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Yes, You Will Be Replaced

Groups of white nationalists converged on Charlottesville this past weekend. The slew of Nazi flags and calls and salutes merged with American and Confederate flags. They chanted a range of slogans, among them “We Will Not Be Replaced.” Yes, you will. Being replaced is the nature of the world. Parents are replaced by their children. The horse and buggy were replaced by cars. Leaded gasoline was replaced by unleaded. Artificial Intelligence is poised to replace us all. This is the nature of the world. Some industries survive, but most go away in time to be replaced by something else. My father’s business printed business forms. They shipped their family business all the way from Nazi Germany. Who prints business forms anymore? There are a few businesses I’m sure, but for the most part, home printers have replaced industrial ones. Email has even replaced the household printer for many.


You can claim lay the blame for your dying industries at the feet of the immigrants or the elites or you can do as your ancestors did and move somewhere else and find another industry as many did after the Dust Bowl. This is what immigrants are doing – finding opportunities elsewhere when none exist nearby. Of course this is difficult and agonizing. But blaming others for searching for opportunities is just not helpful. You can blame your parents for your faults all you want but it won’t help you fix them. What will help is finding strategies and solutions to use in the moment, not wallowing in anger at a past that can’t be changed. The doors to immigration were opened with colonization. We can’t undo that. It’s a done deal.


White America has much to be proud of. We’ve made automobiles, medicines, spaceships and more. But we screwed up too. Slavery, Native American indoctrination schools, Japanese Internment camps are a few of our less proud legacies. Eventually we will be replaced, just like the Roman empire and the Ottoman empire and the British empire. The world is moving toward greater equality. With the advent of technology and the internet it is all too obvious that the wealth of one nation is the poverty of others. To a large degree, White America’s language has forged the way: “All men are created equal.” It didn’t used to be that way. Royalty was placed above all others. Not anymore. Perhaps that is our lasting contribution to the world. While the Romans paved literal roads, we paved metaphorical ones. We have paved the way for all beings to be treated with equality and fairness. Can we all get behind that?



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We are all connected.

The slightest movement of the foot reverberates

through the leg, hip, belly, rib, shoulder, head.

The stick tossed in the river upstream

makes it’s way down to the inevitable beaver dam.

But even then it’s only safe till the next flood

when it will be pulled away from its assumed relatives

and make it’s way, bit by bit, to the ocean,

changing into an unrecognizable being on the way.

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The white cobweb withstands the morning breeze.

The weight of dawn’s dew dappled on its threads

Makes the web stronger,

like the baby lifting it’s head over and over.

The spider wakes at one end,

Sensing movement at the other.

She opens her multidudinous eyes,

Seeing the kaleidescope of light touching water all around.

Each eye seeing a different color;

Each leg reaffirming her embodiment for another day.

Time to go to work.

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Today’s Tadasana

Tall and Stable Mountain.

It has authority.

It moves for no one.

There is no traversing it without difficulty.

I wonder if the mountain was born with that authority?

Is the mountain comfortable with itself?

Or is its slow erosion the result of assuming a stance that isn’t natural?

Would it rather fly?

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Vaccinations, Parenting and Compassion

First of all, let me say that I vaccinated my kids, so I don’t want to hear anything from the anti-vaccination backlash!

But when I saw people I knew who didn’t have kids commenting on the intelligence level of those who chose not to vaccinate their kids, I felt compelled to write something.

The infamous study that linked vaccinations to possible cases in Autism came out in 1998. It was not debunked officially until 2010. That’s 12 years in there where informed parents could have done research which led them to suppose there was a reason to question the huge mandate of vaccinations that parents are required to give their kids for school. Some of these vaccinations made perfect sense to me. I had no problem immunizing my kids against Tuberculosis, Measles, Whooping Cough among others. There were others about which I was more suspicious. Did I, who lived in a low population density area, really need to immunize against Hepatitis? Hib? Ear Infections?  Several times each? Let the record show that I had a rather high deductible, and all of these vaccinations cost money, which is happily received by the same pharmaceutical companies that many people rail against.

My child had autistic tendencies, and later an autism diagnosis. You had better believe I vaccinated that child and younger children with a great deal of hesitancy and doubt about whether I was doing the right thing.

In 2006 when I vaccinated my youngest for the first time, a few hours later she started violently turning her head back and forth several times an hour. She became physically and mentally irritated for several days. You had better believe that I thought more than twice about continuing vaccinations after that.

