Monthly Archives: December 2012

Trimming the Tree

Last year we didn’t have a Christmas tree.  I was really busy, time got away, and I just didn’t feel the spirit.  It was OK, I told myself. 

But honestly, I missed it.  I missed having the bright lights during this darkest season.  And I knew there was a part of myself I was ignoring. The truth is, that like most holidays once you’ve reached a certain age, Christmas is bittersweet. Lots of fond memories, and some sad ones, too.

So this year, Peter put the lights on, and I starting unwrapping the ornaments.  There are no round bulbs on my tree.  Over the years I have collected an odd assortment of ornaments on various themes.  Most of them have a memory attached.

The oldest are some eggs covered in felt and glitter with a vignette inside.  These are from my teenage years, and are what I have left from my family trees.  Then there are the Hindu deities: Ganesh, Sarasvati, Krishna, and some other unidentified God, that I brought back from one of my trips to India.  I have a rather battered portrait of Jesus I got at some yoga party, which I absolutely love, and always figures prominently on the tree.

Then there are those silly personalized ones my mom got at one of those kiosks at the mall in 2004 (I know that because they say so).  The one with my name has a bear sitting in lotus, dressed in leotard, with a water bottle and boom box (?). Weird.  Peter’s has a boy holding a bass guitar. There is an odd assortment of others I inherited from my mom and ones we bought together: enamelware from a factory tour we took in China and the gold spray painted rigatoni being holding a violin we got at a craft show. There’s the tabby cat I bought the year our Franz cat died. Then there’s an assortment that various friends have given me over the years.

It’s a kitschy blend, and I love it.

These ornaments bring to life the many memories of Christmas past, of people and pets that are long gone, which evokes a sweet ache in my heart.  At first it feels just plain sad. So many I have lost, so much time already gone. This feeling could overwhelm me and spin into melancholy, but instead I hold it in my heart and follow the feeling inside to its root…. I find love.  Love, and a happiness in having the memories of these holidays past, even the challenging ones. Remembering the love I shared with those that have passed makes me committed to making time to being with my family, which is not only those I’m connected to at birth, but those with whom I walk the path. 

In these darkest days, may we connect to the light and the love, and each other.


I hate to answer “why” questions. Because.  Because the answer seems either trite, deceptively simple, or exceedingly complex. And articulating the nuance and complexity is hard. Yet I find that in the process of answering such a question, I come back to the fundamental truths I tend to forget, again and again.

I have been struggling for some time with writing. I am yearning to make it part of my life, but I struggle so much with finding the time, doing it, and following through.  Sound familiar? Perhaps there is something in your life for which you have a yearning, but have a hard time manifesting. Sometimes it is important to ask why you want to do it. Remember why it is important.

So at the top of the page I write: Why do I write? The  answer sounds trite and simple: I write for myself and I write for others.  Did I mention that I hate these kind of questions?  For ultimately the question is: why does anyone do anything? As I allow the words to flow through me on to the page, I come to a place of deeper remembrance.

Writing helps me.  It helps me clarify my thoughts. In the process of articulation and its refinement, I deepen my understanding. This is true of many topics that I write about, but it is particularly true of yoga. I have some teaching I want to share, and in the process of taking that idea from its initial pulsation in my awareness  to  concrete words and sentences, something happens that brings it home to me in a way that nothing else does.

I write for the same reason I teach yoga:  because I want to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. I write with the hope that something in the writing touches someone in a way that will move them forward, help them see more clearly, articulate a nuance or open a crack for the light to come through.

I write as well for the practice and process of it.  It reminds me that when I can connect to some deeper place in myself,  I can let the writing flow, allow myself to be a conduit for the teachings. When I do this, I am sometimes surprised at what flows through me, which allows me to remember that it is not only me creating the writing, I am a vehicle for the great wisdom teachings. As such, it might be me who helps someone else make a connection to themselves, a shift in their lives that might not otherwise happen if I don’t write.  All of this motivates me to be an as clear a  conduit as possible by continuing my yoga and writing practices.

What I write about writing can be said for many activities. Why do we do ANYthing?  Everything can be done in service, as an offering, as an expression of a larger creative energy, which is why it is important to remind ourselves why…why?  Why write?  Why practice yoga?  Why study philosophy?  WHY? Why am I here?  Why am I here, if not to create more connection, more love, more light, more beauty, more sweetness, to connect more fully to myself and to others, to the world.  And that is why I write.

Is there something in your life you are yearning  to manifest but not yet able to?  It could be in any aspect of your life: health, exercise, nutrition, practices, hobbies, vocation, etc.  Find a quiet time when you have 20-30 minutes. Have your journal at hand and ask yourself: why do I want to _________?  Sit with the question in your awareness for 5-10 minutes, then write about it. Allow yourself to write without planning it out or judging. Simply let whatever wants to flow onto the page do so.