Saturday, November 30, 2013

365 Inspirations—334: Big Shifts

"You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don't have something better.”—C. JoyBell C. 

Things are shifting right under my feet. I can feel them. These are good things.

They may not feel like that in the process, but ultimately I know that these shifts I'm feeling are going to lead to higher ground.

I just need to let go and trust in this.

I didn't do anything I was supposed to do today. I didn't check the enormous pile of tests sitting in my office. The ones I need to finish before my classes on Monday evening.

Nope, didn't do it.

I was feeling too much in another area of my life.

I know I must follow my intuition. It's calling and pulling me in another direction, but I'm afraid.

Afraid of letting go. Afraid I don't have enough to support me in the direction I want to move in. I want to write. I'm ready to write my next book, but I need to work to support myself. This work often gets in the way of really diving in and WRITING.

Over the holiday break, this is what I plan to do. I plan to WRITE.

Besides that, I'm being called to lead more yoga/writing retreats with my husband both nationally and internationally. I know this.

But how do I move over this hurdle of simply getting by in order to live the life I'm meant to live. How do I jump over it.

Ideas? Suggestions?

To be truthful, I'm not financially prepared to give up my job. I need my day job at the moment and I actually enjoy my students.

This shift, I feel, is coming. It's coming whether I like it or not.

When it comes, I will make the shift. I will move in the direction I'm meant to move in.

The funny thing is, I know what that direction is.

Have you felt any big shifts lately? Are you ready to make a move?

Friday, November 29, 2013

365 Inspirations—333: I've Made it This Far....

“Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” —Robert Louis Stevenson

Somehow I've made it to post 333. It's 11:17pm and this is how it is sometimes. Writing every single day for 365 days on this here blog is not as easy of a task as one may think, but I'm still here.

We took the ferry back from my mom's house and arrived in Seattle at around noon or so. Yoon had to take his car into the shop, so we went out for some noodles while we waited for it to be fixed.

Life caught up with us. Today was a mix of commuting, taking care of odds and ends, a squabble about something insignificant in the scheme of life, a date-night out to a good flick called The Book Thief and a night-capper at a French restaurant/bar in the area. Now we are here.

Yes, we are here. Yoon strung together some Christmas lights he found at various places around the house. We have a nice fence for them.

I'm feeling like I'm at the crossroads of something. Like I may just leave part of myself behind for a life that I'm meant to live. Can't explain very clearly right now.

I'm ready to get some headway on my next book, but life keeps taking over.

I'm inspired to do something different, but I haven't done it yet.

I'm confident that I will.

It's just a matter of time.

Life is going to change.

It always does.

But so far, I've made it this far. I've made it to blog post 333. That's something, isn't it?

Thanks for reading.

Have you ever been surprised at how far you've come?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

365 Inspirations—332: Spending Time with Family

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! 

Today, on this gorgeous day, we took a ferry and then drove out to the Olympic Peninsula to my mom and step-dad's house. 

It was so lovely to reconnect with everyone and spend some time together.

I brought two pies, but my brother-in-law cooked most of the meal and everyone else had the side-dishes covered.

We ate dinner early and then we all went for a sunset walk down to the beach.

 It was great catching up with my nephews who I feel like I haven't seen forever.

I was happy to learn about what they've been up. I enjoyed watching them build with blocks and seeing their creativity come out.

Now we are in a hotel down the street. My sister is in this hotel too with her family. There's not enough space in my mom's place for us all to stay over, so we stay close by and then we can hang out a bit more the next day. 

Tomorrow we may go on a hike if the weather is nice.

I heard snow is in the forecast!

Did you have a nice Thanksgiving? Did you spend it with your family?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

365 Inspirations—331: An Attitude of Gratitude

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” —Meister Eckhart

I've got an attitude of gratitude today. It's almost Thanksgiving and it reminds me that there is so much to be grateful for.

Here's my list of things I'm grateful for today:

1. No School Today!
I'm a teacher at a community college and they gave me the day off. Hooray!

2. Housesitting
 We are taking care of some lovely cats down the street from us at a beautiful house for one night before we head off to my mom's for Thanksgiving. Being here gave me the opportunity to bake two apple-cranberry pies for our feast tomorrow without interrupting my husband's yoga classes which are now at our house.

3. Walking Around Greenlake
 Since my husband now has classes at our house in the morning, I've gotten out of the house earlier than usual. I've enjoyed my solo walks around Greenlake almost every morning for the past week.

4. My Family
I get to spend time with my family for Thanksgiving tomorrow. My sister's family and Yoon and I are all going over to my mom's house on the Olympic Peninsula. Beautiful place for a Thanksgiving celebration.

5. Shelter
 I'm grateful for the home I share with my husband. It's cozy and peaceful and it makes me happy.

6. My husband Yoon
I'm grateful for the time I get to share with Yoon. He makes me laugh, is kind, and we really enjoy each other's company.

7. Talking with my best friend Lena today
 With two young kids at home, it's rare that my dear friend gets any free time to chat, but today she called me to wish me a happy Thanksgiving and we had a great conversation. We are going to meet at the Korean spa next week!

8. Cats
 I don't have any kids or pets, but I love housesitting for these lovely, furry friends.

9. New friends
 I'm grateful for all the new friends I met on a recent trip to Hawaii for the Hawaii Yoga Festival. It was so wonderful to meet so many like-minded people.

10. This blog
I'm grateful that I made it to post 331 out of 365! I'm still chugging along....still finding inspirations everywhere. Thank you for being here and for reading!

What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

365 Inspirations—330: Setting Intentions

Leading a Workshop at Kalani on the Big Island, Hawaii on Intuitive Writing
"I had let go of WAITING for anything. I had moved on to the next creation and while I was in the act of creating, this good news came through. And that is how it has happened again and again...."—Katherine Jenkins

Yoon and I are offering a very special retreat for the New Year. It's called Setting Intentions: An Intuitive Writing, Collaging and Yoga Retreat. You can find out more about it on the side bar of this blog or on my Yoga and Writing Retreats page HERE.

I am a BIG believer in setting intentions. All the best things in my life came to me by doing this. I have notebooks/journals full of pages which state my intentions and an art presentation book full of collages (like vision boards) that I've created on retreat and in my own free time.

I can tell you one thing I've learned for sure: These methods, which activate a different part of the brain, WORK.

But they don't work in the way you'd like them to. The intentions you set for your life come when they are ready to come. Sometimes they slip through the back door or sneak up on you when you've completely forgotten about them.

If you are waiting for something to happen, you may be waiting for a lifetime. The best things in life come when you least expect them to. Of course you have to do the groundwork, but let go of the outcome. It's that simple.

Lots of people quit before they even start. The road may seem long or difficult, but I truly believe that the FIRST STEP is just as important as any other step towards living a life that is uniquely yours.

Intuitive writing, which I'll talk more about in my retreat, has helped me in uncovering my subconscious mind. That's where the juice of life lies. If you've ever had a hunch, a vivid dream, an inner calling or a gut feeling, you are tapping into that authentic part of yourself that wants to be front and center in your life but has somehow taken a back seat to the 'rational,' 'practical,' or 'realistic'. Not that these aren't important in life, but they've somehow taken over the wheel completely.

They took over the wheel in my life and still sit on my shoulder and tell me to 'get real' from time to time.

But what is 'real'?

Intuitive writing and collaging are playful ways of bringing back that childlike innocence and purity to our lives. Somehow, in our need to be mature or grown up, we've lost touch with that purity. Instinctively, we all know what makes us happy and what fills us with joy, but it's easy to lose touch with that as we get older.

Do you feel happiness and joy in your life? Do you like the way your are living? Are you completely satisfied with your life?

If you can say "yes" to all these questions, I congratulate you!

I wasn't able to say "yes" to all those questions. I didn't know what I really wanted until I started to creatively explore this area of my life through writing and collaging. Meditation and yoga also helped shed light on that inner part of myself that had been buried beneath a pile of 'have tos' and 'shoulds'.

Many years ago, while in a long course of meditation, I saw an image of my very first book. I saw the title Lessons form the Monk I Married. I saw the entire book, with all its pages and chapters, as if someone had flipped it right in front of my face.

At first, I was irritated by this. After all, I was there to meditate. I was in a serious, long course of meditation. I wasn't supposed to be daydreaming about a book.

But it kept coming back again and again and again...

In 2012, that book was traditionally published exactly how I saw it in my mind's eye.

A few days ago I was lamenting that I hadn't heard much about my book lately from my agent. I was worried and thought I needed to do something more.

Today, while I was working on material for my upcoming retreat in January, my agent contacted me to let me know that I had received an offer for the simplified Chinese rights of my book. That meant that my book would be available in Mainland China! The complex Chinese rights had already sold, which covered Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong, but this was the cherry on the cake and I did NOT know it was coming.

I had let go of WAITING for anything. I had moved on to the next creation (my upcoming retreat) and while I was in the act of creating, this news came through. And that is how it has happened again and again....

Only through my own experience can I say for sure that this works.

I invite you to attend my upcoming retreat to experience how you might put these tools to use in your own life. If you can't attend, perhaps you know a loved one, family member or friend who might find this retreat useful. I'm also available for personalized Skype sessions on this topic.

And now a few questions for you...

Do you feel you are living the life you were meant to live? If not, what would it take you to get there?

Monday, November 25, 2013

365 Inspirations—329: An Octopus's Garden

The scariest fish in the garden!
"I'd like to be, under the sea
In an octopus's garden in the shade
He'd let us in, knows where we've been 
in his octupus's garden, in the shade."—The Beatles

There is really NOT much to do in an octopus's garden except float around and meet other things floating around, like tropical fish, turtles, sea creatures, dolphins and, if you are lucky, an octopus.

Yesterday I drove to the Walgreens photoshop nearby and handed the guy my rinky-dink, disposable camera that I got on sale at an ABC store in Hawaii. The thing was cheap and I expected to get all my photos back black.

I'm so use to digital where you can check right away and delete. I could barely see through the camera lens on this thing and I wasn't sure if it was even taking pictures or if I was self-winding it in the right direction.

I was surprised to see the colorful pictures of fish on the photo CD I picked up. Here are some of my pics from that day:

Looking at them, I remember that day clearly. I was in an octopus's garden, yet I didn't see an octopus.

It's so quiet and peaceful down there. No one is in a hurry and even the little guys that swim fast, do so with such grace and ease. A few of them would come right up to my mask as I did the breast stroke while using my flippered-legs as an engine.

I was gliding around in that garden just as smoothly as the fish. I was becoming one of them. I could hear my own breath in my snorkel. Sometimes I'd try to dive down deeper to the white, yellow and pink coral where hundreds of brightly painted fish swirled in circles around a tasty morsel in the coral, but my snorkel would fill up with water.

I popped up to the human world only to realize, with my head now up above the water, that I had no idea where I was. Where were the others?

"Hey, over here," I heard Yoon shout, waving his hands in the air.

I turned my body and pointed it  in the direction of where they were sitting on the volcano rocks and pushed off with my legs.

I didn't want to come up again. It was so warm and cozy under there. I could have stayed for hours. I would have stayed for hours but my arms and legs were getting tired.

Have you ever been snorkeling? Where did you go?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

365 Inspirations—328: Loving the Life You Have

Photo of the Road to Kalani on the Big Island
"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans."—John Lennon

The grass is always greener on the other side, isn't it? We are always looking over the neighbor's fence to see what's happening over there. I don't know what it is with us human beings.

I'm not saying I'm free from this thinking. I fall into this too, but there's something to be said for loving the life you have RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW and it's something I'm going to look at more closely.

Since returning from the Big Island, I've dreamt about living there. Not to say it won't happen, but I'm HERE now. I'm here in Seattle and the last four days have been absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Blue skies and not a day of rain or clouds. When it's beautiful in Seattle, it's absolutely GORGEOUS.

For the last four days, I've gone outside and walked. I've walked around Greenlake three times (since Wednesday) and I went on a loooong walk at Discovery Park on Saturday with my husband. We sat on the beach and did SUN meditation.

Sometimes, when I'm walking around Greenlake, I can't help but notice the infinite number of baby strollers. Moms and babies are everywhere. They are taking over the place. My husband Yoon loves to look at babies. Their freshness makes him smile. They make me smile too. When I look at little kids, I sometimes wonder why I didn't choose to have them.

