Inspiration of the Month – the Blueberry Festival in Girdwood, Alaska

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Do you want to get inspired, reinvent yourself, or start a new project? Well here’s the encouraging news!! Start small so you don’t get overwhelmed with the quest for perfection. Getting inspired to make positive changes in your life is never about being perfect. Start small, take a long morning or  afternoon walk, or write a letter to yourself about all the things you like about yourself. Or … call an old friend, or post positive words of affirmations all over the house. Push yourself to do the things you don’t want to do, so you can become the person you were meant to be. Action is the key to becoming more powerful. So get inspired and creative. I’m rooting for you!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

As I reflect on Mother’s Day, I would like to celebrate and pay tribute to all mothers who are alive or remembered.

Regardless of the status of our relationship with our mothers, we have a special bond with the person who conceived and bore us. Mothers ground us, provide words to live by, get us through rough patches and give us unconditional love. There are many names for this special person … mom, mother, mama. I call mine ‘mommy’.

I feel extremely blessed to have my mommy, the beautiful Jacqueline Augusta Cooper. She gives me encouragement, strength, wisdom, laughter, and most of all … love. When I speak with her on the phone, I hear the love and laughter in her voice, even when she’s tired or worried. She never stops blessing or loving me. I often wonder what I did to have God bless me with such a superlative person. I am deeply grateful.

The one talent I wished I received from my mommy is her impeccable handwriting. OMG! Her handwriting is out-of-this-world. She possesses the penmanship of Jane Eyre! Beautiful handwriting is an art and a gift. Either you have it or you don’t. Her gorgeous writing inspires me to keep everyone of her letters, cards, and recipes in a very special place.

Well, enough about my beautiful mommy. I encourage you to read the “I remember mom…” section of this BLOG.  Get comfortable, put on your favorite music, pour a glass of wine and sink into more wonderful Mother stories from my friends, Shane Morton and Julia Maddox.

Remembering Mom – Shane Morton

My mother was something special.  I suppose we all think that in some way.  She had already raised 3 kids when I surprised her and dad much later in life.  Mom and I had a special bond for some reason.  I viewed her through the eyes of someone who knew that he was holding something precious. Something so fragile that it could break at any moment.

When I was 4 my Mom developed an inner ear disorder that made her extremely dizzy if she stood.  We missed out on so many moments together through my young life because of her disability.  I didn’t understand and I would lash out at her when my frustration got to deep.  I shudder to think of some of the words that came out of my childish and immature mouth now.  Huge regrets there.

When I was 15 I performed in Agatha Christies Mousetrap.  It was the first time I truly excelled at something and I so wanted to share it with her.  When she didn’t come it left jagged tears in me.  I can’t explain what happened next.  My mother who had been practically chair bound since before I started school, stood up and was never sick again.  Yes, that means that the illness that she was suffering from wasn’t some ear problem.  It was something that was in her head.  She shook it off and never felt it again.  Heck, she now wouldn’t stop moving.  She would drag us around all over the place.

My mother and I found so much in common in our later years together.  We had always been close.  But now we were finding out how much alike we truly were.  We were getting to experience so much together.  She showed me what strength lies inside us if we could only be brave enough to reach down and pull it out.  Something I think I have excelled in ever since she showed me.

My mother died of cancer when I was 24.  I saw her suffer for the last two years of her life and saw her fight with everything that she had.  I held her hand as she passed away and it was one of the most precious moments of my half lived life.  I think of her often.  When I have hard decisions to make, I try to make the one that she and my father would be proud of.  I try to live my life with as much love and wonder as they did.  I try to be the person that they always wanted me to be.  I follow my artistic passions just as they wanted.  I am proud that they were the parents I was blessed with.  There is so much that I miss about her.  Her laugh, her talents, I used to love to watch her piece quilts.  The intricate stitching that she was able to do awed me.  I miss her smile.  I miss talking to her.  I miss watching old movies with her.  I suppose there is nothing that I do not miss.

She has been gone for almost half of my life now.  Her birthdays come and go.  The day she died…comes and go’s.  Everything is an anniversary of sorts now.  A countdown to slowly forgetting the things you want to remember.  Growing numb to the pain of loss and feeling a little guilty about the fact that time does make it easier. Christmas is the one time that my family, especially my mother demands attention from me.  The holiday has never been a religious holiday for my family, it was about togetherness and presents and decorations.  I have the love of the holiday because of my mother.  I pull out decorations and think of her.  I trim the tree and see her smiling and humming.  When I wrap presents I remember the joy she showed when she was able to give gifts to me and the rest of the family.  I remember the sadness when we had a hard year and didn’t have as much there.  I cook a big dinner just like we did at home. I will always be proud to be her son.  I hope when she checks up on me she is as proud of me.

