Psychedelic Cure


Yesterday I listening to a program on NPR.


The program is about the re-emerging use of psychedelics as medicine for PTSD and depression.


Indigenous people have been using psychedelics in spiritual rituals for years and years. But it is only recently being considered here for medicinal purposes.


Much research is being done. Oakland and Denver have de-criminalized psychedelics for just this purpose. So I hear.


I find myself very interested and excited. A yoga teacher friend of mine went to Peru to try Ayahuasca. She had an amazing experience.


As a yoga teacher, it can be hard to admit PTSD and depression. As a yoga teacher, holding space for students is a part of the job. And so to say one has experienced these things can feel risky.


I write here to say this yoga teacher has experienced both of these things. I am writing here to say: It is OK.


One of my traumas is my brother dying when I was very young. Another of my traumas happened when I was twelve with a 19-year-old guy. There are more. I cannot list them all here.


Maybe it was the trauma that led me to be a wild teenager. I shudder to think – now as a parent – what I put my family through.


Later in my life depression – and anxiety came to visit. I tried many avenues to work through these. But it did not work. For years I suffered.


Now in this story comes the part where I tell you how I healed myself. However, I cannot say this. I can say I found Yoga, which has changed my life PROFOUNDLY. I can say I have learned how to use many tools, including breathing and cold therapy – The Wif Hof Technique.


Look it up. It works.


And of course, I entered recovery. The rooms of recovery peeled away the layers of the onion revealing to me my own true self.


I have participated in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) and various other therapies.

I have continues my yoga practice, even when I did not feel like practicing.

I have learned how to live with the ups and the downs. Slowly, my life has gotten brighter and better.


There is no magic pill. Psychedelic or otherwise. Sometimes these things creep back. And I grab my toolbox.


Today it takes me a while of debate in my head to write this. I feel afraid. What will my readers think of my struggles?


Then I remember: Selfless Service. And Rigorous Honesty. And Sharing one’s experience, strength, and hope. Three of the ways of living I learned in the 12 steps.


So I write this blog. I hope it reaches you reader. I hope if you have suffered any of these things, you can know you are not alone. It does get better.


And… even Yoga Teachers get sad.

Willingness is the Key

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The other day I met with my Sponsor.


I met with my Sponsor because I am about to start the ninth step:


Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.


The ninth step comes, in part, from the eighth step: Made a list of all people we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.


I have done this before but really in the world of steps, one just keeps going through and through again and again.


And so we meet at the coffee shop to go over my list. After catching up Sponsor says, “Ok, let us move on to your list.”


I open my step workbook. This thing might seem like a simple notebook, but inside is a treasure trove of all the workings inside the sober mind of an addict. Including diagrams with lots of words circled going in different directions with arrows pointing out important parts.


I am pretty sure no one but me can understand what I have written. And sometimes even I myself cannot understand it.


On my list are all the *new* amends I need to make since the last time I did this. Luckily, that was not too long ago and so my list is manageable–as compared to my first time around when I had 81 people on it.


We begin. Since I cannot disclose ACTUAL names here, nor write out the whole amend, I will need to simplify and I will need to number the people, however cold and disconnected that may sound.


“Ok,” I say. “Person One.”

“Go ahead.” Sponsor says.”


“I really don’t call this person as much as they want me to.” I say.


Sponsor is staring at me. “That is not an amend.” Sponsor says. “That is co-dependent behavior.”


Ugh! This happened to me LAST time. Half of the people on my list fell under codependency.


“It is not your obligation to call someone just because they want you to call them more. That is people pleasing. Where’s the harm?” Sponsor says. “There is none. Cross that one off.”


I cross it off.


After that situation I know Person Two will fall right into the same category. I just skip over Person Two.


We have limited time. Person Three is probably a conversation in itself and so we table Person Three until next time we meet.


Person Four, Five, Six and Seven turn out to be people I owe living amends to, which means maybe SAYING nothing, but changing the behavior going forward. Which really ALL amends are about. I mean, why make an amend if I am just going to continue the behavior?


Ok. Person Six IS an actual amend about unclear communication. I put a checkmark next to Person Six name.


Person Seven turns out to be someone Sponsor wants me to journal about. Sponsor tells me, “You don’t really have clarity on what the amend is here. Maybe do some journaling.”


Yet more writing, But ok.


Last person is Person Eight. This person is someone I REALLY do not wish to make amends to. However, Sponsor says, “This person is a really amend.”


Often in program I am told: There are three categories: People you will make amends to soon. People you MIGHT make amends to. And people you will never make amends to. Person Eight falls into the last category. Person Eight is also someone I am going to have to find. I no longer have their contact information.


I do not want to make amends to this person because they are a bit of a gossip. I fear my amend will be shared with many other people. I know I am not supposed to worry about what will happen after I make the amend. I do my part and then I let go. I pray for the willingness to BECOME willing to make this amend.


The first time I made amends it was going along swimmingly. But on the third one I got totally creamed. And I had to just sit there and take. No IF no AND no BUT. Just let the other person say what they need to say. I tried to apologize again. My sponsor told me, “No more apologizing. You made your amend. You are not a doormat. Move on.”


And so I did.


Along the way I have found out just because I feel ashamed or guilty does not mean I owe an amend. My sponsor kept on asking me, “Where’s the harm? Where’s the harm?”


Now, I am preparing to make amends this time around. It is about cleaning up my side of the street. I know I cannot try to justify or explain my behavior. I just have to make direct amends, hopefully in person. And I know when I do it I will feel much lighter, having cleaned up the wreckage of the past.


Thank you to 12 Step Programs.

Thank you for the opportunity to be of service.

Thank you to the steps themselves which shine a light on how to live life.

Thank you for the courage to come to know who we truly are.


Thank you to all the people who reside in these rooms, to those who came before, and those who will come after, keeping the doors of recovery open for those who still suffer.


We walk among the masses, having drank, drugged, shopped, gambled, sexed our way through life, finally realizing we could not outrun ourselves. And we walk among the masses having been deeply hurt, physically, emotionally and mentally by someone else’s addiction.


Recovery is possible.

No matter how far down the scale we have gone, or how badly we have been hurt.

Willingness is the key.

Christmas Comes Early


This year Christmas came early.


Christmas came early since Son and Wife plan on being in Queens for ACTUAL Christmas Day.


And so Christmas came over the weekend.


I am excited to see Son and Wife. It has only been since Thanksgiving that I last saw them. Still I await their arrival.


It is Friday evening and they have taken an Uber to the Philly house. They walk in with all their baggage. As soon as son puts his down his baggage I give him a big hug.


He says, “How are you doing Mom?”


After a while we make our way into the living room to decide what to eat for dinner.

As usual the decision is tacos and burritos. And so we begin the preparations.


Very quickly Son and Wife move in and take over the preparation, chopping and slicing.

Wife asks if we have an avocados to make guacamole.


They make very good guacamole.


I think: Uh oh. We forgot the avocados.


I look at Philly. He looks back at me like: Oh no. no.


I put on my best innocent face and ask, “Would you go get the avocados? Pleaaaase?”


Philly walks around in a circle for a while and says, “Ok. I will go.”

And so he hops into the KIA and off he goes to the co-op, which is closing in ten minutes BTW.


Philly gets back and the preparations continue. Son and Wife have really got this whole prep thing down. Mostly I just watch.


During the prep son drops all the taco shells to the ground and they break. Wife says, “What are you doing??” And she tells us son is always dropping things.


I remember this about son.


It is time to put the taco shells that are left into the oven. Son has the oven set at 350 degrees. Because that is what the box says. Rules you know.


I tell him, “They are going to burn.”

He tells me, “The box says 350 degrees.”

“Ok.” I say.


Soon the taco shells burn. Luckily, we have more.


Wife whips out her phone to show us pictures of where son put a hot pan on the kitchen floor and permanently burned the floor. We all get quite a kick out of this.


Son says, “Everyone is roasting me. But don’t worry about it. I am used to it.”


Soon it is time to eat. We put everything out on the living room table instead of the dining room table. I am not sure why we do this. But it does seem to be the favorite place to eat even if someone has to sit on the floor.


Now the dinner conversations begins. Somehow, we start talking about rules.

I say, “Son, you would not do well with anarchy.

Son says, “I would break down. I cannot function without rules.”


This is true.


We go on to examples of measuring ingredients absolutely accurately in the cooking process.


Wife confirms this.


Son says, “I am being slandered here.”


Ok.Ok. We try to stop. This is hard since son has so many unique habits.


We move on to straightening hair. And getting perms and the like. Wife has long wavy hair. Wife tells us, my mom says, “Rock your hair.”


Philly says, “How do you do that with rocks?”

He is completely serious.


Wife says, “No not rocks IN your hair.”

I am laughing pretty hard.


We move on. Wife tells us about how she used to dress up her younger brother all the time. We are trying hard to get son to let us do some girly stuff on him, but he refuses. Son says, “No photographic evidence.”


Which is such a son thing to say. Son speak I call it.

He also says, “I disagree with that presumption.”

And, “I am all for sensible solutions.”


The night goes on and soon it is bedtime for me. I leave the three of them there to watch Christmas programs. I exit during The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.


Next day comes and Son and Wife sleep late. They tend to do this when they come to visit. We just do our thing until they wake up. Son makes a big breakfast for everyone.


While we are eating I say, “Later we can open presents.”

Son says, “We cannot open them until Christmas.”

I say, “That really doesn’t work since y’all won’t be here on Christmas Day.”


And now a debate ensues about when to open presents, how many to open, etc. Son concedes to open all of them later. Which I feel is right since this is our Christmas Eve even if it is not really Christmas eve.


We hang around for a while. In the kitchen Philly is preparing Brisket with brussels sprouts. It smells very yummy and I am excited since I never really had Brisket.


While it is cooking we go out to see this popular Philadelphia thing called Christmas Village. It is bunch of vendors set up in Love Park/City Hall. And it is PACKED. Worse than Times Square. We walk around. I find a pair of earrings. We talk to Vendor Man about living in Philadelphia, and NYC. He is from New Jersey. He hopes to buy a condo in NYC and still keep his Jersey place.


I think: He must be rich.


Then we go drive down to South Philly where there is a block of houses all done up with lights and blow up Santas. Many cars are lined up to drive through.


I am hungry as we head home to eat the brisket. I am sad Daughter has had to work every night Son and Wife are here. When we get home, Philly serves us.

I tell Philly, “This is delicious!”

Everyone agrees. Especially daughter who loves Brisket. I wish she could stay. But she had to go to work.


We even have Vegan cupcakes from the co-op for dessert. I am so happy son can eat these with no allergy problems.


Now we open presents. Each person picks up a present, looks at the name tag and hands it to the person.


There are not many presents. But all of them are very lovely and heartfelt. Philly and I get a book of photographs from the wedding. It is beautiful. “Thank you.” we say.


I begin to fade. I tell everyone, “I have to go to bed now.”

“Good night!” they say.


I crawl into bed. Tomorrow Son and Son Wife will be leaving. As usual I feel a little sad. But not too much. It has been a nice visit. I try to concentrate on this part.


Tomorrow will come and we will say goodbye for now.

I think: Thank you for coming.


Merry first married Christmas Son and Wife.

And many more.


What I Really Want is Time


I have been thinking about 2020.

It is coming, just around the corner.


And as is my custom I begin the year’s review and from that review comes my wishes for the year to come.


A lot has happened in 2019.

I think: A lot has happened for a lot of us.


This year was not easy. I have had more medical issues than I want to recall. I have spent time in the dark places of the soul, and time in the bright clear light of joy, and of peace. I have seen birth and I have witnessed unimaginable suffering.


I made new friends.

I reconnected with old friends.

I watched my son take his wedding vows.

I watched my daughter grow in directions I could not have imagined.

I talked to my mom and my dad more.

I taught more kids yoga classes.

I fell in love with my practice once again.


These are a few of the things on my list.

From this review will come all of my hopes for the upcoming year. All the yearnings I have for more time.


I sit for a while to gain some glimmer of clarity.

And in a few days I will come back with hopes and dreams, pen to paper hopeful.


Will you carve out a little time to look back and then ahead with me?


I hope you will reader.

I hope you will.

Perfect Pairing


The other day I had Thanksgiving.

I had Thanksgiving with Philly, Son, Son Wife and Daughter.


So it is the night before Thanksgiving and Son and Son Wife arrive from NYC. They have come with armfuls of stuff including three desserts: Bundt cake made by son wife, cornbread made by son, and one fancy pie from a store.


