Today I may have overdressed. I put on my sleek black leggings, covered them with torn edged blue jeans, and if that wasn't enough, pulled on a protective layer of ski pants.
You’re probably thinking I was overdressed. Not quite yet. But by the time I put on my tank top, long sleeve thermal, sweater, zip up hoodie, and last-but-not-least floral design ski jacket, hood and all, I likely was.
I also grabbed my ski hat, gloves, and gator neck cover. Then pulled on my hard-core gnarly boots. At this point, I wondered, “Can I even move?”
But this is what we do in the north coast of NY to protect our bodies from lake-effect snow and the brutal, chilling wind it carries.
After spending an entire year stuck in this house - well most of the year anyway - bundling up to go outside and catch the sunlight when it creeps out from beneath the clouds is a must, regardless of the effort it takes.
I am reminded of bundling up a toddler to play in the snow, only I am that toddler now. And that is the spirit needed! The spirit of a child who is about to go outside and play in the snow!
This winter has been a hard one for everyone. No amount of hot chocolate or zoom yoga could warm our souls. So out into the tundra we went.
Well, I did, anyway. I traded in my downhill skis for snowshoes, and explored the beautiful grounds of NYS parks.
I covered my face from the fierce wind and boldly took photos of the natural snow formations on Lake Ontario.
I did not make snow angels.
I did not build a snow man - or woman.
But I did feel the spirit of winter, and did my best to capture those images.
How would you describe the spirit of winter? Was it similar to mine? Or did you find yourself working behind a desk with a space heater by your feet? Baking chocolate chip cookies, playing Enya, and exercising in the home gym you now have in your basement?
By the time this is published, it may be spring. Gentle snowflakes may now occasionally fall from the sky to remind us of the magic of the seasons. We will be breaking free from our wool coats and hats and gloves, trading them in for our spring gear.
Out with winter colors and in with bright florals, pinks and oranges. Anything that affirms that the flowers are about to bloom, the trees will sprout their kelly-green leaves, and birdsong will fill the air.
This inspired me to google search upcoming fashion trends for spring 2021. Far from what I poetically conveyed! Here are the newest top trends predicted.
The shinier the better. OK. I’m thinking this is reaching for the silver lining, and wearing it, too!
Things are beginning to look a lot like disco! Who needs a hanging disco ball when you’re wearing this shiny shirt?
Your boyfriend’s … or girlfriend’s clothes may start to disappear, especially if they’re a larger size than you typically wear! I’m all in for this. The covid belly may now officially be hidden.
The 80’s have returned! Fuchsia and Turquoise are all in. Spring? Yes! Bring on the color.
The list of new fashion trends goes on with wide collars and see-through clothing.
How does fashion affect your spirit? Does it reflect it fully? Does it allow her or him to come alive? Or do you find yourself hiding your soul under fashions that don’t really fit your style?
What about your Ugg boots? Will you be wearing them year-long?
I tried on my first pair recently. They were the warmest, snuggliest, and most comfortable boot I’ve ever worn. But that was on a blustery cold day with single digit outdoor temperature. I doubt I’d be able to bare the warmth they provide on a hot summer day. Sandals definitely reflect my spirit in the warmer seasons!
What does your spirit gravitate toward in the summer? Are you a beach person? Wearing shorts and mid-drifts, walking barefoot in the sand?
Or do you prefer the cool shade of a tree by a pond? Or inside an air-conditioned building?
What do you find yourself wearing? Close-knit tops? T-shirts? Baseball caps? Or summer dresses and floppy hats?
The next time you enter your wardrobe, whether it’s a small closet you share or a grand walk-in, think about what entices your spirit. Which article of clothing brings a smile to your face? Then imagine how you’ll feel walking around wearing that outfit. Will you feel relaxed, chill? Energized and ready to go?
Theatre is a wonderful way to express your inner spirit! The costume is what brings the character to life. The final flick of the fan.
When dressing or selecting new clothes on your next shopping spree, allow your inner authentic self to guide you. It may be the silvery metallic onesie that will not only set your world on fire but everyone else’s, too!
You may find yourself ignoring the latest fashion trends altogether, happy with the ‘soul-self’ clothing you’ve already established. They are your choices, after all. What’s important is that you feel your best while wearing them.
Seasons. They allow us to either break free from old patterns, whether it’s fashion or activities, or they remind us that the pattern we are currently in is just where our spirit wants to be.
Check on that now. What are you wearing? What are you doing? What is the season? It may be the reason.
That’s it for now. I look forward to seeing you making tracks in the snow, shifting gears into spring, and bathing under the sun or shade this summer. And fall? That season deserves an article all to itself.
Creative Coach & Author, Alana Cahoon leads individuals to grow their businesses, expand their minds & heal their souls. www.AlanaCahoon.com
Read full article in the March issue of RochesterWomanOnline
Health and wellness. These have never been more threatened than in the past year, and on a global scale, causing anxiety, stress, and depression.
Facing the unexpected pandemic has had its positive side, too. It’s realigned our values and opened our hearts. It’s helped us to put our lives into perspective.
As we reflect on our blessings, we realize how fortunate we truly are. The challenges dim in light of them.
Take a moment now to draft a list of your blessings and your challenges of 2020. For inspiration, read on!
Being a Business Owner
Meet Andrea Parros, owner, Red Fern restaurant
Andrea beautifully describes her experience! “My greatest blessing in 2020 was the pandemic.”
What? Did she say the pandemic was her greatest blessing? OK. Let’s hear her out.
“When the virus caused the shutdown, I finally got to slowwww dowwwwn.”
Oh, I see now. You got off the hamster wheel most Americans have been riding the past decade.
“I opened the restaurant seven years ago, and have been running at full speed, virtually non-stop ever since.”
Classic business owner scenario, myself included. Be careful entrepreneurs! This could be you if it hasn’t already been. Many if not all entrepreneurs believe that if they follow their dream and run their own business, they’ll be happy and in charge of their calendar. They visualize all this free time. And then, reality kicks in. 8-hour days become 12 and 5-day weeks become 7.
Here’s a safe way to manage and avoid this rollercoaster. Mindfulness. According to Andrea, it took the pandemic to bring her to the beauty and stillness of the present moment.
“I got to experience the most quiet & solitude I had in ages. It was so calming to hear my own voice, my own spirit again.”
Meditation. Try that now. Close your eyes. Take a few long breaths in and out. Listen. First to everything around you. Then to the sound of your breath. Say to yourself, “Breathing in I breathe in. Breathing out, I breathe out.” Doing this even for 1 minute will bring you back to yourself and the present moment.
Another classic example of entrepreneurship is getting pulled away from your passion. You end up running the day-to-day admin and business affairs vs. what you actually love to do.
“I hadn’t cooked or baked for the restaurant since we opened, yet that was one of the main reasons I opened the business - because I LOVE to cook! To be able to experience the joy of creating food again was just such a blessing.”
Her biggest challenge? “Navigating business operations and … being mindful of how my decisions would affect over 40 staff!”
Remember to support your local restaurant. Order take out. You are not only treating yourself to a delicious meal, but are keeping business owners in business and their staff safely employed.
Losing a job that she really enjoyed was difficult for Shoshana Cherney. You may know her via her infamous Hula Hooping videos!
She enjoyed working in restaurants, and developed a goal to become the next great chef. In March, she was about to start a new position at a Michelin star restaurant when everything changed. Eventually she found a job as a cashier.
With true spirit she shares, “My greatest blessings this year honestly have to be my greatest challenges. These challenges changed me for the better and pushed me to adapt. They’ve shown me how strong of a person I truly am.”
The pandemic effected our economy worldwide, and hit home for many. Ellen Fleche had to enter early retirement, and has experienced a feeling of loss not only for her work but for her co-workers. None-the-less, she is grateful for the health of her loved ones.
While her business has stayed afloat, Artist Andrea LiquidArt has found the closing of local resources to be a challenge, but the national connections with art lovers a tremendous blessing!
Family, Health & Music
We’ve been advised to keep our pods near and dear, and for most of us that means spending more time if not all of it with family. It may be a blessing of a challenge. By bringing creativity and balance into the mix, the blessings rise to the top.
You may be familiar with Brenda Bolton Tremblay, and wake up to her music programs on WXXI. Her greatest blessing in 2020 was to make music herself. I love that! She also took advantage of having her kids back from college by going on family adventures.
Her greatest challenge? “Tearing myself away from the news and staying centered and focused. Following the election and the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, I often felt overwhelmed and riveted by the history unfolding in front of our own eyes. It’s been an amazing year!”
It certainly has. Surround yourself with music and family to bring balance into the mix. For Andy Willoughby learning how to play Mustang Sally counts as a blessing. Awesome!
Some of us have had to face our own health scares like Ken Columbo who survived a heart attack. Thank God & Goddess! While others have managed the well-being of their loved ones like Marty Magoon whose father has been isolated in a nursing home. Knowing that he’s OK is a comfort, but not being able to see him has been tough.
Geri Billotti-Van Auker shares this experience but balances it with the joyous birth of her first grandchild.
Yvonne Ventura misses the freedom to socialize with her friends but appreciates the generations of loving family surrounding her with laughter and joy.
Pets! Pets! Pets!
On a recent zoom call, everyone was accompanied by their pet! It seems that during a time where socialization is on the freeze, adopting a pet makes it to the top of the list.
I got to meet Cookie, the lovable companion of Kimberly Patrick Russell. Whether snuggling or taking walks together, this furry friend helps Kim to adapt to the strange new world.
Dating During a Pandemic
Do you even dare to kiss? This has been the challenge hurled at Beth Eustis. We used to be roomies back in NYC, both with a love for theatre. It looks like we’ve maintained similar paths. Her greatest blessing last year was being approved to be ordained in the United Church of Christ.
Thank you to everyone who shared! May 2021 be filled with wishes answered.
You can’t underestimate the power of gratitude.
Yesterday, my client told me that she was grateful for me, that I entered into her life during a time of chaos, and today she is calm and successful. She meditates daily. She balances the growth of her company along with the growing up of her children. She’s content.
Hearing her words meant a lot to me, and even brought tears to my eyes.
This is why I do it after all. Serving others. To help you reach your potential, to grow your companies while balancing your family life. To experience the benefits of mindfulness.
Being grateful, and sharing it, can make a tremendous impact on those around you. It can even make an impact on things.
We often approach the exercise of gratitude by focusing on what and whom we are grateful for. But we rarely approach the exercise from the receiving end.
Receiving gratitude propels us to get up and keep going. It reminds us that we’re on the right track. That we’re on purpose. That what we do and are, matters.
When is the last time you said you were grateful for your kids to your kids? Maybe when they’re making a mess being creative, yet inspiring you to drop perfection? How would your gratitude effect them?
It may instill self-confidence and the desire to expand their talents. It may encourage them to seek out attention with good behavior. It may give them a sense of safety. It may give them permission to express who they are.
Have you ever looked your partner/spouse in the eye and said thank you, maybe not for anything specific, but just for being themselves, for being in your life? How would this shift your relationship?
It may bring more laughter and ease. The desire to be supportive. It may increase intimacy or develop friendship.
When have you looked in the mirror and thanked yourself for being you? Just you. All that you have been and would like to be. For your interests, your values, your eyes. Think about how that may effect your well-being.
You may begin to radiate an outer glow that glistens around your skin. You may be encouraged to take on that new class, or prepare to run a marathon. It may allow you the time to slow down and take care of yourself.
Try that now. In fact, try all three. Notice the response. Write them down. When we record our ideas and experiences, we cement them into our minds. With that recognition, we appreciate them.
When we offer gratitude to all those around us, more of their goodness arises. They feel appreciated, noticed.
The same is true when we receive appreciation from others. We feel good and motivated to continue on our paths.
What about things? Inanimate objects?
If we look at the sky and are thankful for its greatness, will it always be there? The sun? The moon? The stars?
Will the new day continue to wake us, and the slumber of night lull us to sleep?
By offering gratitude for those things we take for granted i.e. the sky, you are filled with a sense of your connection to it. Without the sky, the sun, the moon, we most likely wouldn’t be here.
With this awareness, you recognize that you have an impact on its wellbeing. You begin to take better care of it i.e. by lessening pollution, recycling more diligently, growing indoor plants.
They - the sky, the moon, and the stars - may respond by cleaning the air that you breathe, and prolonging the lifeline of the planet.
I asked a few people what they are thankful for, and offered my appreciation for them in return. It’s a lovely exchange. The nest time you’re with friends and family, try it. It also serves as a fun and insightful team-building exercise.
Jane Roberts, Corporate Executive, ESL
“I guess I am thankful for the people around me that make me feel safe to pursue my happiness and strength. And thankfulness for hope. Hope keeps me strong for the unknown.”
I am thankful for your determination to grow both in your personal life and career path. Your leadership paves the way for other women to rise in corporations. Losing over 50 pounds AND competing in triathlons inspires others to do it for themselves!
Lareena Cometa, Esthetician, Bare Element
“When I say my prayers at night, I say thank you for everything including the comfortable bed I’m sleeping on. Mostly, I’m grateful for being safe all the time and feeling protected.”
