Blog-Publications

Welcoming a Mindful New Year: How to Bring Meditation into Your Family’s Routine.

It’s a new year according to the construct of our human-made 12-month calendar. However, it is not just a new wall or desk calendar. “A new year starts when Earth has made one orbit around the Sun. This takes roughly 365 days, so every new year on the last day of December, we are at the same location around the Sun as last year.” (Astronomicca.com) 

As we get ready to start a new year, many people will resolve to make changes in their life. Most New Year’s resolutions start with honest determination and end within a few weeks or months with lassitude. In this month’s column, I’d like to explain how to bring mindfulness and meditation into your family’s daily routine and make it stick. It isn’t difficult and like any change, it takes willingness, vulnerability, and practice. Meditation is called a “practice” for good reason: it takes repetition, just like an exercise routine, to make it part of our schedule. So how can a family bring mindfulness meditation into an already-busy schedule? It’s as simple as one breath, one present moment at a time, and practice.

The reasons for bringing mindfulness meditation (also called vipassana meditation) into your family’s life are well researched and proven. 

  • Families learn how present-moment mindfulness awareness can bring relaxation and social-emotional wellbeing into their home.
  • Children learn that they aren’t judged by their thoughts, sensations, and feelings.
  • Mindfulness is a way to feel good about yourself, just as we are in this moment, and it settles the nervous system in the process.
  • Parents model what it looks like to be confident yet relaxed; to be happy and at ease, while accepting that life is never perfect.
  • Families build strong bonds through a shared activity; the time spent together is an investment in compassionate relationship-building.

Five ways to bring mindfulness into your family’s daily routine:

  • When the family is gathered at the dinner table, mindfulness can be incorporated in the first few minutes before eating. Whether you say a prayer or express gratitude for the food being shared, mindfulness can be as simple as a couple of minutes of noticing the body, the food, the colors, and acknowledging all that came together for the food to be available at this moment. In my family, we say a prayer and when it’s my turn, I start by having everyone feel their feet on the floor, head reaching the sky, sitting area on the chair, and what is felt at the heart center. Then, we thank all life forms for the food on the table and all those who had a part in bringing the meal to the table.
  • When the family is driving to and from school or another activity, we can notice sounds, sights, feelings internally and externally in our environment. Electronic devices are put down for a short period of present-moment mindfulness. 
  • When picking up children from school, parents generally ask, “How was school today?” Often, the answer is a basic, “Fine”. We can encourage more discussion by asking the question, “What is something that happened today that felt good, brought joy, made you laugh?” Then, we can ask, “How did that feel in your body?” It may be harder for younger children to tap into this and they will learn how with practice.
  • During an active time of the day, we can do some mindful movement. Dancing, yoga, walking, and just jumping around can be an opportunity for mindfulness. Encouraging children to notice what their body is doing, how it feels in the different limbs to move, what sounds are generated by the activity, and if this is happening outside, noticing nature is a great mindful activity.
  • Before settling in for the night, the parent can lead a body scan to bring mindful relaxation to the bedtime routine. Bringing attention to each part of the body, starting from the feet or the head is very relaxing. Imagining a butterfly landing on each part of the body can add visualization to the body scan.

I suggest experimenting with one of these for one week at a time and then discussing with your children which ones they enjoy. Then, rotate between these mindfulness activities from time to time to keep the experience fresh. Children (and parents) like having a predictable routine and yet can get bored with the same thing after a while. Although meditation is about practice, our minds need variety, too.

published January 13, 2022 in The Taos News

Wintering

I was on a bike ride today, listening to an On Being podcast, KATHERINE MAY – HOW ‘WINTERING’ REPLENISHES, referring to her recent book entitled, “The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times” (Link below), and I felt inspired to share my thoughts on the idea of “wintering”.

First, a summary of the interview: “In so many stories and fables that shape us, cold and snow, the closing in of the light — these have deep psychological as much as physical reality. This is ‘wintering,’ as the English writer Katherine May illuminates in her beautiful, meditative book of that title — at once a season of the natural world, a respite our bodies require, and a state of mind.”

My thoughts to share: I have a hard time letting go of the green seasons (Spring and Summer). Although I appreciate the beauty of Autumn and cherish the spectacular changing of the season with the bright and sunny leaves, and “Indian summer” warmth that signals the transformation, I grieve. It takes me several weeks to settle into the change as I experience the hibernation of plants, the drying of flowers, and the shedding of leaves. By mid-November, when the brown season has settled in, I’m better, looking forward to snow and wearing cozy sweaters. Still, in my heart, I acknowledge a deep love of the green seasons.

The podcast interview with Katherine May helped me understand going inward, being contemplative, and slowing down during the wintering time of year. And right now in December, we are in a “quiet season” when we let Mother Earth rest. So I’ll rest with her until the Winter Solstice signals a promise of light returning. The days will get one minute longer each day as we cross the bridge of mid-winter. It will still be cold, brown, quiet, and introspective for a few months, and my heart will be sensing that the green seasons are not too far away.

Our life is one of cycles (seasons, rituals, celebrations), writes Katherine May, and we can allow ourselves to be part of the cycles without judgment. Staying present in each moment with equanimity is how we find solace and stability in the cycles of the seasons. In the words of the interview, “the framing of Wintering, of the understanding of the seasonal, cyclical, of the rhythmic nature of these things, gives you a frame actually to live with it.”

What are your thoughts on the change of seasons? Please share.

Katherine May — How ‘Wintering’ Replenishes | The On Being Project

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Small hearts can hold lots of gratitude

Mindful eating practice for families

Gratitude is the theme for November with Thanksgiving and Chanukah holidays coming up. Practicing gratitude is an extremely important skill because it brings joy and appreciation to our life through the power of the heart. It’s mental health and a daily attitude that helps us connect with that which brings us joy. Mindful eating is a perfect mindfulness activity for the month of November and one that can be practiced any time that food is available.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” 

– A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Appreciation through kindness

Gratitude is defined as “readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness” (Webster online dictionary). What’s important in this definition is the willingness to appreciate and to incorporate kindness. We may be appreciative of what we have, what we don’t have, how we feel, or how we are experiencing life and we relate to this with kindness. Being grateful helps us alleviate suffering by bringing our awareness to the positive instead of the negative. It is also a way to practice open-hearted kindness towards others and ourselves.

Daily gratitude practices can be a way to focus on the positive

During this global pandemic, mental health has been affected by stress, worry, and a general malaise that we are all experiencing. As a long-time meditation practitioner and teacher, gratitude practice is a staple in my daily routine. I keep a gratitude journal in which I write what I’m grateful for either at the start or end of the day. I find that practicing gratitude brings present-moment awareness and a way to wind down the mind.

Parenting is challenging so gratitude is a family activity that reaps benefits for everyone.

As a parent to a teenager, I try to model being grateful to remind my family of the benefits of this practice. We often ask each other what we are grateful for at the dinner table or before retiring for the night. We say a gratitude prayer before we eat, thanking all that had a part in the meal. My daughter and husband are getting better at training the mind to focus more on the positive aspects of the day. My family has learned about the power of attraction and when we think positive thoughts, we attract more gratitude and positivity and feelings of well-being. It doesn’t take a lot of time to practice this and can be as simple as pausing, taking three long deep breaths, reflecting on the present moment, and then choosing something or someone for which to be grateful. The practice does take repetition to become routine and it is well worth the effort.  That’s why it is called “a practice.”

Some aspects of life for which we can be grateful:

  • A place to live
  • Work that sustains
  • Food that nourishes the body
  • Feelings that bring awareness to the self
  • Pets who bring unconditional love
  • Family with whom we can communicate 
  • A mind that can choose what to think about
  • A heart that can be open to compassion and empathy
  • A body that is healthy and able to move freely
  • Open spaces in which to exercise
  • Talents we can share with others
  • The present moment in which reality is positive

This gratitude practice is inspired by Thank the Farmer from Mindful Games by Susan Kaiser Greenland and is a mindful eating practice that is perfect for the holiday season. 

Choose a person to “lead” the meditation practice. This person will read the instructions as well as participate. This is a slow practice so make sure to take your time.