“Y’all made this?” I say to them both.

“Yes!” son says.


I did not know son was a baker. Or a cooker really. I have come to find out both Son and Son Wife are quite the cookers. They have all the modern appliances. They even have a mini deep fryer.


We here at the Philly house have mostly none of that stuff, except for the juicer which we still have not used because neither one of us wants to clean it.


I tell son, “You should deep fry a chicken!”

Son says, “It’s not that big mom.”

“How about a small hen?” I ask.


We talk a little before bedtime. About how son never used to separate the laundry into colors and whites. And about various aspects of cleaning. Apparently Son and Son Wife are very tidy. Son has even watched the Marie Kondo Series.


Then Son Wife prompts son to tell us something. “Are you going to tell them?” she asks.

I think: Yet another thing son has probably known for months but has told us.


And…I am right!


Son says, “I got a new job.”

“Really?” I say. “Didn’t you just get the job at that non-profit organization that works to feed the city?”

“Yes.” he says. “But that was temp to perm. Now I will be working in Development at a big NYC hospital.”

“How long have you known this?” I ask.

“Maybe since September.” he says, all casual like.


“SEPTEMBER?” I say. “What the hell?”


I am palms to the sky.


Son never ever ever never tells me what is happening as it is happening. Tonight he tries to explain this by telling me he is superstitious.




Son and Son Wife decide to make some guacamole. Philly goes to the co-op to pick up some avocados. He comes back and the avocados are hard as a rock. We try as best we can to use them but it is impossible.


“Maybe we should go back to the co-op and just get guacamole?” I ask. “And we can add your special ingredients to it.”


“Ok.” The group says. Philly went last time so now it is my turn.

I go.


Son asks for if we have measuring spoons. This is funny because the favors at Son’s wedding were measuring spoons.


So I say, “Yeah I got them at someone’s wedding.”

Son and Son Wife start laughing.

“Oh yeah.” Son says.


Next day comes and it is Thanksgiving. We get up and after a nice run and breakfast we start the preparations. Philly is doing he turkey. I am doing the sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, broccoli, rolls, corn, and cranberry sauce (which we forget about anyway). And gravy.


I tell Philly, “If we had motorcycles we could go for a ride!”

And Philly says, “If we had Moon Buggies we could ride around on the moon!”


He is funny, that Philly.


By 5pm it is time to eat. We are desperately trying to get everything out at the same time so nothing gets cold. This is always a challenge for me when it comes to cooking. I get very frustrated and mostly no one wants to be around me.


When we sit down to eat we do the GRATS tradition. Everyone gets an index card and a pen to write down some things they are grateful for. And then we put them in a bowl and pass them around to read out loud.


I write:

I am grateful for the whole family being together

Things young adults say


Husbands generosity

Finding support when I need it


Everyone healthy



I would write everyone’s GRATS down here but first I would need their permission and I am too lazy to get it.


We eat. Everything is delicious. We move onto dairy free desserts and one dairy pie. My favorite is the Bundt cake all drizzled with white frosting.


Unfortunately, this is when a heated discussion starts to heat up. For various reasons, I will not discuss the content here. However, I will say part of it rides on generational knowledge and differences. The discussion goes on and I am getting very upset inside. This feels like I am inside one of those movie scenes where they show the family fighting at some holiday or another. I get so upset I wind up yelling. This never happens to us. Why is it happening now when Son Wife is here on Thanksgiving for the first time?


You know how they say don’t discuss politics (or topics closely related) at the table?

Well, DON’T.


I feel like crying.

I try to let go. I plan to make an apology the next day.


Next day comes and I make my apology. The Young Adults tell me their feelings. I listen. I just hope we can all let it go.


Later we discuss the virtues of using towels after a shower vs air drying. I myself prefer a towel. And staying up late vs going to bed early. And a few other things. I am trying to find out what Son and Son Wife are learning about each other since they live together now. I find out lots of things which I cannot discuss here. Suffice to say they are in DISCOVERY mode.


And then we are done. We begin the assembly line clean up. Table to kitchen back to table to kitchen. Washing and drying and putting away.


Since there are five of us it goes pretty fast.


Next day Daughter, Son Wife and Son go to see Knives Out. I stay home. Maybe we will go axe throwing later. For now I need a nap.


The rest of our time together melts away. We go to the restaurant daughter works at. We do some more talking about Marie Kondo. Apparently son has this very neat and orderly way he keeps his drawers. Some things are even categorized. And perfectly paired.


“Wow!” I say.

Son Wife smiles. “Yup!” she says.


I don’t know how son has become so orderly.

Philly says, “This makes perfect sense really.

I think about Son’s ways.

“Yes.” I say. “I guess it does.”


It is almost time for the train home. As usual I feel time has gone by so fast. Do you feel that way reader? Like there are so many things you want to do together but time runs out.


Off to the train we go. The roads are clear and it is a quick drive. We pull up in front of the train station. I ask if they need any help because they really have a lot of stuff with them.


“No, its okay. We got it.” Son says.


And that’s it. I watch them pull the golden handle of the train station and enter the station.

I think about our visit.

It was good to see Son and Son Wife for their first married visit.

They really are a perfect pair.


I think: I always want things to be just right.

I think: They never are.


We had time together and shared a meal and conversation.

And that is enough.

The Invitation


Yesterday I attended a birth.


Actually, the birth began the night before.


It is the night before yesterday night. I am just crawling into the bed. Philly is standing next to the bed saying goodnight since he himself is not going to bed.


He says, “So when is your client going to have that baby?” Because she is a few days late.

I say, “Speak not of it!” because I am right at that moment about to go to bed.


TWO SECONDS later the iphone rings.

Yes, it IS my client.


I give Philly a dirty look.

“You did this.” I say.


“Hey, don’t blame me.” he says.


I pick up the phone. It is Client’s Husband.

“Hello?!” I say with some enthusiasm because really why else would he be calling me at 10:30 at night?


“Hi!” he says. “Well her water just broke. No contractions yet though.”

“Ok.” I say. “Did you call your provider yet?”

“No.” he says. “We are deciding whether or not to wait to call.”


This is something I cannot recommend either way. There are risks on both sides of the equation. I CAN tell them to check that the water is clear and odorless. I can discuss the likelihood their provider will tell them to come in to the hospital – and they will be admitted.


We discuss communication going forward. They will text me smaller updates but call for major happenings.


I get a text: We are going in. Light contractions.

I text: Ok.


I put my phone on the highest setting of RING and lie down to try to get some sleep before the next call comes.


I wake up and it is almost morning. I frantically look at my phone, hoping I did not somehow miss a call.


But there is no call. Just an update: 3cm. Irregular contractions.


Now comes the confusing part. I have a class to teach this morning. I have to weigh the likelihood Client will progress quickly OR slowly. Really there is no way to tell. I text my back up sub so she is ready to go if I need her and I head out to teach my class. Philly makes me the usual Doula pack of food. I bring all my doula stuff with me, JUST in case.


I check in with Client and Client Husband right before I go in: No change.


So I teach. I come out thinking I am heading to the hospital.

I text Client: Hello! What’s the latest?

Client texts: We are still waiting for the doctor to come in. Everything else is pretty much the same.


I drive home.

I eat a burrito.

I take my vitamins.

I brush my teeth.


The phone rings. It is Client Husband.

He says, “Contractions are getting more intense. She is 5cm.”

I say, “I am on my way!”


It is the middle of the day. I hit some traffic, but not too bad. I get there in 18 minutes.


Luckily, this particular hospital has excellent parking. I get a spot right in front of the main door. When I go up to the information desk I say, “I am a doula for Client.”


Information Desk Person says, “5th floor.”


Around the corner and down the hall I take the elevator up. I buzz the Labor and Delivery doors, which are always kept locked so no one can go in there and steal babies.


Nurse answers the buzzer, “Yes?’ she says.

“I am a Doula for Client.” I say.

“Come on in!” she says in a cheery voice.


If you are a Doula you know this is a good sign.


I wander through the hallway until I find room seven. I knock lightly and open the door. Client is kneeling over the bed. Husband is applying counter pressure to Client’s hips. Client’s mom is sitting in a chair in the corner.


I ask, “What has been working so far?”

Client husband says, “The back pressure and also no talking.”


Client says, “MORE PRESSURE! On my back!”

Client is a very clear kind of person.


And so we begin. Client Husband and I trading off on the counter pressure so we don’t wear out. Giving counter pressure for hours can be quite tiring. Now we are changing positions every 20 or 30 minutes. And we are walking. And moaning, deeply.


In a few hours Doctor comes in to check the progress. I KNOW Client is hoping to hear 9cm. Instead she hears 6cm.


“6cm in almost three hours!” she screams.

Doctor acknowledges her feelings and reassures her things can change on a dime.

She tells her, “You are doing GREAT!”


Client does her best to accept this from Doctor.

I think: I like this doctor.


We go through several rounds of slow progress checks. Baby is in a posterior position and Client is having a lot of back pain. I try a few Doula tricks to encourage baby to slip out of the pelvis a bit and rotate around. I hope it helps.


I am also doing the things Doulas do to offer comfort and support as labor gets more intense. However, client has said in our Prenatal meeting she might want the epidural.


Turns out she does. Nurse says, “Maybe this will help relax you and you will open up more for baby to descend.”


Baby has been hanging around -1 or -2 station for a while now.


After the epidural is in, we get the peanut ball adjusted between her legs to help keep the pelvis open. We turn her side to side. Eventually Doctor comes back for another check. 9cm! Station 0. Client is very happy.


There is a small forebag of water preventing baby’s head from applying full pressure on the cervix. With Client’s permission Doctor ruptures the forebag.


I have a feeling things are about to speed up quite quickly now.


And…they do. In just twenty minutes Client is 10cm and baby in at station +2 which is really, really great. Doctor asks Client to give just a little push to check out how fast this baby is going to come.


“Stop pushing.” she says. Because that baby is seriously on the way out.


And suddenly everyone is running around the room, uncovering the birth tray, taking the bottom off the bed, making ready.


Nurse and I are on each side of Client’s body, holding her legs to help her push. I look down and already the baby’s head is RIGHT THERE. Three more rounds of pushing and the baby’s head comes out, next push and the baby’s whole body slips out. Client Husband makes the most joyful noise I think I have ever heard.


I look at client. She looks back at me. I say, “Your baby is here.”

I cry a little tear, like I always do at this miraculous moment as a new being enters the world.


Client Husband goes over and kisses his wife on the head. “You are amazing.” he says.


Baby is a little blue and so Nurse needs to take baby over to the warmer to give baby a little prodding to get going on the breathing. Not too long and baby is pinking up! Nurse brings baby back over to Mama.


Baby and Mama look into each other’s eyes for the first time. She speaks and baby’s head turns toward the voice it has been hearing all these months in the womb. It is a sacred, beautiful moment. I feel so lucky to witness this.


In a little while it is time for me to get going. The whole family tells me, “Thank you so much. Thank you.”


And I say, “You are welcome. Thank you for letting me be part of your birth!”


As I walk out the door and down the hall I am filled with love.

I am blessed to do this work.

I am very, very grateful.


Yes, I am.

You Are Not Alone


The other day I was talking about addiction.


There seems to be a lot of talk about addiction lately. The opioid crisis, the emerging benzo crisis. Some pill that supposedly can “cure” all kinds of addictions. The more I listen the more I realize how many people struggle with addiction in some form: drugs, gambling, alcohol, sex. debting, over eating.


So I am with speaking with Person. Person is struggling with an addiction. Person keeps trying to stop but Person cannot. Person has tried many methods and while they have some success, ultimately they wind up back in their addiction.


I tell Person, “I am concerned about your addiction.”

Person asks, “Why?”

I say, “Because you are hurting yourself.”


I have watched Person hurting themselves for some time now. It is painful to watch any person hurt themselves reader. But I know because of my 12 step programs there is nothing I can really do. 


All addictions require one thing before all others: WILLINGNESS

Without it there can be no progress.


When a person has true willingness it is possible-one day at a time-to not pick up a drink, or to refrain from debting, or whatever a person’s drug of choice may be.


In the rooms of recovery one will find many people who are willing to give their time and energy to newcomers, to help them get clean and sober. To create a safety net together.


When one gives up their drug of choice, they come to know themselves, like peeling an onion, the layers are shed. It is not always pretty. One needs support.


If you are out there reading this and struggling, I want you to know: 



Help is available.

You are not alone.