I saw a cartoon the other day of a woman who had reached her late 40s. It said, "Oops, I forgot to have kids!" It made me laugh. I haven't forgotten to have children, I actually chose not to have them loooong ago. I love children, but I didn't feel the need to ever have my own.

Now that I'm in my mid-40s and that window is closing for me, I think of what I might have missed out on. Funny how I never thought about it in my 20s or 30s or even early 40s, but when the door of opportunity begins to close, I start thinking of what that might have looked like.

To tell you truthfully, I feel like a very OLD soul. I think I may have had children in countless lives. Perhaps, in a parallel universe, I'm the woman with the stroller somewhere.

Still, I'm so happy and grateful for my life the way it is. Sometimes I feel overwhelming gratitude that is so full it starts to bubble over—I can hardly contain all the blessings I feel I have right now in my life.

I've had the opportunity to travel with my husband doing what I love and sharing my gifts with others. We have started leading workshops and retreats all over the place. This year alone we've been to Las Vegas, Utah, The Big Island twice (once for a yoga retreat we led and once for the Hawaii Yoga Festival where I was a writer-in-residence), Peru for an international yoga retreat and Sedona for a yoga retreat. I met and spent time with so many wonderful people at these retreats and I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything in the world. They have expanded my horizons and made me want to expand and share more.

I'm currently putting together a new website about our yoga/writing retreats and will be leading another yoga/writing retreat in January at the Yoga Lodge on Whidbey Island called Setting Intentions:  An Intuitive Writing, Collaging and Yoga Retreat. (More soon about that!)

I teach ESL at a community college and I like my students and co-workers. My schedule is very flexible and gives me an opportunity to travel during the breaks between quarters for our retreats. My husband recently moved his business to our house and it gives him a bit more flexibility too.

We get to take walks together in the afternoon while people are working. We dream and scheme about our lives. We enjoy each others company and both LOVE sharing with others. Both of us are social and love being in settings where we have an opportunity to be in community. Being at Kalani on the Big Island at the Hawaii Yoga Festival was an idyllic experience for us both. It was a dream come true.

With all these blessings, I still find myself looking over the fence on occasion. Isn't that funny?

But recently, I've felt the need to really embrace these blessings in my life. I want to really make use of my life as a service to others. I want to write and continue to teach. I have a new book in the works. I have a lot on my plate that I want to share. I want to fully become who I am WHERE I AM!

I want to embrace my life as it is fully. I want to count every single blessing.

For most people, life is a series of choices. We choose to go this way or that way. Whatever door we decide to open—be it marriage, parenthood, a new career, life in a new place or state—another door or series of doors close. We can't DO and BE everything. We can try, but we might be painting ourselves very thin.

I love this life I have right now. I'm happy I can say it. Life may change and take new twists and turns, but that's part of the excitement. I don't want to look over the fence, I want to be here RIGHT NOW.

Right now I'm in my WRITING ROOM writing this blog post. It's my favorite place. It's surrounded by all of the things I love. It contains my vision board, inspirational quotes and books, memorabilia of places I've visited, scraps and notes on a new book I'm researching. It's the place where I get to be me. It's where I've written 328 inspirational posts this year!

Do you love the life you have or do you sometimes look over the fence or wish you had a different life?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

365 Inspirations—327: Swimming Up Stream and Dying

"Each thing is of like form from everlasting and comes round again in its cycle."—Marcus Aurelius

Today my husband and I headed to Piper's Creek at Seattle's Carkeek Park to see the salmon spawn. There were dead salmon carcasses all along the creek bed. Only the strong few had made it to the end of the creek.

The salmon were returning, some of them after being out in the ocean thousands of miles from the creek, to their natal grounds. Salmon always return to where they were born to spawn and then they die.

Can you imagine making a trip thousands of miles back to your birth place only to leave your eggs and then DIE?

Now I know we humans are not salmon, but what a selfless act. I couldn't help but stare at the salmon still struggling in the water with the last ounce of energy they had trying to leap up the stream. They were shaking and struggling to make it just a few more feet.

Staring at them in the silvery, frigid creek made my heart open. I was rooting for them from a little mossy footbridge. They were determined to leave their eggs and even protect them until there was nothing left of them.

This made me think of the cycle of life—of birth and death. It made me think of how natural it is in nature, but how far humans have come from seeing how natural it is.

We celebrate birth and mourn death. We can't see the two as part of this amazing cycle—this force of life that is in every animate thing.

I no longer saw the separation of my life from that of the salmon's life. It made me want to LIVE and love with full force, but without attachment. It made me want to rejoice and honor all of life that is pulsating and vibrating all around me. I'm also ONE who is pulsating and vibrating and I'm also part of all that I see, taste, touch, smell, breathe. I'm also here experiencing and living. I want to do that fully. I believe I am.

I don't own anything or anyone—but what I do here can make a difference, I believe.

And for all the salmon lying there lifeless along the riverbed, I felt gratitude. They instinctually returned to where they were spawned so that the cycle of life could continue.

I too will die and life will continue. What I do here may not seem that significant, but every little thing I do, especially if it is with good intentions, can change the course of things for the better.

Do you believe what you do can make a difference in the world in which you live?

Friday, November 22, 2013

365 Inspirations—326: Seeing the World from a Different Perspective

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”—John Lubbock

Have you ever looked at the world upside down? The other night I was lying on my back on the living room floor before a yoga class (my husband now teaches yoga classes in our living room) and I was looking at our geometrically shaped dining room light.

From a standing view the light looks like a light, but from a prone position, this light looked like luminous orb suspended in mid-air.

Walking around Greenlake, I started to look at everything in a different light and it changed my perspective completely.

I wonder how many people spend their days doing much of the same thing? I know I do.

 Do you drive the same way to work? Do you listen to the same radio station? Do you tend to eat the same things for lunch or dinner? Do you talk, call and text the same people? Do you ever step out of your 'box' and look at the world in a different light?

I've been getting up earlier and walking around Greenlake alone because my husband has yoga classes at our house in the mornings and the morning classes are currently full. I'm not normally up so early walking, but I've found it to be quite an invigorating start to my day.

