sweet things

Sweet things kill me. I’m not just talking about the edible ones either. When I see something sweet, either an experience of a person or a moment between people, I kind of dissolve. Depending upon the time and place, public or private, I often find myself biting my lip to hold back the tears. I don’t really know the backstory of these tears either, their origin or their depth.

Last week, WAZE was doing her enigmatic delivery of me after my morning Alhambra run. It was a new route, and on the street I was on seemed filled with grammar schools. It was a particularly cold and windy morning, and you could see parents of all faces making an attempt to shield their little ones from the cold. Something caught my eye at a stoplight. I noticed 3 women, well one woman and 2 girls, in a sort of huddle in front of the school. The woman, without hiding or making a big deal, took her finger and guided it in an intricate pattern which touched her own heart and lips, those of the first little girl, and culminated in a crossing of herself. That girl  mirrored the ritual for the woman then tottered off toward her friends. The ritual was duplicated for the second girl, and upon completion, without an extra hug or verbal goodbye, the woman left. It was nothing but a quick and uneventful moment in time for them, but I felt my eyes start to water. By the time the light had changed, I was in full blown tears. I felt so privileged to witness this somehow. I was not confused by the action, as I once had a Puerto Rican friend who had described a similar sounding daily ritual with her mother upon seeing or leaving her. I was simply moved.

It brought me back to the kitchen in Herzliya, Israel where my cousins would line up to wait for their blessings. My aunt Aziza, their grandmother, mumbled in Arabic and made some witchcraft like motions on them before Shabbat. I thought the moment looked nice. I thought my cousins seemed patient and unapologetic as their grandmother just needed to do this thing, for her, to continue this worship I suppose begun by her parents in Iraq. I wondered… Does this action live in my cousins today? Do they perform it on their children?  We have all pretty much lost touch. There is a peripheral knowledge of everyones whereabouts, but no details. I got newly saddened by this realization, before I got lost in concrete thought process, I realized the emotional memory is more important when it comes to ritual.  These actions are simple necessities from an older generation to express love. It goes beyond words, carries the weight of superstition, a magical protection of their loved ones, and I like it.

It’s like we might say, “Take a coat,” or “Remember your lunch,” as we rush them out the door. They might roll their eyes because these words in their specificity looses the power that these other often silent and otherworldly rituals seem to hold. Got me thinking… What are the rituals in our home that my kids internalize and expect consciously and unconsciously?  I know some of them, certainly. A new friend of my eldest came for a sleepover and though it was late, we had not lit candles yet for Shabbat and so we started our candle/wine/challah routine. She looked genuinely shell shocked. I am not sure if it was the religion factor, but more the coming tougher of a family in a shared expression of something. The moment of loving blessing carried for us all a heavier awareness that night.

I think this is what ritual does. I think it is a shared moment that combines history and present moment in order to connect with others. And the sweetness it generates in me knocks me off my feet each time. Like when I catch the face of the man across from me who closes his eyes and smiles contentedly during the v’ahavata prayer, a prayer commanding love. I had asked him once what moves him so much about that prayer. He told me he and his father would sing it nightly, and though he is now gone, he can truly feel his father when he sings this prayer. A grown man so fully absorbed in joyful memory from what was most likely a perfunctory, daily ritual that I think I can feel his late father as well when I watch him.

People’s expressions of love, of gratitude or kindness, pull me in ways I cannot understand. Maybe that is as it should be. That inexplicable connection is exactly what makes ritual transcendent. The act is simple and honest, carries sweet history, and in the repetition, an other worldly magic takes root in a person, I guess. And for that experience, I am okay having no real explanation.

Wishing you all a loving Thanksgiving experience!

We will only practice together ONCE THIS WEEK SO…COME TOMORROW!

MONDAY NOV. 23, AT 8:30 AM

In peace, and loveliness,


Paris in me

I had all sorts of quippy observations to write about this week, but after the terrifying occurrence in Paris, everything else fades into the background.

A larger group than usual assembled at Temple Emanuel Friday night for our Shabbat Unplugged service. Perhaps people needed to connect and plug back in with one another after hearing about the horrifying attacks. Our clergy addressed the fear, the anger and vulnerability and that goes along when we sit helpless miles away, both too far and too close to Paris.

