Bardo – Something Really In-Between

Before COVID times I was listening to a podcast about meditation (because why meditate when you can listen to other people talk about meditating) when the woman introduced this interesting term, “bardo” which she defined as meaning “in-between.”


Well, considering that this is the In-Between Things it certainly seems like the right place to explore the concept of bardo. I decided that I needed to look into this it further, did a little bit of research, and left my notes sitting in my draft folder.

Until now.

Bardo Thödol is a Tibetan Buddhist funerary text that is popularly known in Western culture as the Tibetan Book of the Dead. This text describes the process through which a recently deceased person transitions from their current state of being to the next. The occurs in an in-between state, bardo, which is similar to the Roman Catholic concept of purgatory.

Applied metaphorically, bardo can describe many sorts of in-between situations. Any time there is a suspension in the way of being that we are familiar with we are experiencing bardo.

COVID times certainly qualify, wouldn’t you agree?

The Four Noble Truths, a central tenant in Buddhist teaching, explain that the root of suffering is desire for and attachment to worldly things. When we experience bardo, we become detached from our usual way of being, including the accompanying suffering.

But you know what we feel is worse than our regular, everyday suffering? The unknown!

Think about someone you know who is always complaining about something. You wonder why they continue fill-in-the-blank rather than change. When you say something, they usually reply beginning with, “yeah, but…”

This is because in-between-ness is uncomfortable. Bardo puts us in a position where we are confronted with considering other ways. We must mind the gap as it were.

What if, in that in-between space, instead of reacting negatively, we withhold judgement of the discomfort?

We may discover an opportunity for something new.

The gap gives us the cognitive distance to consider things from a new perspective. We may have a flash of insight or creativity or we may gain clarity about things that we are allowing to be causes of our suffering.

And this is why I wanted to dust off this topic at this time. The past year was certainly bardo, the entire world’s usual way of being was suspended. Now that things are beginning to stabilize, many are looking to get back to our old ways of being and doing. But it would be unfortunate to not take advantage of this bardo to make some conscious choices about the sorts of suffering we hold on to.

Maybe being in-between this past year wasn’t all bad.

The Writing Sprint Challenge Prompt Was: Mercy

Have you ever participated in a writing sprint challenge?

Neither had I until a couple of weeks ago. Someone was doing one on Instagram and I signed up right away because there were prizes. There are probably a lot of things that I can be motivated to do for the sake of artisanal smelly candles. I should remember that. 

Ok, back to the writing sprint.

The challenge was that there were prompts for each day and you would write for a set amount of time and then post on Instagram for accountability. The writing sprint prompt one day really captured my attention and I decided to turn it into this blog post. It was just one word: mercy.

Mercy. It isn’t an unusual or exotic word. But it struck me that this is not a word that I use or hear a lot. It’s not really in the zeitgeist the way that forgiveness is for example. It’s an ordinary word, why did it feel uncommon? What thoughts/ideas/feelings does the word evoke?

My first thought was that mercy correlates to surrender. Not that there is some sort of causal relationship, they’re not two sides of the same coin; but maybe they live in the same room.

So where does that correlation come from?

I started to pull my idea apart. Mercy is an act from a position of power, isn’t it? Whereas surrender seems to be something that the one who is being acted upon would do. Asking for mercy is a means of surrender.

That got me thinking about affirmations and all that jargon. Forgiveness is very trendy these days. But what about mercy?

Mercy means that you were in an acknowledged position of power and chose to relinquish your advantage. That rather than impose your will, you showed restraint. I suppose that mercy takes a good deal more awareness and self-control than forgiveness.

By the time that you get to forgiveness the thing is done. You stayed strong and kept plowing ahead with a single-minded determination, then when it’s over, you can evaluate and choose to forgive.

Mercy requires evaluating the impact of your actions while in process. That’s no fun.

If you follow the etymology of mercy all the way back to its Latin root, you find the word merx which means “wares” or “merchandise.” There is something tangible about giving up one’s advantage in a power dynamic, isn’t there?

All that being said, I wonder if we all couldn’t use a little more mercy in our hearts, even more so than forgiveness.

Just because something is within our power to make happen doesn’t mean that we always need to. Maybe have mercy for your feet by not wearing those shoes (you know which ones I’m talking about – they are really cute). Rather than say the unkind thing that you will apologize for later, demonstrate mercy by not saying it at all. You could even get meta with it – I’m thinking things like buying hand soap at the refill-your-own-container store (mercy) instead of putting another plastic container in the recycling bin (forgiveness).

