Gifts we are Given

A Gift is something that is given to you without payment or a talent you were born with. Either way it is something that has come to you with seemingly no effort on your part. Have you ever stopped to identify the gifts that you have as an individual? Do you ever wonder what you are going to do with them? 

The Big Gifts  

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The Biggest gifts that comes to mind are literally huge.  Our amazing planet with all its inhabitants revolving around the sun in a perfectly orderly solar system, within a galaxy of wonders, in an even Greater Universe. We are all a apart of this amazing Cosmic Play. An incredible divine expression of intelligence, beauty, science, art and mystery. This alone is a reason to wake in the morning. 

“Our talents are the gift that God gives to us… What we make of our talents is our gift back to God” – Leo Buscaglia

On the personal tip – I was thinking about my parents and my spiritual teacher when this title came to mind. My parents gave me the gift of Life. My teacher gave me the direction to use my gifts as means of contributing to the world around me. The greatest emotion associated with these realizations is gratitude. 

Allow me to enumerate some of these personal gifts. I hope this starts to stir your memory bank so that you too can feel the glow of such recollections. My mother passed on her amazing ability to cook, be a generous and gracious hostess. There is something about caring for others that brings a sense of accomplishment. In addition to her love of animals and children, she was a great beauty, proficient swimmer, sketcher and dancer. My father passed on a fierce tenacity and drive. He gave me the gifts of singing, humor, entrepreneurship, keen intellect and directness. He was a pioneer in business, dashing, clever, self-starter and never gives up. He can learn almost everything he decides to pick up. Were they perfect parents – No. Did they do their best – Yes. I love them for everything they are and their gifts were given freely. 

My teacher – PRT gave me the guidance on how to use my gifts, self-confidence, complete unconditional love, clear insight into who I was and what I was capable of. His counsel sits in my mind like pearls of wisdom that rest in the realms of the conscious and unconscious. Even more importantly he gave me my meditation practice. I rely on it to keep my mind to clear and steady. The first time I met him I felt like my entire soul was on fire and my heart blew wide open. He saw me as a realized and accomplished person. The gift of someone else seeing you for who you are and what you can become is priceless. He has managed to combine his gifts as an adept Yogi, scholar, father, teacher, community leader and contribute to philanthropic and academic achievements.  He has taught me how to bring my talents to the world and enjoy it all at the same time. This gift is still being unwrapped. 

Life is Rich.

Recognize Your Gifts

Take the time to look back on your life and see the gifts that you have been given, by your parents, family, teachers, friends and strangers. Recognizing them will bring a smile to your face and a glow in your heart. Think about other folks that had less than you and still manage to gleam hope and gratitude for what they did have – more importantly they overcame so-called set backs and used the talents they were born with to excel in life in spite of the obstacles. 

There are plenty of things in our lives that we could look at and think that we are being burdened by our mishaps, but when we turn the lens in a different direction you can get a glimpse of life and notice that even the mishaps were gifts. They were an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and other’s.  We may find ourselves crossing paths with people who have something to teach us or bring a ray of sunshine in the form of hope and inspiration. Almost every encounter can be an opportunity to receive a gift. Even the difficult folks in our lives give us the opportunity to practice compassion and discernment. 

A Gift we take for Granted

Stop – look at your hands, feet, limbs, eyes and ears. Now place your hand over your heart and feel the breath moving in and out  of your lungs as your heart beats.  Next – close your eyes with your hand in place and listen to your mind start to swirl with thoughts now use your steady breathing as a focal point. Do you have any idea how many things happened in this short time. You used your eyes to look at yourself, you used your hand to feel your incredible heart that keeps beating without you having to think about it. Then you utilized your mind to steady your breath and focus your mind upon your breath. Our body is a miracle. It is our vehicle and means of experiencing the greatest pleasures in life. Think about it!!!! I get dazzled by how fast I can type this. The nerves are firing back and forth from the brain to the fingers in a matter of seconds Crazy, right…

One of the greatest tools we have inside of these miraculous bodies is our mind. Imagine if we actually took the time to make friends with our minds instead of trying to kill it. It sounds drastic I know, but given the amount of drugs people are on, inordinate amount of time in front of TV & computer screens, texting, excessive alcohol and crappy food consumption. It’s a wonder our brains and minds work at all. If you’re not thinking clearly how does that affect one’s level of happiness or decision-making? Does our level of happiness weigh into how well our lives look and feel? I think you would all answer yes. Then why wouldn’t we invest in this gift we already have? 

The Little Gifts 

Friendship is one of the most amazing gifts I have had the good fortune of cultivating. It brings me an immense amount of joy to share life, stories, laughs, hugs and deep thoughts. We exchange gift of time, love, books, clothes, perfume, music, money, food and knick knacks. 

