Giving Back is Rebellious

It’s Sunday, the day after another phenomenal Tour de Cure that I repeated as #1 fundraiser for the fourth time. It is the major fundraising event of the American Diabetes Association and the cause that I am most dedicated to.

When my son Nate was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 2011 at the age of 15, I made a commitment to do all I could for the cause that supports diabetics as they worked towards the cure.

I’ve discovered that I feel most fulfilled when I’m working towards a goal that is truly helping people in need. It started as one father wanting to do all I could to help my son live with this life long diagnoses at a young age. I learned what a critical health crisis the diabetes epidemic had become and made a commitment to be a leading fundraiser for our local tour. Friends, relatives and colleagues responded generously to the passion I had to support my son and and work towards a cure.

What has transpired in 8 years is a large dedicated team in a small Upstate New York city that now leads the nation in caring about improving the health and wellbeing of all diabetics. I’ve seen countless lives changed by being involved in Tour. Men and women started training for the ride and transformed their bodies while helping support their fellow diabetics along the way.

Like most people, unfortunately what I think about most is myself. By being passionately involved in this volunteer and charitable work, I rebel against compulsively focusing on my egoic self centeredness. I put my heart and soul into serving others and in the process feel tremendously uplifted. While we are cycling for the cure all of us that are involved enjoy a wonderful sense of camaraderie. It’s a rapidly expanding movement that I hope and pray will lead to a cure for this horrible disease.

Solitude is Rebellious

Our lives today are constantly bombarded by noise and distraction. Smartphones, computers, radios and televisions are almost never off. Notice how challenging it is to go a minute or two while waiting for anything without checking our e-mail, newsfeed or social media. This lack of quiet has created an epidemic of stress,anxiety and depression in our society. It is difficult to be alone and quiet with our thoughts for even five minutes. We are habituated to fill every moment with some form of stimulation that ultimately influences all of our thoughts, emotions and actions.

For this rebel,spending quiet time in solitude on a daily basis is imperative for my peace of mind. Closing my eyes and breathing consciously in mindful meditation and contemplation have liberated me from much of my day to day neuroses’,self-doubts,fears and phobias.

We must embrace solitude in order to come to know ourselves on a soul level. True inner growth can only occur when one spends time alone listening to the silence. I’ve come to view my time alone as a gift, an opportunity to experience potentially deep levels of awareness that turn out to be transformational.

Time spent in solitude experiencing the serenity of silence is far different than loneliness. To allow oneself to be alone can be uncomfortable until we get in touch with a higher self awareness. This can only happen by tuning out all the noise and transcending what we are afraid to see that blocks us. Often it takes considerable time and discipline staying in solitude and silence to cut through all of our baggage and deep seated pain to see the light of our true selves in the present moment.

Most of us, myself included have spent so much of our lives searching for the truth outside of ourselves. Once we realize that the answer lies within, we get to know where real contentment and true happiness lie.

On My Mind...

  The optimist in me sees and hears the beginning of spring. Listen quietly and the birds are telling us that the worst is over. That the likelihood of 20 degrees and lower is dwindling and that while we may get a bit more snow, that for the most part precipitation will be rain and it will begin the cycle of sprouting buds and greening lawns.

The optimist in me watches the winter of our discontent (to borrow the phrase) begin to turn into a season of retribution and correction, and restatement of purpose. The compounding of egregious acts by our lame-brained President will accelerate as a sign of impending comeuppance and as his path becomes narrower and narrower, with fewer and fewer sycophants hanging on as they too begin the scramble for their political and ideological lives.

The optimist in me watches in amazement as the horror of a mass killing of children and their protectors spawns an activism never before expressed in the land. Perhaps indeed it will be the children who lead us towards a sensible solution of the gun debacle. After all, we adults have crumbled in the face of the gun lobby and its protectors. We have stood by as a Congress, bent on a selfishness of massive degree, has removed itself from any believable positive posture on the issue.

The optimist in me watches the rousing kindling of the women in our nation as they proclaim that "they have had enough and will take no more" when it comes to protection of their bodies and of their life's missions. Undoubtedly, they too will rise in defense of their children and for the children next door, around the corner and across the land.

As the earth shows sign of warming and of giving life in this early spring, take a moment to listen for the birds and to examine the buds. Peek in your back yard and see the crocuses and dandelions pushing through the soil saying "here I am". Soon to stand tall and be counted they await all of us, yes every one of us, to also stand and be counted...let's put value on the lives of our children, on our personal goals and ambitions, and on the country that has so much more to offer than our present decline...

Happy 2018

Happy 2018! The winter season and new year are excellent opportunities to reflect and look inward. In that stillness and from a place of self-love, I invite you to consider your intentions for this year.

