Yoga Poses – Simple But Not Easy

Yoga – More Than a Headstand

Originally printed on Hubspot 2007

Like golf and life, yoga is a solitary activity in that we are only ever in the act of improving on ourselves. To do otherwise – compete with another – only results in distorting our own map for self awareness. Most often, competing ends in suffering of some nature – emotional, psychological, or physical. When I first started classes, I couldn’t help but look around the room and see Lisa over there doing an inverted gazelle thing – headstand with legs split and one leg bent to touch toe to opposite knee – you have to see it. Very steady – very graceful.

Yoga Poses - Simple but not easy
Yoga Poses – Simple but not easy

I wanted that. I started practicing at home. Of course my son could flip himself upside down in a nano and stay there indefinitely – breathing out “It’s easy!” I finally ‘got it’ and succeeded in Continue reading

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Christmas in Hollywood

The Meaning of Christmas Symbols

This year we travelled 6,889 miles or 11,086 kilometers to be with my sons for Christmas.  Our gift to each other was being together and sharing time.  I was reminded as I sipped a latte at an outdoor cafe at The Grove watching the lineup of children waiting for a picture with Santa that the tradition of gifts was Saint Nikolaos, a Greek bishop of the 4th century AD who gifted the orphans at Christmas in the spirit of the Magi bringing gifts to the Christ child.  The whole Santa thing and gifts galore is no more than the exponential growth of an ad campaign in the 1920′s by Coca Cola.  So, what is the true meaning of the Christmas symbols?


Santa is one kind of symbol, but the true meaning of Christmas is much more sublime and, if we understand the symbols of the Christian story, a gift of self awareness that leads to true joy and peace.

Here is my view of the meaning of Christmas, first written in 2009. Continue reading

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Right in the Kisser – Mouth Health!

Talking Teeth – Are We Listening?

If the eyes are the window to our soul, then our mouths are definitely the gateway to our whole body. Moreover, our ‘parts’ tell us what kind of food we were designed to eat.  If we deviate too much from our natural holistic interior environment, we can expect some issues.

“Oh the shark has pretty teeth, dear. And he keeps ‘em pearly white.”

A recent article by the Smithsonian, discussed the fact that prehistoric man had better teeth than modern man. With all our flossing and brushing and antibacterial rinses, the state of our teeth and gums is declining. And now there is an alarming rise in diseases emanating from the state of our mouth.

It is when our diets shifted from meat, seeds and nuts that the decline began, according to the study. Grains and sugars have introduced bacteria that is not friendly in our mouths as compared to the healthful flora that would keep our mouths healthy and fresh.  Some studies have shown that milk is more harmful than chocolate to teeth.

Animals, if you think about it, rarely have tooth or gum disease.

Recently, however, dogs have become more susceptible to periodontal disease since the advent of grain based commercial foods.  We are mollified by claims of vitamin and mineral enrichment, but this just translates to the fact that there is little inherent nutrition to the food itself.  But the thing is – dogs have canine teeth – designed for ripping and tearing meat.  This is nature’s tap on the shoulder about what the best diet might be.  So what about us?

We have a diet natural to our physical organism that sustains optimum health. Deviation will inevitably tilt the harmonic balance of our systems. Prolonged imbalance can only stress the immune system so long and then decay or illness may ensue. Clearly, the first defence on behalf of our healthy body is to eat foods sustainable to health and limit or eliminate foods contrary to that – like grains and sugars.  

Secondly it seems reasonable to take every precaution agains the harmful bacteria caused by incorrect diet that does exist in our mouths.  My logic tells me that the more natural, whole and compatible with our bodies the substances we use for these cleansing processes, the less invasive they are.  In addition, they have health giving properties to replenish the environment

If, as the author states, all our cleansing just covers the more fundamental problem that we don’t have the right bacteria in our mouth to keep our teeth healthy, what might we do?

We know that when we take a course of antibiotics we interrupt the balance of microorganisms in our gut. Both the culprit bacteria as well as the beneficial bacteria of our gut is effected by the antibiotic.  ”anti-” means “against” and the Greek root “biotikos”means “fit for life”. An antibiotic prevents microorganisms from carrying on all their essential life functions, thereby causing their death.  To prevent side effects it is helpful to take live probiotics like acidophilus to replace the beneficial and healthful bacteria.

So are we leaving our mouths – the gate of our physical bodies – unmanned or undefended?

I can now understand why the dental community is concerned about mouth health being critical to prevention of serious illness.  However, is hygiene alone enough?  Do we need to investigate the introduction of beneficial bacteria in our mouths?  Would an acidophilus rince and gargle be enough?

I have been on a quest for mouth health which I first discussed on this site in the post “Oil Pulling – What is Your Mouth Saying About You?”  Oil pulling not only pulls the toxins from the mouth and gums, but it tightens the gums (preventing pockets for bacterial invasion) and whitens the teeth.  In it I discussed, my discovery of oil pulling and some other natural cleansing practices.

