The same way I used to go through my mother’s jewelry box, I have been going through my own. As a child, I’d lift the lid on her green leather box embossed with tooled, gold designs.  I’d finger the broaches, jingle the bangles, admire the cameos and find gems – not only of jewelry but of newspaper clipping and photos – the secret stuff of which the family was made.

My own jewelry boxes are a mélange of ‘the real deal’: the tanzanite ring, strands of pearls and lapis lazuli, a gold charm bracelet ripe with charms from my mom, a pair of emerald earrings, from my ex, my everyday gold shells –from myself and then a collection. There’s my daughter’s first tiny hook bracelet, a photo of my great grandmother, Icing caliber earrings, a tooth fairy stash of baby teeth and bits and pieces from friends, family and lovers, including my very own engraved silver spoon, a pair of my dad’s cufflinks and a tiny wax hand sculpted by a friend.

Memories, stories and feelings bubble to my surface. I try things on. I reminisce. I look among the gold and the pearls and I breathe a sigh of relief when I spy the six wooden beads that I’ ve carried with me since I was 21.

There used to be more. It started out as a hindu mala (Hindu prayer beads) and it wasn’t just any mala. It was given to me by Kumar Kumar, a Hindu swami who lived on west 14th Street in New York City in a 5th floor walk up.

I’d discovered Yoga, loved eating with the Hara Krishnas and was drawn to chanting and meditation and spiritual teachers. In Kumar’s gentle presence, I was silent. I don’t remember what he said to me, but I know that he gave me the beads and that we meditated. And I know that when I got up to leave he looked at me with great kindness and said,” Come back.” I nodded as I walked down the 5 flights of stairs , “Yes, Yes, I’ll be back, I’ll be back.”

I never went back. Not to see Kumar Kumar anyway. But I have returned.  I’m realizing that I never left. The threads of yoga, meditation, service, love and spiritual seeking have been woven throughout my life popping up again to save me even when I’ve turned my back and never staying away for long.

When I return to the yoga mat after a break, I picture climbing up the staircase at the Sivananda Yoga Center on St. Lawrence Blvd. in Montreal and feeling like I’m home.  I give thanks that of all the random things I could have gotten involved with back then, I’d taken up with yoga, art, music and meditation. –

But, I am easily distracted. My iphone chimes ‘message’ and l salivate. Busy with work, family, things to do and places to go to, the beads grow dusty. I get too busy to do Yoga everyday. The dogs don’t let me meditate every morning and, like a stubborn child, I refuse to consistently do what keeps me connected, happy, healthy and whole.

In meditation, when I realize that I am thinking, I gently bring myself back to my focus, my mantra. In my life when I realize that I have gotten off track I gently return to the beads, to the tried and true. I remember what really and always matters and what practices work for me. I remind myself that talk is cheap and action speaks louder than words. I get out the yoga mat and lay it on my deck, looking out to sea.

Reaching into the plastic pouch where the beads have been living I pick them up, roll them around and enfold them in my closed palms. I feel warmth and a glow that brings me back to myself like I’m dropping into my heart, tuning in, activating the connection.

The energy of the beads sustains me. Their smooth wooden roundness reassures and soothes my energy. Holding them affirms that my heart was, back then, and is now, open – that learning, loving, seeking, serving, growing in consciousness, having fun and spreading the love are what matter most to me.

What about you? What are your beads? What’s in your jewelry box?

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