Kundalini, Kale and Koconut oil!

lori france copy

Okay, so not to sound all full of myself, but the last several months I’ve had quite a few people tell me that they can’t believe I’m 47 years old and have kids who are 23 and 18. So it begs the question, if I’m not being all pompous and vain, then why am I telling you this? Because I am so weary of the stereotype of aging women morphing into some sort of old crone. Because I’m so over the notion that at some point women should quit striving for health and wither away. As women get older, there are certain “rules” the population at large tends to accept about aging, such as: gaining weight is inevitable, feeling stiff and achy will just happen, slowing down is unavoidable and fading away is what we do. This represents a paradigm that I will never buy into – and neither should you. Who decided this anyway? It’s really just a lot of silliness. Women get old while men get distinguished???? I don’t think so!

Also, my goal is not to look younger, be a certain number on the scale, or try to look like the ridiculous archetypes of women in the fashion magazines. My goal is to feel amazing. I don’t want to wake up with aches and pains. I want to move with grace and ease. I want to keep up with my kids and my (sometime in the future) grandkids. I’ve never been one to sit on the sidelines of life and I don’t plan to start taking a pass on adventure just because I’ve ridden around the sun almost fifty times. Our bodies are designed to thrive, move, glow and radiate for many, many years. If you’re feeling a bit draggy and like you’re slowing down too soon, read on for some practical steps you can take without having to make drastic changes all at once. Baby steps are the name of the game when you’re trying to alter old patterns.

  1. Begin a yoga practice. This is something you can start in your living room with a DVD from the library. The cost can be zero. I am an instructor of Kundalini yoga and I started my yoga journey with a DVD checked out from the local library. You can also view what Kundalini is all about on YouTube – or many other styles of yoga as well. You might see some YouTube Kundalini videos with instructors sporting turbans and white flowing robes. That’s not really my style of Kundalini. I’m more tie dye pants and tank tops. For more mainstream Kundalini yoga, check out Ana Brett & Ravi Singh’s videos. You can read more at raviana.com.
  2. Start adding Kale – or any kind of greens into your diet. Juicing greens represents a great way to get some extra energy and enzymes into your system. My favorite juice of late is called green lemonade (recipe courtesy of Natalia Rose) and it consists of a couple of apples, a head of romaine lettuce, around 5 – 6 stalks of kale, a lemon (not peeled) and a inch or so of ginger. It’s delicious. Really! Check out books by Natalia Rose (again, look in your local library if you don’t want to fork out the money for a book) for more information on the benefits of adding green juice into your diet.
  3. Start replacing your beauty products with simple, organic coconut oil. Most mainstream personal care products marketed to women are chock full of harmful chemicals that poison our bodies and crash our endocrine system, which can make your hormones go haywire. Coconut oil makes a fabulous alternative and you can use it for body lotion, face cream and makeup remover. You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to make it into a really luxurious body care product. I clean my face with it every night. Just take around a teaspoon full of oil and warm it up in the palm of your hand. Then, massage it into your face for a minute or so; next take a warm washcloth and place it over your face for 30 seconds. Gently massage the cloth over your face. Repeat with washcloth two more times. It removes every trace of dirt and makeup and leaves your skin soft and glowing. If coconut oil doesn’t appeal to you, there are many good organic body care lines. Some of my favorites are Eminence, Dr. Hauschka and Little Barn Apothecary.

These are just a few suggestions to begin making positive changes in your life. You have to start somewhere or you’ll go nowhere. Most importantly, don’t let any parent, child, friend, brother, sister, spouse or doctor convince you that feeling less than ideal is “just the way it is.” That’s a big fat lie that we’ve been fed and most have bought into hook, line and sinker. There is another path. You can choose an alternative. In the words of Glinda the Good Witch, “You’ve always had the power my dear. You had it all along.” Remember your power. Make changes. Watch your body heal. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

Do Greater Things Than These!


So, I’m going all biblical today. There has been so much negativity and sarcasm on my Facebook newsfeed of late from people who profess to be Christians. The latest little nugget read: “Welfare – you work so they don’t have to.” This made me start thinking about the words of Jesus and how so much of what he orated remains buried under modern day church rhetoric when those words don’t jive with the “church’s” political vision. One particularly problematic passage for the contemporary church occurs in John 14:11.

