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The Gift of Now

The Gift of Now

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”  ― Amit Ray

I sit on the black zafu perched on my knees, the red light of the timer is glowing. Rising falling, I breathe. I hear the neighbors leaf blower scrambling the gold and red maple leafs around the back yard. Rising falling, I breathe. A blue jay screeches in the deep blue sky. Rising falling, I breathe. My stomach tightness, my shoulders tighten. Rising falling, I breathe. I am thinking of writing projects and how to fix the tenses. Rising falling, I breathe. A cat’s wet nose nudges my forefinger asking for a pet. Rising falling, I breathe. The monthly emergency response system sirens spread across the neighborhood. Rising falling, I breathe. The furnace clicks on and roars to life, warm air falls over my head. Rising falling, I breathe. I think of my mother and her many voices in my head. Rising falling, I breathe. I hear my thoughts roll, toss, and spit at me. Rising falling I breathe. This is my gift to myself, the gift of now.



Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Fall Steps

“Choose well. Your choice is brief, and yet endless.”  ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

My world does not feel right today yet it is a brilliant blue and golden fall day. I am laying on the futon next to the living room windows nested in a pile of pillows and quilts. My left foot is propped up on a rectangular yoga bolster, pillows and a bag of ice to help mitigate the throbbing pain coursing down the top of my foot. Friday morning I had surgery on my left foot to fix a condition known as Hallux Rigidus or stiff big toe. This is the same surgery I had on my right foot last January. In about 8 weeks I should be able to resume most of my normal routine.

So even though I am immobile, feel like crap and dependent even for a cup of tea, this is a good thing, at least I keep trying to tell myself it is. It is good because it means I will be able to go on long walks and hikes again. It means I will not be in pain after a day on my feet. It means I am taking care of myself and doing what is needed now so that my future will be filled with freedom of movement. Plus it means that I can get an awesome pair of new knee-high boots. For the last five years my footwear has been limited to three pairs of shoes—Dansko professional clogs, Birkenstock sandals and hiking boots with a rigid sole.

I have to admit I approached this surgery with a bit of trepidation because last January when I had surgery on my right foot I plummeted into a depression. I think it was a combination of not knowing what to expect, way too much anesthesia which left me fuzzy for over a week, the polar vortex, over 8 feet of snow which made it impossible go outside, and not being able to drive. Plus I just watched way too much TV, which is never good for me, it clogs my brain and numbs me out. Did I mention I ate like crap too? My office sent me a gift basket full of gluten-free cookies, crackers, and cakes and I ate it all.

Today as I sit here looking out at a beautiful fall day I know I have a choice about how I want to take care of myself this time. So I spoke up about my experience with the anesthesia the last time and asked for less or a different kind. I asked for a non-narcotic pain medication that would not space me out and hurt my belly. I have a stack of books to read instead of TV to watch. I told my office to not send a basket of goodies. I have a fridge full of healthy veggies and fruits to snack on. I found chair workout videos I can do in a few weeks to keep my blood moving. And in 2 weeks I will be able to drive, last January it was over 8 weeks before I could drive and that really sucked.

The point is, I have choices I can make. This time I prepared and gathered what I was going to need before hand. I have to keep reminding myself, I have a choice as to how I want to take care of myself. I know I can lay here and stare at the TV or I can write this blog post. I can choose to get up and go sit outside for a half hour. I can choose collard greens and soup for lunch instead of asking Jay to make french fries. Most importantly I can choose to stay positive or allow myself to wallow and feel sorry for myself because I can’t get up and get a cup of tea. The choice is mine.

So here is this week’s Inspiration to Open Your Heart.

I Implore You-Do Not Dumb Down via Danielle LaPorte- How many times have I dumb myself down in order to fit in? Way too many. If you have too, read this now.  

Comma Story By Terisa Folaron- I struggle with understanding grammar. I think this is a combination of my learning disability and the fact I skipped a lot of high school. This ED TED lesson on the comma helped me so much I had to share.

10 Delicious Protein packed Pancake Recipes- I love pancakes. I think I will have Jay make the Red Quinoa Pancakes or the Vanilla spiked protein pancakes. Many of them are gluten-free too.

Do It Anyway by Sara Benincasa- Read this now for motivation to say f**k it and do what you want regardless of your ability. Don’t let perfectionism stop you anymore.

How I work with limited energy as a solopreneur by Esme Wang- I loved this article. The older I get the more I realize I cannot bang my way through life forcing my body to comply. It simply does not work.

