Tag Archives: philosophy


I’m new here…

“I’m new here”

These words illicit an enormous amount of fear and vulnerability for me.  As a young child we moved often;  as a result, walking through new experiences today takes effort, courage and faith. Let me tell you a quick story giving an example that I am not alone in what I need in these situations!

Recently Michael and I shared the day with a wonderful group at our Matching Pictures Workshop.  During one of the communication exercises a guest shared her experience attending a new yoga studio.  On her arrival she announced to the desk staff, “I’m new here.” The desk staff smiled and continued on with her duties.  She thought she shared that she was needing information, connection, and comfort, yet her perception was the receptionist was not very helpful.  woman on yoga matThe check-in process involved one of the new-fangled touch pads and there weren’t any directional signs for changing rooms or lockers. She announced again, “I have never been here before, how do I sign in?” Rather than explain how to sign in the receptionist walked to the front of the counter and quickly completed the sign in for her. Our friend expressed to us her feeling of embarrassment at this point in the interaction.  She then asked the woman where she should put her stuff during class. The desk staffer waved her arm in the direction of the wall of cubbies. So while this is an extreme example of “losing strategies” it is one worth sharing.  It is indicative of the daily conversations we have, in our heads and out loud with others that do not meet our needs.

The point of the exercise  at our workshop was  to show that we sometimes engage in “losing strategies” when we communicate, we make statements rather than asking for what we need. Our guest was able to relate how she did not get her needs met because she did not make a specific request. Part of Compassionate Communication is learning to identify what we are feeling and needing and making an appropriate request in order to get our needs met.

So here is the cool part. For those not aware I am a yoga teacher as well. I would like to think I am  a gracious and attentive teacher and host, especially in the yoga studio. And as I shared above, when it comes to new experiences I am very sensitive and empathetic to people’s vulnerability in  trying things for the first time. The next morning I was at the Connecticut Yoga Center preparing to teach my Sunday morning class and 3 new people arrived!  It was one of the students very first yoga class ever! The young woman walked up to the counter and said “I have never been here before.” My heart smiled! The example from our guest the day before was so fresh in my mind that I knew exactly what this new yoga student needed! She was making a  statement rather than asking for  what she needed- information, connection and comfort but because of my own practice with Compassionate Communication I was able to identify that.  I went around to the front of the counter and with a smile I explained to her how to sign in, then I took her by the arm, led her to the studio, showed her where everything was, and helped her set up her mat.  The look of relief and peace on her face indicated to me that her needs were met.

Helping the new woman sign in and feel comfortable at the yoga studio was the most important yoga I could have practiced that morning; connecting with another human being through empathy. Yoga means union, we are one, we feel the same feelings, we experience the same fears and joys. Compassionate Communication has taught me to express my needs appropriately so that I have the best opportunity in getting my needs met. It also teaches me to listen with empathy for the needs of others so that I may be of service in times of need.

Living Yoga Retreat

Jennifer leading early morning pranayama and meditation.

Inversion Workshop.

down the drain

Over the years – and especially when we were sailing – our family has done a LOT to curb our local impact on Mother Earth’s water supply. In Connecticut the storm drains all run into the Connecticut River and that runs into Long Island Sound – which will be a dead body of water of we don’t wake up soon and start changing some little habits!

Here is a quick list of a few of the things we have done:

We stopped using our disposal almost completely (and yes I have stuck my hand down there to pull out food that has slipped by) and started composting. The high nitrogen levels produced when decaying food mixes with the sewer is very harmful for the rivers and waterways.  The overgrowth of algae will starve a body of water of sunlight and oxygen.  Our sewers and storm drains wash into the river then right into Long Island Sound.

We certainly DO NOT “treat” our lawn to any chemicals – all of this washes into the river and the same result happens. We have beautiful green grass in May and part of June and then it turns tannish green – LIKE IT IS SUPPOSED TO! This is our lawn in November but this is pretty much what it looks like in July August September October – then it gets covered in snow.


We stopped using paper towels completely and now use cloth towels to clean up spills and wipe counters. And we have traditional cloth napkins at the table. They are such a waste of paper – and the paper processing plants use so much water and chemicals.  It is really harmful to those local areas. Instead we use wet towels like these Handi Wipes


We don’t use dryer sheets – they take a VERY long time to biodegrade, we use dryer balls instead. And we have the occasional static cling but nothing major.  Certainly nothing I would want a dryer sheet in a landfill for thirty years for!!!

dryer balls

I am hoping my cousin  Laura can make me some of these felted wool dryer balls


So one of the last places where I just thought I couldn’t find a solution for was my clogged shower drains…

My husband and I both use Dr. Bronner’s Soap.  Which if you are a fan you know is very thick and can cause a little build-up in the pipes.  Well after two or three days of standing in scummy shower water I reach for the (flinching here folks)…Drano… I KNOW! I KNOW!!! I am embarrassed to even write it! But what kind of person would I be if I did not confess my home-making sins and share the VICTORY I found it two very simple ingredients:


Baking soda and white vinegar. Now to my husbands defense – he has been saying for years – “Try baking soda and vinegar” But have I done that? No.

It’s OK – enough beating myself up. Because yesterday I put a cup of baking soda on top of the little drain cover, then poured over about a half gallon of vinegar and ten bubbly fizzy minutes later I had a clear drain and a clear conscience!!!


So don’t overwhelm yourself with having to do ten things differently! Take it easy! One thing at a time!  Some of the changes we have made in our life have taken years to become habits. Just start living small with one little change. Maybe you are ready to switch to cloth Handi-wipes and ditch the paper towels? Or maybe add a small compost bucket to your countertop?  Every little change makes a difference.


Mantra: Power of the Gods Workshop

Please join me and Michael and several of my dear friends and teachers who will be attending.  It is sure to change your life.

If you are a Yoga teacher, a dedicated student, or a new student who wants to explore the yoga that is ‘off the mat’ please jump out of your comfort zone and open your heart and mind – come learn the importance of mantra.

If you ever have time, I will tell you the story about how Manorama and one of her mantra recordings changed my life.