What are you happy to leave behind? What are you committed to no longer tolerating? What are you excited to let in? What are you motivated to make space for? I made specific lists for each of those questions and when I finished writing, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted and I was genuinely enthusiastic about the opportunities I would create in 2018. Writing these lists helped me to take a big step forward and release what no longer serves me and acknowledge what I want to manifest. Recognizing and committing to new intentions is so empowering!

Here are a few highlights from my lists:

I am happy to leave behind fear of what other people think of me. I am committed to no longer running myself ragged and ignoring self-care. I am excited to let in a new loop of positive affirmations and abundance. I am motivated to make space for forgiveness of myself and others. While New Year’s Resolutions tend to come and go, setting clear intentions and showing up fully each day to do our best, sets us up for awesome success day after day. As you consider your intentions and the questions above, I encourage you to focus on moving away from what has held you back. Take some deep breaths, grab a pen and paper and write to clear out and release the thought patterns and habits that no longer serve you in a positive way. Take more deep breaths and write to get clear on how you want to live and where you’ll focus your energy. You’re worth this effort, so fill your mind with new thoughts and your heart with positive vibes, and take a step forward.

I’d love to hear from you! What are your intentions for the new year and how did you gain clarity around them? If you’d like support, reach out and schedule a free Discovery Call, I look forward to chatting with you.

Xo, Meg

Living a Magnificent Life is Rebellious

I frequently hear people expressing how challenging they feel life is. Many say they are frustrated, depressed, anxious, or downright angry. So the very idea that life holds the possibility of being magnificent may seem outrageous. You may ask how can life be magnificent when there is so much suffering on the planet right now? My answer to that is REBEL! Face your challenges and struggles by making your life truly magnificent. I am typically not a fan of the holiday season craziness. This year I chose to focus on the “Christ Consciousness” that abides within all of us and I found December almost enjoyable. Why is this Jewish man talking about Christ Consciousness? It matters not what religion we happen to be, a Divine Spirit lives within all of us. Beneath our personality and egoic mind dwells our holy soul, the shechina as it is known in the Hebrew Scriptures. We have the opportunity to access this amazing state of consciousness by keeping our focus in the here and now, savoring the precious moments experienced along the way. While this may seem simple, it is hardly easy. Our egoic minds tend to obsess about the past or future, frequently missing the magnificent moment. We touch our souls by focusing on and really experiencing the truly special moments of life. Speaking truth and living with integrity enrich our states of being as well. Being honorable and known as a person that can always be trusted goes a long way towards magnificence.

Discover what ignites your passion, it is a sure path to magnificence. Sing, dance, play, write, paint, plant a garden just do the things that get you fired up about life. For this rebel, downhill skiing in the winter and road cycling in the warmer months afford me a tremendous sense of exhilaration in the present moment.

The spiritual path is not all seriousness. It’s imperative that we have lots of fun along the way. What good is it to raise our consciousness if we aren’t enjoying life and seeing so much of the humor in it? Laugh long, hard and often. Go out there and live, a magnificent life awaits you!

Reflections on the Positive Effects of Gratitude

I spent much of Thanksgiving this year focused on the multitude of blessings in my life. There is no doubt that gratitude is very good for your health. Countless scientific studies have discovered that an attitude of gratitude is highly beneficial to our mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. Personally I’ve noticed that simply stopping to think about two or three things I’m grateful for can relieve anxiety and lift a dark mood. In a post I wrote in August I suggested that gratitude is rebellious, how it frees us from our self absorbed egoic attitude of what’s lacking, affording us with the liberating sense of abundance that is our soul’s/higher Self’s true nature.

Among the discoveries in the aforementioned studies on gratitude are: an increase in vitality and energy, improved sleep, more fulfilling relationships, a reduction in physical pain and depressive symptoms along with boosts in careers.

From personal experience I know that gratitude has transformed my life in many ways. I work in a business that is highly competitive and remember times that I would compare my accomplishments to my colleagues and think they were doing so much better than I was. What I’ve come to realize is that by self acceptance and gratitude for what I’ve done and have I experience far greater overall life and career satisfaction.

Gratitude is one of the most effective tools for dispelling negative moods. God’s loving presence can be experienced when we embrace the present moment with gratitude.

Positive psychology suggests that Gratitude is if fact an emotion and scientifically the effects of gratitude can actually be measured.

Years ago I was told that “Thank You”is the most perfect prayer. From personal experience that is absolutely true. The only other prayer that comes close is silence.

In closing I’d like to quote the great Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

Rebel....Put down the self help books you are enough!

I have read countless “self-help” books and attended more trainings & seminars than I can quantify. I have been a spiritual seeker for most of my life. In the last five years through a renewed commitment to consistent daily meditation, contemplation and prayer I have let go of seeking God, the answer or truth outside my Self. I am intrigued by how much self help material is promoted on social media, and through e-mail campaigns.  “Click bait” is everywhere online. You know them: “10 ways to a pain free life”, “8 ways to total enlightenment in less than a week” etc. etc.