Today I was given a gift by a dear friend during a phone conversation.  He is an older gentleman recently retired from a life of serving as a professor in a university. I have always admired him and our conversations are always full of life and insights, in addition to a great deal of laughter. We met at the Himalayan Institute almost 2 decades ago. Right before we hung up he asked me if I remembered giving him a blanket. I said honestly no, I asked him to describe the blanket. He said he was nondescript, but that it played a special role in his life. He has been using this blanket to wrap around his shoulders while he meditates every morning. It lies by his meditation cushion awaiting his arrival every morning. He said he brought it up because he wanted me to know that I was an important person to him and that every time he puts this simple blanket around his shoulders it was a reminder of our friendship. 

Simple gifts that we share between strangers or dear ones leave a lasting impression sometimes without us being aware of it. It is the small things in life that can make a huge difference when we add them up over the course of a lifetime. 

Enjoy Your Gifts and Share Them with The World around you. 

Peace,

VL

Ma

MA!

Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children. 

William Makepeace Thackery

In addition to this quote – Mother is the name of the Goddess that nourishes and animates the Universe.

Your Mother 

Think of your Mother. The emotions that come forward. Are we the kind of children she would be proud of now… Do we have anything we need to forgive or be forgiven… Can we see the sacrifices that were made throughout our lives made by our Mother’s in order for us to have a better life. Do you recall the little things that you learned like kitchen dancing lesson that included the cha-cha, or how to iron, take care of plants, shovel snow, food shopping, cooking…

Remember the things that would come out of her mouth in response to your smart ass remarks in the middle of a disagreement.

You – So!!!!  Mom – Sew Buttons – and you would walk away feeling like an idiot.

Or how about the these lines-

Mom – I said stop doing that, you’re going to get hurt

You – No I won’t – la la la la

Mom – When you get hurt don’t come crying to me

Of course we wound up getting hurt and came crying to Mom – she’d clean the wound and bandage us Again, shaking her head and sending us off to our next adventure.

I never got mothers who would actually hit their kids after they had already gotten hurt. Such an abusive thing to do, as if hitting the child would stop them from getting hurt again. Anyhooch….

The Mother’s Around You

Now think of all the Mother’s you know, the children they have, married, single or divorced. Do you see the things they do for their children, the challenges of learning how to juggle work, life and maybe 5 or 6 children at a time. These were the Mom’s that would have everyone else’s children at their home. Food, toys, space to be crazy and kind words. These mom’s seemed to have it together or maybe they had gone crazy from all the children they had. They just seemed very at home with being everyone’s mom and always serving with a smile. Got a kick out their own children and everyone else’s. 

Your Other Mother

Now to the Mother figures in your life that never have had children of their own, but nourish those all around them.  These women are mentors, role models they fill the gaps in our development especially if our relationship with our mother was challenging. These women are beacons and sometimes a bit stronger for the sacrifice of not having their own children. They know that having children is a huge responsibility and realized if they could not provide a stable and loving environment for their own, they would rather not do it at all. They also know that they can be of far more service, because they have the freedom to do so. I have known such women throughout my life and I am very grateful. 

Throughout history we have been given great examples of this type of devotion and care. 

Here are two of my favorites. 

Mother Theresa
Mother Theresa
Sri Sarada Devi Ma
Sri Sarada Devi Ma

 

The Mother’s Role

The role of a mother is to protect, serve, nourish, teach, learn, provide stability, guidance and room for growth. It’s an ever-expanding role, mother’s are some of the fiercest warriors that I have ever known. She is a selfless person who also knows how to preserve herself and demonstrate the values and principles that are required for a stable, healthy and thriving community.  She is also a bit brazen, outspoken, full of mirth  and laughter. Her presence is felt when she walks into a room.

Ma recognizes the divinity in all things and bestows love & affection to her beautiful children. She can also be a stern disciplinarian when need be, we all need a little booty spanking or ear tugging from time to time.   She provides us with clear and concise guidance in ways to live a happy and fulfilling life. She lets us know how well we are doing when need be and leaves us to our devices otherwise. She has faith in us and our abilities.

Their is nothing like the lap of the Mother. Her animating force of Nature enlivens everything, from art to music, dance, writing, singing and the care of flora and fauna. Taking the time every day to give thanks for such nourishment and guidance is vital to a happy life. These are the ideals that come to mind when I think of Ma!.

Gratitude and Grace for another Day Devoted to Mother’s All Around Us.

Jai,

VL

Waxing

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What?

  This is going to get hairy so be prepared.

Some folks love to get waxed. Hurray for them. This is a personal account of findings I have made through out the years of being a woman.

Every time I had the hair above my lip removed I would break out not to mention it looked I had been punched in the mouth. Horrible pustules and inflamed pores. I had to put tea tree oil and aloe to calm the skin down. Then there was the popping of white heads that arose. No Bueno!!!!