I am grateful that you invest in yourself to live a life of purpose and integrity. For your thoughtful, spontaneous and fun-filled demeanor!
Diana Palotas, Director of Advancement, Trinity Montessori School
“I am thankful that love and acceptance will always prevail over hate and exclusion. It may take some time, but they will prevail!”
Thank you for being you. The kind, sensitive, loving and good natured woman that you are.
Peggy Trabert, Creative Consultant
“Right now I am thankful that I didn’t get blood all over the white wallpaper that I am hanging when I cut my hand and literally bled all over the floor and ladder. Other than that, I am thankful that I don’t know anyone so far who has personally suffered with COVID illness and I’m thankful for good friends like you.”
I am grateful you’re OK! Thanks for being sincere, solid and efficient. Your design skills coupled with your precision tools makes you a leader in your trade. And for your friendship. I know you will always be there.
What are you grateful for? Who’s grateful for you?
I just completed a three week solo meditation retreat. If you want to dig deep, I highly recommend it. Basically, all the stuff you've been repressing throughout your life comes to the surface. It's not easy, especially when you're alone. But that's the thing. You're not. You never are.
You are accompanied along the way with your higher guides, your spirit guides. These may show themselves as the gods and goddesses whom you believe in, whether that's Jesus and Mary or Buddha and Prajnaparamita. It may be a holy person, prophet or diety from another religion or philosophy. Or you may be accompanied by a spirit animal like the hawk.
When you have faith, your faith supports you through thick and thin. There is an inner knowing that everything will be all right. That you can do this. The power of spiritual guidance is not to be underestimated.
Why is it important to clear the gook you’ve been burying inside? Because underneath all that stuff is where the magic lies; where your true essence lives, and when it emerges, the bliss of emptiness is discovered.
The Mighty Hawk.
Throughout my three weeks of meditating six hours daily, a beautiful hawk visited me. She flew outside my window nearly every day. This hawk has visited me before, especially while doing healing and energy work with clients.
With a beautiful underbelly of white feathers and a tail of blazing red, this hawk swirled by the sky sometime so close to my window that I thought it might try to enter.
I wondered if I had stood outside and put my arm out, would she set herself upon it. I didn't try this so I can’t give tell you!
According to powerofpositivity.com:
“The hawk symbolizes the ability to use intuition and higher vision in order to complete tasks or make important decisions. ... Hawks represent the messengers of the spirit world, so seeing them definitely means the universe wants you to learn powerful lessons or expand your knowledge and wisdom.”
As I write this, the hawk is circling above me. I am inspired as she spreads her wings in the expanse of the big sky.
Let's look at the first part of this definition.
“A hawk symbolizes the ability to use intuition and higher vision to complete tasks or make important decisions.”
Use your intuition to make important decisions. This makes absolute sense to me. How does it feel to you? Do you use your intuition to make decisions?
How often have you made a decision and kicked yourself afterwards saying “Gosh I knew I shouldn't have done that.”
Why did you know? Most likely because your gut told you so.
This is usually where your intuition lies. It makes itself noticeable in your gut. Think of a baby kicking its mama's belly because it's hungry or because mama just had a cup of coffee and what was she thinking!
Your belly will make you feel something when you are not choosing the right path. Butterflies, nausea. Even so, we ignore our intuition, our gut instincts. We look for something more concrete to base our decisions on, and unfortunately, we rely solely on these.
Here's an example. You're shopping for a new car and have your heart set on the color red. But the sales person convinces you that black is the color trend. You go ahead with that decision and purchase a brand new shiny black car.
As you're driving around in your beautiful new car, you notice that every other car you pass by seems to be a shiny red car! You become frustrated and wonder why you allowed another person's opinion to shift yours.
This was a financial investment that should have brought you pleasure and excitement, and instead brought you frustration. If you had listened to your gut, given credence to your true desires, and maybe done some research on what the sales person was suggesting - ie. are black cars in fact more trendy, and even if they are, does it matter - you could have balanced your decision on all of these.
What's important here, as our wise hawk reminds us, is to validate our intuition.
My suggestion is to balance it with knowledge i.e. research, and perhaps advisement from others. But always, and I mean always, go back to your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s not. It may not be the right time to make the decision. Don’t feel rushed to choose unless you are good and ready to do so.
Let’s look at the second part of the definition:
"Hawks represent the messengers of the spirit world, so seeing them definitely means the universe wants you to learn powerful lessons or expand your knowledge and wisdom.”