I get that positive support and inspiration are being offered. Still much of what’s being hocked out there is fluff if not total garbage. I do click on a few of these sites from time to time. Once in awhile I learn something somewhat compelling. Most of the time it is like watching TV, sometimes entertaining or educational, other times like annoying infomercials. I have to ask myself what it is that I thought I might learn or discover? What it always tends to remind me once I hear the sales pitch is that I am enough without buying another book, training  program or audio tape series.

Self-Help and Personal Development are both huge industries perhaps two of the hottest categories on the internet. I know there are plenty of positive helpful materials and programs out there. People are searching today more than ever. We live in troubled times. Anxiety, depression and stress are rampant.  We seek solutions and meaning in our lives. The pursuit of material success and physical comfort is proving to be very unfulfilling. Men and women across the generations are asking the existential question:why are we here?  In my  experience I’ve sought Personal Development, wisdom, direction and a deeper purpose to my life for as long as I can remember.

The challenge is having the intestinal fortitude to go through the process. All your shit will come to the surface, and you need to do a thorough personal inventory. We inhabit a world full of distractions and constant noise. Ultimately it’s in the silence that we find our true Self, Higher Power, God within.

Anxiety: How to Deal With It

Anxiety is a real thing. Yes, you heard me. I recently came across a set of statistics that 40 million U.S. adults suffer from an anxiety disorder, and 75 percent of them experience their first episode of anxiety by the age of 22. That number really struck a cord with me. At the age of 21, I can absolutely say I have experienced my fair share of anxiety. I have no shame in admitting it, nor should anyone else. I believe it is a normal thing to feel anxious about various things going on in your life because of the world we live in. For me, I had never experienced anxiety until more recently. Trying to balance school, work, family and friends, all at the same time as I am trying to figure out my future and what my next chapter of my life after college will look like. How could I not feel anxious?Although I have moments of feeling extremely anxious, I have worked really hard on ways to help myself cope with it and how to move forward with my life. It is so easy to shut down and ignore how you are feeling, but eventually you will have to face your emotions. Once you figure out ways to help with your anxiety, it makes it that much easier to find a healthy balance and live your happiest life. Now, I am not a doctor by any means, but I have come up with a list of tips that are very helpful for me personally, and maybe they will help you, too!

1. Exercise

I could give you the thousands of statistics out there that back up the fact that exercise is so good for your mental health, or I could just tell you from my experience. Any time I am feeling extremely anxious about something, it's so easy for me to want to just crawl into bed and turn my mind off by taking a nap. That being said, that is usually a temporary solution. Once I wake up from my nap, I am right back to where I was before. On the other hand, every time I head to the gym and do a killer workout, my mind is always way more clear afterwards. Even taking a small run around the block does wonders!

2. Meditation

Meditation is a great way to get your anxiety and stress levels down. When I first experienced episodes of anxiety, I researched different ways to help cope with it, and meditation was number one on the list. I had never really meditated before outside of a yoga class, so I did not know how to do it myself or where to start! Luckily, there are so many apps out there to help guide you and you can download them easily on your phone. Headspace: Mediation is highly ranked and it is the one I personally use.

3. Read a Book

Now, I don't mean read a school book. Go out to the store and buy a book of your choosing. Something that will help you get your mind off of whatever is going on in your life. I am trying to do this more because it is so effective. It allows your mind to be free of everything you have to accomplish the next day, and you can just immerse yourself in the story. Even if you read one chapter each night, I am telling you, it truly makes a difference!

4. Make a Playlist

This one sounds silly, but I have a playlist on my phone dedicated to when I am really stressed and anxious. The playlist consists of uplifting music that literally forces a smile on my face. Music has such a huge effect on our moods if you think about it. When we hear a sad song, we become sad. When we need motivation, we listen to pump-up music. So, when you are feeling anxious, listen to some happy songs.

5. Look Through Pictures

One thing that always helps me is to look at old pictures. While this might not help everyone, it works really well for me. I look back at all of my memories with the ones I love, and it helps remind me of how grateful I am to live the life I do. It allows me to feel centered, and realize that this too shall pass and I will get through whatever is making me anxious.

Next time you are experiencing anxiety, give one of these a shot! Anxiety is most definitely real, and it is not fun, but the most important thing about anxiety is learning how to cope with it. Don't just ignore it. Don't shut down. Face it head on and learn which coping mechanisms work for you so the next time you experience it you can walk away feeling better than ever.

Lastly, I am going to challenge you. I decided today that I am going to take a little break from social media for a few days. Personally, social media never helps me cope with my anxiety, it actually makes it worse, and I am sure I am not the only one out there. So, I challenge you to take a little break with me! See how far you can go without it. I'm sure it will help clear your mind and allow you to focus more on what really matters.

On My Mind...

  Clearing skies ahead?

