel 0493230030 www.location-ski-auron-fr

Le Grizzly restaurant, Auron

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This is an amazing place, tucked high up in the mountains of Auron. It’s at 1750 meters altitude and is accessible in the summer and the winter. In the winter, you can take the cable car which drops you off at the base of the restaurant and in the summer, there is a small road high up in the mountains that leads there from Auron.

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Summer evening dining requires a reservation but it’s worth the trek to get there. The panoramic views are absolutely stunning. There is a deck to eat lunch or have a drink with an appetizer outside before dinner and a cozy cottage decorated like a ski chalet to eat inside if you prefer.

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You won’t be disappointed by the food. The menu offers plenty of mountain specialties like rotisserie with wood fire roasted suckling pig or lamb, an excellent house tartiflette accompanied by mesclun salad. We had l’apertif outside with the owner first and drank an amazing bottle of red wine. The chef had prepared homemade tapenade and pate de salmon.

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After, we went inside for dinner and I had a wonderful dish with a specialty cheese of the region, melted on hearty bread with thin slices of ham and salad. It was absolutely delicious!
I had the lemon meringue pie for dessert. Definitely a must see if you are in the region.

Le Grizzly
Plateau de Lieuson, 06660 Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée Tel 0493024967

How to Spot the Invitations to Recreate your Life.

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“But, little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own.” ~ Mary Oliver

It’s never too late.

This very moment, this very second, you can start all over again. You can rebuild your life and change the things that aren’t working. The invitations to recreate your life come from every direction if you look for them.

The first step is getting in touch with what you really want, with the unique feelings held deeply in your heart—your secret garden—the feelings that bring you alive.

For some of us, it’s freedom. For others, it’s security. Maybe you love solitude and nature, or maybe you thrive on being surrounded by people and love life in the city.

How do we do this? How do we know or rediscover or true desires and needs?

Before recreating our lives, we need to get in touch with this truth. This is not to say that our desires never change. As we grow, mature, go through life, and experience pain and joy, we get to know ourselves more deeply—and, yes, thank goodness, we do change.

This is the one thing we can always count on. But I truly believe that there are certain essential needs that each of us are are born with, deeply embedded in our DNA, that stay with us throughout our lives.

I remember all the way back to when I was just five years old. I loved to spin in circles until I was so dizzy I fell down. I loved to dance. I loved to run outside, climb tall trees, chase butterflies, and then lie on my back in the soft grass for hours staring up at the clouds while daydreaming. I loved being out in nature, in the sunshine, feeling free, and finding beauty and connection there. I loved to play and to dream.

And that has not changed one bit.

As we build our lives and “grow up,” it’s easy to forget these essential truths that are woven into the inner fabric of our beings. We begin to focus more on what our society values, which tends to be accomplishments, staying busy, accumulating things, being seen as strong, successful, and capable—and we can lose touch with our inner voice and with what we truly value.

If we don’t decide how we want to live, then circumstances will decide for us. It’s so easy to let our environment and the people we spend time with shape us into someone we’re not—to let someone else’s hopes and dreams shape our reality.

We start to listen and to believe in what others want for us, what others think is best for us; until maybe, one day, we find ourselves in a place—a relationship, a job, even an entire life—that we’ve spent years building. Until we have a moment of clarity that says, “This is not what I want, and how in the hell did I get here?”

The world will tell you what kind of life to live if you let it. Don’t let it.

If this resonates with you, it may be time to start asking yourself some hard questions.

I find that the only way I can do this is by spending time alone outside in nature. Going on long walks alone and letting thoughts come and go. Sitting in silence, listening from the inside out, and opening up to my feelings. Nature and silence connect me to myself, and to God, and the universe. I feel grounded, safe, loved, and present. Then I can revisit the fabric of my interior life and start to patch the pieces back together.

There are times in our lives when the only way to hear the answers we search for is to spend time alone. Without anyone’s help, without all the other voices telling us what to do and what is best for us. And in this silence, we can let the chaos begin to settle, inviting the silence in.

I’m not saying that this is easy. Looking within and listening is much harder than staying busy and doing. But in this space of silence, we can begin to listen to our inner voice, our intuition, and our heart. We can rediscover our strength in our aloneness, and in doing this, step into more courage to evolve. We can listen deeply to our own desires.

I find it crazy how we can go for years without asking ourselves these essential questions and without even realizing that we are slowly losing ourselves. We fall into relationships, jobs, and environments that tell us who to be, how to be, and what to love. Over time, we may realize the the things happening in our lives are not the things we want to happen. We can easily lose touch with the things that are important to us, the things that bring us alive.

When this happens, we start to feel disconnected, depressed, and unfulfilled. Everything may look fine on the outside—but on the inside, there is emptiness and sorrow. We can go for years trying to push away the whispers, the signs, the longings tugging at our hearts, the things we dream of doing, the life we dream of living. The real tragedy is when the whispers turn into loud voices, maybe into screams—and if we continue to push them down, to ignore them, filling ourselves up with addictions and denial and things to do, if we continue to ignore them for long enough, they will eventually fall silent.

If we truly want to know what matters today, all we have to do is look at our mortality and ask ourselves: If I had 24 hours left to live, how would I spend those hours? Who would I be spending them with and where?

And so, again, I repeat: It’s never too late. We get to decide how we want to live. And we can reinvent ourselves over and over again. The most important thing my in life I’ve found is to connect to my deepest desires, my soul, and then begin to walk or run toward what I love.

I have remade myself and rebuilt my life so many times. Each time I fall down, I get back up, and I grow, I learn, and I discover how very capable I am.

We make our lives by forming them around what we love and what we fear. The limitations we create hold us back and keep us stuck. What does it take to let go of these limitations and have the courage to move forward into the unknown?

I believe it’s allowing silence to be our guide and our anchor and asking questions without needing immediate answers and then trusting that we are not alone. That there is something much bigger than us holding, supporting, sheltering, and guiding us along each step of the path we are on.

Our lives are ours alone to mold, to choose, to shape, and to design. There are so many lives to live, so many options. We can live near the sea or in the city. We can eat kale or chocolate. We can go barefoot or wear heels. We can be single or in a relationship. We can make money or live simply. Everyone is different.

What do you desire? What is it that gives you chills—that fills you with joy, that brings you alive?

In the end, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks your life should look like—it is yours to decide. I’ve found that there is so much freedom in walking away from the things others want for us and stepping into our own light.

In the end, you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself.

Start slowly, find the silence, listen to your unique voice, and take small steps. Each step is a step moving forward toward your wholeness. Don’t be afraid to speak the words out loud: “This is who I am; this is what I want.”

There is such beauty in the fact that we get to tell the truth about what we love, what we want, and who we are. No apologies. Hide nothing. Bask in the beauty of your uniqueness. Love your quirkiness, your weirdness. Allow yourself to be seen. Take up space.

It’s never too late. This very moment, this very second, you can start all over again right now. The invitations to recreate your life come from every direction when you decide to look for them.

“What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver

Click here to read this article in elephant journal.

Bonjour mes amis and welcome to my site and my story!

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I started building this site in February 2017 with the idea of creating a website and you tube channel to post weekly videos on yoga, healthy eating and mindfulness.

In the past six months, so much has changed and so I’ve had to change my website concept as well. I herniated several discs in my back, developed horrible nerve pain and had to stop doing yoga and pilates completely.

And, I moved to France for the summer.

I decided to leave the videos I’d already done on the site and hope that my back will heal soon so that I can start posting them again.

Instead of a website to share my passion for yoga and yummy food, I decided  I would write a Blog to share my passion for France and my summer here in Saint Tropez with you.

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I first fell in love with the Cote D’Azur in 1992 when I moved to Monaco to dance with a company there. After getting my BFA in dance from the University of Utah, I’d spent two years in New York City, pursuing my dreams and my dance career. Going from the busy streets and lifestyle of downtown Manhattan to the beauty, the stillness and the sea, I fell head over heels in love with the south of France. After Monaco, I lived in Paris for twelve years, dancing in a cabaret show on the Champs Elysees.  I returned stateside after my son Matisse was born and have raised him by myself for the past fifteen years.

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But something kept calling me back to France. A whisper in my ear, a dream, a longing to return to this special place in the world. And so I started to come back, to visit at first. Each visit became a bit longer and for the the past three years I’ve spent my summers here in Saint Tropez and my winters in Utah. My dream is to spend most of the year here once my son graduates from school next year.

home_twoEvery time I come back to the south of France, I feel more alive and grateful than I do anywhere else in the world. It’s a combination of the natural beauty here, being by the sea, the freedom and the difference in the culture, the language and the people. The food, the wine, the colors of blue, the sunsets and sunrises here are all a truly sensual experience and I find myself feeling more and thinking less. The lifestyle here is more about slowing down, taking the time to disconnect from “to do” lists and to re connect with people and experiences. It’s about balancing work with play and making time for play every day instead of waiting for the weekend or vacation. It’s about enjoying the moment and appreciating the little things, like drinking a glass of cold champagne a la piscine (with ice cubes) while sitting on the beach with friends listening to the rhythmic sound of the waves lap against the shore.

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Every day I am here, I’m inspired to step out of my comfort zone, to be willing and open to change and grow, to take risks, do things that seem impossible and to follow my heart and my dreams.

I hope to inspire you by sharing my journey and my experiences, introducing you to the people I meet, the places I visit and this different culture and way of life. I’ve learned that there is so much freedom in letting go of the need for people and things to be a certain way. Freedom in learning to trust your intuition, listen to your heart, step away from your daily routine that gives you a feeling of security and search for the things and the places that truly make you feel alive. Freedom to create the life you dream of and to do the things that seem impossible.

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Thank you so much for stopping by and checking out my site. I hope you’ll grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and join me for the ride!

The Summer I Met God

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This earth is my alter.
The clouds, the trees and the rocks are my gods.
Against a backdrop of purple blue sky and setting sun, I pray with the sound of my breath and the steady echo of my falling footsteps as I walk freely through the fields.
And as I listen closely to the whisper of the breeze and the sudden silence of the birds I realize that I already have all of the answers deep inside.
This is the summer I’ve met god.
This is the summer I’ve seen myself.
I’ve given in to beautiful imperfection. I’ve decided there is no time to pretend or to try to to want to be anything more than who I am.
Who am I not to follow my dreams? To listen to my heart? To fall in love with this one precious life I have?
Who am I not to dance and laugh and love every day?
When did I stop believing in magic and angels and think that life was about doing instead of just being?
There is such freedom in choosing to accept instead of fight. Such freedom in feeling instead of thinking.
This is the summer I met god. I had to slow down. I had to listen. I had to make the decision to accept myself and love myself just like god does. When I did this, I realized that god, the universe and my guardian angel have always loved me unconditionally, even when I hated myself. I saw that they had always been there walking with me through life and that I could give up control and simply trust in the three of them to lad me forward. I learned that I could let everything else, but what is, simply fall away from me and step into my new skin.
Since we’ve met, god comes to me every day and we talk and spend time together in silence.
My god is as vast as the universe, as solid as the ground beneath my feet and she lovingly wraps her guardian angel wings around me.
She says, fly sweet girl, fly. This is your time.
And so I do. Finding signs of her existence everywhere I look.
I find beautiful feathers at my feet and rocks shaped like hearts as I walk in the vineyards each morning. Signs for me to keep moving forward, to keep believing and to keep working on staying connected.
Each time I look up and I see a bird flying overhead, I’m reminded. Each time I take a deep breath in, I feel my ribcage spreading open like wings on my back, I know.
I’ve started looking at life from the inside out and in doing that, I’ve finally met myself.
And in meeting myself, I’ve met God.
Sometimes I think this is a sign that something is going to happen soon. Some sort of ending.
Because life is so utterly perfect right now.
How is it possible to wake up every morning only to fall in love with life over and over again? And to fall asleep at night feeling so complete?
After so many years of struggle, of feeling like I didn’t belong, of feeling like an outsider looking in, I suddenly see everything from the inside out. Each moment falling more deeply into myself. All of my senses are heightened and I feel a connection to everything that’s always been here.
What is it that has changed I ask over and over again?
I realize it’s simply me. And I realize that it’s not so much a change that has occurred but simply a letting go.
Of deciding to accept, to open up, to listen and to let everything else but what is, simply fall away.
I’ve starting looking at life from the inside out.
The summer I met god happened when I finally began to accept myself and to love myself and believe in my goodness. I truly knew that I was good and lovable deep down in my very core, no matter what and that this is my constant.
I saw that the universe, that god and my guardian angel loved me and accepted me exactly as I am and knew that to find peace with myself, I need to do the same.
I also realized that it had always been this way. That they had always been there by my side, walking with me through life and that I could finally give up control and trust in the three of them. In loving and accepting myself right now, I was also able to give up the need to be different from who I am and to celebrate my uniqueness and my life.

Why walking Away From Responsibility Can Be A Choice You’ll Never Regret

The day I decided to walk away from my job, my son, my house and all of my everyday responsibilities for three and a half months was a decision I will never regret.

