Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bottling My Journey to the Heart

I am so excited to have kicked off 2009 with a journey I've wanted to have been on for quite some time now; it's the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program with Didier Razon from Two Suns Rising Yoga School. A journal about my first 10-hour training day can be found on the blog of my new site,

Two weeks later, on the second 10-hour training day, Didier's wife, Ann, joined the class to do a 'Journey to the Heart' session. While sitting on our yoga mats, Ann began the guided visualization by instructing students to imagine we were shrinking in size. We were to end up being these itsy bitsy beings who could fit inside ourselves and travel along a path that would lead us to the threshold of our hearts -- where we were to step in, take a seat, and stay a while. After hanging out inside our hearts, Ann's voice eventually guided us back out...returning to our mats.

Some eyes that had started out dry were not so dry at the end of the journey. This exercise was powerful with helping us to "see" inside our hearts -- and get a 'visual' of where we might be stuck, wide open, etc. My tears were a result of the joy I felt inside my heart -- although the start of the journey wasn't as clear...but, whew, once inside my heart, there was no question about what was inside of it!

After opening our eyes, the next stage of the process was to journal, via writing or art, about our experience. Of course, I decided to write. Here's my story......

At the start of this "Journey to the Heart" exercise, my 'little' self began walking through nature along a path where I felt a little unsure about where I was going or who I was -- passing a person whom I thought was me but was not. (And that unknown person was indeed someone I would never want to be.)

Eventually, once making my way through that temporary phase, I entered my heart -- a HUGE space -- too big to merely walk into at the threshold; the only way in was to jump into this space that was bottomless -- just space!

I flew through the air as I had done when I went rock climbing in the mountains during the summer of '07. I swung on the rope like a care-free child -- then and today!

Next, my son turned up and joined me after I eventually found a place to sit in my heart -- on a natural rock formation (like the rock in the mountains as well as similar to the rock from which I used to jump into the ocean during my childhood in Bermuda). My son and I both played in my heart -- flying like Peter Pan in all of that space. Life was completely free!! Bliss!

We exited, turned and said, "Namaste," as prompted by the guided visualization. As I returned to my bigger self (not the 'isty bitsy' anymore), the threshold to my heart closed -- although my heart did not. There was only light remaining. Bright, white light!

(End of journey...)

At some point during this journey, Ann told us to think about why we were there -- in that 200-hour training. So, isn't it something that my heart journey ended with my mind's eye seeing bright, white light -- because the reason that showed up for me as to why I was there in was to learn to open my heart further "to spread more light to the world."
In Spreading Light...

LOVE from my HEART,


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bottling what Yoga is to Me!

As mentioned in yesterday's blog entry, so many puzzle pieces in my life have been clicking together lately -- I mean really clicking together and completely lining up with the desires of my heart, my deepest passions. Yesterday, I also shared some of what Joel Osteen writes about this subject in his book: Daily Readings from Become a Better You: 90 Devotions for Improving Your Life Every Day.

Perhaps you read on my bio that I am enrolled in a yoga teacher training course. What quickly felt like prayer in motion to me the first time I attended a yoga class over two years ago ignited a brewing passion in my heart to exercise my temple that way as another outlet to connect with and honor God!

Prior to attending that first yoga class, I really hadn't had any yoga discussions with anyone, thus no recommendations to try a class. However, every time I drove by Peaceful Yoga's roadside sign, I felt a pull on my heart to check out a class there. Eventually, I did, and the class, like I said, felt like prayer in motion and a very peaceful and personal way to connect with God. So that's what yoga became for me without having much information at the time about all of the 'controversy' behind it. All I knew was that more than any other form of exercise I had experienced, I felt God more strongly when I did yoga (and still do).

In spite of the differences of opinions about yoga, such as whether Christians should do yoga or not, I have always felt strongly rooted in my Christian walk since taking yoga. That never wavered. In fact, my heart opened even wider for God. Whenever we extend our arms upward in class while opening our hearts (or do any heart-opening posture), I feel as if I'm soaking up God's love to even deeper levels. So, I guess it would make sense that the yoga teacher training course that seemed to have found me has an emphasis on heart-opening, and the flow of grace combined with self-effort. My interpretation of the latter -- "Meet God half way!"

As CLEAR as I have been about my journey.......still, here I am -- last night and this morning -- pondering everyone else's views about yoga. Yesterday, during a hormonal shift that can happen for us women, I seemed to step into everyone else's minds about the subject, via online articles with conflicting opinions about the subject. What was so crystal clear to me days and weeks before, suddenly became slightly blurry. Was I allowing myself to be influenced by someone else's interpretation of what I should or should not be doing? Was I falling into a realm of using man's perceptions to let me know if I'm honoring God or not? Would not my heart be the best 'one' to tell me that?!

