Yoga in Times Square

The Times Square Alliance held its annual Solstice in Times Square on June 20th, the day of the Summer Solstice.  Thousands of people descended onto the crossroads of NYC to participate in free yoga classes throughout the day.  One of the classes offered during the day was a Bikram class and this year, Bikram yogis got a special treat:  Rajashree Choudhury, the wife of Bikram Choudhury (creator of the series) taught the class.

A preliminary count of 3,260 people participated in last Wednesday’s class, arguably making it the largest Bikram class ever assembled. And I was there in attendance!  I ended up practicing in the fifth row from the stage with a clear view of Rajashree and the backdrop of Times Square behind her.

Practicing yoga in the heart of Times Square with thousands of yogis was a unique and exhilarating experience.  The sea of yogis stretched from 42nd to 48th Streets.  The added challenge was to find stillness in the total chaos. Cars honked, sirens roared, large TV screens flashed, the subway rumbled underground, and passerbys took pictures with their phones.  For more than 3 years, I have practiced concentration and focus in the serenity of a yoga room.  I was pleased to discover that after several “Oh-my-God-I’m-on-TV-Do-I-Look-Cute?” moments, I set aside the distractions and found my focus.

Lying in Savasana, Dead Body Pose, on Broadway in Times Square

View of the Sky from Savasana, Dead Body Pose

Stillness of the mind starts with stillness of the body. The most effective way to still the body is to still the eyes.  As Bikram teachers, we like to say “Where the eyes go, the body follows.”  When my students struggle to find physical balance, I encourage them to pick one spot with their eyes and focus on it.

In Times Square, the best focal point in my line of vision was ironically a billboard sign of a Corona bottle.  I stared at it and found my balance. I successfully managed to tap into my inner stillness amidst the chaos.  If I can find peace in the middle of Times Square, I can do it anywhere especially in the midst of the chaos of life.

Sunday Signs & Symbols: Harmony, CA

After visiting Hearst Castle near San Luis Obispo, California, I was driving on Highway 1 and came upon a sign for a town called Harmony (population 18).  What a unique name for a town so I stopped to strike a pose!  Tree posture strengthens the legs and improves balance.  When you practice tree pose, your standing leg remains strong and rooted to the ground as you stretch your spine up towards the ceiling, growing taller like a tree.

Beginning today, Sunday Signs & Symbols will be a weekly blog event, showcasing a picture and an explanation on this broad topic.  Every culture uses signs and symbols to interpret their environment, inject meaning to life, and attach value to an object or practice so that its people share a common understanding of the world and the social rules that dictate the behavior within it. 

Forgiveness, Courage, and Leaps of Faith: Why I Left My Job

Nelson Mandela is one of my heroes.  As leader of the newly formed, democratic South Africa, he rejected anger, revenge, and violence despite decades of suffering incredible injustice. Instead, he turned to reconciliation and encouraged both the former oppressors and oppressed of his country to work together to do the same. In the movie Invictus, he offered this advice to his black bodyguard who had trouble working with newly assigned white colleagues:

Forgiveness liberates the soul.
It removes fear.
That is why it is such a powerful weapon.

I was drenched in sweat. My face turned to the right, my entire left ear pressed against the soaked towel. I lay on my belly, body and mind still. My Bikram yoga teacher broke the silence in the room and said, “Time waits for no one. What are YOU waiting for?” Her words slapped my face and seeped through my every pore. The clarity I sought for years suddenly came rushing forward out of the fog of uncertainty and fear. That moment propelled me to listen to what my heart had been saying for so long.

Eight years earlier, I felt directionless and burned out. I left my job and took a leap of faith by backpacking for four months through Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Portugal, and England with someone I loved. As I lived through this life-altering experience, I had no idea that the travel bug would bite me so hard. When I came home to NYC rejuvenated, I promised myself that I would see at least one new country every year.

I worked at a private, philanthropic foundation helping give away millions of dollars annually to colleges and universities. I was ambitious, driven, and pushed myself to the limit. I asked for (and got) more responsibilities, pursued a Masters degree part-time, got married, bought a house, and still managed to travel for three weeks to my new country of choice. But soon I would learn that my go-getter attitude was not sustainable. My body eventually rebelled and broke down gradually, cracking under my self-imposed physical, mental, and emotional prisons. Medical doctors only offered me prescription drugs and surgery to help me deal with the severe, chronic pain I felt throughout my body.

