24
Jan

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Fear. Loneliness. Sadness. Anger. Frustration. Hopelessness. Despair.

Alongside what I still believe is my life-embracing, joyful essence, and moments of uplift from my own inner flame and the love of a few dear friends and family, I’ve been surfing these treacherous waves for the past two years.

We know that Pilates is one of the finest ways to sculpt a beautiful and powerful body, but what about our spiritual selves? What about the life inside that body? What about its truly profound effects on the mind and the spirit?

When I was asked to participate in Mark Pedri’s exceptional film, A Movement of Movement a few years ago now, I spoke about how Pilates had created his method between two world wars as a means to survive life’s twists and turns and hard knocks and to rise above them and thrive. Little did I know then that I would be fighting on my own battlefield not so long after, going into one of the darkest, deepest caves of my life.

Pilates never intended for his method of physical and mental conditioning to be a vanity exercise system. He devised it to help us navigate this human life through the body. It was meant to help us evolve and appreciate ourselves, to make the most of our miraculous machines—body, mind and yes, to enliven–to literally LIFT our spirits.

Yes, undeniably, Pilates can help you to create a body you can be proud of, but in the bargain, it can also save your life.

In January, 2014, I found myself atop a slippery slope and by mid-summer, I had slid into hell. Flying solo in a new city, my mother, who had fought her brave battle with multiple myeloma long enough, decided on July 18th that it was time to leave this world.  To say that I was heartbroken and traumatized doesn’t come close. I was beside myself—literally. Exhausted from the rapid fire, cataclysmic shifts in my life,  from having to grasp how to travel this new terrain, each day, I awoke feeling like I didn’t know how to put one foot in front of the other. Every rug had been pulled out from underneath me, and while I had a full toolkit, an arsenal of techniques to pull from, I had become so accustomed to sharing them with others, that in some way, it felt like I had forgotten how to redirect that rich water flow back to myself.  Read the rest of this entry »

14
Aug

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Did you know that there is no separation between the mind, the emotions and the body?

Grief has found its way into my lungs, and I am sick with the worst chest cold I have had in years. In some strangely comforting way, it is affirming to know that while we are vulnerable to the sometimes extreme vicissitudes of life, if we can survive the trauma that we experience, we then may also have the power to decide how we meet them, what we do with them, and how we evolve as a result.

My beloved Mother left this earth on July 18th and is now peacefully soaring with the angels, magnificent swallow that she is, exquisite and intentional, swooping and gliding, buoyed aloft by purest love and the light of infinite stars. Like a beautiful bell, music itself, her voice, her laughter, her bright eyes, her face tilted up smiling to receive the sun … radiant with excitement, introducing one soul to another, the grand connector and brilliant creatrice, glowing pearl, shining light, elixir of life! This is how we will remember her–these ways and countless more. The people who knew her were each forever changed for the better, their lives and their very selves magically illuminated by knowing her, truly blessed to have been touched by her singular, other-worldly magic as long as they had, and I know that she will be with us always. No language can express the power, beauty, heroism, and majesty of my Mother, Jane’s joyful love, its radiance, quenchless fidelity like a star.

Her innate, all-encompassing, boundless joy for life, her strength and her indomitable spirit lives on inside me and my family. Endlessly brilliant, insatiably curious, multi-talented, magnetic, beyond generous, compassionate, kind, inventive, creative, intuitive, insightful, inventor, idea-maker, entrepreneur, writer, poet, accomplished pianist, voracious reader and lover of the earth, nature, history, and all things beautiful, exceptional tennis player, talented designer, seamstress, baker, champion of the wrongfully accused and underprivileged, powerful catalyst for social change, alchemist and connector of souls, teacher of what it means to live life to the fullest in the spirit of sharing and love.

Jane sailed on July 18th, her perfect day, as it turns out, because in Judaism, “Chai,” the number “18” literally means “LIFE!” It is considered the luckiest number of Gematria, our mystical tradition that assigns a numerological value to Hebrew letters. Gifts are often given in multiples of 18, which literally signify the giving of life. It means to “enjoy the time we are all given on earth,” and is said at every celebration as a blessing acknowledging the anticipation of all the good things to come …  in her parting, this was the greatest gift she left behind, that of hope and joy, and this is where I draw my strength, knowing that she wants me to continue her legacy of love and celebrating life, no matter how painful it might become in moments.
Many of you have reached out to me to express how awestruck you are at my courage … please know that I don’t feel my courage. In moments, like a silent, steady heartbeat, I may feel the strength I have inherited from my ancestors, specifically from my maternal Grandfather and my Mother, both of whom were powerfully optimistic, “I will prevail,” kind of people, but make no mistake, I am suffering with agonies I have never felt until now, and the manifestation of these feelings is my very breath, or lack thereof.

After we lost Robin Williams this week, having suffered from suicidal depression myself in the past and survived by the grace of some inexplicable confluence of events, realizations and shifts— by some miracle, really … my heart, which was already cracked in two, started bleeding.

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