Don’t forget registration for Honor Your Voice-An online Creative Writing Retreat is open and I am offering special early bird pricing until October 31st. Let’s write together.

May you coming week be filled with choices that promote self care. ~ Kira


Core Desire Feelings

Core Desire Feelings- Lake Michigan

“Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have.” ― Danielle LaPorte

Peaceful, Creative, Connection, Authentic and Kind. These are my Core Desire Feelings. These are my guides. These are what I want to cultivate in my life beyond anything else.

I have resisted reading the Danielle LaPorte’s book the Desire Map since it came out because goal setting is a dangerous endeavor for me.

I know this may sound counter intuitive to accepted norms but for my mental health I tend to shy away from most goal setting or self-help programs. For myself, I find that I end up feeling worse about myself for having read someone’s five point plan to make all of my dreams come true or some book that says if I just do this, this and that then everything will be great.

The reality is my life is messy and never fits into an ideal that some fantastic person lays out. Plus I have a huge tendency to expect the impossible from myself. There is so much I want to achieve, so many dreams needing to be fulfilled. I use to jam pack my year plan with every single goal I had in my big book of dreams, and sure I would succeed at some, but most were out of my reach from the moment I set them to paper. So I often felt deflated and like a big fat loser for never being able to reach all of my goals. Which then lead to feelings of I suck and would get the “I am not good enough” ball rolling.

It is not that I am against goal setting per se, it is more I have learned over the years to be super kind to myself and not set too many. I do need a map as to where I am going and what I want to do. I have lived too much of my life just bumping into the next thing that popped up. I dream big but I know better than to hold myself to the fire of un-doable.

So I finally caved and picked the Desire Map audiobook because of the curiosity about the concept of Core Desire Feelings and setting goals based on how you want to feel instead of what you want to accomplish. I wrote about this a few week’s ago here. I think this approach can fit into my life and be a gentle guide that might work for me.

So I am taking my time and slowly working with the book (I do recommend getting the audio book because Danielle’s voice is so awesome). After many weeks of writing and contemplation, I have finally identified my Core Desire Feelings (CDF).

For those of you not familiar with the Desire Map, CDF’s are how I want to feel, they are the guides for choosing what I want to do in my life. These are the feelings I want to cultivate with my efforts. When faced with a new opportunity I can stop, check in and ask, is this project, goal or whatever going to help me feel the way I want to feel or not.

This is a map I can use to set goals that will not leave me feeling not good enough, will not trigger my perfection monster and will help me move my life in the direction of what is good and right for me.

Even though I have not finished setting goals, I already find myself asking myself if what I am doing is in alignment with how I want to feel. I am even letting go of some activities and prioritizing others because I know I will feel peaceful or connected to others. I know the courage to create and open registration for Honor Your Voice is because it helps me feel creative, connected and authentic.

So the next adventure is setting goals. May I have realistic, loving and kind expectations of myself but most important, may I remember that it is about how I want to feel not what I accomplish.

If you haven’t checked out the Desire Map yet, I highly recommend it. It will be worth your time.


Don’t forget registration for Honor Your Voice-An online Creative Writing Retreat is open and I am offering special early bird pricing until October 31st. Let’s write together.



Inspiration to Open Your Heart

Following my path

“Writing is the practice of asserting yourself.”— Natalie Goldberg

Life is brilliant right now. I mean glowing vibrant reds, yellows and oranges. I feel like I am living in a candy world of dense color as fall takes hold and sails us forward toward our coming incubation. Today the sky is endless blue, clear and bright. The air, crisp and brisk. I feel alive and buoyant. Even yesterday with the endless rains and gray that would not relent, I still felt charged with life. I always do in the fall. Fall is the time of new beginnings for me and for gathering the harvest of the last year.

Looking back over the last few months, even though it felt like I wasn’t doing much, I can see how I have planted the seeds for my writing and for how I can offer others the opportunity to find and access their writing voice.

Ever since D. died over 2 years ago, I have worked towards reclaiming my voice, my words and my purpose. I have tried to find out what my next is and where I fit into the world after what was my foundation was ripped away. My whole life was turned upside down and made a new when he died. Now I feel like I am beginning to reap some of the hard work of the last few years.

When I started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing or why I was doing it. I just knew I needed to do something creative and be accountable to someone out there. Composing a life where writing is not only a practice but something I can share with others was a lifelong dream. A dream I didn’t think I deserved to have come true. So starting my blog was the first time I ever put my writing out there for the world to read. It was scary and it was the best thing I ever did for myself. Even though I was still grieving deeply, I felt alive and purposeful. Instead of just telling myself I was going to be okay, I felt it in my bones. Writing is my way of asserting myself and my dreams.