Desperate for an alternative, I turned to an Eastern healer and Bikram Yoga. I channeled the same hard work, focus, and determination that put me in this mess to get myself healed. Working to heal myself was hellish and grueling because it was an irritatingly slow process and went against everything that our pill-popping, quick-fix culture teaches us.

In every Bikram studio, students are instructed to look at themselves in the mirror for the entire 90 minute class. As a beginner, I could not look at myself without unceasing criticism. You’re too fat. You’re too injured. You’re not flexible enough. You’re not good enough. Each time I looked in that mirror, I confronted my own worst enemy: me.

The intensity of the heat magnified the challenge of the yoga poses. Many times, all I wanted to do was collapse, give up, or run out of the room screaming. Magically, my teachers knew when to offer me the compassion I needed to back off. Johanna, stay still. All you have to do is breathe. They also knew when I gave up too easily. You fall out, you jump back in! Johanna, what are you waiting for?”

To survive in that hot room required only a calm breath. Surprisingly, even that seemingly simple act was the most challenging. The classes where I struggled to “just” breathe were the ones that dealt heavy blows to my ego. Patience, compassion, and forgiveness were forced to set in because there was little room for self-criticism, judgment, and attachment. The salty tears and gallons of sweat chipped away at the protective walls I built so long ago against hurt and pain. It no longer mattered if I wasn’t good enough, quick enough, pretty enough, or smart enough. All that mattered was that I do my best. And when I fell down or fell out, all I needed to do was jump right back in.

As counter intuitive as it may seem, acknowledging my humanity afforded me the freedom to access my inner strength. Only when I forgave myself could I allow myself the chance to start again.

In the 2½ years of practicing Bikram yoga, I no longer feel the weight of the world.The chronic debilitating pain I once felt, is completely gone. Today, I am the healthiest I have ever been in body, mind, and spirit. I have learned to live my life the same way I practice yoga. I tackle each challenge and uncomfortable situation with a calm breath, a focused mind, and a compassionate heart. I have learned to be okay with uncertainty, fear, and discomfort knowing that these feelings ­shall pass. I am still learning.

Last Thursday, I said goodbye to my colleagues of eight years at my secure job. I venture now into uncharted territory. Yesterday, I arrived in Los Angeles for 9 weeks of full-time certification to become a Bikram yoga teacher. I have always dreamed of becoming self employed, doing things that I love most. Leaving my job and becoming a yoga teacher will make room for my greatest passion: writing travel stories and making travel videos with my husband. I feel that my mission in this post 9/11 world is to promote cultural understanding and healing. As a yoga teacher, I can help others who seek redemption. As a traveler, I can tell you stories about the places I visit and the people who live there. As an anthropologist, I can provide a unique insight to these cultures.

Every morning we awake, we are given another day for the chance to start anew. That journey always starts with the decision to forgive. I’ve learned that forgiveness first begins with ourselves before we can bestow it to others. Only then can we become courageous. Only then can we aspire for greatness. Only then can we inspire others to do the same.

Brought the Office with Me

Day THIRTEEN

My day was going well until 4:55pm when a colleague decided to confront me, very upset at something that I had done. The act that I did made her feel very threatened while I thought I was just doing my job. By 6pm yoga with Danielle, I couldn’t shake off what happened an hour before. I felt unsettled and as a result, my mind replayed the conversation, asked questions, got defensive, and a whole range of emotions. I had trouble balancing on one leg and kept falling out of standing forehead to knee and standing bow. Although my mind settled a bit more by cobra, the aftertaste of the bad experience lingered. By spinal twist, I was exhausted both physically and mentally. I was so tired that I didn’t even have the energy to be upset with myself for letting this get in the way of my practice. After class, this unsettled feeling had dulled greatly although it did not completely disappear.

After talking about my day with The Husband over a sushi dinner (I felt I needed to treat myself), I wasn’t bothered by it anymore. I’m not going to own someone else’s insecurity and anxiety. I will have a very matter-of-fact discussion with my colleague tomorrow to clarify my side of the story and I will try to be compassionate about where she’s coming from. That’s it. I’m not giving this any more time because I’ve already let it bother me more than necessary!

Pampering

Day TEN

Hooray, I’m in the double digits of this challenge and I echo ahappyyogi’s recent sentiment about 9 more batches of 10 classes and the challenge will be complete!  I am celebrating!