Remembering Mom – Julia Maddox

My mother passed away two months ago. I still can’t believe she’s gone. Mom was an animal lover so at her funeral instead of flowers we requested donations to the local Humance society. She would have loved that.  Right now I’m just being with the fact that there’s a big hole in my life. I’m sad and that’s OK. When I’m ready I’ll fill it with things that really make a difference for people.

An Interview with Diane Fong – Founder of MommyShape LLC

Background

When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being two things: a performer (dancer and singer) and a pediatrician.   So accordingly, when I went to college at the University of California, Berkeley, I studied both Molecular Cell Biology and Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies.  But back then, I never dreamed of where these two specialties would take me. For 10 years, I taught, danced, and performed professionally in shows such as Bombay Dreams and The King and I, and with companies such as SHAPE Magazine, MTV, Joe Goode Performance Group, Adidas, and Redken 5th Ave.  But then, after the life changing experience of a beautiful pregnancy and giving birth naturally to a healthy and vibrant daughter in 2009, I switched tracks and started on a path toward becoming a naturopathic doctor specializing in women’s health and pediatric care. I also became a certified pre/postnatal exercise specialist, DONA trained birth doula and founded the company MommyShape LLC dedicated to the health and wellness of women. Now, I wear many hats and I feel so lucky to be reaching my childhood dreams of not only becoming both performer and naturopathic physician, but also mommy, doula, business owner, and educator.

Interview

1. What advantage will women gain from your MommyShape program, in person or via DVD?

When creating the MommyShape program, I tried to utilize every type of movement, including yoga, sculpting, dance, breathing exercises, massage, and relaxation techniques into a unique prenatal program that would not only relax and prepare women for their pregnancies and labors, but also give them a fun-filled, safe workout.  I focus on strengthening pelvic floor muscles, toning arms, back and legs, easing the normal aches and pains of pregnancy, opening up the pelvic area, learning how to breathe and relax in preparation for labor, and building stamina for the marathon of giving birth. I do a lot of hands-on work with my students to get them to relax and breathe into the tension in their bodies.  My goal is for women to leave my class feeling rejuvenated, relaxed, strengthened and stretched during their pregnancies and postnatally, and to prepare them physically and mentally for their labor, delivery and recovery.  Many of the women who take my class or do my DVD regularly say that they couldn’t have gotten through their pregnancies as relaxed, strengthened, and revitalized as they did, without it!

2. Where do you draw inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from what I like to call “mommies who do it all” (which is every mommy I have ever met in my life).  I truly believe that all mommies are “supermommies” because we are in charge of so much.  Historically, we have been in charge of taking care of the home, including care of the children, the house, and the spouse.  But in this day and age, not only are we in charge of the home, but we are also in charge of businesses, classrooms, courtrooms, surgical wards, hospitals, clinics… you name it, we do it.  When I think of all that women do in this world, I get inspired to do my work to help women get educated, healthy and happy.

3. What are your go-to healthy foods?

If you ask my daughter, Tali, what her favorite dish is, she will say, “salmon, avocado, brown rice, and soup!!”  (Mommy tip: I also add vegetables that I cut up finely or put in the blender and mix with her rice so that she doesn’t notice!)  I generally stick to a Mediterranean diet consisting of foods high in Omega-3’s like fish and flaxseeds (anti-inflammatory and great for supporting brain function!), eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains, and avoiding red meats, fats, and processed foods.  My go-to for a healthy snack is seaweed with avocado and hummus, and my go-to for a healthy dessert is dairy-free coconut ice cream, mango and sweet sticky rice! Yummy AND healthy!

4. When do you feel most creative?

I feel most creative on the rare occasions that I get some time alone to myself and I can zone out, turn on some music, and let my muse take over.  At times like these, I love to dance, sing, paint, write, come up with new ideas, and create new business plans.

5. Where do you see yourself in five years?

In two years, I plan to open up the first “MommyShape Center” in San Francisco, California which includes a naturopathic clinic for women and children, a studio that offers yoga, pilates, dance, and MommyShape classes, a dispensary of supplements and herbs, a children’s play area and daytime childcare center, and a juice bar and healthy snack counter.  In five years, I hope to open up these centers in the big cities in the United States.  My hope is that women all over the country will be reaping the benefits of the MommyShape program, from prenatal health and wellness with a naturopathic doctor and MommyShape instructor, through labor with the help of a MommyShape doula, all the way to postnatal health and the wellness of their children with their naturopathic pediatrician. My focus is going to be on educating women about their choices in health, so I also hope to develop media tools for doing this, including a MommyShape TV show, DVDs, and workshops nationally and worldwide.