Originally, I had planned on going to the south of France to stay with a friend for two weeks this summer. I started looking at tickets and called my friend, Barbara in France. Out of the blue she said, “you should really come live here for the entire summer”. At that moment, I didn’t even consider it. It seemed absolutely impossible and un do-able. Little did I realize that the small seed was planted and it was already too late. It started to sprout, at first in passing thoughts, then dreams at night, then full on daily fantasies. I imagined spending the entire summer, living near the sea with my best friend in the south of France. I spent two weeks thinking about all of the reasons that I could not be done, that it was absolutely impossible for me to leave for that long.

What would the law firm I work for say? Surely I’d lose my job…..
Who would take care of my seventeen and a half year old son? Yes, he’s very mature and has had to spend time alone since I’ve raised him by myself and always worked. But seriously, he still leaves a trail of dirty socks and power bar wrappers around the house and forgets about all sorts of things I ask him to do. I thought, he totally needs me to stay here and take care of him. And what about my house? I rent out the basement on airbnb and live upstairs with my son. Who would make sure that everything was okay and take care the lawn?
And my cat, how would he manage to stay alive without me? And then of course, there was plenty of worry about money. Could I find a job in France? Should I take the money out of my retirement account? Would I be able to continue to pay the bills in Utah if I left for the summer?

I was stuck. Stuck in fear in uncertainty and paralyzed by the what-if’s. I was letting my thoughts rule my mood and felt anxious and stressed. I was not taking the time to do my daily soul work, my meditation and to connect with the universe, with god and with myself. I knew that if I took the time to slow down in silence and listen, my heart would tell me what to do. But I didn’t. I just kept listening to the voice in my head telling me over and over again that walking away from my job, my son, my house and all of my everyday responsibilities was completely insane and absolutely impossible.

So often we forget that the answers are always there for us if we look within. We KNOW what is best for us, what our hearts long for in life if we can just take the time to pay attention and listen to our intuition and trust in it. For a long time, the trusting part was very difficult for me. I didn’t trust myself to know what was right for me. When I look at those words, I think how ridiculous! No one knows me better than myself. Though people, family, friends and society try hard to tell us what kind of life to live and what is best for us, they really have no idea and are simply basing their opinions on their own fears, values, stories and past experiences.

After two weeks of feeling anxious and unsure, I decided I would go for two weeks as I’d originally planned. I was using frequent flyer miles for ticket and had exactly 93,000 miles to use. I found the dates I wanted to go in July and the ticket was 114,000 miles. Going for two weeks in August was the same. Suddenly, I was in panic mode. I only had 93,000 miles. What if I couldn’t go at all? I looked up how many miles it would take to leave from May through September just to reassure myself, thinking it would be much more. And then the number came up – 93,000 miles.

Seriously, really and truly and in that moment I knew what I had to do. I’m a big believer in signs and coincidences and I knew that this was the universe telling me to let go. To let go of my worries, my what if’s, to trust in life, to take a risk and to go spend three months in France. I’m also a big believer in buying plane tickets first and then making the plans and preparations after. I’ve always felt that if you put off buying the plane ticket until you’re ready, you’ll never be ready.

The Delta window sat open on my desktop at work all afternoon. I must have refreshed it thirty times. Oh, the mental pain of indecision and imagining that we have any sort of control over the future. My heart beat the word yes, over and over again. My soul whispered, do it, the only thing holding you back is fear of the unknown.

At 5pm, before leaving the office to head home, I clicked on the “complete purchase” button. My shoulders dropped, my jaw softened and I felt lighter, almost giddy. It was that easy. Instead of staying stuck in indecision of the unknown, I listened to my heart, took action and right away stepped through a door that was opened to me for a reason. I stepped into uncertainty, adventure, not knowing and it felt wonderful and light and free.

With only a month before leaving, it was not much of a surprise that everything started to fall into place. The universe was there for me as was my guardian angel and god. And by letting go and trusting them all, I was in a different energy space. An energy of moving forward. And so I did.

The law firm gave me a leave of absence. I rented out the basement apartment to long term renters and hired someone to take care of the lawn. I put all of my bills on auto pay and took the money I would need out of my retirement account. The hardest part was leaving my son alone. But he was my biggest supporter. He was the one that told me, “mom, you have to go. You love it there, your friends are there and you’re always happy when you go to France. I’ll be fine mom. You can trust me. Besides, I love being alone at home.” And with his words, I had to believe him and trust him and know that this was his truth, his choice. “Won’t you be lonely I asked? I don’t want you to feel like I’m abandoning you”. He rolled his eyes and said, “mom, just go”. I ended up buying a ticket for him to come stay with me for a month. That way he would be spending the month of June and August alone and the month of July in France with me.

I put together five different resumes in english and french. Anything I had some sort of experience in, from bartending to teaching yoga to travel writing to working as a tour guide. I packed my bag, took the cat to my parents house and the morning my son drove me to the airport, we played his rap music so loud and laughed so hard I cried. We were both so excited for this time of freedom for both of us.

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I’ve been here for six weeks already and guess what? My house hasn’t burned down, my cat is getting spoiled by my parents, the renters in my basement apartment are great and my son did just fine at home by himself for a month. He got himself to work every day and had the time of his life with his friends. He arrived here in France last week.

In the six weeks I’ve been here, I’ve bartended a bit, taught some private yoga classes and done a lot of travel writing, interviewing the most wonderful people and making new connections and working on my website. But most of all, I’ve slowed down. I allow myself to luxuriate in stillness each morning, to adore my time alone, to meditate and walk outdoors every single day. I swim in the sea for hours and float on my back, staring up at the blue sky until a wave crashes over me and I get saltwater up my nose and in my eyes. I feel like a little girl again. I’m learning to play. I spend more time feeling and less time thinking and doing. I do my soul work every day and live in such a space of gratitude. For this opportunity, for my life, for the sun, the sea, the trees and for my steady beating heart and my calming breath. I’m learning that listening to and following your intuition are the most important things that we can do to find meaning in our lives. I know that there is an entire world inside myself to explore and nourish teach day and that this inner world is much more important than the outside world. It’s all we really have and no one can take it away from us. The type of inner world we choose to build is entirely up to each of us.

I’m learning that’s it’s okay to simply walk away from responsibility for a short or a long period of time. It’s okay and it’s good to simply take a break from the things that weigh us down. It’s our personal responsibility to walk away from what the world tells us we should be doing and to embrace what our soul, our heart and our intuition is calling us towards.

I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again.
~Anais Niin

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Screw Skinny, I’m Embracing My Little Love Pillow

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I try to go on a walk every morning. It gives me time to wake up my body, my breath and let thoughts flow in and out of consciousness without placing too much emphasis or focus on any one thing that comes to mind as I move my body through the morning air.
I take the time to notice the heat of the sun or the chill of the morning, the slight breeze as it touches my skin and I tune into the sounds of nature.
This morning, for some reason, my thoughts kept circling back to how I’m feeling about my body these days. I tried to ignore it at first but since the thought kept coming back in, I decided to examine it. What was I feeling that I needed to deal with to bring myself back into the present moment?
At first I thought about how much more comfortable I am with my body here in the south of France than I am in America, and how much more loving I am towards it, even through I’ve put on five pounds since I arrived seven weeks ago.
I thought about how differently I dress here. Each morning, I slip on a pair of bikini bottoms and a loose dress. No leggings cutting into my waist, no bra straps pressing down on my shoulders, no tight shirt showing off my extra curves. Since I am wearing less clothing, I can feel the elements of nature more – the breeze caressing my skin and blowing my hair in different directions, since I’ve given up on pulling it back into a constricting ponytail every day as well. I adorn my fingers and wrists with rings and bracelets in colors that shine and glitter in the sun. I don’t have to worry about them getting in the way all day like they do in the winter when I spend eight hours a day typing on my computer at the law firm I work for. I’ve given up on blow drying my hair, letting it dry a tangled mess in the sun. And the only makeup I wear is a light golden sunscreen on my face and a lightly perfumed oil on my body. If I wear shoes, its a pair of glittery flip flops or pretty flat sandals.
This style feels right, it feels good and it feels less constricted. It’s so different from how I dress back in Utah which is where I spend my winters.

I’ve let my skin get golden brown from spending days in the sun and swimming in the sea and this suntan almost feels like a second skin on my body. I don’t use 50+ sunscreen, I don’t wear a hat and usually I’ll just cover my eyes with a pair of sunglasses. After covering up for so many years, I almost feel like I’m living dangerously. I’m sure my Vitamin D levels are off the charts! I throw on a long beaded necklace that hangs down to my waist and I’m ready to go from early morning until the time I go to bed.
But as I continued to think about why I feel better about myself here in France, I realized that it’s not just dressing differently. It’s a lot of other things as well.

At first, I wasn’t very happy about putting on an extra five pounds. I struggled to be okay with it. I feel a bit rounder, a bit softer but I am slowly getting used to it and even getting to like it.
One of my favorite expressions here is “petit cousin d’amour” which translates into “little love pillow”. It’s used to explain a few extra pounds of cushioning on your stomach in a loving way. It means your belly has a softness for your boyfriend or child to rest their head on. I hear so many French women use this phrase every single day. Instead of saying, “oh, I’m fat” or “I’ve put extra weight on my tummy”, they simply say, “mais oui, j’ai un petit cousin d’amour maitenent”. (well yes, I have a little love pillow now)

It’s incredible the impact that words can have upon us and how important it is to be conscious of our inner voices. In the beginning, I’d touch my tummy and say, “ugh, gross, I’ve put on five pounds. I need to stop eating all of the amazing cheese and bread and wine here so that my tummy is flat again”. But the reality is, while I am here is France for the summer, I do want to eat all of the wonderful French cheese and drink the gorgeous wine. So I decided to take charge and start talking to myself differently. To begin thinking about myself in a more loving and forgiving way.

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It was difficult at first, but now, I find myself touching my tummy and thinking, well yes, it’s just my little love pillow. I’ve made an effort to do this many times a day, every day for the past few weeks. Each time a negative body image thought comes up, I replace it with a positive one. And so much more accepting of myself and my body and my extra five pounds.
Our self talk is a very powerful thing. And we have the power to stop and notice how we are talking to ourselves and to make sure it is in a loving, gentle, forgiving, accepting and positive way.
We are not supposed to be perfect. Not our bodies, our minds, our souls, our relationships, our lives or our tummies. We are not supposed to stay the same size and shape throughout our lives as we grow older.

I think of all of the years I worked as a personal trainer, pilates and yoga instructor, training clients from the ages of fifteen to seventy five and none of them were happy with the shape of their bodies. All of them wanted something different. A flatter stomach, leaner legs, sculpted biceps and of course, they all wanted to be thinner. It’s the American ideal is it not?
And I saw the pain, the damage, the self abuse, the frustration and the self loathing that it caused them. I think of how many years I tried to make my body “perfect”. Dancing all of my life and then modeling , there was always so much pressure on my weight, on being really thin. But the reality is, I’m not dancing or modeling anymore and I’m past midlife, past the age of 45, so why would I still strive for a hard, lean, sculpted body?
Looking back, I think of all of the hours I wasted in the gym exercising with the intention to burn calories and stay thin. I could have been working on more important things like relationships and experiences with loved ones or spending more time out in nature.
In the end, I feel like it’s just another distraction to focus on, trying to control our weight, what we eat, how many calories we burn and how much we weigh. Just another distraction to avoid looking at the feelings that underly our body issues. The feelings of not being enough. The feelings of wanting to be loved. The feelings from the past that we have not dealt with.
A perfect body does not exist and a perfect body does not bring happiness or connection or love into our lives. Not lasting anyway.

Why do we spend so much time criticizing ourselves? Why do we place so much emphasis on our bodies? In all reality, we are not our bodies and it does so much damage to our self esteem, our mood and the way we feel about ourselves to be constantly striving for unattainable perfection.

I started to think of the word skinny. What a loaded and horrible word. Why does our American culture place so much importance on being skinny? Screw skinny.
What has skinny ever gotten me really? Maybe during my career, it helped me get hired for certain jobs where that was the requirement. But if I look at the word now, I’ve decided it needs to be completely deleted from my vocabulary. Will skinny make me happier? No. Will skinny make me feel better about myself? Actually, no. Skinny doesn’t solve my problems or pay my bills or help me raise my son or make me feel anything but worse about myself, perpetuating the myth that I am not enough.
I am absolutely and completely enough. And so are you.

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America wants me to be skinny and busy and working and tired. France wants me to relax and eat and drink and enjoy life, to do more things that feel like play and to have a little more flesh on my body, to have a little love pillow on my tummy and to feel good about it.
I will try my hardest to never again pinch the skin on my stomach and say gross, fat, yuck. I will try every day to lovingly rub my belly, like rubbing the belly of a buddha to bring good luck and repeat the words, my little love pillow.

So, with each day that passes as I spend this summer in France, I peel off the layers of unrealistic expectations of American culture and I find that my life is simpler here and that there is more authenticity in the way I live each day with this comes the ability to begin to love myself exactly as I am. I see all this as nourishment instead of starvation. Nourishment for my body, my spirit and my soul. These days I work on my soul while taking care of my body.
I don’t go to the gym anymore. I don’t worry about doing cardio or lifting weights or burning calories. I simply go on a walk outside in nature each morning for an hour or two. But, my intention is not to make this daily exercise. It’s simply my time to breathe, to connect to the world and myself, to simply let my thoughts and ideas flow in and out of consciousness.