I’ve been feeling a little down lately and so I decided to cheer myself up by getting a manicure and a pedicure.  When you get a pedicure at Pema Nails, they do a salt scrub for your legs (up to your knees), pumice (or use a blade if you prefer) your feet, massage in lotion for your legs, and finish the process with a hotel towel on your legs.  It’s lovely especially since the ladies here don’t rush you and my legs have been massaged for a good 10 minutes sometimes.  I guess there are benefits to being a regular customer.  Btw, did I mention a manicure and a pedicure is $17!!!!  I love living in NYC.  :)

That was at noon.  I had to really drag my a$$ to bikram today.  I just didn’t have the desire and that’s when the doubts came rushing in.   

You’re only at day 9 and you feel totally unmotivated.  
You’re never going to complete this challenge.  
You?  Do bikram every day for the next 92 days?  
These last few days have felt like forever.  There’s no way you are going to do 92 straight more days.

I tried to push these doubts away and said to myself, “Just get to the hot room.  Just get to the hot room.”  Several minutes before I left the house, I remembered to wash the lotion off my legs from my pedicure and arms from my manicure or else suffer a supper slippery class especially at standing bow pulling pose.  You know you do bikram when…

I took the 4:30pm with Caroline at my neighborhood studio and set my mat up to the left side of the room, next to a pillar.  Today, I just needed a little separation from most of the students and this sport was perfect.  It also happened that I was standing in front of an exit door and by the time we got to the floor series, I felt the draft on my face seeping in from underneath the door.  It was nice in the beginning but after a while, I wished it wasn’t there, which must mean I am feeling closer to regaining 100% of my health (I usually like it juicy!!!).  Didn’t cough as much and didn’t need to blow my nose during class — all good signs that I am on the mend.

I am feeling a soreness in my right quad and there is a pinch that I feel in my lower back, on the right side that I just noticed today.  The pinch became more acute during backbends.  I have also noticed that every time I take a class with Caroline and we are in cobra pose, she always calls me out to lift my chest and go higher.  And every time I try, I feel an incredible stretching in the front of my neck to the point that it is uncomfortable.  And the pinch in my lower back today did not help my cobra.  I wonder.  Have I just been hanging out in cobra?!?!???!!!!  I didn’t think so but maybe I was wrong.

I am making great improvements in awkward, toe stand right side, and fixed firm thanks to the healing I feel in my right knee.  My sit ups are stronger and I am working on trying to keep my chin to my chest, my arms by my ears, and get my elbows to the floor when we exhale twice.  And slowly but surely, I feel my upper back opening up in rabbit.  I struggle with all the compression postures, never being able to get my forehead exactly to my knee thanks to my long torso.  I am really working on keeping my chin to my chest and sucking sucking sucking in the belly.  Oh, the joys of a super flat upper back!

Today, as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, I always take a moment to remember those who work for social justice especially for the vast majority of people who don’t make it to the news but are recognized by the people who benefit from their tireless commitment.  I especially remember the people of Haiti and the relief workers who are trying to help all those who are suffering in the country.  I remember our practice and how we learn compassion for ourselves and in turn, we learn compassion for others.  We take the energy we get in that hot room and we spread it to those around us, making our lives and the lives of others just a little better.

Pampering

Day TEN

Hooray, I’m in the double digits of this challenge and I echo ahappyyogi’s recent sentiment about 9 more batches of 10 classes and the challenge will be complete!  I am celebrating!

I’ve been feeling a little down lately and so I decided to cheer myself up by getting a manicure and a pedicure.  When you get a pedicure at Pema Nails, they do a salt scrub for your legs (up to your knees), pumice (or use a blade if you prefer) your feet, massage in lotion for your legs, and finish the process with a hotel towel on your legs.  It’s lovely especially since the ladies here don’t rush you and my legs have been massaged for a good 10 minutes sometimes.  I guess there are benefits to being a regular customer.  Btw, did I mention a manicure and a pedicure is $17!!!!  I love living in NYC.  :)

That was at noon.  I had to really drag my a$$ to bikram today.  I just didn’t have the desire and that’s when the doubts came rushing in.   

You’re only at day 9 and you feel totally unmotivated.  
You’re never going to complete this challenge.  
You?  Do bikram every day for the next 92 days?  
These last few days have felt like forever.  There’s no way you are going to do 92 straight more days.

