Wednesday, September 26, 2012

To Be a Turtle, or Not To Be…

I imagine that to be a turtle feels very safe. You walk around slowly, always checking things out, but whenever there is a threat, you retreat within a very safe armor. This armor that has the ability to protects from danger.

 I feel like that turtle.         

I’ve felt like a turtle for the last three years. So much has happened in my life that to think back on it, makes my head spin, or perhaps recoil. The crap that has been in my life has caused me to change in many deep ways. I can’t stand here and tell you how I’ve changed. I can only say that I have changed and that I feel like a completely different person than I was just a few years ago.

The positive aspect is that I’ve changed into an even deeper person. I am changed by my experience and as a result, I find myself less impulsive, less ‘out there’ in the sense of my expressions and need for accomplishing something on the outside. The negative is that I feel like a turtle. I feel closed off, protected, and terrified of coming out. My shell is very safe, very warm, and I don’t have to worry about someone knocking me off my feet. I’m low to the ground and ready for anything.

Anything, but love, happiness, and joy that is! There is a part of me that is so ready to EXPRESS, to fully feel alive and vibrant. But I’m just not there yet. I have totally cut myself off from feeling anything that could possible resemble health and vibrancy, which is evident in my weight gain. My body has become my shell and I know it.

However, I do feel that change is on the horizon. I sense that things are changing, and yet I find myself unable, or unwilling, to allow myself to get excited. I’m so used to hurt and disappointment that I’ve found that allowed my ‘self-talk’ to reflect and expect disappointment. But, at least I’m aware of it!!!

Obviously a bigger part of me is expecting joy and expansion, or else my life would not be starting to expand again. So for me, the key is to just be in the moment. Enjoy the small victories, and allow my ‘self-talk’ to prepare for something much, much more joyful!

My first step in this is to see myself as a plant, rather than as a turtle. When a plant is transplanted, which is what the Universe had done to me, it is important to cut off all the leaves, anything that takes away from the growth of deep roots. This allows for deep growth without wasting energy on external stuff.

Now I think I’m getting my first bud! Woo hoo!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Dark Side of a Yogini

It's been many, many months since I've last written. The last few years of personal struggles finally caught up to me, and I found myself spiraling down a deep, dark hole. As much as I tried climbing out, my grip would be lost and I'd find myself a crumpled mess at the bottom of this darkness... again and again and again.

It has felt as though every part of my life has been tested, thoroughly. Testing my love, my patience, my commitment to God, and mostly my commitment to mySelf. During this period of darkness, I've pulled away from almost everyone, including my yoga kula. I've needed this time to be within the recesses of my own soul, in order to dig deep and find what was hiding there. I also needed to have that quiet space not distracted with messages from our society that tell me to snap out of it, get some exercise, go for a walk, try this herb or that.

My personal perception is that our society is not okay with depression, sadness, loss, or any negative feelings. It's easy when the people we care about are happy and laugh, but to allow them to be depressed is a different story. We are uneasy with sadness, especially if it last for months and even more so when its someone we care about.

I feel as though my depression became a useful tool. But ONLY because I was deeply honest with myself during this period. Ultimately, many useful insights came to me. After all, it is in the darkness that the Light shines most brightly.

However, it's easier, and more supported, to cover it up, to fight it, to take herbs or medicines to make us feel better, or even to exercise through it. Basically we are told to 'put on a happy face'. But how can the Truth come out if we keep resisting the urge to truly listen? If we stay too busy, how can Spirit talk to us? If we keep releasing endorphins to make us feel better, how then do find what is hiding in that deep dark space of our soul?

I can tell you from my own personal experience, that I didn't run away, I didn't cover it up, I didn't exercise through it. I stayed with it, even though I didn't want to many times. I just sat with it. It took an immense amount of courage to be truthful with myself. I almost lost many important things in my life. But I had to be truthful with myself and with those closest to me. And through it all, I've gained many important insights. I also know that I will ALWAYS have the courage to take the path that leads me to Thriving.

Now, I'm not a doctor, and I'm not saying that this is the path for you or anyone else. I'm simply stating my truth for myself. Yes, I contemplated anti-depressants, many times. But ultimately, I chose what was  best for myself. Part of truly listening, is doing what is right for ourselves, for our own bodies, even if it means seeking medical help.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The 'Here' Factor

The wind outside is blowing. The chill in the air is the type that bites at your insides. There’s a gnawing feeling that is hard to determine whether it’s coming from the cold outside, or the ‘scratching to get out of your own skin’ type of screaming.

This is where I’m at. Although I hate to end in a preposition, I don’t’ know how else to describe it, this precipice… It’s simply where I Am.

 There’s urgency in the wind, a stirring in my soul. AND yet, there is a newfound respect in embodying the space in the middle. The urgency calls me and yet, the space in the middle invites me to stay.

As must be done, I feel the need to describe it allegorically, within the space of Nature. AND I must also have fun. So I dub this space of ICAN….

‘The Roots’

The roots, the roots, the roots are all a growing…
The sprouts, the sprouts, the sprouts are all a breaking…

The wind is rushing through. The sun is breaking free.

And all I can do is stop! Stop and listen.

The ringing of the wind through the breeze, the warmth of spring days penetrating my skin… the flowers blooming daily that welcome the observer in love and light… the laughter of my children, the pretend play of imaginative minds, the glow in their eyes from being seen and heard, truly…. The love I see from my husband, from my friends, from my community….

The urgency is pressing, but to see the full of expression of life, ever manifesting under our very own nose, this my friend is what life is about.

ICAN is finding its voice… TOGETHER we WILL make a difference…. But it’s only by starting at home!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Our last trip to fast food lane…

Yes, I said it, fast food. And yes, I was there. And yes, it makes me sick (and embarrassed) to admit it.

So, we had just gotten out of gymnastics and the first thing my son says to me, “Please mama, please, can we please go there? Puuleeeze???”

My response, as usual, is anger. “Why do you want to eat in a place like that? It’s disgusting. It’s immoral. Do you really want to say ‘yes’ to a place that treats animals like crap? Do you want to say ‘yes’ to a place that hurts the Earth? God! How do I get you to understand how disgusting it is?”

“I know, I just really want a toy.”

“So, you want a cheap piece of plastic that came here from China on one of those big boats, that spews oil into the ocean and kills baby turtles and sea horses and fish? Really?

“I know Mama, just this once puleeeze?”

And I cave. Yes, I caved…again, and again, and again.

I have found that in my life there are so many things that I say yes to when I really want to be saying no. And then the problem arises when our spouses are not on the same page. It’s one thing to say no to your child, but you can’t say no to your husband, right?

I offer this story, this piece of insight into my life, to show all of you that my life is not perfect. I know in my heart the life I want to lead and also know that the reality is that I am not fully there… yet!

It makes me sad, it makes me feel like a failure, it makes me ashamed that there are corn chips and frozen French fries in my house. BUT…. But that’s why we are forming ICAN. I can change these things. I can change them in my own home. And, I can change them gently or quickly- whichever works best in the circumstances that we find ourselves. But the reality is that I need help too.

The point of this organization is to offer each other support and education on HOW to make these changes.

This organization is not about changing the world, it’s about changing our OWN world…. my world, my house, my family!

Maybe my husband will come home with another bag of corn chips, but maybe I’ll just recycle the bag and be happy with that for now. Or maybe, I’ll figure out a way to make them myself and get rid of the partially hydrogenated oils AND the packaging.

The point is to live from the place we already are and find ways to make changes that lead to harmony.

I am ready to live in integrity. I am ready to sign a Declaration of Freedom that’s only purpose is to set my intention in the direction I want my life heading towards- one of sustainability and returning to the Earth all she gives to me.

I am ready to live in accordance with what the Soul already knows…

Monday, March 19, 2012

As it is, here and now...


I have heard my yoga teacher, Karen Sprute-Francovich, make this statement time and time again. I always think I get it, but then each time I hear it again, I “get” it even more.


So, what does this mean now? 

I met with a friend this morning and we were discussing, amongst numerous subjects, this organization, ICAN.  What’s it really about? What are we attempting to do? How does it impact our lives, and out families? Do we need to move out, “into the country” to live simply? How can we live simply in our own lives, HERE AND NOW?

To which I answer, “I have no idea!”

Well, okay, I guess that it not fully the truth. I do have an idea or two, ok, maybe even three- hahaha! But for the most part, I really don’t know what the full picture of it means. All I do know is that TOGETHER we can paint the picture of the direction we want to be heading so that we can live the way we know in our gut is right.

I also feel that this is not about ‘moving to the country’, but rather, to LIVE FULLY where we are today, HERE AND NOW, JUST AS IT IS!

This is such a beautiful, powerful statement! It makes me think back to a yoga class I taught not too long ago. The theme was about acceptance. In our minds, we have this “picture” of what perfection is to us. Whether it be a spiritual goal, a physical goal, or “way we are supposed to live”, whatever… We hold onto this goal, this picture in our minds of the “perfect” way we should be living, acting, being. And then life happens, the AS IT IS part.

The clouds of judgment roll in, followed with despair and sadness of the ‘reality’ of what is. Depression and hopelessness slowly take root thereafter.

But what if, what if… What if we could take this picture we have of the “perfect” way of living, being, acting and RIP IT UP?!? Then we could replace that picture with where we are, today, just AS WE ARE, AS IT IS. We could look at this picture, just a little closer. We could see the light shining in our eyes, perhaps sense the brightness of our hearts. Maybe, just maybe, we could even be happy with the intelligence of our minds, the warmth we emit, the gentleness of our compassion, and the gifts that we alone bring into the world.

Maybe we aren’t the perfect essence of what we think we should be, maybe we aren’t living as simply as we know we should be living. But what if instead, we could see what we are doing right, start shedding light on THAT ASPECT? Because, more important than changing everything we think we doing wrong, is shedding light on what we ARE doing right.

HERE AND NOW, JUST AS IT IS.  Then almost as if by magic, we start to understand that, that which we pay attention to GROWS….

How does this impact ICAN? Well, we can paint a picture of which direction we are heading, but with love, we can accept where we are today. We needn’t move onto acreage, change our families, or be in a commune living off the land. We need to be HERE AND NOW, AS IT IS, then we can act from this space. We don’t need to know what the final picture of this means, all we need to do is shed light on the things we doing right so that this Light can grow bright   

Monday, March 12, 2012

The first meeting...

In case some of you never got this initial email I sent out, I thought it might be advantageous to post this original email so that you would know what this organization is about.

Hi folks! Wanted to give you some information regarding our first meeting
last night with regards to creating an intentional community. I felt our
first meeting went well, although I did receive feedback that at least one
person couldn't find us and the library knew nothing of the meeting. So my
apologies if you showed, I will be sure that in subsequent meetings the
librarians know who and where we are located.

There were many things on the agenda that I am happy to share, but am
guessing it would make for a very long email, so I will try to give you the
short version. Please feel free to let me know if you would like me to
remove your email from this list.

I. The first thing is the name. We decided on ICAN! Intentional
Consciousness in Action Network. I Can Make a Difference. Together, We Do
Create Change!

II. The intention of this group is to form an agreement with individuals,
families, and groups to live intentionally and in accordance with the
Natural Laws of Balance.

III. Plan of Action:

- To create a community within our community of individuals committed to
living sustainably
- To form a membership with thus said persons that is open to the
public, but is accessible only through signing a written proclamation of
intention to live simply. We will call this agreement the *Declaration
of Freedom* (because doesn't it ultimately make us free?)
- To focus on the basic needs that, as of this writing, have been
determined as: Food, Water, Shelter, Energy, Clothing, Transportation,
Community, Education, Healthcare, Waste Management, and Conservation
- To help facilitate more communication between all the various "green"
groups so that "Together we Stand" and therefore can affect more change
- To create this group with lightness, joy, and bliss. To make this an
adventure that is dredged in laughter and light-heartedness. Our goals to
be met with non-violence and through peaceful means only.

IV. Steps:

- *To form a committee that will represent each section of what we
determine are our basic needs and will help find the means to educate the
common populace*
- Initiate practices that will reduce our consumption [such as Meatless
Mondays and Freedom Fridays (no electricity or electronics, except for work
and fridge,etc.)]
- Have all members sign up with a CSA, grow their own vegetables, or
find other means to feed themselves and their families locally (eg. Carver
Farms or Farmer's Market)
- Education on how to implement Permaculture in our community
- As the committee's form, spotlight each section of basic needs to
determine how best to reduce our global footprint. I have many ideas, but I
want this to be a group endeavor.

In conclusion, I would just like to add a few thoughts:

I was watching a documentary on the Civil Rights Movement and I was moved
by a couple of things. First of all, the ubiquitous belief system of
segregation. It's crazy to me to think that it was not that long ago that a
black and a white person could not even sit in the same restaurant
together!! (And even here in Coeur d'Alene the same thing applies to the
Native people) I do not even for a moment compare the hatred and bigotry of
this time period to what I'm trying to initiate. However, I do see
similarities in the vastness of the ideology to change a deeply rooted
belief system. I believe that there must have been at least a few people
that were sickened by the treatment of fellow humans, but probably felt
that it was "too big" to change.

The second thing that struck me was the non-violent agreement to affect
change. There were small groups of men and women, called the Freedom
Riders, that took the chance of dying for their cause (about 6-8 of them at
a time). Many of them even had their wills written before embarking on
their adventure into the deep south. These Freedom Riders were beaten, set
of fire, and jailed for their belief system, and yet, they didn't fight
back with violence.

The last thing that really stuck out for me, was their persistence. When
the second group of Freedom Riders were jailed, the group just kept sending
more people to take their place, In all, over 400 people were jailed!! They
just continued their plan of action until the White House finally got
involved. It really was an amazing and transformative initiative!!

I feel imbued by these amazing individuals to affect change for something
they believe in deeply. I, too, feel deeply about living in harmony with
the Earth. I am just plain sick and tired of the consumption, greed,
corruption, and vastness of what is going on, especially here in America! I
am tired of waiting for someone, or something to happen to create the
change we need. I know that ICAN create change, but more importantly, do

I totally understand that most people are incredibly busy in this time.
What we need are just a few individuals (would love about 8-10 ppl) who
feel compelled to help get this going. At the very least, could you please
send me any names of groups that are "green", that are trying to make a
difference? My next step is going to be to contact these groups and see if
there any individuals that would like to participate.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this very long email (sorry!).

In love and light,
Anissa Duwaik, the Local Lady

TheSoil (Soul) is Embedded in Belief!

Once upon a time there was a little girl, whose heart was bursting with love for all her relations, this includes humans, animals, and those from the fairy world. Some exclaimed that she had worn rose-colored glasses, while others swore that her view was framed with rainbows and unicorns. 

As happens much too often, life brought about many hardships that resulted in the disintegration of rainbows and the apparent belief of hope in all things. 

Much to the dismay of the little girl, with hopes dwindling, she sought refuge in her friends, the animal people and more recently, her yogi friends. In this dark space of despair, it was here that her friends taught her about the power of belief. To believe that all things are possible- to believe that NOTHING is impossible!

Powered by hope in humanity, the space that inhabits love without judgment and gain, she regains her connection to her heart and is driven to help others catch a glimpse of this self-less love that is so apparent in everyday life.

This little girl is me.

It is hard for me to show my vulnerability and the softness that I feel in my heart. In my cynical mind, I can easily chastise this little girl as being silly, unrealistic, and of course ridiculous in her view through these purple-tinted glasses.  But I know that this is only a result of fear, mostly fear of ridicule. And what I know of fear, is that it only has power over you if you give it your power, It cannot exist on its’ own, it must be fed by us.

In my experience, this fear is powered by my need to remain in the “herd”. You see, biologically, we are herd animals. It is not only our own thoughts, but even our genetic predisposition to remain anonymous.
To be a part of the herd means safety and our sadly defined idea of being “alive”.

I’ve also come to understand from these past years of extreme hardship, that I am not alone, that we are all are experiencing extreme hardships whether personally or through our recognition of what is happening to our blessed Earth.

In my last blog, I mentioned that the first part of this process has been planting the seeds. The second part was about just sitting, the germination of the seeds. Today, I’m focusing on the soil (soul).

If our soil (soul) is not rich in nutrients, nothing will become of the seed. The soil (soul) needs to be firm enough to apply pressure (the power of belief) and yet loose enough to allow growth (no grasping allowed!).

I have heard back from a few of you who would rather not sign up to the blog (which I don’t blame you in the least!) and am asking that you and the others who are reading this to take just a moment and send a vibration of BELIEF into this organization. This group of people whom simply just wants to live within the Natural Laws of Balance. All we need is a little hope (energized soil/soul), a little sun (Grace), and a lot of patience (non-judgment).

----just another piece of the puzzle----


Anissa Duwaik, the Local Lady

p.s. Although there are many people who have helped me along the way, most recently I feel compelled to acknowledge that I am in here in this space of belief and vulnerability due in large part to my wonderful kula and yoga teacher, Karen Sprute-Francovich and also on the day-to-day support of my wonderful family who support me, just as I am! Many, many thanks….

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Puzzle Keeper


As many of you know, I am a love child of the Earth and a lover of Yoga. Both aspects define much of who I am. Therefore, as you follow my blogs, you will find that much of the way I think, and act, is infused with this way of being.

I feel as though I’ve been inspired to act. I have been given a “piece of the puzzle” of my dharma, and for myself, it is that I am a Puzzle Keeper (a.k.a. an Organizer). I have been feeling intensely motivated to start “puzzle keeping” by initiating this organization, ICAN.

However, what I’m finding is that there is a natural unfolding of events, just like we see in nature. Spring naturally follows winter. Winter naturally follows Fall. I sense that Spring is almost here (within me and without). I can sense that I’m at this precipice of seeing the unfoldment of Spring. However, the harsh reality is that I am still in Winter.

I have wanted to capitalize on the momentum of public interest. I have wanted, and felt compelled to, come up with step 2. I have wanted to initiate another meeting and keep things rolling. In a nutshell, I have been grasping.

But if we look to Nature for the answers, we find that once you plant the seeds, there is a germination period.

Although I have this sense that there is a Grand Canyon right in front of me, it is as though there is a windstorm surrounding me and I can therefore not see a foot in front of my face. It is in this moment, here today, as it is, that I choose to sit. I choose to stop grasping. I heard a Buddhist once say, “Don’t just do something, SIT there!” So I sit.

And write.

To all my friends out there, to all the people who also know that the time of change is coming, to those that are ready for hope and to effect change in our lives, I say, we CAN bring change! We CAN choose to live within the Natural Laws of Balance. And what that means today, is to sit and be in winter. We are doing exactly what Nature is asking us to do, be here, now! Allow the unfolding process to occur without grasping.

With love and light,


p.s. I will continue to blog about this process in order to keep the momentum going, without grasping!