Red Light… Green Light!


Wait… wait… wait… GO! Wait… wait… wait… GO! GO!! If this sounds anything like familiar to you than either you’re an expert “Red Light Green Light” gamer or you have encountered the hurry up and wait challenges that life often brings.

Living in NYC, my level of patience tends to fluctuate between absolutely nothing, and when I am mindful, slightly more than very little. This of course doesn’t leave much for my 9 million fellow New Yorkers I share the space with. It certainly doesn’t leave much for my coworkers and colleagues, and at the end of the day, there’s almost nothing left for my loved ones, friends and family.

Since this is ultimately a post about life balance and community, I’d love your input on how you find your patient place. How do you snuggle up to the red lights when you already have all the adrenaline rushing through your veins from the green? Do tell! Wait… ok yeah, please share. 🙂


Change Your Life and Be Thankful!

On November 17, 2007 my 13-year dance career ended abruptly during a student-teacher performance at the studio where I taught ballroom dance. I was accidentally dropped during a lift fracturing 2 ribs, herniating 3 discs in my neck and causing nerve damage in my back, arm and hand. While the ribs healed quickly, the neck and nerve damage were severe and the proverbial dance was literally over.

It was a devastating day for me.

It was definitely one of the best things that ever happened to me.

The first 2 years were really hard. Preoccupied with pain management, I was also coping with the loss of my primary form of expression for the last (nearly) 30 years. All the while, I was fighting. As much as I tried to feel thankful for all the wonderful things in my life, the resentment was eating me up inside.

But I was lucky. Within the first 6 months of my injury I found a sales and marketing position in the entertainment industry. I began to shift my focus to feeling thankful that I had a job that I could be good at. But in a year and a half I had become good at my job and the results that I brought in were recognized by my company and even the competitors in the industry. As soon as I had accomplished what I set out to do at my job, I felt my attention shift back to feeling sorry for myself. And oh what a pity party it was! I became ill.

Doctor after doctor after doctor. I changed my diet. I changed my priorities. I changed my attitude. I changed my life. I remembered to be thankful again. Thankful that my body and my mind are my vehicles for being happy and kind, and thankful that I have the capacity for healing.

So as my attention shifted to feeling thankful and as my actions became in line with my thoughts an incredible thing happened. I realized the accident was my teacher, not a disability. I became grateful for how much my neck had healed. Grateful for all the emotional support I had received from my family and friends. I let go of what I could not control and for the first time, I moved on.

A little over a week ago I found myself in a Pilates session with a teacher who gave me a very basic exercise for strengthening my neck. My neck immediately released all tension and pain. For longer than a moment, it was literally like the accident never happened. I knew it was the exact, right thing for me to be doing. I was inspired. My whole body smiled. I knew I was healing. I was told that if I kept this particular exercise up, I would be able to fully heal and go back to dancing. Whoa.

It has been 4 years and 3 days since the day of my accident and I am stronger, happier and healthier now than I’ve been in a long, long time. I am incredibly grateful.

So long story short, what “they” say is right on point: Be thankful for what you have right now. It really will change your life.

Keep on keepin’ on and Happy Thanksgiving Zenful Dancers!

-The Zenful Blogger

Counting Down to Day 31 (Day 98 out of 129) of the Middle Path Makeover – The Beat

Newness marks a beat. The end marks a beat. And then there are all the beats in between. There are Hip Hop beats, Swing beats, Samba beats and more. Heart beats. Life beats at our door. Open your ears and open your heart to the beat and dance. Dance until the beat overcomes your feet and body, your mind and your will. Dance. Keep dancing. Dance for your life.

-Leah Joy, The Zenful Dancer and Blogger 🙂

Counting Down to Day 33 (Day 96 out of 129) of the Middle Path Makeover – Kinhin, A Walking Meditation

Day by day, one in front of the other, heel then toes.
We place the foot on the floor in front of us, then we shift our weight. One step. We place the other then we shift our weight. Two steps.
Feel the heel sink into the earth; feel the toes follow the heel’s lead.
Knees relaxed and spine straight we walk in meditation. We are awake and aware of our bodies. Aware of our surroundings. Aware of our breathing.
We think: Just walking, just thinking, just breathing.
Just Kinhin.

-Leah Joy, The Zenful Blogger

Counting Down to Day 44 (Day 85 out of 129) of the Middle Path Makeover – Retreat

Sometimes stepping back and taking a moment to reflect can be a healthy tactic in discovering a new perspective. But sometimes one or two steps back isn’t enough. Sometimes it’s good to physically remove yourself from your normal, everyday surroundings and go on retreat.

I have taken myself on a few retreats in the last 15 or so years (certainly not often enough) and I can tell you that each time I have come back feeling an enormous amount of appreciation and acceptance for myself and others and the Planet. I smile genuinely and often. I feel lighter; relaxed but extremely energized. I’m a better listener to my loved ones, clients and co-workers. I feel purposeful and that feels really good.

But it’s a very different experience to go on vacation versus going on retreat. For me, the difference is in the intention of “break”. A retreat for me includes some solitude to write and read and learn about myself and the choices I’ve made that have brought me here to this point in my life. A retreat to me is a safe space to cry and let go of some unhealthy things I’ve been clinging to (many of them aren’t mine to hold). It’s a space to meet new people who are also on a path of healing intentions and know that I’m not alone. It’s a chance to connect back with the real me (whomever “me” is) before I got really busy covering me up with piles of stuff that isn’t me at all.

Vacations are great too- but if I’m feeling brave, retreats are the best. 🙂

Sonoma Mountain Zen Center – Santa Rosa, CA
Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, NY
Kripalu, Berkshires, MA
New York Open Center, NYC, NY
Esalen Institute, Marin, CA
Shambala Mountain Center, Red Feather Lakes, CO

-Leah Joy, The Zenful Blogger