Spirituality on a Surfboard: Overcoming the Waves of Fear!

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By Diane Danvers Simmons. Published in Wellness.com 2016

“Never say Never” is one of life’s truths I’ve come to relish. I’m proud to share that on a recent adventure I plucked up the courage to learn to surf with four fellow surfing virgins. Forget “the 40 year old virgin”, we were all “the 45 plus virgins”, willing and able to happily admit temporary insanity and conquer some major fears on the shores of Todos Santos!

Even though I’m pretty fit and able, I wasn’t feeling that bold or a 100% willing. I was terrified surveying the crashing waves, as I recollected the time I was tumbled and smashed on the ocean floor …but that’s another story. I had fought my way into the confines of an ill-fitted wetsuit without putting my back out, so, at least I needed to honor that feat and listen to the instructors spanglish.

Fear is like a rip tide pulling us further and further away from all of life’s miracles. The key is to welcome it, own it, and give oneself permission to feel the emotions that surface. I’m not recommending being reckless, but I am sharing how we can dive in and ride the waves of fear back to vibrancy.

FEELS A LOT LIKE  YOGA ON A BOARD TO ME!

FEELS A LOT LIKE YOGA ON A BOARD TO ME!

Loosen up and see the humor in life. We’d already completed our daily practice of yoga, which on one hand meant we were already in the zone, but on the other hand the thought of doing yoga on a surf board was a little daunting…This is the moment I questioned my sanity, but felt comforted by the bond I shared with my fellow angels. Endless humor alleviated much of anxiety that had taken residence in my mind, as we shamelessly practiced our surfing skills on the sand.

Don’t face the fear alone. I thought I was ready but alas, rational fear crept into my mind! After a few fearless strides, I did a 180-degree turn and began to peel off my wetsuit, much to my instructors (Julio) horror. His reaction was instantaneous, kind, but persistent and encouraging. Julio didn’t make me feel stupid and most importantly he didn’t let me give into my fear of being pummeled on the ocean bed. Instead he promised to stay close and guide me, with sister surfer angles cheering me on. Knowing I wasn’t alone or judged got me back on board … literally!

Let go by connecting to your inner child. The excitement and curiosity of youth was building inside, as I paddled out on my board into the unknown. I felt like a child being pushed high into the air on an endless swing, with the nose of the board rising high, crashing over the breaking waves. Soaked in the infinite joy, presence and wonder of childhood play, I let go of the fear as my spirit soared and I lost myself in the thrill of the spill.

Self- trust, being present in the moment. “Stay near Julio!!” OMG here I go again, upward dog…lunge… warrior pose with arms spread eagle …’‘ALLALUJA, I’m up and alive, being carried by the energy of the waves… You can go now Julio!”

I wasn’t walking on water yet, but I was part of it. Time stood still, as I connected to the rhythm of nature in tune with all of my natural instincts. I trusted the strength and wisdom of my own body in the ever-changing moment. I went back out time and again, knowing each time would be different. I felt exhilarated and energized as the waves washed away the stresses of everyday life and the feeling of limitless possibilities replaced them.IMG_3233

The benefits of activities that reignite personal awareness. Whether it’s surfing or any other physical activity engaging in something out of your comfort zone, it reignites our own personal awareness. It expands our consciousness giving us renewed validation of what we can accomplish when we choose to live in the moment, understand our fear and use it as a tool to experience growth.

I’ll finish by saying this, “By changing my perspective, I now understand why surfers become addicted to the spirit of the surf. It’s truly a spiritual experience to feel at one with Mother Nature, connected to the energy and power of the waves and wind, to feel part of something much bigger than you.”

Only one person can stop you and that’s you! Make the choice to welcome your fear home, embrace it, and then let it go so you can LIVE each day as an adventure.

Now go out, have an adventure and embrace your inner child!

Diane xo

 

 

 

The Mother & Daughter Connection, a unique retreat on the Hudson…Feel it!

