Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

Seva

 

A member of our community asked me yesterday what Seva meant. Seva is a sanskrit term for selfless service, a tidy explanation for sometimes untidy work. The best example I came up with was a shelter. Those who run shelters do the work most of us turn away from: caring for those that are sick, recovering, unwanted and lost. Those beings, two and four legged, who are UNSEEN.

Shelter workers lean in when most people lean back. They tirelessly do the work no one wants to even acknowledge; they dig into horrifying situations and pull those in need up and out.

Every day.

With no fanfare. No recognition. No glory. They do it because they have a passion for the work.

They rarely look for publicity unless it is for something they need for the shelter.

Which, in the weird timing category, came up yesterday afternoon. Our local animal shelter, the East Greenwich Animal Protection League,  is getting evicted from their present location. Like, Thursday. Tomorrow.  By 5p. To say they are scrambling is an understatement.

The shelter reached out asking for help. They need to quickly place as many animals as they can. Could we possibly host an adoption event on Saturday from 12p-2p on our front lawn? We have no details and frankly we don’t need any.

YES.

When any shelter calls, the answer should always be yes.

When anyone in need calls, the answer should always be yes.

Lean in. You don’t have to be on the front lines if that’s not your jam. But don’t turn away. Don’t ever look away. Do what you can, because every little bit helps.

Find your Seva. And just do it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blessed Are The Flexible For They Shall Never Be Bent Out of Shape.

My whole life is based on movement.

I crisscross the country as a sports producer for ESPN,  joining my merry band of tv misfits along the road to creative brilliance.

I also co-own a yoga studio in East Greenwich, RI, a way station for souls who come for the physical  and stay for the spiritual and community acceptance.

So what happens when that movement comes to a grinding halt? When you have to find other ways to be flexible?

In March 2014 I was slowly coming off the road and got sick. Like strep throat and mono sick. Like I’m so sick and tired I can’t move sick. And then I couldn’t raise my left arm.  Countless tests, doctors appointments, PT appointments later and no one could figure out what was wrong with me. Until I went to the neurologist, who diagnosed a brachioplexus injury brought on by the mono. Apparently mono, an autoimmune illness, can attack nerves. Recovery time?  Two years. Two. Years. Try lugging a bag of heavy tapes cross country with the use of one arm. Or try to chattarunga when you have no feeling in your left arm and you collapse on the way down. My best friend is an amazing yogi and my favorite teacher, and she listened and lovingly argued with me as I struggled with not being…enough.

What. The. Freak.

I was mortified when I was asked to be a Lululemon ambassador; crap, I couldn’t do anything; how could I represent!  I hid when I went to the NYC Yoga Journal Conference and took Seane Corn’s class.  I love this woman and was embarrassed by my clumsiness.  I would fall off my bike…ALOT…  because I couldn’t hold onto the handle bars tightly and it would throw off my balance.  I refused to give in to any of it.  I would lie on my mat every Tuesday night in my friend Sharon’s class. I would do some sun salutations and then, exhausted, lay down and silently cry. Rivers of tears. God love my friend who was so encouraging and let me just soak it all in from corpse pose, appropriate because I felt like death most of the time. I did this for months. And over time, I slowly gave in. I put my beloved bike away, rolled out my mat, and leaned into the stiffness, stillness, numbness, the quiet, and the not knowing.

And that’s where the magic began.  The tiredness started to ease, and while my arm remained numb and wouldn’t move, my lower body could. When I realized I didn’t have to be perfect, I could be good. Enough. And it was enough. So I modified. And modified. And modified. My legs got strong and by focusing on the things I could do as opposed to the things I couldn’t, I became more flexible. Also, within the movement, I prayed. Really hard. I dove into my reliable Catholic standards of Hail Mary’s, Our Father’s and Acts of Contritions. And I threw in my favorite Hindu chant for good measure: Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha. Ganesha, my hOMe boy, is the remover of obstacles and the bringer of new beginnings. I used it all. It became a body prayer. I started to peel away the layers and removed those things that no longer served me. And I became me again. I realized it was okay to be vulnerable and to rely on others. And I didn’t always have to live up to the ESPN producer/yoga studio owner/yoga teacher persona.  I became strong again, in different ways.  I didn’t have to be perfect. I could be good. And it was enough.

Almost two years later, I have regained 85% of the movement in my arm, but it’s still numb.  It’s also a reminder of how far I’ve come.

When there is no struggle, there is no strength. Amen.

The Power of the Porch

The front porch.

It’s the welcoming threshold into our home. The porch is a magical gathering place where we learn, socialize, celebrate, mourn, reflect, observe, confide, and just hang out.

Front porches stir memories from childhood. I grew up in Knightsville, an Italian neighborhood in Cranston, and it seemed like everyone had a porch. And not only did they have a porch, they practically lived on it during the summer and early Fall.  I asked my Dad about it and he said years ago, before tv, everybody sat out on their porch. It was their entertainment and a voyeuristic glance around their particular corner of the world.  “You would see your neighbors as they walked by to go get ice cream or some treat, wave a warm hello and sometimes stop and chat.”

I fondly remember my childhood porch; it was the gathering place for family and friends on summer nights. We raced home to make curfew and then plopped down, telling outlandish tales of the day to make ourselves laugh. You’d never know who’d show up to visit, and better yet, bring something sweet.

Laughing Elephant has a porch too. A big and breezy one with adirondacks haphazardly arranged, remnants of the last conversations that took place here. It was the selling point for us; we knew it would be an ideal gathering spot for our community and we were right. Students come early and stay late to sprawl on the steps and watch others mastering  handstands in the front yard.  The porch just draws you in, the perfect spot to savor a moment, to just be in the moment.

The front porch is like a yoga class. It’s home. It’s where we come to learn, socialize, celebrate, mourn, reflect, observe, confide  and sometimes just hang out.

Need a reminder of the magic of the front porch? Or a reminder of how wonderful yoga is? Please come and experience both at Laughing Elephant.