All posts filed under: General

Rejected Miracles

I’m a doula—a woman who nurtures other women during pregnancy, pregnancy loss, labor, delivery, and all the transformations after birth that sometimes feel like magic, but other times just feel like poop.  A lot of poop.  So, it seems appropriate to me that I feel very drawn this time of year to the idea of Mary, in labor, looking for a safe place to give birth to baby Jesus.  Except, there were no ultrasounds, so we didn’t know it was Jesus and she was rather adamant that the father was God.  Let’s be honest here, there was a lot of Mary’s story that was unlikely to be believed by most.  I imagine that Mary was making some noise and no one wanted her in their hotel—this single Mom in labor accompanied by some guy who wasn’t even the father and likely to be releasing all kinds of mucus, blood, and groans long into the night.  Let’s face it, Mary was a hot mess.  She was going to keep other guests awake and it’s not like …

Attitude of Gratitude? Not so much.

While we all know that cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a part of living our most joyful life, how can we authentically do this when we are less than grateful?  Feeling ashamed or guilty about the “real” nature of our feelings, or pretending to be thankful for what we would have very much preferred to say “NO thank you” to in our lives gets in the way of happiness and creativity.  What if your heart is broken?  What if you are in terrible pain without relief in sight?  What if you have received terrifying news that has changed your life in an even more awful way?  Even with all the joyful self-help gurus and happy, shiny, advanced yogi specialists beaming at you from their glossy magazines promising peace and abundance for all your expressions of gratitude, and even as much as you wish to crawl into their tie-dyed yoga pants and bask in the bliss of all that they proclaim and stand for, the truth is that when your life is going to Hades in a …

Forward Folds and Bending Over Backwards in Nature

The number one thing that adults say when I tell them that I am a yoga teacher is: “Oh, I can’t do yoga!  I’m so inflexible and I can’t even get close to touching my toes.” For about twenty-years now, I have tried every socially acceptable way possible at these moments to try to explain that yoga isn’t about being flexible, that anyone and everyone can benefit, that one may or may not become more flexible through yoga, that flexibility is, truly….besides the point entirely.  As soon as I start talking, I see the recipient’s eyes glaze over.  They are no longer paying attention to me, mostly because they only asked what I did for a living as a social pleasantry in the first place. Now, they are filled with regret for having ever made eye contact in the first place.  I can almost see the thoughts of escape to the cheese platter or, even better, the bar, cross their mind. A couple weeks ago I was on a walk with a friend when t …

The Truth About Parenting and Sleep

When I was pregnant with my first child, who is now ten years old, I was unable to sleep well through most of my pregnancy for a variety of reasons from nausea, insomnia, heartburn, a painfully itchy rash, and other reasons.  Complete strangers, friends, and relatives would say things to me like, “You better sleep now, because you are never going to sleep again once that baby is born!”.  This caused me a lot of anxiety because, if this was true, then I was blowing my last chance at sleep.  Also, this is simply a terrifying thing to hear.  Why does anyone say this to pregnant women?  While I have some ideas on why people say scary things to pregnant women, it seems most important here to share the realities of parenting and sleep. The Truth The truth is that, as a parent, you are a parent all day and all night.   This reality changes your relationship to the type of activities you engage in both during the day and night.  This may seem obvious, but it …

Geography of Awareness

Do you see these “markings” on the back of the fern’s leaves?  In fact, these patterns are spores.  Each one is a potential fern.  The ferns carry their fertility in each and every leaf.  If you are interested in joining a spore exchange group (not kidding), then you might want to look into membership in the Hardy Fern Foundation.  The American Fern Society is over 100 years old and has more than 900 members all over the world. Not only that, but each type of fern has spores that organize in a different pattern. Recently, I have gone on retreat for a few hours a week to the Fern Room at Phipp’s Conservatory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Each pilgrimage to this sacred space has brought me to a deeper place of respect for this amazing plant type.  I am also grateful to the amazing Theresa who cares for these plants and seems to have a well of patience for all my questions as well as some of the other horticulturists and care takers who work without …

Monkey Legs

I remember the day that I learned there was something ugly and wrong with me like it happened yesterday. The summer after third grade, when I was nine, I was invited for a day trip to the beach in Brooklyn, NY.  It wasn’t hot enough for a bathing suit, but we were all in shorts and t-shirts.  It was such a beautiful day and I remember being joyful in body and mind.  We ran up and down the beach chasing waves and I can still feel the quality of light as it danced on the water and reflected back up to my face from the sand.  I have always had thick and beautiful hair and it was pulled back into a braid so the end of it rhythmically thumped on my back between my shoulders as I ran. We finally stopped for a moment to take a break and all of us girls sat in a circle and chatted about the things that nine year old girls chat about.  There was laughing.  After a rest …

How to Claim Your Mammauthority

Many of my clients have experiences where their authority as a mother to make decisions for their infants and parenting, or lifestyle around parenting are not only questioned, but threatened.  No matter how many children you have, the time when you have a newborn and for their first year of life seems to be when mothers are most vulnerable to the opinions of others.  How to find good sources of information for decision-making around parenting is a whole other topic for consideration.  This post is about ways to claim your authority without alienating members of your community, friends, and family when offered unsolicited advice or your ability to care for your child is questioned. Here is my tried and true method for claiming your “Mammauthority” in all situations.  Please comment below with your experiences and let me know how this has worked or not worked for you. Foundations of the Method #1: The underlying principle in this method is that you are the mother and you have the right and responsibility to care for your …

Barbarians and Blockheads

It’s always the same. Barbarians and blockheads, rival queens and kings, The drama rolls on and on. When people honor you, You are supposed to feel honored. When you don’t get respect, they expect You to sulk in indignation. One minute you are cruising on a throne in the sky, The next you are standing on some bleak patch of dirt. ~Yukti Verses #102, Radiance Sutras This verse, part of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra translated by Lorin Roche in his book, The Radiance Sutras, has helped me to put into perspective the characters and actions that grace American politics and the local and global violence, destruction, hatred and greed that unfolds before me on the news, in my social media feeds and in discussion boards where my neighbors complain about a 2% increase in some tax or another.  It is, quite frankly, why I don’t belong to any “mommy groups”.  Quite frankly, I don’t care how you potty trained your little genius and I certainly don’t want to waste time watching an argument between strangers …

Yoga for Labor and Birth

This is a post written over two-years ago, but if you are looking for my current  pregnancy and birth support services, classes and workshops CLICK HERE.  Whether you are having a scheduled cesarean birth, are planning a water-birth at home or something in between, yoga provides wonderful tools for working with the energies of labor and birth in an empowering way.  The techniques you will learn in this workshop are helpful for both the laboring mom and her entire support team.  These ways of breathing, sounding, moving, communicating, making decisions and for touching/interaction, are compatible with all childbirth methods.  This is an experiential workshop so wear comfortable clothes and get ready to make some noise, move around and have a lot of laughs while you prepare to welcome your newest family member with love and light!  No experience with yoga, meditation, or birth is required.  Tuition is for the birthing mother and up to one birth partner/support person.  Ideally, Mom comes with her primary labor and birth support person, but if they aren’t available, then come …

Buddhist Philosophy and Yoga Anatomy Workshops

These workshops are no longer being held fall 2016. Please check back for future collaborations and check out Mark’s website for his teaching schedule. Philosophy and Embodied Anatomy Workshops I am honored to host our guest instructor, Mark Chandlee Taylor, the Director of BodyMindMovement to facilitate the following embodied anatomy workshops yoga students and teachers.  All workshops are held at Mookshi Wellness Center in the Regent Square neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  Sessions begin with an hour of practice and discussion of the required text with Sharon which will be followed by a short break and then three-hours of anatomy with Mark.  All workshops are from noon to 4:00 pm.  I recommend that students obtain a copy of “Awakening of the Heart: Essential Buddhist Sutras and Commentaries” by Thich Nhat Hanh and read both his translations and commentaries in preparation for discussions.  Alternatively, I have provided links below where you can find PDF versions of the required texts. As space is limited, pre-registration is highly recommended.  Workshops are $45 when you register online.  If you are blocked from online registration, please email …

