January 23, 2021

Gratitude: Accessible meditation

Netflix has a meditation series called Headspace featuring Andy Puddicombe. I happened across the program the other day and am grateful for the discovery. Andy offers a clear and accessible approach to meditation. His melodic voice pulls you into the words and simple animations pull you into the images. But really, the whole series could be a podcast because it is about the stories and techniques Andy shares.

January 22, 2021

Gratitude: Sunlight and Shadows

Chilly morning with rain so Jazzercise was cancelled. Instead, I took a bike ride along the American River. Clouds opened up to reveal blue sky. The result was strong highlights and shadows. This view from under the bridge always catches my eye. Today it was more vibrant with the post-rain sunshine. The contrast between nature's infrastructure and human-made infrastructure is always of interest to me. Gratitude for this beautiful morning, an unexpected bike ride and giving myself permission to stop and take a photo.


January 21, 2021

Gratitude: Amanda Gorman

Relief! Thank goodness for the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris. The star of the event was Amanda Gorman. Her words, poise and bright yellow jacket brought sunshine of hope and a rise of excellence for our country. Gorman's poem The Hill We Climb will forever mark the opening of a new, better chapter for America.

January 18, 2021

Gratitude: My mom's love of cooking

My mom is so cool. I told her about an exhibition on family recipes being curated by the National Museum of Women Artists called Reclamation. What did my mom do? She submitted a recipe and is now in the exhibition. 

Read about the family recipe for Fanny's Gefilte Fish

January 17, 2021

Gratitude: Stepping out of my comfort zone

Stepping out of my comfort zone is something that I do regularly when it comes to work and school. However, not so much with physical activities that move me close to discomfort. Navigating this disconnect between my ambitions, potential, values, and goals - and my areas of concern - is something that I've been working on for a few years. This weekend I took a big step, or should I say a big ride, as I biked up a very steep bridge (and back down on the return trip) and along the side of a steep canyon. 

        This is the mantra I sang to stay relaxed, at peace and moved me forward:

This is the best day of my life.  
I kept repeating this out loud, with a positive attitude and a smile on my face. It worked! I did get a few side glances from other cyclists. Perhaps I inspired them with my mysterious song.

January 15, 2021

Gratitude: Realizing I am lonely

Took me a while, like 10 months, to realize that I am lonely. Wasn't lonely at first in the sheltering in place. But then I met a man, fell in love and he lives far away. So now, there is aloneness which is amplifying loneliness. Plus, just the general situation of being isolated in our homes and if you live alone, there is added isolation. The cat gives me love and sleeps on my heart but it isn't the same as human contact.

Of course I am not the only one having these feelings. The entire world is lonely these days. My gratitude is for recognizing and honoring this loneliness instead of being hard on myself for wondering why I feel this way. Loneliness doesn't impact my work but it certainly is amplified on nights and weekends. For the past 10 months I've literally thrown myself into work but after the holiday break, when there was quiet time for reflection, going back to working 24-7 feels like the road to burnout. 

Here's to all of us, everyone, who is trying to persevere - meeting all levels of success and failure in the pursuit. I feel you. 

January 14, 2021

Gratitude: Students who speak truths

This week a few of my students contacted me because there were some unfortunate errors I made on the e-learning platform. I appreciate these alerts because fixes need to be made, but also because that the students show care about the course. 

Since sheltering-in-place I have made myself available to students through office hours, text and email. They tell me what is working and not working in the class. But also, they share with me some of the life successes, failures and challenges. My job isn't to fix, just to listen. 

January 12, 2021

Gratitude: Meeting one-to-one, virtually

Although I am living life separated and physically isolated as we shelter in place, I am able to have one-to-one meetings, virtually, every day. Meetings are with clients, students, colleagues, family members, and friends. There's something about this online meeting reality that provides immediacy and focus. It works for me. I have developed new friendships and met all kinds of inspiring people over the past 10-months - all from the comfort of my home.  