This new way of thinking feels right to me. It feels kinder, better, more loving. I trust my feelings and I am defining my own opinions about what beauty is in my own shape and form.
How have the voices I’ve listened to for so many years chanting to me endlessly about striving for perfection helped with my happiness? How have they made me feel whole and loved and beautiful? They haven’t and so I’m done with them. Screw skinny. Screw perfection.
I don’t want to reach the end of my life and look back on all of the hours I spent working, organizing, doing and achieving.
I want to look back and remember the feeling of the sun, the taste of the sea, the smell of the morning air, the long morning walks, the time spent with friends and family, the taste of fresh french bread and cheese and wine, the new softness of myself and my life here this summer.
I want to spend the rest of my life loving myself and loving others, loving life and loving this world. And holding onto this new feeling of being loved. By myself. Completely. As I am today. I’m just beginning to taste this for the first time. And this means accepting all of my flaws, my imperfections, my messiness. But this is where the real beauty lies. Each of us will always be a mess in one way or another. Perfection is a painful myth. I’m learning to love myself unconditionally and wholly. Without judgement there is only acceptance. Without striving for an unrealistic goal there is only being and experiencing what is.

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good
~ Jon Steinbeck

Why Does Connection Seem So Far Away Sometimes?

I often ask myself why some days I can feel so connected to myself, to this world and to others
and why other days it seems so elusive?
I know that feeling connected to life, starts by feeling connected to myself and to do that, I need to be in a place where I’m able to accept and love myself. To believe in my wholeness and my goodness.
Sometimes it’s as easy as getting a solid eight hours of sleep and not drinking too much wine the night before so that I wake up feeling energized and positive. Other times, it’s quieting the chatter in my head about how I’m not enough – not good enough, not smart enough, not capable enough, just not enough of anything.
When I find myself stuck in that space in my head where I’m beating myself up with my thoughts, I’m in a state of negative energy and it’s much more difficult for me to listen to my heart, to breathe deeply and let go the things that are causing me worry and stress.
I once read a wonderful analogy that we are like oil and vinegar, like a bottle of Italian salad dressing with the bitter red vinegar resting on top and the smooth, golden molten oil resting at the bottom. Before we can pray or meditate, we need to pour out the vinegar until all that is left is the oil. For me, this means sitting in a place of stillness, closing my eyes and taking a few moments to be still and breathe. Allowing the vinegar to evaporate as I exhale out fear and uncertainty and breathe in love and acceptance, until all that is left is buttery smoothness. Then, in this place, I can connect with god, with the universe and with my guardian angel, which I think of as my triple deity, and feeling that I am utterly and completely loved and accepted exactly as I am, by all three, I can then love and accept myself wholly. The feeling of separation seeps away and I find my feeling strong and connected again. I know that I am good, that I am lovable and that I am perfect exactly as I am in this very moment.
As I focus on all of the simple things that I have to be grateful for, as I focus on all of the people that I love so much, my protective outer shell and my hard edges begin to soften and I am able to anchor myself back into love, stepping away from fear and melting into this moment, knowing that everything is okay. I remind myself that all I ever have is this moment and that everything will always be okay.
Feeling like I am not enough, like my life is not enough takes me out of the space of gratitude and by finding stillness and presence, by noticing my thoughts without judgement, I can change the tape the is unconsciously playing in my head and consciously choose new thoughts. It’s something that I need to do over and over again each day and it’s a powerful tool to bring myself continually back into presence and living in this moment. I slide back into living from my heart instead of my head. I bring my focus back into simply being, instead of doing.

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I don’t know if everyone struggles with this inner battle of connection and disconnection or if it’s just me. For many years, especially during adolescence, I felt like I didn’t belong. I grew up in a very conservative environment where religion played a large role in being liked, popular and accepted. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in and this was often a lonely place to be. I felt different, I knew there was something about me that was different on the inside, and so I started to do everything I could to show that I was different on the outside. I went through my punk rock stage, dying my hair bright purple, wearing a silver studded leather jacket and combat boots. smoking filterless clove cigarettes, drinking alcohol and listening to angry
music. I found my place in a group of peers and friends for a while but still I often felt on the outside. A year later, I tried out a grateful dead hippie stage for a few years. I let my hair grow down to my waist, wore tie dyed t-shirts and smoked pot with my new peer group and friends. I kept looking for a way to belong from the outside in, instead of starting from the inside out. My teenage years were not easy as I continued to search for a place where I felt like I belonged and where I felt connected to myself and others.
I’d started dancing when I was four years old and continued until I turned fourteen. Friends became more of a priority than dancing and so I stopped going to dance classes and started going to parties. The years in between fourteen and eighteen were tumultuous as I searched for something, some group to belong to, to make me feel whole and accepted and connected. When I went to college and decided to major in dance, everything fell back into place again for me for a while. I was a dancer. I ate, slept, breathed and dreamed of dancing every second of
the day. I had an identity and a group pf friends I felt connected with and I spent my days in dance classes, moving my body, being inside my body and out of my head, feeling instead of thinking and living from the inside out. My passion and connection to dance carried me through college, to New York and then to Paris. Something about living in France clicked with me and I felt a limitless sense of freedom and connection in this country. This feeling stayed with me for the twelve years I lived in Paris and danced professionally there. My son Matisse was born in 1999 and I left both dancing and Paris a year later, returning to the city I grew up in. Leaving the two things that I was most passionate about had a profound effect on me and everything came to a grinding halt.
I felt completely lost. Disconnected, uncertain and scared. The only feeling of connection I had was with this beautiful precious baby boy of mine.
I found myself back in the hometown I’d worked so hard to get away from, surrounded by painful memories, living in my parent’s basement raising my one year old son all alone. Every day was a struggle and the only thing that kept me going and ultimately saved me was my son. He was the reason I had to keep going. He was my one glimmer of light in all of the darkness. He was my hope, my dreams, my heart, my soul and my love all wrapped up into
one tiny two fisted package. His smile lit up my heart and I spent every moment of my days and nights with him in my arms. He brought love into my life like nothing ever had before.
Somehow I got my own apartment, somehow, I re created myself and began a new career and a new life. And somehow, I raised him and supported the two of us all by myself for sixteen years. Somehow I’m still alive to even tell this. I always knew that I had a guardian angel but I never knew that god was right there by my side as well.
During these sixteen years, being back in the city I’d been born and grown up in, I felt just as disconnected as I had as a teenager. Once again, I found myself feeling like I was the outsider looking in. Knowing I was different. Trying to find my place, my tribe and once again looking for connection from the outside in.
I couldn’t find it. I searched everywhere. Everywhere but inside of myself that is. Which is where it lay dormant, waiting for me to be ready again. I stayed busy and achieved and accomplished and built a thriving career and did everything by myself. I refused to ask for help. I rejected the idea of god, even scoffed at it in disdain. I didn’t allow myself to slow down. I didn’t allow myself to face my silence, my loneliness and my pain.
I was in a horrible relationship for six years and it was when I ended it three years ago that I knew my life had to change. I was back on a familiar path of self destruction and self hate and it was all because I felt so very empty inside. So very disconnected from my life and myself. I felt like I’d lost myself in this relationship and forgotten who I was and what were the things that made me feel alive. The things that keep saving me over and over again were my son, my perseverance and inner strength.

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Slowly, I started to find myself again by doing the things that I’d stopped doing. I started to travel again, to spend time with friends, to go out dancing and move my body. I started going back to France again every summer to visit and reconnect with the friends and the culture that had brought me so much joy for so many years. I also practiced, studied and completed numerous certifications and started to teach yoga.
Through yoga, I discovered meditation and prayer. Especially when I injured my back and couldn’t practice asana, which is the physical limb of the yoga wheel. The two things that brought me back into that place, that feeling of connection and belonging were being in an environment that I thrived in and taking time each day to sit in stillness, breathe deeply and get in touch with my soul. From the inside out.
I now know that this is what brings me connection and that the years, the months, the days and the hours that I felt disconnected in the past and the moments I find myself feeling disconnected in the present are simply because I am looking at life through my thoughts and not listening to my heart speak to me. And so on those days when I feel disconnected, I need only to start from the inside out, to find a space to sit in silence and let the vinegar evaporate, to sink softly into the oil and to bring my attention to everything I have, everything I am. I pray, I meditate, I focus on all of nature’s beauty and I see my own beauty. I bask in the goodness of all I have to be grateful for and I find the preciousness of my life within. I take care of my body but I work on my soul. And in this place I find wholeness in myself, have compassion for myself and connect to my true self. From there, it’s easy to feel connected to the world and to everyone around me.
We are not separate. We separate ourselves from others by feeling alone, by believing that we are not enough when truly we are all more than enough, perfect in our messy imperfection, exactly as we are, in this very moment.

Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
And say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
~Derek Walcott

Looking For The Invitations To Re Create Your Life?

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But little by little, as you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own.
~Mary Oliver

It’s never too late. This very moment, this very second, you can start all over again right now. You can re build your life and change the things that aren’t working. The invitations to re create your life come from every direction if you look for them.
The first step is getting in touch with what you really want, with your unique feelings that you were born with, held deeply in your heart, your secret garden, the feelings that bring you alive.
For some of us it’s freedom, for others its security. Maybe you love solitude and nature or maybe you thrive on being surrounded by people and love a life in the city.
How do we do this? How do we know or re discover or true desires and needs? Before re creating our lives, we need to get in touch with this truth. This is not to say that our desires never change. As we grow, mature, go through life and experience pain and joy, we get to know ourselves more deeply and yes, thank goodness, we do change. This is the one thing we can always count on. But I truly believe that there are certain essential needs that each of us are are born with, deeply embedded in our DNA that stay with us throughout our lives.
I remember all the way back to when I was just five years old. I loved to spin in circles until I was so dizzy I fell down. I loved to dance. I loved to run outside, climb tall trees, chase butterflies and then lay on my back in the soft grass for hours, staring up at the sky and the clouds while day dreaming. I loved being out in nature, in the sunshine, feeling free and finding beauty and connection there. I loved to play and to dream.
And that has not changed one bit.
As we build our lives and “grow up”, it’s easy to forget these essential truths that are woven into the inner fabric of our beings. We begin to focus more on what our society values, which tends to be accomplishments, staying busy, accumulating things, being seen as strong, successful and capable and we can lose touch with our inner voice and with what we truly value.

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If we don’t decide how we want to live, then circumstances will decide for us. It’s so easy to let our environment and the people we spend time with shape us into someone we’re not. To let someone else’s hopes and dreams shape our reality.
We start to listen and to believe in what others want for us, what others think is best for us until maybe one day, we find ourselves in a place, a relationship, a job, even an entire life that we’ve spent years building and we have a moment of clarity that says “this is not what I want and how in the hell did I get here?”
The world will tell you what kind of life to live if you let it. Don’t let it.
This is when it’s time to start asking ourselves some hard questions. I find that the only way I can do this is by spending time alone outside in nature. Going on long walks alone and letting thoughts come and go. Sitting in silence, listening from the inside out and opening up to my feelings. Nature and silence connect me to myself and to god and the universe. I feel grounded, safe, loved and present. Then I can re visit the fabric of my interior life and start to patch the pieces back together.
There are times in our lives when the only way to hear the answers we search for is to spend time alone. Without anyone’s help, without all the other voices telling us what to do and what is best for us. And in this silence, we can let the chaos begin to settle, inviting the silence in. I’m not saying that this is easy. Looking within and listening is much harder than staying busy and doing. But in this space of silence, we can begin to listen to our inner voice, our intuition and our heart. We can re discover our strength in our aloneness and in doing this step into more courage to evolve. We can listen deeply to our own desires.
I find it crazy how we can go for years without asking ourselves these essential questions and without even realizing the we are slowly losing ourselves. We fall into relationships, jobs and environments that tell us who to be and how to be and what to love. Over time we may realize the the things happening in our lives are not the things we want to happen. We can easily lose touch with the things that are important to us, the things that bring us alive. When this happens, we start to feel disconnected, depressed, unfulfilled. Everything may look fine on the
outside but on the inside, there is emptiness and sorrow. We can go for years trying to push away the whispers, the signs, the longings tugging at our hearts, the things we dream of doing, the life we dream of living. The real tragedy is when the whispers turn into loud voices, maybe into screams and if we continue to push them down, to ignore them, filling ourselves up with addictions and denial and things to do, if we continue to ignore them for long enough, they will eventually fall silent.
If we truly want to know what matters today, all we have to do is look at our mortality and ask ourselves, if I had twenty four hours left to live, how would I spend those hours, who would I be spending them with and where?

