La Dolce Vita

One thing I love about Italy is there is an abundance of tattoos. I now have 6, and most are quite small. My most recent tattoo is larger than I had projected , due to the intricate work. It’s taken awhile to get used to, but now I fully embrace it. 
Going to the beaches in Positano and Capri, it was comforting to be around others with tattoos showing them off. Express art on your body , however big of small. The covert tattoos that exist beneath button down shirts and work trousers , momentarily are available to literally shine in the sun.

It was also a relief to be around people of all body types. Bathing suits leave little for the imagination , and although we aren’t naked , we are exposed. I tend to feel that in America (especially LA) we become so obsessed with having the perfect body, that it prohibits us from showing our skin. But in Italy, there were loads of women with tiny panzas (bellies), and it was awesome to see that. It helped decrease my self criticising thoughts about my body. I could embrace my Brazilian bikini which perhaps is slightly too small , but reframe “it enhances my curves. ”

Maybe I don’t go to the beach often enough anymore to witness this throughout the world. But here it seemed different. People didn’t walk around meekly, ashamed of their bodies. They walked around boldly, strutted and swayed their bodies . It was beautiful to witness.
A pregnant woman wore a bathing suit that said “sun’s out, bumps out.”

Our defeating thoughts about the faults in our bodies keep us from enjoying not just the beauty of the sun, or the soothing coolness of the water , but the fullness of life .

In Positano there is a trail that is supposedly the Hike of the Gods. But on the beach, us mortals reside. We have our imperfections, and we embrace them! La Dolce Vita is available for us all to drink in .

Beauty in simplicity 

Spending several days in a tropical like environment is comforting to me.  Waking up as the sun rises, and hearing the sound of a rooster serves as an alarm gives me this reminiscent feeling . After 7 am passes, the church bells rang every thirty minutes.  It is as if those beginning moments of a day are universal.  Memories of my time in Hawaii , Cuernavaca Mexico, and Sampaloc Manila Philippines replayed in my brain.

I found it inviting to wake up each morning and engage in my daily discipline of meditation, gratitude, spiritual reading , and even yoga ! With this view, how could I not? There wasn’t anything more I needed.

But it’s not easy for everyone . It took awhile to adjust to our time in Sorrento, particularly for my husband. The main amenities we have everywhere we go we’re practically non-existent here.  No air conditioning in restaurants or stores when it was 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside. No ice cubes, fast wifi , and a lack of non-stop city action. But after our third evening , he finally arrived. The calm and relaxed husband I had been waiting for arrived. 

We could appreciate sitting for a cappacino looking out on our balcony at the beautiful landscape. Although the buildings around were not modern and updated , there was still beauty in the collective experience. Everything was enough. 

Although he may not have viewed it this way, it reminded me of attending a silent meditation retreat.  In the beginning there is all this internal chatter of pain, discomfort , stress, and irritability . But with time we were able to let go of it all and be. 

I had heard this saying before how a nomadic tribe would wait several days after travelling for their souls to arrive. And how true this can be for us all? 

We are always so busy in our everyday lives, do we give space for our souls to arrive? This is where lies the importance of meditation . Each day we have the opportunity for our souls to catch up with our bodies. And we can allow ourselves to find beauty in the simple.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”-Leonardo Da Vinci 

Be Your Own Knight In Shining Armour

There’s an allure to Paris…. I can’t help but want to pretend I live there , speak French, exude romanticism, and have the mysterious sex appeal of the French women. Therefore I bought this book on my Eurostar journey home last weekend: how to be Parisian wherever you are .

There are numerous sections and tips in there such as how we should choose our perfume by the time we are 30, never smile with showing our gums, and to keep it simple. But the one piece that stands out for me…Be Your Own Knight In Shining Armour.

That principle has repeated in my head throughout the past week. It’s been a mantra. I tried to share it with a male friend this week, who initially had trouble understanding it. Later he said “oh it’s because people can disappoint you. “. 