  1. Start by picking one item of food. A raisin is commonly used. I have also used popcorn or a piece of cookie. It must be small as this is not a meal or even a snack. It is a mindfulness practice and using our 5 senses, we will explore the story of this food.
  2. With the food in your fingers, notice what it feels like. Smooth, rough, squishy, hard, etc.
  3. With your eyes, notice what it looks like. A cloud, a shape, a bumpy glob, etc.
  4. With your nose, notice what it smells like. Sweet, strong, weird, etc.
  5. With your ears and fingers, notice what it sounds like. Crackles, squeaky, etc.
  6. With your mind, consider where this food grew. A farm, a forest, a garden, etc.
  7. Consider who picked this food? A person, a machine, a family, etc.
  8. Ask yourself how it gets to the store? A truck, a car, a person brings it, etc.
  9. How did it get from the store to your home? Your parent, friend, sibling, etc.
  10. Now, we take a moment to feel gratitude for having this food to eat. Say, “thank you” to everyone who had a part in growing and bringing the food to your home. The farmer, the picker, the truck driver, etc.
  11. Now we put the food on our tongue and notice what it tastes like, before actually eating it. Don’t chew yet! Just let it sit there momentarily.
  12. Finally, we get to chew it… what does it taste like now, after all that mindful awareness? 
  13. Have you thought about your food this way before? Do you think it tastes differently now?

Thanks for trying out this practice. I’d love to hear what your family experienced. Email me at mindfulfrontiers@gmail.com.

Anne-Marie Emanuelli is the founder and Creative Director of Mindful Frontiers LLC, an education-based mindfulness meditation center in northern New Mexico offering classes, workshops, and coaching to children, families, and individuals of all ages and meditation experience. Anne-Marie’s credentials are from Mindful Schools and Sage Institute for Creativity and Consciousness as well as an 8-week MBSR course. She is a retired NM level 3 licensed classroom teacher and has taught mindfulness to students since 2016.

For more information on Mindful Frontiers and meditation, see our website at MindfulFrontiers.net.

Moods Change Like the Weather: A gratitude practice for families

(A similar version was published in The Taos News, October 14, 2021)

The human brain seems to have a natural tendency to remember negative experiences more than positive interactions. Psychologists refer to this as negativity bias. “Our brains are wired to scout for the bad stuff and fixate on the threat”, says Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a psychologist, Senior Fellow of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.

Our brain is by function and development a very “old” organ. The part of our brain that is the least developed is the amygdala and is responsible for the fight, flight, freeze reaction to emotional experiences. This inner brain was very important when we were hunter-gatherers because we needed to be ever vigilant of threats to our survival. 

Gratitude is a powerful meditation tool for dealing with our changing moods which I describe as our internal weather patterns.

— Anne-Marie Emanuelli

As humans have evolved, this part of the brain has remained essentially undeveloped. On the other hand, the largest part of the brain, the cerebral cortex, has evolved and continues to develop. This frontal area is responsible for many higher-order functions such as perception, sensation, memory, and interpretation. Meditation and mindfulness stimulate this area of the brain as well as the parasympathetic nervous system that originates in the brainstem and is responsible for relaxation. 

Gratitude is a powerful meditation tool for dealing with our changing moods which I describe as our internal weather patterns. When teaching young children about emotions, I encourage describing them as weather such as stormy, cloudy, rainy, and sunny. Young children understand how the weather feels much easier than describing their emotional state. They know “mad, glad & sad” and it’s more challenging for them to describe how they are feeling with more subtle and specific emotional words. Each child perceives their mood differently so “cloudy” for one child may mean feeling introspective while for another could mean lonely. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that by labeling emotions we move the experience out of the amygdala to the frontal cortex which makes it possible for us to bring mindfulness to the emotion. When we practice gratitude we feel kindness and appreciation for our life experiences. Mindfulness can help us notice thoughts and sensations in the present moment.

The more one welcomes gratitude, the more comfortable one can be with feeling emotions. With practice, the change of moods will settle as the heart fills with kindness. The following practice is intended to help children notice moods & emotions, to bring gratitude and awareness to them, and feel a lifting of internal weather patterns.

Family Meditation Practice: This practice uses gratitude and mindfulness to notice and allow emotions to transform.

