Tag Archives: yoga

Casting Off

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mother portrait

A new cycle was beginning.

Jean, our hospice nurse, spent time examining mother. She spoke with confidence and gentleness to my mother. Everything had changed. Since the episode a night earlier, Mother was now too weak to leave her bed. She was confined by her own weakness. Her world began to change. Only days earlier, she had sat in her wheel chair, eaten a normal meal and laughed with us in another room. That was to be her last foray outside of her bedroom and her last burst of energy. Everything was shrinking – her appetite, her mobility, and her own body. But her mind was still quite acute. There was no way I was giving up on her. I still thought she and I could get her through this, despite what the doctors and hospice said.

After Jean took time to get acquainted with Mother, she asked all of us to join her in another room. The mood was sombre as we listened intently. Now we were in the world of hospice, a very foreign country to all of us. Already installed in Mother’s room was the humming oxygen machine to assist her breathing when needed. We had refused bringing in a hospital bed, wanting mother to be in her own usual bed.

Jean explained what it meant to have palliative care. She showed us the powerful drugs, like morphine and lorazepam (for anxiety) that would be available for Mother to help ease her through the process. Luckily, Mom was not in pain, and we were grateful for this. Jean warned us that we should not count on our memory to remember when and how much medication Mother was given. We should have a journal. My brother, the ever organized and with a Navy pilot thoroughness, prepared the journal for us.

I made the decision immediately that I would be the only one to give Mother the heavy drugs. I was still her protector and wanted to prevent her from being drugged unnecessarily. Then we learned of the array of other hospice workers who would be available to help. Ever polite and grateful, we walked Jean to the door, thanking her along the way.

When the door closed, we stood stunned but coping. Bill and Judy would soon be returning back home, but they knew they would never again hear Mother’s cheery voice or see her smile. Each took private time with her, holding back tears as best they could until they left the room. They also knew that this would be difficult for Richard and for me and asked us to call whenever we needed help, no matter the time of day or night.

The four of us talked as Mother rested, still with her ever faithful Siamese cat by her side. We agreed on the plans for the funeral and who would be called in Ann Arbor. This would be the key part bill and Judy would play as we held vigil. As we talked, Judy continued knitting the pretty pink afghan she had been making for Mother as a Christmas gift. The afghan was only partially made.

On the morning that Bill and Judy departed, I stood in the kitchen alone with my brother. He said, “Judy cast off the afghan last night and is leaving it for mother just as it is.” She cast off, a knitting term that was a kind of closure on the item being made. Casting off is also letting the ship or boat be free to go out to sea. Mother was casting off her life as she knew it, and we were with her. The destination seemed certain, but the final journey was not yet charted. That was to be revealed to all of us, along with the ethereal lessons and miracles.

Judy left the afghan draped over Mother’s shoulders as she laid in bed. I tried to keep it there as much as I could, placing it to warm her neck. It was a parting gift made with love. At the time Mom took her last breath, that pink afghan was still warming her. But then, Mother had cast off permanently. She was sailing through clear and vibrant seas, and free at last. Soon she would bring us along.

The Light. She Saw the Light.

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mother portrait

As I stood by mother’s bedside, talking to her and trying to reassure her, I was distraught. We brought her home and promised her that we would not send her back to the hospital and now the worst had happened. We did not yet have everything hospice would provide to help her and, from what I was witnessing, she could die at any moment. I felt helpless and wanted to cradle her in my arms for safe keeping. I kept telling her I loved her and everything would be okay. Even if she didn’t respond; I knew she would hear me on some level.

Over the years, I had many times felt that it was up to me to save mother. It was, of course, a foolish thought, but one that carried a shared agreement between us. She and I would both do our best, so we could enjoy more time, laughs and adventures together.

Now, I found myself running in and out of her room, down to the kitchen to get anything I thought might make her feel better – peppermint tea, cool water. I held her hand and talked quietly to her, I used some of my Reiki energy, moving slowly over her body and calling forth all healing. I prayed. I chanted my mantra.

In short order, Bill and Judy heard the commotion and came from their bedroom on the third floor and met up with me in the hallway. I don’t know why I hadn’t wakened them before. They would surely have helped.

“What’s going on?” they asked urgently. I told them I thought it was possible Mom was dying. It was the first time that they saw her in this state, even though it had been happening frequently in the hospital. They gathered around Mother’s bed, talking with her and trying to soothe her. Now they saw firsthand how grave the situation was. I told them I would call hospice and see if they could help.

As I spoke with hospice, I explained that mother had not yet been admitted to their system. She was scheduled for this the next day.
It never occurred to us that one day would make such a difference. We had none of the powerful drugs hospice would bring the next day. I begged them to tell me what to do. They did their best. We were all helpless. They suggested we dial 911. We all said no. We were on our own and frightened beyond measure. Mother would have to make herself live through that long night. And she did. But something happened to her that night that I did not, at the time, fully understand.

When Mother was again able to speak, she looked up at the ceiling and repeatedly pointed to something. “The light” she said, wistfully, “Look at the light.” She smiled slightly and turned to me. She thought that I could share what she saw. I could not, but I was very familiar with these words as a common statement made by those who have had near death experiences. They usually saw a light not describable in this world and one that brought enormous peace.

I believe now with certainty that, during that night, my mother parted the thin veil separating life and death, as we termed it. She had crossed into the Light of Eternal and Divine Love. Now everything would be different for all of us. Now she would be teaching and showing us, in her own way, that she had already seen where she was going.

The 52: What is to Come Next? I Would Like Your Help!

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butterflyblueskyLast week, Lesson 52 was completed.  Just as the 52 lessons began with Love, so they ended.  Love is the ultimate spiritual practice.  It holds everything within it.  My heart has felt opened and filled with Love in writing each post.

As I contemplate the future for this blog, I respectfully request your feedback.  Many have written asking that this course be offered in book form.  Others want it to be repeated, as a blog.  Some of you would like a means of communicating with others who are reading The 52.  Please let me know what you think.  I would also like to know more about you. In addition to my many readers across the U.S., The 52 has  developed a large following in several other countries including Ireland, China, The Netherlands, and  Russia.  All of you, and your thoughts, matter a great deal to me.  So I would value knowing which lessons resonated the most with you and if you found them easy to follow. You can respond to this blog or on Facebook or to my email addresses at deanne@deannemincer.com or dminc100@aol.com. Let me know what YOU would like.

A year ago, I rather spontaneously (and perhaps, audaciously) decided to put into print the many teachings I have shared with my students and learned, both  by study and reading and through mystical experiences, from many sources on my own spiritual journey.  These have brought together the classic teachings of yoga and the mystical branches of many religions.  The lessons have been informed by the teachings of Jesus, the Buddha, Rumi and other Sufi masters, native and aboriginal traditions, Judaic mystical writings, ancient Hindu texts and other forms of inspired spiritual lessons.  While certain themes have repeated themselves, I have sought to give bullet point suggestions for you to put into practice those ideas and to offer a multitude of guidelines.  Believing that all paths lead ultimately to the great Source, to the Light of Eternal Love, to Truth, to freedom, to God, each reader could choose what most resonated with them.

Years ago, I subscribed to a course provided by the Siddha lineage of yoga.  It was, at the time, called The Siddha Yoga Correspondence Course and was authored by Ram at the request of his guru, Muktananda.  In the very first lesson, I recall reading that it would contain everything we needed to know, all subsequent lessons would be different approaches to the same theme.  The lessons were surprisingly simple (as I have tried to make The 52 simple).  The Course requested only that the reader repeat reading the same two lessons throughout the month, reading the words and imbibing the energy therein, even if the words made no particular sense.  Just being present to the Divine Energy therein would be enough.  And it was!

Later I began the daily readings of A Course in Miracles. I have since read every word of the text and information for teachers and have repeated the workbook section more than once.  Repeated reading has brought more and more spiritual benefit and insight.

I hope that The 52 bears repeating and that your depth of understanding will increase with time. (Although I do not pretend to the high powers within A Course in Miracles.)  So, for now, I intend to re-edit and add some fresh material to the lessons begun last year.  Starting next week, the newer version of The 52 will begin.

And now — another request.  The opportunity to change people’s lives, to let them experience a lighter, happier life, and to recognize that they ARE Divine Love will increase exponentially when this message is shared.  If The 52 has been of benefit to you, I ask that you share it with others. Please forward the emails, share it on Facebook, let your friends bask in the Light of Eternal Love.  My one purpose in writing these words has been to be of service and to help others. Won’t you join me on this journey? I will be most grateful to you.

I thank you for your kindnesses and for your support and encouragement as I offered these sincere words from my heart.  My heart bonds with yours as we see that all of us are, indeed, one. You are the Light of Eternal Love.

Maybe you should know yourself for just one moment.

Maybe you should glimpse your most beautiful face.

Maybe you should sleep less deeply in your house of clay.

Maybe you should move into the house of joy, and shine in every crevice.

Maybe you are the bearer of hidden treasure.

Maybe you always have been.

RUMI

I think you already ARE!

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Fifty Two — And Finally and Only — Love

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butterflyblueskyLove surrounds you.  

Of this be sure.

You do not walk alone.

These words, from A Course in Miracles, form the essence of The 52.  It is first, last, and always, the only and most important Truth to know and believe. Recognize it at the core of your being.  It is the path to true freedom.  Love destroys fear and the insidious messages of the ego, which you may have mistakenly taken to be the truth.  But hatred, judgement, anger, and hostility have no power where Love resides.  The darkness has no power over the Light.  It never has and never will.

Don’t be mistaken, this is not some trivial, maudlin, sentimental kind of love — the kind you might find in typical movies and songs and romance novels.  It is beyond physical love and that between individuals, though this kind of love carries a seed of Divine Love.  This is big Love.  It is not dependent on fluctuations in temperament or on the way the world is evolving or on another person. It does not wax and wane. It is only about YOU and the Divine Consciousness within you.

LESSON FIFTY TWO

LOVE YOURSELF

The image of the blue butterfly soaring toward the light conveys what The 52 is meant to represent.  It reflects how we, as humans, seek to find freedom and peace and the ability to feel and express love.  Sometimes we are not aware of this longing, but, nonetheless, it is there. The butterfly transforms itself, from the caterpillar that crawls on the earth, to a beautiful creature with wings outspread, flying in freedom.  All of us, no matter how much we think we are tied to the earth, has the capacity and wisdom to take flight. We can experience metamorphosis, just like the butterfly.  Our wings may be folded now inside a cocoon, waiting.  But then Love will split the cocoon and we will all fly free into the Light of Eternal Love.  All of us!  No one is left behind!

Once this happens — when you have even a glimpse of this Light — you will never be the same again.  You will know, in the depth of your heart, who and what you are.  You will recognize that you are not alone in this journey.  This is my purpose in writing.  To tell you this and that I am with you as a fellow traveler.  Many others are with you.  We will all find each other, just as you have found this writing.

In the Chandogya Upanishad, an ancient book of spiritual writings from India, it is written:

There is a light that shines beyond all things on earth, beyond us all, beyond the heavens, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens.

This is the light that shines in our heart.

It isn’t out there, some where.  It isn’t beyond your grasp.  It doesn’t depend on who you are, your good deeds, your history, your “worthiness.” It is your “birthright,” given to you for all time.  It was there before you took birth.  It will be there when you take your last breath and depart this plane.  It is eternal.  And it is present in this very moment, as you read these words.  Even if you and your ego doubt it, Divine Love and Consciousness do not.  I believe in it now to the core of my being, even though there was a time when I would have laughed at the notion.  Others have found the same Truth and many may have expressed it with greater influence or more wisely, yet I believe that it is my purpose to share it.  It was illuminated to me as the greatest gift of my life. This gift is meant to be shared.

So, here I stand, firmly grounded and steadfast and soaring with this Truth.  You are Love.  Love is you.  Love is in everything you hear, see, taste, touch and smell.  Love is ever-present and a present to you. To deny this is tantamount to denying yourself and all that is.

“I love myself completely NOW.”  This was the affirmation of the first lesson of The 52.  And so it is also the last.  If you have embraced this, repeated it over and over, no matter the circumstances, you will, in fact be, lighter and happier than you were when you began.  I promised that, if you followed the course, you would be a lighter and happier you in 52 (weeks).  I hope that you are.

 These writings and my beliefs have been non-denominational and have been planted in the spiritual belief systems of all faiths, tribes, and philosophies, all of which, at the core, share Love as the common and most important center of teaching and knowing.  Here, from the Holy Bible, is a favorite of mine.  From I Corinthians 13:

Love bears all things, believes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.

Believe in Love. Love never ends.  Not ever!

With love and namaste, Deanne

PLEASE STAY TUNED.  While this is the last of The 52, nest week’s post will bring a new announcement.

For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Fifty One — Stop Searching. YOU Are the Destination

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butterflyblueskyGod is a great underground river that

no one can dam up and no one can stop.

                              Meister Eckhart

We search and search.  We study and pray.  We read books and scriptures.  We meditate. We question.  We doubt.  We avoid and negate. We humans are not passive about God, even when we actively deny the existence of some “thing” called God or the Infinite or the Source or the Creator.  Most of the greatest minds in the world — from many disciplines including  science and philosophy — have pondered the quintessential  questions about God.  Are we searching for meaning to our own existence, for something more than the mundane birth to death and day-to-day aspects of our life?  And for those of us who are seekers on the spiritual path, it may seem surprising to finally come to the conclusion that we, ourselves, turn out to be the destination we seek.  That all we had to do was knock on the door and the Light would emerge from within us.  Not from outside.

LESSON FIFTY ONE

WHERE IS GOD?

What we seek is seeking us.

So spoke the great Sufi poet/saint, Rumi.  He got it.  So did Jesus.  He said in Luke 17:21 (KJV):

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Yes!  Within you right now, just where God has always been.  Not in some throne up in the sky, sending out judgements that reflect only our own ego needs about judging and approval and sin and death.  After years of separating myself from a God belief that was based on a child’s view of God, I now see only the Eternal Light of Love springing from the one I care to call God.  It does not matter whether or not you agree with me.  I don’t seek to argue the logic of it.  For years, I postured and felt smug in my arguments against God. Now my belief system has left logic behind a long time ago.  Why? Because I had the experience of God, and the joy was so immense, there was no turning back.  It is odd that it does not matter what you believe.  The Divine is within all of us, no matter who we are, whatever our religion or lack of it. That is how immeasurable that Love is.

Swami Vivekananada wrote:

The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, 

the moment I stand before every human being and see God in him —

that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.

For those of us who wish to explore and look inward, this becomes both a great freedom and a change that alters our perception of the world.  How can we look upon another, seeing God’s Light equally in them, and still practice violence and prejudice and hatred?  They are us!  And we are all equal in this great Love from God.

We are not some unworthy, soiled piece of cloth.  The expectation of all true spiritual paths is that we transform our thinking, that we abandon notions that we are unforgivable and lacking and not the embodiment of love.  Most of us have wallowed in the pains of our own constructed world, not realizing that it is nothing more than a “play,” and, we, as actors in this play, still sit in the audience and extend love to our own false identity as the player.

As The 52 draws to a close, I believe that the suggestions in this lesson are among the most valued of all I have learned over twenty-five years of study, teaching, mystical experiences, and communion with the Divine.  While it took a little while for me to completely embrace and understand the relevance of what I write here, I can only say that peace has come and fear has diminished.  This can be true for you too.

Out beyond the ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field.

I’ll meet you there.

Rumi

Shall we make it a date?  I will look forward to meeting you there.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Forty Nine — The Courage to Surrender

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butterflyblueskySurrender is the faith that the power of Love can accomplish anything

even when you cannot foresee the outcome.

Deepak Chopra

The idea of surrender is not easy for many of us.  We function in the belief that we must be in control at all times.  We make the false assumption that surrender implies weakness and passivity.  We have grown so attached to this incorrect notion that our egos (which IS us to most of us) is the only hope.  So we place our trust, not in the all-powerful Divine that is the eternal us (The Self) at the core of our being, and hook our belief to the ever-changing, never reliable ego.  Such is the pity.

If only we had the courage to surrender!  And, trust in this, not only do you have the courage, it is, in fact, the place of the greatest reliability.  Letting go is the starting point where a peaceful life begins. We might call it trust in God or any other concept you hold that expresses to you Eternal Light and Love.

LESSON FORTY EIGHT

SURRENDER

“Thy will be done.”  Years ago, Dr. Larry Dossey wrote about the power of prayer in several books including Healing Words.  His findings at the time were considered ground breaking. He cited many studies that showed that some kind of “non-local” thinking or prayer could be transferred out into the energy fields where tangible results were corroborated. When people said “My thoughts and prayers are with you,” they might not have known how much power they were conveying.  Prayers do make a difference, yet some were more powerful than others.  The “God as Santa Claus” prayers, (those which gave out a list of what was wanted, like a child’s list to Santa at Christmas) could not match those that implied surrender.  The most powerful prayer of all was “thy will be done.”  Surrender and trust!

As most religions speak of surrender, so too does yoga.  With The 52, I have sought to share the brilliance of the Yoga Sutras as a powerful guideline for all of us.  The wisdom transcends religion per se, and can be effectively embraced by all, atheists and those of any belief system.

We have, throughout this course, reviewed the first two “rungs” or limbs of Eight Limbed Yoga.  Within the Niyamas (ethical guidelines and inner practices), comes the final lesson of surrender.  It is called, in Sanskrit, Ishvara Pranidhana, and shows us how surrender is a virtue and a significant sacred shift that changes our  lives.  This shift has the power to reunite us with the True Self, the eternal being that defines us.  It can effectively empty the ego of its influences and align us with Universal Consciousness.

All this power!  But this doesn’t mean it is an easy lesson for many of us to learn.  It has been one of my biggest challenges.  And I had to learn it over and over again.  It took dire circumstances to wrestle me free of the ego’s powerful force and the misery I was experiencing.

Several years ago, my elderly mother moved into our home.  She was 95 years old at the time, had an active and lucid mind, but was faced with several medical conditions that limited her mobility.  I jumped to meet the challenges but I underestimated totally what it would take.  Being a full-time caregiver and juggling work was more than I could handle, even though I still taught yoga classes and meditated everyday.  I was not about to surrender and accept how hard it was.  Instead, I fought ever more to keep her healthy and safe while I was falling apart physically, mentally, and financially.  And then we ran out of options.  She was over 98 years old, her body was worn out and she was too tired to go on.  We called on hospice.  Even then, I held out hope that she would “pull through.”  What was I thinking?  But the day came when it was clear that all of us, my mother,my husband, and I had no choice.  We could not change anything.  We could only surrender and wait.  That’s when the miracles began in earnest.  We let go, and it became a sacred sharing for all three of us.  We finally surrendered at last.

Of course I know that learning to surrender does not have to be under such sad and dramatic circumstances.  But now I can see when I am resistant and when surrender is the path to take.  My favorite Sufi poet, Rumi has written:

They are the chosen ones who have surrendered.

A few ideas that might help:

  • When you’ve programmed your day and will never finish all your tasks, think about letting some of them go.  What’s the big deal?  Who is judging anyway?
  • When you know that you are feeling fatigue, give yourself a break.  Go within for a while, take some refreshing cleansing breathes.  Have a cup of tea.  Or even take a little nap.
  • Have you ever been at the airport and your flight is delayed or cancelled?  I used to rant. Now I check out my options and try to “go with the flow.”  I feel much better this way.
  • Say to yourself, “Relax!” While there was a time when saying it was anathema to me, I can now easily say, “Thy will be done.”

If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.

Anne Morrow Lindburgh

Go ahead.  Take the leap.  Let go.  Let the winds of surrender carry you higher and higher.  Now you will soar like an eagle! Or maybe an angel!

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Forty Seven: Lighten Up! Laugh! It’s Good for You!

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butterflyblueskyGo ahead.  Lighten up! Indulge yourself. Have a good laugh.  You will be doing more to benefit yourself than you might imagine!  Your body and mind will indeed feel lighter because you will be releasing “happy” hormones into your system.  You will be increasing the strength of your immune system.  The oxygen levels will be greater  in both your body and your brain. You will cast out anxiety and stress, all while having a good time doing it.  And you will increase the energy of light and joy and love all around you.  It sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

One of my favorite yoga classes has been on this very subject, of being light.  We focus on feeling our bodies growing lighter and more free.  We laugh freely throughout the class and sometimes sharing our favorite jokes.  One of mine is this:  What did the yogi say to the hot dog vendor?  “Make me one with everything.” Haha.  Then the yogi gave the hot dog vendor a $20 bill.  When no change was offered, the yogi said, “Hey, where’s the change?” The vendor said, “Change comes from within.” Hahahaha!

This class is not a trivial thing.  It offers important lessons about being the Light itself, about not taking ourselves or the world too seriously (an epidemic of seriousness and spiritual conceit has run rampant in the yoga community), and serves as a reminder that everything, including the goofy and wacky, is there for us as a gift of Divine Consciousness.

LESSON FORTY SEVEN

LIGHTEN UP!

What a perfect moment to lighten up!  As daylight hours diminish here in the Northeast United States, some of us feel starved for light.  Holidays arrive with the traditions of lighted candles and sparkling glitter.  But it is nice to know that we, you and I, carry the Light within us all the time, and we experience it in many ways.

Swami Muktananda, a Siddha Yoga guru who has inspired many of my teachings and who seemed to take me under his wing (though he had already left his body or, as we say, died) said this:

See the world as a divine play, as the light of your own soul, and enjoy it while still laughing happily.

I have fond memories of a video containing many clips of him laughing.  It was shown at a special ceremony at an ashram celebrating Muktananda’s life.  The laughter on the screen was contagious.  After that, and much to my surprise, it seemed that he took to manifesting some very funny objects into my yoga room, all with a lesson contained within.  He taught me the value of being light and of laughing.

I needed that lesson! It helped me to remember that Dr. Bernie Seigel, the author of many books about those facing life threatening diseases, always lauds the miraculous ability of laughter in the process of healing.  In recent years, a new kind of yoga has emerged.  It is called Laughter Yoga.  It encourages childlike playfulness (who wouldn’t like a return to this?) that results in bursts of natural laughter. It was begun in India by a medical doctor, Madan Kataria, seeking to learn if cancer patients who laughed (in this special class he invented) would be more likely to heal.  Proof was shown and, today, Laughter Yoga is circling the globe.

What about you?  Are you weighted down with so many serious responsibilities that there is no time to laugh?  Give yourself permission!  Let’s call it a prescription for good health and happiness.  The doctor orders that you prioritize laughter!  Here are some ideas:

  • Watch a funny movie.  Maybe something you have seen before or a new one.  Pick one that makes you laugh out loud.
  • Hang out with a friend with whom you can share some funny times, someone who makes you laugh and encourages this lightness within you. If you can’t see someone in person, call them on the telephone.  I have some friends who share my ludicrous and silly sense of humor and I always feel so much happier after talking with them. No one else understands our merriment, but we do.
  • Choose a book of cartoons or humorous writing.  I have favorites around the house.  The Far Side still makes me laugh and a big coffee table book of cartoons of The New Yorker is guaranteed to evoke humor, though not the same as the sillier books I have.
  • Remember moments in the past when you laughed uncontrollably.  You know the kind of laughter that can’t be suppressed but bubbles over. I have many to draw from.
  • Check out TV series, even old ones. We have the complete set of the Monty Python series.  One look at the “silly walks” and I will be laughing.
  • Seek out original and novel ways to laugh.  Put it on your schedule as a priority.

Remember that it is up to you to choose your form of humor.  Let it spring directly from your heart and soul.  Let it sustain you.  See how much lighter and happier your life will become — and how much healthier you will be, as a special side benefit.  I’m not kidding!

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com