I tried to push these doubts away and said to myself, “Just get to the hot room.  Just get to the hot room.”  Several minutes before I left the house, I remembered to wash the lotion off my legs from my pedicure and arms from my manicure or else suffer a supper slippery class especially at standing bow pulling pose.  You know you do bikram when…

I took the 4:30pm with Caroline at my neighborhood studio and set my mat up to the left side of the room, next to a pillar.  Today, I just needed a little separation from most of the students and this sport was perfect.  It also happened that I was standing in front of an exit door and by the time we got to the floor series, I felt the draft on my face seeping in from underneath the door.  It was nice in the beginning but after a while, I wished it wasn’t there, which must mean I am feeling closer to regaining 100% of my health (I usually like it juicy!!!).  Didn’t cough as much and didn’t need to blow my nose during class — all good signs that I am on the mend.

I am feeling a soreness in my right quad and there is a pinch that I feel in my lower back, on the right side that I just noticed today.  The pinch became more acute during backbends.  I have also noticed that every time I take a class with Caroline and we are in cobra pose, she always calls me out to lift my chest and go higher.  And every time I try, I feel an incredible stretching in the front of my neck to the point that it is uncomfortable.  And the pinch in my lower back today did not help my cobra.  I wonder.  Have I just been hanging out in cobra?!?!???!!!!  I didn’t think so but maybe I was wrong.

I am making great improvements in awkward, toe stand right side, and fixed firm thanks to the healing I feel in my right knee.  My sit ups are stronger and I am working on trying to keep my chin to my chest, my arms by my ears, and get my elbows to the floor when we exhale twice.  And slowly but surely, I feel my upper back opening up in rabbit.  I struggle with all the compression postures, never being able to get my forehead exactly to my knee thanks to my long torso.  I am really working on keeping my chin to my chest and sucking sucking sucking in the belly.  Oh, the joys of a super flat upper back!

Today, as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, I always take a moment to remember those who work for social justice especially for the vast majority of people who don’t make it to the news but are recognized by the people who benefit from their tireless commitment.  I especially remember the people of Haiti and the relief workers who are trying to help all those who are suffering in the country.  I remember our practice and how we learn compassion for ourselves and in turn, we learn compassion for others.  We take the energy we get in that hot room and we spread it to those around us, making our lives and the lives of others just a little better.

Pampering

Day TEN

Hooray, I’m in the double digits of this challenge and I echo ahappyyogi’s recent sentiment about 9 more batches of 10 classes and the challenge will be complete!  I am celebrating!

I’ve been feeling a little down lately and so I decided to cheer myself up by getting a manicure and a pedicure.  When you get a pedicure at Pema Nails, they do a salt scrub for your legs (up to your knees), pumice (or use a blade if you prefer) your feet, massage in lotion for your legs, and finish the process with a hotel towel on your legs.  It’s lovely especially since the ladies here don’t rush you and my legs have been massaged for a good 10 minutes sometimes.  I guess there are benefits to being a regular customer.  Btw, did I mention a manicure and a pedicure is $17!!!!  I love living in NYC.  :)

That was at noon.  I had to really drag my a$$ to bikram today.  I just didn’t have the desire and that’s when the doubts came rushing in.   

You’re only at day 9 and you feel totally unmotivated.  
You’re never going to complete this challenge.  
You?  Do bikram every day for the next 92 days?  
These last few days have felt like forever.  There’s no way you are going to do 92 straight more days.

I tried to push these doubts away and said to myself, “Just get to the hot room.  Just get to the hot room.”  Several minutes before I left the house, I remembered to wash the lotion off my legs from my pedicure and arms from my manicure or else suffer a supper slippery class especially at standing bow pulling pose.  You know you do bikram when…

I took the 4:30pm with Caroline at my neighborhood studio and set my mat up to the left side of the room, next to a pillar.  Today, I just needed a little separation from most of the students and this sport was perfect.  It also happened that I was standing in front of an exit door and by the time we got to the floor series, I felt the draft on my face seeping in from underneath the door.  It was nice in the beginning but after a while, I wished it wasn’t there, which must mean I am feeling closer to regaining 100% of my health (I usually like it juicy!!!).  Didn’t cough as much and didn’t need to blow my nose during class — all good signs that I am on the mend.