Yes. Absolutely true. During my 3 week solo meditation retreat, I learned powerful lessons and yes, both my knowledge and wisdom expanded. Now, I will honor the time needed to absorb it all, and then, make important decisions.
Getting Over the Fear of Rejection
Back in March I found myself doing what just about everyone else I knew was doing, cleaning house. It's funny but cleaning appears to be a great stress reliever.
‘If the house is in order so is everything else.’
At the time, I wasn’t cleaning my cupboards, I was cleaning up my laptop. Come to think of it, it could use a serious clean up right now!
As I perused my many, many folders, I stumbled upon one that was titled ‘my books’. I had been so busy that I had forgotten about it. Which has its positive side. That means I was generating business and leading a full, rich life.
When I opened the folder, I discovered I had started not one, not two, but five books. All great ideas!
‘Hmmm …’ I wondered, ‘perhaps now is the time, the time to actually complete them.’
Coaching myself, I advised to start with one and move on from there.
Whoever listens to their coach? So I completed two books. I finished writing them. I copyrighted them. And I uploaded them into the appropriate file formats. I even designed the covers.
They have both been in that position for a long time, approximately four months.
It's my job as a coach, now to advise myself to get over the hump and publish them! But that's a scary thought. That means I open myself to exposure and criticism. And who wants that? Not me! Go figure. Here I am writing this article, quite publicly.
This brings us to the topic of adjusting your mindset. It's a classic topic for all coaches to assist their clients in working out.
No one ever said that coaches didn't experience the same issues their clients experience. Ideally they, we, the coach have stumbled through the crisis and figured it out, allowing us to share that newfound wisdom with you the client. Now and again, as you likely know, even when you've got life figured out, you find out you don't. Patterns are hard to change. And rejection is hard to face. Even if it's just a story in your head with no solid foundation.
So I'm going to use this article as an opportunity to coach not only you, the reader, but me! Because I'm stuck. Not really sure what it is I'm afraid of exactly. I mean, exposure and rejection and criticism … those are all just big categories. So let's see what's underneath those headings.
Fear of Exposure
I was talking to a client this morning and she shared a dream that she has had on a regular basis. You may have had the same dream. You're suddenly exposed, naked in public or something like that, and you feel all kinds of uncomfortable feelings - shame, fear, confusion.
When we put ourselves out in the public eye, we reveal ourselves to a much larger audience then, let's say, our friends and family. And we all know how tough some of those friends and family members can be. They know us. And therefore they can push our buttons. So why on earth would anyone, me or you, want to expose yourself to a much bigger audience than that?
We’ll come back to the answer in a moment.
Fear of Rejection
Have any of you ever auditioned for a role and been turned down? Not only did you not get the part, but someone else with less talent, less experience, and well they're just not you, got it!
You've been trying to sell a house and someone else sells it out from beneath you.
You're in your third stage of negotiation with a prospective client, and they select another company!
You’re first in line for a job opportunity and it falls through.
Each and every one of these scenarios is an experience of being rejected.
The key here is not to take it personally! It's really not about you.
This is beginning to sound like a break up, isn't it?
‘It's not you. It's me.’
Quite honestly that's usually the truth. But so very hard to except and believe.
'If only I just … fill in the blank … she or he would still be here.'
Why then, would anyone in their right mind publish anything? Ego. Sure. Financial income. OK.
How about this. What if what you have to say will save someone's life. What if it could help someone be a better person. Lead a better life. Heal unhealthy habits. Be more successful in relationships. Establish a thriving career.
These are all great reasons to get published.
If there's a book inside of you, or an article, or a blog post for that matter, roll up your sleeves, get out of your head and into your heart and let it all out.
My new book is called Mindfulness Tip of the Day. It offers creative ways to reduce stress and create peace and joy in your life.
Wish me luck getting it off my laptop and onto yours
Alana Cahoon is the founder & creative coach of Grow 2 B U, LLC. Grow your business. Expand your mind. Heal your soul. www.AlanaCahoon.com
I'm going to begin a ten day meditation retreat… Tomorrow. The last time I entered into a weeklong meditation, the global pandemic was declared. My fingers are crossed. My heart open. Hoping to be greeted near week’s end by a vibrant rainbow across the sky. And being prepared for just about anything.
Let's take a look at where we are this very day, June 4, 2020. The United States of America is in turmoil. Protests march peacefully among many streets not only in our nation but across the globe. All to bring attention to the racial injustice of our society.