If we push aside all of the 'this and that' about yoga and focus on the postures for a moment, how can a posture such as this (me on the left) make me not feel like I'm honoring God? I understand that not everyone may feel this way when doing yoga, but when I do a posture like this -- it's God and me. It is simply me and God (you know, Jesus' Father!). That's it! During the posture, I thank Him, I honor Him, I glorify Him. And I am overcome with peace and love because of my opening up to Him.

Money Shows Up!

Although every penny of the yoga teacher training price didn't just magically fall into my lap prior to the training, it was as if God made an opening for me to at least step in 'the door' and then step out on faith and begin the training process. Then, as it goes, the morning of my first training class, I received an unexpected refund and an unexpected financial belated Christmas gift -- the amount of the two turned out to be precisely the amount of my monthly training $3 extra. It truly felt like a sign to me from God to not worry about the monthly payment, because He will make it available for me every month...and give me extra. Was the $3 extra dollars symbolic of The Father, Son and Holy Spirit? :-) (I love symbolism!)

So, here comes the next training two weeks later. Well, lo and behold, what just happens to show up in my life two days before? A check for precisely the amount of a monthly training payment AND an extra check worth $150. The check that matched the price of my training payment was for some freelance work that had been done almost a year ago. Was it a mistake that my payment had gotten delayed or was God holding on to it until this time in my life?

Daddy Shows Up, Too!

My daddy, a strong Christian man who nurtured so much of my faith in me, passed away almost 13 years ago; yet, he feels very alive to me when I'm at my training. There has been a segment of each class where I completely felt as if he was there with me. This brought me to the point of joyful tears both times. In fact, during my second training class, his angelic spirit met mine and we danced together. It was too powerful an experience for it to be a mistake and not orchestrated by God.


So, I hear what folks are saying about yoga and non-Christian influences, etc., but I can't quite wrap my brain around it because it doesn't alter my personal walk with God. I remain rooted in my love and alignment with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And isn't that precisely what we are to be doing as Christians -- finding our personal relationship with God and growing that relationship as much as we can? Yoga is a wonderful puzzle piece that helps me do precisely that...



Monday, January 26, 2009

Bottling Dreams of the Heart

Happy Monday, Everyone! Welcome!

Thanks for stopping by to find out what's being bottled here at Hopefully, you'll pick up some useful tips along the way that you can bottle, too.

Daily Readings from Become a Better You: 90 Devotions for Improving Your Life Every Day by Joel Osteen has become my "read" for 2009. And, my life is truly getting better every day because of it. Now, it's not that I didn't already have a fulfilling life, but so many of my heart's passions are just rising to newer levels and connecting in a more solid way since I started this journey with Joel Osteen at the start of the year.

In today's reading (one I had previously read), Osteen discusses following the dreams of our hearts, a process I live my life by and a topic that has been popping up a lot around me lately. I recently wrote about the topic for a local newspaper, an article that encourages parents to follow their children's heart when selecting summer camps this year. In my related article, I suggest parents be mindful of picking camps that really do line up with their children's deepest passions, because those passions are often connected to children's deeper purposes in life.

For instance, I've loved writing for as long as I can remember. My parents noticed this passion of mine during my childhood, and nurtured it. One of my favorite writing "assignments" given to me that will forever live in my heart is when my daddy suggested I write about our family when I was about 10 years old. I took took on that project as though I had just received an offer from a well-known publishing company.

I still remember the jagged edges of the paper I used to write my masterpiece on; I had pulled the pages from a spiral notebook. I still remember standing at the desk in my bedroom and stapling that lined paper together with pride when I was done. And, as if it was yesterday, I remember that I used a pencil and not pen to write my "book". While I don't like to hang on to things, I surely do wish that is something I still had in my possession. But, I do have the memory of it, and that is good. Years and years later, my love for writing has not changed. In fact, that love grew, and I am clear that one of my gifts to make a difference in this world is via writing.

"Before you were born, God saw you, and He endowed you with gifts and talents uniquely designed for you. He's given you ideas and creativity, as well as specific areas in which you can excel," Osteen explains in Daily Readings from Become a Better You: 90 Devotions for Improving Your Life Every Day.

