Hello Friends!

This is my new view from my new terrace. not bad!!

I am typing this from sunny Cairo – yesterday there was a high of 70 degrees. Within 24 hours I will get on a plane and fly to Boston via JFK . I am reading on facebook and elsewhere that the snow is falling. Nothing like a little weather shock. Here’s hoping the beautiful snow is finished by the time I land. 🙂

So much has happened for me over the last month here in Egypt. I can’t believe my last blog entry was a happy thanksgiving and now we are on the eve of Christmas. Remember when we were little and that time between Thanksgiving and Christmas felt SO LONG? Now, it seems to go by in a split second, especially as a teacher. Within that time though, it can feel like many lifetimes are lived – at least for me.

My retreat in Nuweiba, a coastal town on the Sinai (Nov 27-Dec.1) was a great gift. I joined Lady Colleen Heller and a few others for a time of reflection, meditation, great bedouin breakfasts, music, sounding, and a few brief and cold snorkeling moments. There were many highlights of my experience – witnessing a bedouin Eid ritual in the desert including the sacrifice of the sheep, singing my original songs with some local drummers, waking each morning in my beach hut steps from the sea, meditations led by Lady with the sun and the sea, new friends, and of course my multiple Nescafes from our fabulous cook and host, Nasser. You can learn more about Lady and the work she does here: Lady Colleen.

After that wonderful trip I returned to Maadi and moved with the rest of my co-teachers into our individual apartments out in New Cairo. The move went relatively well, though it took a few days to get the hot water rolling and it’s a lot chillier out here in New Cairo. Needless to say, it has taken a little adjusting. The apartment itself is beautiful, the air out here is better, and we are now only about 5 minutes from school. I have a very nice guest room in my new place, so I hope some will consider visiting me sometime during Feb – June. Who knows where I will be after that . . . . . . 🙂

Without a car, it is a little isolating and requires many taxi adventures to get into the main part of town. Just last night we took a ride home from Maadi after some Christmas shopping and burgers at Lucille’s and I felt as if the front seat was not actually attached to the taxi car. It kept sliding as the car sped up or slowed down. thank God I lived in NYC for 11 years and trying to talk to a cab driver who can’t really speak English feels kind of normal. 🙂

In the last two weeks of school, we managed to throw together a “winter show”. Like much of this first year of ISE, we make a lot of it up as we go along and the room you need to present the concert gets finished about 20 minutes before you need to be in it.

Given all that, I think we did OK. Elementary school concerts can be a lot even under “normal” circumstances – and the logistics rehearsals – each class practicing going up on stage – almost sent me over the edge, but in the end as I listened to the fourth graders singing “I’ve Got Peace Like a River, ” I couldn’t help but smile and know we were creating something very special.

The theme was “Songs of Peace” and we tried to focus on the idea of inner peace. Here are a couple stills from the flip video.

When you talk with Egyptian children about peace, they often talk about Israel and Egypt and how we have to get along or how Sadat created a peace treaty. Through art and poetry and music, we attempted to help the kids explore the idea of being peaceful within themselves and within their classrooms. I tried not to yell too much while rehearsing the songs of peace, but often had moments of total contradiction and wondered, “what am I doing?” and “How is this peaceful education?.” In the end, I offer it all up and trust that we all did the best we could. A colleague took some great flip video of the show which I can share with some of you in person.

Here is a picture of our school entrance with Kyera, our fabulous art resident who did an amazing amount of work to help decorate over the last 2 weeks and for the concert too. thanks Kyera!

So, On Aug. 6 I flew to Egypt not really knowing what I was in store for and now I fly back to Boston (and then California) to spend until Jan 13 in the USA. I am grateful for it all, and especially excited to be with beloved friends and family for the next few weeks.

More than ever, I have been given the gift to feel and know that I have everything I need always and every experience, whether I think it’s “good” or “bad” is created for me to grow, enjoy, learn and remember who I am.

It is an amazing time to be a spiritual being having a human experience, whether here, there, or everywhere.

Enjoy this time of outside darkness and inside light. Know that everything you need is within you and that everything you experience is here to bring you Home. And when I say Home, I imagine a space inside of our beings and our hearts that is so expansive and connected it can hold everything – dark, light, peace, anxiety, joy, pain and we accept it all as it is with total faith and trust that all is well.

