Author Archives: Heidi BK Sloss

Kindness

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In a recent yoga class, I talked about kindness as a theme for us both on and off our yoga mats. This idea was inspired by something I witnessed and then as I made my 2017 sankalpa.

The first event was an incident at a local super market on Xmas day. The lines were very long and very slow. After waiting in line for a painfully long time, a woman ahead of me had a meltdown. She started complaining loudly, stamping her feet, in other words having a full on temper tantrum.

Some people got very uncomfortable, looking around, avoiding all eye contact with the woman. Others chimed in with comments about how she should calm down and appreciate that the store was even open on Xmas at all. Their intention was good but clearly misplaced as it was obvious that their words were having the opposite effect: the more she was told to relax, the more agitated and aggravated she became.

So what to do? Talking to her wasn’t going to help. So I did the only thing I could think of: I started to breathe deeply. I focused on long inhales and long exhales, trying to exude calmness, patience, and kindness. It dawned on me that finding calm and peace on my yoga mat is wonderful, but being able to take that off the mat magnifies the feelings; what shows up is kindness. A type of kindness that makes me want to share it with others. As I stood there, finding my own calm breathing, holding onto and sharing kindness from inside, I was able to extend to this woman and to the rest of those in the store, waiting in line on Xmas day, patience and tenderness.

Later, as I thought about the whole experience I realized that sometimes it feels easier to extend patience and tender kindness to strangers. It made me think back to all the many times I am short tempered with my husband — sometimes for good reason, but mostly not. It doesn’t matter what provokes my emotional over reaction, the bottom line is that I don’t like this in myself and I don’t want to be this way with anyone, much less my dear husband. Overall I am a loving person and instead of beating myself up for the times I am not, I am connecting with the parts of myself that are patient, tender and kind. So my 2017 sankalpa is: In every encounter, I treat myself and others with kindness.



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Yogic Sankalpas

heidi-sloss-logo-icon-high-resFor a New Year’s Day yoga class, I used the theme of creating a sankalpa. Kalpa means vow; san means a connection to a higher truth so Sankalpa is a vow or commitment we make to support our highest truth. It speaks to our dharma, our overriding purpose for our life. And our current sankalpa becomes a statement we can call upon to remind us of our true nature and will guide our choices.

Many refer to a sankalpa as deep resolve, like a resolution but different. A sankalpa involves focusing our mind, connecting to our most heartfelt desires and then channeling the divine energy within.

Sankalpas also differ from a typical New Year’s resolution in that they are expressed in positive, present tense statements that are significant, heartfelt and connected to the essence of our very being. It can instruct our subconscious mind, like a mantra, reminding us that we are timeless and perfect—a state of pure being.

To find a Sankalpa that is right for you for this year, start with the willingness to hear the messenger within. It takes courage to listen to our hearts, without ego or superficial desire. This is done by cultivating an open heart with a quiet and settled mind in meditation.

Questions to ask during meditation to find a meaningful and significant sankalpa are: What do I really want? What is the longing in my heart? What am I seeking? What do I yearn for?

A powerful sankalpa is a statement of a deeply held fact, a vow that is true in the present moment. It begins with I AM. It is not a prayer and it does not start with I WANT or I WILL. It is short and positive and meaningful, much deeper than a New Year’s resolution. It can be long term as opposed to just one year.

So when I wanted to lose weight 6 years ago, I didn’t do it by making the traditional New Year’s resolution of “I will lose weight” in order to look good for photos. Instead, my ability to lose weight came from a deep desire to be healthy and my motivation was not to be a burden to my children as I aged. I told myself that I AM healthy and strong and safe (one of my emotional triggers). It still took lots of discipline and commitment, but I connected to my inner being. I held onto the image of myself as strong, independent and was able to finally lose 55 lbs. over that year.

Some examples of sankalpas are:

I am awake and aware. I am happy, healthy and whole. I am calm, peaceful and relaxed.
I take great care of my body. In every interaction, I treat myself and other with kindness.
I am safe, I am healthy and I am loved. I am love.

I wish you great luck in listening for your sankalpa for 2017.



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Tour of my New Website: HeidiSloss.com

For the past several months I have been working on consolidating my three websites—which is at least two too many for someone who isn’t selling anything! But since I finished Yoga Teacher Training earlier this year, I thought it would be a good idea to have one site that incorporates some of what I am doing these days: teaching yoga, leading yoga retreats/rituals and writing a blog. I am very excited to give you a tour and let me know what you think.