Yes, but it’s so much more than that. Why should we as females wait for a man to save us from the lives we are living ? Or to complete our stories? Or to make us happy? We are capable of doing this ourselves and should! 

Regardless if we are male or female, when we recognise we are responsible for our own happiness and fate , we will miraculously bring in a happier partner . 

Stand tall. Be your own superhero. Be your own Knight In Shining Armour . You deserve this !

A Mindful Tattoo

“O Christ you are,

Lord of our Journeying,
Lord of our Searching,
Lord of our Exploring,
Lord of our Finding,
Lord of our Arriving.
May we find that in travelling to the edges

We discover the Centre.”

-taken from

I found this poem on a bookmark in a church from the 1600s adjacent to the retreat center I was stayed at. During an extended lunch break, I wandered into there. I was at Gaia House, a Buddhist retreat center located in Devon England. Almost every retreat they hold is in silence, therefore this abandoned church served as a refuge. On retreat, not only were we to be verbally silent, but we were to not read or write. Our minds could only be stimulated by what was physically around us in real time… our bodies, the fluctuations in our mind, the nature that surrounded us, and the immediate interactions with our atmosphere.
The church had a guestbook filled with past attendees names, there were also notes on a bulletin board written to people who had passed away and even notes to God. Because the church was only kept open by volunteers, it seemed people appeared comfortable to have a conversation with those on another realm. These notes were short, not long profound letters. It was as if people felt safe here, that this bulletin board would serve as a portal. Being silent for days will do that to you. Quiet the mind from external noise, allow one to filter through their own thoughts, and deliver heart messages to those we yearned for dearly. Maybe through our silence we could hear a response from a loved one or God.
Our daily routine included:

7 30-45 minute meditations

3 30-45 minute walking meditations
1 chi gong session
1 dharma talk
1 hour karma yoga
-by choice I added a daily 30 minute self-led yoga session
What arose from this meditation retreat was my purpose. I felt as if I needed to learn to share meditation and mindfulness with others in a way that is palpable. Not many people may allow or give themselves the opportunity to attend several days of silent retreat. But could I assist them with attaining the essence of it?
How could I even describe the essence of it?

I did not have any mind altering meditation sessions. I did not become self-realized. I don’t even know if I could state I had a “good” meditation session. But I did work on learning to control my monkey mind. I brought it back to the present place. 
One of the leaders of the retreat discussed how we should breathe through our seat (while sitting) or our feet (while standing). Allow our body absorb up the earth’s energy. She would signify with her finger to breathe into now, drawing her finger up and down vertically several times. Breathe vertically into the present, instead of how we usually breathe horizontally. Horizontal breath is back to the past or forward to the future. Her finger motioned this as well. This simple demonstration and practice was shifting. We were informed throughout each practice to “feel how this is in our bodies right now.” In practicing this multiple times per day, our bodies could imprint this experience to return to whenever necessary.
Through practice, this becomes available as a “go to” tool to return to.
Silent retreats are not once in a lifetime experiences, but something that we should have in our lives frequently. They serve as reminders for us to arrive to now. The mind will fluctuate. Return to now.
I have attempted to share the practice of mindfulness with my mother through the simple practice of “Breath In, Breathe Out.”’ Resources of books, apps, and websites have been shared as well, but what has stuck is that mantra “Breathe In, Breathe Out.” It doesn’t take much to remember. Yet she frequently forgets.
My mother struggles with extreme highs and lows. The most recent one was earlier last week. As she crawled out of the low with the assistance of her husband and local family support, I reminded her of the phrase “Breathe In, Breathe Out.” She was inspired to have this be easily accessible that she got it tattooed on her left forearm!
I have this large aspirational goal to impact others with potential of mindfulness and meditation in their daily lives. My ideal audience is clients, workshop attendees, and future readers of my book. At times I feel I am not successful until that latter monumental task is achieved. But perhaps success starts at home. If I could convert and assist my mother to breathing into now, instead of the past and future, it’s enough. 
A tattoo is more than enough, it’s a transformation!
“In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. That means we have 1,440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact. “-Les Brown