Writing Letters to Mom

April 6, 2017 § Leave a comment


I wrote this letter to my students with the desire to reach out, connect and commit myself to following through with the commitment to write letters to my Mom who is very sick at the moment.

Here is the letter to my students:

I have just returned from a month away in LA and have missed you guys! It has been a difficult time and I am grateful for the support and love expressed by friends family and students. You guys have been so wonderful. My mom has been very sick and it has been so hard to see her this compromised. She has a condition called COPD and it affects the lungs and their capacity to take in air. Before I went to visit, it was very challenging to speak to mom on the phone and once I was there, and experienced moms struggle to breathe, I realized why. I am committing to writing letters to mom on a regular basis as phone conversation will likely not be possible for a while if ever. The picture above is one of three I sent to mom in the most recent letter. I thought I would share “a day in the life” of her daughter who lives so far away from her as a chance to share a connection with me and the kids and their daily activities. Also, if there can be some distraction from the suffering that mom is going through, maybe a funny story or silly occurrence can make her laugh or smile. I am looking forward to writing more letters to mom and thought maybe I would suggest if you haven’t written, yes, written, a letter (snail mail, remember that? stamps and envelopes and all!) to someone special in your life in a while, it might just be a way to put a smile on their face too.

Hugs and Namaste,




Yummy Green Juice, No Juicer Required!

April 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

In honor of taking care of yourself during times of change, I thought this recipe for a little green juice might hit the spot! A while ago we used to live in a tiny one bedroom apartment on 57th street. Although we now have much more space, it still feels like a struggle to keep it feeling clear and peaceful. With this in mind, you can guess how excited I was to learn that you can actually make a delicious green juice without needing to own a juicer. We got rid of ours when we lived in the smaller space out of necessity and have not invested in getting a new one since. I watched a few videos on this and it really did seem so easy that I tried it myself. Mikaela got curious about what I was doing and joined in. While at first she was apprehensive about the finished product, she did try it and to my delight actually liked it. It really does make a difference to get your kids involved in making things in the kitchen! through our example, we can teach our children how to take good care of themselves when they get older. It is a win win and win again situation!


  • 6-8 leaves kale, rinsed and chopped
  • 2 green apples
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 lemon with no peel
  • 2 inches ginger, peeled
  • a little bit of water
  • any old blender
  • a paint strainer or cheese cloth

To Prepare:
1.    Place ingredients in blender.
2.    Blend well, you may have to do it in small batches.
3.    Put strainer over top of the blender.
4.    Pour in to a container (square or rectangular works best).
5.    Squeeze out the juice.
6.    Enjoy!

Things are always in Transition: An Article about Change

April 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

“Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way we like to dream about.  The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit. It’s a very tender, non aggressive, open-ended state of affairs.” ~Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

If you have been coming to my yoga classes lately you may have realized that I have been reading this quote from Pema Chodron a little more often as the end of class inspirational reading. It is one of my favorite quotes and I find Pema Chodron so inspiring especially in her point of view during times of transition. You can find a copy of “The Pocket Pema Chodron” that I read from in class here. With the change of our Studio model things have really been in flux and I have drawn much comfort in her words of wisdom.

Off Center

As my husband will tell you, I am not a big fan of change, and find it very challenging, but know sometimes that it must happen. It is hard in times of transition to realize that these changes are happening ALL THE TIME! Some big changes can affect you more profoundly including: getting married, having your first child, having your second child, severe illness in the family, leaving a job you have been in for a long time, beginning a new job, and even something as simple as working out a new commuter route when you have moved to a new area. In these times, it is natural to feel “off center” having expanded your boundaries it takes a bit of time for the new reality to settle in. I remember when we had our first baby, Gabriel at the moment when we were discharged from the hospital Jason and I looked at each other and paused for a moment. It was time to go home with our new baby. We paused a bit longer. both thinking “They’re going to just let us take him home?” Wasn’t Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 6.13.05 PMthere some kind of test we should have to take like you would when you get your driver’s license? We were amazed, there was no test. After a while, we did go home and start to work out how to navigate the joys and endless puzzles of parenthood. Our job description as parents is always changing with the stages and phases that our children are going through. Our little inside joke that most parents can probably appreciate is that “Once you think you have got the rules of the game all figured out, the whole game changes”.  This can sometimes be paralyzing, as you don’t want to ever make the wrong decisions as parents. Even with the help of many parenting articles and books and newsletters at times we are still left unsure of what to do and have to have faith that things will just work out so we can move forward. I have often heard the quote from John Burroughs that says ” Leap and the net will appear” meaning that if you make a leap of faith on something that you truly believe in, something or someone will appear to accept what you are reaching for and not let you crash to the ground. The universe will conspire to facilitate you reaching your true goal. As often as I remind myself of this, I have many times held fast to the words of Thomas Jefferson that say “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on”.

Open Hearts and Minds

Here is my rendition of Ron Morgan's cartoon. We have our "growth chart" wall near our kitchen I will never paint that area of the wall.I am so grateful to be able to witness change in such a profound way as I do in the growth and change I see in my kids. Just this morning, Gabriel stood at our “growth chart wall” and pointed out that he is already taller than where we marked the wall in the beginning of February! Both Mikaela and Gabriel love it when we put the mark on the wall to see how much they’ve grown. When Gabriel was only a baby I would delight in the notable changes that would happen when he went through a growth spurt. First I would notice an insatiable hunger. It was the type of signal that said “Fuel, Fuel, give me more fuel, I’m spending a lot of energy growing!” Then I would see a visible change in the length of his torso and finally his legs would catch up, at least that was my perception of it. Going through this process taught me not to question the ques of my child. It kept me open to observing what was happening with my kids in the moment and doing my best to listen to their needs. Sometimes they really do need to eat more! Knowing that we work really hard to feed our kids healthy foods, made it really clear that it was truly fuel he was needing and not a sugar fix. It was in these moments that I would sit back and just observe in amazement the miracle of this little human being coming into his own.

Tender Non-Agressive Open Ended

I love this part of the quote about transition “It’s a very tender, non aggressive, open-ended state of affairs.” I will often repeat the words to myself as a reminder that even though transitions do put you in a very vulnerable state, they allow tremendous opportunities for growth. I remind myself to be gentle and mindful and to treat myself with care. It can be so easy in these moments to fall into bad eating and sleeping habits that will only make you feel worse and affect your health and mood negatively.  So, in times of change, take good care of yourself, be gentle, and remember you are in an open ended place that can allow for endless possibilities.

Enjoy Every Moment You Can

April 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

With so many changes happening it is important to remember to enjoy every moment you can with family and friends both for support and letting off steam. We took this picture after three hours of sledding with friends. What a great time we had. It was a wonderful opportunity to unwind, chat and sled sled sled! We really moved our bodies and interestingly enough thought of the Zenyasa approach to well balanced work of every muscle in your body. After trapsing through two feet high snow over the usual baseball diamond to get to another hill, (what a great leg work out!) someone had the idea to lie on our sleds and slide on our bellies across the great snowy field by digging our fingers into the snow. Imagine horizontal rock climbing. It was awesome. This really hit just about every upper back muscle and boy, were our arms tired! if it wasn’t for the group hanging out and playing together, we wouldn’t have come up with such a fun joyful way to move our bodies. It is important to remember that we learn and grow from each other and keep each other inspired to stay healthy and active especially in what has been such a bitter cold Winter season. May we all be inspired to get out and play together as much as possible!

Hugs and Namaste!

Frances Jason and the Zenyasa Family

Our Sunday Pancake Secret Plan;-)

April 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

A good number of years ago, thanks to our dear friend Catherine, we started our own family tradition of having pancakes on Sunday. We pretty much do it every weekend. If there is a change in schedule, sometimes we’ll have pancakes for dinner!  One weekend when we headed off very very early to drive to the Zen Kids program  at the Zen Mountain Monastery in Mount Tremper, we left sooooo early I packed PBJ’s for the ride. At the Zen Kids program they traditionally serve spaghetti for lunch and we had pancakes for dinner when we got home. Mikaela who was about 6 at the time was so astute to notice that we actually had lunch for breakfast, dinner for lunch and breakfast for dinner that day!

I wanted to share with you how we have worked to make this a more healthful meal even though it is a treat. First, we have discovered a wonderful gluten free pancake/baking mix. If you have ever tried some of the gluten free products out there, you will conquer that it can be tricky to find ones that really taste good. Pamela’s gluten free products have really hit the spot for us in that regard. So, we use Pamela’s for our pancake mix. It is so delicious, we still marvel that it is gluten free AND so tasty. Next, we have discovered Apple butter. it only has 4 grams of sugar compared to 8 or 9 in jelly and 52 in syrup. If you put just a dab of real maple syrup on top, it still has that wonderful maple flavor with so much less sugar. I try to find this in the 5 dollar range as you can find it in some stores for almost twice that price. We also preface the pancake part of the meal with eggs and veggies, it was steamed broccoli and butternut squash this weekend. As my mom always said to us kids, “No eat (your veggies) No treat!” And we’re sticking to that plan too! Thanks mom.


Spinning Your Wheels?

April 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

I was so excited the other day to have found a parking spot. It had been snowing all night long and the snow drifts were pretty high. No sooner had I parked than I heard and saw an unfortunate neighbor spinning his wheels, literally. He had a very nice car that was fairly new and I found out later had relatively new tires, apparently not snow tires. I had some time before my client and couldn’t help but try to help. Armed with my old towels from the trunk and a broom, I approached and offered my help. Okay, what was I gonna do with a broom, I don’t know, but something. Before I went over, I had the realization that we are all in my neighbor’s position from time to time. Stuck. Spinning our own wheels and not quite sure how we are going to change the situation. I also realized that when we feel that way, there are people out there who really want to help. They may or may not have the right tools, but somehow, just knowing that there is another human being who really wants to help you out can be comforting. We can choose to accept their help or not. I believe it is in our nature to want to help out when someone is in trouble. I believe  that the connection that happens in the group effort involved is a reward unto itself, and also that sometimes you don’t know what is going to work until you try.

I am reminded of one of my favorite pictures of my Mom and Dad from when they were first dating. My mom is sitting on the bed of a truck and my Dad is standing next to her, He is so tall and she is so petite that they are almost the same size even though she is sitting on such a high spot. As many times as I have described this picture, there is one more photo that I usually don’t tell people about, I thought of it before going to help out my neighbor. It is of almost the same scene, but there was obviously something that had happened that was unexpected. It is of My Dad in his skivvies in what looks like a valiant endeavor to get that same truck unstuck from the mud. Also in the picture are my Mom’s Mom (on the Left),  and some Aunts. I imagine the whole family was on their way to a picnic. Dad had to find some way to remedy the situation and help get unstuck. The story behind where his clothes are? Sun bathing, I think not. maybe they had to use something for traction under the tires. I am not sure, either way, I think of the moments we have to find a way to get out of the mud, and this picture reminds me of it. I think knowing that the serene moments are balanced with unexpected things that come up in life makes me love these two pictures more as they are a reminder of the balance of light and dark moments and again the ebb and flow that happens in our day to day lives.

Crow-Kiss Our Own Sign of Spring

April 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

Happy soon to be Spring everybody! I thought it appropriate to rejoice in the upcoming season change as I’m sure a lot of you will as well!  I couldn’t resist sharing a few pictures of signs of Spring. I love at this time to think of the crocus emerging from the snow to begin another cycle of the seasons. The next picture is of our own little sign of Spring, Gabriel when he was a baby! He was born on March 10th. There was still snow on the ground. It is hard to believe he is turning eleven this week! I remember his original birthday like it was yesterday. Jason and I were the typical over protective new parents, we brought our little bundle of joy home and proceeded to bundle him up in many many blankets!  at first, we were so nervous about doing the wrong thing, but after a while we were able to relax a bit and enjoy the quiet moments. Here is Jason giving Gabriel a “Crow-Kiss” in one of those quiet moments. It is at times like this that we can remember the cyclical nature of life and that there is a natural ebb and flow to all things. As our boy grows bigger and bigger and experiences all of the changes that life has to offer, we can remember for ourselves that he was once just a little baby and so were we. Hug your own inner child today!

Hugs and Namaste,

Frances Jason and the Zenyasa Family