Generally speaking, I am not politically inclined. I'm a creative. I am very happy behind my microphone, canvas, yoga mat, and meditation cushion. Speaking out in a political way just hasn't resonated with me. Until now. Because the immorality I see is crushing the fabric of society. The foundation of democracy.
In our very community here in Rochester, New York, I have not only seen and witnessed but experienced the racial divide. I grew up in the inner city. And after being assaulted at the innocent age of five, I asked my parents if I could go to Catholic school. I know now that that was not in their budget. But they made it happen. So there was a new level of safety for me, a little Italian girl, in a little Italian neighborhood, in a racially divided community.
This new level of safety did not always protect me from my walks back home from school. My belief in Jesus and Mary did. My respect for all beings did. And my gift for standing up for myself and speaking reason to a prospective offender did.
Hear me out.
I was raised to believe that we were all born equally. Each and everyone of us regardless of the color of our skin or the homeland of our ancestors. And so when I was hurt by someone whether from my own nationality or another, I stood up for myself. I prayed for them. I was empathetic.
I was never afraid.
And that's what confuses me about today, half of a decade later. Why is our nation so afraid? America, the United States of America is a melting pot. My ancestors came from Italy. Your ancestors may have come from Ireland or New Zealand or Africa. We are all from the same planet. We all eat and breathe to live. And loving acceptance is crucial for us to survive.
Last year I found myself in my old neighborhood, reminiscing about the fun we had. Playing kickball in the middle of the street. Or football in someone’s backyard. Or going to Spaghetti Dinners at church.
I decided then and there I had to give back. I had to truly forgive my own injustices. Then I stumbled upon a wonderful memory.
I was riding bikes with my cousin Eileen at the age of ten. We were near the school parking lot which was exciting enough as it was because we weren’t supposed to be there. And then I saw it. A ten dollar bill. Just lying there on the sidewalk. Like a miracle.
We didn’t tell anyone, for several reasons. 1. We weren’t supposed to be there! And 2. We wanted to spend it on ourselves!
There was a Diner on North Goodman called Carrols. I had only been there once before with my family. Eileen and I decided to go there - on our bikes - and got 2 burgers, fries and a milkshake. This was decadent at the time, considering the first McDonalds had only just opened.
And with that memory, I decided to start dropping dollar bills in the neighborhood. Opening the car window and sending them out to fly and land, hoping that someone, anyone would find them. I could feel their joy and excitement. Maybe, they would get their burger and fries and milkshake. Or maybe they’d use it toward their bills.
It filled me with such a sense of release, of offering peace that I took my little idea to the nearby parks, folding up dollar bills and tucking them in the crevices of the trunks of trees. You have no idea how much fun this has been. And I share it with you to inspire you. To forgive those who have hurt you. To release your pain and suffering. To bring joy to others who may very well be less fortunate than you.
I was going to write about what to expect when entering a meditation retreat. Well here it is in a nutshell. You get off the grid. You pray. You get in touch with the deepest aspect of yourself. And you seek the truth. You may not like what you see. Whether it's about yourself or others. And that's where the real work
begins. Addressing what you don't like about yourself and others. In a non-judging, loving way.
Self acceptance allows you to accept others exactly as they are. Self love is about seeing yourself in others, and loving all beings regardless of their heritage, their accent, the color of their eyes or the color of their skin.
Wish me luck. Because I already know that as I enter into this meditation retreat, I am about to see ugliness that needs addressing. Within my own mind, behavior, and attitudes.
Balance during a global pandemic. Sounds impossible doesn't it? It doesn't have to be. It certainly may be more challenging than if life was moving along at a normal pace. But what is normal?
Today's world is the new normal. And there are a lot of good things about it. Don't get me wrong. It's been a very difficult transition. But let's look at the positive.
Our planet is doing better. Why do we care? Because we live on it! I know it's hard to think of anything outside our own four walls right now. But the earth is healing. And that's good for us.
There's no pollution. Although we may be facing a disease that harms our lungs, the air is actually cleaner than it was before the pandemic. There are fewer cars being driven emitting less carbon dioxide into the air. There are fewer planes flying. There is an over all shift in travel. This is good for the air we breathe. It also slows down the effects of global warming.
There’s even a bright side to the economic shift. With fewer manufacturing plants in operation, nitrogen dioxide is less profuse. The overall quality of our air is improving.