Today I met a friend for lunch and then we went to a coffee in the same complex. It was nice catching up with her. Then, my husband came and met me at the coffee shop and we went to see the beautiful movie called 'About Time.'

It's the story of a family (well just the men in the family) who are able to travel back in time. They can only travel back to a time in which they have lived and they can't go back any further than the birth of someone in the family or the story will change.

The movie poses some very interesting questions. For example: If you could go back in time, what would you change?

In the end, the son tries to live each day and then live it again more slowly so that he can appreciate the moments one more time. After his father dies, he realizes that he doesn't need to go back in time to live each moment. He just needs to live each moment fully as it comes.

There are certain things he tries to go back and change, but later learns that some things happen for a reason and there are lessons to be learned from those things, even though they are unpleasant at the time or cause pain.

Lately I've been feeling a lot of gratitude for my life and the things I'm led to each day. I think that gratitude multiplies and makes room for even more gratitude to enter. Even on bad days, I try to find a kernel of good. Writing inspirations this year has helped me with that.

I'm paying attention to details, seeing life with a new perspective, and I'm grateful for every moment I have. I'm also learning to venture out of my comfort zone to experience things that are new and different. These things help me grow.

Have you recently spent any time looking at the world from a different perspective?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

365 Inspirations—325: Kona Kitchen Restaurant in Seattle Opened by Former Karate Kid II Actor

Mr. Myagi: "Trust the picture." 
Daniel: "How do I know if my picture is the right one?" 
Mr. Myagi: "If it comes from inside you, always right one."

We are creatures of habit, but it's so exciting to step out of our tiny box and enter another realm right in the neighborhood. Perhaps Hawaii is following us around. A few days ago, we flew from the Big Island and landed in the black hole known as Seattle, with sideways wind and pouring rain. I was NOT happy to be back to this and almost got on the next plane back to the land of aloha.

But Aloha decided to pay us a visit instead. I find it a little serendipitous to now have a few days of absolutely no clouds and SUN! Not only that, but we discovered the Kona Kitchen today, only minutes from Greenlake, where we walked this morning.

On a whim, I googled Hawaiian food on my phone and found that there was a restaurant very close to us.

"Let's go!" I said to  my husband.

I wanted to taste the island again. I wanted a little piece of it in my neighborhood.

And there it was. Kona Kitchen in all its glory and it's not a new restaurant at all.

This little place, which serves Kona beer (liquid Aloha, as they call it), musabi (spam sushi), Kalua pork and cabbage with rice and mac salad and many other Hawaiian favorites, has been in Seattle for over 13 years!

On the walls were lots of old Hawaiian memorabilia, a surf board, fake palm trees, old movie posters AND, get this:

The owner, Yuji Okumoto, was a star in Karate Kid II opposite Ralph Macchio. He played the no-mercy Chozen. He even has an action figure of himself still in the box. Originally from LA, Okumoto moved to Seattle because his wife is from this area and they decided to settle down here with their daughter. Okumoto has relatives in Hawaii and has always wanted to open a Hawaiian restaurant.

I found the place to be very Hawaiian and a bit kitschy. Its slight tackiness makes it cool and it's a really mellow place to hang out.

 They serve Kona coffee in various Hawaiian mugs that don't match. It would be great for a party as there is plenty of space and they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and have a full bar. They even do catering.

I had lilikoi juice, Yoon had a Kona beer and we both got the Kalua pork and cabbage plate.We also shared a spam musabi.

The food was great and the prices are very reasonable. We will be back!

Have you ever discovered a new place right in your neighborhood or city that you did not know existed?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

365 Inspirations—324: Hat and Glove Weather

"October extinguished itself in a rush of howling winds and driving rain and November arrived, cold as frozen iron, with hard frosts every morning and icy drafts that bit at exposed hands and faces."—J.K. Rowling 

The weather dipped down into the low 30s this afternoon. We had clear skies, so I'll take it. My husband has started up yoga classes in our living room, so I ventured out of the house this morning before his students arrived.

When I got to the car, it was frozen solid. I took out my ice scraper and turned on the defrost.

I don't mind cold weather at all and I love snow. I'll take both of these any day over rain, just as long as I don't have to drive in the snow.

I walked around Greenlake. Every other person I saw was wearing a down jacket, wool hat and gloves. The leaves were barely hanging on to the trees and most of them were in a pile on ground leaving bare branches outstretched and vulnerable.

It was a very loooong day and week, but tomorrow is my day off. I think I might go out to breakfast with my husband. Stay tuned.

Do you like hat and glove weather?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

365 Inspirations—323: Withering and Blooming

Plumeria Blooming in Kona, Hawaii

“From a withered tree, a flower blooms.”—Gautama Buddha

I slept in very late this morning. I don't think we got up until after 11:00AM and had brunch. I bought a papaya late last night on the way home from work.

The night before last we had flown all night long and then had to both teach for four hours in the evening—Yoon taught yoga and I taught ESL—and we never caught up on our sleep until this morning.

I tried to reproduce our breakfast from Kalani. We had papaya, apples, yogurt, scrambled eggs with tomatoes, cheese and spicy Italian sausage, gluten-free raisin cinnamon bread with peanut butter and jam, fresh juice and coffee.

While we ate, we listened to Hawaiian music.

Everything inside the house seemed vibrant and full of life. The plant in my office is practically taking over the room, all of our succulents are thriving and several of our Thanksgiving/Christmas cacti are starting to bloom. I feel like the enegy of the Hawaiian Islands is pulsating right inside my house. I'm sure we brought a piece of it with us. I sure feel like that.

From my office window, a huge Japanese maple, which is fiery orange with its remaining leaves, has now let many of them go. They have created a few colorful carpet over our grass in the backyard.



The cycle of life.

I feel like I'm ready to let go of the old and make way for a very new direction in my life. I've felt like this for a long time, but now I feel there is no going back. I WILL slowly shed my old skin. I will move fully into who I am and I will blossom.

Have you witnessed any withering or blooming in your life lately?

Monday, November 18, 2013

365 Inspirations—322: Being Open to Receive Blessings

Artwork by Francene Hart
"If you wish for light, be ready to receive light."—Rumi

After a red-eye flight to Los Angeles from Hawaii Island and then another flight from LA to Seattle in the early AM, the last thing I wanted to think about was four straight hours of teaching at the college.

Who, in their right mind, books a return trip from a far-away place on the same day that they have to go back to work.

When Kalani first asked me to come to the Big Island to be an Artist-in-Residence and to be a teacher for the Hawaii Yoga Festival, I had somehow decided in my head that it was impossible and just about told them "No, I can't do it. I have to teach."

I mentioned the opportunity to my husband and he said, "Why would you miss it? Get a sub for the few days that you'll be gone and go!" It never occurred to me that with the Veteran's Day holiday, I'd only miss two days of class. Not only that, but a good friend and fellow teacher kindly offered to take my classes.

So I went to the Big Island. I met dozens of people, I attended workshops and shared ideas, I taught intuitive writing, I swam in the ocean and climbed up a mountain, I listened to drumming on a cliff with the full moon above me. I was inspired and moved. I felt energized. I felt overwhelming gratitude.

But some tiny part of myself felt guilty for all that I was receiving. Afterall, I was in the middle of a quarter and I have over 50 students to attend to. My rational voice told me it was impossible, but my intuitive voice was screaming for me to get on a plane and just go.

Of course, I listened to my intuition and I don't regret it.

No one should ever feel guilty for blessings offered. If blessings are coming to you, if amazing opportunities are presenting themselves, if someone gives you a gift or you witness magic, accept it fully.

When I got to class this evening, more magic started to unfold. In fact, magic had happened while I was away. Another teacher managed to arrange a Face Time session for my small business class with the makers of Ice Chips. These women had appeared on the TV program Shark Tank and were face-timed in so that my students could ask questions. They had an amazing experience without me being there.

When I got to the classroom this evening, another guest speaker was there to talk to my students about her travel business. I later found out that we graduated from the very same high school and that she was friends with my sister. A student in my class had arranged for her to come do a talk.

And for the finale, the teacher who arranged for the Ice Chips guest speaker to do a Face-Time session, showed up in class with sample boxes of Ice Chips and bracelets for my students.

I just sat there in a chair watching this all unfold. Things did not crumble or fall apart in my absence, they thrived.

When you are open to receiving blessings, magic and even miracles in your life, I truly believe you will have more of them to spread around. Never block all that is coming to you. Receive it with open arms and share all that you are receiving with as many people as possible.

What goes around, truly comes around. Don't be afraid of this. Never feel guilty for it. There's a reason it is coming to you, be open to receive it.

Have you ever felt guilty for all the blessings in your life? Do you feel you deserve to have what you want and be who you want to be?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

365 Inspirations—321: Dolphins and Last Sunset on the Big Island

We drove across island today to Kona. We will take a flight off the island and head toward the mainland at 9:55 tonight. We are sitting along the ocean at the Hilton where we dropped a friend off.

We ventured down to the rocky, white corral beach to eat our packed lunch for dinner from Kalani.

The hotel grounds here are pretty amazing and there are dolphins all around us!

Right now they are chattering and jumping in the dark, but we can't see them clearly.

We are sad to leave, but happy to spend this last warm night on the Big Island and happy we could see dolphins and the sunset. We will be back!

Are you often sad to leave your vacation or eager to get back home?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

365 Inspirations—320: Seeing Green

Right before my second writing workshop this week at Kalani, I was up in my bungalow trying to gather some notes together for my presentation. How do you prepare for intuitive writing or a talk on intuitive writing?

I created a sort of skeleton of the presetation: a bullet point list, a few pages earmarked in Penny Peirce's book The Intuitive Way, a few pages of my own book earmarked for a reading, but the rest would have to unfold as it was meant to unfold.

So I stepped out of my 'planning' box and out into the nature that is all around me. I started to see green everywhere and it was vibrant, lush and alive. It was calling me outdoors, beckoning me to pay attention to it. So I did.

A tall coconut tree, some banana trees, and several fragrant, flowering bushes are all in our backyard at Kalani. In the distance, beyond all this green, I can see the ocean.

I stepped out on the patio to touch the smooth, glowing green surface of a plant and was surprised to find a little gecko camouflaged in the flesh of this plant. It had bulging blue eyes and beautiful red markings on its head. It came up out of the middle of the plant as if to greet me.

Next to this was a flowering bush and I bent down to smell its sweet nectar.

It's easy for me to get stuck in my head, but nature always brings me back.

Down at the EMax room, where I was to give my talk, a huge crowd had formed. It was a bit intimidating. Maybe some people wouldn't like what I had to offer or say.

But then I was reminded of the that little gecko on the green plant outside my room and thought that little guy offered up all he had. He showed his true colors and that's all we can really do.

Do you spend much time in nature? Do you find that being in nature brings you back to this moment?

Friday, November 15, 2013

365 Inspirations—319: From the Top of Mauna Kea to the Depths of the Ocean at Kihena Beach

Full moon on top of Mauna Kea
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
— Rachel Carson

There's a full moon above me. Out here in the middle of the ocean, this moon glows like nothing I've ever seen. We were supposed to go to a night concert out at a sanctuary tonight, but we got lost on the winding roads. The moon was glistening over the ocean casting crystals everywhere. I had to pull over so we could stand up on a cliff and feel the roar of the waves smashing against the rocks. I can hear that roar from the room where I type this.

I swam in that ocean today at Kihena Beach, otherwise known as Black Sand Beach.

 The beach is black from volcanic rocks. The power of the ocean nearby can be felt even at a distance, but close up it shakes you. The undertow is strong. I braved it twice on this trip. I got hit by one big wave and then swam out as soon as the wave receded. I floated around out beyond where the waves were cresting and breaking. I was safe out there, the problem was coming back in. I had to swim fast as soon as there was a lull in the ginormous waves that were crashing the shore. I found my opportunity and took it. A wave was coming in just as I was running up the beach.

My husband was hit by a wave and lost his glasses. He struggled up out of the wave and made it to the beach and realized they were gone. He came over to me on the black sand and said,

"That wave took my glasses. I can't see."