“Believe me when I say that I am in the father and the father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the  miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the son may bring glory to the father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

The problem, as I see it, lies in the following argument. According to the Bible, what miracles did Jesus perform? He healed the sick, created food-a-plenty out of seemingly nothing, raised people from the dead, and (one of my favorites), turned water into wine. According to the previous passage, if one has faith in Jesus, he/she should be doing greater things than these! WOW!!! That’s a pretty astounding declaration. Amazing. Fabulous. Cosmic in its implications. Doesn’t that mean that Christians should be healing, feeding, comforting – turning water into champagne???

I see today’s church raging against homosexual marriage, abortion and to a lesser extent adultery, premarital sex and general debauchery such as drinking and drugs. Yet, I know of no church congregation that is going into hospitals and healing the sick with a touch, or with a prayer and a few simple words creating food so that no stomach goes hungry, or with a bowing of the head, changing the chemical composition of elements. Shouldn’t Christians focus on the verses such as the ones in John? Doesn’t it stand to reason that if people of the church were performing greater miracles than Jesus, that the masses would flock to their buildings in unprecedented numbers in order to receive such fabulous blessings?

Why, why, why then does so much of the church discussion revolve around sin and its consequences, as opposed to figuring out how to do what Jesus said could be done? I simply don’t understand. I am at a loss. It seems so illogical. Nonetheless, I do believe that if miracles like the ones mentioned above are to come to pass, love must be flowing in a heretofore-unseen capacity. Judgment must cease to roll off the tongues of Jesus’ followers. Christians should be full up and overflowing with so much love, radiance, peace and light that individuals are drawn to them, not repulsed by hateful words. Their actions must be so awe-inspiring that those who are hurting, weak and poor find a solace they never thought possible in this life. Jesus said it’s possible. If one professes to be a follower of Jesus, why would these potent words go ignored? Choosing to focus on these powerful passages could revolutionize the church and, without a doubt, would transform the world.

Do Greater Things Than Jesus. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

Full of Yourself???


Are you full of yourself? If not, you should be! I know, I know, one often associates this phrase with negativity. When society says a person is “full of themselves” they often mean full of ego, maybe even narcissistic. I, too, associated it with negativity until I heard a talk by Oprah Winfrey. She told a story where someone once told her (negatively): “You are really full of yourself.” (Can you imagine! telling Oprah that?) Oprah said she thought about this for a while and then decided that, yes indeed, she was full of herself – but in a much different way than the person meant.

She went on to discuss how each of us should be full of ourselves, abounding with our genuine essence. We must know who we are, what we are about and recognize our true purpose here on this planet. Many people say they want to change the world and that is a beautiful thing. But meaningful change only comes about when one is so full of their self, their true identity, so filled with love, joy, confidence, peace and purpose, that they are full up and running over. It is in this excess spillover, where each person creates the space of change and where transformation magically and effortlessly takes place.

If you are empty inside, the change you strive to bring about will not take root, because you have nothing with which to nurture it. Empty vessels yield empty results. Can you imagine setting an unfilled flowerpot on the windowsill and being perplexed when a beautiful flower didn’t spring forth, everyday checking for growth and being mystified, perhaps even incensed that nothing grew, and finally, throwing up your hands and saying that you must not be meant to grow flowers? What madness! Being full of yourself represents a novel and exquisite concept, so counterintuitive, yet so necessary in order to fulfill your purpose!

The following represent ways to become really full of yourself: meditate, pray, take a walk, listen to relaxing music, do yoga, take a long hot bath, go to bed early, wake up early, eat nourishing food. We should all be on a journey to fill ourselves up with who we are meant to be. When we all own and live our purpose, beauty blossoms and the world heals. Be Full of Yourself. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

The Mirror In The Corner


There is a large mirror in the corner of the studio where I teach yoga. It’s just an ordinary mirror, but for a while, when I first started teaching yoga, it seemed to hold extraordinary power. I don’t tend to look in mirrors more than when I’m getting ready in the morning. But this mirror seemed to draw my eyes to it when I walked in to ready the studio for my class. The first time I walked by it, and I glanced at myself, the fleeting thought of “my you look fat” floated passed my consciousness. I didn’t give much thought to that pessimism, as I try very hard not to let negative self speak into my brain. However, the next time I went to teach, I found myself trying to avoid looking in the mirror, but I inevitably glanced over, only to have the voice in my head speak a little more loudly, a little more forcefully say, “wow, you’re looking quite chubby.” This scene repeated itself whenever I came into the studio to teach. Even though I didn’t ask, this crafty, Snow White-esque mirror seemed to be telling me that I DEFINITELY was not the fairest of them all.

This “dialogue” from the mirror bothered me tremendously, not only because it seemed to broadcast negativity, but also because with everything going on the world, how could I be worried about whether I looked chubby or not? It caused stress on many levels. I thought I was above being influenced by what I saw in the mirror. I thought that with all my academic, as well as my yoga training, that somehow I was immune to the culturally imposed limitations placed on women’s bodies. I didn’t want to think about how I looked. I wanted to focus on bigger world problems. But, alas, my mind kept floating back to the perceived reflection. The mirror in the corner became an unbidden fixation. I considered turning it around when I walked in the studio so I wouldn’t have to look at it. I considered covering it with a scarf. I considered removing it altogether! And then I decided to get real and take charge of this ridiculous phobia I had developed…of a mirror!

Women have their bodies scrutinized every day. We are either too fat, too skinny, too muscular, too flabby, too tall, too short, too white, too dark, too this, too that…Magazines, television, print media in general publish pictures of women that have an increasingly narrow “ideal” body type. Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., researcher, author and international speak writes: “Advertising is an over 100 billion dollar a year industry and affects all of us throughout our lives. We are each exposed to over 2000 ads a day, constituting perhaps the most powerful educational force in society….Advertising creates a mythical, mostly white world in which people are rarely ugly, overweight, poor, struggling or disabled, either physically or mentally.” Kilbourne goes on to write that most women in advertisements have perfect hair, little body fat and appear to have no pores. She states that Cindy Crawford once said, “Cindy Crawford doesn’t look like Cindy Crawford.” The photo shopping, air brushing and camera manipulation create an image of someone who doesn’t exist…all in an effort to make women feel they are inadequate, ugly, undesirable so they will buy the product in the advertisement. It’s real and it’s hard to escape, even for the most diligent. The question becomes, what can be done to fight back against this insidious assault?

For starters, I would get rid of cable television. Television shows are a conduit for advertisers to create discontent, so you’ll buy their products. Quit buying women’s magazines. Spend your money on good books, yoga classes, and healthy food or put it in savings. Talk to your women friends about your feelings of inadequacy. Chances are, they feel it too, but sometimes it feels embarrassing to admit these feelings. If more of us disclosed these thoughts, perhaps it would be easier to quiet those lies that rattle around in our heads. Once you realize you’re not alone, knowing other women are battling the same mindsets can make the fight against such feelings easier. There is always strength in numbers. Finally, begin telling yourself daily that you are beautiful, brilliant and awesomely amazing. Take charge of the mirror. Look yourself squarely in the eye and say loving words to yourself. You are not a number on the scale, you are not your dress size, you are not your hair or your skin or your nails. You are something much deeper. You are an exquisite, amazing creature who has so much more to do than worry about a reflection.

The mirror in the corner is still there and it still tries to tell me how I am not perfect. I’m learning to brush off its feeble attempts to reduce my being to a physical representation. When it throws out its negativity, I simply smile and remember to remember my true self, which is light, radiance and love. It’s amazing how quiet it becomes when I gently replace its negativity with uplifting, healing and inspiring refrains. It can’t keep up its assault in the face of positivity. I refuse to relinquish any more of my power to a bit of metal and wood. It ceases to have influence when I reduce it to its fundamental substance…because really, it’s nothing more than a mirror in the corner.

Ignore the mirror in the corner. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

Get Your Shine On!!!


As a child, I spent a lot of time in church. Pretty much any time the doors were open at Mimosa Heights Christian Church, you could find our family front pew and center. As a single mom, I think my mother thought it one way to keep her brood of four off the streets and out of trouble. During the summer, I always looked forward to the weeklong vacation bible school (VBS) at Mimosa Heights. There were always the refreshments of Kool-Aid and store-bought cookies, that, back then represented delicious fare to my young taste buds, as these weren’t items my Mom regularly (read almost never) bought.

Also, there was the “country store,” little more than a Sunday-school room stocked with unwanted items members of the church brought from their basements, attics and garages. In order to earn bible bucks to spend in the store, one had to memorize and recite certain bible verses. I became a machine at memorizing and delivering these refrains. I must admit that it wasn’t so much my love of the sweet psalms or the desire to ramp up my credit with the big guy that spurred my memorization prowess. In actuality, I loved having big bible bucks to spend at the country store. I was a high roller. Some of the other bible-schoolers even asked me a time or two if I could hook them up with some bible-cash. I can’t remember if I passed around my bible-bucks abundance, but I do remember that my Mother became exasperated with the amount of junk that I brought home, so much so that she forbid me from buying any more items. If memory serves, at that point my memorization dropped off severely with her imposed country-store-buying moratorium.

