little boy at window watching sunset

Balance, beauty, Viriditas, movement

In different seasons of my life, these words have been my aspirational guide posts. At the end of each year a word emerges, announcing a sort of theme for the coming year. I never feel that I choose the word. It inevitably comes to me in a flash and frames my thinking for months to come. For a year or more, the word accompanies and instructs me.

This year my word is light. I can’t guess where it will take me, but I do know where the journey begins. I’m moving into 2023 by tending to my inner light. I have long been aware of the brightness each of us possesses. As a little girl, I would have called it the Holy Spirit, and as a student of reiki, the great bright light. Some call it the soul. Mark Nepo references “the song from within ignited, again and again, that keeps the world going.” Bringing awareness to our inner light brings insight. Yet, I often fail to heed the clear wisdom I already possess. So, I begin the year by examining the hues of my own splendor.

Of course, this expansive and mutable force is not meant to be contained. Our inner selves inevitably move outward, unfolding beyond comprehension as our light connects us to others. In fact, I’ve come to understand that rays of my inner light emerge in this blog. As I compose my 100th post on Creative Sanctuary, it’s fun to take stock of 5 years of writing. The pieces I consider to be my best don’t always receive the most hits, but they still ring true to me. After the fire in Notre Dame de Paris, I wrote about the divine feminine. A few years ago, I wrote about yin energy as I moved into a hectic holiday season. And more recently, I published a piece on burnout versus exhaustion. The gentle play between the inner and outer takes form, and the self shimmers.


The Book of Awakenings, by Mark Nepo


wrangling unruly toddlerThis being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival […]
Welcome and entertain them all!

As we move into the holiday season, I find myself approaching each gesture with reverence.  Zipping up my long, puffy jacket to meet the icy morning becomes an act of self-protection.  Carving out 20 minutes to light a candle and practice yoga is a sort of prayer for a good night’s sleep.

These chilly, emotionally charged months call for tenderness.  First and foremost, we must be tender with ourselves.  I’ve spent the year learning to welcome all the emotions that arise.  Exhilaration and sorrow both visited and stayed on for a while.  Anger made its way through my guest house, but so did joy.  When I tried to oust my uninvited guests, they hunkered down. In The Guest House, Rumi encourages us to

Be grateful for whatever comes,
Because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond.

At some point in this mind-boggling year, I stopped resisting the emotions I’d rather not feel.  Sadness, grief, and outrage took up space in my house.  I finally befriended them.  I engaged with them.  I ultimately tamed them.  And then they left me.  Allowing these guests to hang out for a while created an internal ease because I wasn’t focused on resisting them.  My life went on, more or less uninterrupted.  I traveled, I rested, and come fall, I threw myself into my work.  All the while, I tended to my guests, moving through successive ups and downs.

I learned to be tender with the effects of betrayal and the deep hurt that ensues.  I was patient with my healing process, extending grace to myself when I seemed to backslide.  Thankfully, my house is now less crowded and far less confusing.  Rumi teaches that unruly guests may be clearing you out for some new delight.  I hope this is true.  In the meantime, I’m content to move about my spacious, bright, relatively empty self.


Rumi’s The Guest House, Translated by Coleman Barks

The Rumi Prescription, by Melody Moezzi


purple thumb

“The body is a document.  It keeps a memory of its own.  We are made of loops and loops of time.” –Ingrid Rojas Contreras

COVID hit me like a summer cold, but long COVID has been no walk in the park.  I was spared excessive fatigue and loss of taste, but the virus nonetheless did a number on my nervous system.  I’ve always been emotionally expressive, but in the weeks following COVID, I was exceptionally fragile.  Happily, my emotions are slowly stabilizing and the steady progress feels sustainable.

My purple thumb is a wild, disconcerting reminder that my body is still out of whack.  The bruises first appeared on day 6 of COVID.  They come and go.  My thumb feels tight and slightly constricted, and my arm aches when it flares up.  After a few days, it fades and then unexpectedly reappears.

My doctor suspects that my condition was brought on by the disturbance the coronavirus caused in my sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.  He told me that this elegant, well-designed system regulates the autonomous processes of the body, including the fight or flight response during a threat or perceived danger.  If the body is under attack from a virus, physical trauma, or emotional upheaval, that regulatory part of the brain is affected.