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And so again I repeat, it’s never too late. We get to decide how we want to live. And we can re invent ourselves over and over again. The most important thing my in life I’ve found is to connect to my deepest desires, my soul, and then begin to walk or run towards what I love. I have re made myself and re built my life so many times. Each time I fall down, I get back up and I grow, I learn, I discover how very capable I am.
We make our lives by forming them around what we love and what we fear. The limitations we create hold us back and keep us stuck. What does it take to let go of these limitations and have the courage to move forward into the unknown? I believe it’s allowing silence to be our guide and our anchor and asking questions without needing immediate answers and then trusting that we are not alone. That there is something much bigger than us holding,
supporting, sheltering and guiding us along each step of the path we are on.
Our lives are ours alone to mold, to choose, to shape, and to design. There are so many lives to live, so many options. We can live near the sea or in the city. We can eat kale or chocolate. We can go barefoot or wear heels. we can be single or in a relationship. We can make money or live simply. Everyone is different.
What do you desire? What is it that gives you chills, that fills you with joy, that brings you alive? In the end, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks your life should look like, it is yours to decide. I’ve found that there is so much freedom in walking away from the things others want for us and stepping into our own light.
In the end, you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself.
Start slowly, find the silence, listen to your unique voice take small steps. Each step is a step moving forward towards your wholeness. Don’t be afraid to speak the words out loud, “this is who I am, this is what I want”. There is such beauty in the fact that we get to tell the truth about what we love, what we want and who we are. No apologies. Hide nothing. Bask in the beauty of your uniqueness. Love your quirkiness, your weirdness. Allow yourself to be seen. Take up space.
It’s never too late. This very moment, this very second, you can start all over again right now. The invitations to re create your life come from every direction when you decide to look for them.

What will you do with your one wild and precious life?
~Mary Oliver

Saint Tropez market, Place des lices

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The Place des Lices in the heart of St.-Tropez is a wonderful place to hold an open-air market. When the market isn’t going on, you can see how its 100-year old trees divide it into seven long arcades and create a beautiful canopy of filtered sunlight. The view looking down this tree lined arcade is almost exactly the same today, as it was when Charles Camoin captured it in 1936. On non-market days, boule players get together in small groups early in the morning and play until the wee hours of the next morning. But every Tuesday and Saturday from 8am to 1pm, they make way for an open-air market to be set up here.

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The present day Place des Lices began to take shape in the early 1800’s when 12 trees were planted. The area probably dates back to the 9th or 10th century when it might have been used as a jousting ground (lices actually means jousting).
This is definitely not a typical village farmers market in the sense that the vendors grow the produce they sell there. However, you can find a few local farmers as well as vendors selling home made prepared items such as olives, breads, tapenade, paella, jams, tartes and breads.

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You can find lots of specialties from provence sold here and the market is filled with both locals and tourists doing their shopping. I will say that it’s not the best place to find bargains. It’s expensive but you can find really unique items here. I think that the real beauty of this market is simply strolling through the different booths and stalls, smelling the fresh scent of lavender or the huge pans of fresh paella cooking and the endless assortment of french sausages and cheeses. Be sure to get to the market early, before the crowds arrive. There is a parking complex just a block away which makes parking easy.

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If you are looking for a fun spot to pick up gifts for friends and relatives before leaving Saint Tropez, this is the place. My favorite time to go is around 9am and then spend some time strolling through the market. Next I like to go sit in one of the cafes surrounding the place des lices and enjoy a cafe and a croissant. I also love to do my food shopping here on Saturday and then head home to make a fresh delicious lunch with friends.
Marche de Saint Tropez
Place des Lices
Tuesday & Saturday, 8am-1pm

Nioulargo beach club

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Nioulargo is one of my favorite beaches and restaurants on les plages pampelonne in SaintTropez. The fish andsalads are always fresh and Alex, the head bartender, makes the best caipirinha around. There are two restaurants, traditional french cuisine and asian cuisine.

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The staff here are all very friendly and the ambience is truly one of the best on this long stretch of beach. There is chill music playing and both restaurants have a beautiful view of the sea from almost every table. I love having lunch, then getting a mattress to lounge on the beach and enjoy the sea all afternoon. The water on this stretch of the beach is very clean and it’s the perfect place to go for a swim. I love to spend the entire day here and finish off the afternoon with a gelato and then a glass of rose wine at the bar.

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I bartended here for three days when I first came to saint Tropez this summer so I got to know everyone who works here really well. Sophie manages the bar and she always has a smile for you as you walk in. Guillome will find a mattress and a parasol for you after lunch to enjoy the afternoon and Alex will make sure you have something yummy to drink. there is a great boutique, run by Valerie with gorgeous dresses, bags, bikinis and jewelry.

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I keep coming back to this spot and actually find myself here about twice a week because everyone makes me feel so welcome. This is the place I recommend to all of my friends visiting Saint Tropez so if you get a chance, be sure to check it out!
Nioulargo beach club
Boulevard Patch
83350 Ramatuelle
Saint Tropez
+33 (0) 498126312

Le Tiki beach & restaurant

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I really like Le Tiki beach. The food is always so fresh and the ambiance is great whether your with your family or with friends. Herve, the owner always makes sure that you are well taken care of and leave satisfied. You have a beautiful view of the sea from the restaurant and can sit in the sun or the shade while a refreshing breeze blows in from the sea.

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I love to have lunch here and then get a lounge chair/ mattress on the beach for the afternoon and enjoy the sea and the sun. The tuna sashimi is amazing and the tomato burrata salad was one of the freshest I’ve had. I always finish my lunch here with a “cafe gourmand” which is a coffee served with four small servings of different sumptuous desserts. It’s the best ever!
Restaurant Tiki beach ramatuelle
Route des plages, chemin des tamaris
+33 (0) 494559697

Cote Jardin restaurant

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If you want a place to get away, relax under the trees and enjoy a book or a quiet lunch with a friend, this is the place. Hang out as long as you’s like, connect to wifi or un connect and listen to the birds. Fresh food, good prices and gorgeous scenery.

imageA good friend of mine suggested that we have lunch at Cote Garden last week and I told her I’d never been there. How had I not discovered this place? It’s right in the center of Cogolin but as soon as you walk through the gates, you feel like your in Indonesia. There are tables, couches and booths to lounge in and old trees reaching up towards the sky above. You hear the sound of birds, not traffic here. I had a salad with parmesan and my friend had the hamburger. the food is simple but fresh and the prices are reasonable. I went back the next day as soon as they opened and ordered a cafe au lait and a croissant and spent the next few hours working remotely from my computer.
Cote Jardin restaurant
1 rue Gambetta
83310 Cogolin
+33 (0) 494541036

Garuda restaurant

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Great restaurant in Cogolin with a lovely outdoor terrace. The food is “thai and aubrac beef”. This place was a real find. It’s the best thai food I’ve tasted in France, really authentic.
imageThe chef is from Bankok and everything is made with fresh ingredients like kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce, corriendar , chilli, mint leaves, lime juice. We tried the steamed shrimp dumplings, the almond crusted large prawns, the massman duck curry, the papaya salad and the pad thai. All of them were absolutely delicious. For those of who prefer traditional french meat, they have a french chef also who cooks great steaks- they even have Waygu steak!
Garuda restaurant
40 rue Marceau
83310 Cogolin
+33 (0) 681043846

Hotel Ermitage

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This beautiful hotel has a gorgeous terrace to have a drink and watch the sun setting over Saint Tropez and it’s just two minutes away from the center of town.

imageIt’s a great spot for a romantic date or night out with friends. The location is nice as you can see the roofs of Saint Tropez and the atmosphere is very relaxing. The ambience is lively but chill at the same time. The DJ plays great music and it’s easy to have a conversation. There is a place to “joue aux boules”, to “jouer la petanques” in front, with a few tables to have a drink while playing the game. Petanques is a popular game in france that originated in Provence in 1907. The rooms in the hotel are small but comfortable. Be sure to reserve far in advance, especially during summer if you plan to spend a night there.

imageThe food in the restaurant, Le Tigrr, is Asian inspired- dim sims, spring rolls, sushi rolls etc… It’s a pretty unique venue and I would definitely recommend taking an evening to
check it out.
Hotel Hermitage
14 avenue Paul Signac
83990 Saint Tropez
+33 (0) 494810810

Luna Rossa with Casto, Bettina & Angelo

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Luna Rossa is seriously my favorite restaurant in Saint Tropez.
Why? Three reasons, the first being Casto and Angelo. These two Italians give this restaurant
it’s joie de vivre, ambience and lots of personality. Second is of course is the amazing food
here. It is the best pasta that I’ve tasted in Saint Tropez. And third, is the location. The
restaurant is just a few minutes away from the port in and there is a beautiful large outdoor
patio for dining, once the temperature cools off here.

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Luna Rossa is the name of an famous early 19th century Neapolitan opera song. It’s a romantic
ballad that’s famous throughout Italy. It means “blushing moon”.
Frank Sinatra even sang this song when I danced with him at the Sporting Club in Monaco in
1992. Here are a few of my favorite lyrics from the song….

“Oh luna rossa, you’re out tonight,
A moon of red in a sky of white,
Because I’m selling a lie tonight,
And blushing moon, you know of it.
Oh luna rossa, you’re smart at love
You know I’m playing the part of love,
I try my hand in the art of love,
Just for the thrill and glow of it”

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Casto and Angelo both come from the region of Puglia, and the village of Taranto which lies on
the Ionian sea and is right at the “tip” of the boot in Italy. All of the products they use in the
restaurant come from this region, from the south of Italy. Everything is homemade. The pasta is
made fresh each day, the fish is purchased fresh out of the water at the port in Saint Tropez and
all the desserts are all homemade.
My favorite two dishes are the Paccheri all”Orata (pasta with dorade) and the Linguine all
Vongole (pasta with clams). For dessert, I always get the panacotta with fresh strawberries.
Bettina makes the best pannacotta ever!
All of the wine served here is Italian, with the exception of one bottle of Cote de Provence. The
kitchen is only one large enough for one chef. This is an authentic, family owned and run
business with fresh seasonal products and true Italian ambiance. Castro’s father started it and
Casto started working there 23 years ago. He and Betting took over the restaurant when they
were married ten years ago and then Angelo joined them just three years ago.

 

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When I was there last week, Angelo showed me a photo of his ninety eight year old
grandmother, making homemade fresh pasta on his last visit to Taranto.
This restaurant carries on these beautiful family traditions that began in childhood, the creation
and appreciation of good food. There is a lot of Italian spoken passionately here, lots of hand
gestures and so much laughter. You feel right at home but at the same time, this is a beautiful
restaurant with fine dining, very reasonable prices and perfect portion sizes. you will never leave
hungry.

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I have been coming to eat and drink and socialize here for three summers now and it just keeps
getting better and better. Casto, Bettina and Angelo are all kind and generous and have become
part of my wonderful “family” here in the south of France.

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The address is: 26 Rue Allard, 83990, saint Tropez
Telephone: +33 (0)494973127
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Luna-Rossa-Saint-Tropez-1703214639933395/

Hotel Sube

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Hotel Sube is a beautiful three star hotel located right in the port of Saint Tropez. There’s a
great bar there with a small balcony overlooking the port. It’s only large enough for five tables,
but if you can get one, the view is extraordinary! It is one of my favorite spots to have l’apero,
(to have a drink) in the evening around 7pm and watch the gorgeous colors of the sunset, the
beautiful yachts and the people strolling along the port.
The hotel itself is one of the oldest in Saint Tropez. It has twenty four rooms, all newly
renovated. You can get a room with a private terrace and have a beautiful breakfast there in the
morning or a room with a balcony. Prices range from 180 to 400 euros.

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It’s got quite a history as well. In the 19th century, Marquis Alban Martin of Roquebrune lived in
the Sube, it was his private mansion and he had the famous statue of Bailli de Suffren erected
right in front of the building. Alexandre Dumas attended the inauguration of the statue on April 4,
1866. Shortly thereafter, the Sube was turned in a hotel. Guy de Maupassant was another
famous writer who spent a lot of time at there. He describes the hotel in his book “Sur l’eau” in
1876, nicknaming it “Hôtel du Bailli de Suffren”.

Many other writers and artists spent time at the Sube: Paul Signac, the fauvists Camoin,
Manguin and writers Colette and Apollinaire. Orson Welles even installed his easel to paint a
scene of the Bravade which celebrates the military and religious history of Saint-Tropez each
year.

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The address is: 15 Quai de Suffren, 83990 Saint-Tropez
Telephone: +33(0)4 94 97 30 04
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HotelSube/?ref=br_rs

my favorite products

PERFUME, BODY SPRAY


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Serge Lutens Bois Vanille Perfume
Un Bois Vanille is a feminine perfume by Serge Lutens. The scent was launched in
2003 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake. Frangrant
notes of Beeswax, Caramelized benzoin, Bitter almond, Gaiac wood, Tonka bean,
Black vanilla, Licorice, Sandalwood, Coconut milk. This is so, so, different from any
other Vanilla based fragrance I know. I really love the way the licorice, coconut and
the vanilla couple together and meet you at first hit – no chemical trail, and the
scent just lingers. It’s not too sweet either – the scent is airy enough to wear in the
summer and is very distinct. One of my favorites!

Le Cellier in La Garde Freinet with Romain and Herve

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I first started going to this little wine shop called Le Cellier, four summers ago while staying in
La Garde Freinet with my friend Barbara. The village is small with one wine shop, one cheese
store, one butcher shop, two bakeries and a small general store.

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I met the owner, Herve Sauvage and his son Romain Sauvage one Sunday afternoon when we
stopped in before lunch to buy a bottle of wine. There were in the middle of “l’apero” which
precludes both lunch and dinner here in the south of France. It’s a friendly ritual and the word
“apertif” actually designates both the drink and the convivial moment before a meal. It’s a time
to relax, to socialize and to clink glasses together with a friendly tchin tchin (cheers) or sante (to
your health).

