mindfulness leads to CHANGE …

Every move I make, no matter how slight, comes with excruciating pain (like moving my arm 1/4″ to get to the letter u on my iPad keyboard to type the word excruciating. And no, I’m not exaggerating.). My right shoulder. Ouch doesn’t quite cut it. If I actually allowed myself this, I would be emitting a heart-wrenching  scream at every move. Instead, I squish my face up tight, then remember to stand up straight, release the tension in my face and breathe breathe BREATHE. Breathe into the pain in order to be able to move my arm a teeny tiny bit. Then take another deep breath and move it a tiny bit more. This is how it goes to pull up my underwear and shorts after going to the bathroom. Talk about being mindful. I’ve never spent that much time in the bathroom…ok, fine, but my focus was on something very different. Sometimes, I watch myself in the mirror because it gives me more strength, and sometimes I cry from the intense pain and from literally facing myself as I work through it.

So, now for the background story. My right shoulder has had limited mobility for give or take 10 years now. That was a long time ago, plus I don’t remember much from a long time ago, so I’m not sure if anything obvious caused this initial discomfort in my shoulder. I lifted weights a lot back then, and I ignored a lot back then. So any pain I may have caused myself (physical and/or emotional) that landed itself in my right shoulder, I ignored. For give or take 8 of those years, I continued to lift weights hard, practice yoga, throw my niece in the air, do anything I needed to do, regardless of the fact that these things often irritated and inflamed my shoulder. But dealing with whatever was going on in there seemed far too daunting. A couple of years ago, I did a year of acupuncture for emotional healing and a couple of times, I had my acupuncturist work on that shoulder, because it was extra irritated for whatever reason at that moment. This was when I started to make more of a mind-body connection to this long time issue of mine. I hate using the word issue in my vocabulary these days, but I’m going to roll with it here as that’s what it was to me 2 years ago.

Life went on, I continued to do all of those things that irritated my shoulder, once again, seemingly ignoring it. Although with a small tinge of something else telling me there is more to this. In the past 2 months is when a bright ass lightbulb popped out of my head along with a thought bubble saying it’s time to deal with this shit you’ve been storing in your shoulder for 10ish years!!!! (Using “-ish” somehow takes away from the strength of this statement.) I was participating in the Deepak Chopra/Oprah 21-day meditation on “Getting Unstuck,” which is when I made the connection to the various areas of stuckness in my physical body. Ohhhh, so those stuck areas are holding me back from moving forward in life too?!?!? It’s not just the more obvious emotional and mental areas?!?!? Hmmmm. And if I shift this stuckness in my physical body that could totally aid in shifting some stuckness in my emotional as well!!! Epiphany, say whaaaa! Or as us spiritual peeps call it…intuition.

I decided I’d start seeing someone for Reiki on a weekly basis to shift this negative painful energy and be free of it once and for all. I knew this wouldn’t be quite as easy as that sentence made it seem, but I was ready to go there. A week ago, I found out that the yoga studio I frequent (well not right now, obviously) has Reiki practitioners I can work with. Perfect. Then, I got busy with work and life (i.e. excuses) and put off making an appointment for a few more days. Not. A. Good. Idea. Friday, I woke up unable to move my right arm unless of course, I wanted to feel sharp stabbing pain throughout my shoulder. Apparently, I waited one day too long and my body said fuck you, enough already. I’ll show you, Dawn. If you don’t take care of me, I’m going to stop working for you. Oddly, my arm felt like it was just hanging there, like it wasn’t even a part of me anymore. My friend Lauren and I joked that it was trying to run away. Shit, I would too.

Well, I listened. I had no choice. I booked a massage for that day and emailed the yoga studio to book a Reiki session for early in the week. As I was wincing to get dressed for my massage, I was thinking this is such a waste of painful energy to get dressed, then have to get undressed and dressed again afterward. But driving naked is apparently frowned upon, and I don’t own a bathrobe or a trench coat. Looking back on this now, why the hell did I put a sports bra (or any bra!) on to drive to my massage? The pain did overpower some of my brain cells. For reals. I haven’t been thinking clearly or quickly for the past few days. My mind is very much focused on healing my pain and not so much on the everyday routine I call life.

