When one closet closes, another window is opened–Wendy’s Closet Clothes Out

Yesterday marked both an anniversary and the end of an era. Wendy’s Closet in Stowe, Vermont, closed its doors after 24 years (to the day) of business. Those who have shopped at Wendy’s know that her store was so much more than “fabulous” fashions. Her goal has always been to help women feel beautiful and confident in their own skin, and she has empowered women for years to embrace their unique beauty. The energy and love that filled this small shop knew no boundaries.  All who passed through her doors received the utmost service of loving-kindness from Wendy and her staff, or her ‘Angels’ as she liked to refer to them.

I was blessed to be a “Wendy’s Angel” myself, coming to the store in 2008 on a return trip from college. With no summer job prospects, I happened upon Wendy’s looking for a birthday gift for a friend. As a long time customer of the store, Wendy knew my retail history and offered me a job the moment I told her I was looking for work.

Little did I know that this moment would alter the course of my life. Wendy took me in and opened up a world of love, kindness, generosity, loyalty, and spirituality to me. She is truly a guru among humans–humble and noble, fabulous and fashionable. She’s a woman who can throw anything on with a tee-shirt and jeans and make it funky and classy all at the same time. She taught me lessons about self-confidence and the importance of self-love as we played marathons of backgammon, read our horoscopes from the Seven Days and ate cupcakes from Harvest Market.

It was in her very shop that I even landed my current job. I had moved home from living abroad and had little more than two dimes to rub together. I called Wendy, as I always do when I am home and in transition. As expected, she opened her doors wide to me and offered me my coveted job back. I came to work only for the weekend, taking the bus from NYC to Stowe. Some might call it luck, but I call it fate, that on this very weekend back in October of 2013, I helped a customer who would end up offering me a position within a company called Education First, which would eventually launch my career as the Director of the Cultural Care Au Pair Training School.

The path that my life has traveled since that day has everything to do with Wendy’s Closet. All of the lessons I’ve learned over the years from Wendy about facing my fears, taking chances and opening myself up to the gifts of the Universe came to pass under her roof on this fateful day in late October.

Wendy is a woman of strength and character, and has been both a mentor and a dear friend to me. Her store was my haven, a place I called home. I knew it inside out, from the merchandise to her loyal customers. I relished my afternoons working with Wendy and the Angels.

And so, it is with bittersweet emotion that I write this piece. It is difficult to imagine Stowe without Wendy’s Closet, but I, like anyone else who knows Wendy, am certain that whatever this new chapter brings, it’s going to be “fabulous.”

Wendy, these mere words I’ve conjured pale in comparison to the feelings of gratitude and love I feel for you and your store. Thank you for everything, and my best wishes to you in this exciting transition.

Lots and lots of love,

Lizzie

wcvt

 

 

Circumnavigating the Heart; A Father’s Day Tribute

The circle is a symbol we can all identify with, an infinitely wise geometric shape.

The heart, a blood-pumping-organ that circulates oxygen and blood through our veins.

The sun, which chases the moon through the night sky, dashing across the universe

And pulling the tides of the sea inhale, exhale.

A ship, sailing the seas, circumnavigating the globe.

Through turbulent waters and calm ones he sailed.

My father, the seafarer.

Some of my earliest memories of my father were imaginations, ruminations.

I sat spinning my globe ’round and round tracing an outline with my delicate pointer finger

Across mountains and seas, desserts and rain forests,

Metropolitan cities and rivers and valleys.

“Where’s Daddy?” Mommy would ask.

“Bangladesh,” or  “Cape Town,” or  “Diego Garcia,” I would reply, pinpointing his location with my finger.

I imagined him on his ship, the master of the seas.

“Daddy always comes home” Mommy would tell me.

And he always did.

—–

It was hard for all of us to function as a family unit sans the captain of our household.

But his first mate and crew managed.

Our hearts were full of joy when Dad came and grief when he left.

And even as we grew older and more accustomed, it never became easier.

Birthdays were missed, Christmases too.

But as Dad sailed he circumnavigated our hearts.

Because it was love for his family that sent him back to the open seas each time.

—-

Don’t be fooled, Dad. This love is not unrequited nor unappreciated.

And it’s this very love, which has had a profound effect on my life.

Sometimes the effects were as indirect as the passage around the Cape of Good Hope,

But they remain a part of me nonetheless.

I too became a traveler, and as the wanderlust surged and swelled within me like a storm raging in the Atlantic, I set off, like my father, to chart my own course.

I wanted to see the world  just like my Dad.

I wanted my passport to be as full and diverse as his.

And most of all I wanted to explore borders and push boundaries.

I wanted to open myself up the world and let my heart soar to heights as high as Kilimanjaro and plunge as low as the ocean’s floor.

From home, my parents worried. But they were steadfast in their love and support.

And what I’ve learned is that no matter how many times we complete a circle, we are infinitely traveling towards home.

Towards the center of our hearts,

And into the arms of those who love us most.

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Dad,

My passport is now filled with stamps, but the most important stamp of all is the influence you’ve had on my life over the past 24 years. Thank you for your love that knows no borders.

And remember, I, too, always come home.

Happy Father’s Day!

Love,

Lizzie

 

 

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Attitude of Gratitude — A Mother’s Day Smile

From her joyous womb they cut me out and introduced me to the world. 

The scar tissue from my child birth formed what mom called her “Lizzie smile.”

This scar, a symbol of the symbiotic relationship, formed between a mother and daughter.  

A smile. Yes, if our relationship could boil down to one word, smile would be it. 

Some days were upside down smiles, of course. But right side up or up side down, it matters not. 

She was there, steadfast in her love for her children, her family. 

That’s how a family is created, isn’t it?

Creation through an act of love. 

And the most amazing thing about creating from love is that you pass that love along and watch it as it multiplies. 

My brother’s and I are results of that love, which we too are able to share with the world. 

And one of mom’s incredible gifts that she passed along to me was her love for words.

The gift of gab, some would call it. 

Whether it’s an oral story or a poem or a book, mom’s talents know no boundaries but the one’s she sets herself. Spirit flows through her when she’s handpicking her words like apples from trees and weaving them into intuitive tales, laden with experience. Her creativity never ceases to entertain her crowd. 

So on this Mother’s Day, I hope to return some of these words to my mom. It’s not flowers or breakfast in bed, but it’s something that we share, and something that makes us both smile. 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thank you for everything you do for your family. I hope you’ve been inspired to do more of what you love, because even though we’re grown, we still take our cues from you.

Keep multiplying that love and go get your damn story published! 

XO — Lizzie 

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Managing changing relationships. A yogi toolkit!

Dear readers, I’m pleased to announce that all of this writing I’ve been doing lately has paid off! I’ve been published in the Elephant Journal! Please click the following link and give a read! Thank you all for you inspiration and support! Lots and lots of love!

Lizzie

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/05/managing-change-in-relationships-a-yogi-toolkit-lizzie-guerra/

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Attitude of Gratitude — Day 43: Reunion

I’m writing this from my phone as I sit on the 3 train. I haven’t had much time to write, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to be grateful for. Actually, recently it seems that the more I have to do, and the busier I am, the more I have to give thanks for!

Today was another full day of sunshine and good company, and tonight I reunite with a good friend who I haven’t seen in 3 years.

We met in 2009 during our study abroad program in Burkina Faso. We fast became friends and were an unstoppable duo; the self proclaimed Lizzie and Elena show, we commanded attention and turned heads with our dance moves. We always said that we were “coupé de là même tissu” –cut from the same fabric. Fabric as colorful as a Burkinabé pagne, the gorgeous west African cloth, which clads all.

I’m grateful to the souls out in this world, who I’ve connected with. And I’m SO grateful for the joyous moments of reunion, because they’re filled with fond memories of days gone by, reminiscent laughs of mischief managed and good times spent.

Hugs abound!

-L

Attitude of Gratitude–Day 42: Renewed Enthusiasm

For the past few days I have been feeling a lot of my energy desiring to be channeled into things that grow my person. There are things that I’ve been wanting to do for a while, like listen to lectures, read, study languages and work out. Because I’ve been so focused on keeping my head above water at work and trying to find a social balance, I’ve had very little free time to do anything more than write daily,  sleep and MAYBE visit friends on the weekends.

All of a sudden, today, I snapped my fingers and did all of the things I’ve been meaning to do for some while! It’s as if my enthusiasm for myself has been restored. God it feels so good! I can’t wait to get my hands into new projects like learning Spanish, taking cooking classes, reading, training at the gym and deepening my faith and yoga practice. Right now I feel like I could tackle any project…so I guess that means I’ll have to do just that! Bring ‘em on!

I’m grateful today to have enthusiasm for some long term projects, which I can focus myself on daily!

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 41: Progress

I climbed to the top of the high dive and jumped valiantly into the deep end of the pool.

Metaphorically speaking that is.