The singing at VBS represented another aspect of the program that I LOVED. Though I didn’t/don’t have a fantastic voice, I used to belt out, with gusto, the songs sung at the beginning and end of the day’s program. One song in particular that I still remember and hum from time to time is “This Little Light of Mine.” The refrain goes something like this:

This little light of mine

I’m gonna let it shine

This little light of mine

I’m gonna let it shine Let it shine, let it shine, all the time.

Hide it under a bush, oh no,

I’m gonna let it shine

Hide it under a bush, oh no,

I’m gonna let it shine Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine all the time

I now teach yoga, and at last night’s class, during the ending meditation, I reminded my students to remember their radiance, to go deep within themselves and recall their true essence of beauty, brightness and light. As I led the meditation, those days of singing at summer VBS came drifting across my consciousness, specifically singing the song This Little Light of Mine. This recollection made me smile as I realized this child’s song really embodied so much wisdom.

If we could all remember our inner light and let it shine for the entire world to see, how much brighter humanity could be. So many times, for so many reasons, we choose not to shine – sometimes out of fear, sometimes from simply forgetting who we really are. I challenge you all today to take some time out of your busy day to quiet your mind and choose to seek out your radiance that resides deep within EVERYONE and then let that luminosity shine like a beacon from inside of you. When you remember your genuine self, which is light, love, joy and abundance, you give others around you permission to shine and remember as well. It’s a domino effect that heals not only yourself, but also your family, your community and ultimately the world. When you shine, you heal, uplift and inspire everyone with whom you come into contact. So as the song says, get your shine on. Don’t hide it under a literal or metaphorical bush.

Be an inspiration for others and light up the world! Let your little light shine. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

Why Kundalini Yoga????


I’ve had several people over the last few weeks ask me, “What’s so special about Kundalini Yoga?” One could write a whole dissertation on this practice and its benefits — but here’s just a brief snippet about this beautiful yoga. “Kundalini yoga asks you to summon the physical and mental strength to mindfully maintain repetitive actions, such as using Breath of Fire while holding Half Boat Pose, or Ardha Navasana, for up to three minutes. By committing to each movement despite your mind’s desire to stop, you are training your nervous system to resist temptation to give up, just as you might train your muscles at the gym…it comes with some pretty incredible benefits.” – Tommy Rosen & Kia Miller, Yoga Journal (February 2015). Your endocrine system responds by secreting chemicals that create feelings of peace, bliss and harmony. You begin to feel and look better! You gain the awareness and power you need to overcome detrimental behaviors and you shine and radiate, as you are meant to do in this life! You begin to feel incredible and that spills over into all areas of your life. When you feel amazing, you do amazing things. Instead of going about your daily routine by rote, you begin to remember your true essence, which is love; and, in the words of my teachers, Ana Brett and Ravi Singh, everywhere you go you heal, uplift and inspire. What more could you want out of life?

Do Kundalini Yoga. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

Be The Light & Sunshine Smoothie



Yesterday was a tough day. I felt cranky and out of sorts all day long! A good friend listened to me whine and after talking with her I felt soooo much better! Sometimes all it takes is someone listening to help put you back on the right track. After I talked with her, I remembered what is so easy to forget: When you feel bad, down, etc., the best thing you can do is to do something for someone else. In the darkest moments, remembering to be the light for someone else tends to smooth the rough edges and ease crankiness like nothing else!

When all else fails and you feel like giving up – Be the Light.

When everyone has gone and you are all alone – Be the Light.

When lovers leave and the heart shatters into pieces – Be the Light.

When the bank account goes empty – Be the Light.

In the face of overwhelming circumstances – Be the Light.

In all things, in all that you do, remember that you are the Light.

And when you remember your brightness, failures become victories, new friends materialize out of thin air, soul mates replace lost lovers, money flows effortlessly, circumstances become glorious and everywhere you go, you heal, uplift and inspire.

Be the Light. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

In order to shine and light up the world, you need nourishment that helps keep your light bright. I try to drink the following smoothie — or some variation of it everyday. Incidentally, I skipped my smoothie yesterday. I don’t know that not drinking my liquid sunshine caused my bad day — but I do know that when I start my day with it, I feel fabulous!

Sunshine Smoothie

Put all ingredients in blender in the following order:

3 cups fresh water

2 bananas, peeled

1 cup chopped mango

1 cup blueberries

4 cup greens (any kind)

About 1/3 cup raw vegan protein powered — I’m currently using Raw Fit, plain flavor

1 tsp spirulina

2 Tbsp Nutiva Coconut Manna

A handful of raw walnuts

Blend for around 1 – 2 minutes until smooth. Enjoy and Shine!