Yeah, for every appearance this country is in a meltdown. Even prior to the horrific natural calamities, the unlikely election of Trump, a man of unnatural needs, had occurred.

We've gone from bad to worse as far as he is concerned and we find ourselves so far off base that little adds to the surprise. Each malicious act is followed by another and each day brings its own hand-wringing, OMGs, and ire.

We've never experienced such a display of Democracy's fault lines, nor have we witnessed the exposed throat of Lady Liberty.

Compounding the Trump phenomenon, truly of greater risk, is the abandonment by Congress (Republicans) of its role to serve and protect. We have witnessed incompetence in both the Executive and Legislative branches of government as never seen in my lifetime. Destructive urges rule the moment. Checks and balances have been replaced with passive acquiescence, if not emboldening silence, as the country can no longer even tread water.

So, with all signs of the setting American sun, where do we look for solace, for hope, and for a resurgent future?

While Trump works his way to final ignominy, signs of weakening alliances have emerged, including evidence that Congress has been sufficiently alarmed (fearing for themselves, of course) that we are hearing open discord with a tremor of mutiny. Best guess, is that they have solution to rid us of the "deranged one", unless they are unprepared to even try and save themselves (unthinkable). Something is afoot in Congress and it must play out before the shellacking that 2018 will bring to the Republicans, if nothing happens to thwart it.

Mueller is quietly, but quickly, working to secure his information for others to follow should he be fired. His investigations are in both political and criminal arenas and he has put together a powerful and experienced team of political and criminal prosecutors.

As utterly inconceivable as it seems, our Executive Branch is being held together by former US General Officers, who have sworn loyalty to our Constitution. They have led exemplary lives of commitment to our nation and, as unusual as it seems, they are rock solid in their determination to continue their roles.

Lastly, "We The People" are taking on a slowly awakening role, not called for perhaps since the Civil War, to mobilize and secure our founding principles. There is a growing sense of urgency. A declaration of renewal is becoming apparent.

The timeline for an unfolding challenge to the current chaos has begun.

First Milestone: Tillerson (for better or for worse) has stated that he is going nowhere. The former Generals, Kelly, McMaster, and Mattis have signaled their intent to "protect" this nation. That's close to a 100 years of combined service and loyalty speaking. The containment of Trump and the White House has occurred.

Next, Congress will force Trump to exit (perhaps an offer of indemnity) or be removed (Article 25) for incompetence. This drumbeat is quickening and leaks in Congress are beginning.

Our role in this disengagement will be to keep pressure on our legislators, to encourage centrists on both sides of the political aisle, and to vote in all elections that we can.

The most powerful repudiation of our current anomaly is the vote...

Observing Your Mind is Rebellious

I have been practicing meditation for many years. As I listen to the silence I realize that observing  the intrusive thoughts that arise with detachment is rebellious. Our egos constantly create states of restlessness and discontent. Who is doing the observing when we become aware of our thoughts and simply watch them pass through our minds?  How do we discern the difference between egoic thinking and the intuition of our spirit? For me it has taken a long time and a lot of practice just to come close to the awareness of the difference. I pray for guidance to be led and inspired by a power greater than myself. When thoughts are agitating, critical or negative, I perceive them as egoic and do my best to observe and let them go. When thoughts are uplifting, generate feelings of truth, beauty, goodness and serenity during meditation they are most likely spiritually inspired. I work on sitting in the observers seat no matter what and attempt to not become attached to the non stop movement of my mind.

This level of awareness can often be experienced simply by stopping and breathing deeply right where we are. For many this is known as " Mindfulness", becoming fully aware of what is going on with you in the present moment. Our egos seem to thrive in regrets of the past and fear of the future. The simple act of observation and becoming present is a powerful yet peaceful act of rebellion, our most natural state of being!

For this rebel, challenging my Ego's stranglehold on my consciousness requires vigilance and a determination to become truly liberated. The ego is a tyrant that I choose to rebel against to become free. This rebellion takes us on a journey to the deepest depths of our souls. We must dive into the silence and listen for the voice of God.

On My Mind...

I guess I'm both a realist and a pragmatist. My conflict is that I see things as they are (good trait for a physician) but also, as a pragmatist having the ability of "dealing with a problem in a sensible way that suits the conditions". Its not easy to see the reality and despite it, find an unemotional, sensible solution.But even so, I sometimes find myself crossing my fingers despite what reality may be showing for the moment.

Such is the case when one looks at the present and tries to see past it. I ended yesterday's post by saying that there is "good news" coming today. And there is, for both the pragmatists and the realists among us.

Foremost, we must learn from what we have unleashed. We must determine if we have the strength to recognize our shortcomings and what they contributed, in no small manner, to the aberration that we are living through now; that the cascade of consequences, Trump and his Czar, Rasputinesque court, were a direct result of missed opportunities by the rest of us. We opened gates through our own hubris to the disaffected, angered, hard right edge of our country.