First, find a comfortable place to sit together as a family. A circle is a nice configuration that generates unity and attention. Choose a person to “lead” the meditation practice. This person will read the instructions as well as participate.
1. Once everyone is comfortable and still, start with some quiet breathing. Can you feel the rhythm of your breath as it flows in and out of the body?
2. While being aware of your breath, bring attention to your heart center. If you’d like, you can put your hands on your heart. Then, notice how you are feeling inside your body.
3. Each person takes a turn sharing how they are feeling today. What kind of weather describes how that feels? Cloudy, sunny, rainy, stormy, windy, etc. Try to visualize the weather swishing through your body. Everyone gets to share what they are feeling and what kind of weather it is.
4. Now everyone gets quiet again and notices their breathing. After a few calming breaths, imagine/visualize something in your heart like a person, a flower, a stuffed animal, or a special place that brings you joy. Continue breathing in and out while you silently feel gratitude for what you have in your heart.  You can say, “I love you” to that image.
5. Continue visualizing the gratitude image while also noticing the weather going around your body.  The weather is swishing around with the gratitude image in the center of the heart.As we continue feeling the “weather pattern” and visualizing the gratitude image, notice how they merge together into something else, like a sunny day or a quiet, cloudy day. Stay curious about what is happening inside. 
6. When it’s time to close the meditation circle, have everyone describe what they are feeling now. Maybe a word, weather, or a picture can be used. Then, everyone takes a big, deep breath together.
Thank you for trying this meditation.

Bio/Attribution:

Anne-Marie Emanuelli is the founder and Creative Director of Mindful Frontiers LLC, an education-based mindfulness meditation center in northern New Mexico offering classes, workshops, and coaching to children, families, and individuals of all ages and meditation experience. Anne-Marie’s credentials are from Mindful Schools and Sage Institute for Creativity and Consciousness as well as an 8-week MBSR course. She is a retired NM level 3 licensed classroom teacher and has taught mindfulness to students since 2016.
For more information on Mindful Frontiers and meditation, see our website at MindfulFrontiers.net

Families Meditate Together Column

The monthly newspaper column in The Taos News publishes on the second Thursday of the month. The purpose of this Families Meditate Together column is to encourage families to explore the benefits of bringing mindfulness and meditation into their daily routine. Each column will focus on a topic of teaching, followed by a practice, which can be done at home or during a regular day of activities.


Welcoming a Mindful New Year: Bringing Meditation into Your Family’s Routine.

published January 13, 2022

https://www.taosnews.com/opinion/columns/welcoming-a-mindful-year/article_c5c282f9-fc14-5ca3-8d4c-94d91c6312bf.html




Meditation brings joy and kindness to family celebrations

Published December 9, 2021

https://www.taosnews.com/opinion/columns/meditation-brings-joy-and-kindness-to-family-celebrations/article_a259a53c-a69e-553b-83f6-bd74c434ba38.html



Small hearts can hold lots of gratitude: Mindful eating practice for families

published November 11, 2021

https://www.taosnews.com/opinion/columns/small-hearts-can-hold-lots-of-gratitude/article_3ae29e8f-271a-522f-8ab0-fde713b1ddf9.html



Moods change like the weather: A gratitude practice for families

published October 14, 2021

https://www.taosnews.com/opinion/columns/moods-change-like-the-weather/article_1cba8c2f-a2bb-5e21-80fe-d7d8a4ff4e58.html



Slowly, slowly: Movement meditation brings mindfulness into daily activities

published September 9, 2021

https://www.taosnews.com/opinion/columns/slowly-slowly-movement-meditation-brings-mindfulness-into-daily-activities/article_d912c87a-1271-11ec-8302-033fdf327ce0.html



Make mindfulness part of your child’s daily routine

published August 19, 2021

https://www.taosnews.com/opinion/columns/make-mindfulness-part-of-your-childs-daily-routine/article_dbb38efb-81e2-549d-b84c-9991a67225ff.html

Swimming and sports as mindful movement meditation.

Conscious Daily Mindful Musings

My first love (as far as sports) is swimming. I began swimming competitively at about eight years old. It’s also how I met my husband. (Another story) Last year, during the first wave of the pandemic, not being able to swim was a mental and physical challenge. Regular walking, jogging, and mountain biking kept me sane and were daily movement meditations.