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As we walked into the small cave (wine store) that Sunday afternoon, it was filled with people
and laughter. There were three bottles of rose wine opened and a yummy array of olives,
sausage, cheese and tapenade to taste. We stayed for a drink and within ten minutes I had
made a bunch of new friends.
I kept coming back to buy wine and cheese here and each time Romain would introduce me to
a new bottle of provencal rose wine. I was never disappointed!

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The name, Le Cellier, means the cellar and has been around for eighteen years. Herve Sauvage
had always been passionate about wine, especially French wine. One winter, eighteen years
ago, he decided to invest in variety of different wines and open a small store. His attitude was
that “if this works, it’s wonderful….and if it doesn’t then I’ll have a lot of good wine to drink”!
The first location was half the size of the present one, which is to say, tiny. It had been a privately
owned wine cellar for over a hundred years when Herve took it over.
He started selling his wine, and it worked.

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In 2007, he decided he needed a larger location and they moved into the cave that is presently
Le Cellier. With the larger space, Herve and Romain were able to sell more types of wine as
well as locally made olive oil, foil gras, sausage, cheese and jams. They specialize in high
quality organic and local products. The tapenade they sell is made nearby in Aix-en-provence
and the fois gras is of the highest quality, coming from a friend and local producer in the south
west region of France. Some of my favorite products there are the lavender jam, the chestnut
cream, the duck sausage and the cheeses such as saint felician, saint nectaire, tomme and
comte. They also sell champagne and hard alcohol, such as absinthe and pastis.

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Their collection of wine is absolutely amazing. Eighty per cent is French and the other twenty
per cent is Portugese, Italian, Spanish, Chilean and Lebanese. They carry many different varieties
of rose wine, all from Provence except for just three exceptions.

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Both Herve and his son Romain are constantly tasting and choosing different wines for the
unique collection in their shop. They take so much time to choose high quality wines that you
know no matter what you buy there, whether it’s expensive or inexpensive will be the the best
there is. Romain told me that they have over a hundred bottles of wine at home, just waiting
to be tasted and that they have tasted over ninety five per cent of what they carry in their cave.
They have even worked with a few locals to make their own small vintage of wine, choosing the
barrels, the grapes, the blending technique and the fermentation time.

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I love being able to walk into the shop, tell Romain what I am having for dinner that night and
let him choose something for me.
I asked him to tell me his favorite thing about the shop and he said that so many people that
come into the shop over and over again to buy their wine have become friends and family to
them. Herve’s best friends are an English couple that walked into the shop eighteen years ago
to buy some wine and like so many of us, kept coming back.

Le Cellier is located in La Garde Freinet, 38 rue Saint Jacques, 83680
The phone is +33 611541536 and their hours are very day from 10am-8pm

If you’d like to try their lovely wine, click on the images


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1995 Chateau Calon Segur


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Reserve Provence Rosé Wine

The Story of Barbeyrolles & Regine Sumiere

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I’ve always loved the famous Petale de Rose wine made by Barbeyrolles here in Saint Tropez
and when I sent the owner, Regine Sumiere an e mail last week asking if I could stop by and
interview her to learn more about the history of Barbeyrolles, she immediately replied yes. I was
more than excited to meet her!

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As I drove up the long road to the chateau, the vineyards spread out around me and the warm
late afternoon sun shining down on me, I was immediately enveloped by the beauty, the history
and the magic of this preserved property in the gulf of Saint Tropez.
The twelve acre vineyard lies at the foot of the village of Gassin and was acquired by Madame
Sumiere in 1977. Before this, it was the summer residence of the archbishops of Toulon and
had two different names, Tour de l’Eveque and Chateau la Tour Saint-Anne. It’s said that Queen
Mary, the Countess of Provence gave the inhabitants of Cuers special privileges on this land
and that Queen Jeanne, the Queen of Naples and the sister of King Rene stayed here long ago.

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As I entered Regine’s office and started to talk with her, the thing that struck me right away was
how friendly and unpretentious she is. She is the daughter and granddaughter of wine growers
and has been passionate about wine for as long as she can remember. As she spoke to me
about the wine, the chateau, the vineyard and her history, I could she that she is absolutely
doing what she loves here at Barbeyrolles.

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Regine came up with the idea for the Petal de Rose wine one summer afternoon in 1982. She
wanted to create a wine that was the same color as light pink rose petals. It was her idea to
vinify red ganache grapes by pressing the entire grape and then using a champagne press. The
difference was not only the light rose petal pink color, but the taste as well. It’s light and lovely
and sophisticated in the mouth.
I personally love to drink this wine with fresh sea food or drink it with l’apertitif , olives, crostini
and goat cheese in the early evening before dinner.

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At Barbyrolles, all of the grape picking is done manually which means that the harvest is
constantly screened for haute (high) quality. They were one of the first in the region to create
organic wine and salt of their wine is organic. They still use horses to plow. All of the harvesting
is done manually using biodynamic principles. The tractor use is minimal.
The main advantage of horses, is that they have a much lighter “footprint” than tractors and so
they compound the ground much less.

 

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As we walked together outside, Regine told me a story that I will never forget.
The couple that lived here before she purchased the estate was an English man, married to a
Russian woman, a former dancer apparently. He was with La Resistance, long ago and used to
go up to the village of Gassin in the evenings and play cards with the officials. The husband
died before Regine took over but the wife asked is she could continue living there on the estate
in memory of her life and her husband. There is a beautiful small house on the estate with a
small pool and the wife lived there until she died in her nineties. How romantic is that? I loved
it! Regine took me to the small house and showed me where the wife had lived and once again
I was taken back to a different time, feeling the magnificent history that lives here. The house
can be rented for special occasions and I spoke to Regine about organizing a beautiful group
lunch outside, in front of the grand chateau with lovely food and amazing wine from
Barbeyrolles.

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Before I left, Regine so kind and generous gave me her book, which I will truly treasure. It’s a
collection of her family’s fifty favorite recipes, datong back a long time. If anything gets me to
learn how to cook, this little book will. There is everything from Mame’s (grandma’s) stuffed
sardines to cheese and nutmeg souffles to rosso buco. And of course, recipes for dessert, like
the chestnut ice cream. I’ll be sharing some of her amazing recipes in my blog.
Regine also sent me home with a bottle of Petal de rose, and a bottle of Chateau Barbeyrolle
white and red wine.

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As I got in my car and drove home to the colors of the sunset here in Saint Tropez, I was filled
with love and gratitude and once again reminded of the goodness of the people here and the
authenticity and simplicity that can be found in Saint Tropez when one looks for it.
Connection is what gives our lives meaning and richness.
Regine is just one of the many wonderful people I have gotten to meet and spend a few
moments with. Moments that I will not forget.

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Chateau Barbeyrolles is located in Gassin France, in the Gulf of Saint Tropez
They are open for tastings and you can stop by the Chateau to buy wine as well from
10am-7pm.
Phone number: +33 (0) 4 94 56 33 58
www.barbeyrolles.com

If you’d like to try their lovely wine, click here Petale de Rose

L’atelier du Bijoux & Rahma Guenfoudi

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Rahma Guenfoudi, who owns L’Atelier Du Bijou has become one of my favorite people here in Saint Tropez. She has become a friend. She is creative and generous and loves life. She’s a free spirit. Though her passport is from Belgium, she’s been living in Saint Tropez for many years. Rahma has always been passionate about creating beautiful art and bringing beauty into people’s lives. She’s always been interested in fashion and loves working with her hands and creating beautiful unique pieces of jewelry.

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She’s always loved to visit brochants (antique markets) and years ago, began collecting old coins there. She learned how to drill holes in the coins and started creating her first pieces of jewelry. She also collected old semi precious stones and crystals and taught herself how to break them into smaller pieces to add to her jewelry collection. In the beginning, she made simple bracelets and necklaces. She’s also a passionate traveller and would bring back small treasures she found in exotic places to create jewelry pieces.

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Rahma worked at Trinity, a well known jewelry shop here in Saint Tropez for four years and it was there, while repairing necklaces, bracelets and rings that she really learned how to make jewelry. She found that she liked selling jewelry much more than selling clothing to customers because no matter what your shape or your age – tall or short, small or large, young or old, beautiful jewelry always fits.
For Rahma, jewelry is way to adorn the body whether your fully dressed for winter or wearing nothing but a bikini. As she continued to hone her craft she started making more unique pieces of her own style and put together a small collection.

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Rahma had to stop working at Trinity after the death of someone quite close to her and went through some hard times. She decided to take a job waitressing at night so that she could spend her days creating. She went back to some of the markets where she used to buy old coins and stones and started selling her collection at the markets. The more she sold, the more people would ask her to make them some special piece of jewelry. One time a client brought in some of her grandmother’s jewelry and asked Rahma to “re create” it.
Rahma had the idea to take old pieces of jewelry and add beautiful skulls and crosses to them to make them a bit “rock and roll”.

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Seven years ago, she finally felt ready and opened her own shop, L’Atelier De Bijoux in Cogolin. Now she makes jewelry full time, when she’s not traveling to places like India, Indonesia, Thailand and Turkey to stock up on materials and hunt for unique beads and stones to add to her jewelry collection.
I’ve spent a lot of time with her in her shop, chatting over a cup of coffee while she strings beads or drinking a bottle of wine together when she’s working late to make a client a special piece. She always has a smile and a warm way to welcome you into her shop. More than once, I’ve asked her to “surprise me” and make me a necklace out of turquoise or one with a cross and skulls and I’ve never been disappointed. She has a great sense of style and knows what looks great on her clients.

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She also sells beautiful bags and scarfs, wind catchers and sandals in the shop.

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L’Atelier De Bijoux is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10-7pm.
Address: Galerie Raimu, Avenue Georges Clemenceau, 83310 in Cogolin
Telephone: 06 10 95 31 45

Check out her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/latelierdubijoubyrahma/

Learning From Past Experiences To Build A Better Business

LEARNING FROM PAST EXPERIENCES TO BUILD A BETTER BUSINESS

Whether we are aware of it or not, our past experiences play an enormous role in determining where we are today. Each choice, each decision, each success and each defeat has paved the way for us to continue to move forward on our unique journey in both our personal and professional lives.

It has taken me awhile to get here and the road has been filled with twists and turns, with bumps and detours. I remember three years ago, I decided to step away from what I call “pay the bill” jobs and to build something of my own. I’d always dreamed of having my own business and being able to inspire and help others while doing what I love and traveling to different places around the world.

First Learning Experience

My first company, “Moving Fit” was an online health and wellness company. I’d been working as a personal trainer, life coach and fitness instructor for years and wanted to expand my reach beyond one large facility and to travel while doing it. I decided an online business was way the way to go! I hired a company to build the website, the app and a tracking system to help with accountability. I was focusing on four simple but life changing concepts. Getting more sleep, exercising every day, eating more green food and practicing more mindfulness and gratitude.

I was so excited, had so many ideas but it took over six months and by the time the website was ready to go, I realized that it would take me quite a while to learn all of the computer skills to be able to manage and track my clients. There was a lot of coding involved and I am not a computer person. I felt overwhelmed and then life got in the way and I had to leave for France for two months. It was the perfect excuse; I decided to put it on hold. Looking back, I see that I let fear get in the way. I could have learned the system and started working on it in France. This was a great learning experience for me and I decided that my next business I would build the website and do everything by myself.

Which I did.

Second Learning Experience

When I returned in the fall, I started my second company, “Wholy Raw”, a line of organic, vegan, gluten free, healthy yummy snacks. I created the recipes and products, built the website, did the branding and got a cottage and a business license. I was ready to go. Before I knew it, I was selling my products in five different stores and spending my entire weekend making, packaging and delivering product. I was still working at the job that paid the bills and had no time for myself. I’d stopped putting the most important things at the top of my to-do list.

Ten months into this business, I realized that this wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. I loved the creative part of it, coming up with the recipes and doing the social media to promote it, but I found myself overwhelmed with all of the accounting, the profit loss and cost analysis spreadsheets. Sometimes it can be hard to let an idea go but I listened to my intuition and knew it was time to let go of this one.

Learning Experience in Progress

It’s easy for me to see how both of these businesses have been the best learning experiences I ever could have asked for. I’m so grateful that I tried different things and different ways of doing these things. I learned so much about myself and it’s brought me to the place I am today. I’m equipped with new knowledge, skills and confidence that I never would have had if I not for the ups and downs of creating my first two companies.

Four months ago, I started working on a new idea for a business. It is so clear that everything up to now has been preparing me for this. I have a vision and a plan but I am also open to the idea that this could evolve into something different and better than what I imagine.

As I go into this new business, I keep three questions in mind:

 
What would your life look like if there were no limits?

When you imagine a healthier, happier you, what do you see?

What are the things that really bring you alive and that you love doing?

 
I love moving my body, doing yoga, making and eating yummy healthy food and traveling, spending time by the ocean and in nature. I began to put the important things first on my to-do list every day: following my dreams and taking care of myself, mind, body and spirit.

As I become healthier, happier and more present in my life, I want to share this with others and help them achieve the same balance. I will be writing a blog on my website and posting weekly videos on my youtube channel. My videos will be about yoga, pilates, movement and stretching. I will also be sharing videos in the kitchen of my favorite recipes, everything from green drinks to raw chocolate. I’ll be writing about meditation, getting more mindful, present and connected to ourselves and our lives.

I hope you’ll come visit my new website: http://melissasnow.me. You can sign up to be notified when my youtube channel is live as well.