So, the good news, promised after all, is that if we have been chastened by our own actions. We must now conquer our divisive parochialism (petty tribalism) and begin to see the greater good by abandoning the multiple smaller pathways that some of us chose in 2016 rather than impose the force of unity.

That is the choice that lies ahead of us. We have seen what occurs when moderates of both parties opt out of the mainstream and pursue the "independent" path to nowhere. What we do have now is a very clear lesson to follow and that message is that amidst cross-purposes and garbled intentions we open the gates to chaos. The cockeyed realist (oh, did I mention that I am also an unrelenting optimist) permits the facts to be seen but also the promise of what appears ahead.

We have the challenge of today to correct our disunity of recent past and with moderates of the Republicans (also repulsed by what was wrought), perhaps we can forge a moderate, middle majority, seeking to restore an America based on the principles "of we not me" and "us not you".

Are we up to it?...

Would really appreciate comment. SAB

Living and Rebelling Communally/ Part 2 California

The summer of 1976 was a turbulent and somewhat confusing time at the Pond. There was a move towards Evangelical Christianity and those of us that were happy as yogis rebelled and some left. I had been dividing my time between working as a cab driver in Manhattan and the country life on the land at the pond. I was ready for a change and decided to hitchhike out west that August. I spent several weeks in the San Francisco Bay Area where my sister Deborah was living at the time and then headed south to visit a friend in Santa Barbara where the mountains meet the ocean, one of the most beautuful places on the planet.

That first night at my friend Nick's house, I closed my eyes while relaxing in his living room and my inner voice said very clearly " you are home". The next day we had lunch in a little natural food cafe called the The Farmer and the Fisherman. It was run by Sunburst Farms, a spiritual community in the mountains above town. I met Dennis, the manager of the cafe, still a friend of mine, who shared a bit about the commune and invited me to visit. This began an amazing journey of the next four years living on three different ranches Sunburst owned in the beautiful mountains of the Los Padres National Forest outside of Santa Barbara.

At first I worked on the land at Lemuria Ranch in the back country learning about agriculture, horticulture and caring for the animals we raised.  Later on I worked in the natural foods markets we ran in town eventually becoming the manager of the Isla Vista store near the UCSB campus.

Far more significantly than what I did on the commune were the deep spiritual connections and comraderie I had with people I still consider brothers and sisters to this day. We shared what we had, meditated, worked, sang and played together every day.

Nearly 38 years ago many of us left that beautiful ranch along the California coast because we had lost confidence in the leadership. A core group of us settled in Santa Barbara where I stayed for several more years. Friends Mehosh, Chris & Michael, Kate, Jack, Bob & Xenia, Michael & Kathy  and Miguel among many others are still near and dear to my heart. Reflecting on those wonderful years, I have no regrets and feel a profound sense of gratitude that I had that awesome experience that has been a guiding light on the spiritual path I continue to walk on daily.

Sustainable Health With A Positive Mindset

I used to be quick to say “no” because my default mindset tended to be negative. This outlook made life a drag, everything felt hard and it took a lot of energy to just get through a normal day. Saying “no” caused me to feel stuck, whereas saying “yes” now opens doors to growth and adventure. Our mindset plays a huge role in how we see and experience our world. Interestingly, “no” or “yes” can be equally empowering because they are clear and allow us to stand up for ourselves. What I’ve noticed though in terms of health and wellness is that “no” is often connected with punishment, deprivation or judgment. We see living a healthy, balanced life as somehow not as enjoyable because we say no to things we used to enjoy (even if they didn’t always make us feel good.)

No, I can’t go out for pizza, I’m watching my weight. No, I can’t relax on the couch, I have to go to the gym. No, I can’t be on Facebook, I have to meditate. That type of “no” is dangerous because we’ve framed being healthy as a chore and it’s really difficult to sustain a habit that feels like a burden. Frankly, who would want to maintain a lifestyle that dragged her down?! The process to feel better in mind, body and soul may be difficult at first, however when our choices help us to feel amazing then we’re more likely to create new habits instead of reverting back to the old ones that kept us stagnant or unhealthy.

Here are somethings to consider as you work to take care of yourself: Instead of saying no to another piece of cake, say yes to feeling energized and fueled by your food. Instead of saying no to binge watching your new favorite show, say yes to moving your body to destress. Instead of saying no to connecting with technology, say yes to clearing your mind and restoring balance with deep breathing. The good news is your action is the same with all of those instances above, but a “yes” mindset is so much more pleasant than a “no.” And you deserve actions and a mindset that lift you up and allow you to thrive.