How to Throw A Dinner

Today, I received an email from Martha Stewart Living.  Yes, go ahead and chuckle.  I love Martha Stewart and her magazine “Martha Stewart Living”.  I actually find that her posted recipees are simple to make and sometimes she has very unique ideas for crafts or ways to make things more special with just a little more than the usual effort. Well, the title of this one made ME laugh: “How to Throw a Rustic French Dinner” While not the intention of the linked article, I immediately envisioned myself conservatively dressed sitting at a table of people I didn’t know how to talk to with a plate full of a French rustic style dinner in front of me.  I could see myself in the vision just picking up the plate and throwing it as hard as I could.  Not at anyone.  Just throwing it.  I certainly do not need Martha Stewart to instruct me on the right way to throw a plate of any kind of dinner.  If I had any doubts, I could always hand …

Buddhist Philosophy and Embodied Anatomy for Yoga Workshops

 Philosophy and Embodied Anatomy Workshops I am honored to host our guest instructor, Mark Chandlee Taylor, the Director of BodyMindMovement to facilitate the following embodied anatomy workshops for experienced yoga students and yoga teachers.  All workshops are held at Mookshi Wellness Center in the Regent Square neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  Sessions begin with an hour of practice and discussion of the required text with Sharon which will be followed by a short break and then three-hours of anatomy with Mark.  All workshops are on Sundays from noon to 4:00 pm.  I recommend that all trainees obtain a copy of “Awakening of the Heart: Essential Buddhist Sutras and Commentaries” by Thich Nhat Hanh and read both his translations and commentaries in preparation for discussions.  Alternatively, I have provided links below where you can find PDF versions of the required texts. October 16, 2016 Text: Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breath (Anapanasati Sutta) Anatomy Focus: Anatomy of Movement & Bone November 6, 2016 Text: The Foundations of Mindfulness_ Satipatthana Sutta Anatomy Focus: Knees, Hips and Pelvis December 10, 2016 Text: …

Second Location

One of the most significant changes that came with parenthood was the demise of my ability to travel to a “second location”.  I had attended college in a neighborhood that was not safe (understatement) and have always been an urban dweller and I regularly attended public safety workshops where I learned important skills like yell “fire” instead of “help” since more people will respond to a potential threat to their own safety than taking the risk to assist someone else in trouble.  I also learned to be prepared to poke someone’s eye out.  Which, honestly, may be good advice, but I’m not sure what it would take to be inspired to act on it.  But, the advice that seemed both strongest in message and reason was to do whatever it took not to be taken to a “second location”.  Apparently, even if someone has a gun to your head, statistically, you have a better chance of surviving the assault if you run or try to get away than if you get into a car to …

So Much Feels Arbitrary

It is the first line of a Marge Piercy poem that I think of often, on many days and for many years now since I first read it more than ten years ago when my son was first born. “So much feels arbitrary.” Poem “The Mystery of Survival” in “The Crooked Inheritance” (2006) page 131-133 And yet, I also have it’s equal and opposite thought a great deal of the time.  Generally, a sense that I have on occasion that even the smallest act of kindness means just about everything.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed as a parent that each decision from the smallest “Which toothpaste to buy?” to the larger “Which school should I send my child to?” seems like it could radically shift the tragectory of my child’s life.  In these cases, Marge Piercy’s poem both soothes my sense that every little thing is the most important thing and also terrifies me. Part of what I love about my Pilgrimage Pittsburgh project is that I meet people while I’m walking around.  It’s much easier …

Perspectives on Unity and Karma

Last week, under a news story about some other tragedy, the news source suggested some other stories I might be interested in.  While I don’t usually take these recommendations, as part of my feeble attempt to control the negative media that I permit myself to absorb, this time, the top story caught my interest.  At the Metropolitan Zoo in Santiago, Chile, a young man (a child…really…too young to order a beer in the United States), jumped into the lion enclosure, took off all his clothes and began to taunt the lions by shouting biblical quotes.  They found a suicide note with the man’s clothing and the note was signed, “Jesus”.  In order to save the man, the zoo was forced to shoot and kill the two lions.  The male lion had been born into captivity. The female lion had been rescued from the circus.  And, in that moment, the lives of the man, the lions and the zoo staff and all the children and adults who witnessed the happening unfold came together in a most unexpected …