In the end, as my sister eloquently stated, I felt more comfortable vaccinating than not vaccinating, and in the end, I am comfortable and happy with the choice that I made.   But quite honestly, I could have just as easily made the more difficult choice not to vaccinate.

Life is a series of decisions that weigh one’s own needs against the needs of society. Parenting is the same, weighing the needs of the child with the needs of the family with the needs of society. Sometimes we make the right decisions and sometimes we don’t. But demonizing parents as misinformed idiots for choosing not to vaccinate does nothing to better the situation. It is easy to assume that we understand people’s motives, and then, when we don’t approve of their actions, hold ourselves in the superior position. It’s more challenging to admit that each of us is vulnerable to making decisions out of fear and self-interest. I think that admitting this is the first step toward reacting out of compassion instead of perpetuating the same fearful and defensive responses.

Namaste means the best part of us honors the best within everyone. Let’s start from a place of believing that whatever decisions people made were done for a reason. We might be wrong some of the time, but I believe that starting from that place will lead to a more understanding dialogue, less definsiveness and better results.

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I gave money to my college the other day. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, I know. But it was the first time I have given them anything since graduating 20+ years ago. I met some wonderful people in college, but for me it was a dark time. I was not myself. I was depressed, timid, self-conscious and scared. I set my own boundaries too small, and did not know how to break free.

For many years I blamed the school. It was just easier to do that than to accept responsibility. But I read recently it is now the #2 Green school in the country. I went back last year and had a lovely reunion. I appreciated the beauty of the campus, the quality of education and skills I received, the lessons I learned and the friends I met. It wasn’t the fault of my college that I had a lousy time. I don’t blame myself either, but I have learned to accept responsibility for my own moods, choices and pitfalls. I feel it was a vital part of my journey to overcome the inertia of that dark time. And, thankfully, I did. So here is my ode to Dickinson College, written after going back last year.

I was that person;
I am not now.
Through many a field
Have I since had to plow.

Rocks a plenty,
Weeds abound,
Still I did it! I’m stronger,
And I’m coming round.

I don’t blame the place
For who I was.
I don’t blame that girl
Just seeking a buzz.

It’s just what this lifetime
Has in store.
Sadness and confusion;
There’s bound to be more.

But I can sit now
And be with that pain;
In such a way
I feel that I gain.

The space that holds me
Opens wide,
And in its love
I will abide.

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Creativity Through Yoga – Pizza-Inspired Haikus

Thank you to Creativity Through Yoga teachers Shannon Mayhew and Callie Feyen for inspiring the light-hearted, pizza-themed haikus!

Pizza dough rises.

Small mouths await pending feast.

Full stomach’d slumber.


Bacteria burps

Before benevolent bread

Blesses our breakfast.


Who crafted that pie?

Elegant lattic of dough;

Eaten artistry.


-Sharon Neubauer



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There is no question in my mind that Yoga helps me feel grounded. But what exactly is grounding, and how can we feel it? When I feel grounded I am able to be still.  When I feel grounded I feel in control of my life. When I feel grounded I feel peacefully uplifted.

Here are some of the things that Dictionary.dom says about “Ground” as it relates to electricity:

  1. ” Grounds are used to establish a common zero-voltage reference for electric devices in order to prevent potentially dangerous voltages from arising between them and other objects. Also called earth .
  2. The set of shared points in an electrical circuit at which the measured voltage is taken to be zero. The ground is usually connected directly to the power supply and acts as a common “sink” for current flowing through the components in the circuit.

In other words, grounding is a reference point which makes large electrical currents safe and which prevents smaller electric currents from becoming dangerous.

To bring this metaphor to the body, grounding is the force that brings perspective to all the minor annoyances of life and prevents them from building up into a major explosion.  For me as a mother, I know that when I feel ungrounded, I lose my patience and yell at my kids.  Though this might be perfectly normal and understandable, it almost never has the desired effect!  It leads to my kids resenting me, which ultimately makes my job more difficult.  When I feel grounded I am better able to come up with creative solutions to problems that both take into account the different perspectives to the problem and give the kids some buy in to the solution.  I can communicate more effectively and my temper doesn’t get the better of me.