Later a woman at lunch said she was happy that the wave only took Yoon's glasses. Apparently the waves out at this beach have claimed a number of lives. I swam out there with dolphins in March while we were on yoga retreat here, but the waves seemed quite tame at that time.

Yoon is now wearing my red retro glasses. Luckily we have a very similar prescription and I wear my contacts most of the time. People have noticed that he looks different and then he has to tell the story of what happened.

Not only is the ocean powerful here, but so are the mountains and the volcano, which is still very active. Lava is still spewing out and over the ocean cliffs here.

Yesterday, we decided to drive almost to the top of Mauna Kea, the highest peak in all of the Hawaiian Islands. There was a point when we had to stop because it required four-wheel drive. Instead of driving up to the tip top, we hiked up a small mountain which gave us a 360 view of the sunset, the full moon rise and the clouds below us. We were above the cloud line and could here a clap of thunder in the clouds below us. It was raining and storming down at sea level, but we were up above the clouds at  13,000 plus feet.

Here are some pictures from that day:

Do you prefer the mountains or the ocean? Have you been to both in one day?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

365 Inspirations—318: Waking Up at Kalani

“How sweet the morning air is! See how that one little cloud floats like a pink feather from some gigantic flamingo. Now the red rim of the sun pushes itself over the London cloud-bank. It shines on a good many folk, but on none, I dare bet, who are on a stranger errand than you and I. How small we feel with our petty ambitions and strivings in the presence of the great elemental forces of Nature!”—Arthur Conan Doyle

I woke up early, not because I like waking up early, but because the entire bedroom was cast in a fiery glow. It seemed like the land outside must be burning. Maybe Pele, volcano goddess, was paying a visit.

In a half-asleep dream-like state, I wandered outside in my nightgown and slippers to the edge of the grass and looked out at the ocean. It was the SKY that was on fire—a brilliant sunset. How could one sleep with this glow?

Birds were chirping and fluttering about, the smell of sweet tropical plants filled the air. As if this place wasn't alive enough, now things were really getting started.

We are way out here on Ocean Vista point. A bit of a hike to the dining hall, but we decided to hike it this morning.

We walked slowly on the dirt path that was wet from an early morning rain. The air was humid and the combination of wet and the rising sun caused a fragrant, tropical steam to rise from the ground.

Palm trees rustled in the breeze, greeting us as we walked along.

On the way up toward Guest Services, an island cat came running down the street toward us meowing. He rubbed his body up against our legs as if to say, "Good Morning, so nice of you to come this way!"

We passed the pool, the reclining Buddha statue in the bamboo and a statue of a feminine-looking Buddha who may well have been Pele, with many offerings of shells and crystals.

 Finally we reached the dining hall.

A tiny woman blew into an enormous conch shell signaling the start of breakfast. The sound can be heard all the way to Ocean Vista.

Breakfast was fresh Kona Coffee, fresh squeezed juice, egg frittata, french toast, oatmeal with homemade granola and an abundance of fruit—papaya, pineapple, berries, mango, watermelon, grapes and some other tropical fruit that I couldn't identify. I topped my fruit with fresh whole yogurt.

After breakfast, I walked slowly back to the room feeling full of all the abundance and beauty of this morning. I could get used to waking up here....

Have you ever woken up to amazing beauty? Where were you?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

365 Inspirations—317: Teaching Intuitive Writing at Kalani

Teaching Intuitive Writing at Kalani on The Big Island
"The intellect has little to do with the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you, and you don't know how or why."—Albert Einstein

I'm the Artist-in-Residence for the Hawaii Yoga Festival at Kalani on the Big Island. Yesterday I taught my first class called First Thoughts: Intuitive Writing for Greater Clarity and Purpose.

There was a pretty good turn out to my class. I started out by telling my story of how I met Yoon, how I started sharing my writing through blogging and how I published my book Lessons from the Monk I Married.

I am a firm believer in not only writing intuitively, but living intuitively.

The best things in my life came on their own. I didn't have to force anything. When I let go, I'm often led to what I need in my life, but that is still scary for me.

The funny thing is, I'm not sure why it is scary. Experience has taught me that it works. That all good things—my husband, my book, being here at Kalani—all flowed into my life at just the right time.

Of course, I did do the ground work. I was seeking something. I was curious and searching, but I found that I had to let go of the hows. I had to truly trust and believe in myself completely.

There are still areas of my life that don't feel quite right. I am still holding on to that little bit of my past and the false sense of security that it brings, which keeps me from living fully how I'd like to. I'll get there. Too many amazing things have happened to me and now I'm beyond doubt. I know I will follow my heart completely.

In my writing class, I gave the students a one-word prompt. I told them to keep moving their hands across the page. I told them not to stop and not to think. Once the thinking mind comes in there is a tendency to edit. The inner critic comes in and starts giving reasons why we should stop writing, why we are no good, why we should just stop before we even begin.

Keeping the hand moving across the page keeps the intuition engaged and leaves the left-brain thinking on the side. Often times, people have no idea what they have written until they read back over  their journals days later. This is usually when people find answers, nuggets of wisdom, words they were looking for, direction, ideas, purpose and light.

Intuitive writing is playful. You can write with your left hand or your right. You can write in symbols, doodle, repeat words, write fragments, run-on sentences, forget about punctuation. Intuitive writing is very FREE and in it contains a power that comes from oneself, but is also beyond the small selves that we are.

I shared with the students a book that really helped me with my writing and life called The Intuitive Way by Penny Peirce. Penny has appeared on my blog before and wrote a lesson as part of my 31 Writers, 31 Lessons series. I shared writing prompts from her book and asked the attendees to pick a prompt and write intuitively for five minutes each day. We will have a follow-up class on Saturday.

Here's what Penney Peirce has to say about first thoughts and intuitive writing:

"Natalie Goldberg, who teaches writing as a spiritual practice, advocates writing from 'first thoughts' as opposed to second and third thoughts, which the inner censor has rehashed many times. She says, "First thoughts have tremendous energy. It is the way the mind first flashes on something....First thoughts are also unencumbered by ego...(and) if you express something egoless, it is also full of energy because it is expressing the truth of the way things are."

I was excited to see how engaged everyone was with the first one-word prompt which was 'nature'. The second prompt I gave was 'love'. There are many other prompts one can use.

