The Path We Walk

“Diseases can be our spiritual flat tires – disruptions in our lives that seem to be disasters at the time but end by redirecting our lives in a meaningful way.”
~ Bernie S. Siegel


Not So Grand Illusions

So many of us are afraid of thinking too highly of ourselves or appearing prideful, but what about always assuming the worst. When we lack self-compassion and continually judge ourselves it becomes easier to do the same to others. It is almost impossible to judge only yourself harshly. Unfortunately judgement and negativity becomes a viscous cycle that can be hard to break. So how do we let go of negative self perceptions without swinging to the other side of the spectrum? Tuning into the truth as it is right now in the present moment………..Ok, easier said than done. Personally I have found that cultivating the skill of acceptance has been extremely helpful. When I first starting learning about 3rd Wave CBT (Mindfulness and Acceptance based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) I was really turned off by the concept of acceptance. It sounded too much like resignation or just plain giving up. Luckily I investigated further and discovered something more subtle and gentle. Acceptance is about being honest with ourselves and acknowledging our truthful feelings, possible biases, and basic desires. Acceptance is the opposite of resistance. When practiced with awareness and an open mind, acceptance can teach us a lot about ourselves and the world around us.

For example, I was recently speaking with some friends about the conclusions we jump to when we don’t get an expected response from a person we know well. It is easy to assume that someone didn’t laugh at our joke because they are mad at us or we just aren’t funny. Usually the reason has less to do with us. A usually jovial friend who doesn’t laugh is probably distracted by a task, received somber news or just is not having a good day. When we engage in acceptance we keep our mind open to current information and not succumb to making assumptions. There are assumptions that seem to be common to many of us. These are often referred to as cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are basic PSYC 101, but I never quit finding value in revisiting them.

The below list of cognitive distortions was retrieved from

  1. All-or-nothing thinking: You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
  1. Overgeneralization: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
  1. Mental filter: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.
  1. Disqualifying the positive: You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. You maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
  1. Jumping to conclusions: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
    • Mind reading: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you and don’t bother to check it out.
    • The Fortune Teller Error: You anticipate that things will turn out badly and feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact.
  1. Magnification (catastrophizing) or minimization: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.”
  1. Emotional reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
  1. Should statements: You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
  1. Labeling and mislabeling: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him, “He’s a damn louse.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.
  1. Personalization: You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event for which, in fact, you were not primarily responsible.

From: Burns, David D., MD. 1989. The Feeling Good Handbook. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.



affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more.

Some of my favorite ways to spring clean:

  1. Attend a clothing swap party. Go with three bags and return with one.
  2. Decide the remaining leaves from last fall make the perfect mulch for spring flower beds.
  3. Pack away everything but your favorite stuff from your main living space and wait a month to see what you miss. If you can’t remember what is in the box you must not need it.
  4. Donate all cloths that don’t fit or are the wrong color. What doesn’t work for one person will be a perfect fit for someone else.
  5. Learn to fix a broken household item rather than replacing it.
  6. Re-pot and fertilize your houseplants. Tell them a good story while you are at it.
  7. Oil all the wood furniture in the house.
  8. Arrange all the books in Dewey Decimal System (only half kidding)
  9. Give the pets a spa day.
  10. Make sure every bicycle in the garage is in riding order. Now ride them.

Suggested reading:

  1. Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic (Bk Currents) by John de Graaf, David Wann, Thomas H Naylor and David Horsey (Sep 1, 2005)
  2. Too Much Stuff: De-Cluttering Your Heart and Home by Kathryn Porter (Mar 10, 2006)

  3. Living Simple, Free & Happy: How to Simplify, Declutter Your Home, and Reduce Stress, Debt & Waste by Cristin Frank (Mar 15, 2013)

  4. Wabi Sabi: The Art of Everyday Life by Diane Durston (Aug 1, 2006)

  5. The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty by Robyn Griggs Lawrence and Joe Coca (Nov 23, 2004)

Working and Living


A little over three months ago I was on the verge of burn out. I love my work and had used that as an excuse to overwork myself. Afterall, if you love what you do how can you really complain about doing it a lot? Well, of course the lesson of moderation struck me again. November rolled around and I was seeing a whole month go by without a full day off. Not only had I become less tolerant and cranky, but my physical health began to suffer. Most of us realize at some point that if we don’t consciously make the decisions to care for ourselves than our bodies will make it so we don’t have a choice.