"Why, then, do so many people today feel unfulfilled in their lives, merely going to work at some mundane job, trying to earn a living, stuck in a career they don't even like?" Osteen continues. "The answer is simple: They are not pursuing the dreams and desires God has placed within their hearts."

Jinjee Talifero, publisher of Pear, says that heart-following is something that should be nurtured in children from young. If we don't nurture our little ones to follow their hearts, we will, of course, end up with more generations like what Osteen has described above -- grown children stuck in unfulfilled roles. Do you want that for your children. I KNOW that's not what I want for mine. I want him to take on this life with the gifts and fire for life and passion that God has blessed him with and go forward and use those to carve out his niche in contributing to this world. The heart is so beautifully sacred, so why would our desires that live there not be?

Osteen goes on to say that the wealthiest places on earth are not some of those places that probably come to mind for you, but rather -- "cemeteries" -- because there lies "dreams and desires that will never be fulfilled. Buried beneath the ground are books that will never be written, businesses that will never be started, and relationships that will never be formed."

Will you begin listening to your heart's dreams and desires now while encouraging your children to do the same, or will you be one of those who, like many others, just take them along with you when you "go"?

Begin bottling your dreams, and start today!

I'm cheering for you!!!

With LOVE,


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bottling Simple, Smooth Summer Lunches

*Here is a version of an article written for's Summer Camp Expo Guide that was published in EU newspaper!

Nutritious, fun, easy-to-make ideas for your summer camper’s lunch box

by Penny Powell

While summer typically inspires simpler meals, knowing just what nutritious lunch to send off to summer camp with their children is not so simple for many parents.

"I have been meeting more and more women who are curious how to feed their children healthy and tasty food," says Carrie Zarka Dooley, owner of Shakti Life Kitchen located at 51 Pine Street in Atlantic Beach. Dooley opened this organic, live food cafe with “a vision of creating a different food culture” for the children of Jacksonville, so she is on a mission to help area parents rethink the food choices they serve their kids and learn about some other kid-friendly options. Shakti Life Kitchen has begun offering weekly classes for students enrolled in the after-school program at Atlantic Beach Elementary.

If your child is headed off to summer camp this year or simply "camping" at home, here are some easy and 'smooth' ideas to consider -- for lunching or snacking -- that are sure to nourish your children while pleasing their palettes. Plus, these foods are just fun for families to prepare together.


Who doesn't like a cold, refreshing smoothie during the summer? Not only are smoothies filling, but they’re so simple to prepare and a quick way to get nutrition into your children. You can simply put a few combinations of your children's favorite fruits in the blender, mix with some water and perhaps a little Honey or Agave Nectar (derived from the Agave Cactus plant) for an extra sweetener, and viola, there goes some good nutrition hydrating those growing bodies.

How will I keep the smoothie cold and fresh when I send it off to camp with my child? you might be wondering. It's simple. Invest in some Mason Jars that will preserve the ingredients; they’re inexpensive and can be purchased at places such as Wal-Mart and Publix. Get some ice packs, too. Place enough frozen ice packs in your child's lunch bag to keep the jar cold. You can also freeze the fruits before you blend them. This often takes away the need to add ice, therefore, doesn’t water down the smoothie. For instance, after purchasing the bananas for my son’s favorite Banana/Strawberry smoothie, I peel the bananas, cut them in half, place in a large zip-lock bag, and freeze them. When it comes to smoothie-making time, the beverage turns out quite icy.

Remind your child to shake the smoothie jar before opening it at summer camp in order to remix the ingredients that will have been ‘sitting’ for a while. My son, Caleb, enjoys drinking his smoothies with a straw, so don't forget to also send those along, if desired.

After-Camp Smoothies

I often make a smoothie for Caleb before I pick him up from school; at that time of day he’s really ready to slurp up the goodness. Your drive home from camp can also be an ideal time for smoothie time.

Banana/Strawberry Smoothie Recipe

~ 3 frozen Bananas (more or less depending on the texture and sweetness you want)
~ approx. 5 Strawberries
~ approx. 1 cup of Water (varies depending on the texture you are after)
~ approx. 1 tablespoon of Honey or Agave Nectar for added sweetness, optional.

The Smoothie Wheel

Smoothie options are endless as demonstrated by 14-year-old Raven Talifero from Ojai, CA. Her creativity prompted her to create a Smoothie Wheel as a Christmas present for her 4-year-old brother to increase his smoothie choices. Little did Talifero know that she would also be helping parents out as far as Jacksonville, FL.