I have been forced to slooooooow down. Every movement I make is mindful and precious. I took for granted needing my limbs to dress myself or wash my hair or pour a glass of water or drive my car [safely] or type this blog post. I am having to utilize my left arm to help with all those things … well, and everything pretty much. Ambidextrousness (and yes, this is actually a word), here I come! I still can’t move the top half of my arm so I just have the bottom half to use and even that is awkward cause it’s kind of connected to the top half. When I am healed of this, I’m going to give gratitude every day for having 2 working arms by high-fiving everyone I see!!! You just wait.

 “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”   – Socrates

let it FLOW …

When I run after what I think I want,

my days are a furnace of stress and anxiety;

if I sit in my own place of patience,

what I need flows to me, and without pain.

From this I understand that

what I want also wants me,

is looking for me and attracting me.

There is a great secret here

for anyone who can grasp it.

~ Shams Tabrizi

THANKS for reading my blog …

Some of my latest greeting card creations, which I actually made for work to use. I always enjoy making these cards, yet rarely take the time to sit down, spread out a whole bunch of paper and stamps, come up with cool ideas and then clean up all the tiny leftover fragments of paper and put all the supplies away! The cleanup always seems way more overwhelming then it really is ;)

Thank you to my work team for the opportunity to make these pretty paper creations of gratitude. So much thanks going around!!! Soak it in!

FREE yourself and the rest will follow …

I was freely hand-lettering the other day while sitting outside on a bench at Blue Cliff Monastery enjoying the beautiful surroundings, warm sunshine and calming energy. What better place to create. So I was scrolling some letters around the page of my sketchbook and the word free (as shown above) came to be. 

It seemed appropriate on this day of freeing myself from my usual day activities to take this adventure to Blue Cliff to join the monks for a gorgeous morning walking meditation, a dharma talk and a mindful lunch in silence. Sure, there were moments of feeling trapped in my head or in the discomfort of lunching in silence with a person sitting right in front of me, however, it was all exactly where I needed to be and experience at that moment and it was perfect and peaceful…and free

at your SERVICE …

So we decided working for the MTA was where it’s at. I happily drive the adorable sea foam green “Old Diesel” bus (with matching shirt), of course. My brother, Matt, with passengers hitching a ride to Rockaway Beach, angrily shakes his fist at the annoying jaywalkers. And my mom, Anita, proudly drives the subway trains throughout NYC’s expansive underground (please disregard the fact that half of her train is missing…Matt, you really should’ve zoomed in closer, or I really should’ve cropped that photo ;).

Guess where we are??? Other then the obvious answer of “on pieces of NYC’s finest modes of public transportation,” we are at the NY Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn. Twas quite fun and big and I’d recommend it if you’re into cool historic stuff. There are tons of old train cars you can walk inside with entertaining ads from that car’s time period. Old turnstiles when it was 5 cents a ride. Interesting facts on how the subway tunnels were built. A random mailbox glued shut. The MTA’s side of the story on natural and man-made disasters. This transportation system as seen through the eyes of artists (in other words, art). Vintage subway signs. And of course, pieces of NYC’s finest modes of transportation that you can take photos of yourself in.

Along with this fun excursion to Brooklyn, we also enjoyed a lovely brunch in Queens; a couple drinks in the oldest bar in Manhattan (George Washington hung out there. No big deal.); a little known subway ride to the beautiful abandoned City Hall subway station (of which is mentioned in the museum), admired while standing between subway cars; a tour of Matt’s flippin’ beautiful building he works in; an authentic delish Greek dinner in Astoria; and rounded out the night with a walk to the water for a nightly view of the Manhattan skyline. Today was a good day. 

you’re such a TEASE …

Those trendy cute city restaurants like to tease us with these imposters … cool liquor bottles full of water, not Bulleit Rye,  for the table. Bummer. Being in the city automatically makes me want to drink more. Weird, huh? No, not really. If you live there or lived there (or even visited there), you’d totally understand. But don’t worry, along-side this 750 ml bottle of non-alcoholic tasteless liquid, I had a burger and a stout ;) And it was delectable.

I don’t miss doing this all the time, but I do miss enjoying brunch and nice dinners with friends in the city. However, it makes my trips back to visit much more memorable and special. I’ll drink to that!