What do you think? Did I get too in-between on this?

Kindness Today and Every Day

For this edition of Health and Wellness Monday, I thought we could consider kindness.  

This Friday, November 13th is World Kindness Day, a holiday established in 1998 by The World Kindness Movement, an international consortium of NGOs, for the purpose of encouraging people to create a kinder world. I’m not really clear on what they mean by that, but it seems to have something to do with supporting projects that align with the United Nations sustainable development goals.

Did you know that there is also a Random Acts of Kindness Foundation? I didn’t either. The organization’s mission is to, “Make Kindness the Norm.” They suggest that an individual can celebrate World Kindness Day by intentionally engaging in random acts of kindness such as buying someone a cup of coffee or giving someone a compliment. I tend to think of these things more as “random acts of niceness” but that’s alright. One of my favorite random acts of niceness is sending someone a card in the mail for no reason. I mean, isn’t it exciting to get mail from an actual person! But phone calls and texts are nice too.

I thought it would be interesting would be to examine the distinction between being ‘kind’ and being ‘nice,’ so I went to the dictionary. While ‘nice’ is defined as, “polite, kind, pleasing, agreeable, appropriate, fitting,” the word ‘kind’ is defined in the Merriam Webster Dictionary as, “of a sympathetic or helpful nature.”

I like to think about kindness as being a little bit more than just doing something nice for someone. For me, an act of kindness is a compassion exercise in which I separate a person from their beliefs and/or actions in my heart. I may disagree with someone or not like their behavior, but still have sympathy (and sometimes even empathy or compassion) for them as a person. By doing so, I am better able to interact with that person in a kind manner.

Remember that story, The Box that I published last month? I would say that kindness kind-of ties into the ideas expressed in that story. It is an act of kindness to not put someone in a box based on one facet of their personality but to acknowledge that people are complex creatures who may not necessarily be defined by one element of their beliefs and/or actions. It’s like that thing about not defining yourself by your feelings (ex: I am angry) but acknowledging that you are a person having a feeling (I feel angry) applied to someone else.

This doesn’t mean that an act of kindness requires you to be a pushover or condone someone’s behavior. It’s like Brené Brown says, “Strong back, soft front, wild heart.” Know who you are and what you believe. Then be willing to accept other people for who they are and what they believe.

Here’s the thing: there will still be people who you just don’t agree with. You might plain old just not like someone. But what if you chose to face them with kindness rather than confrontation? Maybe your strong back, soft front, wild heart will inspire the same in someone else. You could start a chain reaction of kindness.

World Kindness day is Friday, but why not start today? You could even throw in a random act of niceness or two while you’re at it.

Loving-Kindness Meditation


I’m feeling so sad for the world today.

Sometimes, when I’m having a hard time getting a grip on my feelings or keeping my energy focused where I want it, I find a little meditation can be very helpful.

I’m not a regular meditator, but I always feel better when I do. If I meditate on my own, I generally will do a mindfulness meditation, just focusing on my breath and being where I am.  But today’s feelings seem to merit a different kind of meditation. A loving-kindness meditation.

Loving-Kindness meditation, also known as a Metta meditation, is a form that focuses on both self-love and compassion for others. As with most things, there are several versions of the “right” way to do Metta meditation, but I feel comfortable in saying that part of this practice is showing yourself the compassion to accept that however you choose to practice it is the right way for you.

The basic structure of this meditation is that you first focus on yourself, then on one, specific other person, then on the collective.  You can do multiple variations of the specific other. You can also identify the collective as all humanity, or the whole world, or even the universe – or you can do multiple variations here too.

Insight Timer has a bunch of free, guided loving-kindness meditations. I tried this 10-minute meditation with Mark Zelinsky that I thought was nice.

If you want to try it on your own, here is my take on a loving-kindness meditation:

May I be happy
May I be well
May I be safe
May I be peaceful

(now for another – think of someone specific)

May you be happy
May you be well
May you be safe
May you be peaceful

(now think about the whole world)

May we be happy
May we be well
May we be safe
May we be peaceful


Are You Moving Enough?