I tried all types of wax and I had professionals do it, still my skin wasn’t having it. Then there was the leg waxing that stopped ages ago. The last time I had my legs waxed (from the knee down – thank god I am not a particularly hairy woman) I was lying on the table as this lovely asian woman proceeded to rip the hair off of my leg. I yelped for the last time and said out loud – why the hell am I doing this. It hurts like hell and there isn’t much there to wax anyways, more importantly who the hell am I doing it for? I’m not a porn star. 

A few years ago I was working for a big spa in NYC – waxing is a huge part of the program and one gal thought she was going to get me to lie down for a Brazilian Wax. Now by this time I had done a ton of research on skin, hair nails – the full regalia. If you don’t know what a Brazilian wax is –GTS  I said HELL NO.

The Waxing Thing

Waxing goes way back, even before bikini’s were invented. Some cultures actually believe that it is good hygiene to remove all of the pubic hair that actually protects the genitalia in the first place. Fact – waxing stretches the skin, it can rip the skin (or what they call – lift the skin) and it also can desensitize the skin. Think about it – hot wax on the most sensitive part of your body being yanked off.  What do we think is going to happen?

Stretching the Skin

Does anybody want a labia lift @ 60 years of age?

Desensitizing the Skin

If you have a crappy sex life – be it single or married. Desensitizing your vagina in anyway is not going to help you. Electric toys are not going to bring you true intimacy and fulfillment if you have no idea what you are supposed to feel. Yeah, you may get your dopamine fix and then you are right back where you started. If you are having a hard time becoming aroused in the first place this will certainly bring you less fulfillment than you bargained for.

Solution

First thing that comes to mind is – remove yourself from the HERD mentality. Think about what you’re doing and why. Trends can be fun, but this borders on self mutilation. Yes people make money doing this and blessed be. I’ve switched to threading my eyebrows and upper lip. My eyebrows look beautiful and I am not in pain. The nether regions are manicured the good ‘ole fashioned way and I make sure the ‘gift’ is shrouded in protection. Why because I love myself and my vagina.

So – I hope you have enjoyed my rant. I had a load fun getting this off my chest. Feel free to share.

Ciao,

VL

 

 

 

Authenticity – Is it worth it

How many times have you been walking through life thinking you have to act, look, speak and respond in a way that makes everyone else feel comfortable and safe. On the flip side how many times have you been vulnerable and totally honest while people completely took advantage of your willingness to be open.

I’m going to go off topic – bear with me. It’ll be worth it.

This world can seem pretty jaded and dare I say totally fucked up on so many levels. This world is also a magical place with infinite possibilities if we only got on with being our best selves. Now you may say it’s not as easy as you think. I say It is as Easy as you ‘Think’. It wont be easy if you’re facocked, meaning you’re confused and living in state of self loathing. Thing is, if we believe that our lives can be better, it will get better.

I’m sure you were wondering where does authenticity come into play. By the way, nothing of what I am saying is original, I just really like to write and talk and so here it is. Anyhooch, working authenticity into everyday life means we have to face our shit. Not only do we have to face it, we actually need to do something about it. We have to take responsibility for it. As long as we tell ourselves, oh I am wounded and a broken person – well that is what you are going to be, but this is not living an Authentic Life. Why in the world would we want to think we were broken victims all of our lives, even if horrible shit happened when we were 4, 10 and 16 years old. Look at Oprah, I know we are not all going to be her, but for goodness sake take a page out of the woman’s book of life. We are not authentic when we dim our ‘light’. We are not being authentic when we dismiss our feelings, I am not saying you should go postal when you are mad, I am just saying why do  deny your feelings and thoughts.

Oh and complaining (different from venting – how, well complaining is the same shit over and over again, venting is speaking it and then moving on). Complaining does not help us be authentic, it keeps us on the same old record, which in turn completely clouds our vision of what is true. What is that Truth – we are all Divine. We are embodiment’s of the Divine. Not that you are an arrogant or ego maniacal idiot, but an Actual Divine Being. Being Human is grist for the Universal Learning Mill of Life.

I do wish sometimes when people asked how I am doing – I could say well I am a little constipated or I just had a shitty day. Wait a minute I do say those things, but only to my friends. You know what when we are authentic it really helps other people be authentic too. Of course we all judge each other a little (that’s the humanness thing). If we don’t take it too personally then it all comes out in the proverbial wash as it were.

So – take away, be yourself if other people don’t like it, fuck it. Just kidding, but really most of us are inherently good people and if  we believe this about ourselves and others, wouldn’t it be nice to let your ‘hair down’ and give each other a break. This of course is not a license to be an asshole to people, even though we think they might deserve it.

In answer to the original question – is it worth it. Yeah, it is.