Organic First Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive OIl

Since that writing, I have learned of the healthful elements in first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil from organic sources.  That is what I now use for my regular oil-pulling practice.  Here is an interview with Dr. Prokopios Magiatis on the scientific testing to measure the levels of Oleancanthal which has anti-inflammatory effects similar to Ibuprofin and Oleacein, a powerful anti-oxidant.

For whiter teeth, I have discovered the Ayurvedic recommendation of Turmeric.  No kidding – deep orange and staining Turmeric!  Make a paste and brush your teeth.  You will be amazed at the whiteness and sparkle of your teeth.  Be aware that Turmeric will indeed stain toothbrush bristles and any fibre it splashes on.  Rince your mouth several times vigorously after brushing, clean sink and any residue on your skin right away.

Organic Turmeric – Ayurvedic Protocol for Whiter Teeth

The Smithonian article really caught my attention because I think there is much we can do in simple protocols and practices that will improve our health.  I have been concerned about dental practices like tooth whitening and implants not to mention mercury fillings for some time and my curiosity is increasing.  Stay tuned while I chase down some more theories and solutions.  In the meantime….

Keep Smiling!

Subscribe below for updates if you are as curious as I am about optimum mouth health.


Here is an excellent article on Oil Pulling by Jon Barron 

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In Loving Memory

George Harding 

Rose Petals

Written January 2008

Yesterday I made love to my home. I reclaimed her as my sanctuary. I mean I got down on my hands and knees and actually reached under furniture, damp dusted the underside of things where the dog hair clung, carefully rewound the Christmas tree lights, dragged the tree outside, vacuumed the pine needles from under the carpet, and put the gasping poinsettias outside to ‘go to sleep’.

There are two significant aspects of this; one is that I normally mutter and spit through a perfunctory swiping of the floor – gathering the tumbleweeds of pet hair- not quite reaching the corners. I usually make a joke that the maid will get the rest – but I am she … and well, you just can’t get good help these days. The second is that I am putting my home in order after the first Christmas and New Year since my beloved husband, George’s death, last February.

Three weeks ago I was ready to bolt. I was going to take my sons to a beach somewhere and let the holiday roll right on past. It was my younger son, Chris who stopped me in my tracks. He said, “I don’t know why you have a problem with Christmas. Last year wasn’t our best Christmas, for sure, but this is our home and this is where we should be.’ In those words and in his wise young eyes was the absolute spirit of George. It is just what he would have said. I hugged Chris and in relief for his clarity and the three of us chose to celebrate the season and had a holiday much more joyful and healing than sad.

On Christmas Eve a year ago I knew that George was going to really die. On Christmas Day at 11:00PM a 20lb turkey, stuffing and vegetables were dumped into a green garbage bag – no one could eat. At 3 in the morning after Boxing Day, I got my older son, Nick, to help me get George in the car and I drove to the hospital.

On New Year’s Eve, George and I sat in the emergency room, George in a wheel chair, silent and still, enduring God knows what kind of pain and me breathing and praying.  Our two young sons Nick, 20 and Chris, 17 were out at celebrations. I wouldn’t call them until after midnight to tell them I had brought their dad back to the hospital. They had been so relieved when he had been allowed to come home just that afternoon. But wait, that isn’t the point of this story.

That part is the Little Drama as opposed to the Big Picture, as I have come to see Life over the past several years. My good friend calls it the Epic Story. Like the Iliad. The one that is truly our path to God. It is the divine blueprint of All That We Can Be. That path leads us right through the minefield of the small self with all it’s fears and rages, life and death dramas to our Greater Self – the poet, teacher, leader who resides in the heart of God.

Here there is no death. Or rather death has no ‘sting’. There is only love – in it’s many and glorious forms and as we are birthed into this world, live and sooner or later die out of this world, we can be carried through our darkest nights on the grace of this knowing, or be badly bruised on the harshness of a ‘real’ and physical world. It actually becomes a conscious choice over which only we have control.

I cannot trivialize the illness and death of my husband, the father of my sons, my business partner, mentor, lover, and soul mate. ‘George and Marilyn’ was a phrase. For twenty- seven years we worked together, played together, had lunch together, shopped together, and on the way home in separate cars chatted on our cells to one another. We always had something to talk about. We rarely argued.  We loved one another deeply and always wanted what was best for the other. We were only ever apart three or four times in more than a quarter century. It is a big separation.

Was I afraid? Yes I was terrified. I look back and realize I had bargained with God and offered to endure years of a million daily fears in exchange for the One Big One.

Was I sad? Yes, many nights I lay on our bedroom floor and wailed in the middle of the night, mindless in sorrow.

Was I angry? You bet. I hated the arrogance of doctors, the soullessness of CAT Scans, the iniquity of the body. I was bloody outraged that my husband was to die. I wasn’t ready!

Did I suffer? In the sleepless nights and the numbed out days when I couldn’t fix what was broken, yes.