6. Who is your favorite music band right now and why?

I don’t really have favorite band because I love all types of music and find it hard to say that one artist is my “favorite”.  But the artists I am usually drawn to are those who blend different genres of music together, mixing the sounds of pop, rock, reggae, soul, R&B, and hip hop in their music.  If I was going to pick an era of music that was my favorite though, it would be the music of the 90’s, because as my parents used to tell me, “they just don’t make music like they used to when I was a younger!”

An Interview with Sarah Ripard – Actress, Host, Producer

Background

Sarah Ripard Is the creator/executive producer and host of Being Mom with Sarah Ripard, and new television talk show about ‘Conscious Parenting’. Born and raised in Europe, the heart of her family tradition has been rooted in the discipline of television, film and theatre.

A diverse and rich cultural heritage exposed Ripard to many different customs and cultural influences. This has been instrumental in her development as a citizen of the world, an educator and a performing artist.

Never to shy away from challenging topics, Ripard’s body of work behind the scenes and in front of an audience reflects her passion and motivation to continue creating responsible and mind provoking programming.

Ripard’s intention is to open up the audience to think more consciously about how we view our own lives and gain the knowledge to rise to our greatest potential by ‘dreaming bigger’ than we ever imagined.

www.beingmom.tv

Interview

1. Explain what you do?

This is such an illuminating and exciting chapter in my life! My husband and I are the creators and executive producers of a new television talk show called Being Mom with Sarah Ripard, an entirely different talk show that deals with the concerns and lifestyle issues we all face as parents at all stages.

With my life long passion for children and position as host of the show, my mission is to utilize the transformative power of television to inspire and empower the lives of parents and caregivers.  By creating a non-judgmental space Being Mom will open its audience’s to a variety of topics on how we view pregnancy, birth, parenting and the development of our children.

We’ll discover life-changing information so you can enjoy a fuller and richer experience with the children in your lives.

Conscious Parenting! This is what Being Mom with Sarah Ripard is all about.

2. When do you feel most creative?

I feel the most creative when I am in balance and connected with everything around me.  When I pay close attention to my purpose and absorb the beauty of life in every form.

I truly believe when you tap into the miracle that life, in all forms, has to offer and let the idea of that flow, then creativity unfolds.

Creativity doesn’t always manifest itself from a positive experience.  In fact, out of utter sadness and despair I feel immense creativity surge its way forward. So whether it’s listening to sounds in nature, or smelling the fragrance of a flower as I walk with my dog or see the pure joy in my child’s eyes as she succeeds in a new task, I am inspired to create.

I mean think about it, we come into existence from a creative source, we see creation (positive or destructive) all around us.  It’s truly jaw-opening.

When I am in an awakened state, creativity seems to seep from so many places.  I almost feel like a little kid in a candy store wondering where it’s going to come from next.

3. What is the most used appliance in your home?

Umm! Interesting question? Had to think about that one for a bit.

I would have to say our electric kettle. We are connected to our international lifestyle on this one. There is a comfort in lots of cups of tea throughout the day!

4. What is the most important thing you’re ever done that you didn’t want to do?

 There have been a few pivotal moments in my life that have struck me deeply, but the one that forced me to take major action was when I had to consciously separate myself from a close family member (I’d rather not say who exactly).

The situation finally exploded and there was no going back. In order to create some healthy boundaries in our relationship I had to distance myself to gain some clarity.

In the beginning I spent many days crying and mourning the loss of that relationship, though it had been extremely emotionally toxic for years.

What added salt to the wound was the fact that I was at the top of my career on Broadway at the time and I knew this family member was not going to be a part of that joy and journey with me.

By way of that experience, (it lasted about a year) I grew into the most spiritually awakened and psychologically healthy ME I had always wanted. It was the first time in my life I stood up for myself in an authentic way.

From that time forward I was resolved to never allow myself to enter into a relationship like that again.  It was also a wonderful chance for me to see what my ‘mirror’ had been in the relationship. How my thinking had shaped what happened and take ownership of my responses to the past, re-examine my belief system and start anew.

The best decision I ever made!  I am so happy to announce that today my relationship with this family member is in a healthy place; not perfect but healthy for both sides.