I Am The Door

Here are two common scenarios for me: Scenario One: A Friend or Client is Stuck This happens to me a lot and I guess it is an “occupational hazard” of sorts, but people come to tell me their stories when they feel stuck.  Many of my clients and students have tried everything, gone to every doctor, had all the tests, done all the treatments and they still don’t have the results they desired or the well-being that they were hoping for. I have friends that tell me about their stuck feelings in jobs, work relationships, personal relationships and just how they feel in their lives at this moment.  In many cases, though not all, a path to freedom seems clear to me, the observer.  When I first started this work, I was so delighted when I saw such a clear path because I assumed that if I could communicate it, then my clients could folllow my vision and get free fast.  But, what I immediately realized is that the clear path has always been present …

Extroverted-Introverts Guide to Large Social Events

This past weekend, I went to my 20th college reunion.  My college is my “happy place” and I also love the city that it is in, Philadelphia.  Also, so many of the people that I met in college are some of the most intelligent, creative and genuine people I’ve ever known.  I love to see them and it’s great to be reminded of the magic that is being unique.  Truth be told, I’m not much into socializing with large groups, crowded bars or lots of noise, but I signed up for all the reunion events anyway.  I feel confident that I can protect my energy and since I know the city very well, I also had a personal backup plan for fun things I would do if the reunion events weren’t feeling right to me. That’s one of the great blessings of yoga in my life that I’ve learned to make choices based on my unique sensitivities that do not limit my participation.  I’ve always been sensitive and sometimes that makes me choose to stay …

Creation Meditation

I was doing some internet research on energetic wounds and back pain and happened across a recommendation for this “Creation Meditation” (this is a very feminine meditation, but it is made available to men as well) and you can also find an audio guided experience here (NOTE: the actual meditation doesn’t start until around 7-minutes into the recording). Enjoy! Written by Sharon Fennimore, a yogini teaching yoga, meditation and providing integrative health coaching services to women and families with young children based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Sign up for my newsletter and get FREE membership in my online community “Make Room” where you will get all the support you need to clear emotional and physical clutter.

Say What You Mean

There is a short essay by Brian Doyle in the March 2016 issue of The Sun literary magazine titled, “The Way We Do Not Say What We Mean When We Say What We Say” (page 23) that suggests that, “Perhaps languages invent themselves and then have to hunt for speakers.”  When I read this, it made me think of a poem by Hafiz: Your Beautiful Parched, Holy Mouth A poet is someone Who can pour Light into a spoon, Then raise it To nourish Your beautiful parched, holy mouth. (Translated by Daniel Ladinsky and found on page 59 of “I Heard God Laughing” 2006) Many of you who have studied with me know of my fascination with the Matrika, the vibration of truth that finds its home in the central energetic channel of the subtle body.  It is the vibration of that which is most true and each of us has a unique symphony, that the human ear can never hear, yet is playing within us since the moment of our conception.  This truth, one …

Pounding On An Open Door

“How long will you keep pounding on an open door, begging someone to answer?”  ~Rabia As soon as I read this quote, I knew it was a question I needed to deeply consider.  It was illuminating to read this because I immediately visualized myself pounding furiously on the open door of life hoping that someone would arrive to help me find my way through.  Yet, there is no need to pound on the door, to kick, scream, beg or demand because the door is already open.  You can walk through, just as you are, right now. According to the Bhagavad Gita, “There has never been a time when you and I have not existed, nor will there be a time when we will cease to be.  Therefore, play the role you’re meant for right now.”  It’s so hard to accept this in the busy, fast paced life of self-improvement projects that we all live in right now.  My clients all present various anxieties and fears that they are, at the same time, doing too much …