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Get Rhythm

My Lukah love in his element

My Lukah love in his element

Have I ever told you the story of how I started my morning meditation practice?

Back when I lived in Adams Morgan, right next to the dog park there, my dog Lukah and I would go down every morning where he would play with all of his puppy friends and I’d socialize with my dog park crew.

If ever we didn’t make it down one morning, well, I’d surely hear about it the next day.

“Where was Lukah?” my dog park friends would demand to know.

They would then offer to take him out if ever I wasn’t able to make it to regular morning meet up. I cherished the community.

But we couldn’t stay. We were chased out by ghosts.  You see, the place we lived in was haunted. 10176209_833991018238_7711189428905669984_n From the bones of those buried and since moved from the historic African American cemetery on which the property was built.

To spells cast by the fortune tellers who lived and operated their palmistry business out of the apartment in which we lived back in the 70s.

To the walking dead, an abusive ex-husband, haunting at our door. 1176344_841828841178_8834787348450270886_n So we moved to Shaw where I could be closer to the acupuncture clinic where I practiced at the time.

Lukah passed away very suddenly three months later.  From the minute I noticed something was wrong, to when he passed, it was 15 minutes.  I still don’t know what took him. He was such a rockstar.  He went out the way most people want to. Quickly in the arms of the person who loved him the most.

945794_668980435981_1738256748_n (3) When I woke up the morning after, and for weeks later… I didn’t know what to do.

He was my morning practice. My devotional practice. The one true constant, and source of unconditional love, in my life in DC. Every morning for 7 years I got up, no matter what was going on in my life and no matter how uncertain life could be, I got up for him.

“Well, what the fuck do I do now?!” I thought to myself…

So I tried to meditate. To show up and hold space for and with myself.  To be still.

And it was terrifying.

I committed to try 10 full breaths every morning. In the first couple of days, by the time I got my third breath, it was nothing short of a full blown panic attack. Staring into what felt like the vast emptiness of the human experience.

10494658_10204174141656431_5766129537041386271_n (1) I had been teaching yoga for almost six years at this point but never truly meditated.

And while it was terrifying I continued to show up. Consistently. Imperfectly. Every day. Just 10 full breaths. I programmed rhythm.

Eventually I was able to sit still for those 10 breaths. About a minute and half. And eventually those 10 breaths became five minutes. And 10 minutes. And 45 minutes. And sometimes, even still, it’s simply those 10 full breaths before I have to bounce out the door.

964130_766417176758_352589557_o It’s the practice of cultivating energy, as one yoga teacher friend explained, instead of expending it. Everything in our lives calls us outside of ourselves, to give at our own expense. While I can’t control what happens when I step out of the door in the morning, I can certainly create space for myself and program rhythm in how my day starts and ends.  

And I can choose to rechannel all that energy, all that care I devoted to Lukah, towards myself. I’ve intentionally kept that space open. 1040855_755502569718_1033326485_o So fast forward to present… two Sundays ago I was lucky enough to partner with Eric Schwarz, DC’s Best Yoga Teacher to lead our first Live Deliciously Day Retreat.

And it was nothing short of magical. An immersion in programming healthy rhythm. Silent hike, meditation on islands in the stream, reflection on self care rhythm, and an incredible yoga class and healthy picnic under open sky and trees.  

Eric brought his dog Lucas. 13962737_10104033512360987_7729219215510557712_n I walked participants through trails Lukah and I would venture to every weekend.

I told the story of how I began my morning meditation practice. Breathing into loss and creating space for conscious connection. And the storytelling created space for participants to probe into their own lifestyle patterns.

And the river washed over. 13912662_730292310436283_6669655829697252886_n

Rediscovering Home

Joys of Home: the newest FarMar in my hood!

Joys of Home: the newest FarMar in my hood!

I’ve been back in the District for just over a month now, settling back into the rhythms of home.

And it has been quite the journey home via the Mediterranean and South Africa, to finally be at peace establishing roots here.

You see, I’ve always been reluctant, even after 11 (!) years, to claim the District as home. I still have a Jersey driver’s license.

Like many people who first come to DC, I came as an idealist, to pursue a career in Middle East peacebuilding.

Many folks who’ve come here with their own ‘Save the World’ story have moved on. Perhaps to the thrills of the ex-pat life abroad. Or to throw down roots in their hometowns and start families with 2.5 kids. Or grad school. Or whatever.  Many friends, come and gone.

What remains at the surface is a transient town consumed with status and power, of drunk  dudes in bad suits at happy hour.  At the surface that is… but that’s not my DC.

As I’ve settled back in, I’ve not only immersed in the communities of friends, mentors, and clients who inspire and ground me, but have cultivated renewed gratitude for the intentional home of my creation. Where I can celebrate the DC Pride Parade and easily transition to a Ramadan Iftar in the same weekend.

On a recent episode of Synchronicity with Noah Lampert, one of my favorite podcasts these days, guest Mikey Kampmann posited that home is the feeling of being at ease with your own self.  To stop bracing and let your guard down.

Check it! Yoga in my Neighborhood Park on Saturdays

Check it! Yoga in my Neighborhood Park on Summer Saturdays mornings

And here I am.  Finding home in my own path and career in nutrition and yoga, working with folks to create space in their lives for their physical and emotional health amidst the DC hustle.

And I’ve rediscovered the true joy of teaching yoga and coaching nutrition clients. And simply being present.

And what a fine, blessed place to be.

Catch me on the mat and enjoy these summer days.