In the human body, tight muscles in the legs, hips and buttocks cause the top of the femur to push forward in the hip socket. As a result, the nerves, in particular the Sciatic nerve, that make their way from the spinal cord down into the feet become pinched or compromised.  Our nerves, which carry our electrical impulses, lose their grounding when they have to make their way through tight muscles or when tight muscles pull our joints in uneven ways.  Sometimes it gets serious, like when the sciatic nerve is pinched causing severe pain and/or numbness to travel down (usually one) leg.  But sometimes the result is simply what you experience if you have ever had a lot of static electricity: a buildup of annoyances leading you to wonder if anything you will touch will hurt; in short: anxiety.  We feel mentally distressed when we are physically ungrounded, giving us a clear example of body-mind connection.

There are many different forces, muscles and muscle groups that directly affect the function of Sciatic nerve, but I’ll name 3 of the worst offenders. The anatomy here is fairly general and is just intended to give the reader an idea of the location of these muscles.

1 – the Hamstrings – This group of 3 muscles attach to the sitting bones (ischial tuberosities) and move down the back of the leg to insert behind the calf muscles.  When these muscles are tight, they pull the back of the ilium (hips) down, which tightens the rear end and clamps down on the Sciatic nerve. Stretches for the hamstrings can be fairly basic (lie down, lift one leg with a strap around the foot and breathe), but the emphasis should always be made on moving the top of the femur to the back of the hip socket (acetabulum).

2- the Psoas – The  Psoas muscles (hip flexors) are strap like muscles that attach at the top of the anterior lumbar spine and traverse behind the abdominal muscles, inside the hips, and connect to the Greater Trochanter.  When they tighten, the legs pull up and seem shorter, the upper body is pulled forward and down, and the pelvis tips backward clamping down on, you guessed it, the Sciatic Nerve.  Because these are deeply internal muscles, they are best stretched by first bringing them back toward the spine by drawing the thighs and ribs into the back of the body.  This takes some core strength, practice and body awareness. Then these muscles are elongated by drawing the tailbone down toward the ground while lengthening the upper body upward.

3-  the Piriformis.  This small pesky muscle in the gluteal region directly clamps down on the Sciatic nerve.  It is best stretched in Pigeon prep (eka pada rajakapotasana prep) as well as easier stretches like threading the needle (lie down, cross right ankle over left knee and hug left knee in toward chest).

Depending on your beliefs and background, moving the femurs back in their sockets, and the familiarity with these muscle groups can help to bring about not just physical grounding and stability, but also mental clarity, emotional regularity and even spiritual awareness.  One need not believe in spirit to feel the benefits of these actions, but, at the same time, it is very difficult to develop an understanding of our connection to spirit if we are anxiously locked in our heads.  Don’t take my word for it – try it!  Try bringing the thighs back in their sockets and ask your body and mind how it feels.  Don’t forget to listen to the answer.

Namaste, Sharon

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Compassion is the vessel that holds within it the grief of the world.  Compassion is the well from which we draw hope when the very ground beneath us feels like it has been torn away.   Feeling the compassion that comes from others in our time of need has the effect of making us remember that there is, in fact, something bigger than our grief.  It is not meant to banish our sadness, rather to open a window and give it some breathing room and perspective.  The well of compassion helps us release our ownership of our grief when the appropriate time comes.

At first offering our compassion to those who are currently grieving feels like putting a small circlular band aid over a huge gaping wound.  But when we offer compassion to those who are grieving, we deepen the well from which others can draw strength.  And we deepen our own connection to that well so that wellspring of compassion is available to us when we truly need it.

I learned this lesson through my Yoga practice.  It was in a simple shift of perspective.  Through breathing and moving mindfully and simultaneously, I grew to see that each movement was supported by my breath.  Then I saw the breath as not mine at all, but connected to something much bigger.  Then I realized the breath was actually so big that I could not pinpoint a beginning or end at all.  I realized that a certain amount of what I consider to be “work” can actually be transferred to the breath.  In the breath we all have a companion and friend. In the breath we find perspective.

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Ode to the Spiral

You cling to your center,
but stretch and expand.
You reach for the heavens,
but move toward the land.
You go back where you came from,
but never repeat.
You are always moving,
but never deplete.

Galaxy, hurricane or chemical reaction,
nothing lingers to become a distraction.
You focus to a point,
or extend and grow.
Either way we’ve no choice,
but to go with your flow.

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