this time.. not much to say.

Year 1.

I felt like this.

Year 2.

I felt like this.

Year 3.

All I can say is.. joy& love & bliss and that I felt the magic of sangha & practice & love…

The ritual of returning to Grailvlle, the beauty of seeing a dharma brother take vows.
The nourishment of silence, of the earth, of my heart.
I felt stable and supported, loved and connected. My family, in some ways. I see you.
The kindest group with harmony that flows all around us.
Sit. Walk. Repeat.

My wish for everyone in this world, is that you catch a glimpse of this too.

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a beautiful birth story..

My dear friend Stephanie sent this to me, and I had to share- it’s so full of light, love,
surrender, sweetness & knowledge. Stephanie, you are a true gift to this world... it is SO in the lil omm style of living and loving that we had to share….

Dear Adele,

Hi my little girl; it’s me, your mom. I wanted to share with you the story of your beautiful birth.

The spring equinox came and went and with a new moon still in the sky, I kept hoping you would come to me soon. The anticipation of fresh perspective, warmth, new life, and color that I feel every year when winter awaits its turn to spring was amplified this year as we awaited your arrival too. And by march 21, you seemed still cozy in there, but I was feeling physically ready to meet you and needed to relax mentally too, so I got an amazing massage that afternoon, that included some acupressure known to help in labor as well. Saturday passed, no you yet , but I certainly felt and smelled amazingly good, like a combination of peppermint and sage. Sunday, March 22, after a nice morning swim, we took your older siblings, Gianna and Angelo, to the zoo in the morning and walked and walked seeing all of our favorite animals for what we knew would be the last time as a family of four people. We grabbed soup on our way back at what has become our favorite Sunday lunch spot- the little red fox. I took a walk that afternoon to gather materials to make Gianna’s teachers their “tributes of love books ” in which I was assembling letters from all 15 kids into 3 books for teacher appreciation week. Talk about last minute project before your birth. After dinner of homemade pasta, pesto, and meatballs, daddy and I gave your siblings baths and tucked them in. Gianna must have had a sixth sense because she said to me, as we were saying what we were thankful for, “I’m thankful for you mom. Your the best mom in the whole world and there is no other like you- when will I see you next?” “In the morning” I replied, and she said, “sure unless you have the new baby, then it will be 2 days probably right?” She was right.

After finishing crafting the teachers books, I went up to bed to read a great new novel. At about 930pm, I started feeling contractions that were getting stronger and closer together while I was reading in bed. But that was the third time in the past week and a half that “start+stop” labor had happened so I tried not to make too much of it. Mentally, the last week had been tough for me because of this different labor pattern (which happened leading up to your big brothers birth too) and I needed to keep confidence in my body’s ability. You were going to pick your own birthday when you were ready. At 10, Daddy came up to bed and I told him about the contractions but not to make too much of it. After having contractions for an hour, I called GW hospital and found out Nora was the midwife on call- I had seen her most in my pregnancy and loved her, and this made me very happy. She told me to take my time and come in. Dad called the Rices to pick up Shorty. Although these were definitely real contractions, I kept thinking they would stop, because the pattern was kind of strange, 7,4,4,3 min, and then would repeat again. Daddy was excited and called our doula Michelle and told her we’d tell her when we were leaving and Tia Cara and Tio David to tell them to come on over to stay with Gianna and Angelo. But, my contractions stopped at 11pm right after they arrived. They opted to sleepover on the red couch just in case things picked up. I called Nora back to say they’d slowed down and she said she would be there all night.

Then at 1230 am, actual labor started. Contractions were even stronger than the warm up set I had just a few hours earlier. I felt like my bladder would explode during contractions because the strength was so intense! I remembered this feeling from Angelo’s labor and started secretly knowing you are coming to me. I told Daddy to sleep for the beginning despite his desire to be attentive to me. I wanted to labor alone, especially to trust my body. So that I could be alone, I went into our little upstairs bathroom and turned the space heater on outside the door. For the next two hours or so I labored mostly in there, standing in a relaxed goddess pose, swinging my hips side to side and in figure 8s during contractions and would come back to the bed to rest in puppy pose between them. I was breathing so well- all of the yoga I did with you in my belly really made focused-breathing second nature. At 245am or so I knew this was going to be the day that we would meet you! I called Nora on the hospital phone to tell her we were coming in, and Daddy called Michelle. It was hard to leave the house with the contractions close together, but by 3am, I had pieced together the following hilarious outfit between contractions: Shirley’s tens machine pads on my back, a skirt, a dry fit running shirt, a Patagonia bra, my hiking zip up sweatshirt , socks and my clogs. We said a fast goodbye to Tia Cara and Tio David. I had another contraction outside in the parking lot holding into the back of the minivan and then got in, shivering because it was really cold out. We saw so many police on the drive down to GW so daddy didn’t speed, but we broke at red lights and rode through when we could. Again like with your brothers birth, contractions in the car without the ability to move were so hard. I just tried to stretch my body diagonally during them and lift my bottom up so there was some gravity and space for you. Daddy kept reminding me that we were going to meet our baby soon which was my favorite grounding point.