I truly believe that we are all in this together and have so much to learn from each other. I also believe that failure does not exist; when things don’t work out, it’s just life’s way of telling you to change directions and it’s a great opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Melissa Snow
melissasnow.me/
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Melissa Snow is an entrepreneur, certified yoga instructor and title analyst for a natural resources law firm. She danced professionally in France for over 15 years and has made Salt Lake her home base. She currently has two companies, Wholy Raw, a line of organic, gluten free snacks, and melissasnow.me, a way to inspire and share ideas with others about creating the life you want. She loves sunsets on the beach, long walks alone, meditating and spending time with her best friend and teenage son, Matisse. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

The French Have Figured Out The Joy That Comes With Doing Less

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I’ve always been a doer—that is, trying to get as much done as possible each day at the expense of often feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

I recently took a month off to go back to France, where I’d lived for 15 years during my 20s and 30s. I’m currently in the south of France as I write this.

I woke up late yesterday, having indulged in numerous bottles of amazing french wine with my friends here the evening before. I felt foggy and a bit hungover, so I skipped my morning meditation and my hour of writing.

I finally decided to go for a walk. About 20 minutes into my walk, I suddenly realized that the entire time, I’d been beating myself up for drinking too much, smoking a few cigarettes, going to bed late, not meditating or writing in the morning, and so on.

                                                                                                              ~

I literally came to a standstill as the realization hit me. Here I was in the most beautiful place, having a month to myself, and I was making myself miserable. My thoughts were causing me to feel guilty, worthless, and bad about myself.

I sat down and decided to figure it out.

Why was I doing this to myself? Instead of focusing on the fact that I’d had an amazing evening, laughed more than I have in a long time, and slept in, I was dividing my behavior into categories of good and bad—and I was worried about not getting enough done.

This is something I think that we likely all struggle with sometimes, especially as Americans. Our culture places so much emphasis on working more hours, accomplishing as much as possible, reaching specific goals at certain times in our lives, like graduating from college, getting a job, buying a house, finding a partner, and raising a family.

When we don’t reach these goals, we feel that we aren’t doing enough—and ultimately, that we aren’t enough. And yet, we continue to search for ways to do more in every part of our lives.

The question is, why? What does doing more give us? For me, in the beginning, it makes me feel more productive and accomplished—but in the end, all the doing leaves me feeling more stressed, overwhelmed, and inadequate.

I got up and continued my walk. I noticed the sounds of the birds and saw the beautiful colors of spring arriving in the French countryside. I started walking slower and noticing more.

I realized that I was ruining my present moment by being in a space of guilt—and living in the past and the future. The present moment is all we actually have. It’s okay to want to do better, to be better, but not at the expense of losing the precious time that we have in the now.

How often do we spend large amounts of time planning how we are going to do better tomorrow and get more done? We spend so much wasted time on regrets, wanting things to be different, wishing that we could be different. But is there really anything wrong with the way we are? Human, perfect in our imperfection, not always consistent, but always trying.

And how often do we stop to acknowledge how much time we are wasting, how many moments and experiences we are missing out on, and how hurtful and damaging we are being toward ourselves.

I’ll tell you this, none of my French friends were beating themselves up with guilt about the evening before. They weren’t thinking about how they were going to drink less the next night, and then get up early to have time to get more done. They were just as tired as I was, but they were going about their day without guilt.

This is a major difference and something each of us could learn from: The French do not use guilt and shame to make themselves feel worse like we do in America.

I hear the phrase in France, “You only live once,” much more often than than the phrase, “I’m never doing that again.”

Most French people that I know well do not embody that “all or nothing” mentality that we have in the States and are raised with from a young age. Instead of being constantly focused on doing more, Europeans tend to focus more attention on slowing down. This is why they have a 35-hour work week, six to eight weeks of vacation each year (which everyone takes), and a leisurely two-hour lunch, followed by a few hours after where most of the shops are closed and people take time for a siesta. (Especially here in the south of France.)

What is wrong with approaching every day like this, I wondered. Absolutely nothing. In fact, it makes more sense in terms of better health, better relationships with others, and a better relationship with ourselves. Why do we, as Americans, always want to do more instead of trying to do less?

I looked at the feelings associated with doing more and doing less. Where does our need to feel busy, accomplished, and successful come from? And isn’t feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and never enough a very high price to pay?

What happens when we slow down?

We have more time to live in the present moment, to notice the beauty around us, to find things to appreciate and love about ourselves, and to connect with others and the  world around us. By slowing down, we actually create more time in our lives. By accepting our behavior without labeling it as good or bad, we change the way we feel about ourselves.

I’m not saying we should go out every night and drink a ton of wine and sleep five hours, but I believe that we truly have the choice to look at our lives in a different way. We can choose to see how wonderful each moment is, without feeling guilt or regret.

In the years I’ve spent here, each time I come back, it always takes me a few days to adjust. I feel out of place at first, and I now realize it’s because of how I am thinking about and looking at things. Then I start to remember the secret the French have to enjoying life, and it’s in remembering that, I begin to soften and to feel at home again in this country I love so much. I also feel more free. I let go of my “all or nothing” thinking. I let go of my “all or nothing” behavior. I find moderation and balance. And I begin to focus on doing less instead of doing more.

This brings me into a place of calmness, clarity, and acceptance. I love myself more and forgive myself more easily, and also have a much easier time accepting myself exactly as I am, in this present moment.

You don’t have to travel to Europe to try this. You just need to be aware of how your thoughts about your behavior are affecting the way you feel about yourself. Then it’s up to you to decide how you choose to feel about it. Ask yourself if it is worth beating yourself up and hating yourself over. Notice if you feel more peace and joy. More love and freedom. Less guilt, regret, and stress.

Life is too short not to appreciate every single beautiful moment it offers us.

We are all products of our environment and the society we live in. This applies to the way we do what we do and the way we think. But there is always a choice.

I have decided that when I return to the States, the most precious and valuable thing I can bring home with me is my new French mentality.

By Melissa Snow

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/04/how-the-french-have-figured-out-the-joy-that-comes-with-doing-less/

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Why Road Trips Are Good For The Soul

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What comes to mind when you close our eyes and say the words: road trip?

When I close my eyes and breathe in the words “road trip,” regardless of how long ago it was or who I was with, I remember long stretches of highway, constantly changing scenery, cheap hotels, soft pillows, early morning light, nighttime sky filled with stars, small town diners with stacks of pancakes and melting butter, lots of coffee, and clothes tossed everywhere in the car along with candy wrappers and empty bottles.

 Road trips always include great tunes, laughing, singing, and talking.

I have childhood memories road tripping with my family when I was so small, I still had to sit in the backseat. I have half-forgotten memories, from a college spring break trip, of getting inebriated with friends in Tijuana and Vegas. I once took a romantic trip with my lover, and it felt as if we were truly alone in the big world.

I remember the excitement of having a final destination, but also knowing that I’d make many good memories along the way. Each time I look back on a road trip, I see that it was all of the little moments strung together that made up the big picture.

Road trips have created some of my best and craziest stories. I wrote poems, collected inside jokes, listened to unforgettable songs, and made lasting friendships.

Road trips are good for the soul for many reasons.

They make us slow down, appreciate the little things, be spontaneous and resourceful, and find joy in the ordinary. We spend much more time in the journey phase of the trip rather than the destination. The pure simplicity of mindful travel makes time slow down. We appreciate the in-between place and notice small things. We see people in their everyday lives, as we cover a great deal of ground in a single day.

 I love the unexpected things that always happen on road trips: unplanned moments, surprising connections, feeling like we’ve been in this place before, taking a wrong turn or exit and having to go miles out of our way, arriving in a small town after dark to find “no vacancy” signs everywhere, unexpected weather, or arriving so late that all the restaurants are closed and we have to get creative with what’s available from 7-Eleven.


When any of these bumps in the road occur, all sorts of good things happen.

We are forced to improvise and get creative. We suddenly have to go with the flow and drop our plans and expectations. We learn that it does no good to stress over the small things, and we unconsciously become more aware of our reactions.

One of the best things about road trips is that we don’t have to go far away or for a long time.

An overnight trip, only a few hours away, can take us out of our familiar surroundings, habits, daily stresses, and never-ending to-do list.

We feel a sense of freedom when we take a step back from the time we normally spend producing and planning.

As the landscape changes around us, it feels like we’re traveling through time. We start to just be. Suddenly we feel a little more mental space to relax and a little more physical space to breathe.


We are forced to look up and notice the scenery. We learn more about our friends while we spend endless miles traveling with them. We experience the transience of time as we journey from place to place, while spending more time outside enjoying the landscape and stars.

Last weekend I took my 17-year-old son and his best friend on a road trip.

We jumped in my car with snacks, swimsuits, and cameras and headed for natural hot springs in the middle of nowhere.

What we thought was going to be a 90-minute drive ended up being four hours, which allowed us to spend more time in the car together. Along the way, I listened to the music they liked, learned the lyrics to their favorite songs, heard their favorite jokes, and played their favorite car games.

Twenty minutes before our arrival, we suddenly saw red and blue flashing lights in the rearview mirror—I was pulled over for speeding.

I showed the boys how to be kind and calm when unexpected things happen.

 Once we arrived and checked in, we headed to the hot springs.

At one point my son said, “Mom, come see the best view over here.”

We watched an amazing sunset as we sat in the 100 degree water, with no one else around. The sky and clouds became gold, pink, and purple. We saw a silhouette of birds as the moon rose in the sky, while the sun was going down—pure magic.

As I went to sleep that night I felt grateful and relaxed. I vowed to myself to take road trips more often.

Often, we feel like a vacation needs to be planned ahead of time. Taking care of the details of the vacation fulfills our need to have some control.

But when I think back, some of the best times I’ve ever had are unplanned, spontaneous moments.

Road trips give us many opportunities to make decisions about immediate needs, keep things simple, and the freedom to change plans or directions on a whim.

On our drive home, I looked out the window with the warm afternoon sun shining as the world sped by. As I listened to the conversation in the front seat, I couldn’t help but smile and think about how lucky I was.

I felt lucky that nothing went as planned.

I felt lucky to get away from all the inconsequential stuff I usually have do and made a cherished memory instead.

I felt lucky we laughed, got lost more than once, and had the chance to be spontaneously free.

But most of all, I felt lucky to do something good for my soul.


Going on a road trip is the perfect solution next time you find yourself saying, “I need to get away, have some fun, slow down, and have some soul food, even though I don’t have enough money for a plane ticket or enough time for a vacation.”

Take a road trip. Plan as little as possible. Take only what you can fit in a small backpack. Find a few good friends to travel with you, fill up the tank with gas, and go.

By Melissa Snow

 

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/03/why-road-trips-are-good-for-the-soul/

The Day She Just Gave Up

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She finally decided that she was going to give up. She just couldn’t take it anymore.

It had been going on for so many years, and it always hurt. It always made her feel worse. There was no joy to be found, no love.

She saw that it was harmful, that it flowed like a poison in her veins. For so long, she’d tried to understand why she did it. For so long, she tried to reason with it and to change.

 She thought it would always be a losing battle, always something she had to struggle against, always something she had to fight and fix.

She thought this all her life, until this one day when the sun came out, and there was a soft breeze in the air. She breathed in the smell of spring, the scent of things growing, transforming, and coming back to life. And finally, on this one day, for no reason in particular, or maybe for some reason she could not understand, she finally decided that it was time to give up and that this would be the day she was done.

She was done listening to the voice in her head, and that was the day she just gave it up.

She gave up believing that she was not good enough.

She gave up thinking she was not thin enough, and stopped pinching the skin on her stomach in disgust.

She gave up believing that she was not young enough when she looked in the mirror, and instead of seeing wrinkles, she saw lines of laughter and joy.

She stopped thinking she was not smart enough, and knew that actually, she was quite smart.

She gave up hating herself because she realized that it only brought more hate.

She gave up waking up tired every morning because she realized she had slept well.

She let go of believing she didn’t have enough time, and started to believe that she always had time for the important things.

She let go of thinking that everyone else was happier, prettier, more successful, and had a better life than her—and she started focusing on herself.

She gave up blaming her family, and realized that she had the power to let go of her past and move on with her future.

She gave up holding onto things like money, possessions, and ideas—and she started to share them with everyone she knew. She realized that the more she gave away, the lighter she felt.

She gave up thinking she was right all the time, and instead of trying to teach others, she began to listen and saw that she could learn instead.

She gave up being mean because it made her feel small and ugly, and she saw that the kinder she was the more she love she felt.

She gave up thinking she needed more, and saw that she liked living with less because it gave her more time for the important things.

She gave up her to-do lists, the lines, the numbers, the need to cross things off, and instead she opened up to a world of possibility.

She gave up saying the words “I can’t,” and “I don’t,” and “I won’t,” and “I’m not,” and replaced them with words like “I can,” “I will,” “I do,” and “I am.”

She let go of making herself miserable by always wanting more, and began looking at everything that she had.

She gave up feeling overwhelmed and stressed, and began to take deeper breaths throughout the entire day.

 She gave up spending so much time in her head and started doing things that brought her into her body.

She gave up feeling lost, and she knew that she was on the right path.

She gave up the idea of reaching the destination and began to take pleasure in the journey.