As always, I would love to hear from you! What are you saying no or yes to these days and how is it serving you? If you’d like support to change your mindset and to live in a way that supports your best and authentic self, please contact me to schedule a free Discovery Session. meg@megburtontudman.com

Living and Rebelling Communally....Our Reunion

I was a certified card carrying member of the late '60s early '70s generation of rebellion. I set out to find a better way of life than what I perceived to be the shallowness of my upper middle class suburban upbringing.  I grew my hair and discovered mind altering substances in high school. My friends and I loved the San Francisco psychedelic sounds of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service.We had  great adventures expanding our consciousness and perspectives as well as some fabulous journeys, festivals and camping trips.

Many of us, myself included chose alternative paths after high school foregoing the traditional route to college and a career to take off and see the world. For me I went to Israel  after graduating early in January of  '71 and had my first communal experiences on several kibbutzim (agricultural communities). I worked in the  orchards and fields there and it set in motion my dream of living communally when I got back to the states.

Upon returning home in August of '71 I started searching to fulfill that dream.  I worked at several jobs in my hometown then hitchhiked to Colorado that fall.  When I got back from my trip out west, my best buddy Billy Hart had bought a dilapidated 40 acre farm in Angelica in the southern tier of New York State. We spent many long weekends helping him fix the place up and doing plenty of parting. I moved down there for several months in the spring of '72 with the hopes of starting that dream commune with him and a few other friends.Ultimately the farm didnt become the commune I hoped to find.

In the summer 1972 I was an 18 year old hippie spiritual seeker. I met some great people and had an amazing life changing  experience at a yoga retreat in Painted Post, New York.  I went home from there packed my bags and moved to Ananda Ashram an hour outside of New York City. This was the beginning of what would be my communal life for the next eight years living in 3 different communities on the east and west coasts.

In the fall of '72 a group of us from the ashram discovered Gil, a" silent guru" sitting on the corner of 86th Street and Central Park West in Manhattan. People would gather around him and listen to his spiritual wisdom in sign language that his sidekick, Ken aka Rocky would translate. In January of '73 we purchased an old school bus, painted Yea God on the back and 40 of us got on it with our sleeping bags and what few material possessions we owned. All we knew was the we were going south to escape the New York winter. It was an amazing adventure that took us through the southern states and into Mexico. There were many amazing fun times and a some serious trials and tribulations along the way. What was so incredible was how so many people could live together, get along so well and share everything the way we did. We came back to the states that spring, spent several months in Tecate, California before heading back east and settling on a piece of land outside of Ithaca, New York known as Beech Hill Pond.

This is past weekend the "family" gathered near Ithaca for our 45 year reunion. We sang the songs we used to sing, shared many hilarious stories and fond memories of that very special time in our youth. It was a magical weekend for me that touched my soul deeply. The love and brotherhood we shared as young seekers discovering our common quest to experience a spiritual truth is still with us after all these years.

I am blessed to have had such rich experiences  and relationships that continue to inspire me to this day. To be continued....

Living an Unhurried Life is Rebellious

Once again my dear friend  and awesome yogini Aimee shared profound wisdom to begin her Friday evening yoga class.Simply put she challenged us to be with and accept our state of being exactly as it is now without judgement.

When I entered the yoga studio I was feeling totally off center. What transpired during that hour of yoga was truly transformative. I consciously slowed down and allowed whatever feelings that came up whether in my body, heart or mind to just be. When I felt tension or pains in my body I slowed down and felt them without force or judgement.

What is becoming increasingly apparent to me is that slowing way down and  experiencing silence has led me to become a significantly happier and more peaceful human being.  To learn to live intuitively and be guided by a higher power can only occur when we consciously live an unhurried life with significant time spent in silence.

I frequently hear people speak of boredom as if it was a fatal malady.  Silence can be scary if we are so accustomed to constant stimulation and always being on the run. It is how we are programmed to live in our western culture today. You see how difficult it can be to just sit for a few minutes without immediately grabbing our smartphone to check Facebook or if we have received some very important message that can't wait.

Recently I had to take a break and leave a meeting for a few minutes. Upon returning the friend I was with was simply sitting there doing nothing with a very contented expression on his face and no phone in his hand.  I quickly realized that I would have checked my phone had he gotten up from the table. I am now acutely aware of how often I feel the need to distract myself from myself, so I'm striving to spend much less time with my face in a screen.

Slowing down, hurrying much less and allowing for silent reflection is certainly rebellious in these noisy distracted times. It has also given me much greater health and a deeper sense of peace and serenity.

Gratitude is Rebellious

In this era where so many feel way too entitled, to allow gratitude to be the guiding force in one's life is a true gift. The ego tends to always see and perceive what is lacking in our lives. As I get the opportunity to dive deeper into the silence, I find I can only really let go when I  appreciate this gift of life.As someone who experiences anxiety from time to time, the ability to refocus on the abundant gifts in my life is paramount.