On the Smoothies/Juices section of, a site I’ve created with Jacksonville parents in mind, you can spin Raven's Smoothie Wheel for smoothie choices or print it to store in your kitchen. Your child will be spinning up new smoothie choices daily. Imagine just how much healthier your children will be by the end of summer? I'm already visualizing every child in Jacksonville just glowing with health. And remember, healthier children make healthier choices and healthier children are happier children; it all works together. Good health inspires all good things.

The Green Smoothie

Have you heard about the Green Smoothie? News about this highly-nutritious, easy-to-digest, easy-to-make drink is spreading fast and furious, and parents are using this beverage as a tool to get more greens into their children. I can't tell you how many people I've served a green smoothie to who have been totally surprised that they only tasted the fruit in the smoothie and not the greens. My husband asks for one every day.

With any fruit smoothie you make, you would simply add a handful or two of greens, such as spinach or kale, to arrive at the Green Smoothie. I typically blend the greens first with water and then add the fruit. Remember to add Honey or Agave Nectar for additional sweetness, if necessary. I've seen a tablespoon or two of Agave immediately transform a green smoothie for the better. Agave can be found at local health food stores.

Even though the fruit in this smoothie overpowers the taste of the greens, if your child is like mine and is hesitant about the color of the drink (which is beautiful, in my opinion), then you might have to disguise a little further. Throw in some blueberries, and not only will you have added more nutrition but a color changer, too. Now the smoothie should take on a dark purple color!

Smooth Pudding

Talking about purple and blueberries, Shannon Leone, nutritionist and author of the soon-to-be published e-book "The Healthy Lunchbox" (to be published at, shares her very-filling Blueberry Pudding recipe with Jacksonville parents. Chia seeds are included in this recipe, which Leone says are “a great source of fiber, protein and EFA’s (essential fatty acids).”

Blueberry Pudding Recipe

~ 4 cups fresh Blueberries
~ 1 cup Chia Seeds -- ground or flax
~ 1 tablespoon Honey, optional

“In a dry container (such as that of a food processor), blend the chia seeds so they are powdered. Add the blueberries -- and sweetener if using -- and lightly blend so the berries break down but do not liquefy totally. Pour into your child’s airtight containers and sprinkle a few berries on top, perhaps with some shredded coconut for added appeal. The chia or flax ground will firm it up so they can eat it with a spoon and not a straw!”

Smooth Foods That Crunch Or Not!

Your child may, understandably, want something crunchy or chewy to eat with the smoothie. How about adding carrots or other crunchy veggies and fruits, or watermelon, pineapple, and/or trail mix or granola to your camper's lunch box? How about a salad with a tasty, healthy dressing?

Last summer, my 8-year-old nephew, Zuhri, got hooked on salads when he spent six weeks with my family. Salad had not been a regular staple in his diet, but when Zuhri returned home to Bermuda and school started, his mom informed that he had begun taking salads for lunch. "I love it," she said, "because they're so simple to make." Zuhri and Caleb both enjoy a simple salad made with Romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, and grapes. Colorful and tasty!

Some healthy foods that Juliann Gaus-Graeser from Atlantic Beach sends off to school with her 8-year-old son, Maxwell, are "Ants on a Log" -- cut-up celery sticks spread with a healthy nut butter and lined with raisins. If your child enjoys cucumbers, Ants on a Circle is another variation of this idea. Apples and nut butter also find their way into Maxwell's lunch box. "I cut the apple with an apple slicer," Gaus-Graeser explained, "and then I put the pieces back together, wrap the apple tightly, and then send the nut butter in a container." At lunchtime, Maxwell enjoys spreading the nut butter over apple slices. To prevent apples from turning brown once they have been cut and must 'sit', pour a little lemon juice over the slices. However, Juliann said that simply putting the apple back together and sealing it helps limit the color change, too. "Sometimes it turns a little," she said, "but my son doesn't care."

Smooth Sandwiches

If your child wants traditional sandwiches, wraps or pita pockets, try healthier bread choices, such as Ezekiel Bread found in your neighborhood grocery store or Health Food store. After introducing Orange Park mom, Cynthia Leadbetter, to this line of bread, it became a hit in her home. For breakfast one morning, she spread mashed avocado on toasted Cinnamon/Raisin Ezekiel Bread, and her son “loved it” she said with delight.

About learning to add healthier options to your child’s lunch box, Leone says: “Enjoy the process. Include your kids whenever possible. Learning to eat healthy and make healthy choices is a skill for life they can really use. They may not always thank you now, but they will later. In the meantime, you can walk a little taller just knowing you are doing all you can for your healthy family, and it’s a good feeling, Mom!”

