One of the many lessons of 2011

My year ended the way it started, in the hospital, and I was reminded how everything can change in an instant. Not that I needed reminding but I thought I would share in case anyone else needs reminding.

Yesterday at 7AM I was planning on taking my parents to the train station for their ritualistic train ride back to California. The next thing I knew (literally 15 minutes later) I was in their hotel room with an ambulance crew and my Dad who had fallen was being carried out because he had broken his femur. Boo-hoo! I didn’t like it one bit! It’s no fun seeing anyone in pain but seeing your Dad in pain (especially for a Daddy’s girl like me) was especially upsetting. He was a champ though and somehow making us laugh even through his pain and it occurred to me he was acting very Buddha like. So after a 2 1/2 hour surgery and an entire day in the hospital, I reflected, “well that’s not exactly how I thought I was going to spend my day.”

Life changing on a dime isn’t always necessarily negative either and sometimes (often) it’s wonderful exciting new things.

But either way, it can change and change quickly. So my reminder is and I know you have all heard this a million times but how many of us practice it on a daily basis? I hope this doesn’t sound preachy (that is the least of my intentions)…it’s just what I remind myself.

  1. don’t take things/people in your life for granted (even the very subtle things or people), count your blessings, show your appreciation for your loved ones, reach out to your friends and let them know what their friendship means to you, be present and spend quality time with your kids…AND….
  2.  if you are in a difficult situation, remember everything is impermanent and things are constantly changing, often for the better. I say this with a few people in mind, who I know have been suffering (actually quite a few) and I know in my heart with time and effort things will change for them too. I speak from experience.
Now I am off to the hospital for a challenging day of PT for my Dad. But I know as each day goes by, it will get better and better.
(This picture is 10 years old from my Dad’s 70th bday in NY. All he wanted to do for his birthday was to walk from Soho (downtown) to Clinton’s office in Harlem (125th street)…which we did! One of my all time favorite days with my dad.
Love and veggies,
Nancy

Happy holidays from us..our holiday card.

Well that was a wild year.

It’s kind of strange to reflect back on this time last year…how little did we know what was in store for us. We sat around a fire on New Years Eve last year and wrote on pieces of paper what we wanted to rid ourselves from the previous year and threw it in the fire and then wrote down what we wanted to welcome for the year of 2011. Lance’s #1 was to become healthy. That was 18 days before we knew anything. And in our minds and hearts, healthy he has become. Once again, Lance is nothing short of a superhero.

This picture which I took in Hawaii in August (it was the view from our house in Hanalei) symbolizes our past year. The double rainbow coming out of the dark clouds. That certainly sums it up!

Besides a few really painful moments, for the most part, this past year was sprinkled with silver linings. Community was redefined, eating became a healing force, what is truly important in life became glaringly obvious and what is really not became equally transparent, LOVE took over in a way we never even knew.

We look at this holiday as a true blessing. We are blessed with all of our unbelievable friends, community and family who swooped in and helped in any way they could near and far. Your kindness, generosity and support will never be forgotten. We are grateful for each and every one of you. We truly believe you have been a big contribution to our success this year. You carried us, held us, loved us, prayed for us and just plain helped us beyond all fathomable imagination.

Lance and I had a good hard laugh the other night (big belly laugh…my favorite!) when I reflected on his “year of taking it easy.” I said to Lance as we were lying in bed, “Do you realize all the places you have been this year?” And slowly we started to count….Brazil not once but twice, Austin, Arkansas, Minneapolis, Portland, Florida, Michigan, Hawaii, New Orleans, Mexico and he just returned from New York. Maybe this will give you a little indication of what life looked like before he “slowed down.” But in actuality, he has slowed down and takes unbelievable care of himself (with a little help from his relentless wife). Here is a picture of Justin and Lance from their surprise trip to Mexico to all their employees.

We end this year with renewed hope, lots of healing vibes and even opportunities. I was asked to speak on food and health at a natural foods convention in Las Vegas. As thrilled as I am, I am equally terrified!

So with tremendous gratitude and love in our hearts we wish you a peaceful and healthy year. Live it fully, live it with laughter, live it with love.

Love, laugh & veggies in 2012
Lance and Nancy

 

Sit on your hiney!

In 2001, Lance and I spontaneously did a silent mediation retreat in Bodhgaya, India for 9 days. I had never even meditated for 5 minutes before. We would wake up at 5AM and go to sleep at 9PM and sit ALL DAY LONG. It was hard(!) but the euphoria I felt afterwards was beyond words. For years following that retreat, a consistent meditation practice was very difficult for me, but now, believe or not, I look forward to it. Due to our past year’s events, I was compelled and motivated to calm my mind. Now, meditating actually gets me out of bed in the morning. I wish I could will everyone to meditate daily because I guarantee it will have some significant changes in your life if you keep it up.

The difference when I get up and sit on my cushion vs getting up and checking my phone is HUGE!! I can literally feel the difference in my nervous system and how I react to situations throughout the day. I feel an overall sense of calm when I have a meditation practice and feel like I can face anything that comes my way.