Signing books at Kalani!
I plan to teach this class again at a yoga/writing/collaging retreat along with my husband at The Yoga Lodge on Whidbey Island January 23-26. The class is called Setting Intentions and we will be setting powerful intentions for the new year.

Have you ever written intuitively? Do you feel you live your life intuitively?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

365 Inspirations—316: The Sun and the Moon on the Big Island

Sunrise this morning from our ocean vista room
The sun and moon are rulers of our planet—they give life, regulate life and without them we would not be here. I feel a lot of gratitude for their presence here. I believe in my sun sign (scorpio) and moon sign (gemini). I am interested in opposites—darkness/light, sun/moon, chaos/clarity. I believe there is beauty in all of these things.

Here on the Big Island of Hawaii, the nature is so intense. It's pulsating and vibrating every moment. Out here in the middle of nowhere, we become all that is here. There's something very primordial about being here.

We drove along the coast and took photos of the dramatic sunset. We are not on the sunset side of the island, but we can still get the sunset colors.

Last night, it was a completely clear night with millions of stars. The moon illuminated the path Yoon and I were walking on. The silhouette of the palm trees gently rustling in the breeze as we walked on this path of light felt a bit surreal.

We are out at the very end of the point staying in the ocean vista accommodations at Kalani, high up in the hills with a view of the ocean. It's a bit of hike to the main facilities. Sometimes we drive it if the weather is stormy, but last night we felt like walking. We planned to go for a moonlight swim in the pool, a soak in the jacuzzi and a rest in the sauna.

Walking home again in the moonlight, with my body tingling and fresh from the night dipping, I felt so much gratitude and awe. How did I get here? How am I here in this place with such wonderful people and so much love?

It's hard to sleep on this island. This place is so alive. To connect ourselves more with nature, there is no glass, only screens on the windows. We feel every breeze, we are part of the rain, the Coqui frogs sing and keep the rhythm with the beat of our hearts. We are also alive in every sense of the word.

I arose for the sunset (something I rarely do). The rosy pink in the sky illuminated the ocean with the very same color.

I headed off on my own to Prosperity Yoga in the main yoga building. I decided to drive, since I was running late. On the way, I saw the teacher walking along the path. She was going to be late to her own class, but she seemed to be in a state of awe and wonder without a care in the world. She was listening to some lovely music when I picked her up.

"This is Kathy Zavada I'm listening to. I went to a retreat of hers on Mt. Shasta. It's lovely, isn't it?"

I felt synchronicity making its rounds again. Mt. Shasta is on my list for high energy places to visit. It's part of my book research for my next book.

I enjoyed the class immensely and gained so much from it.

Today, at 1pm, I teach 'First Thoughts: Intuitive Writing for Greater Clarity and Purpose.'

I'm excited to see how it all unfolds.

Have you connected recently to the sun or moon? What do you remember about your experiences?

Monday, November 11, 2013

365 Inspirations—315: Being Welcomed into Ohana (Extended Family) at Kalani

Today, after a vigorous Ashtanga Yoga class at 6:30AM and after a night of hurricane rains, Manuela from Brazil came and found me at breakfast and said, "You and Yoon should come to our volunteer meeting.We welcome you."

I was already feeling quite welcomed and people have really extended themselves to us, but the community (Ohana) meeting today really gave us a feel for what Kalani is all about.

There something special about this place. I know it's probably been said at a million places, but Kalani really has something here.

They don't tell you to do anything. There's no dogma or practice or rites or rituals or religion you must follow. There's a buffet of classes offered at the Hawaii Yoga Festival and at Kalani and it's up to you to pick and choose what appeals to you. There are ukelele classes, hula, yoga, meditation, space for being with yourself and enjoying the amazing natural beauty here, there's space for writing, for meditating and for just being. You can come work as a volunteer and cook, clean, do maintenance or garden.

What I love most about Kalani is the way they celebrate each person talents and uniqueness. They believe everyone has gifts to offer and they support each other in offering those gifts. Some people can cook, some people are good at gardening, others here are artists or writers in residence. It's beautiful how everyone is supported in this lovely setting to be who they are. You really can feel a lot of love and aloha here. There's a lot of spiritual growth happening, but that growth and the way it unfolds depends on each individual.

So today Manuela welcomed Yoon and me to the community and mentioned that I was the Artist-in-Residence for the Hawaii Yoga Festival. She placed a lei around my neck and everyone smiled and clapped and we really felt happy to be part of this place.

Yoon and I gave announcements about our upcoming classes and encouraged people to join.

Tonight Yoon gives a talk called Overcome Fear and Follow Your Heart. I'll be there as the designated photographer.

More soon from the land of Aloha.

Have you ever joined a retreat or community where you felt a lot of love from the group? Where was it? Did it encourage you to spread that around?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

365 Inspirations—314: Being an Artist-in-Residence at Kalani on The Big Island

Yoon and I selling books at the Hawaii Yoga Festival
I'm the Artist-in-Residence at Kalani on the Big Island. I'm here for the Hawaii Yoga Festival with Yoon. I'm writing and teaching a two-part class called First Thoughts: Intuitive Writing for Greater Clarity and Purpose. Yoon is giving a lecture tomorrow night called Overcome Fear and Follow Your Heart and he'll be teaching his Yoon's Vinyasa Yoga class.

They gave us a sabbatical room in the Ocean Vista complex. It is amazing. We can see the sunrise right from our front patio.

There is no glass on any of the windows, just screens. The Coqui frogs perform a symphony all night long. It's like we are living out in the jungle. The community here is amazing and this place is HUGE. It's the largest yoga retreat facility on all of the Hawaiian Islands and Kalani is hosting the Hawaii Yoga Festival.

The food is out of this world and as teachers here, our meals are included in our stay. There is a vegetarian option, but there's also meat available. Last night, we had a big salad, pork roast, mashed potatoes, root veggies, soup and some sort of amazing butterscotch crisp. This morning we had eggs, passion fruit juice, papaya, pineapple, berries, Kona coffee—the works! We sat out in an open-aired dining hall. It's very lively and you can really feel a community vibe. People have a true sense of Aloha here and have welcomed us with open arms!