She gave up feeling alone in the world and looked up at the blue sky, smelled the flowers, heard the birds sing, and knew she was not alone.

She gave up thinking she’d never find someone to love her the way she wanted them to, and began to love herself that way.

She gave up thinking that things were better in the past and would be better in the future, and she began to fall in love with where she is today.

She let go of giving up on things, and she realized that it was because she was afraid of succeeding.

She let go of believing that she didn’t fit in, and started to celebrate all of her unique qualities.

She gave up putting things off and realized that today was the only day she had.

She gave up feeling stuck and started to see that by giving up, she was moving forward.

She gave up the thought that no one would ever truly understand her, and she began to listen to her heart.

She simply closed her eyes and listened to what was inside of her. She listened to her strong, steady beating heart. Her heart told her that everything was okay, and that it would always be okay. Her heart said that everyone felt all of these same things, and that she could try to understand others instead of waiting for them to understand her.

Her heart told her that today was the perfect day to give up. To give up all of those beliefs. Her heart told her that it was time to be done, and that everything had led up to this point in time. Her heart told her that the voice in her head would probably continue to try to be heard, like voices do, but it also told her that she didn’t have to believe it anymore. And in that moment she knew that it wasn’t that voice she should trust…it was her heart.

And the sun was warm, and the breeze was soft, and she walked along by herself on this spring day humming a sweet song.

By Melissa Snow

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/03/the-day-she-just-gave-up/

 

Why It’s Important To Define What “I Love You” Means To You

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Saying “I love you” to my family and friends has always been easy for me. But saying “I love you” to someone I’m romantically, emotionally or physically involved with is a whole different story.

Even just thinking about saying those three words used to give me that horrible feeling in my stomach. I’m not talking about butterflies—I’m talking about the feeling of being out of control, scared, vulnerable and rejected. It took me years to sit down and write about these feelings, and to dig deeper into my beliefs, my stories and my soul.

But when I did, I had my first big aha moment about saying “I love you.”

When I started to dig deeper into why this phrase triggered so many fearful emotions for me, I began by asking myself what was so hard about saying “I love you,” and what meaning those words held for me. I had to look back on how I was raised, on past relationships I’d been in—from long-term ones to one-night stands—and experiences where those words had made me want to turn and run the other way.

After a lot of soul searching, I discovered that it wasn’t the words as much as the meaning behind the words that scared me. And not my meaning, but what they mean in our society. I took into account the fact that I’d spent the first 17 years of my life in a state where Mormonism is the prevalent religion and where it’s normal to wait to have sex until you get married at 18 and start a family. I also thought about the 15 years I’d lived in France, where couples do not get married as often and definitely not as young. The European view on sex and marriage is different, and much less prudish, than the American one and, dare I say, much more mature and fun.

I discovered that my personal meaning behind these three words was so different from that of my parents, my friends, my home state and my country. That was the second aha moment for me. I was afraid to utter these words because I was fearful that the other person would take them to mean that I wanted a committed long-term relationship, which in most cases, I didn’t. I am, and always will be, a free spirit. I believe it’s natural to want to explore love and sex with different people in our lives, and that as we evolve and grow, our definition of love and relationships should too.

If you ask most people, they’ll likely tell you that saying the words “I love you” in a romantic relationship is a sign of true devotion. But long-term devotion does not always equal love. Love is something we feel with our senses and experience with our bodies. We want to be close to this person in both a physical and emotional way. Long-term devotion and commitment can both exist without the feeling of love. They are choices we make with our heads, not our hearts.

And the problem for me was that they both imply that this feeling—love—is supposed to continue to exist for an extended period of time, even when paired with growing responsibilities. I failed to examine my belief that love and commitment were inseparable, which caused me to feel trapped and want to run in the other direction.

I had been equating love with commitment when the two are completely separate ideas. We can love someone without committing to them for a day, a week, a month or a lifetime. And I love that, because one of my essential needs is freedom—the freedom to feel alive inside. I was twisting these ideas into a jumble of emotions and definitions, which was causing me a lot of fear.

Turns out I had placed placed too much of a hidden meaning behind those three little words.

I now know that every single person and every single relationship has its own unique definition of “I love you.” We need to continually redefine it so that we can clearly express what we feel to our partners. When we do this, we step out of that place of fear and into a place of truth.

One year ago, I was still existing in my jumbled definition of love. I was in a long distance relationship with a guy I was head over heels in lust with. Over the course of two years, we only saw each other a total of 10-12 times, but we got to know each other well. I have amazing memories of us together at the beach, watching the sunset and soaking up each other’s presence in beautiful silence. He taught me so much and I will forever be grateful for the person I became because of him.

Knowing what I know now, I wish I had told him what I was feeling—but I was too afraid to do so then. I’m no longer afraid to say “I love you,” because I know what those words mean to me. I now embrace them, instead of avoiding them.

I know that love can exist without expectations. Love can exist without having a future or the pressure to plan one. The power of love lies in giving it away. We can love with no strings attached; we can love simply because it makes us feel both free and connected at the same time.

Last week, I found a journal entry and it inspired me to write this. I had one of those moments when I wished that I could turn back time and tell this man how I felt. But then I realized how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned, and so I just read it and smiled and decided to share it.

I hope you will take some time to sit down and ask yourself, “What does ‘I love you’ mean to me?” Knowing this can bring more freedom, peace and acceptance than you ever thought possible.

 This moment.
This breath.
The sun on my upturned face, the sound of the ocean filling me with the knowing that
This. Is. Enough.
The silent power of you sitting next to me, the idea of us for a split second.
I feel free and as big as the ocean, able to hold each wave that crashes against my shores.

The clouds, the breeze, the sand, the heat, all of the different shades of blue, the way time slows down and your shoulder touching mine brings me alive.
If this is as perfect as it ever gets, if this is as authentic as I ever am—this is enough.
I still feel you and me; I feel everything in my body. I feel your arms around me, your gaze locked with mine, the sand between my toes, the dryness of my mouth, the way the sun makes my hair burning hot, the possibility of feeling so alive doing nothing.
In this space of emptiness, I find everything important and I know it in my bones that this is what matters. These moments, this feeling of connection, of being loved and understood, the way that time slows down.
Seeing a reflection of myself in someone else, putting myself in situations that bring me alive, taking emotional risks and being present for it all is so important.

It’s not money, not success, not work, not feeling sexy and beautiful, not feeling smart and capable and safe that brings me into presence.
Ultimately, that is not when I hear what my body has to say.
It’s when I stop, slow down, find emptiness and let something else fill me up. These chills I get when I am being true to myself, these chills that make me shiver in the heat, tell me that it is simply about being myself and loving myself as I am right now.

Just me—a little crazy, wild, sentimental, spontaneous, needy, adventurous, independent, scared, loving, loved, unsure, strong, alone—a beautiful mess of contradictions, so much love inside to give.
I feel lost in the right direction, but I’m still running away from you.
Why? Because I want to tell you how I feel and I am too afraid of what you might think it means.

Instead of saying those three words that hold so much meaning for me, I’ll just say thank you. Thanks for being here with me, for truly showing up. You didn’t have to do all of the little things you did.
Making picnics for us, bringing ice to the beach, getting a pillow to put in between my knees, making me a smoothie the morning after, making me ache for you again and again.
Thank you for telling me over and over again to slow down, for leading me out of my comfort zone, for trusting me trusting you, for the good conversation, the mind-blowing sex, our mouths and tongues locked together, the passion, the connection and reflection I have with you.

Thank you for sharing so many little moments, for creating so many memories that I can take home with me, for sharing sunsets, emotions and bodily fluids, laughing with me, listening to me, leaving the door unlocked for me, being excited to see me when I called you and told you I was in town for a few days.
Thank you for being there for me, but not asking anything of me.
You know me well.

I will be leaving you in a few hours, leaving this beach, this sunset, this ocean and these memories, and going back to my life. And there is just one thing I wish I could say—I love you.
This doesn’t mean that I want you to call me every night or see you every month or that our relationship has to grow more committed or that we have to call ourselves a couple and get married some day.

No, it just means that I love who you are as a person right now and how I feel when I’m next to you.
But for now, I’ll keep these words inside, tucked away in my heart, safe and warm. I’ll love you like I do the ocean, the sun and the sand—as a part of me that I can take out on a rainy day and, closing my eyes, let it fill me up until I am exploding with warm light and love inside.

And for now, this will have to be enough.

By Melissa Snow

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/02/why-its-important-to-define-what-i-love-you-means-to-you/

 

 

 

How My Morning Meditation Gave Me 2 Extra Hours Per Day

I was always one of those people who never had enough time in the day, constantly rushing, focusing on being productive.

I thought taking time to meditate was a waste. Why would I want to sit still when I could be crossing off more things on my to-do list? I practiced the physical limb of yoga every day—the asana—but neglected the practice of meditation—the dhyana.

Six months ago, after herniating two discs and developing horrible nerve pain, I finally decided to listen to my body’s message to slow down. Since I wasn’t able to do my physical practice each day, I started to meditate.

It started with five minutes of sitting still in the afternoon. I’d sit on a pillow in front of my window with the sunlight streaming in, and I’d usually end up nodding off, since it was the first time I’d slowed down all day. Either that, or my mind chatter would be so loud that I just became frustrated.

I’ve never been a 6-a.m.-jump-out-of-bed kind of person. I always wanted to linger under the comfort of my blankets and take just a bit more time to luxuriate in that feeling of a new day beginning. I would stay in my warm, comfy bed just a bit too long.

After hitting the snooze button four or five times, I’d drag myself out, thinking things like, “I didn’t get enough sleep” and, “Why am I always so tired?” Complaining about one thing or another, I’d head straight for the kitchen to get a coffee. Then I’d rush around the house trying to get myself together, always running a little late, never feeling like I’d had enough time. I’d jump in my car to rush to teach my first class of the day, coffee in hand and my stress level already at a six or seven.

I started to have trouble sleeping because of my nerve pain. I found myself waking up at 6 a.m. or earlier, unable to go back to sleep. That’s when I decided to try meditating in the morning, while still in bed.

That’s when I began the morning ritual that has become sacred to me. This is how I begin my day now:

It’s not quite 6 a.m., and my alarm goes off.

The sound of soft bells chime gently to bring in the dawn. I turn it off and reach for a candle and a box of matches on my bedside table. Striking a match, I hear a whoosh and feel the heat against my fingertips. I light the candle, and it casts my bedroom in a warm golden glow.

I sit up in bed, get comfortable against my pillows, and reach for a small bottle of oil on my table. I open it and place a few drops in my hands and on my temples, the smell of rose, lemon, bergamot, rosemary, clove, frankincense and mandarin filling the air. I rub my hands together and place them over my nose, inhaling deeply.

I feel transported to an exotic place, shadows flickering on my walls and the spicy scent of tropical gardens, wildflowers and forgotten times perfuming the air.

I close my eyes again, bring both hands over my heart and say, “I love you. I’m listening,” and I begin meditating.

I start by simply focusing on my breath, letting that take me deeper into my body—the feelings, sensations, space and stillness I find there. Instead of filling up, I use this time to create even more space, find emptiness, and feel stillness and presence.

Thirty minutes later, feeling relaxed and aware, I bow my head, kiss my fingertips, and open my eyes.

And so my day begins.

When I’ve finished meditating, I turn on my bedside lamp. My cat jumps up on the bed, already purring and ready to snuggle, and I reach for my spiral bound notebook and begin to write. I am still in that “in between worlds place,” not asleep, yet not fully awake. My body and thoughts are calm and focused.

I begin to write whatever comes to mind. I honor this time to notice how I’m feeling, still lingering in that dreamlike state. The words spill out onto the pages, making a dance of their own, creating and cleansing, setting intentions and letting go of everything all at once.

When I’m done writing, I wander into the kitchen and make a cup of tea. I glance at the clock and it’s only seven o’clock.

How is that possible? I have so much time! I still have an hour until I need to leave.

I found an extra two hours each day through my morning ritual—and so can you. I truly believe it will make a difference in your mornings, your days, and your life.

Here are five ways that my sacred early morning ritual has improved my life:

1. I feel calmer and more grounded.

I wake up rested and excited for my day. I honor that time between my two worlds, not thrusting myself into action mode as soon as I wake up. I calm my body and my mind by focusing on gratitude, sitting with my breath, being in my body, and feeling instead of thinking my way into wakefulness. The act of beginning my day in a state of feeling, instead of thinking, sets the tone for my entire day. I am much less stressed, too.

2. I have developed so much more inner peace, and feel more connected with myself.

By taking this time every morning, I gently show that I honor, I love, and listen to myself. I find that I am much calmer, have an easier time staying focused, and find more joy in the little things. I know that, throughout my day, I can always slow down to place my hands over my heart and again say, “I love you. I’m listening.” My new morning ritual is precious; it has made the beginning of my day a sacred time.

3. I find myself more present and mindful the entire day.

Once I started practicing my morning ritual, I found myself taking other short moments throughout the day to close my eyes and re-center myself with my breath. Sometimes I do a five-minute guided meditation, sometimes I listen to the sound of ohms, chimes or music, and sometimes I just pay attention to the sound and feel of my breath. That in itself makes me softer, kinder, and more compassionate to myself and others.

