I was inspired by my 6-year-old niece’s poem above, to write this:

And yet
all things – every thing – must die.
Each “now” moment, like a courageous snowflake falling,
dies in the warmth of the glistening sun to become river,
lake,
food for trees,
nectar of all life,
cool oasis for the weary traveler.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Oprah.com Dream Board tool has just added words…so you can play with poetry, like I did the other day.

You can choose from about fifty preset words in the image library, or create your own.

I went with a total stream of consciousness, picking out words that appealed to me for no apparent reason, or just came to me. Then I went about the process of rearranging them into lines of poetry.

Don’t think too hard about it. Just enjoy!

Boxes 1

Image by Skrewtape via Flickr

In May, I spent three entire weeks – seven days a week, 6 to 8 hours a day – sorting through all of my material belongings, downsizing by about 80%, and moving. I learned practical things (like how to give away items to actual people who gladly come and pick them up from your house), I learned mental things (like the years of stories stored in boxes, never seen or touched in decades), and I learned spiritual things (like the power of generosity and letting go, and the unfolding meaning of abundance in my life).

As the end of the month approached, poetry started coming to me. I did not write a single original blog post during May or most of June. But these haiku poems (which I posted on my Facebook profile) did come out of me. I share them now as a collection of impressions on movement, growth, and becoming intimate with the hidden parts of ourselves. Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry »

This story really hit home for me. I am all too familiar with the quest to achieve an image of perfection, the rawness of the need for external approval, and pushing myself beyond my bodily intuition.

This is a story of a yogi who lived through this cycle of pain and emerged with a new internal compass for his practice – one that may not photograph as well but feels gentler and kinder to his own body.

It prompts me to ask, “What will it take for each of us to let go of our need to achieve an image of perfection, and turn toward accepting ourselves as we are?”

Here’s the story of James MacAdam’s wake-up call.

Confessions of a Type-A Yogi In my early yoga days studying Anusara Yoga with John Friend, he once told me (through my girlfriend) that I could be a great yogi like my friend Darren Rhodes.  To me, this meant that I too would be able to contort my body into incredible formations, and demonstrate my world-class athletic prowess through the art of Hatha Yoga.   … Read More

via James MacAdam

dime a dozen

Image by buxtonwolf via Flickr

Hello, readers. It’s been awhile, and I thought I’d let you know about a new blog I’ve started, called Bad Asian Daughter: http://badasiandaughter.com.

Here’s a magazine-length piece that I’m really happy to share with you here. Enjoy!

Dime a Dozen: How My Journey As A Bad Asian Daughter Started

By Lisa Chu, M.D.

I suppose it all started with being the only minority in my childhood hometown of Libertyville, Illinois. My introduction to first grade was being called “Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, if you please!”. There was actually full choreography involved, which my classmates performed in front of me: “Chinese” – pull the outer corners of the eyes up, “Japanese” – pull the outer corners of the eyes down, “Dirty knees” – put your hands on your knees, “If you please!” – put your hands together in prayer position, and bow your head forward.

I didn’t get it. Did Japanese eyes really slant down? Were my Chinese eyes really slanted up like they were showing me? Did we really put our hands together like that? I had to go home and ask my parents what these classmates of mine might be referring to.

My mom went in for a parent-teacher conference with my homeroom teacher, Mrs. Brown, and calmly explained how we were very proud of who we are, and that her children were entitled to a public school education like every other law-abiding taxpayer.

I’m sure this didn’t help with my popularity on the playground.

I wasn’t bullied. Read the rest of this entry »

Cover of "Departures"

Cover of Departures

Maybe I’m one of the last people to find out about the 2008 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film, Departures. But I finally saw it last night. I’m not sure what drew me to the film as I was speeding through the aisles at Blockbuster. (I’m probably one of the last people who still physically drives to the video store to rent videos, then drives back to return them.)

As I was watching it, and the end of the film was approaching, I tried to predict what would happen to Daigo, the main character. “Maybe he goes and becomes a cellist, fulfilling his lifelong dream!” I thought. “No, that would be American. This is an Asian movie, so it’s got to be about honoring the family.”