Well folks, we’ve been participating in the national hermitage movement for a while now (has it been 4 weeks already?). I feel like so far it’s been one of those, this is only temporary kinds of things.  But now that hermitage has been extended until mid-May, we may need to start thinking about how to adopt a more sustainable routine. No matter what, I find that everything is better if I’m moving my body. How about you, are you moving enough?

One thing that has been cramping my style here is that it has been raining.  That makes it very easy for me to blow off any notion that I may have about going outside for a walk.  But regardless of whether I’m out there getting my steps, I still feel like I need a bit more movement in my days and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I need to workout at home.

There are so many options for home workouts these days. I bet we all still have a few workout DVDs laying around (I even found my old favorite, Callanetics on VHS in the garage a while ago – too bad we don’t have a VHS player anymore). I’ve seen a lot of paid content on offer – zoom yoga classes and stuff, but there is also so much free stuff out there, it seems crazy not to take advantage of some of it.

I started just doing yoga on my own a few weeks ago. It’s been good. I have a little routine that I put together for myself. I get to spend more time on poses that focus on my problem areas, I get to move at my own pace, and I get to include poses that aren’t that fashionable these days (like plow and fish). The little series that I have been practicing takes me between 30-40 minutes and afterwards I feel great – taller and aligned and ready for my day.

Not my current yoga situation

But the other morning I just WAS NOT IN THE MOOD. I knew that I need to move but I wasn’t feeling the yoga vibe. So, I dug out my Pilates notebook from college and had my own little mat Pilates session. About 15 minutes later, I was a new woman.

Then I was feeling motivated, so I did something that I have been contemplating for quite a while: I took a ballet class! I searched on YouTube and there were a bunch of options. Sure, my barre was my dining table, but it was a real ballet class with an accompanist, and I wore ballet slippers, so it totally counts.

Ever since San Francisco Ballet had to cancel their season, I’ve been seeing their clips of the dancers taking company class at home. If they can do it, I probably can too.

I was so delighted to find this ballet barre class from the Dutch National Ballet that was classic and straightforward enough that I could attempt to replicate the combinations.

My goodness, it sure was fun!  Ernst (the instructor) would demonstrate and then do the first side with you.  For the second side, you were all alone with Rex (the accompanist).  My brain thought that I totally got it, but my body was not so sure (especially my feet).

Somehow, I survived.  And somewhere deep, down, that little ballerina who lives inside of me woke up a little bit. She is excited at the prospect of inhabiting this body of mine again (I am too). Fortunately, there are no mirrors in my dining room to make either of us aware of how far away we are from the body that she used to inhabit.  It’ll be ok, we will just continue to show up for class with Ernst and Rex every other day or so and maybe eventually we will get my feet to start working again.

So that is my story about finding ways to move more at home.  How about you?  What are you doing?  Are you trying something new?  Something old?

More Enneagram – What’s YOUR Number?

Ok, time for more enneagram. Let’s talk about our results. What did you get?  What do you think about it?

I told you about how I took four different tests and got a different result every time. Here is what my results were:

Fast Accurate Enneagram gave me three types to choose from: type 3 (the Achiever), type 5 (the Investigator), and type 8 (the Challenger).  It offered brief descriptions of each one and left it up to me to decide.

Your Enneagram Coach told me that I was a type 3 (the Successful Achiever). On this test, I got a tied score for 3 and 8 (the Protective Challenger), but the follow up questions tipped the results to a 3. I also scored high on type 5 (the Investigative Thinker).

Truity told me that I was a type one (the Perfectionist).  I also scored high for type 5 and for type 7 in this assessment.

Eclectic Energies typed me as a 5.  My second result was a type 3.  I scored so low on type 8 in this assessment that it didn’t even show up in the results. At all.

So, after all that, I went back to the Rebel Heart Radio podcast.  I paid special attention to what they were saying about types 8, 5, and 3.  Here is what resonated with me:

Type 8, the Challenger (or Protective Challenger)

I have some of these tendencies – I can be very direct for sure. Most of the qualities of this type that resonated with me were negative behaviors not the strengths and good qualities. I kind-of interpret this type as my Virgo rising – it’s the thing where people will ask me what I think and for better or worse, I tell them.

Type 5, the Investigator (Investigative Thinker)

I got this result because I do love to learn about new things, I will get interested in something and spend time researching it.  But I don’t think that my interest in anything goes as far as the way that type 5s are described.  For example, after I finish this post, I’m probably going to be done thinking about the enneagram. I’m also not as analytical as 5s seem to get credit for. And I’m just mildly, not overwhelmingly introverted.