We (I worked with an excellent website designer who has designed my past websites—her name and link is at the bottom of every page) came up with a banner for the top in colors that I love. She designed the logo to combines both yoga and the spiritual aspects of my life (after all they are all related anyway. We placed it between my first and last name, playing on my full name: Heidi BK Sloss. I changed my name when I got married and use the middle initials of BK to honor my father as these are his initials when I changed my maiden name to my husband’s.

he HOME page has links to all sorts of information, but before you start jumping around, scroll down, take a look at the beautiful mandala buttons we created or scroll even further and take a look at the gorgeous photo. Do you think it is a sunset or a sunrise? And below that is a short blurb about my current focus.

Each beautiful mandala button takes you to a page that has information about what I am up to:

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THE ART OF LIVING FULLY BLOG: Here are posts by me about various ideas and inspirations as well as posts about places we have traveled to.

mandala-yogaYOGA: This page describes why practice yoga and explains some of my teaching philosophy. It also has information about where I am teaching and how to work with me on the yoga mat.

RETREATSmandala-retreats: One of my goals is to offer both local and international yoga healing retreats. I am in the process of exploring sites in the San Francisco Bay area as well as some more tropical and/or exotic locations.

SPEAKER/AUTHORmandala-speakauth: As some of you know I used to work as a marketing consultant/business strategist and I wrote a best-selling book five years ago. Because the book is still generating calls for me to give presentations, I wasn’t quite ready to let it go. This mandala button links to information about my book, where to buy it and my background as a Business Consultant.

There are also some links at the top of each page, above the mandala buttons, below my banner.

Reading left to right:

The HOME link takes you to the HOME page

The ABOUT link has a very short bio and a photo that my husband took when we went to Maui year.

The HEIDI’S BLOG link takes you to THE ART OF LIVING FULLY BLOG page.

The RITUALS link takes you to information about the importance of rituals to mark important occasions in our lives, shows some photos from rituals and gives some examples that I offer.

The YOGA, YOGA RETREATS and SPEAKER/AUTHOR links each take you to those pages.

And the CONTACT link allows you to contact me for information and or feedback.

Thank you for taking this short tour of my new website. I hope you like it as much as I do. Would love to hear your feedback!



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

G’Day or Kali Mera

Two years ago when we were in Australia for my husband’s sabbatical I spent a glorious afternoon alone at Bondi Beach, a cute hippie town with healthy restaurants and a baby-powder soft white sand beach. I told my husband that if I ever went missing look for me there as it was a wonderful place to which I harbored fantasies of running away. But now that I have been to Crete, I might have to amend my fantasy.

Crete is my new favorite place on the planet. I loved the beautiful beaches, tall rugged mountains, historic ruins from the last 4500 years ago (that is not a typo) and of course lots and lots of sunshine. And did I mention the fresh healthy food? And best of all friendly welcoming people!

Truly a wonderful place in which I felt right at home.

I have had the opportunity to live in many places in the USA and several places overseas and have learned that some places feel comfortable to me and others just don’t. It isn’t an equation of weather or people or food or culture although all that helps. For me it is an emotional response to a place.

I remembering feeling right at home the first time I stepped on campus at Hampshire College in the fall of 1977, after being devastated when I learned that I would not get into my first choice of Amherst College down the road. And it all turned out just right. I started to blossom at Hampshire and in many ways still feel the unfolding of myself that started those many years ago.

I also felt right at home after landing on the island of Crete last month.

So while they say G’Day down under, they say Kali Mera on Crete. And if you can’t find me at home in sunny San Jose, look for me on Crete (or perhaps Bondi Beach)!

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As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Yoga Teacher Training

Last month I graduated from a life transforming 7 month 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training class during which I now emerge feeling broken wide open in beautiful ways. I never imagined that I would ever qualify, but it happened! And my heart is full with love and gratitude to the special group of people with whom I spent every other weekend, learning all things Yoga. I even taught a class at a yoga studio two weeks ago and it was thrilling. The training program was challenging, but so worth it. Many thanks to all my graduating class and of course to my teachers. May the light in me always honor the light in you.

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As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

The Reset Button

I spent most of February and March worried about breast cancer. It felt as if I had fallen down a rabbit hole and couldn’t get my bearing for the last six weeks. It turns out that what I thought was good news after my repeat mammogram, was really only the beginning of a longer, drawn out saga.

After two mammograms and two MRIs, one with a biopsy, I finally received the all clear. But during that time I was lost in limbo land. Did I or didn’t I have breast cancer? What was showing up on the tests? And why do they need to do a biopsy in the MRI machine? It is bad enough to have 12 core samples removed from my (now black and blue) breast, but in and out of a closed MRI to a claustrophobic person adds insult to injury.

Instead of focusing on the roller coaster of fear, I am embracing the sweet relief a benign diagnosis brought to me, my family and my friends. The ‘all clear’ diagnosis is a reset button for how I want to live my life. Frankly anyone one of us is each just one diagnosis away from all sorts of medical disasters. We can’t control the length of our lives, but we have some control over how we spend it.

This is a lesson I keep learning over and over again. It was mine for a while after I survived cancer in my mid 20’s. I learned it again when my husband had cancer 19 years ago (this month!). And I learned again a 1 ½ years ago from my accident, from which I am still recovering. None of this makes me unique. Many friends and loved ones have had their own medical/life-death adventures. We are all learning similar life lessons, gained from the heartbreak and pain of loss and recovery.

For whatever time left to me — hopefully many more decades — I want my life to be of my making, on my own terms. I want to spend my time doing things that light up my life, bring a smile to my face and makes my heart soar.

I dodged a bullet this time, but I know that next time I might not be so lucky. This time I came to a place of acceptance. If life is short or long, I want to laugh too loud, take up lots of space, make more mistakes, apologize with an open heart and love fiercely. Bottom line is that I have had a great life, with many, many things and people to which and to whom I am most grateful!

So in honor of my recent healthy diagnosis and the 32nd anniversary of being free of cancer, I publicly renew my commitment to spending time doing the activities that I find fulfilling with friends and family who share laughter and joy and love while living.

Who’s with me?

 



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Repeat Mammograms Suck

After getting a mammogram last week, I learned that I needed to have a repeat one done. These are not words that any woman wants to hear, much less one who is a cancer survivor. Once you have heard the dreaded cancer diagnosis, everything feels like borrowed time—even those of us who are 30+ years out.

For the last four or five days, every time I started to think about it I found myself sucking in air, but never fully exhaling. I’m proud that I didn’t obsess – an old pattern of mine for many years. Basically I gave myself permission to think about it and then let it go. Meditating and mind discipline (another word for yoga!) is finally working for me.

Cancer screening is not fun or pleasant; it can involve moments or days or weeks waiting for results. Since my cancer was malignant melanoma in 1985, screening for me also means a full body check by a dermatologist. I don’t like going, but I sure like knowing. Head in the sand is not an acceptable option.

Some of my random thoughts as I was waiting to get in for my repeat mammogram were:

I thought about how my breasts fed and nourished my kids and how breastfeeding was an important tool in my mothering tool box for many, many years (yes, I was that kind of mother ;-).

I thought about the odds and how both my mother and maternal aunt had post-menopausal breast cancer. They say that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. I remember sitting on an all-woman Board of Directors for an international non-profit with 15+ other women and speculating that at least 2 of us might get breast cancer. These past several days I wondered if it was going to be me.

The good news is that all is fine and the problem was a technical one with the mammogram and not at all with me. But I write this post to remind everyone reading it to get screened. Cancer happens. For years after my cancer in the mid 1980’s I stopped getting cancer checks. I was young and I didn’t want to deal with it. After my first child was born, I finally grew up and realized that this is a part of life.

So while I am doing a happy dance after getting the good news today, I know that I might be in for another round next month when I go in for my skin cancer body check. Odds are that they will want to biopsy something (they usually do) and I will get to spend another few days waiting and wondering. Such is life.

 



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

Where Have all My Blog Posts Gone?

 

I woke up this morning with the song, Where Have all the Flowers Gone in my head, but the words were slightly different: Where Have all the Blog Posts Gone had taken over the lovely melody. And as of my readers have noticed, it looks like I have been silent. But anyone who has met me knows I don’t do silent very well. So where has my online voice gone?

It actually hasn’t gone anywhere. I don’t have writers block. In fact I feel downright fertile these days. I have so many ideas that I had to stop writing them down in my writing notebook. I compose blog pieces constantly and then have lengthy inner dialogues about the pieces all day long.