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Mothers and Daughters Connect on the Hudson.

The fun, healthy, juicy ways to reconnect,explore, exercise and eat!

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This “treat” is designed to enhance the very special love and sometimes delicate bond that we share with our daughters.
Over Four days and three nights, mothers and daughters will have the time to slow down, honor and deepen their relationships as they share parts of themselves often hidden in the fabric of everyday life. Most importantly; through exploration, nourishment, new experiences, and lots of laughter, they’ll reinforce their bond, create traditions and priceless memories that will stand the test of time.

Dishing the Deliciousness of Life

Our Retreat will be held in the beautiful indoor& outdoor environments of the Hudson valley.
We create a safe haven, where mothers & daughters can take the time to re invest in themselves. They will be reminded that our health and happiness cannot be separated from what we eat, what we feel, what we think and what we do.

Own it, time for:iStock_000027073815_Medium

• Exploration of mind body spirit unity for health and happiness.
• The fun, healthy, juicy ways to connect, explore, exercise and eat!
• Investment in yourself, to reignite and regain your life balance.
• Own your choices.

Feel it, through:
• Delicious farm to table cuisine.
• Yoga, meditation & hiking in nature & bodhi studios.
• Nutrition counseling – practical, delicious, sustainable choices.
• Hands on fun cooking and juicing classes, visit to farmers market.
• Pampering – specialized massage/bodywork at the areas number one spa.
• Private reception at “2 Note botanical perfumery & skin care”.

iStock_000011175153_SmallLive it, by:
• Creating your own life flow and nutrition plan that will enhance and improve your every day life.
• Strengthening your relationship with each other through a shared and better understanding of mindful health, nutrition and total well-being.
• Embracing what it is to be present and compassionate, as you step into each new life chapter together and face all of life’s thrill and spills.
• Live your life with Wit & Wisdom!

Hosts -Diane Danvers Simmons, founder & spokesperson for, Own it Feel it live it & Spirituality in Stilettos and her daughter, Natalie Simmons, with Erika Laurion, Nutritionist and Health Chef.

Special summer introductory rate; $1000 per person, all inclusive – accommodation, 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 3 dinners, juicing, exclusive of alcoholic beverages and transportation.

Maximum attendees 14 [7 mother & daughter pairs], sign up now for a unique mother & daughter experience, to create the memories that will stay in your hearts forever.
Exclusive Retreat Dates; August14th, thru 17th.

Accommodation– 26 Warren B&B and Westcott House, both located in the heart of historic Hudson, NY. An artistic, vibrant, foodie, community, surrounded by the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley.

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Detailed Information, availability, and to reserve your,

Mother &  Daughter Connection on the Hudson” treat, please contact Diane@ownitfeelitliveit.com

Spiritual Shuffle in the Sand, Owning it!

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Boxing Our Way Out of Life’s Boxes.

As the poetic champion, Muhammad Ali would say “float like a butterfly sting like a bee”…I’m not sure if he would  describe us in such eloquent fashion, but we certainly gave it a try.

“We can’t be brave without fear” Muhammad Ali.

I’ve never understood the benefits of boxing until my recent trip to Todos Santos. Admittedly, I was on a gorgeous beach surrounded by my fellow Angels wearing our latest accessory, an enormous pair of bright blue padded boxing gloves. Our first lesson in boxing was with non other than Ramiro Reducindo Radilla, the 2003 Pan American gold medalist. Only the best for the Angels- thank you Erica!

Eva’s right hook!

I  don’t think any of us knew what to expect, after all, isn’t boxing about throwing punches to weaken and knockout  your opponent ? The furthest thing from loving kindness and spiritual bliss.However, I have to admit, we did leave on a powerful, spiritual high!