But so what? It all happened anyway – whether I liked it or not.

What emerged from the depths of my experience were a series of lessons about Life and Death. Really about Life, mostly. They are a mere handful of truths that will help us live Life more fully, prepare for our own death more objectively and accept the death of those we love. Death is just the context for living our life. We are absolutely – for sure – all going to die, one way or another – sooner or later. We all know this but continue to act surprised or betrayed when it actually is visited upon us or one we love. There are no untimely deaths. Cancer, car accident, or crib death is merely part of the script. We all have an exit ticket.

There is a purpose to every single human life and how we express that to its fullest is our job on this planet. To the extent that we fulfill that mandate, the easier it will be for us to let go of the physical world and give ourselves over.

There is a saying that a good life means a good death. To my mind a ‘good’ life does not mean one of perfection – pleasing God in our flawless following of rules, but of being real in all its darks and lights and striving. When we embrace this truth, we express our divinity in being God’s hands, eyes, mouth, ears, heart – healer, artist, teacher, counsellor, lover -whatever.

The irony of all this is that I live in a world of healers – spiritual, energetic, natural. A world of miracles. In fact it is my business. After we sold our company and retired, George helped me realize my dream. In July 2005, two weeks after I opened my boutique dedicated to the healing and creative arts, George collapsed and was rushed to hospital.  He needed fourteen litres of blood, had a tumour from prostate cancer that had shut down his kidneys and he nearly died. The oncologist refused to take him on as a patient and she said there was nothing she could do. His urologist said he wouldn’t live until Christmas (2005), and he would spend the rest of his life dependant on dialysis.

George lived another eighteen months. He did it for me and our two sons, his family, and many others whose lives he touched during that time. I thought he was going to be my poster boy for miracles. How could the husband of one in the healing world die of the nastiest of illnesses – cancer?

But George did die. And in that passing emerged a profoundly beautiful love story. For in that final walk on Earth together, George, always my protector, led me through the fire of my greatest fears, and in return, I had the privilege of looking deeply into his eyes as he passed through the veil so he would not be afraid. From that moment the life and death drama of every day fell away and I witnessed my own soul’s journey.

I have lived my life in pursuit of the spiritual. I have prayed for clarity and understanding. I was certain that as I prayed for God’s Will to be done, that if I was really good and fulfilled my guidance in building this business around living life authentically and spiritually, I would be rewarded by my husband’s miraculous cure. How else could I really interpret his illness?

As it happened, something was lost in my interpretation. When I surrendered (small ‘s’) to God’s Will, I sensed this voice saying ‘Are you sure?’ and I answered ‘Yep, yep yep!’ because, of course, I thought I knew what that meant. But what God really meant was that I would have to go where I dreaded more than anywhere on earth – and that was to the hospital. In this case forty-two hours in the emergency section where George rocked back and forth on his gurney in pain and I sat on an overturned barf bowl for hours on end.  God’s Will also meant that I would ultimately have to give up my beloved to Death when in my heart of hearts I knew he could have been ‘healed’. This is where I learned that healing does not always mean living.

To some I have shown strength or courage, but the truth is strength comes through surrender. In surrendering to what is, we can then look to what we need to lift us up and move us through a difficult passage. This is where I can gratefully acknowledge the cast of hundreds who helped me – and George and family – by word or deed, practice, therapy or healing to take Life in hand and really Live it – to death.

This is the part I want to share. The circumstances of the Little Drama are the tools for the Big Picture and serve only as the flash cards of greater meaning and purpose.

Yesterday, I plucked some faded roses from the Christmas centre piece on the dining table.  I was about to put them in the green bin, but instead opened the sliding door and took each one and opened the flowers in my hand and strew them across the snow. The crisp brown outer petals fell away in my hands and within the bud, deep pink silken petals unfurled. Snowflakes and rose petals swirled in the air and cascaded to the ground and rested there. As I look out the window and see the graceful pattern, it is a message that like the roses, there is no death – just transformation and beauty when we look through the eyes of Love.

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Hello From Hollywood!

HOLLYWOOD – It’s a Sign!

There is something about rolling a steel storage locker door down on all your possessions except what is stashed in a bulging suitcase and getting on a plane that tips your mind into new spiritual territory. Athan and I are on our way to Italy – we know not where and we know not when, but in the lyric of a song, “Woyaya” by Art Garfunkel, ”We are going, Heaven knows where we are going … we’ll know we’re there.”  In the meantime, we have a few stops along the way and the first one was Hollywood, California. Continue reading

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Oil Pulling

What Is Your Mouth Saying About You?

I just came across this practice while following a serpentine trail of natural remedies. It was one of those ‘aha’ moments because, while I’d never heard of it, it made abundant good sense. I have had my issues with periodontal treatments including the very expensive cutting and packing the gums with antibiotic threads. It worked but I was determined not to fix but prevent any more mouth nasties!


Since the treatment I have bought a WaterPik and use it religiously. I was astonished Continue reading

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