The real reason I am not posting blog pieces right now is that I am on an adventure. I am currently in the middle of an 8 month training program and I am going along with the process, waiting to see what unfolds. The course meets every other weekend; it is exhilarating and draining at the same time. I find myself excited about upcoming training weekends and then when they get here almost shrinking from them. As an extrovert I enjoy the time spent with the other students and teachers, but even I get tired of both the mental and physical work involved. I find myself stretching and growing inside and out, which is both exciting and wearying.

For the first time in decades I’m not spending my time planning during the training figuring out how I will use all that I am learning. This is a big departure for me from past training programs I have done. When I took the Meyer’s Briggs training program (2000) I had it all planned out how I would lead awesome leadership development workshops. When I took my real estate licensing training course (2000) I pictured the industry success I wanted to become. In my coaching accreditation program (2009) I saw myself helping women business owners grow personally and professionally. During the Anti-Defamation League’s A World of Difference anti-bias program (2005) I pictured leading community based training programs that would open people’s minds and hearts. Even years back when I did the La Leche League International Leader Training program (1991) I could see myself helping breastfeeding mothers and babies all over the country. Fact is almost all of what I pictured came true.

But this time I am staying present; I’m not mind-jumping to the end. I have not figured out how I will apply all that I am learning. This is not easy for me to do and is one of the reasons I have not publically announced the training program I am in. It is a fine line for me to live out-loud and authentically, but also find a way to allow life to unfold.

Two weekends ago I went on a women’s initiation retreat with Megan Wagner, a Therapist, Spiritual Teacher, Author, Storyteller, Ritual Leader and Interfaith Minister whose retreats have been life-changing and life saving for me. I have attended 7 of her local Feminine Path to Power retreats. Each one has a different theme and involves different stories, rituals, meditations, songs, chants and dancing. She calls her local Women’s Initiation Retreats Wise Women Training and they are!

In this most recent retreat we spent time focusing on dreams and ideas that are aligned with our higher life purpose and how we will manifest them. In the context of my current training program it was empowering and inspiring. When I attended the same retreat 3 years ago I left excited but confused. This time around I find myself much more centered, balanced and in-tune with what is next for me. And I attribute part of this to my new-found ability to stop over-planning my future. Here I am at the end of the retreat, wearing Megan’s beautiful silk robe with Salima, the Goddess of Manifesting.

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Change is scary. The unknown is unknown, and that can be unsettling. But as I learn to live with the unknown I feel empowered. It feels as if I am living on the edge of a flame – we all know that flames can burn out of control, be snuffed out by a wind or drowned by water. So along with feeling emblazoned, I also feel fragile; I am learning to embrace my power and fragility with care and tenderness.

I am not ready to announce my next act yet, but make no mistake, there is at least one act left in me (maybe more!). Stay tuned for new adventures, new announcements and new blog posts!

 



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

50 Happy Things for 2015: Bloggers Unite in Flood of Gratitude

Last week I was invited to join other bloggers this holiday season to flood the internet with happiness and gratitude by linking our posts together and inviting friends, family and readers to join us. Here is my list and below that are instructions for how to join us.

1) My family

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2) Being able to walk after my accident last year

3) A local yoga studio with teachers and students who I like

4) Young people in my life

5) Older people in my life

6) Having a husband who talks me down from my emotional ledge more times that I care to admit that I need him to

 

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7) Our new home in downtown San Jose

8) Xmas without a wheelchair

9) A fabulous ankle doctor who I like and trust

10) Being able to travel east to hear my daughter sing in her recital last November

11) My home yoga practice

12) Having the means to travel to local and distant places

13) Having the means to do the work on our new house so that it now feels like our home

14) Selling our old home fast and for a profit

15) My mother’s husband and my brother who live by and take care of my ailing mother

16) My mother’s husband for all that he does to please and take care of my mother

17) For my mother’s aide who helps her call me several times a week so that I continue to feel connected

18) My mother’s new found ability to tell me that she loves and misses me in most every phone conversation

 

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19) My BFF (and chiropractor) Deb Mosca whose healing touch got me out of the wheelchair and back in my body after last year’s accident

20) My one day solo road trip from Princeton, NJ to Syracuse, NY last November, releasing the emotions after visiting my mother, talking on the phone with friends, listening to NPR interviews, seeing the fall foliage

21) Visiting the east coast last April and seeing the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin

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22) Passover 2015 with family and friends

23) Being able to connect with my father, his wife and kids from his second family

24) Hawaii for my birthday this year

25) The magic air in Hawaii

26) Snuba’ing with my husband in Hawaii

 