First and foremost we need to give and experience true love. I know that sharing love enlivens my heart and soul. We can often overlook this when we feel entitled to receive ease and comfort without any degree of personal sacrifice. In times when I find myself in a dark state, I  have discovered that relief can be as close as my next deep breath where God always is. That breath leads to a heightened awareness of all that is good and beautiful in my life.  Sometimes the process is messy and challenging. Challenges can be blessings and blessings can be challenges. Often simply asking the question "What am I grateful for right now"? can elevate one's conciousness and flood the brain with endorphins.

We need gentle kind reminders to lead us back to our inherent nature of truth beauty and goodness. To open our hearts to a state of gratitude is one of the gifts of higher awareness

You may be asking what makes gratitude Rebellious? To enter a state of true appreciation requires you to let go of your preoccupation with yourself which we all do to some degree much of the time.

We Rebel against our lower self and it's petty obsessions and demands.  We move towards abiding in our higher Self, a state of peace and true serenity.

Democrats Need More Than a new slogan

As I watched the roll-out of the Democrats’ “Better Deal,” I thought of President Gerald Ford’s “WIN” campaign, an acronym for “Whip Inflation Now.” Despite the hype, and the lapel button sported by the president, it was a laughable effort in confronting a real crisis. I believe the “Better Deal” will meet the same fate. This “Better Deal” is neither new nor bold. It is a transparent repackaging of some elements of the party’s agenda to appeal to a certain segment of Trump voters. These are working men and women—let’s be honest, white working men and women—who have been severely impacted by job losses due to globalization and technological change. It is accepted almost universally that Hillary Clinton lost the election last fall because she failed to connect with this segment of the electorate.

Now there is nothing objectionable in the three elements of the “Better Deal.” No one would argue with higher wages for needed infrastructure jobs, reduced expenses for pharmaceuticals, and help in acquiring the skills needed for the twenty-first century economy.

But is this really enough of an agenda for the Democratic party?

Is it even accurate to say that Hillary Clinton lost the presidency because of her inability to connect with this cohort of voters? I believe this very premise is incorrect, and I fear that what is omitted from the “better deal” in focusing on this demographic diminishes the ideals that make many of us proudly pull the Democratic lever rather than the Republican one, and the constituencies that are the foundation of the Democratic party.

It is worth bearing in mind that Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote convincingly. She lost the election because of the slimmest of margins in three states, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Certainly, had she won a larger share of the white working class vote she would have triumphed in these three states. But she also would have won if minorities and young people who voted for President Obama had come out to vote for her. The failure to mobilize this important part of the Democratic coalition that chose either to sit out the election or vote for fringe party candidates easily accounts for the difference between victory and defeat. Wouldn’t it make more sense to focus on an agenda that will energize this group that was disaffected or insufficiently motivated by the Clinton campaign?

And no version of any reformulated agenda can insulate against the unprecedented October surprise that James Comey handed us. Even Republican pollsters are reported to believe that this event, more than any other, tipped the scales away from the Secretary during the last days of the campaign.

I am astonished that Democrats feel the need to reinvent what they stand for. Democrats should be proud of what the modern party stands for and how different it is from what the Republicans stand for.

First and foremost, I believe that Democrats stand for a vision of America that embraces the diversity of its people as our country’s strength, and respects the dignity of every human being regardless of race or religion, national origin or ethnicity, gender, gender orientation or gender identification, wealth or status.

The Democratic agenda stands for the rule of law and fairness for every person before the law.

It stands for a free press, and the right of the people to assemble in protest without their bona fides as real Americans being called into question.

It stands for the principle that every American is entitled to affordable health care.

It should stand for an America that is engaged globally, and leads by example, not by threat.

It should stand for protecting workers from exploitation. They should not have to sacrifice safe working conditions in order to find employment.

It should stand for protecting the planet. Environmental responsibility is not a luxury that can take a back seat to short-term economic gain.

It should stand for freedom of religion, while at the same time acknowledging that members of all faiths have a responsibility to abide by the law and the civic values that protect everyone’s rights.

These are timeless values that are continuing to evolve. Their frontiers are ever expanding. These are the values that Democrats stand for. These are the core values American society is built upon. The Democratic party does not just pay lip service to these ideals. And this is what most distinguishes the Democratic party from the Republican party.

The Republican party proclaims that the needs of all the people will be their priority. But despite their pronouncements, virtually every one of their remedies is based on lower taxes for the already wealthy. Cut away the verbiage and there seems to be little else they stand for. The most you can say about them is that they are true believers. They believe that lower taxes will solve every societal ill. The current healthcare debate is an excellent example because it highlights how Republicans use the language of improving care, lowering cost, and providing greater accessibility to disguise a program that will strip health care from millions of the most vulnerable in society and enrich the wealthiest.

Furthermore, one will not find Democrats pandering to bigotry, racism or xenophobia. Even with a wink and a nod! One of the greatest threats to our society’s well-being is the way these un-American traits were central to the Trump campaign. What is particularly frightening is how many people allowed themselves to be allied with values that they would normally find repugnant. The Republican party still fails to clearly repudiate these tactics which are now integral to the Trump way of governing.