4. It’s a source of inspiration that allows me to tap into my creativity and listen to my intuition.

I find that I now do some of my best writing in this quiet, calm time. I am more centered and can truly tap into my creativity and pure ideas. I write without the distraction of all the thoughts in my head pushing their way in, telling me what I have to get done. And throughout the day, when I’m faced with decisions big or small, I find it easier to stop for a second and feel my way to the decision, listening to my intuition instead of my stories.

5. I get to stay in bed, snuggle with my cat, write stories and poems, and do what I love.

I love to be in my body and out of my head, and I love to work on myself. I now have the opportunity to practice self-care in a different way.

And here’s the best thing: I started to see a difference after less than a week of this morning practice. Almost immediately, I started going to bed a little earlier, sleeping better, being less hard on myself, and letting go of my need for perfection.

I now consciously take more time to slow down throughout the day, and I’ve started to create more rituals in my day to make more parts of my life sacred.

Try it for a day or two—or more. It might just turn into your sacred morning ritual, too.

By Melissa Snow

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/02/how-my-morning-meditation-gave-me-two-extra-hours-per-day/

 

How I Gave Up Control Over My Life (& My Son)

How can we let go of something when we’re not even aware of how tightly we’re holding on?

There are countless books and songs about letting go. I used to read them and sing along to them. “Just let it go” was my daily mantra. But I was always left with one word—how.

How do I just let it go?

 I’ve learned that there are no hard, fast rules to how it happens. It can happen in a split second, like a strike of lightning, a sudden revelation, a moment of complete clarity without any effort. Other times it takes weeks of inner work, meditating, journaling, and looking at situations in our past.

And then there are the things that take years to let go of. Years of experiences, of reacting the same way, of not seeing what is right in front of us.

And then one day it appears: Suddenly, we see what is holding us back, what we’ve been holding on to, and with that new filter, we can let go of the belief or the habit just like that—light as a feather flying away from us.

We can finally see that we don’t need it anymore and finally have the clarity to realize how much it held us back. We feel relief and gratitude for this new knowledge, but we also feel regret for all the time we lost by holding on to it and battling with it every day.

This is the way it happened for me when I was finally able to let go of the need to control my life.

Looking back, I am amazed that I thought I had any control at all over people and situations. I realize now with so much gratitude that the only thing I can control is myself—my thoughts, my reactions, my behavior, and my choices.

A truth is really not ours until we make it our own. No matter how much we read about it, talk about it, or think about it, no truth becomes ours until we live and experience it.

The desire to control things in our lives is as natural to us as breathing because it makes us feel safe.

We get caught up in thinking that we actually play a role in being able to make things and relationships with other people go a certain way.

We continue to have expectations that rarely get met and experiences of things not turning out the way we hoped.

We are constantly in a state of disappointment and overwhelm and frustration.

We do not have control over outside circumstances and other people in our lives.

However, we do have control over how we choose to react and act. Before we can let go of control, we have to realize that we are using it as a way to feel safe and notice when and where we are doing this.

I was lucky enough to learn how to let go from my teenage son—the perfect teacher for this lesson.

It all started when he turned 17. I’ve raised him alone, and it’s always been just the two of us. I was able to control him for years—or so I thought. Then, one day a few weeks after he turned 17, he decided he didn’t want to be controlled.

He wanted freedom.

It seemed to happen overnight, and the more I tried to control, the more he resisted. Suddenly, our household was in a constant state of tension.

We started to fight about the stupidest things. We felt like a married couple who’d been together for years and then realized they wanted to get divorced, but still had to live together for a while because of the legalities.

I remember one day I was on my way home from teaching a yoga class, and I actually stopped in a parking lot to sit in my car for an hour until my son left for work. It was that bad for both of us—we didn’t even want to be around each other.

Of course, I didn’t think it was me. I thought it was just his hormones, his need to rebel, or that maybe he was depressed. We made an appointment to go talk with a counselor, which really opened my eyes.

My son clearly told me that he was going to do whatever he wanted and that he wanted for us to stop fighting.

Those two statements brought everything into focus for me.

I had that strange feeling of time stopping for just a second. Suddenly, and quite clearly, I saw all of the things I was trying to get him to do my way. All of the ways I thought that I knew what was good for him in his life and what he should be doing.

This literally blew my mind.

Who did I think I was?

I was not allowing him to be his amazing, unique self. I was not letting him make mistakes and learn important lessons. I was trying to keep him close to me and do things my way instead of letting him grow up.

And instead of keeping us close and connected, it was dividing us.

My behavior was tearing us apart, splitting us up and placing us on two different sides, his versus mine. It was absolutely heartbreaking for me, as my son has always been my best friend and partner.

He’s been my hope, my joy, my reason to keep going in tough times, my daily motivation to be a better person, my inspiration to live a more meaningful life.

And the way our relationship had disintegrated into arguments and control battles was affecting me on such a deep level that I knew it was time to take a long, hard look at why I was trying to control him.

I was afraid of losing him. I was afraid of him growing up and leaving, and I knew it. But I also knew that this is what I’d been preparing him for—leaving. Since the first time I left him with a babysitter, the first day of preschool, I’d been leaving him little by little his entire life.

And freedom has always been so important to me, so why did I think it would be different for him?

 And so, I began to let go. I started taking a look at the difference between what I wished for him and what I needed for him.

I wished for him to do his chores because I needed the house to be clean. I wished he would do his homework and get good grades because I equated that with him having a better future. I wished he would come home on time because I wanted to know that he was safe.

But I couldn’t make him do any of these things.

The only thing I could do was work on my attitude toward all of this and to take a deep look at these wishes. Were they for my benefit or his?

I decided that it was not that big of a deal—I could do his daily chores and he could put in a few hours of deep cleaning each weekend. It was my need to have a clean, orderly house, not his.

And did it really matter? No.

I decided to let him be 100 percent in charge of his homework and his grades.

I discovered that being a good parent was more about giving my son the opportunity to learn that his choices have consequences than just giving him my idea of a consequence, like taking his phone away or grounding him.

I opened up a dialogue about what he was doing and where he was going in the evenings. I found that as long as I knew where he was and what he was doing, I knew that he was safe, and I was able to release my control around curfews.

I realized that I was still treating my 17-year-old like a child and that it was time to have an adult relationship with him.

I let it all go.

I was so much lighter and less stressed. Not only could I not control a lot of things in his behavior and his life, but I realized that I really didn’t want to.

Not only did this change our relationship, but it happened within a week. We stopped fighting, he started sharing more, I began to treat him like the responsible adult he is and not the child he was.

I started speaking to him with more love and respect, asking questions and listening, instead of setting rigid rules and barking out orders.

We have come full circle and are back to being best friends. It has been the most amazing lesson for me. And of course, once something appears in your life, you begin to see it over and over again.

Suddenly, I saw all sort of things I was trying to control in my life that I could choose to let go of. My relationships with other family members began to change and my relationship with myself did too.

The biggest thing for me has been to realize that my son is his own person and wants to do things his own way. My way is not the “right” way.

And the more I trust that he knows what is best for him and let him have multiple opportunities to make mistakes and imperfect choices, the more he proves to me that he is right.

He teaches me every day how to be a better, kinder, less serious person.

When I listen and get out of my own way enough to connect with him as a person, not as my child, he teaches me how to mother him.

Now, three months later, I can truly say that there is an enormous relief that comes with letting go.

There is so much peace that comes when we let go and open ourselves up to things being different than we expected. To realize that we do not need to rely solely on our own strength to make things happen. That we can let other people make their own choices that are right for them while also placing our trust in something larger and knowing that we are always supported and never alone.

Each of us is on our own unique journey with our own unique lessons to learn. Every experience we have is an opportunity for growth, connection, and an amazing experience to learn more about ourselves and others.

I look back and see that the circumstances have not radically changed in terms of what was happening in my life, but the way I look and feel about everything had made a radical shift.

Once again, I was able to see that our thoughts define our feelings, our feelings define our experiences, and that our experiences become our reality.

If I can leave you with one thing, it’s simply to say that you can only control yourself—everything else you can let go of. Begin close in with yourself, and then see how it radiates out from you to everyone else in your life.

By Melissa Snow

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/03/how-i-gave-up-control-over-my-life-my-son/

 

 

 

How to Not let your Soul Work become just another Thing on your To-Do List

Has this ever happened to you?

You start a new project with the intention to work on yourself, to connect more deeply to your soul and the universe, to change some old ways of thinking that aren’t working for you anymore, or just to take more time for yourself.

Maybe it’s a meditation practice or writing in your journal every day. Maybe it’s reading a chapter of a self-discovery book or even an online course on self-improvement. The first week goes great. You feel calmer and clearer, like you’ve really got it this time
You decide it’s going to be something you do every day. Then around day seven or eight, daily life gets in the way. Maybe you wake up late, maybe you feel sick, or maybe you just have a busy day. And so, you write it down on your to-do list for later, and inevitably it goes to the bottom of the list.

When you get home late that night, you’re too tired to do it, and so you put it off for the next day, and then the next. And suddenly, this thing that seemed to make you feel so calm and free for a few days is just another thing to get done each day—adding to your feelings of being stressed, overwhelmed, and never having enough time to get all “your stuff” done in one day. Suddenly, your soul work has become just another thing on your to-do list.

It’s easy to let this happen. I’ve heard it takes at least three weeks to start a new habit, and we tend to place more value on things like getting work done, cleaning the house, catching up on emails and phone calls, and other actions that give us immediate results—results we can see more than those we do when working on ourselves.

We start thinking that these things are more important than doing our soul work every day. And by soul work I mean doing something that brings you closer to your heart, your intuition, and that makes you feel those deep, intrinsic feelings we all have that make us feel alive. Those feelings that make us feel we are connected to ourselves, to others, and to something much bigger than ourselves. Those feelings that help us know that our life has purpose and meaning, and that it all somehow makes sense.

When the soul-nourishing stuff we do suddenly becomes soul-sucking, we need to take a step back and look at those feelings—and instead of just giving up, we must ask ourselves how we can get back on track.

This has happened to me more than once. I made a commitment to meditate every day, and then find myself just thinking about what I have to get done during my entire meditation. So much mind chatter. Or, I’ve committed to write every day, but when I try to sit down and write, there is no space for me to tap into my inner voice, because my head is too crowded with noise—and instead of being in a place of emptiness where I can tap into something deeper in myself, I’m simply but fully in my head.

Each time this has happened, I had to stop and see how my need for feeling busy, accomplished, and consistent were getting in my way. My need for perfection was once again rearing its ugly head and saying that if I didn’t do my soul work every single day, then it just wasn’t good enough. I was telling myself that it either had to be every day or not at all.

It’s easier to just stay busy and to fill our days with doing instead of feeling, but ultimately, this is not what brings us joy. We end up being too busy to stop and notice the little things. Too busy to be in that space of gratitude for everything we have. So busy that we start to feel disconnected and alone.

I found that these questions helped me put things back in perspective and get right back on track with my soul work. What is good enough? And what is truly important to me? What are the intrinsic feelings unique to me that bring me alive? And where are the places I really need to spend my time to experience these feelings of aliveness, joy, and connection?

Ask these questions to your body, your heart, and your gut—and to that part of you that physically gives you feedback, not to your head and your conscience, not to the part of you that wants to put everything in neat little boxes and categorize what is supposed to be important and what isn’t.

I found that “good enough” had to exist in the present moment, not in the future. I knew that spending time in nature and creating were truly important to me. And for me, these core feelings are freedom, love, connection, and gratitude. For you, they might be completely different. But I know that getting work done—cleaning the house and responding to emails and phone calls—does not make me feel any of these things. When I’m doing things for my soul, like meditating, writing, creating, and spending time out in nature or with friends, I feel nourished and alive.

I decided that I didn’t have to be so rigid. I set up a framework for possibility and decided that instead of making my soul work be about more “things to do” I was going to make it all about ways to feel. No more lists, no more things to do, no more numbers. I decided that all I needed to do every day was to choose something that made me feel those intrinsic feelings and to go after it in a way that created these feelings. This changed the goal of my soul work to be about something much more spiritual, not just about doing the things to get there.

Once I did this, my shoulders softened, my jaw relaxed, and already, I felt more free. I have heard the saying, “The journey is the destination,” and it’s so true. I began to move toward my soul work with more self-awareness, presence, and trust. I decided to make my soul work beautiful because beauty brings me into a state of joy and grace.

This allowed me to consider all sorts of different things “soul work.” One day, it might be taking a walk at sunset or taking a bath with candles. Another day, it could be putting down my phone and enjoying some silence, solitude, and a cup of tea. And another day, it could be meditating or reading a book of poems or writing. By allowing myself the freedom to set my own parameters, and focusing on the feeling instead of the activity, I discovered so many new ways to feed my soul and connect with myself.

And so, I encourage you—next time you find yourself in this place, where working on yourself becomes just another thing to get done, or just another thing to cross off your to-do list, take a look at these feelings that inspire you and awaken you to life, and look at the activities that bring you to this place. Consider letting go of the idea that there is only one way to get there. You may surprise yourself, and you will surely feel more joy and less obligation. You will feel your shoulders softly drop away from your ears, the muscles in your face relax, and maybe even notice that you are smiling.

By Melissa Snow

 

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2017/03/how-to-not-let-your-soul-work-become-just-another-thing-on-your-to-do-list/