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27) Actually getting to meet and have dinner with a blogging friend and her husband when I read on FB that they too were in Hawaii, on the same part of the same island at the same time

 

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28) The private cabana by the pool with a lovely view of the ocean that my husband insisted we have while in Hawaii

29) Taking afternoon walks, after lunch, in search of espresso with my husband while in Hawaii

30) Being upgraded to business class on most of my 2015 cross country airline trips

31) Meeting and hanging out with and really liking my son’s fiance’s parents

32) Double shots of espresso

33) Having a husband who insisted that we cut down our Xmas tree, even though it is was just the two of us this year decorating

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34) Stitching at the end of most every day

35) My stitching friends

36) Learning new stitching techniques

37) Being able to find all sorts of stitching and craft supplies I had stashed away in our old home and now having the room to play with it all in our new home

38) All my yoga teachers—locally and abroad!

39) My yoga friends – locally and abroad!

40) Being on a yoga mat in a community with friends and strangers

41) My dad

42) My brother

43) The amazing women I meet on my women’s retreats

44) The deep rooted experiences I get to have on my women’s retreats

45) Reconnecting with my first cousins

46) Having a master bedroom with three windows that let in lots and lots of light every morning ion our new home

47) Authors of (most) of the books I read

48) My friends from the blogging world

49) Family and friends who read my blog and send me emails and notes about my posts

50) My husband, who I met at age 18, married at age 28, and who still surprises me when he shows up at home every night!

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If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! When I finished my list, I took a few extra minutes to add links and photos.

To join the bloggers who have come together for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click on the blue frog at the bottom of this post. 3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List.

Please note that only blog posts that include a list of 50 (or an attempt to write 50) things that made you feel Happy or 50 things that you are Grateful for, will be included. Please don’t add a link to a post that isn’t part of this exercise. View Dawn from Tales from the Motherland’s original instructions by clicking here.

View everyone who is participating by clicking here!



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

This is a sad week for my family.

My mother was moved into a memory care unit at her retirement community. She and her husband moved to the community a year ago with the idea that someday this would happen. What no one expected is that someday would arrive so fast. But it is here and it is time that she moves to a space in which she will be well cared for, kept safe and no longer a full time burden to those who love her.

The reality is that the person who was once my mother is mostly gone. There is still a joyful person inside, but she is mostly anonymous, with no past, no future, and only a present and that is short term at best. The many details that make up a long, full and rich life are largely gone from her memory.

Seeing my mother’s life reduced to circumstances that I know would appall her is beyond sad, beyond grief, beyond words. And now to have to stop living with her beloved is just heart breaking.

While I grieve her lost memories, reduced life and our relationship, I also worry that perhaps this is my future too – all children of parents with Alzheimer’s worry about this.

I know that as we age, all of us suffer from some short term memory loss; this is normal and to be expected. But since my mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis any little blips in my memory are a frightening reminder of what might be in store for me. The bottom line is that none of us are promised a long and healthy life. Anything can happen.

Each of us has the possibility of coming down with some catastrophic disease or suffering from misfortune. I have written a little bit some of what I have experienced: the random murder 38 year ago of a beloved cousin in Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop; my cancer adventures; several years ago I shared a post from a friend whose son tragically died way too young, In This I Will Find Beauty; as well as a few posts about my mother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Because of my experience with tragedy, medical scares and other random events, I have always been a sucker for quotes that tell us to “LIVE AS IF THERE WAS NO TOMORROW” or “NO REGRETS,” because we are not promised tomorrow no matter how healthy we eat, how much we exercise or how often we meditate.

Years ago I chose a quote for my highschool yearbook page, that I felt drawn to then and still holds sway with me today.

“If I Had My Life to Live Over

I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I would relax. I would limber up. I’d be sillier than I have been in this life. I’d take fewer things seriously. I’d take more chances, more trips. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I’d eat more ice cream and less beans. Perhaps I would have more troubles, fewer imaginary ones.

You see I’m one of those people who lived sensibly and sanely hour and hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments but if I had to do it all over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else, just moments one after another instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, hot water bottle, raincoat and parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter. If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I’d go to more dances, ride more merry-go-rounds, pick more daisies.” – an 85 year old woman

So in honor of my mother, who can no longer take a juicy bite out of life, I will laugh too loud, take up too much space, make tons of mistakes, apologize with an open heart, and love fiercely.



As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!