Democrats cannot beat Republicans at their own game. They should not want to. They must make clear the distinction between the parties. The public needs to know that the values Democrats stand for are nothing like the values that the current Republican president and many, many in the current Republican Congress, and the voters who put them there, stand for.

Our country is at a moral, spiritual, and political crossroads.

It is not a new slogan or a new agenda that the Democratic party needs. It is a fearless, proud, unapologetic statement of its historic commitments that the times demand of the Democrats.

The future of the country depends on it.

Living in the Present Moment is Rebellious

As my favorite yoga teacher and dear friend Aimee began our Friday afternoon yoga class, she shared a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh: " There is no other time but the present moment".  To realize that all  the happiness we seek is right here and now within each of us is truly liberating. This is by no means new information, yet it is quite a challenge to consistently stay in the now and let go of living in the wreckage of the past or future.

One of the ways I have discovered to stay present is to become aware of my Prana, a Sanskrit word loosely translated in English meaning "life force". While the breath is not exactly Prana, conscious deep breathing gets me to experience the prana that always moves through me in the moment.  My daily meditation practice is key to maintaining this awareness as well as remembering to breath deeply throughout the day.

Exercise is is another way I remember to be present.  I went on a 45 mile bike ride Saturday on some truly magnificent country roads near Lake Ontario. While compulsive and intrusive thoughts will periodically enter my mind and take me out of the now, I keep coming back to the moment by feeling the sheer exhilaration of cycling and keeping my awareness on the wind in my face and so much of the beauty I observe.

On Monday morning I found myself feeling a gnawing anxiety thinking I needed to be someplace and do something related to my commercial real estate business aka my " real job". I was completely out of the present moment which is typically what anxiety does to me. So I sat down at Starbucks with a cup of coffee and just started writing in my journal without judging what the content looked like.  I wrote about the people and situations in my life I am grateful for.

As a society we are driven to distraction, probably why anxiety is so rampant today. When we come to that serene place within ourselves and realize there is only this moment, we are truly channeling our inner rebel and getting to live life  as we were meant to.

Rebel with a Cause....Cycling for the Cure

I love road biking, am passionate about  finding a cure for diabetes and supporting the 30,000,000 American diabetics, my 21 year old son Nate among them. Since Nate was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2011 I've combined my passion for cycling with my commitment to giving back by becoming the three time #1 fundraiser on the annual Tour de Cure bike ride for the American Diabetes Association.

I experience a sense of exhilaration and freedom riding out on the beautiful country roads we have here in Upstate New York.

My inner rebel is awakened as I grind out a hard uphill climb followed by the exciting rush of a high speed ride down the other side of that hill.

That same inner rebel is at play as I reach out to raise funds for a cause I feel so strongly about. With one million more Americans being diagnosed every year we must confront the diabetes epidemic head on or it threatens to crush our health care system.

This commitment to set a lofty fundraising goal every year, telling  my son's story and expressing my passion for this critical cause enriches my soul.  I get the added bonus of sharing the journey on my bike with many of my closest friends and colleagues.

Finding Strength

I don't share the stories from my past heroin addiction because I want validation for how far I have come. I don't want a pat on the back, and I do not want to be told that I am amazing or that I am lucky. Im not the kind of person who wants attention, in fact im very introverted. The reason im now sharing my story is because so many people are dying from fatally strong drugs. Many families are losing loved ones; parents losing children, siblings losing their brothers and sisters. The truth is that although I have come a long way from where I once was, I can honestly say that there is nothing special about me. The reason that I do share my past is to show others that our personalities, the way we feel, the things we do, even the way in which we think, can all change to be anything that we would like. The truth is that I was not a depressed person, I was feeling depressed. I was not an anxious person, I was feeling anxious. I was not an angry person, I was feeling angry. And I was not an addict, I was struggling with addiction. We all possess the ability to change. This is not philosophy, but science. Our brains are constantly changing, in fact the neurons in your brain are firing in new and lasting ways just as you read this. We are always changing; our world is always changing. The problem is that mentally, we continue to live in the past. We are always reliving old memories, basing our feelings and our current state off past circumstances. When we accept that we are always changing we then gain a position of power. We gain true power, and that is power over ourselves. This process is not instant, which is why so many people give up before they get to enjoy the fruits of their labor. No, this process is life long, and it is one of constant subjective inquiry. It is a process where we develop our own moral standing, and we begin to set standards for ourselves, while we begin to shed our expectations of others. It is when we take responsibility for the way our own lives turn out that we become fulfilled. Life rewards the free, and freedom begins with what may be the most difficult part of the process; taking accountability for the things that we have control over. As the great Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius once said, "You have power over your mind- not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength."