All posts by susanweis

Menopause. Why Ayurveda?

DSC02058In 2007, I went to the Chopra Center in California to take part in an Ayurvedic detox program called Panchakarma. Then I was dealing with excess weight. Stress. Defensiveness. Clutter in mind, body and spirit and house!

That week led me to an entirely new way of life, a new body, a new mind and a new career. The new career, as an Ayurvedic consultant and cooking teacher, became so important to me, that at the end of 2014 I closed breathe books after 10 years. Opening breathe was one of the best choices I ever made, and closing breathe was another best choice. And now I find myself even more enthusiastic, excited and convinced that Ayurveda is such an important science, way of life, the path to perfect health. 

Over these past eight and a half years,  I have studied Ayurveda all over the US and in India. From health counseling to teaching cooking and meditation, it really has become my primary focus in life. And now I see the benefits of Ayurveda even more clearly as I enter another stage in life - I’m in menopause or post-menopause, depending on which website you look at.

So I did a lot of research about menopause. I came up with a combination of Ayurvedic herbs and Chinese herbs, pranayama, food, movement, and meditation to serve menopause. And what happened? I lost 17 pounds. 17 pounds  in the past 4 months. I had hot flashes that lasted for about 3 months. Mood swings swung wildly for the past two years until now (poor Larry didn’t know what he was getting into when he married 47-year-old me!) I do believe I’m post-menopausal ( a year has passed since my last period) but sometimes the label is hard to pin down. Whatever you want to call it – it’s amazing. 

Recognize these symptoms? 

  • Mood swings
  • Lower sex drive
  • Hot flashes
  • Sweating
  • Racing heart
  • Headaches
  • Vaginal dryness and soreness
  • Painful sex
  • Trouble sleeping

Through Ayurveda, I can help you relieve them all –  if not completely, then significantly. Menopause can be a time of pure joy into transitioning to the next stage of life. It can feel like a release. It can trigger creativity. Forge bonds. So many things. Let me help you!

I’m creating a new class just for women experiencing the above symptoms. Contact me and let’s get moving towards solving your issues. Either join the class or have an individual consult. We can make this work for you!

Ayurveda has offered me so many solutions. I can’t wait to share them with you. Are you ready? susan@breatheayurveda.com

Happy at Home

I call it Retail Recovery! 1454994_10204358703940797_7939910982571289277_n

Resting from retail after a decade. breathe books and breathe bookstore cafe was an amazing 10-year adventure. So many incredible things came to me from the store (and i hope came to you too!). Over the years we hosted hundreds of authors, classes, groups, and workshops. Thousands of people walked through the door (and several pets too!).

DSC00102 Many of you know that I met my now-husband Larry, when he walked through the door of the shop (on December 8, 2008). And just after we got married (September 26, 2010), our puppy Ella came through the door as well (on December 30, 2010!).  And then Shadow came along from Larry’s mom (November 2013) and our little family was complete! 

Larry and I moved to a house in the woods of Reisterstown in ella fall leavesMay 2014 and established Susan’s Kitchen and Breathe Ayurveda – my home-based practice.  We both work in the “food” industry – Larry on non-GMO projects and food safety, and me, teaching people how to cook vegetarian food, how to incorporate Ayurveda into their lives, and to learn to meditate to find inner peace and happiness.  I will try to keep my blogs up-to-date! It’s hard sometimes when there is so much else to do – but I do have lots to share. More soon (keeping fingers crossed!)10959638_10205016806512950_6523197556692589805_n

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The 40s

So I’m looking back on the 40s  - not the 1940s – my 40s! Because tomorrow I turn 50. I cannot imagine what my fifties hold for me because there is no way I could have predicted the amazing happenings of my forties. Here are the highlights:

When I was 39 I began the process of creating breathe books. I was inspired while standing in the (now- closed) Bodhi Tree Bookstore in West Hollywood, California. I was in front of the reincarnation section and it hit me that I could have a bookstore with a reincarnation section! Thus the idea for breathe books was born, which luckily has consumed my forties!