May you feel the peace, clarity, joy, and love love love that you are!

Happy Solstice! Merry Christmas!
love love love

Hello friends –

This picture here I took this past week on my first Felucca ride on the Nile (across the street from where I am still living). Now that the temperature has dropped, it is absolutely beautiful around sunset and actually chilly – so much nicer to take a sailboat ride.

The meditation on 11/11 at the pyramids was beautiful and you can see some of the pictures here on my blog. It’s hard to really write about it yet, but I hope to share it with many of you in person when I am back in the states in Dec/Jan. If you are in the Boston/Cape Cod area, I will be in town from Dec 21-30, so please email me if you are interested in a healing session of any kind.

Even though it’s still sunny and in the 70’s here in Egypt I am aware that Thanksgiving is upon us. And so, here come some reflections on that holiday.

Gratitude is everything. How often do we hear this? and yet how often do we truly say thank you? And how often do we remember to say thank you, regardless of whether we are having a “good” or “bad” experience?

My time in Egypt has definitely showed me that true gratitude is accepting what is, exactly as it is. Every time I wish something was different, I suffer. It’s been a great Master level course the last few months on “Alicia, do you really accept what is?” or are you just spewing wisdom that you read in an Eckhart Tolle book or heard on Oprah?

It’s easy to be thankful when things are going well. And thank God for that. Imagine, though if we could be thankful when things are going badly. Perhaps in this deep gratitude, a gratitude that recognizes to have life – breath, a body – no matter at what ability, a heart beat – is the greatest gift a being could have. What might we begin to expereince if we could let go of our judging mind that says, “this is bad” “This is good”. How about: Thank you for what is. Thank you for my breath that I might expereince the world and serve others. Thank you for this opportunity to remember who I am. thank you for death. thank you for birth. thank you for death. thank you for birth.

When we all take time to practice this level of gratitude we shift our reality and awaken more and more love within our being and throughout our family, community, and world. So let us be who we are, exactly as we are, and be thankful for that in every moment even if it means you are in the middle of hectic and emotional holiday experiences that you feel you cannot control. Find compassion for yourself as you experience the many emotions the holidays can bring. and be thankful for EVERYTHING, for you are creating them that you may heal and experience more love.

I will be having a thanksgiving dinner with my fellow teachers here in Cairo – though we have yet to find a turkey . . And then I will head to Nuweiba – a coastal town in the Sinai desert on the Red Sea for three nights of rest, meditation, and desert bedioun life. I return there just a little over three years after my first visit there and I find myself reflecting on how much has changed – within me and in the world. And with this change comes more life, more love, more gratitude, more opportunities to experience everything without judgement.

More opportunities to let my breath serve me, as I serve those around me.

May your holiday be blessed with acceptance, compassion, and joy!
love love love

Hello friends –

There is much to report from the last month of my travels – Open House at school, Halloween Party in Maadi – 20 floors above the Nile, and an amazing trip to Dahab – the coast of the Sinai Pennisula on the Red Sea. I scuba dived for the first time and I am hooked!

But most importantly, I wanted to let you know I have the privilege of being in Egypt tomorrow – Wed Nov. 11, 2009, which holds an 11/11/11 consciousness. Many believe this holds a very high love/peace consciousness, also thought of as a Christ Consciousness or Supreme Consciousness. I will be joining a group meditation at the pyramids from 6am-8am.

Many all over the world will be consciously choosing to focus on LOVE. I recently saw a great video of Marianne Williamson talking about how it only takes 11% to help the earth awaken into more LOVE. you can view it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03N2irkKOho

Please tune in and know that I will be tuning into you as well. If you want more info on what some others have to say about 11/11/11 you can check out these websites as well: http://www.thecosmicpath.com or http://www.starchildglobal.com/

But mostly, just smile, breathe, and know that you are LOVE. It is inside of you, not outside. be still. rest. give thanks. meditate. do yoga. smile. and breathe some more.

love love love

On the left you see a picture of the full moon in Cairo along the Nile, close to where I live. A moment of beauty amidst lots of chaos. It’s been almost a month since my last post and another new moon approaches. I don’t know about you, but the last few weeks have been quite challenging for me – inside and out. It could just be because I am living in a foreign country away from my comfort zone and those I love most. However, from what I have been reading on Facebook and feeling from lots of others – the challenges have been everywhere.

How do we stay in love and hope and humor, when life around us seems so out of control? This is absolutely my meditation during my days here in Cairo. And so I can choose to focus on what’s not working – I don’t have my own apartment yet, the school is not finished being built, the children, though incredibly bright and enthusiastic, don’t really get my American desire for community respect and discipline like listening to the teacher or each other.

Or I could focus on what is working – It’s 90 degrees and sunny all the time. Tomorrow I am going to the Pyramids with a VIP tour guide. I went to a beautiful and healing contemplative service at an Anglican church in Maadi last night and last week I went to Africa Live and met some of the warmest and best dressed people in Egypt – Christians from Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal and other countries in Africa.

Some days I feel like a Master, staying in love, detaching from drama, being in service and some days I feel like a neglected child – sad, angry, cranky, feeling resentful that the school is not what I thought it would be – reaching for the fruits allover the place!! And there it is – who I am. who we all are – light and dark. adult and child. love and fear. and so, I choose each day as best I can. And I am grateful when I am reminded of my True Nature – both love and fear, and God is both.

On a less metaphysical level, the music room is shaping up nicely and we have great instruments, so we are all learning to drum and play music with each other. At times I feel like Mr. Holland trying to teach that one kid with no rhythm (for hours) or Jack Black in School of Rock and wonder if these Egyptian kids don’t just think I am totally insane. But in the end, all you can do is be yourself. I am also teaching them songs from something called the Virtue Project, hence the title of my post. So far the virtues we have performed at assembly were Thankfulness and Responsibility. Next week is Respect and hopefully we will do Patience soon. If I learn nothing in Egypt, it will be patience.

Below are some pictures of the music room and the school. In about 5-7 years, it will probably be everything it hopes to be, but right now we are in the growing pain phase and I trust I am here for many reasons that have yet to reveal themselves. Also there is a picture of Nesrine, my Egyptian music teaching colleague and her son Timo. they are both a great blessing and keep me laughing every day.

As this new moon in Libra on Sunday approaches I remember the teachings that come from many Great Religions. We must know God within ourself, but God is often most dynamic in relationship. It is through our relationships – the mirrors of other people showing us our own gifts and challenges that we feel and see God most deeply.

Notice the relationships in your own life- how have they changed? how are they changing? give thanks for the most difficult ones, for they are often our greatest teachers. Thanks for reading and staying tuned – feel free to let me know what is happening with you.

And did it really snow already in the NorthEast? crazy!

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Hello Friends!!

It seems fitting that I am finally updating this blog on a New Moon in Virgo. I am a virgo and have come to learn that this sign is about fully purifying, aligning and integrating mind, body, and spirit. Virgo’s are often in professions of service. So here I am in Egypt on the ground level of founding a new school (sometimes literally a pile of sand that is supposed to be the drama/music room). With this experience so far, it has all been all about purification and alignment. My physical body has been going through many changes and is not always happy about them, while my mind and spirit longs to stay positive and in a state of trust. When my physical body begins to hurt or revolt in some way staying in a state of trust becomes harder and harder. Good to notice. It’s sort of like when you’re sick, all you want is your mommy.

And so again, on even a deeper level, I am invited to go deep within myself and be my own mommy. Which for me really is the path to full Self-Realization. This process of Self-Love allows me to be more purely in service of those around me, which is my true hearts desire.

Somedays I say, really God? is there where I am supposed to be? And then I remember, I used to say this to myself when I was on Cape Cod in January. hmmmmmmm.

Hopefully school will start Oct. 3 and we will really begin to ground in. With threats of further delays due to Swine flu, we are creating a alternative plan in which we may teach students off-site in small groups. Because of this we got to meet many parents and some students yesterday. This gave of us all a great deal of hope and inspiration. Suddenly the many moments of frustration were eclipsed by one brief interaction I had. One of my students who is in third grade and speaks very good English lights up as she sees that I play guitar. “I have a guitar,” she says beaming, “but I don’t know how to play it”. “I’ll teach you then, ” I say, “we’ll have fun” Her smile grows, as I her feel her mother next to her thrilled to see her daughter talking with her new teachers. I also sang “Let it Be” during the third grade meeting, while waiting for some parents to arrive. This took me back to a particularly fabulous evening at Creacon Lodge just a few weeks ago in which I was blesssed to play in the meditation hall. (A shout-out to all my fellow yogis!). And I thought, “Yes, music is a vibration that connects us all”.