January 11, 2021

Gratitude: Morning Fog

Wrote a Haiku as I gazed out my bedroom window this morning.

soft white light brightens
diffused trunks branches leaves birds
fog paints the landscape

January 10, 2021

Gratitude: Good Professors

Yes, I am a professor, but I am also a student. Class started for me today at Golden Gate University in the Doctor of Business Administration Program. This is year two and I probably have another four years to go, which can be daunting when I think about it. However, I am in for the journey, the learning pathway and not rushing to earn the degree. 

My first class assignment was to write a bit about why I am pursuing this degree. Seems so obvious but I had lost track of my motivation. The discussion forum post gave me the opportunity to sit down and reflect. It took me three hours and the time passed in what felt like 30 minutes. This was a chance to consider "the story of me" the why, what, how, where, when, and who of this journey. Here's the first two paragraphs of what I wrote:

I feel refreshed, renewed and reinvigorated after this afternoon's writing. Grateful to my professor for asking an obvious question that resulted in a moment to pause and reflect. 

January 9, 2021

Gratitude: My Own Home

This Saturday night I am in my kitchen cooking up meals for the week. Savory aromas and warmth of the oven make my home cozy. So grateful to have my own home that envelopes me in comfort. I never take this for granted as I have worked hard to be independent and to care of myself. Like a cat, I always land on my feet.

January 8, 2021

Gratitude: My Friend Karen

Received a text first thing this morning from my life-long friend Karen wishing me good memories on this special day. I took a moment to think about what made this day special. Then I remembered, Grammie's birthday. How could I forget after writing about this in yesterday's post? 

Karen is a true friend for life. She actually tracks my Grammie's birthday. 

I googled Grammie and discovered this article in the Connecticut Post featuring photos of Grammie (left), her passion for Mah Jongg and quotes from my mom!

January 7, 2021

Gratitude: Life Breath

Seems simple but it is so vital to be grateful for my life breath. Since starting the Veterans Yoga Project mindfulness resilience training earlier this week I have been practicing pranayama for extended periods each day. This is a breathing practice I studied when earning my 500-hour yoga teacher certification at The Yoga Room in Berkeley. Now, seven years after graduating, I am benefitting from the practice. 

Surprisingly, I never learned, until this week, the physiology of breath, or the impact on the nervous system. One simple insight, your heart beat slows down with exhales, has completely changed how I am accessing my breathing to reduce anxiousness. Taking extended exhales relaxes my body, clears my mind, allows me to be present, and releases repetitive, circular thoughts.

I have previously shared this image from my 51st birthday - a glassblowing class I attended just before we moved into sheltering in place. It reminds me of the beauty my breath can create. 

Plus, breathing reminds me of my Grammie who would have turned 104 tomorrow, January 8. She was a yoga and meditation teacher. Breath was vital to her practice and I will never forget seeing her take her last one. Miss you Grammie.

January 6, 2021

Gratitude: Democratic Process

A practice of discovering gratitude today seems difficult as DC was stormed, our democracy under duress. I watch as the house and senate vote, and possibly defy, the people's choices. Nancy Pelosi seems shaken reminding us that today was filled with drama and trauma. 

Opportunity for gratitude is recognizing that Americans are alert, paying close attention to what has been taken for granted. 

Final Note: Thankful for Pence taking his role professionally in the final hours. I was grateful for his stoicism after so much Trump craziness. 

We cannot take Democracy for granted.

January 5, 2021

Gratitude: Bike Ride Mantra Meditation: What am I doing right now?

Took a long bike ride after lunch today and kept repeating this mantra in the form of a question: "what am I doing right now?" This kept me focused on what my body was doing, literally, for the 75 minute ride. Each time my mind went into ideas and exploration, I re-focused on the physical activity. This was a hard practice, physically and mentally, because I kept looking down at the earth when usually my eyes and mind wander the external and internal landscapes. 