5. At the end of the day, what do you do to make yourself happy?

Have Gratitude! And tell my husband and my baby girl how much I love them and just be silly with laughter. I always say out loud, “these are the moments we’ll never get back! Enjoy! Rejoice! Renew!” Simple pleasures that burrow deep to the core of my being.

6. What do you day dream about?

So many many wonderful dreams run through my head all the time.  I prefer to call them ‘dream it into reality dreams’. One dream I have is for the ‘positive collective consciousness’ to spread into the hearts of every single person at lightening speed and reach every crevice across this magical planet.

I day dream of a place where we can live in an ever expanding field of possibility NOW and not believe it’s a fairy tale book for the future. Where we see just how amazingly powerful and beautiful we are, inside and out, and transcend in ways that boggle the mind indeed!

7. What kind of legacy do you hope to leave behind?

That I cared to make a difference in the lives of others in a positive way.

Springtime is here!

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Spring is officially here!  It’s time to brush off the winter blues. It’s time to clean our homes, put those sneakers on and hit the road, or sign up for a new yoga class. It’s time to re-focus on health and passions. As we inhale the clean spring air and observe the blossoms blooming, let us first give thanks for our many blessings. Here’s to a fantastic and exciting spring!

Inspiration of the Month – Feeling Powerful

Feeling powerful starts with telling the truth about where you are in your life. Do you feel stuck or unsure about how to take the next step to your dreams? If you’re not currently aware of your purpose in life, it doesn’t matter. Just pick any activity to get moving in some direction. This will help you discover your purpose and awaken your dreams. Get off the couch. Doing nothing may feel easy, but it makes you unhappy.

“… the risk of moving toward our dreams is much lower than the slow, everyday punishment you inflict on yourself by suppressing your dreams.”

– Mel Robbins

An Interview with Mark Lamb – Artistic Director/Creator, Mark Lamb Dance Company

Background

“Mr. Lamb makes… dance an expression of communal joy.” – The New York Times

Mark Lamb Dance performs concerts and site-specific dances that combine choreography and improvisation. The company seeks to expand the definition of modern dance, to encompass the spoken word, thoughts, and the openness of improvisation, while ever striving toward the twin goals of beauty and honesty. Mark Lamb Dance also finds room for social commitment by engaging a variety of people and communities in a series of ongoing, cross-pollinating learning experiences.

One example of Mark Lamb Dance educational outreach is a workshop that brought law students together with artists and social activists, uniting them towards a joint path in the pursuit of social change.

 Interview

1.  Tell me a little more about your background. Where were you born and raised?

 I spent my childhood in Sturgis, KY, a small farming/mining town in Western KY. My interest in the performing arts started in church plays and 4-H talent shows.

 2.  How did you find the courage and strength to step out and create your own dance company?

Prior to living in New York I was a founding director of a community based dance company, Circle Modern Dance in Knoxville, TN. Circle was very much a training ground or the ins and outs of running a non-profit dance company. I think my experience with Circle gave me the strength to know I could endure just about any circumstance that may arise if I opened my own company elsewhere. Even New York City.

I love East Tennessee and it was hard for me to leave there, but even when I was a little boy back in Sturgis I dreamed of living in New York City. I felt like I had no choice but to give this dream a chance and start Mark Lamb Dance Group, Inc..

I also, have been very blessed to have so many people who believe in me and my talents. It is much easier to have the courage and strength to pursue your dreams when you have so many wonderful people who believe in you standing behind and beside you.

 3.  What advice would you give to someone who has the heart to dance but no talent?

I believe that everyone has talent. In my own pursuits I try and look for my own organic way in to making art. Keep your eyes and ears open to what the universe presents you. I would  also say to dream and work hard. Surround yourself with people that will believe and support your dreams, even if they may give you honest criticism. Listen, be open. There is a place for everyone.

 4.  At the end of the day, what do you do to make yourself happy?

I try not to put too much pressure on being “happy”. I strive more for balance. I find myself doing my best to see beauty and lessons in everything I experience.

 5.  What are three things that most people don’t know about you?

I never really wanted to go into dance.  I was a theater major in college who wanted to be a Soap Opera star.  Dance chose me.

 6.  When you don’t get what you want, how do you typically react?

If I didn’t get it it was probably not what I needed. I usually just keep moving. I also hear my Mother’s advice “well it will work out one way or another.” It always does.

7.   Do you mentor anyone?

I teach children and adults of all ages and abilities. I do not have one person that I mentor in an official capacity, but I find myself in and out of that role with many people. I also must say that the roles can be reversed very easily. In my own life I have an amazing mentor, Deborah Gladstein, that teaches me how to be the best mentor a person could ask for.