I was singing with my husband in the center of the sanctuary as he led this service, this beautiful brainchild of his. Our cantor was elsewhere for the evening so I sat in for her. I found my husband before he was a rabbi as we sang together in the hallways of a little youth hostel in Jerusalem, so joining voices with him anywhere is always a special event for me and this service was no different.

We arrived at the mi shebeirach prayer, the prayer that asks for people to focus on those who are ill or need any kind of healing. We sing it in the melody of Debbie Friedman, which is the custom in many Reform Synagogues. My rabbi husband needed my hands to collect the names from the congregation as his were busy at the guitar. I was not prepared for this, as it is usually the job of the clergy, but I stood up and tried to breathe into the eyes of as many people as I could. I asked the part of my mind that felt unworthy of this action to take a step back. I know enough about energy to know that we are all blessed with the ability to be one another’s vehicle for healing. Neither diplomas nor anything external makes a person qualified to hear another person’s pain.

I saw some people smile back at me, and I wondered if it was in encouragement. I wondered if some felt silly, or if that was my projection. I noticed too that I was gently gripping my skirt with my left hand. Try as I might, I could not unleash my hand. I guessed that must come with the territory of getting more comfortable in this situation. I know through all my training as an actress and yogi that tension shows up in our body language.

People said names I knew and names I did not, and then one woman referenced those unknown names injured in Paris from the atrocious attacks. And in that moment, I expanded. I lost my feeling of contraction, and owned my strength as guide. I think the shared experience that grief is reminded me of our equality in this experience of humanity. We are not who we are from an outstretched arm, but simply by our innately given gift to be present and compassionate with one another.

In a hope filled peace,


our practice schedule remains in tact this week:

MONDAY                8:30 AM -9:45 AM  (FLOW PLUS MEDITATION)

WEDNESDAY         6:30 PM-7:30 PM

All classes at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills, 300 N. Clark Drive

from complaint to change

I was complaining to my sister about something, something real and true that carried great weight for me. She listened slowly, and then rather than fuel my tirade with validation or question it from the other perspective, she offered a simple and actual solution to the problem at hand. I couldn’t help but giggle. So simple was her offering, that before I could even have a chance to refute it, all the energy I was putting on the problem had dissolved.

Pain, be it physical or mental, is a call for investigation. It is an invitation to discover new options, especially chronic pain. It is a stop sign to make us ask if the direction we are on is truly serving us, or if there needs to be a reevaluation of sorts. It seems to me, we all get stuck in patterns of behavior These very patterns are addictive not only because they were most often born out of love or at least necessity, but also because we, as the only human versions of ourselves, have a serious desire to be right! We sometimes prefer the painful behavior to the pain-free behavior simply because we would rather be considered right than wonder if there could be another way.

We decide things about money, power, trust, personal goals early on and then rather than find ways to reevaluate these things as we age, we just dismiss new ideas with the lists of why they cannot be changed, though our circumstances are most often in flux. I could see the change available to me yesterday, and I can feel it linger and adjust itself into my thinking today. I hope you can discover the moments that you would rather be right than feel better, and maybe begin to make those offerings to yourself based on a new norm.

Lets try it tomorrow evening! We “normally” meet at 6 pm on WEDNESDAY evenings…

But 6:30 will be tried tomorrow to see if that helps those of you who need a bit extra time post your work day get there. We will have candlelight flow, and I promise you, the option of a more open state of mind when you roll off your mat toward home….

In appreciation,



MONDAYS          8:30 AM


Private and semi private lessons always available.

opening doors

I like watching people open their doors for business in the mornings. And now that I am on the road, many roads actually, and many days before 7, I get to witness this all the more often.

No matter the type of business, no matter the location, no matter the person’s race or gender, age or physical appearance, when hands unlock a door hope has been declared. Or that’s what it looks like to me.

I think about how the person must have felt initially to make this business their own. No matter how run down the office or the shop, the person had to have at least a moment of delight when added a physical address to their vision. I like to think it was a passion, to open whatever the place was, and from passion came vision and then deliberate effort, and voila. Doors could be opened.