What I noticed is that my abdominals, glutes and hamstrings were the most engaged part of my physiology. Left and right sides of my body were not working with equal effort, which is something for me to keep building towards. As I became aware of these active areas my shoulders would relax and my breathing would deepen. 

This was a hard practice, physically and mentally, because I kept looking down at the earth when usually my eyes and mind wander the external and internal landscapes. 

I was also aware that my mind would wander into what I am labelling "mind map spiders" of ideas. One thought would ripple out into multiple thoughts and within seconds I was no longer present. Revisiting my mantra "what am I doing right now" would bring me back to the moment. The pathway rolled beneath me and I was able to ride 12 miles in what felt like 20 minutes. 

My gratitude today is in my ability to meditate and ride. For the next several hours after the excursion my breathing was centered, deep and calm. I am committed to incorporating this meditation practice into my rides, at least once a week.

January 4, 2021

Gratitude: Veterans Yoga Project

Today I began yoga Mindful Resilience Training (MRT) with the Veterans Yoga Project

Ever since I started teaching as a professor I have had the honor of working with many Veterans. Over the years I've learned how to be a good leader in the classroom and to create a safe environment. Many of my students at Golden Gate University, in The Manager as Communicator and Emotional and Social Intelligence at Work courses, are Veterans who have expressed a desire to increase their sense of calm, ease and relaxation. There always seemed to be an opportunity to bring awareness and intention to a mindfulness practice through movement and breath work. 

After completing this course my intention is to offer free yoga classes (online for now) to the Veteran community - perhaps directly through GGU and maybe through the Veterans Yoga Project.

The gratitude I express today is in learning that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is recoverable. As a yoga teacher I can provide a safe external environment through clear asana, pranayama and meditation sequences that allow participants to find a safe internal space for their own healing. 

January 3, 2021

Gratitude: Biking to Jazzercise

Amalita - the little Amy bike
During the pandemic I discovered a Jazzercise near my home. I never imagined I would take the classes but these have turned out to be a lifeline to meet new people and be safely socially distanced during a time of isolation. For this I am grateful.

Here's my bike that I've kitted-out for Sunday Jazzercise class travel. Amalita (the little Amy) is folding, has panniers, is adorned here with my Golden Gate University sweatshirt on the seat and my Camelbak water backpack hanging from the handlebars. She sums-up my self-contained and self-reliant life.

January 2, 2021

Gratitude: Train Spotting

Train passing near the American River Parkway trail
Taking a late afternoon bike ride along the American River, a practice in itself, I heard the whistle of an approaching train. For three months I've passed under these rail road tracks but have never seen a train. I realized today was my lucky day, but I had to move quickly to get to the vantage point for viewing. 

Back in November I was up on the raised train tracks and met a trainspotter who was on his lunch break from Costco located nearby. He timed his breaks so that he could watch trains ramble past as he clocked their travel on his walkie talkie. Hearing the train reminded me of him and the romantic notion of trainspotting. 

Today I am grateful that I was the trainspotter. The sound of the roaring engine and the shaking of the earth put me in an energy frenzy. I would not miss this opportunity to see the train up close. I scrambled up the bank with my bike and was able to hear the roar and experience the rumble. Plus, I was close enough to feel the wind of the train as it passed my spot. With all these feelings I cried tears of gratitude as I waved hello to the engineer and dozens of cars later waved goodbye to the caboose. Each train tells a story and I could imagine the journey of these now-empty cars which at some point were filled with materials. Or, were they on their way to be filled?

Caboose and cars empty on their return journey.

January 1, 2021

Gratitude: Backyard Views From the Levees

I begin this year with a practice of expressing gratitude each day. 

Day 1 is walking along the American River Parkway. Portions of the river are lined by levees on top of which are wide gravelly pathways for meandering and biking. I am grateful for living in a community that is open to sharing the beauty of their backyard menageries.