Type 3, the Achiever (Successful Achiever)

The description of this type resonated with me the most. Type 3s are described as adaptable, driven, image-consciousness, optimistic, industrious, self-motivated, efficient, energetic, leaders, and can be workaholics.

The core fears for this type are failing, appearing incompetent and inefficient. Their core desire is to be valuable, admired, and respected. They want to appear successful, focused and productive and tend not to stop to appreciate what they have accomplished. Sometimes it is hard for a 3 to know who they really are because they have created so many personas to fit into different situations.

I feel like I can relate to a lot of the positive and negative traits of the 3, more than any other type.

So that is my exploration of the enneagram. The big selling point for any personality typing was that if you know your type and you know the types of the people around you, you are better able to interact with them in a more positive and productive way. So now that I’ve shared, you should too.

Did you get around to trying any of the assessments from last week?  What results did you get?  What do you think about my results?  Am I more type 5 or type 8 than I’m giving myself credit for? Do you want more enneagram?Let me know what you think!

Any Enneagram

I was thinking that I wanted to post something fun and not-so-current-events related for us all this week. So, I thought we could talk about the enneagram. Any enneagram.

Enneagram is a style of personality-typing.  Like Myer-Briggs only different. I’ve been listening to a podcast where they’ve been talking about it (Rebel Heart Radio).  They are REALLY into it. But in a fun way. I’m on the third of TEN episodes where they talk about it. Because it’s complicated.

There are nine enneagram types (numbers 1-9), then there are “wings” and “levels of integration” and all sorts of other nuances. As I have been listening to the podcast, I’ve been trying to guess my type based on how they are describing each one. They started with nine, so at first, I thought I was a nine, wing one.  Then I was sure that I was a three, wing four but not a straight three. It seems like at some point it all turns to mush, and you might be any enneagram. But I hadn’t gotten that deep into it, was it just dabbler’s skepticism?

I’m not about to let a little skepticism keep me away from a free, online personality test, so today I decided to take an enneagram test to find out.

There are a bunch of free enneagram tests online.  I started with the version. The questions are pretty complicated and dense. I got the result that I thought I would, but I had just been listening to the podcast and was familiar with the language that this school uses to describe each type. I decided that I would take another version to confirm my results.

Next, I tried the test.  I liked these questions better. They were a bit more simply constructed.  I expected to get the same result as the other test, but I wound up somewhere completely different!

Ok, let’s try a third version, that will be the tiebreaker, right?  Not so fast my friend.  I took the version on and got an another completely different answer. And I really didn’t think that I was that version. Maybe I was just getting personality test fatigue (or maybe I have an undiagnosed multiple personality disorder).  I liked the questions in this version best, they were the most straightforward.  I also liked that they give you scores on your wing.

After a break, I couldn’t help it, I decided to try again.  I tried and guess what? This time I got all the three types that I had gotten in the other three tests (this test gives you your top three and tells you to choose from the descriptions).

You can read up on enneagrams, but I think it’s more fun to take one (or more) of these tests and let them tell you:

Let me know if you decide to try any enneagram test(s) you take and what you result(s) got.  I’ll post my results in the comments in a bit.

Wash Your Hands

Well, since it’s Health and Wellness Monday, I felt like I couldn’t skip the opportunity to tell you to wash your hands and to discuss current events.  Even though I don’t want to. I mean, this is pretty crazy guys. The word unprecedented has been going around, I certainly feel like it is. On so many levels – there is the virus itself, the public policy response, the social impact, and the unforeseen long-term economic impact.

I’m not an expert on any of these areas and I don’t want to potentially spread any misinformation, but I would like to take this opportunity to contemplate these four points. Maybe you have some better information that you can share with me in the comments.

The Virus

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that was unknown before the outbreak in China in December 2019. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), coronaviruses (CoV):

… are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

The risk of catching COVID-19 is still low for most people in most locations. Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. Once someone catches a virus, their body will create antibodies and they won’t be as susceptible to the same illness again.

Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around 5 days. It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses (a few hours up to several days).

The issue with this virus is that about 1 in every 5 people who catch it will become seriously ill and need hospital care. Older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.

The virus that causes COVID-19 and the one that caused the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 are related to each other genetically, but the diseases they cause are quite different. SARS was more deadly but much less infectious than COVID-19. There have been no outbreaks of SARS anywhere in the world since 2003. I think this is notable because it implies that this will probably be a similarly short-term world health concern.

Public Policy Response

Let’s agree to that the ultimate objective of the public policy response to the COVID-19 outbreak is intended as a means to curb the spread of the virus in order to protect those most vulnerable to serious illness. Based on various things I’ve read, it seems like everyone will probably catch this, not everyone will get very sick, but those who are susceptible will get seriously ill.

The capacity of the healthcare system is limited, so the best option is to take measures to slow the spread of the virus so that there are hopefully fewer seriously ill people at any given time in an attempt to not overwhelm the healthcare system.

I’m not a public health authority by any means, I am not even a public health amateur. That being said, I am surprised by the delay and haphazard implementation of institutional response. Last week, when the ballet performance that I was planning to attend was canceled, professional sports were still playing to stadiums and arenas full of thousands of people.

As I write this, it’s as if the whole world is canceled – including entire seasons of various sports, events ranging from Coachella to the meetings of my Toastmaster’s club; schools are closed, so are museums and performing arts venues.

Social Impact

This leads to the social impact. I really wonder how the crazy grocery shopping makes any sense in terms of “social distancing.” If you are really worried about exposure, why do you have to go to the store to buy ALL THE FOOD right this moment?  When everyone else is as well. Everyone is in a hurry to get all the stuff that they need to lock themselves in their house for the next month. It strikes me as an unfortunate time to cultivate an “us against them” mentality.

This morning, as I was walking in my neighborhood, I was crossing the street when a mom and her little boy were approaching the corner.  Generally, my neighbors are friendly, and it is common to great people with a smile and a “hello.” This time was different. She not only glared at me, but she turned her back as if to shield her son from me.  Keep in mind, I was probably 20 feet away from them as I passed.

Are we going to start viewing everyone as a potential threat?  I hope not. I hope that we will remember that most of us will probably get sick, but the reason that we are practicing “social distancing” is to help the healthcare system retain its capability to provide services for those of us who have a severe response to the virus.

Long-term Economic Impact

This is what really concerns me.  Let’s say that everyone stays home for the next three, four, five, eight weeks. Healthcare organizations get a grip on things and life gets back to normal. There are still going to be economic repercussions that we can’t begin to imagine.

Here’s an example: I had some freelance work lined up for next week. It was a small project, everything is done remotely, no big deal. There is no reason that what is going on should affect this job, right?  Not so fast my friend. The publication is distributed as part of an event, which was canceled.  So, no need to worry about the print deadline. Will they reschedule the event?  Probably.  Will they still want my help on the publication?  Maybe, maybe not. Maybe now they have the time to do the work that they were going to outsource to me themselves.  I would if I was them.

That is just one example of the kinds of economic ripples I think we are going to be seeing. I don’t imagine that the majority of individuals or organizations who are having their income stream disrupted have 30, 60, 90 days of resources available. I think we are going to see all sorts of domino effects in terms of the economy in the near future.

Wrapping Up

So those are the sorts of things that I have been thinking about in terms of the current situation.

As someone who has been practicing social distancing for a while, I would like to encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to do something that you haven’t felt like you have time for in your normal life.  If you are working from home, think of the time that you aren’t spending commuting as a gift. Don’t spend your energy reading all of the things about the pandemic or binging on reality TV. Do one of those things from your “if only” pile.  Read that stack of books, clean you closets, learn about astrology or enneagrams or Norse mythology, garden, meditate, make something, write something. If you want to write a guest post for this blog, let me know.

Wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and don’t forget to be compassionate toward your fellow humans. We’re all in this together.

Practicing Gratitude


How was your Thanksgiving?  I hope that in addition to enjoying food, friends, and family, you also took a moment to be thankful for the nice things in your life.

For example, I am thankful for you reading, commenting, and sharing this blog.

Gratitude has become a big topic in the zeitgeist these days.  I don’t remember it being such a “thing” when I was younger.  Of course, you were supposed to practice gratitude on Thanksgiving, but it wasn’t a trendy, daily practice type thing. When I stopped to think about it, it is something that seems like it has been building over maybe the past ten years into something that is now ubiquitous.

Maybe seven years ago, I met a neuroscientist who was doing research on the health impacts of gratitude.  I don’t remember all of the methodologies, but the punchline was that there was some sort of measurable, physical benefit.  Apparently, it was a big up-and-coming area of study because now it seems like there is all sorts of scientific research about the positive impacts of practicing gratitude.

I was recently in charge of the impromptu speaking portion of my Toastmasters meeting.  The theme for the meeting was gratitude.  I did a quick google search of gratitude practices and came across the practice of a gratitude jar.  I’m not sure how you’re really supposed to do it, but for my purposes, I cut a bunch of scraps of paper and wrote random things that I would be grateful for.  Then, everyone had to draw a scrap from the jar and speak for one minute about how they are grateful for whatever it was.

I’ll tell you what, I did not expect it to be such a challenge!  I mean there were things like “books,” and “friends,” and “vacation” in the jar.  Two things that really got recipients flummoxed were “apples,” and “cats.” 

I love apples.  I am very grateful for the delicious taste sensation of sliced apple with cheese. But there are so many delightful apple applications to be grateful for – not the least of which is apple pie.  Don’t you agree?  Somehow, this was a stumper.

And cats goes without saying.  If you can’t even pretend to be grateful for cats, I’m not sure what to tell you.

My favorite thanksgiving gratitude practice is taking a yoga class and I have a favorite memory from a few years ago.  It was a usual, beautiful southern California day and I rode my bike down to yoga on the bluff.  I was just telling Mr. Man about how the memory of that day reminds me of so many things that I am grateful for: my pink bike, beautiful California weather, and practicing yoga outside with a whole mess of characters from every walk of life while looking out at the Pacific Ocean.

Like everything else, it is important not to overdo it on gratitude on Thanksgiving and then neglect to practice it for the rest of the year. A moderate amount of gratitude on a regular basis is what is recommended for optimum results.  Try to find one little thing every day, see if you feel a difference.

Happy Bar-versary Bar Method Long Beach!

This November marks the eight-year anniversary (or, as I like to call it bar-versary) of the Bar Method Long Beach (BMLB).  Coincidentally, the studio’s anniversary happens right around the same time as the owner, Joanna West’s birthday. So, today’s post is dedicated to celebrating both BMLB and Jo.  Who doesn’t love a two-for-one celebration?

There are those times when I just feel a little squirmy about my workout. I need to get moving, but I don’t want to do the usual things. When I get that feeling, the best thing for me to do is head to BMLB. The week of the studio’s anniversary coincided with that squirmy feeling convincing me that I needed to “get back to the bar” as they say and subsequently having my butt kicked by Jo in her Monday morning, take-no-prisoners Bar Move class.

There is something about a bar method workout.  I’ve said before how civilized it is – the lovely studio, the smooth and controlled movements, the calm-yet-authoritative manner of the instructor – it all combines to put you in a very serene and centered frame of mind, even while your thighs are quivering uncontrollably and your buns are on fire. I come out of those classes standing taller and feeling more confident in myself every time.  It is just a great experience.

Jo, the owner, is a lovely spirit; she is sweet, and kind, and generous, and tough. I always laugh at myself when I take Jo’s class because I’m always surprised at how extra hard it is.  Her classes are surprisingly tough because she is so sweet and has such a nice way about her that when you’re dying you are surprised to realize that she is kicking your butt with her soft voice and friendly smile.

She has brought the same sweetness and toughness to her business. She is a hard-working businesswoman in a highly competitive niche. What she has done that sets her studio apart from the competition is foster a sense of community. Jo makes a point of supporting other women, as clients, as employees, and as fellow businesswomen. When a regular recently launched a handbag line, Jo hosted a trunk show for her.  She’s been similarly generous to so many of us.

Jo knows what it means to be a successful woman – it means that you support other women and celebrate their successes. She sets an example for everyone at the studio to be supportive, kind, and generous to each other. Everyone celebrates each other’s triumphs (a new job, a new baby, a new haircut) and has each other’s back when times are hard (a lost job, a bad breakup, an injury). I’m not a regular anymore, but every time I’m there, I get to catch up with old friends.  Some of my bar friends are my soul sisters and I’m so thankful that BMLB brought us together.

I’m so proud of Jo for all of the hard work that she puts in to creating such a special place for women in Long Beach to come together in a very quietly understated, yet powerful way.  Thank you, Jo!