Even for the worker who may not own the store, but whose job it is to open up, a transaction of validation is made. I like being the first one in to a work place. I like the quiet. I like the idea that it is something of my doing, my creation. And though it may not have been my ideal job, still I imbue upon each hand I see turning doorknobs with the excitement one gets at hearing they have a job. There is nothing more energizing.

When I see the openings of these doors in the wee small morning hours, I choose not to see their tired faces. The lines that may have moved into foreheads from fear over finances. I choose to ignore the sometimes-vacant look as I glance quickly toward their eyes, and I try not to wonder if there was some other plan that they might have had for their lives other than this one. I try to stay with the hope and the pleasure that initial opportunity brings to each and to every one of us. So that when I open my own eyes and feel the impossible reality sometimes of these early morning to-do-lists, I can remember. I can conjure the doorknob I saw and entrust it to my story opening every day a new reality.

in peace and gratitude,


Our practice is as scheduled this week:

MONDAY             8:30-9:45 am

WEDNESDAY      6:00-7:00 pm

fun begets fun

SLEEP BEGETS SLEEP. That’s what new parents are told. That, and that we mommies should sleep when our babies sleep. So we sleep. Or we don’t. And we wind up super tired and cranky for the next 10 years. Give or take.

Then our kids go to sleep and wake up on their own, and though some of them even make their own breakfasts, we parents often remain cranky. Maybe there is some lesson to be learned… If the above is true about sleep, maybe the same could be true about fun? I like a good syllogism, so just go with me on this for a sec… Sometimes, when I am way overtired or have been sick for a bit and am sure I will never get my energy back, I go out. I have fun with girl friends dancing, or attend a week night event I am sure will make me stay out past my curfew, and then I wake up some way too short time later with a newfound energy. I am sure that joy begets more joy and that begets energy which leads to more productivity, more joy and yeah, better sleep.

Of course, there is something to be said for consistency. Great amounts of money go into sleep research and dietary findings by which we can learn how to “best” live our lives. But sometimes pressing pause on the system and saying, EVERYTHING IN MODERATION, INCLUDING MODERATION” is just what the doctor ordered.

JOY as a choice is commonly written about these days. But choosing it as an energy source brings me to new insight. When you find it difficult to regain or ignite energy amidst all the “right” things you may be doing, why not choose just a bit of the “wrong” thing for that moment and see what happens?

See you tomorrow morning. Not too early even, 8:30 am, so you can trade an hour of sleep for something silly maybe?!

in peace and joy,


current regular schedule:

mondays   8:30-9:30 am Flow, 9:30-9:45 guided meditation

wednesdays 6:00-7:00 pm Flow

all classes at Temple Emanuel, 300 N. Clark Drive BH, 90212

$15 single class, $120 for 10 class pass 


I promise I will not flood your inbox once we get into the swing of our new schedule, but…

COME support classmate and CELEBRITY DESIGNER,

for post yoga Bites, Bubbly, and a Book Signing!

8125 Melrose from 6-8 pm

In appreciation,

when it’s bigger than the thing

I love when I am wrong about people. I love when I have made a snap judgement, often unconsciously, about a person only to find out I was wrong. And this happens to me quite a bit. I think someone will not understand the thing at hand- the yoga practice, or the religion, or this or that quirk, only to discover this person who might seem so other is just a different looking form of me.

I know time and again this is part of our spiritual practice. To dislocate the narcissist in us all, and to connect us to the bigger picture of humanity. I like it, the necessary struggle it is toward self knowledge and toward outward expression of love. It is a balancing act to differentiate oneself while recognizing that there is a oneness to the whole picture. To remain clear about your own special qualities as you drop an otherwise judgmental boundary between yourself and those around you is a challenge I definitely see as part of our maturation.

Just something to think about as you move into the weekend. Maybe take a pause from your regular time frame and see this notion around you- who do you assume gets you and who might if you actually let them understand? Who do you think you know, but have not really taken steps toward knowing? How else can I connect and to whom?

In peace, Michelle




Classes will meet in the chapel at Temple Emanuel, 300 North Clark Dr. BH, 90212

Previous Older Entries


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,069 other followers