Ciao,

VL

 

This Time of Year

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Life continues, does it not ?  This is a time for recapping all of the year’s events. A dear friend of mine as well as a mother figure once taught me a practice for reviewing the year’s events. I usually do this around my birthday, but what the heck – I’ll share it with you now.

Draw a circle, draw a a line straight down the middle. On one half draw rays from the circle that a pertinent to the ‘positive’ aspects of the year (and this can be people or an event) on the other half draw rays for the so-called negative aspects (people or events). In the middle of the circle write down names of events that were the most important. After all was said and done, I found that there were no negatives or positives. They were all things that contributed to growth, self-awareness and above all Love.

While I was not raised to celebrate holidays, I find that the most important thing is to value what we have, make the best of it and continue to move forward.

Once we find a way to move through obstacles and find the Silver Lining the better off we are.

Rejoice for the Year that you have had, remember that tomorrow is another day to find joy and gratitude. There is not greater joy than knowing that we are here for a greater purpose – everyone has their motivators. The love of another can not supplant anything. Self love and unconditional forgiveness trumps the rest. Yes of course we need to cover our basics in life and be responsible for our actions and what not, but at the end of the day – Love yourself and one another. This is what makes the world go Round. The LOVE.

Peace,

VL

 

Perspective, Priorities & Perseverance

It’s been a while. So much has happened, some things are still the same and some things just come out of the blue. Things that make you go hmmm and I need to count my blessings.

Perspective – “The best things in life aren’t things.”  – Art Buchwald

Everyone has moments in life when you think that life is so hum drum and not really worth the effort or you think that you’ve got it so bad. Then you get a phone call that someone has had a heart attack. Or you check your Facebook account and find out a client died from Cancer & one of your best friends had to go in for emergency brain surgery. This is when you have an incredible moment in life to gain perspective on your own. The aha moment ought to be – I should be grateful for all I have! Another aha moment is – aren’t you glad that you let people know on a regular basis just how much they mean to you and that you love them. Let’s face it time goes by quickly, people come in and out of your life – circumstances change, but the love that we share is of greater value than anything we own.

Had the pleasure of meeting an extraordinary woman a couple of weeks ago. She has had  a full life working with horses, raising a family and running successful businesses. She is now in her 70’s and her philosophy in life is “you need love in your life, love what you do for work, have someone to love and loves you back. Life is too short and when you get older you will want someone to share your love with after it’s all said and done.”

We could let these things have a momentary effect on us or we can use it to catapult us on to better ways of thinking and setting priorities in our lives.

Priorities – “Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it.”  – Marcus Aurelius

Once we have been given the gift of getting a new perspective – the next step is finding out what’s really important to us and why. Perhaps we start to purge: outdated ways of thinking, cleaning out cupboards, letting go one sided relationships, find more meaningful work….

First things first – stop sweating the small stuff – Are we happy, if not what is the source of our unhappiness and does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? All the questions that arise are relevant (for the most part) this time of reflection affords us an opportunity to change. It can happen in an instant – then comes the action. Sticking to the important things in life. Self preservation, self reliance and self respect take on a whole meaning. How many of us really take the time to do the necessary things for ourselves before we jump on helping others so that we can deflect things going on inside our hearts and minds? Helping others in need is a wonderful feeling to be sure, but if it’s something we do to make ourselves feel better as opposed to really doing our own work – how useful is it, really. Putting on your own ‘oxygen mask first’ is essential if we are to be of service to others. Our “HomeWork” is essential to loving ourselves.

Perseverance – “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.”  Seneca

There are days when we feel like life is a grind. A remedy to that is finding things in our lives that absolutely light us up. Not just talking about making that deal (while it is a sense of accomplishment), I mean really finding something that lights up our Soul. For me it’s Arabian Horses. It’s a new love in my life and those horses give so much back. Once you have their trust and they know you come with love they are happy to see you, it also helps if you have treats for them. Pehaps it is spending time with people that love you and tell you so. You share laughter, stories, love and triumphs.

It takes endurance to live, making an effort to find goodness in the world helps to overcome the rough spots. Taking care of ourselves internally and externally takes commitment to oneself. If all the things we owned were taken away – what would it look like? Really think about it. Things can be taken away in an instant – where we would go from there? We have ourselves, our loved ones and the knowledge that we can pick ourselves up by the proverbial boot straps and make a better life. It takes faith, courage and hope to live a full life.

Find the love that resides within and cherish those around you. Even the ones you don’t really like. Send love and light their way. Perhaps they will get it or may be not – the most important thing is that we get it and life evolves from that point.

Life is too short to be anything but Happy. I hope we all have time to take care of ourselves, our loved ones and make this life A Joy to experience and learn from whatever hardship comes our way.

Peace, Love & Happiness to You All on this Summer’s Day,

VL