I'm talking about wild animals here. There's a new freedom for them to come out of hiding. Perhaps populate again more freely. Why is this good for our planet? And why is this good for us? Evolution. The animal kingdom is vital to the balance of humanity. What would it be like if there were no squirrels running up trees, collecting nuts; no birds waking us up with their song; no deer to fawn over; no snakes to make us jump back. It would be a lonely, quiet world.
Our water is purifying! There are less contaminants being drained into our water supply. Fewer boats such as cruise ships make a significant impact. And it’s quieter. The marine life are able to swim about more freely.
Now let’s talk about home life.
Of course there are challenges we are all facing. Like being in the same house 24/7 with the same people. It can be annoying. Maybe a desire to have your own space. But it also offers a new opportunity to reconnect on a deeper more personal level.
The demands of our lives pre-pandemic nearly consumed us. We spent more time in the busyness of our lives versus with family and loved ones. The stress of full-time jobs didn't necessarily give way to quiet attentive time spent at home.
Many of us are now working out of home offices. Our children are being schooled from the home. It's taking us back to a time that was, perhaps more wholesome. When priorities were focused not as much on how much money we earned, rather on how healthy our family was.
This is an opportunity to bring that family bond to the forefront. Whether there are only two of you or ten.
I'm noticing another shift, where adult children are returning home. Again, it offers challenges and gifts. As adults, they may not want to be told what to do. They have developed their own routine or lack thereof. As much as they may challenge us with their independence, they may fall back into a comfortable routine of wanting to be taken care of. It’s a balance we are all teetering on. This new normal.
When the challenges seem overwhelming, consider the gifts.
Career. Work. Business. How’s that going for you?
Anxiety is at its worst in this realm. Business owners are closing shop; laying off good employees; and wondering what's next. Property owners are wondering how their tenants will keep up with rent; banks wondering the same regarding mortgages. The economy is in shambles.
This is ample time to be creative! There's really no choice. Roll up your sleeves, pull up your socks, and come up with a solution.
We are Americans. Born and raised with the motto of freedom and democracy. With that comes responsibility to make things happen. Shake things up!
Entrepreneurs are doing just that. They are scribbling at their desks, erasing and re-creating ideas on their whiteboards. They are brainstorming how to move to the next level in this new seismic shift called the global pandemic.
Take out a piece paper and colored pens if you have them. Draw three columns with the following headings:
Under the first column, jot down anything you notice about mother earth. Are you noticing the trees blossoming? The sweet scent of flowers? The green grass?
At night, can you see the stars more vividly? Hear the croaking of the frogs? Or the chirping of crickets?
Have you noticed more wildlife? Spotted an eagle? Held eye contact with a wandering deer?
Under the second column, write down five things that are annoying you. Let it all out! You're welcome to throw this out afterwards to avoid offending anyone.
Then list five things you're grateful for. For instance, your 26-year-old daughter may have returned home after being away for a year. You may be getting that extra sleep you have been desperate for. You're spending quality time with your partner. Note whatever comes to mind.
Now begin listing all and any of the issues you are facing around career life, work and money. List these until you’ve exhausted the subject. Then begin a new list with everything that’s going right. It may be that you’ve been thinking about switching jobs and now have the perfect excuse. There may be a business Idea you’ve wanted to launch but never had the time. Write down everything that’s going right for you.
In times of transition, stay open to seeing both the gifts and the challenges being offered. Receive the gifts with grace. Tackle the challenges with boldness!
Yoga! Yoga! Yoga!
the Spiritual & the Physical
By Alana Cahoon
Breathe. Stretch. Repeat. Sounds like you’re washing your hair, right? Close. You’re washing your body. Inside out.
I’ll never forget being introduced to yoga back in the 1980’s. A long haired hippie dude was teaching at a gym in NYC. He wasn’t very good. That experience turned me away from the practice for awhile.
I was a modern dancer at the time and practiced hard core aerobics. I didn’t need to add yoga to the mix.
Today, I couldn’t imagine living without it.
Yoga the spiritual and the physical. That’s the beauty of it. There are meaningful aspects of the practice that bring about a range of health benefits. And that’s what is needed today. More than ever.
The spiritual aspect of yoga is found within its philosophy and meditative practice. The aim being to unite one’s spirit with the Divine. Doesn’t that sound amazing? The meditative practice of yoga is equivalent to samadhi or concentration which brings about self awareness.
As a teacher, I like to begin classes by setting an intention. This acts as the theme throughout the session and is frequently aligned with your spirit such as, ‘I feel calm and relaxed.’