We got to the hospital around 3:30am. Daddy double parked the car and took me up to labor and delivery and Michelle met us upstairs. I labored standing up more at the nurse’s station waiting for a room, at this point contractions were 2 minutes apart. We walked in that delivery room like a sports team- as if saying “hey we are here and ready to rock this birth.” Michelle and a nurse supported me while Daddy went to move the car; he got back very quickly too because we had no idea if things would be as fast as your brother’s birth! Michelle moved the bed up for me so I could use goddess pose and squats during contractions and then forward fold/ lay my torso across the bed during breaks. Around 3:50am, our midwife Nora came in to greet us, gave me a hug, and checked me (I was about 5 cm and almost fully thinned out). She stayed with us watching me labor for a few contractions and have such encouraging words, like “so beautiful” like a wise aunt or older cousin might offer. But, she had 4 other patients delivering that evening, so left to attend to them. After 4am the nice, experienced, and chill nurse we met on the way in, Stacey, came to join us. After laboring standing up for a long while, I was feeling tired, lightheaded from some too fast breathing, and in need of some room on my upper body to stretch so I jumped right up to the bed between contractions and got into tabletop pose. Michelle filled a cotton ball with some peppermint essential oil and laid it on the part of the bed where I was resting my forehead between contractions. This helped so much with the lightheadedness. So for the rest of labor I alternated between tabletop pose rocking back slightly during contractions and then would stretch my hands and elbows up onto the upright part of the bed to relax between (it was in an L shape). Mentally, the build up to pushing was a little harder with you than Angelo because I remembered the intensity of what was to come during an unmediated natural labor, so my tactic was to close my eyes during the majority of labor, use vocal toning with the sound “oh”, and slow my breathing. Daddy was so supportive and encouraging- rubbing my shoulders, telling me I was doing awesome and that you were coming to us! Michelle kept giving me hip squeezes and massaging my lower back and saying kind words too. And everyone kept me cool (I was SO hot) with water to drink and cold washcloths on my neck. What also helped was me picturing you…I kept thinking of the little hairs I would see on your back and arms and your super soft skin nested next to mine that I would not be able to stop kissing.

Then, I moved into transition sometime before 4:30am. The contractions were ridiculously strong and so close together and I felt the urge to push because you were moving down. I had the nurse call Nora to come back over. When she arrived, she checked me and said I was 8.5 cm dilated and fully thinned out, but that she would like me to just breathe through the contractions for the next little bit, because my baby (you) was doing beautifully moving down on its own and opening the cervix. So, those next 20 minutes were intense but we did it- the pressure made me want to tag team push with with you and my breath got too fast making me light headed again. But I started saying to myself the mantra breathe breathe breathe to get myself back on track. Twenty minutes later at 4:50am, Adele, you started pushing yourself out, my body was literally taken over by you- so much that I yelled out “I’m not doing this!” Nora said “that is ok- that is your baby is pushing itself out! Nice and soft, breathe the baby down.” This was really hard but resulted in such a gentle and strong birth. She let me give two little pushes, once at the beginning and once at the end of your head coming out. Once your head was out, she told me to breathe again as you and the contractions did their work and she ever so gently helped glide one of your shoulders out. Your second shoulder took longer because your hand was up next to your head and your shoulder got a little stuck. Once your shoulders were out and I was allowed to give another small push and i felt you slide in a big “whoosh” out of me at 5:03am on March 23. All in all you it only took 13 minutes for you to fiercely push yourself out of me! And then Nora took you and tossed your tiny body under my legs so your whole body, still connected to me, was right in front of me leaning against the top of the upright part of the bed and your newly born self was looking right at me with the most alert and curious eyes. I reached forward and started kissing you all over. I said out loud looking at Daddy, “we have a girl, a daughter”.

