Different Kind of Dear John Letter

A different kind of Dear John letter, written on July 21st…the day after my brother’s death:

Dear John-

You’ve suffered so much and I’m glad it’s over for you. It gives me some comfort to imagine you in your prime in heaven. There must be lots of awesome snow, water, and off-road tracks for your various adventures. I hope you soar and swoop as high as your imagination can take you.

I am so sorry that I couldn’t have been a better sister to you. There were times that I tried, but just didn’t have the fortitude to hang in there. My strength only takes me so far and there are some things I simply can’t take. I also understand that one can’t help another without their consent.

I commend you for trying to heal yourself with meditation, yoga, spirituality, and conversations with God. You learned a lot and you taught me a lot. Just the other day, I happened to include the book, The Infinite Way, in a small collection on our living room side table. I will re-read it soon and perhaps collect some excerpts for you.

Your niece, whom you unfortunately never met, just a couple days ago, out of the blue, asked about funerals. She knows that people typically wear black at such events. I don’t envision us having a funeral or wearing black to honor you. I see a quiet celebration and lots of color.

You are now where have always yearned to be. You are with God. Yo are free. You are whole. You are ascended. I wish I could talk to you now to hear what this amazing experience is like, but for now, I will settle in the gratitude that YOU finally know. And I will see you there some day.

I love you, my brother, always.

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Birthdays, Nightmares, and Love

Birthdays are so interesting. At least they are to me. It’s sad as we get older that they get less and less important. That won’t happen with me. No sir. If I can get ONE day to do whatever I want, no questions asked, you better believe I’m gonna take it.

This year, I choose to reflect. This past year can’t easily be labeled.  On this day in 2017, I was celebrating my 50th birthday. Not in the fashion I had hoped. My family was in the quiet farm town of Ottawa, IL preparing for my father’s first surgery. My husband and daughter were getting ready to travel back home while I stayed to help out. It was no big deal. We thought.

A few weeks after this milestone birthday, our family experienced the nightmare of a lifetime. My father…strong, healthy, funny, intelligent, witty, active, generous, efficient, handsome, and dearly loved…was reduced to a shell of a person. And it turned our world upside down.

Over the past year we have experienced fear, anger, frustration, hospitals, doctors, nurses, surgeries, rehab, lawyers, expenses, arguments, sleepless nights, confusion, paranoia, messes, relocation, tears, lies, cover-ups, CYAs, panic attacks, depression, hopelessness, grief, disagreements, and separation. All horrible. All unfair. All unbelievable.

But here’s what I reflect on today:

  • The time the doctor asked my Dad who the President was, and he said, “I’d rather not talk about it.”
  • The two RNs and one PA who were always there when we needed them, were honest with us, KNEW my Dad before this, and said, “What in the hell happened to your Dad?” (They understood our shock and disbelief.)
  • All of the medical staff here and in Illinois who have helped my father return to a new version of himself, still all that he was, just taking a little more time to get there.
  • The privilege of welcoming my parents into my home to rest, recover, and be loved by a daughter who owes them her life, a son-in-law who has a heart of gold, and a grand daughter who will always know what family means.
  • My friends who were curious, shocked, supportive, forgiving, helpful, patient, loving, and here. Just here.
  • And no matter what the hospital does or who takes responsibility for what happened or whether this could be a legal case….I really don’t care. All of that will be taken care of by the all mighty spirit that knows ALL of the answers and how to work things out.

What I really care about is the here, the now, and that everybody feels loved. Everything comes from love. There is no other source.

It’s my birthday. I feel loved.

I hope you do too.

birthdays

 

Be Careful Out There Yogis; Your Body Needs You

Be Careful Out There Yogis; Your Body Needs You…

As I picked up one of my favorite magazines and started to flip through it, I was so excited to see an eight page article about yoga. Wow! It had lots of information, beautiful graphics, and even a map showing all the yoga studios in the area. But as I read it, I became more and more disappointed.

This ‘beginner’s guide’, in my opinion, was actually quite intimidating in itself. The information was overwhelming. The graphics were gorgeous, yet not comprehensive. The map was helpful, yet furthered my concerns.

But enough about the article. I am really not here to criticize the magazine or the article’s author. It really was a nice article and any exposure yoga receives is good. And this magazine has always been one of my favorites and still is.

What I want to do, as a Certified Integrative Yoga Therapy Instructor, is take it back several steps and offer my own ideas about starting or continuing a yoga practice.

be careful

  1. Put safety first. Know your body and it’s limitations. Honor it. Practice the type of yoga that allows helpful and safe movement in your body, not the type that forces struggle and strain. One of the best ways to do this is to use props like blocks, bolsters, straps, blankets, and the wall. Use what you need to stay safe and feel good.
  2. Look for classes with descriptions using words like gentle, modified, slow, and well…beginners. Even if you are returning to yoga after a previous practice of intermediate, advanced, even power yoga, there is obviously a reason you took a break. Enter your new practice gradually and give yourself time to work back into it. And by all means, if you’ve never done yoga before, a gentle class suited for beginners is a must. And what’s even better is a Beginner’s Series, where you can learn the postures in detail.
  3. Do YOUR yoga. Even if you don’t know what that is yet, you do know your body, so honor it. All of your postures will look different from someone else’s and that is perfect. Your yoga. Your mat. Your choices.
  4. Try out a few different instructors and stick with the one who actually gives you instructions, cues, corrections, modifications, and positive feedback. Unfortunately, we are a dying breed. But we are out there and we want to help you.
  5. Breathe. Your body will thank you for it. It will actually move more easily and be open to new postures if you give it oxygen. Inhale deeply to open and lengthen the body. Exhale long and slow to settle into the posture. It will take a few reminders but practice will make it perfect.

be careful

I’ve been doing yoga for 13 years now and have been certified for almost two. I was lucky enough to learn from the very best instructors in this area. When people take my class for the first time, they say things like this:

  • no one ever told me I was doing that wrong
  • you are just what I was looking for
  • I’m so glad you give instructions and corrections
  • I’ve never been sure how to do many of the poses
  • your voice is soothing and makes me comfortable
  • it feels like coming home

This list isn’t for bragging. This list tells me that I’m doing what I was trained to do. Teach yoga in a safe, positive, and friendly environment. Allow my students to practice at a level and pace suited to their needs.

I teach yoga four times a week at two different locations to a variety of ages, genders, levels, physical abilities, and personalities. My job is to serve all of them, as best as I can.

So, I ask all yoga instructors and students…please be careful out there.

And call me if you need me.

Libby Blumberg, RYT 200

904-521-7097

libby@shantimomforone.com

be careful

be careful

 

Five Facts About ‘Basic Invite’ for Expecting Mamas

Five Facts About Basic Invite for Expecting Mamas…

five facts

If you live in Nocatee, you better love kids. And you might want to get used to the baby boom. Right now, there are two women on my block expecting in the fall. One is having a boy, the other, a girl. Their due dates are just days apart. This is the norm and personally, I think it’s a whole lot of fun.

I will be co-hosting a baby shower for one of the moms in August. That’s why I was happy to check out custom baby shower invitations from Basic Invite. 

five facts

five facts

Here is what makes them unique:

Almost Unlimited Colors – Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant online previews. Once you select a design, you can change the color of each element on the card to over 180 color options. You can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail. This is what sets us apart from almost any other online stationery company and is our biggest draw.

Custom Samples – Basic Invite is one of the few websites allowing customers to order a printed sample of their invitation.  You can see the paper quality and exactly how it will print before you place their final order.

Over 40 Different Colors of Envelopes – Basic Invite is just as colorful with our envelopes as we are with our invitations. You can choose from over 40 different envelope colors and make your invitation stand out before it is even opened. All of our envelopes are peel and seal so the envelopes can be quickly and securely closed.