During the summer months, I love swimming outdoors. The Quail Ridge pool (local tennis and sports club) has been a sanctuary for many years. And this summer, when it closed about a month early due to mechanical issues, I have been swimming at the Taos Spa and Tennis Club. Starting next week, I’ll be moving to the Taos Youth and Family aquatic center; so grateful there are many swimming options in such a small town.

I’ve also enjoyed swimming in the Rio Grande, and have created a workout for myself by swimming upstream for a while and then coming back down to the John Dunn bridge aided by the current. Hoping to swim there for a few weeks more as the water gets progressively more chilly.

During this morning’s pool swim I was reciting mantras as a way to bring present moment awareness to movements while counting laps. (Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham, Om, + number of laps) and (May I be ….. based on first letter of the number of laps). Combining these two passions of swimming and meditation uses all the muscles of the body including the mind in a wholehearted and harmonious way.

Life is good in the present moment. May we be conscious and healthy as we move about our days. How can you bring mindful meditation to your daily activities?

Mindful FrontiersMindful Frontiers CommunitySAGE Institute for Creativity and Consciousness#meditation#movementmeditation#mindfulnesspractice#swimming#awareness#presentmomentawareness#presentmomentreminder#dailymeditation

Creating and Sustaining YOUR meditation practice: Meditation 101 – a 6-week course at Be Meditation.

Imagine this scene: You come home from work after a long day at work; tired and hungry. Walking in, you sense tension in the environment. Your first reaction is, “ugh, there goes my relaxing evening!” Then, you remember your mindfulness practice and take a couple deep breaths, feel your feet on the ground, hands at your side and notice your breathing in the body. This switches your attitude to one of curiosity and equanimity. When your partner rushes out of the bedroom with your screaming child in their arms, you smile, take a breath or two, remember self-compassion and conjure empathy for the situation. Your response is, “Hi there. I’m so glad to see you both. Can I join in the fun?” And the evening ends up filled with laughter and love. 

Mindful meditation is a practice with wide-spread benefits, including general relaxation, full-body rest, present moment awareness and emotional wellbeing. There are many types of meditation and while its history goes back many generations into ancient Asian cultures and spiritual traditions, meditation came to the US relatively recently: during the 20th century. Jon Kabat Zinn introduced Mindfulness meditation to medical center patients over 40 years ago. His Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) techniques have more recently taken hold for the general public. From its inception MBSR has spurred a mindfulness movement that is proving crucial to our spiritual and wellness transformation.

Being aware of the present moment by focusing on an attention anchor — sounds, sensations, or most commonly, the breath — is the fundamental principle of meditation. Learning to “be present” takes practice and is the foundation of mindfulness. Anyone can learn mindfulness meditation with curious intention and personal commitment. The beginner will find it easier to learn meditation with guidance from experienced teachers at a center such as Be Meditation. Creating and Sustaining YOUR meditation practice: Meditation 101, is an accessible way to learn meditation or renew a hibernating practice. The class will be held for six Thursdays (September 23, 30 and October 7, 14, 21, 28, 2021) at 8:00 pm EST / 5:00 pm PST and each class is 75 minutes.

We know the benefits of meditation and mindfulness; starting and sustaining a practice can be challenging. This 6-week course will give you the foundational skills to bring the powerful tools of meditation into your life in a meaningful way. Meditation is not one-size-fits-all, so we invite you to gather with like-minded people from all over the world and explore the many ways meditation can transform your life. And Inviting a friend to register with you adds a motivating and fun aspect to the course.

Why meditate? One reason is that meditation quiets the mind and settles the nervous system. The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is a bodily system that determines how we respond to emotional experiences. It is made up of the sympathetic (SNS) and parasympathetic (PNS) nervous systems. “These two systems are activated in times of arousal or recovery. Put simply, SNS activation leads to a “fight or flight” response, and PNS activation leads to a “rest and digest” response.” (Roxanna Salim, November 12th, 2019, Imotions.com). Although, as the name suggests, the ANS is automatic, we can stimulate the PNS response through meditation and deep breathing. By quieting the mind’s reactivity and calming down attachment to emotional thoughts, we settle fight, flight, freeze reactions, thereby stimulating relaxation which helps our body and mind come back to homeostasis.

Another reason is that through mindful awareness we learn about ourselves and our patterned reactions. By sitting in meditation and practicing present-moment awareness, we can pause and explore with curiosity and compassion, our internal and external environments. From this attitude of bearing witness, we learn to accept with equanimity what is going on right now in the present moment: the only time that reality actually happens. Practicing noticing what is going on in the present brings freedom of choice for how we respond to life’s experiences. Viktor Frankl famously wrote, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. ” That freedom of response may be the most powerful reason to learn mindfulness meditation.

Although there are many meditation traditions, using breath awareness is ubiquitous to all styles. Some of the meditation practices that can help settle the nervous system include body scanning, sense awareness, mantras and breath practice. Using the breath as our attention anchor, we stimulate the vagus nerve (PNS) and move emotional responses away from the limbic brain to the frontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for logic and thinking. This may sound contradictory since many have heard that meditation involves “letting go of thinking”. Actually, this is a myth and one of the topics that students will learn about in this beginning meditation class. 

Topics of discussion will include how meditation affects the brain, loving kindness meditation, and using mantras and gratitude in mindfulness practice. Students will also learn how to set up a meditation space, and ways to bring mindfulness into their daily routine. Between each class, students will be encouraged to practice at home the skills learned in class. A central aspect of the course is Connection and participants will have the opportunity to share their learning with others in the class. 

Imagine this scene: You come home from a full day at work. Your partner and child greet you at the door with smiles on their faces. After putting down your things, the three of you settle down together for a family mindful moment before sharing the day’s adventures and then planning the rest of the evening together. Be Meditation is excited to welcome you to the life-changing practice of mindful meditation through this 6-week course. Registration is now open: https://www.union.fit/orgs/be-meditation

Sage Meditation Leader Program

Deepen your meditation practice or obtain credentials to teach meditation – See Sage Institute for Creativity and Consciousness page for more info on this well-rounded and complete 200-hour medtation leader program from which I am grateful to be a 2021 graduate.

Spotlight on Sage Graduates: Anne-Marie Emanuelli

Honored to be featured on Sage Institute’s graduate page

Anne-Marie Emanuelli is a 2021 graduate of the Sage Meditation Leader Program. She believes that mindful meditation is a holistic practice beneficial to human consciousness & personal growth. Her philosophy of wholehearted living includes the tenets that humans can learn from Nature, and that we are forever expanding our capacity for compassion and knowledge.

With a personal practice spanning over 20 years, Anne-Marie has been teaching mindfulness to children since 2016. Her credentials come from Mindful Schools and Sage Institute as well as an 8-week course in MBSR. She deepens her regular personal practice with silent & guided meditation retreats. Having retired from full-time classroom teaching in July 2020, she created Mindful Frontiers, an education-based meditation center in Taos, NM.

Mindful Frontiers welcomes a mindful future — one child, family, adult, educator, community —one present moment at a time. Anne-Marie teaches mindful meditation through Mindful Frontiers, Be Meditation and privately.

Testimonials

Life is a journey of struggle and blessings

A recent article published in Thrive Global as part of the Weekly Prompt series for Mother’s Day.

Article link

This poem was written for my mother over the span of many years; first as my Valentine’s Day gift in 2001 and culminating with the last couple stanzas for her funeral in 2010. It explains a journey of struggles and blessings and what her life taught me along the way.

A Life Come Full Circle

In your eyes I see the fullness of life;
a gathering of joys, challenges, disappointments
and mostly a life full of richness.

It began in French Morocco, exotic and rough;
learning Arabic at school a must;
"You aren't in your own country."

Your father, a military man,
taught his family honor, love, humility.
Your mother, a teacher, 
taught you manners, love and English.

You eyes in old photos show a life
joyful, honorable, protected;
surrounded by family, servants, Moroccan vistas.

Then war came like a lion 
and ripped apart your life forever
from a life of exotic panoramas,
family love and sheltered, elegant joys.

You came to the States with a husband;
the course was set for a life of challenge.
From a Casablanca wedding -- oh, so romantic, 
a honeymoon in the Atlas -- remember the mud?