This is what a typical morning looks like for me: I roll out of bed around 6:30AM and sit my hiney right on my meditation cushion. I used to lay in bed for awhile but this is THE thing that gets me out of bed now. I sit for 30 minutes, sometimes longer. I cannot tell you what a difference it makes in my day and if I could encourage you to do one thing (besides juice, eat more veggies, and laugh more!) than I would say try to create a practice of meditating and just start off sitting for 5 minutes! Work up to 10, than 15. All you need to do is breathe!! When your mind starts wandering, you acknowledge it and go back to focusing on your breath. It’s so simple! Well, kind of, I do sometimes start thinking about all sorts of random sh*t. However when it works, it really works. The way I look at it is, it’s kind of nice not to think about all the things I need to do or all the thoughts that come floating in my head on a daily basis for 30 full minutes! If you could do that one thing for yourself, over time, I guarantee, the things that you react to rather than respond, or those times you feel short with your kids or partner over something benign, or anxious over something small, will melt away. It helps with the big stuff too.

What really motivated me to start meditating was my beautiful altar which consists of gifts from my family and friends: The wood altar was made out of Russian olive by my friend Mikki, the Ganesh was a gift from our friends Jerry and Louis, the cross is a borrowed family heirloom from my friend Deli, Lance brought me the big clear crystal back from Brazil, the candles and chakra card were made by my friend Roxanna, the heart rock was found on the ground by Amélie, the purple crystal rock was a gift from my sister Lynn, the white crystal rock-a gift from both Zach and Amélie and the healing rocks were gifts from our friend Andrew. The photos behind are part of a six foot collage that Lance made for me as a gift for my birthday years ago. The whole thing is full of LOVE and literally grounds me as I sit in front of all these cherished gifts.

5-10 minutes is not that much of a commitment! Give it 2 weeks..every single day. I used to just sit on a cushion in front of our windows as the sun was rising. That was actually pretty motivating as well. Sit in front of the daylight or an altar that you make yourself, something that will create a space that will help you quiet your mind. It is PROVEN that meditation decreases stress which is one of the leading causing of disease. I promise you will reap nothing but good benefits if you give it a chance. OM.

Peace and mediation,
Nancy
PS: Post to come: teach your kids to meditate too!


 

Happiness is not having a cell phone

I’ve had a number of “enlightening” moments over the past year and a big one was how incredibly addicted I was to my cell phone. This sounds so shallow writing it, but I had been connected constantly since 1998 when I moved to Sweden and got my first Ericsson Worldphone. It was blue and beautiful and it could “SMS” which was really cool. It defined me. It made me feel important. It kept me connected to everyone and everything.

Since 1998, I’ve been constantly connected, not realizing how “disconnected” it actually made my life. For instance, in March, I found myself hiding my cellphone in the cushion of our couch while reading a book to my 6-year-old daughter. Checking it every five minutes. Not in any way present for Amelie. Fully disconnected. I felt like a drunk hiding bottles around the house.

In May, I was at an acupuncture appointment, laying there jumpy because my phone was over on the desk and I couldn’t check it. I thought, “What is wrong with me?” And that began a day-long look at me and my cellphone. By the end of the day, I’d put down my cell phone for good.  I changed the message to “Don’t call this number any more,” and apologized to everyone at work and friends who didn’t know how else to get ahold of me.

The hardest part in the beginning was sitting at stoplights with nothing to do. I’m a big KGNU fan now. Co-workers said, “How will I reach you?” I said, “I’ll be in my office or at home, you have my land line don’t you? If I’m not at one of those places, I’m not available.” That was initially an unacceptable statement. But as the summer progressed, we got into a groove.

The impact this has had on my day-to-day life is immeasurable. It’s like I have my life back. It’s liberating. It’s freeing. I am not reachable at every second of the day. I can rake the leaves or be with my family and not stop when I feel a vibration in my pocket. My kids are ecstatic. My wife was totally supportive and loves me not having a cell.

Recently, it crept up again! My wonderful friends bought me an iPad when I was at my worst (physically and emotionally) in my entire life. Nancy didn’t want me to get one, but when I was in such bad shape they pounced on her, “Can we get him one now?” She caved. It was such a generous gift and the best grown up toy ever–like a big iPhone. Skyping, Sonos, Rhapsody, Exchange for my email, contacts, calendar. Lot of good fun, right?

Cut to three months later. It is with me at every moment. I bring it to every meeting, open it and look at my emails in no way present for whomever. It is back in the cushions of the couch and then the breaking point. I’m at a stoplight and there’s a Starbucks on the corner. I’m looking at my iPad and I connect to the Starbucks Wi-Fi and I’m so excited. Every time I stop at this light, I’ll be able to send an email or check my email. What a bonus!

So now my iPad stays at home. I’m wondering what this is all about? Why are we all so wrapped up in our phones? Some of us more than others. Is it a validation thing? An expectation thing for others to get back to me quickly? What does it fill on a deep level inside of me?

Here I am, probably one of the only people in my town of 80,000 without a phone. I know some older folks, 70+ that don’t have one but that’s all. Do you know any? Are they weirdos? Off the grid? Paranoid? I’m grateful for this change in my life and cannot see myself going back. Can you imagine your life without one?

Lance
This post was originally posted as a “guest blogger” on fearlessrevolution.com  http://fearlessrevolution.com/blog/happiness-is-not-having-a-cell-phone.html