A Miracle in 10 Days. I experienced it. For Real.

Two flights, two hours jostling atop a bumpy Arizona desert road, and two Advil later I finally arrived at Mago Retreat Center. “Roll out your mat and join the circle!” our team leader Samuel enthused, as I masked a degree of dread behind my “sure thing” response. I came here, as did 17 other yogis, to assist a Baptiste Level 2 week-long yoga program. We arrived a few days prior, and before there was time to dump my bags and comb my hair, I joined the circle in Earth Hall and did my damnedest to create something that resembled Downward Facing Dog.

miracles do happen

After 60 minutes or so softening the cement in my hips and shoulders acquired from spending hours locked into seat 22C, our team concluded by sharing individually what we wanted to create for ourselves and the participants through the program.

What miracle or miracles would you like to see happen?”

Geez, I dunno. To not fuck up? Avoid tripping over one of the 131 mats lined up throughout the room or dropping a 6’5″ dude in Wheel pose with a botched assist was my immediate idea of a miracle. As a first time assistant apprenticing my way through, I had a lot to learn, and a helluva lot at stake. So when Samuel asked us what miracle we’d like to see happen, I failed to see the bigger picture. I realize now why. The first few days of the program, before participants arrived, I made it all about me:

  • Do everything right
  • Make everyone on the team like me
  • Prove that I’m a half-decent teacher that can hold up a 6’5″ dude in Wheel pose no problem

After two days taping the floors, arranging chairs, rehearsing our individual roles, practicing and giving feedback on assists with fellow apprentices (um…Shannon try not grabbing my nipple on that one) and receiving coaching on how best to support our leader/facilitator Paige Elenson, I prepared myself for the participants’ arrival – 131 badass yogis from 8 different countries ranging in age from 16-60.

You want your level of support, challenge, and learning to be a 10″

with Millie at L2

with Millie at L2

Paige implored everyone on our team to up our game, assuring that with support being a 10, it was expected of us to keep the level of challenge and learning equally high. It was at this point I got a taste of my first miracle (I experienced more than one by the end of the training): the power of support. Being constantly reminded by the more experienced assistants on my team that they ‘had my back’, I was free to fail, get up, try harder, and make a breakthrough. Pre-program the former me would have floated through workshop sessions watching participants as though I were a tourist…from the comfort of periphery. Witness instead of engage. But here, channeling the support of my team, I got off the bus and roamed freely, in between mats helping one participant assist another in Crow pose, assuring another participant she didn’t ‘suck at Chatturanga’ pose, she needed a modification – which I demonstrated – to regain her power. I never got the chance to assist a 6’5″ dude in Wheel pose, but I did give my deepest, most love-infused Half Pigeon assist to a woman who later hugged me back in gratitude.

Your word is your world”

Pre-program this phrase would have landed as nothing more than a pithy line to slap on a yogi muscle tee. Daily meditation and discussion with my apprentice team brought the meaning to light in a whole new way. One particular morning I wept for a good five minutes before I could regain enough composure to share with my peer Maureen what was bubbling up with my inner dialogue. For years I believed, and said both inwardly and outwardly that I struggled with showing physical affection: “I’m not a natural when it comes to assisting; I teach best with my projection and voice; I love being hugged but don’t know how to hug back” were common refrains. When our apprentice lead Suzie asked us all to rank our assisting skills before going out on the floor, my participants all gave 9s and 10s. Me? A 3 and a half. None of my peers, who experienced my assists, could understand it. “Honey, you are no 3 and a half. What’s going on in your head?”

My miracle came a day later, when I consciously chose to replace my inner ‘no’ with ‘love’ – love for placing my hands on another, love for the love I was sending into their bodies. And miracle of all miracles, I’m no longer a 3 and a half. I’m a 10 for assisting, a 10 for making my positive word my world from this day forward.

There are other miracles beginning to crystalize even now, several days since returning home, and I’m so excited to keep my level and challenge high on this awesome Baptiste Yoga path because the support is there. And that’s a miracle.

For real.


Everyday Inspiration. Day Five: Hook ‘Em With A Quote

*Note: this post is part of an Everyday Inspiration 20-day writing prompt program I’m participating in. Today’s Prompt: Hook ’em with a quote.


open your baskets!

Welcome the present moment as if you had invited it. It is all we ever have so we might as well work with it rather than struggling against it. We might as well make it our friend and teacher rather than our enemy.” – Pema Chodron

After a full day teaching and practicing yoga, I sank into my sofa for a marathon of Chopped episodes…the teenage kid version. Flanked by a lazy kitty purring on one side, and a lazier excuse for dinner in the form of a bowl of Grape Nuts for dinner on the other, I inwardly sighed. These kids in their toques and aprons were making me look bad.

“Open your baskets!” the host demanded as four fresh-faced chefs below legal voting age peered in and pulled out a random assortment of ingredients: chocolate covered potato chips, canned rabbit, cranberry jelly, and some exotic spice I can neither spell nor pronounce. “You’ve got 30 minutes. And the clock starts…NOW!”

As they jumped into action it hit me: this moment right now, if I could allow it to be, was a friend, a teacher, not an enemy. Viewed from the perspective Chodron offers in the quote above, I could learn something from this present scene: the lousy bowl of cereal, my fatigue, the I-love-you-regardless-how-lame-you-feel-about-yourself-right-now cat next to me, the kids kicking ass in the kitchen on the screen in front of me.

My default, and maybe it’s yours too, is to draft a story around moments that make me uncomfortable. A 90-minute practice next to a yogi stronger than me, if I’m not mindful, could result in a dark tale about an undisciplined woman who ate croissants in lieu of daily plank poses and spent her bonus money on a pair of designer motorcycle boots instead of that inversion workshop she chickened out of. Watching a band of sweet kids get asked to create something edible out of a basket of total ridiculousness (they’re kids…can’t you give ’em some PB & J ingredients to work with already?) would typically have me cursing the Universe at the unfairness of it all.

But Chodron implores us to look at the present moment another way. The young chefs on my TV screen were here because they chose to test their creative chops under pressure, under the eye of a panel of world-renowned chefs (and in front of viewers eating Grape Nuts on the sofa at home). Chodron’s quote  reminds us that how we choose to receive the present moment can make all the difference in whether we’re able to cook up a new creation, or come to the party of life empty handed.

What wisdom can you gain from the present moment?

Everyday Inspiration. Day Four: A Story In A Singe Image

*Note: this post is part of an Everyday Inspiration 20-day writing prompt program I’m participating in. Today’s Prompt: A story in a single image.


“Promise you’ll save room for dessert in the Village,” she quipped, trying to keep the mood light, before unbuckling her seatbelt. Maurice squeezed her hand as confirmation before stepping out to help unload her bags. If anyone would celebrate her new life over a slice of creme brûlée, it was best friend Maurice, who’d insisted on driving her here.

Stepping onto the curb to face the eternally-revolving giant glass doors at Philadelphia’s 30th Street station, she felt a momentary wave of panic: am I crazy? Everyone, except for Maurice, who self-admittedly was a little crazy himself, seemed to think so:

“but you just got promoted!”

“you two seemed so happy”

“I thought it was just a hobby”

“what if you fail?”

Too late now. They were already interviewing for her replacement (seeking PR manager to nurture strong industry network, generate enviable corporate image…). She’d said it’s over and meant it this time to her ‘it was just innocent flirting’ boyfriend. Forked over (literally) two paychecks worth of tuition money to the Culinary Institute in NYC. This was no longer a hobby.

Once through the glass doors, however, her disposition changed. Dwarfed by 80-foot columns and a coffered ceiling nudging the Heavens, she wondered – how many other fresh journeys began here? Opulent marble floors amplifying the echoes of heels conjured images of nattily-dressed ladies in gloves and gents in fedoras (before the days of ‘Athleisure’) saying goodbye without a guarantee there’d be a future hello. Leaving the past in style to somewhere exciting and new. Cathedral-like windows allowed varying degrees of light that beamed possibility – maybe she would make it as a Michelin-starred pastry chef.

Or not.

“Swapping press releases for puff pastries, are we?” her snarky but lovable colleague joked as they clinked champagne flutes and nibbled on devil’s food cake (a subtle omen??) at last week’s going away party. She’d miss justifying the cost of a pair of Louboutins or Chloe pencil skirt as work wear. It was aprons and toques from now on.

And maybe it was innocent flirting. He was a TV sports anchor after all. Naturally he’d get attention in public. Was she being overly clingy? Didn’t matter now. She’d ended it clearly enough by moving her stuff out of his apartment into off-site storage. And sure she’d graduate, but what can a novice pastry chef, at age 45, honestly expect to earn?

Taking one final look around the lobby as the platform announcement came across the speaker, she relaxed. Confidence took over. I’m not crazy, and I’m ready to begin anew.

One rolling pin and pie crust at a time.

Everyday Inspiration. Day Three: One Word Inspiration. HOME

*Note: this post is part of an Everyday Inspiration 20-day writing prompt program I’m participating in. Today’s Prompt: One word inspiration. HOME.

My truck’s nav system has a handy shortcut feature on its screen. Hit ‘home’ and it’ll map out a route to send you there. Nice feature, if you can remember where ‘home’ is. I’ve moved six times in as many years, and hitting the ‘home’ button on a nav system is likely to be an address or two past due.

But that’s not really the point. Or perhaps it is…

During the not-so-merry-go-round of multiple moves from Seattle to Jersey to Philly to Boston, a new definition of ‘home’ has begun to take shape. Not a shape sprouted from architectural renderings, mind you. No, home is not simply some lifeless structure with four walls and a few weeds or where I currently lay my head at night. It has little to do with which closet I pluck a well-worn hoodie from, what familiar countertop I fire up my turbo-engined Vitamix upon, or which surrounding windows rattle as breakfast grinds into a smoothie I enjoy atop a Crate & Barrel bar stool that’s followed me through six U.S. states.

home on my mat. 2013.

home on my mat. 2013.

No, home isn’t inanimate. It’s alive. Home is a feeling I get when wherever I am, I know I’m welcome. That could be atop that Crate & Barrel bar stool at my kitchen counter, sure. But it could also be halfway across the world nestled in a tapestried banquette at a Barcelona coffee shop, as it was last summer, when after charade-ing my way through a cappuccino order, a lovely barista welcomed me home with a frothy hearted concoction and smile that said: Stay. Make yourself at home.

Example by life example, I’ve learned that home resides in my heart, and is fueled by love. Love for others, love from others. It took me some time in my 20s and 30s to recognize that going home doesn’t necessarily feel like home. And I’ve dwelled in a few homes to salivate over. A ‘home’ with a beach just steps below and blue herons circling up high. A ‘home’ with a central gallery – yes gallery – roundabout driveway and wine cellar big enough to mask the two-buck-chucks needed to fill all the racks. Nice homes, yes. But a period of heavy heartache kicked me to the curb without a key.

Falling in love again six years ago at 41, with an amazing man, and more importantly, with myself again, led me back home. To several places. Some with a front door, others without:

  • Bigelow. A one-year rental I crammed an estate’s worth of black lacquered Fortuni-upholstered chairs into an 800-square foot jewel with views of Seattle’s Lake Union in. A year re-learning the art of independence, eating Grape Nuts for dinner because I could, falling in love with my now husband.
  • My orange Jade yoga mat. A single decision to come back to a long-dormant practice has since turned my yoga mat into a welcome mat. Moving and breathing on my mat is a direct route into my heart, revealing whatever aches, joys, fears, and miracles reside within it.
  • In the presence of my husband, mama, sister, papa, brother, niece, cat, friend, mentor, student, elderly man on the street I gave a buck to, trash collector I flirted with.
  • In front of this keyboard, sharing a bit of my soul with you who are dear enough to read.
  • Accepting the sales associate’s offer to help with choosing a pair of jeans I don’t need because I’ve since learned where to get the best taco in town. And made a new friend.
  • On my Crate & Barrel bar stool…in a new home that this time, feels like HOME.

When and where do you feel at home?