Today we sold books at Green Lake for the opening of the Hawaii Yoga Festival at the Kalani tent there.

Now Yoon is swimming in the pool and I'm writing this post from the dining area. Last night, after dinner, we swam in the pool by the light of the moon! More soon from the land of Aloha.

Have you ever taken a sabbatical? Where did you go?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

365 Inspirations—313: Waking Up in Paradise

"Love is a portion of the soul itself, and it is of the same nature as the celestial breathing of the atmosphere of paradise."—Victor Hugo

We arrived at 7pm last night and the sun had already set on the Kona Coast, but it was so nice to wake up in paradise! The man at the front desk upgraded us to a full ocean view room at the King Kamehameha Marriott. The photo here is the view we woke up to.

We meandered downstairs and had a lovely buffet breakfast out on the veranda and then a quick dip in the pool and jacuzzi.

 We head to Hilo today. We are going to Kalani for the Hawaii Yoga Festival. Both Yoon and I are featured presenters along with thirty other people at this event! We'll be over on the tourist-free side.

Right now we are going to enjoy our last few hours in Kona before we drive across island. More soon from the land of Aloha.

Have you ever flown to a place and woke up in pristine beauty? Where was it?

Friday, November 8, 2013

365 Inspirations—312: Kona, Hawaii

We made it to Kona. It was a long day of travel, but we were so happy to step off the plane into the nice warm sauna that it is outside. We got our rental car and headed to the King Kamehameha Marriott on the beach where we will stay for one night before heading to the Hawaii Yoga Festival on the Hilo side of the island.

After checking in, we decided to get a bite to eat and a drink at the poolside bar and grill. I instantly felt my entire body relax. I'm in Hawaii finally. The pace is different and I can't wait to see what is in store for us this time.

More soon from the land of Aloha!

Have you ever been to the Hawaiian Islands? What was your favorite memory of your visit?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

365 Inspirations—311: Peru Exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum

Peru exhibit at The Seattle Art Museum
"Going to Peru is, well, if you ever have an opportunity in your life to go there, you should do it because it is absolutely mind boggling."—Dean Stockwell

The first Thursday of every month is usually free at the Seattle Art Museum, so we went. We had to pay a little extra for the amazing Peru exhibit. There were three different groups of friends who wanted to see this exhibit with me, but I decided to go with my husband, Yoon today.

The reason being that this exhibit has special significance for the both of us because we just returned from Peru in September. My experiences there are being documented in a new book I'm writing. 

We both picked up audio equipment at the entrance of the exhibit so that we could hear the descriptions and historical background of each piece.

I was particularly interested in the Pre-Incan artifacts. Peruvians, particularly those of the ancient civilizations, have a strong connection to the earth, sun, moon, stars, etc. Cosmology was a big part of their lives. The early Peruvians did not see death as something that should be mourned. Opposites like light/dark, sun/moon, earth/sky, life/death were seen as interconnected. Without one there could not be the other. The full cycle of life and afterlife were celebrated.

I was surprised to discover that long ago early Peruvians drank Chicha (alcohol made from corn). This was said to aid in fertility. After some of the Chicha was consumed, it was given back to the earth or thrown down as an offering to Mother Earth, known by many Peruvians as Pachamama.

While in Peru, I had the opportunity to participate in a ceremony with a shaman high up in the mountains at a Pre-Incan ruin. The shaman burned herbs and chanted. We made offerings of rice, dried fish, beans, and chicha. I was happy to discover that these rituals have been around for thousands of years.

While I was fascinated by the exhibit and the history of the ancient cultures of Peru, there's nothing like visiting Peru itself. I feel it is one place you must experience. When you go to Machu Picchu, you can feel the past, present and future all at once. It is truly a remarkable place.

Have you ever been to an art exhibit that held particular meaning for you?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

365 Inspirations—310: Tension Tamers

"There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."—Sylvia Plath

They were having a sale on Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer tea at my local supermarket. $2.99 for a box. I noticed right away that nearly the entire shelf had been emptied. I guess people are feeling a little tension this time of year. There were a few boxes left, so I bought one.

 We are getting into the thick of November and lots of holidays are approaching. The weather is changing, people at school were hacking and coughing from one bug or another. I tried to stand clear, but it's hard to escape what is all around you.

The teacher's office where I often do work felt like a pressure cooker.

I got home from work at 10pm. I felt like my head was being squeezed. I immediately made a pot of Tension Tamer tea and drew a hot bath in which I poured Kiss My Face Anti-Stress Relaxing Bath and Shower Gel with Woodland Pine and Ginseng.

Calgon, take me away!

I needed all the 'tamers' I could get today.

I stepped into the hot bubbles with a steaming cup of tea and instantly felt my body relax. My headache is gone and I feel refreshed. I felt like I was catching something, so I also drank a big glass of Emergen-C. I always take it when I feel like a cold is coming on.

Now I'm in my office all cozy in flannel pajamas and slippers. Time to get a good book and head off into dreamland.

What do you do when you feel the pressures of the season or a cold coming on?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

365 Inspirations—309: Messages

"I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean."—Socrates

There was a pressure weighing down today—not only on me, but on many around me. A co-worker thought it might be atmospheric pressure. It could be a change in weather. All I know is that it was a little too much, but I made it through the day.

Now I feel like I'm coming out of a very tight space. I feel like I was squished into a small bottle and someone just popped the cork.

I'm flowing out now. The pressure is gone.

I often wonder if those moments of pressure or stress are necessary for expansion—a bit like growing pains. 

During this period of tension, I received two e-mails that opened my world a bit. I've been seeking answers and connection and maybe I've found them.

One message was an opportunity to lead a retreat in the new year and the other was from someone I've recently connected to via my blog. We are now communicating by email and I feel a connection to this person in a way I can't entirely explain. She appeared at just the right time and I find her words and comments to me to be spot on. They are exactly what I need to hear.

These two e-mails came just in time. I think that's how life is. Things come just when we are about to give up. I am now pondering new directions and new connections. I'm ready to break out of my patterns and small world. I am ready to look at things from a very different angle and direction. I'm not afraid and I know that life will lead me. I feel it.

Do you ever get signs or messages at the very moment when you think you might give up?