Today, also on this new beginning (virgo new moon), we, the six american teachers, will finally be spread out into 2 different apartments in Maadi, an expat friendly part of Cairo. We have all been living for the last 6 weeks somewhat on top of each other, while we wait for our official residence to be completed (prob by Nov.) and were starting to desolve into a bad reality TV show. The up side of that is we have really gotten to know each other and recognize how extraordinary a group we are. Thank God we laugh incessantly about almost everything. Both apts. in Maadi are gorgeous and one is on the 20th floor on the Corniche overlooking the Nile. On a day with light or no haze (about once a week) you can see the sun rise or set over the pyramids. Pretty amazing!

And so, I am grateful for the other teachers who have taken on this adventure with me with creativity, kindness, and determination and I am grateful for the many friends on facebook and at home who are following along and sending little comments of encouragement.

I am sure many of you are also beginning new today, whether inside or out. Take some time, tune in, be grateful for all that you have changed or has changed around you and let go. Open and recieve the new. Give yourself credit for how far you have come and all that you have already released. Even though we may have struggles, there is no better time to be a human being on this planet of ours. And we are all being called to step up and into our True Selves and be in service to those around us.

Would love to hear what is happening with you. feel free to comment here or email me directly.
love love love

Greetings From Cairo!

After a couple of beautiful weeks in Agamy (a coastal town on the Mediterrean near Alexandria, Egypt), I came up to Cairo for a few days. I am staying in the residence of the Director which is located in New Cairo and across the street from the school. (picture above) There is lots of construction, so the phrase “trust in trust” has a whole new meaning to me. 🙂

The Egyptian government has delayed the start of all schools until Sept. 27, which is the end of Eid – the feast after Ramadan. Apparently this is because of fears of the swine flu, though it also seems strangely coincendental to me that it matches perfectly with the end of Ramadan. And so Egypt goes. Things happen here, inchallah – meaning God Willing. “inchallah” also sometimes seems to mean, “might happen, might not – who’s knows?”. Not so comfortable for the control freak part of me.

And so yes, I am being invited to apply the spiritual teachings I claim to practice at a deep, deep level, elhamduallah. surrender and trust. all is well.

The good news and the blessing (as there is always a blessing with every change) is that I leave tomorrow for London and Dublin and will be spending a week or so at Creacon Lodge – heaven here on earth for a yoga (and guiness) retreat with my friend Jodie and Sherri. God is good! I will return to Cairo on Sept. 10.

Huge energetic shifts are happening on the planet and within each of us. I just got through a horrible summer cold in Egypt – not so pleasant on the physical level (or emotional and mental). So I encourage you (and myself) to breath deeply and consciously everyday. Feel the love and expansion available to you in every moment. And reach out when you need help. When I need help I reach out to my community SQ Wellness. It doesn’t matter what community you have, just have one. There is no reason anyone needs to feel alone. except when we do. 😉

And as everything changes in every moment (as it will continue to do).

be still and know I am (You are) God.

will keep you posted!
love love love

Hello Friends!

Life so far in Egypt is relaxing and beautiful. I am blessed to be retreating in Agamy which is a beach area about 20km from Alexandria (and about 3 hours from Cairo). We are here in a beautiful family home and settling into Egyptian life in August in Agamy. We sleep late, sip coffee by the pool, and then head to the beach for sunset. Have a meal (around 8 or 9) and then stay up late reading and/or talking.

more teachers arrive tomorrow, so I imagine at some point we will have to hunker down and really work on our curriculums, but for now I am soaking in the Egyptian beach life, elhamduAllah (thank God).

more to come soon, but for now feeling incredibly grateful to have this slow time of self-reflection and peace.

These are Mrs. Laila’s roses. so much LOVE

love love love