I plunged, and immediately  began kicking my way to the surface for a gulp of air to relieve my burning lungs.

It’s been five weeks.

Today, I drank in my first slurp of air.

My lungs inflated, and I buoyed on the surface for a split second.

Then, as naturally as I could, I began to paddle.

Progress.

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Today, I am grateful to see the fruit of some of my labors. I finally feel as though I am beginning to get the hang of this job, my staff, Long Island. I’m making slow, but steady progress. The hard work I’ve put into purging and cleaning out storage rooms, organizing new systems, improving the quality of the food and, most importantly, getting to know my staff and their strengths is showing promise!

I know I’m in the right place, and it feels good. Gratitude to progress and patience–the two go hand in hand.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 40: Devotion

I’d like to stop and have a good laugh at the Lenten calendar, because I’ve written every day for 39 days….and it’s still not Easter. I’d get out my abacus and check again, but a quick Google search will probably give me the answer to this quandary faster.

According to the Catholic church, the devotional “giving up” of something for Lent is practiced 6 out of the 7 days week days. So for those of you who didn’t know, next year Sunday is fair game. Indulge away.

And while I initially made this promise to be “40 days Catholic,” I’m going to stick it out until Easter Sunday, because I feel attached to the idea of Lent itself, and writing about what I’m grateful for has become a devotional practice that I’m (thankfully) not sure I’ll be able to drop easily.

What started out as a commitment, has turned into a practice that has not only has gotten me through a challenging transition, but has also completely shifted my perspective on life. To be able to take even the toughest day and find something to be grateful for is a life skill. It’s something that I believe everyone should be equipped with. It’s a powerful tool to transform the negative into positive, because in doing so we are able to raise the level of consciousness around us. We need to start preaching gratitude to our children. Let’s create a generation that knows how to be thankful for what they have. If we can do this, we will heal our sick and greedy world.

Today I am grateful that Lent is not over after my 40 day commitment has expired, because it means I have another 5 days to in which I’ll be writing on gratitude. I’m also thankful to this practice for showing me a more enjoyable way to live my life!

Spread the word. What are you grateful for today?

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 39: Manifesting In the Light of the Moon

The potent energy of the full moon has the ability to amplify not only our emotions (if you’ve been reading this week, you’ll certainly be able to tell that I’m a moon child) but also our desires. With tonight’s blood moon eclipse, these lunar energies are 10 times the strength of a regular full moon. So how can we use our energy for positive manifestation? It is my firm belief that the things we bring forth into our lives are a direct result of the energy we put into them. Be they negative or positive, the energies we release into the universe resonate and we will experience them in their karmic form in one way or another.  The key to manifesting what we want, is being grateful for what we already have.

I have a friend whose negative attitude about finding a job has rendered him incapable of actually finding a job! He is a smart, qualified and competitive candidate, yet every time he submits an application, he tells himself that he won’t get the job. He kills his oppotunity before he allows the universe to let it manifest,  because, I believe, he is afraid to be let down. What he doesn’t realize he is doing, is directing negative energy right at his chance of actually landing a job, and thus, he remains forever in cover letter purgatory. And by purgatory, I actually mean the fiery pits of the comedic inferno. Seriously.

But alas, this a lesson my dear friend must learn in stride, because negativity is as much of a choice as positivity. I for one, stand firm in my conviction that my practice of gratitude has made me see the bright side of every new moon, and I am a happier and more positive being as a result. I can’t help but sound a bit boastful here, but my positivity has had an infectious reaction. I can’t stop meeting amazing people, falling into serendipitous happenings and attracting fabulous things into my life. All I can say is that my life is so bountifully blessed with good health, loving friends and family, a wonderful education, an incredible career and a globe that has my footprints tread all over it’s soil.

I am beyond grateful.

I am sublimely happy.

And yet, it is my human nature to have it all and to want more. Not more in the consumer sense. No, I don’t have a burning desire for money or fame (though there is nothing wrong with those who do desire those things). What I desire most, and what I am asking to manifest in this lunar eclipse is the shiva to my shakti. I want to unite the femine and masculine energies in my life so that I can find a harmonious balance in love.

Love is who I am. I have a natural spring that flows from my heart, and a well that will never run dry. Yet, the balance of the shiva and shakti remain a mystery to me. Under the light of tonight’s blood moon, I sit.  What comes out as audible may sound like a faint whisper as it is swallowed by the howling winds, but to the Universe, my heart roars the question, where is my shiva?

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Tonight, I will go the extra step and give thanks to him before he even exists. In my gratitude, I emit a ray of positivity and happiness that will be seized by the lunar eclipse and my heart’s call will echo across the universe so that I may manifest him into my life.

Can you hear me now?

Good.

How ’bout now?

Good.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 38: The Labyrinth

Release, receive, return.

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I took a deep breath centered myself and walked into the labyrinth. As I snaked around the first corner, I asked for guidance, for clarity, for peace, for answers. No sooner had I wound the second slithery turn did I begin to unleash the truths within.

Walking in, I experienced an emotional release of energy that has been building up within me for months. I let the tears fall as I released my pent up fear of being secluded and alone, which has been amplified to elephantine heights by my recent move to Long Island. You see, although I am a highly independent being with transience pulsing through my veins, being in a new place prods at a very needy shadow that resides within me. This neediness shows itself when I am most vulnerable, and it turns me into a very irrational being. I bcome full of demands and expectations of those close to me, and these demands are impossible to fulfill by anyone except myself.

***

Early this morning, as I wept to my friend about missing home, missing traveling, missing nature and feeling so uncomfortable in so many aspects of my life, she comforted me and asked me what I was going to do to center myself today. I had no real answer to her question, though I placated her by saying I’d be extra kind to myself. Later, when I arrived at the train station in Oakdale, I drove right past my home and into the town of Sayville. I didn’t want to mope in my apartment so I went for a nice lunch at the health food store. There, a goofy looking kid behind the counter chatted me up. I told him I was new here and looking for community. He asked me if I did yoga. When I replied, “Yes?” he said to me, “You’ve moved to the right town!” Unbeknownst to me, there is an amazing community of spiritual beings in Sayville and I needn’t look much farther than Mainstreet to meet a few souls that could support me. He told me of a few yoga studios and some other nice meditation centers in the area.

As today was an incredibly beautiful day, I decided to walk down the street and happened on a store called Guru’s. In the shop a sweet Indian couple greeted me and let me be as they tended to another customer buying crystals for her son and daughter. I noted this mom, who looked so unassuming in her mom jeans and tee-shirt. I was amused by her regularity. No dreadlocks, nothing hippy-dippy at all. Yet there she was, talking crystals with the owner and her little children. That’s kind of awesome. I want to be that kind of mom!

After the mom and her children left, Navi, the owner, turned his attention to me. He asked me if I wanted my aura read. Sure, why not? I held my palm out as he held a copper spiral on a string above my hands. As the spiral began to spin in small clockwise he told me my first chakra, my root chakra, was in balance. As he hovered the object over my ring finger, it began to swing forward and backward and he noted that my sacral chakra was blocked. “You’re giving and not receiving and it’s draining your energy,” he told me.  My heart chakra, unsurprisingly, made the copper object swing in gigantic circles, denoting my very open and emotional heart. We went through each chakra and he gave me a quick run down of what I needed to do to find balance.

Standing in his store, I began to feel better by the minute. He handed me a bracelet made of carnelian and told me it is the stone of the second chakra. It’s also the stone of gratitude, and that whenever I see it I should offer up a thought of gratitude. I liked this VERY much (obviously)! He also told me it would give me confidence and eloquence to speak my mind, which unbeknownst to him, is something I’ve been working on for the past few days. Sold.

Then he pointed me outside and told me that I should go walk the labyrinth.

Oh, my heart did a little flip of joy when it heard the word labyrinth! I’ve been borderline obsessed with them since returning from El Camino and have even decided that my very first tattoo will be of a labyrinth and a the camino shell. I thanked him, took my new purchase and headed directly for the labyrinth.

***

As I released the fear I began to hear my angels speaking to me. They told me I am never alone. And I must say, what a message to receive there in the labyrinth.

As I rounded the last corner and came to the center of the labyrinth my being came to center as well. I stood there breathing for quite some time, and received the message. I wrapped my arms around myself and gave myself a much deserved hug. I received the love and felt a sense of peace and clarity wash over me.

As I returned out the way I came in, I thought about the fact that I now lived in a community that had a labyrinth in the park and goofy kids that work at the health food store and moms that buy their kids healing crystals and a cute little Indian couples who read auras… And for some strange and disturbing reason, my feelings towards this place might best described by Old Gregg….I think I could like you, Sayville.

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And while I know that this place is still very new and foreign, I don’t actually have to fret too much about finding people whose souls are as old as mine. They are here. I just need to remain open and they will come.

I am never alone, and I am so grateful.

carnelian

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