EASY like overnight oats …

Overnight oats are so freakin’ easy and so freakin’ delicious, so you oat (bahahahahaha) to try them real freakin’ soon. You will love them. I promise.

For my first attempt, I used a recipe from the blog spinach4breakfast. Since then, I have altered the recipe a million times to try new taste sensations and/or to use what I have on hand and/or to add my own ingredient ideas. When I cook, I use a whole lot of ingredients. You’d never know it, but there are 10 ingredients in that bowl of goodness above. But, you can start simple. When you get the hang of it, go CRAZY and be CREATIVE!!!

By the way, you can eat them cold right from the fridge (if that doesn’t weird you out). See, easy easy easy! Let me know how your oats go!!!

ALOE everybody !!!

People say that caring for cactus is easy. I totally disagree. Ooooor maybe I just make it harder than it really is ;) I lived in Arizona for 13 years and owned some cacti, obviously. And I killed a good number of them too. Sorry guys. So cactus ain’t my thang. I moved back to New York and took on some green house plants. Those were more my speed. Water them once a week, say hi to them, pick out the dead leaves every so often (which my cat, Luna, was really good at!). But sadly, when I moved out of my Jersey City apartment, my plants did not move with me.

Just recently, I saw a cute little aloe plant in the grocery store and thought, I did so well with those house plants, maybe I have a greener thumb now. So the aloe came home with me. I got this. Um, no I don’t. Within a month, it was brown, weak and droopy. I decided I’d use its magical aloe powers on my skin, so that the plant didn’t go to waste. For about a week, I was breaking off pieces of the “leaves” for my skin’s pleasure, when I came home 2 nights ago and aloe was green again. It’s leaves were stronger and more upright and it was GREEN!!! I mean, it now looks quite the opposite of cute, but I was still super excited to have aloe back alive and kicking! I determined that the plant healed itself through healing me … told you it had magical powers. (And it also may have helped that I hadn’t watered it in a while as I thought it was dead.)

Now I can go back to saying “Aloe!” to it every morning. Get it? Gosh, I’m funny.

let out a big SIGH …

I’ve been seeing a whole bunch of cars with license plates starting with “HAH.” The other day, I was feeling really f’ing tense and pulled into a parking spot next to one of these HAH cars, and I thought shit, that’s my reminder to breathe! So I took a deep breath and let out a big ol’ sigh … haaaaaaah. I had to see a bunch of these license plates before realizing why I was seeing them, but sometimes I need things thrown in my face more than once before I catch on. It’s all good. I’m human.

Funny story: As I was pulling out of the parking lot where I saw the car that caused my epiphany, I thought “I should’ve taken a photo of the plate to accompany my blog post.” But, I was already pulling away, and we were the only 2 cars in the small lot, and I wasn’t looking for creeper-status that day. Now this idea was in my head, so I had to have a photo. I was walking to my car yesterday after work and went down the farther aisle (not anywhere near where my car was parked), away from store entrances, to seek out one of these plates.  Creeper-status in effect. Walked the whole row and nothing. So I turned in between 2 cars, and as I was saying “oh well, this blog post isn’t meant to be right now,” I looked down at the car to my left and guess what????? There she was. HAH. I smiled. I breathed. Thanks universe. Then I crouched down in between 2 car grills like a total creeper and photographed some random person’s license plate, all the while hoping they didn’t come back to their car at that very moment (or anyone else in the surrounding area!). Click, click, click. Go! Like I was never there …

2-dimensional SCULPTURE …

I wasn’t going to post these last few photos (as you may have figured with my 3 day hiatus!), but then I said, fuck it, why not?! It’s not like people will comment with “Enough already, could you pleeeease stop posting these awesome photos of inspirational art in beautiful nature?!” But after these, that is seriously it. No more Storm King pics. So soak ’em up.

There are so many fabulous things to see so close to where I grew up. I’m grateful to have made my way back here to experience them at a time when I can actually be grateful for and appreciate all of it. I did not feel that way as a kid and also had no idea that most of this beauty actually existed here. I couldn’t see it, and I don’t know that I even cared. I was too focused on getting away from New York as soon as acceptably possible. I suppose now is my time to experience the wonder of upstate NY … it was just a matter of time.

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”  -Albert Einstein