Friday, December 21, 2012


The art work above was created by my brother Kevin Junod years ago for holiday cards sent out to Citibank customers. My brother was thrilled at the time to have been one of the finalists chosen to have his work on the cards.

I can't help but think about what our vision of world peace was back in 1993. Back in 1993 we had a reasonable sense of safety here in America. We fell into a comfortable security that we never dreamed would be interrupted. 

It's been a week since the Newtown, CT tragedy and my heart aches still. So much loss and consuming grief the families must feel. Even in the midst of unspeakable tragedy there are still elements of the best that humanity offers. May God continue to comfort and wrap them in his warm embrace.

Sometimes when something like this happens I think of other parts of the globe that experience this sort of unsettled sense of security on a daily basis.

In the midst of chaos there always seems to be some whisper of a joyful peace. Peace in the sweet sound of a baby deep in slumber. I am particularly fond of the hush that hangs in the wee early mornings. The sound of a cat's purr can calm my heart so quickly.

Where do you find peace in your day?

In the coming days I wish you joy, comfort and a peaceful heart.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Core Strength

I woke up this week determined to get back on track with my yoga. I never imagined the benefits that I would receive from yoga. Yoga helped me pre-diagnosis and has been so beneficial post diagnosis.

At first I was considerably weak and trying to find my balance was very difficult. I immediately found benefit from the deep breathing techniques alone so I kept returning to my new practice. With each new, more challenging pose I was pumped. I didn't care if I was falling over with the Dance pose, I just did Downward Dog, dawgs! Booyah! 

When I got a Wii for Christmas years ago I had to bump up my game. My Wii yoga instructor was merciless and showed no pity. She didn't care that I was wobbly from the effects of a chronic illness flare. She was all business and as far as she was concerned, you were to hang your chronic illness, mommy woes and midlife crisis issues outside her studio. "Nina" was tough. 

"Oh, you're a little shaky there," she had the nerve to tell me when frankly, I was lucky to have shuffled to my mat that morning. "How well does she know me really?" I would think to myself.

There were a few outbursts of profanity. I'm not proud of it but really. My knees looked like heads of cauliflower from the joint swelling and she had the nerve to point out that I was a little shaky? 

I switched instructors and I sort of liked "Paul" for a while. His voice was encouraging and if I was having a rough go of it he would rally me on. 

"Oh, I see you're a little shaky there. Doing yoga every day will strengthen your core muscles," he explained. I could feel him rooting me on and I began feeling proud of the accomplishments of being awarded new poses. 

Then life and Sjogren's Syndrome kept me away from my yoga mat. A long flare kept me buried under blankets and yoga was furthest from my mind. As with many illnesses, Sjogren's reeks havoc on a person's sense of strength and stability. If you're not careful it can chip away at how you think of yourself. It can make you feel weak and out of balance. 

After every flare my trips back to my yoga mat taught me that the strength really doesn't go away while you take leave. I was always pleasantly surprised to see that deep at the core of me, my strength remained. 

This is such valuable lesson that yoga has taught me. I AM strong, aren't I? I might have been down before but I'm standing tall now. I'm not my stupid Sjogren's anymore than you might be your hardship sidekick. We are all stronger than we know. It's deep in our core, the very light of our spirit. "Nina" was right to expect more of me. 

Hubby found this video which chronicles Arthur Boorman's transformation due largely to yoga but more in part to being shown that his strength never really left in the first place. 

For more on the benefits of yoga: