From Valentine’s Day to Mother’s Day

When I was a newlywed, every thing that my husband did or did not do was a direct reflection of his love for me. No pressure there.
But I had jumped into a delicate situation. My new husband was a widower and the cause of his late wife’s death was tragic and unexpected. It was a movie with an unhappy ending and I arrived to help pick up the pieces.
The problem was that I thought I was stronger than I actually was. I wanted to be the helper that flew in on a cloud of fairy dust to sweep all the hurt feelings into a manageable corner of their hearts. I hadn’t anticipated that my own heart wasn’t as solid as I had come to believe.
It’s not until you are in a safe place in your life, that you are really able to survey the actual damage you may live in. Damage from the past that you may have unknowingly carried with you from relationship to relationship, be that friendships, romances or family.
My damage involved bad decisions, incorrect childhood interpretations and parents that did the best they could while moving across the world to find that safe harbor for themselves and their daughter.
On the first Valentine’s Day I shared with my new husband, I was still trying to find my way across the tightrope of my life with the safety net that my new husband’s love had unexpectedly provided me. At that point, I hadn’t even really known this was something I needed – nor that it was even there.
Once the euphoria of this handsome man loving me had started to wear off, I started to feel like my old self. My old self demanded proof that my partners and friends actually loved me because I had been tricked before.  My old self believed all my damage made me unlovable. Plus, I was also stepping into the shadow of the unshakable love between a dead woman and the man who had fiercely loved her.
When my new husband gave me a generic pink necklace he had bought off the internet for our first Valentine’s Day, it was all the evidence I needed that, indeed, he did not really love me, that he would never look at me in the same way he looked at his first wife in the pictures I had found, that I deserved the second class love I was getting as punishment for my past mistakes.
A Shattered Love Story

 

Now, my new husband had no idea why his gift sparked the outrageous lecture about thoughtful present selections and lazy gift-giving. All he knew was he gave his new wife a gift and she freaked out was unhappy.
It took a while for me to see how unfair I was being, how the feelings I was reacting to had nothing to do with him but were the ghosts of people long ago. I had to walk on  that tightrope for a while and fall many times and realize he was still there and I was still okay. We were still okay.
Today, 10 years later, I woke up to a completely unplanned Mother’s Day. It was the first time he hadn’t orchestrated a huge brunch for all the mothers at our house because his sister would be coming into town next weekend and Kyle would be home from college. So, he postponed his annual tribute to the moms in his life with his cooked eggs, fruit and salmon until next weekend.
So instead, this year, I got to sleep in, read a little in bed and receive the little handmade gifts that my children thoughtfully made for me. Somewhere around 10, he realized he had to go to the grocery store to buy ingredients to make breakfast. And then I got to sit in silence and write about this memory I had and the realization that came with it.
And this is the realization: My husband doesn’t have to go big anymore to make me feel big. I don’t need that constant proof that my husband loves me. After all these years of me falling, of us figuring out how to talk to each other, of us saying the worst thing we can think of and having the other still be there, after all these years of building together the patchwork of our love and mistakes, I already know.
My perfect Sunday view

 

 

My perfect peeps

 

Ideas – The Making of an Idealist

Photo by maxime-le-conte-des-floris

Rina Baraz Nehdar was born in a bad idea. Actually, the idea was probably a good idea when it transformed from thought to words but because of a lot of human blunderings, in the way of greed and discrimination, it was already a bad idea by the time she arrived. Her parents realized what a mess it was and decided to spare Rina the pain of having to live through the headaches and inconveniences bad ideas often produce, so they pulled roots and moved to a better idea.

Photo by Rina Baraz Nehdar

It’s hard living in a good idea, not even a perfect one, just a good one. The neighbors can get jealous and want to steal the idea (which is okay because there’s no end to the supply of love in good ideas) but what happens more often is that the neighbors want to destroy the good idea to make their own ideas, which may actually be bad, look better. Sometimes, people are even willing to kill and die for their ideas. This got a little worrisome for Rina’s parents as reports often surfaced of kids Rina’s age being blown up by bombs disguised as teddy bears. So, they up and moved again to an idea that was being heralded worldwide as a very strong and workable idea.

Statue of Liberty stands murky
Photo by Tom Coe

As Rina grew up, she realized that a lot of the fairy tales she had grown up hearing weren’t actually applicable to real life. This was true even living in a good, strong idea. After taking many self-destructive detours to combat the pain of awareness, she resolved to use her position of strength, supported by the resources the good idea offered, to help people whose voices were weakened or even strangled by the multitude of conflicting interests battling to be heard.

Love of Flying

When I was in college, I read an assigned book in my women’s psychology class,  written by Erica Jong, called Fear of Flying.

totally not about flying

She used flying as a metaphor for the limitations we put on ourselves. I’m not saying I don’t do that anymore but I do it a lot less than I used to at the age when I read it.

I’m not sure if I can alter the metaphor and proclaim that I love to fly but why not? It’s my essay. I do love to fly, literally, and sometimes, during those journeys, from that experience, and the ones that follow, I get to fly metaphorically too.

view from an airplane
a new view

The best thing about flying is that I get to see new places, that I get to meet new people, that I get to see them living in a way that’s different from what I’m used to. I get to explore parts of the world that are completely unfamiliar, yet, I find, are still connected to me, the very existence of our lives miraculous and finite and a complete mystery, even though we think we know.

our waiter in Estonia
Israeli Shuk

Leading up to that moment is exciting too. I don’t love to pack because the mood I’m in when I fill my bag won’t be the mood or circumstances I will find when I arrive at my destination. I do the best I can between the fighting kids and my domestic obligations and know if I forget something, I can always buy it wherever I am.

forgot your bra? no problem!!!! there’s a store for that and more….

As long as I’m sticking to a nice pace time wise, even the drive to the airport is a treat because it brings me that much closer to the excitement already building in my middle.

The airport, usually hectic, maybe a little confusing, between all the lines and which is the shortest or moving the fastest and will get me through security that much quicker and will they be in a good mood and let me keep moving or will they detain me and make themselves feel powerful for that moment. And yet, you hear about the threats they’ve actually stopped and you feel grateful, even though you know you’re not one of them.

The world inside an airport is it’s own little world, not quite here but not there either. Calories obviously don’t count because you’re flowing in the land in between and calories can’t find you. Or so you tell yourself as you munch your extra crispy French fries followed later by a visit to the Coffee Bean for foamed sugar to top the gluten-full hot sugar before you get on your plane.

doesn’t count….new math

Walking down the hallway onto the ramp that extends to the fuselage of the plane, you know you’re almost there: the vessel that is your conduit to lands beyond. You arrive to the seat meant just for you, to take you on your adventure and you try to cram all the things you brought to distract yourself from the long flight into an area meant for a toddler but you make do and clean around your new home and rearrange a bit of the furniture as you settle in and hope that your new neighbor won’t be an actual toddler.

Finally, the push-off. This is the last time you’ll see your city and that’s ok. You know it’ll be there when you’re ready to return. If you decide to return.

The wheels slowly turn down the runway jockeying for position in the line-up. Finally, the ding overhead sounds and flight attendants are warned to strap in and the plane starts hurtling forward, but you don’t see where it’s going, only the things that are passing by and that’s ok as the force of gravity pushes your lower back into your chair and the ground beneath gets bumpier and the roar of the engine pushes every other sound out of the cabin and suddenly the ride is smooth and now it’s your butt that is being cradled as the metal transport tube pulls your body away from the ground and into the air, into the unknown, into the awe and wonder of discovery where there is no fear.

fear of flying

I’m Sorry For Your Loss

 

My Hero                                      06/08/1941-10/27/2016

Please don’t say you’re sorry for my loss or give me your condolences. You don’t have to say anything. I’ll still be where I am and feel the suck of my soul regardless of these words you use, which are society’s assigned phrase to help not the grieving but the dispassionate deal with the grieving.

They are generic attributes of the most heartbreaking and fundamental part of our lives and are an insult to the grieving. They say you are distant from the pain. They say you’ve chosen to remain apart and not open yourself to connect, even for a second, with that part of life that rips the most precious people from your world.

If you do want to help, even a silent touch or a heartfelt hug is better than the meaningless banter of those hollow words. Just say you’re so sorry. That’s enough to let me know, even if you don’t feel my pain, that you wish I wasn’t feeling it either.

If you go even deeper and tell me what a good daughter or mother or friend I was, then you’ll be forced to share in my pain of knowing how simple it would have been to have done more and maybe, if I had, then he’d have been happier and made a bigger effort to get stronger and fight to heal his body and chase the demons from his mind.

If you say I was lucky to have had him at all, you would be right and I could feel the gratitude in that. His memory is my reality and right now it’s less a blessing than a feeling of emptiness that it’s now just a memory.

I wish we could take it all back, Papa, and you could be here again.

Family Passport photo leaving the USSR

From Rocker to Soccer, could this mom do minivan?

Well….to be honest, I’m not sure what a rocker I really was. I did date a couple boys who were in bands when I was in college.

rinarocker-2

Does that qualify me? But I was never a crazy Courtney Love type. Well. At least not THAT crazy. Though that’s a pretty high standard.

courtney love
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
However, I am reminded here that we shared that 80s peroxided hair and bangs look.

Regardless, I did spend a lot of time at the beach….

silly beaches
silly beaches
….and thought I was pretty cool.

One thing I did not think was cool was minivans. Even today I think, to drive a minivan, is to pack it all in. Good bye good times, good bye spontaneous adventures, good-bye (semi) cool girl.

Yet, my kids have been begging me for a mini-van for years.  Begging. WTH?

I don’t understand. My surfer-girl SUV isn’t good enough for them? Didn’t they realize their mom would have to give up that part of herself that still believed she was edgy and young to drive that mini-van? Didn’t they know I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to that girl who still looked forward to the unknown and dreamed about the future with her girlfriends, all driving around, looking for parties and cute boys? No. No, they didn’t. All they know is they want to be comfortable while their chauffeur drives them to their myriad of activities.

Driver! To the ice cream store!!
Driver! To the ice cream store!!
Last week, Toyota offered to loan me a car to see if my back-to-school routine would be simplified with a brand new vehicle. Not sure our commute to school could get any easier, as we walk, but perhaps it could be more enjoyable as we do all the other things that little boys with active parents like to do. They gave me a choice of cars and my conservationist inclination was to try out the Highlander Hybrid SUV as that was on my short list when I bought my last car in 2009, my roomy and economical Honda Pilot. However, I thought of those doleful brown eyes, besieging me for that big box on wheels and I opted for the 2016 Toyota Sienna.

Turns out the gas mileage, which I thought would be dramatically different between the two models was actually closer than I expected. The Sienna minivan gets 18 city and 25 highway, while the hybrid Highlander gets 27 city and 28 highway. A difference, yes, but worth the extra ten grand for the hybrid? Not sure.

Has it really come to this?
Has it really come to this?
First thing I noticed was that the gadgets placed around the car were actually helpful.

easy access
easy access
I always wonder, in my actual car, if the light switch I move from one side to the other is 1)turning all the lights on all the time, or 2) just when the car doors are open or 3) turning them completely off. This takes one thing off my mind. And I love that I can open the side doors so conveniently and not have to remind my kids to watch the cars parked next to us!

More Good Stuff

I don’t have time to read an owner’s manual to operate a car and this one, I found, is intuitive enough not to need to do that.

The dashboard reminders are really helpful for a busy, distracted mom.

At least someone is paying attention to the details
At least someone is paying attention to the details
And when it comes to this…

oh oh
oh oh
It’s still got my back…..

toyota-sienna-29

We don’t want to have to have the kids pushing the car into a gas station now, would we? Though that would be a Facebookable moment.

On Day 2, while the kids were in school, I had an assistant help me test out the car.

It's roomy back here!
It’s roomy back here!
The third row folds down easily with one/two combo straps to make a lot of space in the trunk area.

Here, Lily is making sure the windows work properly.

Yep, I think they work
Yep, I think they work
On Days 3 and 4, I put on my official soccer mom uniform and drove the whole family (no Lily) to Kaleb’s soccer tournament. By this time the boys are in full crush mode with the car.

If they could write love letters to it....they would.
If they could write love letters to it….they would.
Knox: Say it’s great. Say it’s the best car that you ever went in.

I don’t know what it is about this minivan. It doesn’t seem that different from my SUV on the inside except that there is, actually, a whole lot more legroom everywhere. The leather seats were plush and cozy, really more like a recliner than a car seat.

Taking a snooze
Taking a snooze
There are PLENTY of cupholders. There are cupholders in cupholders. Which is perfect for when you bring friends and everyone is thirsty because they’re playing soccer in 100 degree weather.

It actually can seat a combination of 10 big and little people.

toyota-sienna-26
(don’t try this at home)

Make My Life Easier, Please

Some great mom perks include easy smartphone integration so you could listen to the music stored on you phone or a streaming device like Pandora. You can call all your peeps through a seamless voice command system.

The guidance system is fantastic. We were able to easily navigate to a coffee place when we had to arrive at the soccer tournament at the god-awful time of 7:30 on a Saturday morning. No owner’s manual required for any of it.

lots of options
lots of options
There is a great middle console that is enormous and could hide things in dubious neighborhoods while you run in to get your coffee.

camera? what camera?
camera? what camera?
There’s even a large section to drop your purse right below that middle console, instead of throwing it into the abyss of the backseat or the passenger seat (but you do have to take the purse with you so your car doesn’t get its windows smashed  in said dubious neighborhood).

The video monitor for your backseat theater includes a wide screen monitor, Blu Ray format, and wireless headphones.

We’re not big wireless people because of the uncertainty of developing brains and radio frequency transmissions being blasted into them, so we wouldn’t use this feature much. There is an option to plug in wired headphones and have a very similar experience, minus the risks but this one time, I let the boys go at it.

The climate control is also very easy to operate . In my Honda Pilot, I feel like we’re always guessing (after 7 years you’d think we’d just know) how to operate the backseat heaters and cooler to adjust the temperature to a different setting than the one we have upfront. In the Sienna, everything is clearly marked.

a no brainer
a no brainer
On the way back from the soccer tournament, we had to stop by the grocery store because we were out of everything. All three rows were still up and we also still had our chairs and umbrella in the back. Yet…..

plenty of room!
plenty of room!
the wide and deep trunk contained plenty of space for all our stuff. That was a huge improvement over my Pilot and would have come in very handy when I had had to choose between stroller and groceries back in the baby toting days.

The middle console has a very large flat area which is the perfect place to put your french fries when you can’t wait to eat them until you get home.

room for all the essentials
room for all the essentials

During the week, the minivan took me from Zumba

toyota-sienna-minivan
still not sure….
to date night with my husband at Dodgers Stadium and everywhere in between.

toyota sienna minivan
falling in love….
By the end of the week, I could really see the draw. Ego aside, this was a very practical and roomy car, which scores a fat 10 in the family department. My SUV may look cooler (to me) but you should have seen me this morning trying to cram my groceries into its back, with a bunch of my husband’s surf gear still there, even with only two of the three rows up. Irritation over my husband’s procrastination to move said gear for more egg space wouldn’t have happened with the minivan that left us last week.

bye bye minivan!
bye bye minivan!
Before it left, the kids had a few rituals they had to carry out to make the parting a bit easier……

 

Well. There you have it. In a nutshell, why we make those sacrifices for our kids.

 

Splashtopia! A Guide to Family Fun at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa and the Palm Springs area

 

Photo provided by Elizabeth Hanson
Photo provided by Elizabeth Hanson

In August, my family and I had the awesome opportunity to go to the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa in Rancho Mirage, CA. If you don’t know where that is, it’s right outside Palm Springs.

It is affectionately known as Splashtopia by many families in Southern, California and beyond.

In a nutshell, it’s both super fun and enormously relaxing.

The resort itself is set on 240 acres and includes a full service spa, 2 acre water park, a 27-hole golf course, and 444 guest rooms.

I went with my three boys and husband, so I have to admit that I did not set foot in the spa. I wish I did, however, as it includes 20,000 square feet of facial treatments, massage and body treatments, hair, nails, make-up service, and more fun stuff. It also has a separate pool. But I will have to come back someday on a girl’s weekend.

What drew us there was Splashtopia. It is a dream for both kids and parents. For the older ones there are two, 100-foot waterslides, a 425 foot lazy river and a pool to swim around in.

slide into paradise - photo by Elizabeth Hanson
slide into paradise – photo by Elizabeth Hanson

Here is a fun video featuring the waterslide.

where being lazy can be fun - photo by Elizabeth Hanson
where being lazy can be fun – photo by Elizabeth Hanson
peaceful night - photo by Elizabeth Hanson
peaceful night – photo by Elizabeth Hanson

 

For the little ones there is an actual sandy beach and a play zone with fountains and sprinklers for them to splash around in. The other great aspect of the beach is that it included a shaded seating area. I definitely appreciated it as when we went in August it was hotter than hot!

a desert beach getaway - photo by Elizabeth Hanson
a desert beach getaway – photo by Elizabeth Hanson
kids wonderland - photo by Elizabeth Hanson
kids wonderland – photo by Elizabeth Hanson

 

A few facts about the resort that you might find helpful.

I’m including a few little details here just in case you are considering Splashtopia for your family.

  • Kids must be 42” to ride the slides. And let me tell you, they are fast!
  • They don’t allow outside food and drink. However, I saw many families bring in snacks for the little ones. We did too and tried to make it not too obvious. As we spent the entire day there we also bought food from the Splash Grill.
  • They have food at the pool from their Splash Grill. It’s ok, not fantastic. It includes things like burgers, fries, sandwiches and fruit plates. The pricing is what can be expected at a resort. There are cocktails and other alcoholic beverages for the adults.
  • The main pool is open from 9 am to 10 pm with lifeguards in attendance. The lazy river and slide close a little bit earlier at 9 pm and also has lifeguards. In my opinion, it is so hot there in the summer that spending the entire day at the pool is the best way to go.
  • The Splash Grill is open from 10 am to 8 pm.
  • All of the hours I have given are for April through August and differ the remainder of the year.
  • There is a changing table for babies in the women’s restrooms and NOT the men’s restrooms. I find this a bit of out of date as today’s daddy changes diapers too.
  • Internet is free. Bring your own movies on your Ipad as they cost $17.99 plus tax if you order one in your room.
  • A pull out bed costs $35 extra nightly.
  • There is a separate adult only pool.
  • The resort offers daily activities for kids as well as nightly music.
  • Golf and tennis are free June to September.
cool evenings - photo by Elizabeth Hanson
cool evenings – photo by Elizabeth Hanson
What are the rooms like?

We stayed in a room that was not off the pool. It costs a bit less and only required us to walk about 2 minutes to get to the pool. The room was clean and big.

The only thing I wished it had was a place to hang up swim suits. There are not ample hooks in the bathroom. And I don’t know about you ladies, but I have more than one suit!

Eating at the Resort

There are several options for eating at the resort if you want to dive in and not explore the surrounding areas.

The Splash Grill is the restaurant that you order from while playing at Splashtopia. It has kids meals, sandwiches, burgers, tropical drinks and a variety of other things. I thought the food was ok. It certainly wasn’t bad, but it was far from gourmet. It’s more pricy then eating out, but the advantage you get is not leaving the pool. That was worth it to us. Sandwiches are $14 to $16, smoothies $8, salads $12 to $15, and alcoholic frozen drinks $12 to $13.

We did not eat in the main restaurant Blu Ember. I asked other families about it and everyone seemed to like what it had to offer. They have a kid’s breakfast that got rave reviews from the children I spoke to. They serve nutella and that made quite an impression. Kids under 12 eat for free at dinner time with the order of an adult meal. Main meals are $24 to $39 each. Even with our kids eating free, we could pay less off the resort.

There is also a Palms Cafe similar to a Starbucks or Coffee Bean and an R Bar that we did not go to.

photo by Elizabeth Hanson
photo by Elizabeth Hanson

In our opinion Palm Springs has so much to offer in the way of restaurants that we preferred to venture out. This, of course, was much less expensive than eating at the Resort and frankly, I preferred the food options much better. Within minutes of the resort is every food chain you can imagine as well as many other great restaurants.

Fun Things Nearby
outside wildlife - photo by Elizabeth Hanson
outside wildlife – photo by Elizabeth Hanson

 

If you can tolerate the heat, The Living Desert, is a must see. It is one of the most impressive zoos I have ever seen. The giraffes have over 5 acres to roam on as do the cheetahs.

cheetahs living large - photo by Elizabeth Hanson
cheetahs living large – photo by Elizabeth Hanson
living desert cheeta
prowling – photo by Elizabeth Hanson

 

There is a whole program of Zoo Talks that you can hear as you visit various sections. The speakers are well informed and clearly love their jobs.

tell me a story - photo by Elizabeth Hanson
tell me a story – photo by Elizabeth Hanson

 

What I love the most about this zoo is that all of the animals have ample space to roam around. I won’t give you the whole list of animals, but in addition to giraffes and cheetahs there are snakes, amphibians, coyotes, gazelles, big horn sheep, bobcats, and more.

For those of you that are in love with miniature trains, the zoo has a Wild West miniature train track which is very impressive.

putting around - photo by Elizabeth Hanson
putting around – photo by Elizabeth Hanson

They also honor memberships from several other California Zoos. As we are Santa Barbara Zoo members we got a nice discount.

 

The Palm Springs Air Museum is a mecca of World War II airplanes. It is also air conditioned so you don’t have to worry about beating the dry heat.

taking off - photo by Elizabeth Hanson
taking off – photo by Elizabeth Hanson

Even if you are not an airplane buff it is worth visiting. Their list of war birds is very impressive and includes a C-47 Skytrain, a P-51 Mustang, a corsair, a Thunderbolt, and a ton more impressive aircraft from both the Pacific and European Theater.

Upstairs in the library, you will also find flight simulators to try out.

 

We didn’t go to The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway on this trip, but we have gone in the past. It is a fantastic view. Once up top, you can hike around or stay inside and eat at the restaurant.

If you are afraid of heights, you should know that it is both steep and high. The tram is solid though and feels very secure.

 

Overall Impression

Palms Springs is a great place to visit. We miss it already!

Splashtopia was so much fun that we definitely want to go back. My entire family gave it a big thumbs up. My husband said he has never felt as relaxed after a vacation.

You can sign up to receive special deals at the Omni’s website.

You can also check Groupon. We got 50% off our room there. If you get a Groupon, keep in mind that it doesn’t include taxes and resort fees.

Elizabeth Hanson is the mom of three fantastic little boys that she has the pleasure of homeschooling. You can visit her blog www.modernhippiemommy.com to read her musings on natural living.

Tips on Healthy Eating: Replanting Your Tower Garden

Sometimes pictures speak louder than words so I’ve made this cute, little 6 minute video to walk you through replanting your Tower Garden.

Please subscribe to this blog on the homepage to receive a free ebook on wellness and share this post if you found it helpful (or you thought my kids were cute!).

Summer Book Giveaway!

You know how when your friend tells you they’re in a rock band and they’re performing in the bar across town and would you come and support them and you sigh internally because you’ve done this before but you go anyway and you smile and pretend to be wowed by the pedantic, slightly off-key music because you love your friend and want them to be happy? Well. This isn’t anything like that at all.

My uber talented friend Julie Gardner wrote a book called Letters For Scarlet.

julie
Book signing at Barnes and Noble! Photo by Charlene Ross

And it rocks. Literally. This is the payoff from sitting in all those dingy bars while your friend belts old Ozzy Osborne hits while swaying on stage. This is your moment in the summer sunshine, a slice of time to yourself, to get lost in a drama that encompasses friendship, marriage, betrayal and of course love because everything returns back to love.

Since I’m the type of person who closes her eyes during movie previews when they’re showing something I already want to watch, I won’t spoil it for you here. I will say this though – as it won’t give anything away – a horrible thing happens to Scarlet and her two friends at the time of their life that should be a beautiful beginning. Then she is betrayed by her two friends. Oh, did I mention everyone is beautiful in this book? I love reading about beautiful, flawed people because it makes me feel like we’re all connected after all – and not just in our yoga classes.

I have a free signed copy of Letters For Scarlet. You can win it by commenting below. It can be anything: why you love summer, what friendships mean to you, your irritation at having to think of something to say in order to win a book. Anything. At the end of the week (Friday night) I will randomly select a winner based on the comments submitted. Easy peasy. And then you will not be irritated that I twisted your arm to use the annoying comment submission form so you could enter the contest because you will have your glossy, autographed book to enjoy at the beach, or the pool, with your margarita or kambucha.

 

Giving Mothers the Gift of Peace

(This article originally appeared in YogiTimes Magazine – I just added all these groovy pictures)

One thing no one ever tells an expectant mother is the arrival of her beautiful, cooing little bundle of chub will be the departure of her private bathroom time, regular showers and any hope of an uninterrupted night of sleep. There might be a mother who escapes from this reality and we have a special name for her. Lucky.

Retro housewife with freshly made lemonade
Always making lemonade out of lemons

The rest of us, however, have to find ways to keep our sanity between the coos and giggles. Agoura Hills yoga teacher, Drorit Rudin, had three kids within three years and four months of each other. She tried to take care of herself in between diaper changes and regularly attended gym classes though never really connected with the vibe there. Rudin said her life changed when she found a yoga class that embodied everything she was. “There were no shoes, no one was checking each other out, no competitiveness. There was a space created for peace.” Rudin says the peace she found on her yoga mat extended into her family life. “I was able to be more calm and my kids responded so much better.”