Penny Powell lives in Orange Park, FL. The "Summer Camp" she attended last summer was the 10-Day Healthy Lifestyle Course at The Living Foods Institute in Atlanta, GA -- where she ate healthy lunches every day! This summer, Penny is committed to growing her site,, as a means of connecting with Jacksonville parents who may also be interested in "bottling" health for themselves and their children. Penny can be contacted at

Friday, January 16, 2009


Thank you for stopping by my very first blog entry here at, the place where I'll be blogging about healthy things I'm bottling in this wondrous journey of life.

So, what am I bottling today (Jan. 12)? Well, my yoga journey/training continues. Yesterday, I kicked off training with Didier Razon from Two Suns Rising Yoga, so today I am continuing to bottle the many lessons and experiences from that remarkable 10-hour day.

However, I had some yin and yang energy going on not long before the course started. It was as if there was this force trying to keep me from attending even though attending this teacher training was all I had been longing to do. To me, so many things had divinely lined up for me to start this journey that's been waiting for me and I for it, yet there was this crazy invisible force trying to stop me from going yesterday morning it seemed. First, there were a few delays at home that got me off to a later-than-planned departure time. Of course, with not a minute to spare to get to class on time...what happened? Close to halfway to the studio, I looked in my rear view mirror only to see flashing blue lights behind me -- for me. SIGH! "No, this can't be happening," I thought. But since I'm choosing to focus on the positive, let me not dwell on that speeding ticket incident and get to what I'm bottling on today's blog (although I am bottling how kind the police officer was).

~ I'm bottling the energy I felt in Didier Razon's presence (my knowledgeable yoga teacher) and the hug he gave me when I arrived at the yoga studio that made me feel so welcomed even though I was frazzled when I entered the door. What an alive spirit Didier is! So full of humor and joy! "Ah, Penny, we'll find a way to pay your speeding ticket," he said with his fun French accent. "Now when I see the police car behind me when I'm speeding," he continued to the group, "I say...'Ahh, look at the pretty Christmas lights behind me.'" LOL (Didier will have us seeing the positive in EVERYTHING by the time this training is over in June.)

~ I'm bottling his wife Ann's telephone encouragement she gave me when I called her from my car to update her about my "blue-light" delay. I sat in my car feeling blue, seriously considering waiting for Didier's next training session (months from now) as not to miss the introduction, but Ann made me see how ridiculous I was being. She was loving with her lesson to me, of course. ;-)
~ I'm bottling the adjustment Didier gave me when we were practicing inversions and I was in Shoulder Stand; he lifted my feet higher and the stretch felt in-cred-i-ble. I know I surely bottled that because I feel as if I'm still in that posture and it has been almost 24 hours since I've been out of it.

~ I'm bottling the Head Stand balance that Didier and my training partners helped me achieve. When I struck that perfect balance, I felt as if I could have hung out on my head for quite a while.

~ I'm bottling doing a series of Sun Salutations to classical music; it made me feel like a graceful ballet dancer. Music choices really do help make a difference in yoga classes.

~ I'm bottling being able to practice yoga with Didier at home, thanks to his DVD (available at

~ I'm bottling getting this heart-touching (to the point of tears) vision of my dad during a soulful chant CD we were listening to and interacting with during class. I've always felt very spiritually connected with my dad since he passed on and, apparently, I'm in a season once again in which I'm feeling his presence really strongly. He and my mom are two blessings I'm forever grateful for! Love them!

~ I'm bottling all of the love from God I felt in class -- so many "hugs" to me, if you know what I mean. You know, just those moments when you know that, "Yes, I am so aligned with God right now." Those moments when you are clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are one with God. Totally supported!

~ I am bottling the wonderful spiritual discussions we had in class, including discussions of my beloved Jesus. One of the students even brought a treat to class called a "King Cake" (or something like that)...that has some symbolism to the Three Wise Men. No, it wasn't raw food, but was a very good pastry and almond/chocolate combination that I did try. I could tell that treat was prepared and served in the name of love, and I felt it was a form of respect to try a piece. It carried some symbolism with it that I wanted to be a part of. For lunch, however, I returned to raw foods with a green salad and sunflower seeds.

~ I'm bottling learning how to be active with two suns. The sun that rises everyday outside my window and the sun that rises everyday inside my heart.

Don't forget to let your inner sun shine, too!

I can feel you shining all the way over here! ;-)

Shine on...