My doctor is perplexed but not worried.  I have no definitive diagnosis, but we believe that the trauma of COVID likely sent my fight or flight response into overdrive.  Long COVID is uncharted territory, and symptoms vary from patient to patient.  A few weeks ago, I opted to receive a nerve block to pause my fight or flight response.  The simple procedure was soothing and settling.  I consider the injection a useful tool but not a cure.  My nervous system will come back into balance over time, and I must give myself the time and space needed to heal.

I feel validated by the medical community and remain open to more injections and/or talk therapy as I recover.  As always, my friends and family hold me up.  And I’ve chosen to treat the purple thumb adventure as an opportunity to deepen my knowledge of healing.  When my purple-hued thumb sends me looping through my mind and has me pacing my house, I am reminded that healing rarely proceeds in a straight line.  I try to pause and practice deep breathing as a way to soothe my nervous system.  More than ever, I pay attention to emotional triggers and my reactions to them.  How can I step back and recalibrate?  What helps me keep my emotions in check?  Moving forward, how will our society deal with long COVID?  Given that health is a personal, private subject, how can we facilitate healing for others?

I hemmed and hawed before writing about my COVID thumb because the condition frightened me.  I keep it bandaged so that I don’t catch glimpses of the bluish-purple splotch.  As much as possible, I set it aside and focus on the more pleasant aspects of my life.  So why did I choose to post this story?  Writing has the power to restore wholeness.  Sharing does too.




When you have a silly putty spine, gentle movement is usually a safe bet.  For 20 years, yoga and walks were my go-to forms of exercise.  Inexpensive and accessible, both have helped tone my core and soothe my nerves.  Even in the midst of flare-ups, I could usually do a few sun salutations or take a stroll in the neighborhood.  Though I was active, my back and neck remained precarious.

A year ago, I unknowingly made a life-changing leap.  My back doctor and physical therapist felt I was ready to “graduate” from physical therapy and begin medically supervised exercise.  I had undergone about two dozen injections—prolotherapy and PRP (platelet-rich-plasma)—which had strengthened my ligaments.  My spine was no longer mushy, and my body no longer felt jangly.  I was ready to leverage the healing and build strength.

So, I joined James’ class for patients with a history of back injury.  Having already done physical therapy with him, I felt comfortable in the group setting.  I was the youngest in the class by a few decades, but I struggled to keep up with my classmates for the first few weeks.  I thought James was crazy to expect that I could do a deadlift with a 35-pound kettlebell.  When he placed a 45-pound dumbbell on my pelvis for a weighted bridge, I was sure it would shatter me.  He challenged me in ways I could never challenge myself, and he could always gauge my capabilities without crushing my spirit (or my pelvis!).  Each week, I left group exercise a shaky mess, but I was gaining strength and perfecting my form little by little.

I now work one-on-one with James.  I lift 50-pound kettlebells.  My weighted bridges sometimes accommodate 80 pounds.  James is prepping me to lift barbells.  I am stronger, leaner, and more steady in my movement.  I still leave every session a shaky mess—a sure sign that I’ve had a fabulous workout!

Along the way, James has been a mentor, a teacher, and a friend.  He is demanding yet compassionate, and he is unfailingly kind to me.  He has taught me that lifting heavy weights helps us to feel safe in our bodies.  It allows us to move through life with elegance and grace.  But it’s not easy because we must keep challenging ourselves!

I am gratified by James’ correlation between strength and safety.  When women say they want to be “strong,” it is often coded language for wanting to be thin.  This mindset troubles me because I sometimes find myself slipping into this unhealthy rhetoric.  My young nieces look up to me, and so do my students.  As they find their way, it is my responsibility to model confidence, self-assurance, and grace of movement.  I can do this by demonstrating that I am finally safe in my body.



The Nourishing Power of Gentleness

Two days, April 22-23, 2023

9-5 pm each day.

Daily Lunch Included $3,000

Lodging is not available at the farm, but we can assist in hotel selection and discounts for your stay in Lexington. Be sure to wear clothing suitable for walking grassy areas and in horse barns (no high heels).  Also, if you’re allergic to cats and horses, please note that you will encounter both during this event.


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