I scooped you up and placed you right on my chest and we lay looking at each other in wonder. You had a big head of dark brown hair and dark bluish eyes and some strong thighs. Daddy and I both loved the shape of your little head. You were so peaceful and awake. I guessed you were 7.5 pounds (and I was right; they didn’t weigh you for a while longer to let us stay skin to skin). We told everyone your name Adele Materese George . We named you for your great grandmother, our Sittu, Adele George, who lived until age 97 filling our family with her amazing love. When Daddy asked me to marry him and we called Sittu to tell her, she said to me (in words I have held close for 8 years) “I loved you as family from the moment I met you…” Besides it being such a beautiful and special name with such a powerful legacy, we could not imagine a better way for you, the newest member of our world to feel…loved from the moment we met you.

You looked at me chomping your hands and making open mouth faces – and Daddy said I think she’s ready for milk! Dad cut the cord and I delivered your placenta. Your bag of waters was described as one of the strongest they had seen – maybe all the red grapes and orange whites I ate. You nursed right away on both sides, with surprised face that something was coming out. Then, Stacey helped secure you into the belly band that I had been wearing for wireless fetal monitoring and we used it as a wrap for you, and we stayed skin to skin until we moved to a postpartum room. Gianna and Angelo excitedly welcomed you into our crew as their strong and mighty little sister on the phone on FaceTime at 615am. Both were so excited that you came out of my belly and were here. Their school printed out the picture of you and me after you were born and hung it on the classroom doors so your sister and brother could show you to all of their friends.

Adele, your birth filled me up. When I met you, love and safety and connectedness just radiated through our skin back and forth to each other. This intense physical closeness is a part of motherhood I have loved so much, and as my last little one, I hope with you I can cherish these moments the most. Your birth was so intense and powerful, but I simultaneously felt peaceful in the slow and gentle way you birthed yourself and Nora glided you out. It was incredible. And I was so thankful for my birth team for creating such a positive space for bringing you into the world. I love the way you curled up in a tiny ball on my chest, the positioning of your body exactly like I felt it in my uterus for the past 9 weeks. I loved that we spent the quiet early morning minutes just before sunrise (my favorite time of day) together as our first ones. I love that the moment I kissed your wet and fluffy cheeks and looked into your beautiful open eyes I was filled with a wave of completeness. That feeling has blossomed so much in the days since your birth too. You complete our crew, and we love you so much. All the waiting is over and I feel so happy I have you, my prize. I cannot wait to see what you teach me in this world and I cannot wait to show you love and wonder and all the beautiful things this world has. And the first on our list, little girl, are the cherry blossoms.

Love you forever and always,
Mommy

Looking Back ( creating a business that loves me)

I’m writing to you from most most sacred space.
I have a sweet little office, with quotes and pictures, candles and flowers.
On the floor is a large round mat, one side for yoga and one side for our art projects. The windows are old and don’t open, there is nothing fancy or new about it- but it’s mine.
I am surrounded with pictures of my yoga and meditation teachers and people I love….. memories reflected & reminding me of this incredible life. It’s a luxury, I know.
I’m grateful to have this space to cultivate my creativity and support daily operations at the yoga studio, which I own.

My business is now 5 years. I recently have spent some time remembering the early days.. where we started and now I also dream & vision about where we want to go.
I have NOT spent a lot of time looking back or reflecting on the business practices, day to day operations or systems we did NOT have.
I’m proud of where we are today- but it’s been a long road of learning, asking for help and taking action to make it better, to make it work, to make it sustainable and profitable.

Almost 4 years ago, I called Racheal Cook. “ HELP ME!” I said. “ I’m scared and drowning. I just had a baby ( my 2nd), he nurses all night long. I’m exhausted. My yoga studio lost our lease and we have to move to a new location. I don’t know how to structure my life or my business to serve me. I am so tired. My hair is falling out all over the place ( HUGE bald spots) and I’m scared of loosing this community I have created and adore.”

Rach was so patient and direct with me. “Let’s get you a manager. You need help. Let’s get you an updated website, your current one is not working! Let’s get you an office! WHAT?? You are working off your dining room table? That is not going to work. You need systems and structure.” She went through each part of my life with me helping to smooth out the rough parts and point me in the direction of success. If I was going to COMMIT to owning a yoga studio I HAD to take my job a bit more seriously. I had to stop telling people I was working part time, and staying at home with my kids full time, I HAD to create space for me to actually DO the admin work that our yoga studio needed.. I had to pay attention to finances and budgets and I HAD to start paying myself. ( like, yesterday)