In your eyes, somedays, I see the questions,
"What would my life have been
if I had not crossed the Atlantic?"

You accepted the challenge of travel:
Indiana, Ithaca, Minnesota, Pakistan, Iran;
the life of a war bride
based on honor and dignity.

Settling in New Mexico, your life came full circle;
destiny's course, so unpredictable; 
your life in a Moroccan adobe house; 
raising your family in a New Mexican adobe home.

And when your destiny left you, "a war casualty"
alone at 60, you say,
"Thank God he left me in Taos."

In your eyes, somedays I see
sunsets so familiar yet so exotic;
a familiar world that is no longer;
an accepted world that is forever.

Every day your eyes filled with panoramas;
a view never the same, yet so familiar.
Your French Moroccan dream that was,
became an American dream still living.

To your children, headstrong, you pass on 
your wisdom, your language, your way of seeing;
and though it was rough, I hope you'll see in my eyes,
great love and gratitude for all that you are to me.

Je préfère être une poire juteuse qu’un citron pressé.

Je t’aime, Maman.

Do What You Love, Share Openly and Abundance Will Follow

Openly sharing my passion for mindfulness led to unexpected abundance and friendship.

Sometimes abundance comes from just doing what you love and being wholeheartedly open. This is the lesson I learned last year after an unexpected encounter led to a generous donation to my meditation center.

Living in northern New Mexico is an enchanting lifestyle that requires acceptance and patience. This culturally and economically diverse area of the country attracts all sorts of people for its natural beauty as well as historic and cultural richness. One of the many benefits of living in this sparsely-populated area is our closeness to nature and the outdoors which translates into many opportunities for exercise outside. During the pandemic, this has been especially welcomed as the concept of “staying at home” extended into nature. Daily walks, jogs, bike rides or swims provided much-needed physical activity. During the summer months, swimming in an outdoor pool is my main daily exercise; soaking in sunshine as I move mindfully through water.

My dream for several years has been to teach mindfulness to elementary-aged children and their families.

Last summer, the outdoor pool opened in June with restricted access to lap swimming only. I was grateful to get back in the crisp and energizing water to exercise. Many regular lap swimmers met at the pool and though social distancing was enforced, we were able to enjoy friendly conversations and mutual support. One such encounter was particularly gratifying.

I met a couple visitors to our area who had decided to spend a month enjoying the enchantment of New Mexico. That month ended up being the entire summer as the pandemic intensified. Every morning we would say hello at the pool and we began having conversations that covered many interesting topics — a great way to balance physical and intellectual activity. At that time, I was looking towards retiring as a full time classroom teacher with the dream of starting an education-based meditation center called Mindful Frontiers. As my retirement date came closer and the business plan for my center more concrete, I shared my passion with these fellow swimmers. My dream for several years has been to teach mindfulness to elementary-aged children and their families. The vision is to welcome a mindful future — one child, family, educator — one present moment at a time. My dreams were openly listened to my these kindred swimmers as I opened up and shared my passion with them.

I felt so comfortable in our conversations that it seemed safe to be vulnerable about my dreams and aspirations.

Eventually, I was asked what I needed to really get my meditation center off the ground and of course financial backing was my answer. After all, I had plenty of time, energy and passion already. I felt so comfortable in our conversations that it seemed safe to be vulnerable about my dreams and aspirations.

As the summer came to a close an early cold snap shut down the pool a few days earlier than planned. Everyone bid each other a good end of summer and year ahead until we could meet up again in and around the pool. My new friends went back home after exchanging email addresses.

A month or so later, I received an email from one of the friends, asking how my business plans were going and with an offer of a donation. Within a few weeks, a gift arrived that provided the startup funds I needed to get Mindful Frontiers off the ground. I believe this gift was made possible by a willingness to be vulnerable, openly sharing my passion for mindfulness and believing in the vision of the endeavor.

Without this unexpected donation, Mindful Frontiers would have had a much slower start. I will forever be grateful for the auspicious encounter at the swimming pool that fueled a friendship framed by kindness and support. Because of allowing myself to be vulnerable and open, abundance was attracted into the open space of the heart.