Well, it turns out both answers were right. I think the message in the film was about accepting the unexpected nature of life, embracing what is not known, and seeing that our dreams are unfolding exactly as they should be. The ending of the film, as I saw it, was the fulfillment of a dream – a dream he didn’t even know he had. Since I tend to see themes in movies and extend them to be “universal human themes”, I’ll do the same here. Daigo believes that his lifelong dream was to be a cellist. However, he never even acknowledges, until the last scene of the film, that his deepest dreams were to be seen (by his father, by his wife, by those who love him), to be loved, to be appreciated for his way of doing something, and to openly love something with his whole heart. Read the rest of this entry »

sesame str

Image by cambiodefractal via Flickr

It hit me all at once just as I was about to leave my office and head to yoga class. I heard a coach say on a group call that the best thing she did to cure the part of her who was depression-prone, and perfectionist was to keep surviving failures. She realized that the only way to heal the part of herself that was so fearful of failure was to actually “fail” and survive it. Over and over again.

What I heard in these words was a whole new way to look at the word “failure”. I’ve always had a hard time answering the question, “What is your biggest failure?” As I look back at my life, I’ve been awash in so many brightly lit success stories – the kinds that bring attention from other people’s parents, and disdain from the other kids in school whose parents wished they could be “just like me”. It was enough bright light and attention to overshadow any of the areas in which I might have been failing, and it took up enough of my time that I never had a chance to try the things I might have actually failed at.

In short, my life was set up so that I had no option to fail.

I stayed very busy and worked very hard on a few things that my parents had decided were the most important for me. And I followed the rules. I did my work. I did not fail.

This might sound like every ambitious parent’s dream for their child. But from the perspective of an adult who developed from this kind of environment and “succeeded” at fulfilling that dream, I’m seeing that there is a lot more to life beyond “living the dream”, especially when it’s not your own. Read the rest of this entry »

But can you say them out loud?

by John C. Parkin

The spiritual freedom of the “F” word…

Have you watched a young child playing? Or can you remember what was going on inside your head as a child? I’ve done both. I do the first regularly because I have young children. And the second because when I really relax I remember what it was like to be a child.

If I lie down and look up into a blue sky and listen to the sound of a distant airplane, it invariably brings up a memory from my childhood. Why? Because as we grow up we stop being fascinated by ordinary things. So when I do occasionally take pleasure simply in what’s around me, it reminds me of the last time I did that: when I was a child. This is what children do. They live in the miracle of existence. Everything is new and fascinating. They can enjoy the wrapping as much as the present . . . a leaky faucet as much as a beautiful lake . . . the smell of rain falling on dry concrete as much as the smell of baking bread. Read the rest of this entry »

There is a part of my soul

That is like a child

Learning to walk again

For the first time

Again and again.

Those are my words.

Imagine living your entire life in fear, only you don’t realize you’re living in fear, because your brain is so fast at learning that it has figured out exactly the behaviors you need to do in each moment to keep yourself safe. It’s not that good at protecting you from physical danger, but luckily you are also surrounded by other people who do everything in their power to keep you from doing anything that might involve physical movement.

Since fear is constant, and your brain is desperately seeking ways to keep you out of danger, the proxy for safety is people liking you, people praising you, people having nice things to say about you. It’s the next best thing your brain has latched onto because there is so little kindness, so little softness, so little trust in your environment that you have to go foraging for scraps of these things wherever you can find them. You’re like a bottom feeder in the fish tank of love.

Luckily you have a lot going for you in many ways. You have a nice smile, a body that found ways to move in non-dangerous physical ways, and a brain so skilled at adapting that you can become almost anything you need to be in order to please the people around you. This has made you appear “successful” in many systems of your society – school, in particular. Read the rest of this entry »

“If you think you’re enlightened, go spend four days with your family of origin.” – Ram Dass

Lately I’ve been feeling pulled in many different directions. Before I blame this feeling on the imminent arrival of my parents to stay with me and observe my current life, I’m finally sitting down to write about (and perhaps discover with more clarity) why.

After a totally blissful July of following the music that was flowing from me – bringing with it new people, new places, new experiences, and new ways of being seen – I entered August with a renewed sense of awareness that I needed to be “working” on something. “My newfound sense of freedom and joy could not possibly be the truth of my life experience”, said an ancient part of my brain. “Life just can’t be that easy for you!”

I recognized those thoughts as ones I could choose to believe or not. I saw myself as an observer. I talked it out with my coaching buddy. She reminded me of how far I have indeed come on my path toward the Core of Peace I now know is my birthright and within me at all times.

And still, as I drive from one place to the next – from home to studio to the next place on my agenda – I can’t help but feel scattered. Like my energy is more diffuse than I would like it to be. I notice that my business card has four identities – musician, life coach, writer, and speaker. I now notice that this is symbolic of the fact that in my life I have never felt that it was enough for me to be just one thing – namely, me. I had compartments where I kept my identities and developed them diligently, but rarely did the boundaries of these containers spill into one another. Read the rest of this entry »

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