Address Capturing Service – Basic Invite offers an address capturing service that allows customers to share a link on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other form of social media. The link requests your friends and family’s addresses which will be stored in your account for selection during the design process. Basic Invite offers recipient address printing at no cost on all Christmas card orders.

Foil – Foil cards are available in gold, silver, and rose gold. Customers can choose flat or raised foil on all of Basic Invite’s foil designs.

Get 15% off at Basic Invite with this coupon code: 15FF51

And follow them here:

Facebook

Pinterest

Instagram

Twitter

Behind the Scenes of My Depression and Anxiety

Luckily, I’m one of those people who has no problem giving others a behind the scenes look at my life with depression and anxiety. In fact, I get a kick out of revealing how it all started. There’s no doubt that I had it in my genes long before, but this one life-changing event triggered it. My grandmother, father, and all three of my brothers live/lived with it as well. We all handled it differently. Some with unconventional means and some with the proper channels of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Either way, we’ve all survived. Grandma lived a long, happy life and we have fond memories of her sense of humor, generosity, love, and yummy midnight snacks.

For me, it started in the fall of 1986. I was just starting my second year of college at age 19. Sure, I considered myself an adult, but I was soon to find out that I was still just a teenager with a strong connection to my parents. I was in the “cool” dorm bunking with two friends. Over the summer, I had started dating a Marine, in a long-distance relationship. (Bad idea.) I was ready for an amazing year.

My parents called with the bombshell.

They were moving from my childhood home in Virginia (90 miles from college) to Newport Beach, California (about 3000 miles). And here’s the kicker…they assumed I would just move with them. In hindsight, maybe I should have. But, no. I was a mature young adult. I was in college. I had friends. I was deciding on my major. I was having a great time. And, of course, I had a boyfriend. After many arguments, they let me stay. And they bought me a car.

And that’s when the proverbial shit hit the fan.

Almost immediately, the depression and anxiety set in. I found myself crying all the time and a lot of mornings, unable to get out of bed. And guess who I called. My parents. Rightfully so, they had one answer…move to California. I still wouldn’t do it. I was determined to ride this out on my own. So, I did that. With lots of drinking and partying. Somehow I managed to get to class and dance rehearsals. Don’t really know how. I’m sure my dance program was a good outlet for the way I was feeling.

And what the heck was I feeling? Sad? Angry? Abandoned? Caught off guard? Treated unfairly? To this day, I really don’t know that I can give a label to what I was feeling. It was a physical and emotional attack that came without warning. I believe it was living inside me and had a damn good reason to surface.

The story continues with moves, transfers, break-ups, tons of phone calls, a couple visits to California, psychiatrists, moving in with my sister, more drinking, more partying, more bad relationships, a failed marriage, etc, etc, etc, until the day I had a full-blown panic attack and finally, finally, took this thing seriously and started to turn my life around.

That was in 2001. Fourteen years. I suffered. Just because I was stubborn.

The one saving grace that surely helped me through all of this was the communication with my parents. Yes, we disagreed. Yes, I made decisions that made them cringe. Yes, they wanted grab me up and take me under their care. But they let me find my own way without judgment and with an open line of communication.

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An article from Palmer Lake Recovery, Parents Guide: How To Help Your Teen Cope With Mental Health Issues, is an excellent resource. It discusses statistics, warning signs, causes, how to help, and useful resources.

Some ideas from the article that my parents handled well:

“A good starting point for you as a parent is to have a conversation with your teen in a constructive way that is non-confrontational and is focused on offering them the love and support that they may well need more than ever.”

“Your teen needs the sort of parental support that lets them know they are not facing their struggles alone and that you are there to support them through this difficult time. It is equally important that parents also have a support network they can call upon.”

behind the scenes

Follow Kira Willey to Movement and Mindfulness

Follow Kira Willey to Movement and Mindfulness

follow kira willey

What fun we had today finding our breath and movement with Kira Willey’s new music from Every Voice and new book, Breath Like a Bear.

With songs like Brand New Day, Everybody’s Got a Heartbeat, and Kindness Mantra, my little yogis and dancers can express themselves with joy and excitement. The melodies are uplifting and the lyrics inspire beautiful movements and team work.

The album will be released on June 15th on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.

follow kira willey

Breathe Like a Bear is one of the most delightful and colorful books I’ve ever seen. Like all of Kira’s products, it provides a teaching tool that anyone can use. It brightens up any child’s day with its colors, illustrations, characters, and activities. With this book, your child will focus, breathe, listen, and relax with all of the adorable animals. Today, in Mommy and Me Yoga, we enjoyed making a rainstorm, the snake breath, and sending good thoughts.

follow kira willey

 

Thank you to Sugar Mountain PR and Kira Willey for my complimentary music and book. My students and I will enjoy both for a long time to come.

A Glass of Wine a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Welcome to my blog, Mile High Wine Tours! Enjoy their guest post…

A Glass of Wine a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

They say “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but here at Mile High Wine Tours, we prefer the lesser-known saying, “a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away.” According to scientists and health professionals, drinking a glass of wine a day (and they don’t mean a glass that holds the entire bottle) can have a lasting benefit on your health. These benefits may not have the impact on one person that they have on another, and if you go above the moderate, daily intake, it may hurt you. Moderation is a key in every aspect of life, and that’s no different than wine.

In order to get a better sense of wine and its impact on our health, researchers have studied men and women, drinkers and non-drinkers, over the course of several years. These studies can range anywhere from 16 years or more to less than five, depending on the specific study. For example, researchers studying the heart have longer research period while those researching cognitive function and memory function can do so in an afternoon through a quiz.

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Heart Benefits

Who doesn’t love the idea that drinking wine can benefit your heart health? It sure makes my heart happy. Scientists and health professionals have studied the effects that wine has on your heart for decades. Resveratrol (an antioxidant found in grape skins) and flavonoids are antioxidants found in red wine have been found to be beneficial for your heart. According to the American Heart Association, “Alcohol or some substances such as resveratrol found in alcoholic beverages may prevent platelets in the blood from sticking together. That may reduce clot formation and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.” The Mayo Clinic also supports this theory; the antioxidants in alcohol may help prevent blood clots and coronary artery disease, which is the condition that leads to heart attacks. There are also antioxidants in red wine called polyphenol, which, “may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart” (Mayo Clinic). It is also believed that the antioxidants raise the level of HDL (High-density lipoprotein)

Cholesterol; this is the “good” cholesterol that removes the bad cholesterol (Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)) from your bloodstream.

Lowers Risk of…

Along with the possibility of lowering heart disease, moderate wine consumption can lead to lower risks of stroke, Type 2 diabetes, cognitive awareness, and cancer. As Health Magazine and Tedd Goldfinger, DO, at the University of Arizona School of Medicine, explain, “wine helps prevent clots and reduce blood vessel inflammation, both of which have been linked to cognitive decline and heart disease.” For women, there have been links to lowering your chance of ovarian cancer, and for men, it can lower your chances of prostate cancer. According to Health Magazine, “experts suspect this may be due to antioxidants or phytoestrogens, which have high anticancer properties and are prevalent in wine.” A recent study at the University of Michigan showed that “a red wine compound helped kill ovarian cancer cells in a test tube.” In studies done by Harvard Medical and Amsterdam’s VU University Medical Center, moderate wine drinkers are at a 30-40% less chance of having Type 2 diabetes. “Wine seems to reduce insulin resistance in diabetic patients,” adds Health Magazine.

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The effect of these healthy benefits is it may lead to a chance of longevity. This isn’t to say that by drinking wine, you’ll find yourself in a Tuck Everlasting situation, but we’ve all seen those interviews with people who reach the age of one hundred and when asked how they got there, they said it was wine.

With all that being said, excessive drinking can lead to an increase risk in all of the above, and a horrible wine hangover the next morning. Steve Allsop, director of the National Drug Research Institute at Calvin University in Australia, has been doing research regarding wine and hangovers. According to an article from the Today Show, Allsop says that congeners (elements in alcoholic drinks that give flavor and color) that have higher levels tend to impact you worse. There are a few different parts of wine that can lead to a bad hangover, specifically with red wine. Red wine usually contains a higher alcohol percentage than white wine; it also contains more tannins than white wine. “Some cheap wines might have added tannins (compounds in grape skins), or synthetic tannins… which can interfere with serotonin levels and make your hangover feel worse,” explained Allsop to Today. So if you’re looking to try to curb that next-morning hangover, try a white wine, one that is lighter in color.

While the government requires a warning on all wine labels that the wine contains sulfites (this is only required in the United States and Australia) they are not as bad as one may assume. According to WineFolly, the government is required to put a warning if the sulfites are above 10 parts per million. If you have asthma, the sulfites are more likely to have an impact on you because of increased sulfite sensitivity. That being said, sulfites are a part of wine; you can’t have wine without sulfites. Sulfites are in the wine to act as a preserver. “Sulfur started to be used in winemaking (instead of just cleaning wine barrels) in the early 1900’s to stop bacteria and other yeasts from growing,” explains WineFolly. However, the amount of sulfites in wine is determined by the wine itself. Wines with more color (such as red wines) don’t need as much sulfur and wines with lower acidity need more sulfites.

Though there are certainly benefits, it’s best to not start drinking simply because it may be beneficial to your health. As with everything we intake, different people will experience different reactions; we recommend reaching out to your doctor before changing your consumption habits. Now don’t get us wrong, we love our wine here and would never discourage your enjoyment of it, just remember: everything in moderation.


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And if you are ever in the Denver, Colorado area try Mile High Wine Tours.  We pride ourselves on the highest quality service and an exceptional experience on our Denver wine tasting tours.

Our group guided wine tours provide an intimate, yet social way to experience and taste the best that Denver urban wineries have to offer. You’ll visit a few charming, hidden gem wineries with your own private driver. Let our expert tour guides show you each winery as you enjoy delightful gourmet food and taste Colorado’s best wines. Indulge in an ever-changing selection of intimate urban wineries. The wine tours are ideal for individual, couples, and groups of friendly people.

Wine tastings at the wineries are included. Additional tastings, wine glasses or bottles are available at an extra charge. Our tours usually last 3 to 5 hours, depending on the number of wineries we visit.

 

Top Three Apologies Owed to my Daughter

Many more apologies apply, but if I stick with the top three, I won’t feel the gut wrenching guilt that plagues me every day. As a six year old, she has endured more upheaval and drama over the past seven months than anyone should. And while I am sure she will be a better person for all of it, it still sucks for her in the meantime.

So, my dear, sweet girl, my sincere apologies for the following:

1.) Disrupting your life with chaos, uncertainty, frustration, neglect, confusion, noise, emotion, and absenteeism.

2.) Making you feel that anyone or anything is more important than you.

3.) Losing my shit WAY too many times.

You WILL be a more understanding, compassionate, and mature person having experienced this chaos. You are, without question, THE most important person in my life and ALWAYS will be. I will lost my shit many more times. Just do one of two things: laugh at me or give me a hug.

top three

Gratitude for Full Moon Yoga

After already feeling gratitude for my Full Moon Yoga class last night, I was extra pleased to come outside and see the moon between the clouds. We had tapped into our divine feminine energy and filled the indoor space with such beauty. Now the sky was gorgeous as well.

Rarely do I capture a decent shot of the moon, but these aren’t too shabby. At every stop light on my way home, I took a few shots. The street lights often got in the way, but some views were spectacular. Of course, the camera never does it justice.