I am feeling a soreness in my right quad and there is a pinch that I feel in my lower back, on the right side that I just noticed today.  The pinch became more acute during backbends.  I have also noticed that every time I take a class with Caroline and we are in cobra pose, she always calls me out to lift my chest and go higher.  And every time I try, I feel an incredible stretching in the front of my neck to the point that it is uncomfortable.  And the pinch in my lower back today did not help my cobra.  I wonder.  Have I just been hanging out in cobra?!?!???!!!!  I didn’t think so but maybe I was wrong.

I am making great improvements in awkward, toe stand right side, and fixed firm thanks to the healing I feel in my right knee.  My sit ups are stronger and I am working on trying to keep my chin to my chest, my arms by my ears, and get my elbows to the floor when we exhale twice.  And slowly but surely, I feel my upper back opening up in rabbit.  I struggle with all the compression postures, never being able to get my forehead exactly to my knee thanks to my long torso.  I am really working on keeping my chin to my chest and sucking sucking sucking in the belly.  Oh, the joys of a super flat upper back!

Today, as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, I always take a moment to remember those who work for social justice especially for the vast majority of people who don’t make it to the news but are recognized by the people who benefit from their tireless commitment.  I especially remember the people of Haiti and the relief workers who are trying to help all those who are suffering in the country.  I remember our practice and how we learn compassion for ourselves and in turn, we learn compassion for others.  We take the energy we get in that hot room and we spread it to those around us, making our lives and the lives of others just a little better.

Dad, This One is For You

Day 7

Whenever my father felt the first signs of illness, he always used to whip out the vaporizer.  I used to watch him as a child as he filled the brown vaporizer with water, drop some Vicks liquid, wait for the steam to rise, and stick his face in for 15 minutes.  I was mesmerized at the vapors.  Over the years, if I ever complained to my dad that I was getting sick, he always advised the vaporizer.  Guaranteed.  I never did listen to him until today, my third day of suffering terrible congestion.

As I walked to our nearby pharmacy (thankfully, we live within a 2 block radius of every kind of possible store we could need), I thought of my dad.  A dentist by trade, my father is the epitome of health.  He gets up at 4:30am daily and does his morning routine:  he walks briskly for 45 minutes with two pound dumb bells, returns home for breakfast, and then heads out to the market to buy the day’s food.  His family has a history of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.  While his siblings take insulin and other medications, my father has managed to avoid the pills through strict diet and exercise.  I asked him on my recent trip to the Philippines if he felt any sorts of pain associated with aging that his peers often complain about.  “Nope,” he answered.  Arthritis?  No.  Muscle stiffness?  No.  Indigestion, gas, acid reflux?  No.  I was impressed.  I’m half his age and suffer from chronic knee pain and various other joint issues.

I hope by the end of this challenge, I hope to feel the same way my dad feels.  I believe I get my discipline and determination from him.  So I dedicate my practice to my dad*, who is such an example to me of good health.  When I start to waver or have my down days, I’ll ask myself, “What would dad do?”


*I can’t dedicate a practice to one parent while leaving the other out.  So I also dedicate my practice to my mom, who is on her own health journey. 

A fresh start, a new beginning

And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
– T.S. Eliot

Day 1

Happy New Year everyone!

I rolled out of bed 9:15am this morning, awoken by an alarm clock so that I could attend the only class offered by my nearby studio at 10am.  I slept at 2:30 this morning after a large meal of lots of noodles (pancit canton represented the Filipino variety and spaghetti for the Italian variety) for long life and round things (meatballs, brussel sprouts, mandarines, grapefruits, grapes, and pancakes — yes they are flat but circular so I guess they count) for prosperity.  This is a Filipino tradition to ring in the new year that my family has done as early as I can remember and if The Husband and I are in town, we do it at our home and have my mother over.

With an unsettled stomach and sleep dust still in my eyes, I walked to the studio along a desolate street.  Remnants from the night’s festivities remained — firecracker paper, broken plastic new year’s hats, trash.  “Please don’t let me be the only one in class,” I thought to myself as I looked around and saw no one.  Thankfully, I walked into the studio lobby and there was life.  Eight students were guided today by Caroline, a sweet teacher whose instructions were so clear that I all I could was completely entrust myself into her hands.