I invite collaboration into my life on almost all of my projects- retreats with other yoga teachers, conferences with non- profits, masterminding with yoga friends, co-writing with my grandmother, meditating with my sangha.. working with others is something that totally lights me up. I now have 5+ part time employees, 20+ sub contractors, and 4 people on the lilomm yoga leadership team. I interact with people all the time. I love it. And I have learned how much it can totally drain me and deplete me, leaving me empty and depressed. I have been to the depths of overwhelm many times. I have always done too much. Striving to be superwomen, overcommitted, overworked and jam-packing my schedule with responsibilities for as long as I can remember. This all had to stop. Racheal was one of the first women who told me about self care, who taught me about time off, who encouraged me to rest, to not work so much and to plan time ALONE. Wow. I had never even considered that could be valuable OR to be a proven method for a successful, growing, thriving, profitable business! Now, I spend weekends on meditations retreats, yoga retreats, plan time with my family and friends and make sure that EVERY DAY has some time for ME carved out. I have learned that I TRULY SHINE when I fill my own bucket. When I am nourished, I am able to serve & connect with so many more people in a truly authentic & meaningful way.

I can’t even believe how naive I was to start a yoga studio without any idea of what I was doing.
BUT, here is what I have learned… I am a fantastic problem solver and a creative thinker. I CAN learn about expenses and budget and cash flow, I can hire and train employees and team leaders and yoga teachers. I can grow a business that has a HUGE heart and ALWAYS puts people first. I can support my teachers and my yoga practice WITHOUT sacrificing my integrity, my core values or loosing my hair.

Rachael encouraged me to 1. Find a space in my house to claim as my office. 2. Organize it, clean it up and love it. 3. Create small task lists so that each time I came to my space, I was ready to work! ( I often had things piled up and never made time to organize it so I could just get to work ) I was so overwhelmed with running the business, starting it, and managing day to day! I could NOT catch a breath. So, I slowly started to make time for organizing, planning and filing. I got help to go through files and I found a space in my house where I could work. ( I had to re-arrange the kids art area to make it happen..) I turned all of these into habits, routines and rituals for long term, sustainable growth- rather than QUICK fixes, putting out fires and having my business run me into the ground. I took the reigns back and redesigned how I wanted to live my life AND grow a business I love that is meaningful in my community.

Fast Forward 4 years…. I now have my own office in our new- to- us rental home. When we were looking for a place to move last year, I reminded me husband we needed a space in wherever we moved, for my office. As soon as the moving truck left, I started arranging my sacred space. File cabinets, art supplies, bulletin boards, alters for my candles and meditations and inspirations. My heart was racing with happiness! MY OWN beautiful office and work space. Now I paint in here, practice yoga, meditate, pay bills, file taxes and work with Quickbooks.

The total integration of my work and my practice is what makes this all such a gift. I light a candle before I do payroll. I listen to beautiful Kirtan or devotional music when I login to the tax and revenue website. I do whatever I can to create the kind of space I want to work and live in – all the time! My life is complicated with a thriving growing studio, 2 kiddos, a wild dog, a supportive husband and so many lilomm staff and students BUT I am SO much better prepared for the LIFE I want to have. My intention and purpose for the day to day tasks balanced with the incredible reality of the gifts of family and meaningful work have truly led me to want to share this with others. And I’m painting more! I’m reading more! I’m living a LIFE not just working on my biz. I spend a few hours each week mentoring women & college students to help them create meaningful change in their lives. I share with others the tools and habits that have helped me create a business and a life that I love ( and that loves me!)

          

come out to play

you weren’t invited with such a bold invitation.

today Is not the day you all want to come out and play.

too cold. too wet. too empty. too barren.

perfect. I will come and sit with you. I will lay down with your glory and hold you as you are. 

you dont frighten me. you intrigue. 

i love you bare& naked. 

you heal my heart. you make it real.

i love you whole and sad. 

i am distracted by your presence. 

Its not a day others have come to play in your glory or spot your sparkle- but I see it.  its always there- your rawness yours willingness to accept me just as I am.  when will I do the same? 

   

   

at grandmas house

everywhere you turn there is beauty & history. its like being in a museum. my recent trip home has inspired me to capture some of these images and stories. A new project for me, I will be working with my grandmother to document memories about her 86 years of life, and her 95 year old house that has been filled with my family the whole time.

                    

Life in our Lives

Reading from my tradition. Sometimes I see it so clearly. Here it is, simple, really. I am the one who makes it difficult to be here, to be in my life. To not wander away. Here is the truth- and the clarity gives me comfort. 

  Become the least grain of sand and you’ve become inseparable from the whole beach. Big, mighty, or great doesn’t begin to measure what you already are. All you have to do is see it, and then, keep doing the small things. The universe depends on it.”  Karen Maezen Miller