It really never seems to matter how my day has unfolded. I can be frustrated, uptight, sad, angry, discouraged when I arrive at the studio to teach. But, a mere five minutes in, it all melts away. It is the sacred space, the people, the breathing, and the energy that soothes and restores me. Gratitude.

Here is a wonderful article by Jen Reviews about the Benefits of Yoga.

gratitude

One Way to Approach the New Year

As this new year approached and I was inundated with suggestions to leave my troubles in 2017, look ahead to 2018, come up with a resolution for the new year, and be excited about it, all I could feel was the need to be left alone.

The last six months of 2017 were horrendous for my family. My 86-year-old father underwent heart surgery on August 1st and due to medical malpractice, suffered a brain injury. Before this, he was a healthy, strong, intelligent man who went to the gym three times a week, completed the New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle, and rode a tractor almost daily through acres of farm land. His heart is now as healthy as can be. His brain is not. Although he has progressed a great deal from being unable to walk, talk, eat, and control his bodily functions, our family has been through pure hell taking care of him. He and my mother now live with my family.

So, when faced with the anticipation of a new year, I simply felt stuck in the hardship of 2017. How can I not be? It’s still happening. So I wanted to put this off.  Could we just wait another six months for a new year? I’m just not ready.

So I turned to thoughts of yoga: love, light, peace, and truth in body, mind, and spirit. And that was my turning point.

New Years Day passed without a thought. I celebrated without the need to have discovered my resolution. Daily tasks were carried out in plenty of time. The house was transitioned back to normalcy from all the decorations, baked goods, and Christmas music.

What I had to remember is that this year has been difficult for me. And 2018 will continue to be the same, at least for the time being. In addition to the events surrounding my father’s injury, I have lived with anxiety and depression since the age of 19. I turned 50 last year. In fact, my 50th birthday celebration was brought to a screeching halt by what happened to my father. It’s been a struggle to keep my anxiety and depression at bay.

So I gave myself a break. A big one. I removed this huge need to identify what I desired for 2018 and gave myself the time and space to let it come to me. I created an opening to allow its entrance.

On January 1st, while scrolling through my Instagram feed, it flew right in. I saw a word I hadn’t seen in a while and had forgotten about: Sankalpa. This is a Sanskrit word in yogic philosophy that refers to a heartfelt desire. It is an intention or a resolve to do something. It comes from deep within and is often an affirmation.

new year

On January 2nd, I taught a yoga class using this idea as my theme, informing my students that they had one of four options:

1.) Use a resolution you’ve already created and transform it into a Sankalpa.

2.) Create your Sankalpa during class today.

3.) Be open to receive your Sankalpa if it is not easily coming to you.

4.) None of the above.

I had already chosen number three and I still haven’t been able to put it into a concise phrase, but I now know what I want this year. I want yoga. Not just the physical practice of yoga but all of the spiritual healing and connection that comes with it. I want to feel as much love and peace as possible every day, in every moment. I want to be able to surround the sadness I feel for my father with light and transform it into joy. I want to be true to myself and allow the time and space needed for all of this.

I can do it. I know I can. And I’m in no hurry.

 

Wonderful Places Where Yoga Heals

Project Balance

“Our Mission is to bring mind-body wellness to the children and families of our community through partnerships, education and outreach.”

Yoga 4 Change

“Yoga 4 Change is a non-profit organization that achieves meaningful change for veterans, incarcerated individuals, vulnerable youth, and those dealing with substance abuse. Our purpose-driven yoga program enables us to heal and empower these under-served populations, creating healthier, safer communities, one class at a time.”

The Recovery Village 

“Our patients reside in beautifully designed, private and semi-private rooms with comforting accommodations and amenities. We provide a rare retreat for our patients with a serene landscape and top-notch amenities to promote a healthy recovery environment.  Our full continuum of care reaches past your stay at our residential facility, ensuring continued success in your future.”