Luckily, working for myself, I have a fair amount of control over my schedule. Once I recognized what was happening I immediately cut my schedule back. I had to make some extremely difficult decisions to let go of some teaching positions that meant a lot to me. I discontinued the NAMI Yoga program, quit teaching for the Shanti Yoga School, gave up my class at Health & Welfare and cut my Ophidia studio classes by more than half. I cut my work schedule by a third and it was the best decision I have made in years!

I was afraid of the financial challenge of working less, but more frightening was the change in my sense of self-identity. Through the first month after cutting back I felt a bit lost and admit to turning to food and television for comfort. The comfort was short-lived and I soon began to embrace my new schedule. All of a sudden I had time to slow down and pay attention to the details of life again. I slowly began to let go of that constant sense of urgency and to breathe a bit more deeply. Sleep became more restful, food tasted better and my creativity began to flow.

Three months later and I am feeling alive and strong. I have almost completed a huge collaborative artistic undertaking and feel my sense of self firmly intact. Just like our rituals of spring cleaning and seasonal yard clean-up, so too our professional lives need the cobwebs blown out from time to time. Hopefully it does not always have to mean drastic changes. A light ‘tidy-up’ can sometimes be all that is needed to make a huge impact. I have never failed to gain benefit from revisiting my priorities and making subtle changes to my daily habits. It is the small habits we engage in everyday that end up defining the bigger picture of our lives.

Published in: on February 28, 2013 at 2:13 am  Comments (3)  

Everyday Beauty Everyday

Bill Cunningham

“Those who look for beauty will find it.”

~Bill Cunningham

Bill Cunningham is a street fashion photographer for the New York Times. He has such a passion for his work that he is still doing it at age 83. Even if fashion has never interested you, Bill Cunningham will interest you. He is a man who followed his heart (even when people balked him) and lived his passion. I tell you about Bill because I believe he is a shining example of the truest form of yogi, one who lets his spirit and conscience guide his life every minute of every day.

Published in: on February 5, 2013 at 7:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Happy Halloween

Artist Kate Lindsay Naranjo

I am so proud of my cousin Kate. It is hard for me to remember that she is not still 8 years old and running wildly through the forest by my side. She is now a full-blown adult with three beautiful children of her own! One thing hasn’t change, though, and that is Kate’s artistic expression. She has quietly worked hard over the years to hone her skills. Every time I see a new creation by Kate my heart swells with pride and I am reminded of that passion that has always  lit her from within.

Published in: on October 31, 2012 at 10:54 pm  Comments (1)  
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Currently a Psychic Nomad

“We’ll bask in the shadow of yesterday’s triumph, sail on the steel breeze.”
~Pink Floyd

Published in: on August 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Words that feed the soul…

Being a lifelong learner will keep life interesting and help guides us to understand the world and ourselves better.  When taking in new information always listen to your intuition for what FEELS true and what needs further investigation.

Summer Break

I wanted to take a moment to say that I believe most of us work way too much and play way too little. With this in mind I have decided to take a summer break from my blog. In the last two years I have posted over 300 posts and you have probably heard plenty from me for awhile ;). I won’t be able to stay away for long, but just wanted to keep my subscribers in the loop. I hope you all get to enjoy plenty of summer sunshine. You will hear from me again in the not to far future. Nameste

Published in: on June 13, 2012 at 7:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Squirrel Wisdom

  1. Make fun a priority.
  2. Let go of fear.
  3. Interact with your world.
  4. Eat your food upside down!  Why does pizza taste so much better while hanging upside down?  Because the toppings hit your tongue first 🙂

Published in: on May 15, 2012 at 7:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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