• Metta Meditation + Things I'm Grateful For

    Metta Meditation + Things I'm Grateful For

    In yoga class last night, 
    The flow was good. Very good.
    But the message was even better.
    And the timing was perfect.
    Brittni led us through a loving-kindness meditation.
    Metta meditation.

    Not familiar?

    The Greater Good Science Center, out of the University of California Berkeley, describes loving-kindess (or "metta") meditation as the simple practice of directing well-wishes towards other people

    And also yourself.

    It's a simple, yet powerful way to feel happier, pump up the positivity, get yourself on a trajectory of growth, feel more connected, and even change the way you approach life! 

    Pretty awesome, eh? 

    How does it work? You simply direct kind, loving feelings to yourself, others (those you love, as well as those you've been feeling tension/negativity towards), and finally, all beings everywhere. It only take a few minutes to do, and it's something anyone can do - including the little ones!

    Check out this awesome video to get a better feel for how this works!

    I'd gone into class feeling some tension about something (doesn't matter what) someone (doesn't matter who) had said earlier this week. And the metta meditation was exactly what I'd needed.

    It left me feeling peace, ease, perspective, compassion, and love for the person who'd been weighing on my mind. It felt like a weight had been lifted: Free from the negativity and the tension. Ready and able to move on. 

    And that's where the gratitude comes in.

    To me, gratitude is like a reality check.
    Yeah, things may be crazy at times.
    Life may feel really hard.
    And it may seem silly to stop and think about what you're grateful for. 

    But I've found that, especially in those most challenging moments, when we take the time to focus on what's good in our lives (love, friendship, being brave, overcoming fear, telling your story, time to listen, being heard, sitting in the sunshine, making a big change, a hug, a hand, doing what's right), something incredible happens.

    A shift.
    And a lightness. 
    And over time, it grows. 

    So I invite you to pause for a moment today.
    Or even a few times today!
    To direct some metta at yourself, the people in your life, and the world. 
    Lord knows we can (all) always use more loving-kindness.

    Maybe even start a list!

    I'll kick things off with 5 big things I'm feeling especially grateful for this morning:

    • Love in my life.
      From family and friends.
      People who lift me up, cheer me on, and genuinely care.
      I am so grateful for you.
    • Community.
      My tribe.
      And there are many, actually.
      This one is forever shifting and expanding.
      But the magic that happens when you connect with people who "get" you is hard to describe. 
      And I am so grateful for this.
    • Meaningful work.
      The opporunity to do soemthing that lights me up and makes me feel alive.
      With food, natural health, self-care, supporting, educating, empowering.
      But most of all: People
      For this I am massively grateful.
    • My Health.
      The ability to breathe clearly, move freely, dance, stretch, run, relax, travel, and snuggle.
      These were not always things I could easily do.
      And I cherish them now more than ever.
    • And even: The Hard Stuff
      Because it's shaped and molded me into who I am today.
      It's an excellent teacher.
      I am stronger, clearer, and more confident in who I am and what I'm capable of because of the challenges.

    And you? What are you thankful for right now?

    Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers!

    Wherever you may find yourselves today,

    May you be happy,
    May you be healthy,
    May you be safe,
    May you be peaceful,
    And may you be at ease.


  • Día de los Muertos, For Remembering

    Día de los Muertos, For Remembering

    The first July after Grandpop passed away was especially hard. Everyone felt it. His presence and his absence, simultaneously. 

    We'd traveled to the Outer Banks for our annual family reunion. And though he wasn't a particularly loud man while he was alive, everything seemed quieter that year.  

    Months had passed since he'd left us, but the sting, the loss, the pain was still so palpable. I thought of him often and cried every time. 

    That summer, Aunt Kath and Aunt Marg laid out some of his possessions in the living room, on the couches and the chairs.

    T-shirts he'd had made, with images from some of the earliest family reunions. His ties, his eyeglasses, a travel sewing kit, a travel clothes line he'd made himself, his hats, more clothes, and other assorted belongings leftover from his children's painstakingly tedious sorting through of his things.

    Pieces of him, scattered around.

    For us.

    To pick and choose, and take home with us. To remember.

    I wanted to rush up in front of my cousins and grab up everything I could get my hands on. To get first choice. To keep every tangible bit of him. To take him home with me.

    It felt wrong. I felt guilty. I felt ashamed for some reason. But I wanted any pieces of him I could have.

    A few minutes passed. I looked around the room at people wearing his shirts and his sunglasses, smiling, laughing.

    And I noticed there was still something very special sitting on the couch. I asked one of my aunts if I could have it: his little medicine trunk. A brown leather Samsonite travel case, with a hard frame and brass buckles on the front. Inside, a few of his old medications and travel supplies were still tidily tucked away. 

    I also took some of his ties, which I gave to my husband, Eddie, and a pair of his military-issued thick-rimmed eyeglasses. 

    I remember that I carefully rolled his ties and placed them, along with his glasses, in his travel case.

    Tears welling up in my eyes, as they are now, I clutched the case tightly and walked downstairs to my room, silently asking forgiveness for my greed.


    This morning, years later, I opened that medicine trunk.

    And the smell of my grandfather spilled into the air, hitting me hard in the face and the heart. My throat tightened and I felt hot tears slide down my face. 

    It still happens, but not as much as before.


    It's funny, isn't it, how someone can be something very different to each person they know?

    I know for a fact that his relationship with my older cousins wasn't the same as it was with my sister and I.

    And the nearly three quarters of a century he spent with my grandmother, too, was surely a very different kind of relationship. Many challenges, to be sure. He was away a lot, in the Navy. My Nanny did so much on her own to raise a family of four children.

    But for me, Grandpop was always such a hero type of man. Loving, kind, supportive. He always believed in me and he always told me so.

    To me, he was wonderful. I'm so grateful I got to know him that way. That for me, he was all goodness and nothing bad. I hope he knew that about our relationship. I have to believe he did, and still does.

    On this November 2nd, Día de los Muertos, All Souls Day, he surely has come back home.

    I feel his presence all around me. My tears are both of love and of loss.

    It's a day to remember those who've gone before and who are no longer here in their physical form. A day to welcome them back home to the Earthly world, honor them and love them, and then send them safely back to the spiritual world.

    It's been years since I've done this, though I always mean to, and long overdue, but this afternoon I built an altar for my grandparents and Eddie's grandfather, too.

    We built it by the window, to let the light shine in, the rays of light symbolizing the impermanence of life. And to guide them home to us for the day. To "catch up".

    Photographs, belongings, candles, favorite foods, memories. Time and attention. Permission to cry. Permission to smile as you speak of them. And to let the love flow. It's so simple, but so powerful, too.

    How often do we stop to remember our dead?

    Gone but not forgotten. I love this tradition. Day of the Dead. 

    Today, I especially honor and celebrate the lives of our loved ones who have gone before us.

    Because the last thing I want is to forget.