Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Finding Peace & Serenity Through Yoga Practice During Stressful Times~

Claude Lorraine

My literary muses have taken a lengthy holiday this year, which has left me stymied and unable to write. I’ve had no flashes of inspiration, creative insights or whispered revelations. Instead I’ve felt a bit lost by constant upheaval at work and concerns about my mother’s health.  Fortunately, I continue to practice yoga regularly and this practice helps me to find peace, serenity and spirituality in the midst of chaos.

Between January 1, 2016 and July 1, 2016 I’ve held three different jobs and reported to three different managers at my restructured, acquired, merged company. While each change moved me in the right direction so that I’ve now achieved the authority and a role for which I am eminently suited, the constant redirection has been stressful and discombobulating.  It was the best of times; it was the worst of times….to quote from my favorite Dickens’ book, A Tale of Two Cities.

This year my 85 year old mother, who is a force of nature and the strongest women I’ve known, has experienced several health issues that remind me too much of the frailty of life. I know that I am blessed, at age 57, to have both of my parents living, of sound mind, and able to live independently. In the spring after experiencing excruciating pain she was diagnosed with osteoporosis related pelvic fractures and two sacral fractures that required surgery followed by in-patient rehabilitation and both physical and occupational therapy to build strength to ambulate independently. Just as she achieved success in her therapy, she was diagnosed for the second time with breast cancer that has affected surrounding lymph nodes.  This means she will have to undergo a third major surgery this year followed by radiation.  Life just isn’t fair. She followed the rules, ate healthy foods, exercised regularly, stayed active and still the Fates intervened. 

My mental distraction subsequently resulted in my locking the keys to my car in the trunk on my birthday while I was on a business trip in New Jersey last week to meet my new management team. Because I drive a soft top and German engineering is all about safety, breaking into the vehicle still did not allow me to gain access to the trunk via the release button.  Nope, the car had to be towed to a BMW dealership and opened through a super secret squirrel manner that also disabled the automatic system that retracts the soft top. No doubt there will be more dollars wasted as a result of this folly.

So it was with great relief that I returned to my yoga practice this evening at Jala in Winchester, Virginia. Despite my high level of stress, I found a calmness, peace, serenity and renewed sense of positivity by the end of my practice.  Yoga helps reset my psyche and find my inner strength and acceptance of life. Through my yoga practice I am able to meditate, focus on my breath, find the peace within me, and heal my mind and body. Yoga does not change the fact that my job is stressful, that my mother is ill, or that my escapade with the car created unnecessary angst; however, I’ve learned that throughout my journey through life I can take an hour for myself to promote my physical and mental health, build strength and flexibility, and promote self love and self compassion, which is critical for living a well-balanced life. Many thanks to the yogis and yoginis who have shared their spiritual path with me and made it possible for me to heal.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

2016 ~ My Mid -Summer Beauty Must Haves

 I sit on my deck sipping a Bombay Sapphire & tonic with lime enjoying the early evening breeze and listening to the Corinthian Bells wind-chimes while my newly varnished nails dry, I’ve been thinking about the skin care products and cosmetics that I truly rely upon to get me through the heat and humidity of a Virginia summer without looking either melted or overdone. I’ve experimented with more products than I can recall, but this summer I’ve found these products are my “go-to” for everyday:

*  Clarisonic Mia 2 Sonic Cleansing System

* Philosophy Purity All In One Cleanser
*  Clinique Clarifying Lotion

* Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinal Treatment

* Aveda Tourmaline Brightening Masque

* Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF 35

            *   Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara

            *  Bobbi Brown Coral Brightening Brick
            *  MAC eyebrow pencil

            * Nars Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil " New Lover"

            *  Nars The Multiple Blush “Orgasm”

           *   Urban Decay Glide On Eye Pencil

           * Buxom Eye Shadows: Create Your Own Palette from 40 single

           * Aveda Color Conserve Daily Leave In Protection

           *  Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil

           *  Coola Organic Sunscreen Spray

Resources for these great products:

www.aveda.com (or your local Aveda store or hair salon)
www.sephora.com (or your local Sephora)
www.ulta.com (or your local Ulta)

Additionally, if you are looking for an inexpensive way to try new cosmetic products, consider subscribing to monthly sample boxes such as Birchbox,  Sephora Play, Julep Maven, Ipsy, Boxy Charm or Essence Beauty Box. The costs range from $10 to $25 per month.  Check our www.mysubscriptionaddiction.com for reviews of nearly every subscription box available.
If you have any “must have” summer beauty products please feel free to share!


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cultivating Empathy is a Beginning to a Solution~

Political discourse has been vitriolic. Rampant shootings of civilians by law enforcement personnel that appear quick to use deadly force has created divisiveness in our nation. Retaliation by unstable individuals target good people in law enforcement who place their lives on the line everyday for safety and welfare of our citizens creates sadness, horror and more schism among we Americans. 

Sociologists, pundits, media talking heads, politicians, civil rights activists, the aggrieved, racists, victims, the privileged and the underprivileged, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Communists, Fascists, the religious right, the secular left, and everyone on Face Book or with an email account has an opinion as to what is wrong with our society – the whys, the history, the fallacies, the misunderstandings, the unjustified fears, the inability of those of different races, religions, sexual orientations, cultural backgrounds, country of origin, or physical / mental abilities to understand the facts or a particular individual’s beliefs. 

What is missing in the discourse? I believe it is an appreciation of and a call to every human in our world to cultivate empathy.

Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another
being is experiencing from within the other being's frame of reference or the ability to place oneself in another's position.

One of the skills that I have had to develop to achieve success in my profession in the insurance industry, which requires me to negotiate resolutions of complex disputes, is that of negotiation. To facilitate a negotiated settlement that involves persons or companies with diametrically opposed viewpoints, a good negotiator or mediator seeks to understand the needs of all parties to the conflict. That requires asking critical questions about the perspective of each party and listening to what each side wants and understanding what each side can live with.  No side gets everything; but every side achieves something.

From my humble perspective empathy is what is required to achieve progress in the fractured world in which we find ourselves. It is critical that empathy be considered with police departments implementing training programs that discourage the use of deadly force unless faced with deadly force. Empathy can motivate at-large communities to work together to cure blight, improve neighborhoods, and to ensure public education provides equal opportunities for all students.  Empathy creates environments of cooperation rather than opposition. Empathy requires us to listen to the viewpoints of others and try to understand another’s perspective.  It is not necessary to completely agree with another’s perspective. But it is necessary to attempt to understand.  Compromise and movement towards solutions are not possible without understanding.

 If I have not walked in another human being’s shoes I cannot fully understand his or her experiences, fears, hopes, dreams or desolation and I cannot expect another to fully understand mine.  But collectively, we as a nation have to try.