Ramiro, the boxer,wasn’t just my opponent, instead, he became my teacher disguised as well padded punch bag with a cheeky grin! I learned that boxing is much more than a cardio work out of skill, strength, speed, reflexes and endurance …which sounds pretty amazing in of itself. Boxing in a strange way is literally, “Own it, Feel it, Live it “on steroids. It’s a true challenge , combining the ultimate of mind, body and spirit awareness and participation.

With arms flexed at a 45 degree angle, I practiced the four basic punches in boxing; the jab, cross hook and upper cut. Leading with my left hand, instead of my pre wired right hand, I shuffled ( just like Ali in my own mind) the one-two-combo  … This isn’t just exercise for the body, people, it’s exercise for the mind.

One, two combo shuffle!

As you can see from the picture Ramiro is a giant compared to me, but that made the challenge even more enticing, as we danced and  sparred  to the beat of one, two, three. The more I leaned into the punch, the more he back away, and then more I advanced again. I felt agile, powerful, and strong.I was in the moment, at one with myself and my opponent as the onlookers dissipated into the sand.

The Angels and I were literally bouncing Pogo sticks, fueled by an adrenalin high that made each of us feel invincible, evident by the smiles on our faces. Our  boxing experience was unbelievably empowering and symbolic in many ways.We Owned it, by stepping out of our boxes and I do believe we strenghened our wings that day, toward becoming Guardian Angels….

Boxing is mind, body, spirit unity in action, so get ready for some spiritual shuffling in my workshops!

Spirituality on a Surf board…never say never !!

FEELS A LOT LIKE  YOGA ON A BOARD TO ME!

Looking at the pre surf shot we really could of been Charlie’s Angels… but, alas, we weren’t, instead with adrenaline pumping through our  veins we were four eager women and an italian man named KiKi, praying to our Angels to keep us alive for yet another chance to escape with nature !

I have to say, I’m pretty proud to be one of the four surf virgins, forget “the 40 year old virgin”, we were all “the 45 plus year old virgins”, willing and able to happily admit temporary insanity and conquer some big fears on the shores of Todos Santos!

To be honest, I wasn’t feeling that bold or a 100% willing, even though I’m pretty able.I was actually terrified looking out at the crashing waves,as I remembered the time I was tumbled and smashed on the bed of the ocean on my honeymoon…but that’s another story. I had just fought my way into the confines of an ill-fitted wetsuit without putting my back out, so, at least I needed to honor that feat and listen to the instructors spanglish. As you can see by the pictures below, Pedro did his best to demonstrate  the art of surfing!

Really…cobra pose , followed by upward dog!

Really…cobra pose , followed by upward dog!

 

Then jump, lunge and warrior two?

Then jump, lunge and warrior two?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know if Pedro realized, but we’d already completed our daily  practice of yoga and meditation,which on one hand meant we were already in the zone, but on the other hand ( forgoing all of the good karma and Oms) the thought of doing yoga on a surf board was a little daunting!…This is the moment I questioned my sanity,but felt comforted by the the laughter that continuously flowed and the bond with my fellow angels as we practiced our maneuvers on the sand, totally oblivious to the stares of nearby spectators!

Ok …I'm done with all this listening ..let's go girls!

Ok …I’m done with all this listening ..let’s go girls!

 

Owning it, went to Fearing it, in an instant! After a few fearless strides, I did a 180 degree turn and began to peel my hard earned suit off my body…much to my own surprise, let alone my  personal instructors horror. His reaction was instantaneous, persistent and encouraging. He didn’t make me feel stupid and he didn’t let me give into my fear of being pummeled by the ocean or whacked unconscious by the surf board. Instead he promised to swim out with me and stay close by. Knowing he wasn’t  going to abandon me got me back on board … literally!

The excitement was building inside, warming my belly, as I lay on the board and began to paddle out into the unknown. I felt like a child being pushed high into the air on an endless swing, as the nose of the board rose up and crashed over the breaking waves.In that moment I let go of the fear and got lost in the thrill of the spill ,as I screamed with laughter while the ocean spray cooled my face.I wasn’t walking on water yet, but I was part of it. Time stood still,I was completely present, connected to my natural instincts and the strength of my own body in the ever-changing moment.

Here’s your wave…turn your board and start paddling !!”

Stay near by Julio !!” OMG, upward dog…lunge… warrior pose with arms spread eagle …’‘OMG, I’m up and alive, I’m being carried by the energy of the waves… I’m alive… You can go now Julio!”

the lunge….and I can fly to if I want!

the lunge….and I can fly to if I want!

As my feet touched the safety of the sand I was DONE!! I felt healthy and refreshed, plus my hair was styling with all the salt needed for a great beach look !

I have to say with humility… Thank god for my persistent guardian angel instructor, along with my sister surfer angels and the angel support team lead by Erica juicing on the sand ! We were in this together and  I needed to be able to stand tall, to fly free on the waves and to be able to say I CAN, instead of I could.

I went back out again and again, and each time was different. I felt exhilarated and energized as the waves washed away the stress’s of everyday life. I rose, I flew, I lunged ,I tumbled, yet ultimately I was flooded with euphoria, as I stood in disbelief and rode the magic wave all the way to shore!

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Anja gliding over the wave !

I now understand why surfers become addicted to the spirit of the surf.It is a spiritual experience to feel at one with mother nature, connected to the energy and power of the waves and wind, to feel part of something much bigger than yourself. What I realized in those moments is that riding a wave is not just about FEELING IT, it’s about being PRESENT and LIVING IT ! -it’s ultimate FREEDOM, CONNECTION, JOY, A EUPHORIC HIGH.

With all that said, No … I won’t be surfing back in the cold waters of Carmel, but I will surf again in warmer climates with a Guardian Angel instructor close at hand !

Feeling invisible…where to next surfer angels?

Feeling invisible…where to next surfer angels?

I’ll finish by saying, only one person can stop you and that’s you … so  never say never, Own it, by trusting yourself, step out your box and allow yourself to Feel it and most of all Live it, NOW. Trust yourself and shout out I CAN!

Thanks to fellow surfer Angels, Annie, Eva, Anja and of couse Ki Ki, you are all fearless and awesome! Special kudos and thanks go to Chris and Erica for  enthusiactically capturing our every emotion.

No makeup artists, hairdressers or wardrobe professionals were in sight. No photographic retouching… much to our chagrin. No surf instructors or wildlife were harmed on our surf adventure :) !

Look out for the next adventure, “Spirituality at the Sea of Cortez ” this coming Wednesday !

Own it, Feel it, Live It … and you’ll love it ! Diane x

Leading Parallel Lives: Are A Mother & Daughter Really Walking on Different Paths

Celebrating her 16th birthday together in Scotland!

 

She’s in the last stage of puberty; I’m menopausal.

She’s experiencing the throes of first love; I’ve been thrown by love.

She’s finding herself; I’m rediscovering myself.

Two perspectives, one special relationship,

and, to top it all, she’s stealing my clothes, shoes, and jewelry.

The differences and similarities are uncanny, and more than enough to test any good woman on either end of the spectrum. While she’s bent over in pain, hugging a hot water bottle and sobbing over her cracked baby eggcup, I’m pulling off my clothes, stepping into a cold shower and weeping over the heel she just broke on my new red stilettos.

Celebrating her 16th birthday together in Scotland!

Celebrating my daughter’s 16th birthday together in Scotland!

Tissues, self-help books, exercise, journals, chick flicks, wine and chocolate are all imperative at this time for both of us, and that’s just the starter kit. Round two: meditation and yoga, both of us lying on our backs with our legs in the air, to get the blood back into our brains, calm the nerves, and give us a whole new perspective on any situation. A cup of tea helps to seal the euphoric moment.

writing in our Own it, Feel it,Live It Journal, soothes the soul!

writing in our Own it,Feel it,Live It Journal, soothes the soul!

Both of us are coping with a set of new dynamics as women. I’ve had to own up to my choices, respect that she’s becoming a young woman, and she’s now more than just my daughter. She’s learning to respect me as a woman with feelings, desires and dreams, too. Both of us are stepping into uncharted territory, even if my stilettos are more worn out than hers! She looks to the stars and thinks, “The world is my oyster.” Meanwhile, I’m thinking, ‘Enough of the oyster, now where’s the damn pearl?’ The truth is, I have a treasure chest of pearls, glistening with wisdom, many of which I will pass on to her. But the true beauty of living life now lies in the fact that there are so many more pearls waiting for both of us to discover!

 

OWN YOUR POWER!

We both need to conjure up the power of “S” as in my “Spirituality in Stilettos” workshops : Spiritual, strong, sensitive, soulful, sassy, smart, and ultimately support. And by support, I don’t mean a good bra, even though that is critical in my case.

Food and Exercise are  a hot topic ,as she’s working to stay in shape, and I’m working to keep my shape. Daily desserts are banned; however, the chocolate stash remains sacred.

THE POWER OF SISTERHOOD

Teaching her about my four friend categories.

As she works out the good from the bad, I’ve thrown out the bad and I’m focusing on the good.Friendships are as important as the water we drink, and time with your real “sisterhood” of friends is immensely important. I’m trying to teach her my approach to the four friend categories:

The friend who’ll have your back and carry you home after the party, whether you’re happy, sad, mad, or simply unable to string two words together.

The friend who is so much fun at the party, but just can’t help herself and doesn’t understand that it’s simply not cool to try and steal your boyfriend.

The friend who’s only being nice to you because she wants to be seen at the party and gossip about you later.

The friend you met on vacation, with whom you solved world peace over wine or lemonade, and wish lived nearby so she could come to the party.

Celebrating Natalie's 19th in London with my #1 High school friends,Mary's daughter & Cousin Caroline.

Celebrating Natalie’s 19th in London with my #1 High school friends,Mary’s daughter & Cousin Caroline.

Take care of number 1, enjoy, but beware of number 2, don’t waste your time on number 3, and see if you can cultivate number 4, even from a distance!

FEEL IT– ASKING THE SAME QUESTIONS AT 48 AND AT 18

She’s learning to love beyond herself and I’m learning the power of loving myself. We all want and need love, and it comes with the same breathless, heart-thumping excitement whether we’re 18 or 48. However, with a bit of wit and wisdom, hopefully by 48, we’re better at telling the scoundrel from the prince and feeling confident in our intuition. “Love,” however is another article unto itself!

She’s preparing to leave the coop. I’m not sure where to start without her in my coop. She tests the boundaries with a razor-sharp tongue that has the answer to everything, while I choose my battles, knowing that neither of us has all the answers.

I wouldn’t have believed at 16 or 18 that I’d be looking at my life three decades later and asking the same questions: What do I do next? Who are the friends with whom I want to spend time? Does this person fulfill my idea of loving bliss? I’d thought it would all be smooth sailing at this point, with no major life decisions to be made. Truth is, I’m once again at the helm, choosing to change and expand my reality. I’ve shed the pressure of ‘I should’ and am once again embracing the optimism of, ‘I can’!

LIVE IT – WITH WIT & WISDOM:

We are both boundless, inquisitive women,learning to embrace and be present in each new chapter in our lives, as she heads into round one of womanhood and I’ve lost count of which one I’m entering!

What I’ve realized in witnessing my daughter’s parallel life is that I’m among the lucky ones, as I head into a new chapter in my life. We see the world with all of its glorious shades of color. We know we deserve to be recognized for who we are, not for who and what people think we should be. We’re pushing the boundaries and testing the waters, just like we did in our teens.

As mothers we are the guides, nurturers and role models for our girls. We need to trust our instincts, show humility with grace and strength, remembering that we are the teachers. Love, mistakes, and especially forgiveness, don’t make us weak; they make us human and strong.

21 and wearing my necklace,earrings,shoes and jacket!

21 and wearing my necklace,earrings,shoes and jacket!

For the mothers of teenage girls, here’s the good news:Her 20’s will restore your faith in the precious mother-daughter bond.

For mothers of teenage girls, here’s the good news: Her 20’s will restore your faith in the precious mother-daughter bond. On the road my daughter and I have traveled together, we’ve formed a loving connection and trust that no one can break it. As we both learn to Own, Feel and Live our own journeys, it’s great to know that along the way, we’ll also be sharing a glass of wine, a box of chocolates, conversations and memories that will endure in our hearts forever.

I’ll conclude by saying that, I believe that God does have plan for each of us and God certainly does have a sense of humor … and so should we!

P.S.- Warning for mothers of teenage boys…Here’s my number on tip, buy a well trained sheep dog!

Thank you for reading my story and please share with friends,mothers and brothers!

Diane xo

 

 

Spiritually on Safari.

Playtime by the watering hole.

Tracking side by side on Safari with a remarkable diversity of animals, including the the “Big Five”, is truly a Spiritual experience. As the trivia and noise of western society subsides into oblivion, One’s senses are instantly ignited. Initially  self preservation kicks in; then you realize, they’re watching you watch them and they really don’t give a dam how many “likes” you’ll get on instagram!

The African “Big Five” include; Lions, Leopards , Buffalo, Rhinos and Elephants, named so by hunters from the colonial era as they were deemed the most difficult and dangerous to kill. However, I’m officially going on record and upping the number to the “Big Seven”, as Giraffes are certainly the tallest of all animals and Cheetahs the fastest!

Don't mess with me!

Don’t mess with me!

Watching them watch me, I’m  reminded that we are all the same, living, breathing creatures of the animal kingdom.We just prefer to adorn ourselves with fancy clothing, or in my case for this trip, sparkling leopard toes! Mothers protect, guide and nurture the young, while territorial males dominate their prey, as they go in or out for the kill!

 

clothes, toes all inspired by the beauty of a Lopeard

Clothes, toes & accesories all inspired by the beauty of a Leopard. Courtesy of  Terri Silacci

Survival of the fittest is the law of the land, or so I thought. In the wildeness, it’s not only survival of the fittest, but survival of the PRESENT;  those who are best in tune with nature and all that surrounds their own being.

The pair of cheetahs we tracked with had gone days without food, yet they moved with calculated precision and patience as they surveyed the distance to their prey. Their  bodies intuitively knew how much energy they would need to secure their next meal.  They listened and trusted their  internal compass as they knew to make a wrong move would weaken their  own chances of survival.

Deep stretch before the hunt!

Deep stretch before the hunt!

No more photos today!

No more photos today!

There is nothing that can quite prepare you for  the seduction and splendor of an African preserve, for the playfulness, intensity and innocence of the animals and game which through conservation programs can roam free.

The trappings of our everyday life became so insignificant and such nonsense as we embraced the quietness of the rising sun and the rich fulfillment of it’s setting each evening. Being on Safari truly is an spiritual experience ….as being PRESENT becomes the norm… there’s no rush for tomorrow…only the connection with the moment, the land and the animals that inhabit it.

sunset and a G&T to celebrate the end of a perfect day …

Sunset and a G&T to celebrate the end of a perfect day …

 

 

The Gift of a Child…Feel it !

 

“THERE ARE TWO GIFTS                                                                                                                                                                                WE  SHOULD GIVE OUR CHILDREN;                                                                                                                                                  ONE IS ROOTS, AND                                                                                                                                                                                        THE OTHER IS WINGS.”….

These simple gifts of love empower our children to  go out into the World and LIVE IT, with confidence, passion and the freedom to explore the beauty of all of life’s possibilities.

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Today, we celebrate the 21st birthday of my beautiful daughter, Natalie, whose wings continue to carry her to far off lands and many an adventure!….right now in South Africa!