My old knee injury decided to make its appearance at awkward pose, first set.  Halfway through the second part of awkward, I felt a sharp twinge and came out early and by the time we got to the third part, the most uncomfortable feeling in my knee (as if a huge air bubble was in there waiting to burst) admittedly scared me to go down no more than 3 inches.  I bit my lip, tried to let it go and tried to breath normally.  All I could do was stand there with my arms up and tight.  I wonder if it’s my mind or my body telling me to back off when I get that uncomfortable “air bubble” feeling.  It’s not sharp, acute pain but there is such immense pressure that my breath goes out of wack and that’s my cue to back off.  Any thoughts out there fellow yogis?

During our long savasana as we transitioned between the standing and floor series, Caroline said, “while the rest of Astoria sleeps through their hangovers, you are here doing yoga.”  I smiled.  I never did any kind of exercise on New Year’s Day and it felt great to start the day, to start the new year with an activity that focuses on me.  There are many traditions I do for the near year like the midnight dinner or wearing polka dots (remember circles represent prosperity!).  Perhaps doing yoga could be a new tradition I add to the list.

Update! Read all about it.

I notice that I’m the kind of blogger who pauses and stops writing for a long time for a variety of reasons. Then, I somehow get inspired and I pick it up again. So here I am. Back. Almost one and half years later. Lots have happened since March 08.


Celebrated my 10 year college reunion. The weekend was amazing and it made me realize how much I missed my 4 years at school.

Barack was elected president! Woot! I still love me some Hillary and was disappointed when she lost to Obama. Nevertheless, I’m happy with how things turned out.

I became an official TripVlogger for a travelsite called TripFilms and I’ll be posting some of the videos I made for them on our trip to Hong Kong. We owe them videos on the Philippines so I’ll be posting those soon too. In the meantime, you can check out my videos at Tripfilms here.

MoJo and I went to Hong Kong for New Year 2009 and then on to the Philippines for two weeks to visit my family.

I started practicing Bikram yoga in mid-March and I am an official Bikram junkie!!! I was inspired to try it because of the inspiring healing story of the creator of this yoga, Bikram Choudhury. He crushed his knee in a weightlifting accident as a young adult and Western doctors proclaimed he would never walk again. He proved them wrong. This practice has healed countless people physically, mentally, & emotionally including myself.

I had arthroscopic surgery back in 1991 and my knee was never the same. I always likened my knee to a shattered vase pieced together. Over the years, it would lock out, feel tight, feel like there were air bubbles in. I didn’t have any strength in it nor flexibility. In March 09, I was leaning heavily on a banister to go down stairs because my knee didn’t feel strong enough. I’ve been an active person despite working out at the gym, running, power walking, hiring a trainer. But over the years, my knee just weakened. Besides the knee, I had other joint/muscle issues: I pulled my back out several times, the tendons in my shoulder were starting to fray causing severe paine, my wrists hurt (I thought I had carpel tunnel), my ankles were starting to hurt. In fact, you can read me blog about it back in 2005. I felt like I was a 30 year old living in a 60 year old body. It was depressing to say the least. One acupuncturist friend who treated me told me that my body has a tendency to produce high levels of acid (caused mainly by stress, anger, and the food I eat) that is causing my joint pain/injury. She recommended that I sweat the acid out. Enter Bikram yoga and the inspiring story of healing by Bikram himself. I made a commitment to practicing 5-6 days a week and after 5 months I am so happy to say that all my joint paint has virtually disappeared. I say virtually because my knee pain has decreased tremendously and is on its way to healing fully. I feel like I’ve been given a new body with my regular practice. In addition to all the physical benefits (did I mention that I’ve lost weight), emotionally and mentally I’m also a different person. I am happier, more centered and at peace, and most importantly, I’ve been able to manage the stress in my daily life so well. Things that would make me fly off the handle before, don’t bother me anymore. It’s been an amazing and transformative experience. But I had to earn it. Healing on any level is not passive; it is an active engagement of your mind, body, and spirit. It takes commitment, hard work, discipline, and yes, sometimes pain to achieve breakthroughs. There’s a time and place for medicine. Yes. However, I feel our society has become so dependent on pills to solve our issues when in fact pills just treat the symptom (and create more problems with side effects) and don’t target the cause.

And most recently, we just came back from vacation. We went on a 9-day cruise to the Caribbean. Let’s just say I’m not running to sign up for my next cruise. It was good to spend time with MoJo’s family and not have to work for 9 days. The best part was sitting on a deck chair, facing the horizon and reading a book. Other than that, I can do without the overconsumption of food, alcohol, and goods. I’ll stick to off-the-beaten path traveling unless it’s a cruise to the Galapagos or the South Pacific!