Now a couple of years later as I am getting ready to open registration for my first creative writing retreat I am flooded with the same feelings. I feel in my bones that I am in alignment with my dreams. I am filled with clarity and purpose as I write out the retreat schedule and guidelines. I am amazing myself as I set up PayPal, my website and connect my email lists. I am really doing this and I never thought I was capable or deserved to do something I have always dreamed of doing—something I have always loved.

I am going to be honest, I am scared this is not going to work. I am scared not enough people will sign up for the retreat in November. However, I am not scared about leading the retreat. That I know I can do, that is why I am taking this huge risk, investing my time and money. I know the power of creative writing and I want to empower others by sharing this gift.

All that said, here is this week’s Inspiration to Open Your Heart. It is a mix of body compassion, mindfulness and some writing links.

Why thinking you’re ugly is bad for you- This is an enlightening TED talk by Meaghan Ramsey. Yes, let’s celebrate what we do, not what we look like.

What the Dying Really Regret by Kerry Egan- This is a powerful essay reflecting on how we take our bodies for granted. A must read for anyone who has ever grappled with body shame or disdain.

The Meaning of Life: Buddhism in America-Thanks to one huggable ex-monk. This is a great article about Jack Kornfield and western Buddhism.

Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway and Nearby- I don’t have this book by Ms. Solnit yet but after reading this piece on Brainpickings, it is on my wish list.

Writing Your Way Home by Pat Schneider- Here Pat talks about the importance of honoring your voice that is uniquely yours alone and in doing so, you honor your past and your heritage.

May you be filled with vivid joy and embrace new beginnings this week. ~Kira

I am opening registration for Honor Your Voice- An online Creative Writing Retreat on October 20, 2014. Space is limited to 10 writers and I am offering early bird pricing of only $69 until October 31st, after that it goes back up to $89. So sign up and let’s write together.




Creative Genius

Creative GeniusThe Amherst Writers and Artists Method is pure magic for me. One of the fundamental principles of the AWA Method is that everybody is born with Creative Genius. One of the many gifts of the AWA method is that you can access new fresh writing from the Creative Genius part of you. This is an infinite place within your mind and the act of writing from prompts or what images, words, thoughts, sounds or smells first float up is your Creative Genius speaking to you.

The AWA method is about learning to follow the trail of words and images no matter how much the next impulse seems crazy, how much it does not make sense, how illogical or confusing. It is writing past the voices inside that tell you to stop, or you are dumb or you don’t know what you are doing.

The AWA method creates an environment where you learn to trust your Creative Genius a ten or twenty-minute write at a time, knowing it will take you down deep inside of you to places and associations you didn’t know were possible. Often heard in workshops and retreats, “That came from me?” or “I wrote that?”, all said in disbelief.

I am stunned at the depth and breadth of vulnerability that arises for me in an AWA creative writing workshop. Being part of a writing workshop gives me an opportunity to dive in deep to the tender places I normally keep under lock and key—under layers of be appropriate, be perfect, be good enough. You know, those mantras that make me feel flat and stressed. That tell me to give it up and I suck.

My Creative Genius is the now deep voice echoing off the chambers of my heart’s loose fitting valves. My Creative Genius is the warm voice inside that warns of danger when I am getting too tight and trying to be perfect. It is the voice that hides under bushes of my youth like the lilac that blooms once a year for a few brief weeks in the spring.  A bush that sparkles sweetness and purple, and dances on the fresh ions of spring when the dampness of the night stays a bit too long. It wraps around my tiny fingers clinging to the blue blanket piled and scratchy against my cheek. It gives me access to things forgotten and things unknown.

It is when I sit down in an AWA creative writing workshop I am able to access these images and let them flow my hand. It is where I am able to feel safe to share my tender words by reading them out loud. Where I can hear the power of my voice say my words out loud. Where I am able to hear what stayed with others and know that my words were heard. Where I am able to know, for that moment, I exist, my words matter and someone heard them.

I don’t know anywhere else where I can experience this and where my Creative Genius feels safe to come out and spill on the page. The great thing is, once I access my Creative Genius in the safety of an AWA workshop, it starts to emerge more readily in other areas. I don’t spend as much time staring at the blank page and writing becomes easier.

So if you want to access your Creative Genius and sit in awe of your words, your voice, your power, then I do hope you will consider registering for Honor Your Voice- an online creative writing retreat. I will be offering early bird pricing for members on my email list, so be sure to sign up here. Registration opens soon.


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