Everyday Inspiration. Day Two: Write a List of Things I Like

*Note: this post is part of an Everyday Inspiration 20-day writing prompt program I’m participating in. Today’s Prompt: Write a list of things I like.

tree pose

tree pose

  1. I like lists, and how they help unsnarl the tangle of thoughts and emotions roaring through my brain. How they help distill life down into manageable bits.
  2. I like the minimart owner who greets me every morning with “go get em’ girl!” as I run past at 5:30 AM.
  3. I like rescue dogs and cats and the humans that rescue them.
  4. I like finding typos in published material. Gotcha!
  5. I like crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles and how the worries of the day disappear into the little boxes and pieces.
  6. I like pizza, french fries, margaritas, and the discipline I maintain to keep these occasional indulgences from destroying a body I love and work at.
  7. I like catching a glimpse of a little league game unfold just past my train window en route to NYC. It’s like I’m on the bleachers cheering my big bro on, all over again.
  8. I like relenting to the warm, snuggly purrs offered by my lazy cat stretched across my lap. I’ll get to whatever needs getting to later.
  9. I like mama’s who hold their little girl’s hands. And not just crossing the street.
  10. I like pedestrians without ear buds or phones to faces.
  11. I like yoga, running, bicycling, swimming, cartwheeling in the park, kicking a ball, throwing a frisbee, dancing like a dork, anything that requires one to move and have a wonderful time doing it.
  12. I like smiling at my late papa, arms stretched to the Heavens, mid-tree pose in a 90 minute yoga class. I look up, he looks down, assuring me all is well and he is well.
  13. I like a little bit of superstition, and never stopping on the number 13.
  14. I like kissing my husband’s bald head.
  15. I like getting lost in a new city and relying on smiles and hand gestures to find my way back.
  16. I like falling in love with a budding author’s debut novel and sharing it with everyone I know.
  17. I like Great Blue Herons, and if reincarnation is real, I want to return as one.
  18. I like going to bed earlier than your grandmother.
  19. I like getting wiser, even if it means getting older.

What do you like?

Everyday Inspiration. Day One: I Write Because…

*Note: this post is part of an Everyday Inspiration 20-day writing prompt program I’m participating in. Today’s Prompt: I write because…

why I write, even on my yoga mat

why I write, even on my yoga mat

I write because it makes me a better human being.

Writing harnesses my energy. Since childhood I’ve been told I have an unusually high degree of energy. Evidence suggests this: broken springs on a rocking horse that gave up before this jockey in pig tails said whoa; an occasional spot of bourbon in the bottle when grandpa needed me to get to sleep; crunchy joints that couldn’t keep up with an insatiable heart that had to run just one more marathon; myriad scars and emergency room memories from road cycling spills chasing a kind of high that only a 20 MPH pace line could provide. Writing keeps it from spiraling out of control and sending me into an exhausted heap wondering how I got there, and how to find the life reset button. Once I settle atop my pink velvet chair, plug in and tune my earbuds to a Spotify or Pandora piano concerto playlist and begin tapping keys, a sense of calm and focus begins to emerge.

Writing forces me to be with it. To be with whatever it is I want to run away from. To be with restlessness – to stop squirming and keep digging for just the right metaphor, anecdote, or verb to underscore whatever thought I’m trying to capture and immortalize on a page before it flies away. To be with heavy emotions – and through whatever pain, fear or joy I’m experiencing at that moment, I can spawn a placeholder for others experiencing similar feelings to reference and contribute to. Good for them, good for me.

Writing reveals hidden treasures within my own brain and heart. I used to grind my teeth midway through a topic or assignment every time my heart jumped over a guardrail and took me off task with another thought or idea, until I eventually realized what a gift this was. Instead of fighting the inevitable detour, I now keep a pen and pad next to my laptop and jot down the out-of-bounds thoughts and list them under a “save for later” heading. My “save for laters”, more often than not, result into future posts or stories that keep the process of writing ongoing for me.

Writing spills over into every other area of my life. I prepare for the yoga classes I teach by practicing at home with a pen and paper next to my mat. Recording what’s happening in my body, and heart, lands on the page and informs what I share later with my students. Writing has widened my social circle and kept me close to those I no longer live near. The posts I shared about my time volunteering at an animal rescue in Pennsylvania has established an eternal tether line to a community of angels and animals I will hold onto forever. Writing forces me to pause, consider, and respond instead of react to whatever life might be tossing my way.

This is why I write, how about you?



5 ways to smooth the transition from summer to fall – Baptiste Yoga Boston


welcome the fall season with open arms

Struggling to let go of summer? Visit the Baptiste Yoga Boston website for my tips on how to welcome the fall season with open arms: 5 ways to smooth the transition from summer to fall.

Then explore the site further to inspire your practice and sign up for a workshop or class. See you on the mat!