You may have heard of balancing the chakras. This is something I have been doing for most of my life. It’s a beautiful sequence of activating the 7 main chakras or energy centers of the body. These are aligned along your spine, the first located at the base moving up to the seventh at the crown of your head. In addition to balancing these energy centers during meditation, they can also be activated during the physical aspect of your yoga practice.
Some say the practice of yoga began approximately 5000 years ago in India. My course of study suggests less it dates back to the 2nd century BCE with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjala, the foundation for the practice. These were brought to the West in the 20th century. Hatha yoga, which is the form we are most familiar with in the US emerged in India around the 10th century with origins in tantra.
‘What?’ You may be asking. No worries. Meditation is the first step to the spiritual side of yoga. Understanding its roots and beliefs of origin are the next.
You may be fascinated to learn more. If so, there are dozens of books and videos available on the subject. I suggest you peruse several and see what’s a fit. If you learn best by reading, you may want to engage in a book on the traditions such as the Bhagavad Gita or the Upanishads or Yoga Sutras. If you’re a visual learner, check out videos available online. Start with a simple search of Yoga and go from there.
The spiritual side of yoga is found within its meditative practice. This elevates the conscious state to one that is clear and in divine union, ultimately bringing one to a sense of absolute freedom. Ommm.
I believe that the physical aspect of yoga is just as important as the spiritual side and vice versa. A balanced mind body and spirit involves the activation of all.
Typically a yoga class is focused on the asanas. These are the physical poses of yoga. These poses can be held for several minutes which are often found in the yoga teaching of Iyengar. Or they can move from one to the next in a flowing series which can be found in the Vinyasa style.
As a dancer, which do you think is my favorite? Right. Vinyasa!
Hatha yoga is the overarching style predominantly taught in the west. Vinyasa, Iyengar, and even Power yoga are all under its umbrella.
A well rounded yoga class will include focus on the breath, the asana and the concentration. These aspects will stretch and strengthen your mind, body, and spirit.
Today there are numerous yoga studios both in brick and mortar and online. Circling back to my first encounter with yoga, may I suggest not to give up if at first you don’t like the experience. The teaching style, environment and/or personality of the instructor have an impact on your personal experience. Find some one who speaks to you. In mind - body - spirit.
Here are some of the yoga poses you may learn. I’ve noticed that depending on the source, the names may differ slightly. The first word is the basic English name. The second is the Sanskrit name. Have fun saying them and doing them!
Asanas - Yoga Poses
Boat - Navasana
Bow - Dhanurasana
Camel - Ushtrasana
Cat - Marjariasana
Chair - Utkatasana
Child - Balasana
Cobbler - Bhadrasana
Cobra - Bhujangasana
Crescent Moon - Anjaneyasana
Crocodile - Makarasana
Crow - Kakasana
Dancer - Natarajasana
Downward Facing Dog - Ardho Mukha Shvanasana
Eagle - Garudasana
Easy - Sukhasana
Fish - Matsyasana
Garland - Malasana
Half Moon - Ardha Chandrasana
Half Spinal Twist - Ardha Matsyendrasana
Headstand - Sirsasana
Head-to-Knee - Janusirasana
Locust - Salabhasana
Lotus - Padmasana
Low Plank - Caturanga Dandasana
Mountain - Tadasana
Pigeon - Kapotasana
Plank - Phalakasana
Plough - Halasana
Pyramid - Parshvottanasana
Seated Forward Bend - Paschimottanasana
Shoulder-stand - Sarvangasana
Shoulder Supported Bridge - Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Side Angle - Parshvokanasana
Side Plank - Vasishtasana
Staff - Dandasana
Standing Forward Bend - Uttaasana
Standing Half Forward Bend - Ardha Uttanasana
Sun Salutation - Surya Namaskar
Tortoise - Kurmasana
Tree - Vrikshasana
Triangle - Trikonasana
Upward Facing Dog - Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana
Warrior 1 - Virabhrasana I
Wide Stance Forward Bend - Prasarita Padottanasana
Yogi vs Yogini
As a man who practices not only the physical but the philosophic aspect of yoga is considered a Yogi. For all you women out there on the path of yoga, you are on your way to being called a Yogini.
Alana Cahoon is the founder & creative coach of Grow 2 B U, LLC. Grow your business. Expand your mind. Heal your soul. www.AlanaCahoon.com
Alana writes her monthly column 'Mind, Body, Spirt' for RochesterWomanOnline focusing on the balance of all 3 in a creative manner, filled with inspiration.