Drorit2
Drorit Rudin found yoga and was able to find peace in chaos

Malibu resident, Torrie Simshauser, had a similar experience the first time she did yoga. “I could feel the difference at a cellular level,” she said. All the breathing and meditative nature of moving between the poses eased her anxiety, Simshauser said, and after nine months of daily practice, she decided to train to become a teacher. “I wanted to share all the benefits I was getting in classes that was extending outside my classes, like balance, stability and calmness with others.”

Torrie
Tore Simshauser strikes a pose in Malibu

Both yogini mommies can thank Sridhar Silberfein for their practice as he was one of the people responsible for bringing yoga to the United States. In the early 1970s, Silberfein opened the first yoga studio in Los Angeles in Topanga Canyon. He introduced Swami Satchidananda to the stage at Woodstock to deliver an invocation in front of 500,000 music fans. Overwhelmed by the largest gathering of people ever assembled in the United States, Silberfein promised the Swami that someday the same number would come together to chant the various names of God, practicing Kirtan, or sacred music.

epic_slider
Woodstock was the largest gathering of people ever assembled in the United States

Forty years later, Silberfein created Bhakti Fest (which means love and compassion, a devotional opening up of the heart) in Joshua Tree where they do just that.

Sridhar and Ram Dass
Every year Sridhar Silberfein has video taped conversations with Ram Dass shown at the festivals he created

Bhakti Fest offers unlimited yoga taught by the top instructors in the world. Bhakti Fest also has sacred music and workshops where people learn the meaning behind the chants. From that, Shakti Fest was born which specifically celebrates the creative divine feminine. Shakti Fest features additional workshops like belly dancing and hula hoop, classes in tantric and Ayurvedic.

Silberfein, born to a Jewish family, wants to make clear that yoga isn’t a religion, it’s a way of life. “People start to practice and see the difference in their face and body and want more of that. They may decide to meditate five minutes a day. They may decide to eat cleaner.”

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Both festivals are Silberfein’s peaceful alternative to what he feels are the angst ridden rap and rock concerts that he says encourage personal destruction through the abuse of drugs, alcohol and relationships. Instead, he offers guests a healthy experience, free of any mind altering substances, based on the return to a youthful innocence which he says we lose at age 8 in response to the ego’s need to protect itself from the frantic nature of the world. “It’s very difficult to live in the world today,” Silberfein points out, “We need a daily practice that keeps us quiet in our minds, that keeps us centered from the hassle and frazzle of everyday life.”

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As a young mother, Rudin said, she was always worrying about specific things that might happen to her kids, things that were mostly beyond her control. “After yoga, I didn’t worry as much,” she said. Instead, she started every class by setting a positive intention of peace and happiness for each of her children. It spilled over into her life outside her yoga practice and she was able to feel that peace and happiness herself.

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Sometimes, Simhauser said, her kids will practice yoga with her. She wants for them to have the gift of calm that she found later in life. Silberfein says the Kid’s Village at Shakti Fest is designed to give children those very skills at an age where they could grow into them. There is music, dancing and puppets. They learn how to work with crystals and even get to take them home. They create gratitude flags to hang in their rooms. And maybe most importantly, they learn how to sit still for two to ten minutes, a skill most adults can probably use.They learn to center themselves in the face of life’s chaos.

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Shakti Fest brings together the most talented female yoga teachers and musical artists. There is a Woman’s Tent, closed to men, run by female elders who discuss sensitive topics specific to women’s struggles. “The idea is to empower the women,” said Silberfein. “They need to have their own space, which is closed to their husband and children. She can tell them it’ll make her a better mommy and wife.”

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Empowerment was something Rudin found eight years ago, when she woke up one morning and decided to open up her own yoga studio, now called Agoura Power of Yoga. “I wanted to practice the type of yoga that I loved,” Rudin said, “At the time the closest studio was in Calabasas, so I create my own.” Rudin said she gets texts, emails and cards from women thanking her for helping them to reconnect with their inner power.

o“In many relationships, women give up their power.” Silberfein said he disagrees with this. “We should be kissing their feet in gratitude for the things they do.”

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Shakti Fest donates a portion of their proceeds to an orphanage in India that is home to 18 girls. “We want to have a festival where we can give back to the people, so after we pay our expenses, that’s what we do.”

Shakti Fest begins its sixth year at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center in Joshua Tree, CA on May 13 and goes from 7am to 2am until May 16. For more information go to: http://shaktifest.bhaktifest.com/ Discounts are given to veterans, military, students and seniors.