Saturday, December 19, 2015

My Christmas Letter

                                                                                                                                        Christmas 2015

Dearest Loved Ones,

     I hope this season is bright for you and filled with light and if it’s not then I hope it’s filed with self compassion in the darkness. Whether through joy or challenge I hope you are becoming your very best self and growing in love. Like all of you, Tim and I have had high moments and moments when we really needed to exhale, but overall it has been a fruitful year. We have no kids to brag on, our pets escapades have been pretty tame (except for getting some crazy chickens!)  and there are no major accomplishments to shout from the rooftops except taking a teenager to Italy for two weeks and not losing her! I know you parents aren’t too impressed with that accomplishment though! So, instead I’m going to use this letter to unpack my mission statement.  I recently wrote a condensed mission statement with just three words: abundance, health and love and it contains the gifts I wish for you.


    My idea of abundance really has nothing much to do with financial or material gain.  Abundance is rich and complex when broken down. One component is to drop a competitive mindset around resources.  I learned to drop the mindset examining my envy at all the yoga party posts with big crowds on FaceBook as I worked away in obscurity growing my little studio. When we envy, we are subtly telling ourselves there’s not enough to go around, that we are missing something, and that we are in lack instead of abundance. When we disallow a competitive mindset our joy increases when others prosper. When we drop this mindset perhaps even we drop the “us and them” mindset that causes so much global strife. Abundance knows that in the moment we have all we need.  My abundance is sitting in the yard watching the sweet dog who is watching the grouchy cat who is watching the crazy chickens run /flap into the bush full of yellow flowers.  Abundance comes from being present and knowing all is well.


   We all mostly do the best we can for our health, but of course wellness and illness visits every living soul. So when I think of orienting my choices toward health, I think of orienting towards choosing to be happy.  Choosing happiness bolsters us in all circumstances. As a species we have barely scratched the surface of the body mind connection; it is sacred and it is powerful and choosing to be happy in whatever the present moment offers eventfully leads to a deeper inner pool of inherent joy and leads to a healthier body! Happiness is the beautiful face of courage. Here’s to your healthy New Year!


  Just one little word powerful enough to ignite wars.  How many would die for love? We can all define elements of love and if you can’t then revisit I Corinthians 13 (love is patient, love is kind…) or ponder this  “The best and surest way you may know God is when selfless love fills your heart and there is a strong compelling urge to help someone, to heal their ills, to relieve their suffering, to bring them happiness …” Joseph Benner.

     I think love boils down to helping others and setting yourself aside. But we don’t “set ourselves aside” or stop always prioritizing our own opinions just for kicks. We do it to notice other people and their needs, we do it for connection. Maybe a smile is all it takes to plant a seed of love. Because when you plant a seed of love you are enriched yourself.

     This year I am having a hard time sticking to my rule of a one page letter. My thoughts are abundant, my heart is happy and when I think of you all I am filled with love. So if you have made it to page two I would like to congratulate you that your technology has not completely annihilated your attention span!

     I hope that in 2016 you take time to slow down and feel your abundance, that whatever it is that will make you healthier is a major component in your life and that you love yourself and humanity just a little more every day . Tim and I are so grateful for you all.

With much love and wishes for your bright holiday,

 Tim and Signe

All Good Things

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him
Romans 8:28

  One of my favorite teachers, Ram Dass says "its all fodder for growth" meaning that every thing that happens to us can be used for character development and whether someone hugs you or smacks you is really irrelevant. What matters is witnessing our lives in a compassionate manner to keep digging deeper into ourselves, calming the ego and awakening the inner wisdom inherent in humans.
In theory it is a lovely idea to have developed such equanimity that we meet every challenge with grace and gratitude. In reality it's a messy practice. So let me share the mess that three teachers recently brought to my door.

 The first literally came to the door, as a few weeks ago some thieves kicked in our front door and wiped the house clean of electronics and peace of mind The second teacher came only two days later as my husband was in a fender bender which would normally be no big deal, but the responding officer didn't believe his version of the events and called him a liar Then it became a big deal. The third teacher again literally knocked at my door. Over the front door of my studio it says yoga and massage. Well, I started getting knocks from people who didn't have appointments but insisted that they did. These were the kind of people who were a little rough and a little scary to me. It turns out that the building had leased a space to some prostitutes who were using massage as a cover and their excited johns just saw the massage word over my door. I am fiercely protective of my business and this triggered me in a thousand ways. For a moment I forgot Gods promise that He does work all things for our good. For a few days I responded to these three teacher by drinking too much and sleeping a lot. But the beauty of a spiritual practice is that it is cumulative and all the decades of prayer. meditation and self examination quickly became a life raft for me. So let me share the three gifts my teachers left.

Immediately after the break in standing in my home, shaky and unsure I got direction to practice some yoga. So I stood in tadasana, (those of you who don't practice yoga may call this pose standing there). Tadasana is a super powerful pose and as I rooted into my feet sending my energy all through my home I could feel my heart lift and my shoulders drop. In me is the power of abundance. I know I have enough "stuff" I know I have strong energy. I know my spirit is bright. But it took some burglars making space in my home for the knowledge of abundance to really take root. When abundance comes to live in your heart, competiveness has no space. Gandhi says there is enough in this world for all our need but not our greed. And this is true. When you notice the present moment you will see you are abundant, too.

The second gift was really letting go a lot of what people think of me. Others opinion can somewhat inform our choices but when they guide them we are not free.  the part of the accident that was so hard was watching my honest and big hearted husband struggle with being called a liar by a policeman. Tim did 20 years in the Air Force and this gave him a respect for "higher ups" that perhaps did not serve him in this situation. He has moved passed it and is actually looking forward to his day in court. But what has really stuck with me is the letting go of what others think and as I continue to work with this I feel my shoulders softening and my heart opening. It is a lovely thing.

The third gift was definitely the hardest to unwrap. I have massaged for twenty two years and in the beginning there was still a little bit of an association with sexuality. I have fought hard to make this very necessary service respectable. Human babies will die without touch. We all need safe touch and the johns knocking at my door knocked the wind out of me for a bit. But, here's the thing in every person there is dark and there is light. Society may try to reduce women to the Madonna/whore complex. But we are not one or the other we are all both. In those ladies was light and in me is
dark. Through this struggle I realized that until I truly embrace my darker parts my spiritual journey would be slowed. I prayed a lot for those ladies and less than a month into their lease the property manager got wise and evicted them. But they left me with a real softness for the parts of me that react from fear and anger.

About a month before my three teachers came I had formulated a mini mission statement for my life   just three words. Abundance, Health, and Love. The thieves brought me abundance, Tims struggle brought me greater mental health and those ladies of the night left me a shiny box of self love. So, whomever is knocking at your door, won't you let them in? They are your teachers.