I opened breathe books, in October 2004 when I was 41 years old, to amazing success! The bookstore was a hit from day one which was thrilling, exciting and exhausting and sometimes daunting. While I had support from a few friends, opening breathe was pretty much a solitary effort which I can now see was a major theme in my life. I was always determined to make things happen on my own. That way the success or failure was mine and mine alone. Much of my life has been spent this way.

But breathe books taught me, among other things, that accepting help is a good thing. That one does not have to go it alone all the time. And one does not have to compromise their soul to collaborate! This I have learned…

At the age of 44 I went to The Chopra Center in California (a lot of good things happen in CA!) and began my Ayurvedic journey. A week-long stay there resulted in a 50 pound-weight loss and the beginning of a journey through this ancient Indian system of health that has now become my passion and a significant portion of my livelihood.

At the age of 45 (December 6, 2008 to be exact) a man walked into my bookstore. Not an extraordinary fact on a
larry fbregular day. But this man had a spark I had never seen before in a person. And we chatted and chatted and I thought oh I could talk to (and look at!) this man for ever! One year later to the date, after enjoying the Mayor’s Christmas  Parade in Hampden, Larry Bohlen asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. From the day we met our future together was inevitable. We got married on September 26, 2010.

On December 30, 2010, a friend walked into breathe books carrying the most adorable puppy in her arms. Me (not {yet} a dog person) said – oh let me me hold Ella Shakti Weis-Bohlenher for just a minute…and that was that! Larry and I adopted “Speckles” on January 2, 2011 and our life raising a puppy began. We soon renamed her Ellananda Shakti Weis-Bohlen – Ella for short! To say I’m a crazy dog-lady now is a massive understatement!

So there I was, 47 years old, basking in the love of a husband, a wonderful marriage, and a beautiful dog, never knowing that any of this was even possible. I had no idea how much love one could have in their house, in their heart. It still astonishes me. Brings me to tears, even…

48 and 49 have continued to bring unexpected love to our home. Now we have Shadow, my mother-in-law’s dog, living with us. She and Ella are best friends and we have twice 315417_10200589854041905_2147443060_nas much doggy love to go around!

At 49 and a half I decided that we really needed to expand breathe books in order for it to thrive and be around for a very long time. In addition to books, providing people with healthy, delicious food has become increasingly important to me. So the idea for breathe bookstore cafe was born. Working together with Larry to create a business and financial plan, we’ve been able to raise nearly $150,000 to make this idea a reality. In our nine years of being part of the Baltimore community, so many of you believe in us and our mission that you are supporting our efforts to bring you vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and Ayurvedic foods! We hope to be open by the end of May.

I will be about a month into my fifties by then! And I have no idea what amazing adventures await me. All I know is that I’ve never felt better. I think I look better too! I’ve never been more comfortable with myself inside and out. I certainly have a heart filled to the brim with love and joy. I’m deeply humbled by all I have learned through my meditation, Ayurvedic and yoga practices, and all I have learned from my customers. While I have few close friends, I know and love thousands of people around the world! My close friends are dear to me. My mother is healthy and my sisters are fine.

So here’s to 50! I’m open to all the possibilities and look forward to 50 more years of great health, fun, joy, love and adventure. Abundance in all areas of our lives. Larry has shown me a world I didn’t even know was possible. Such deep love and commitment. I highly recommend this marriage thing! It’s more profound than I could have imagined. No matter what age you are, I hope you are able to share love and joy with all the beings in your world.

Love to all of you!

Susan

Transitions, always in transition

So the weather goddess really took this last-day-of-summer stuff seriously on Labor Day! When the weather transitions, I feel like there are so many new possibilities. It’s a reminder that everything changes and things become new again.

At our Town Hall meeting about future possibilities for breathe books, many folks told me about their passion and love for the store and its’ programs. It was overwhelming and a little embarrassing, but at the end of the day, it was empowering. Many great ideas flowed out of the group brainstorm.

Stay tuned for new thoughts and directions, but at the same time, keeping the best of breathe books and doing it even better! Thank you all so much for your input — keep it coming!

Now we move full steam ahead with many amazing events this Fall. Meir Schneider expands on his previous standing-room only visit to breathe with a weekend workshop teaching Healing Through Self-Movement designed to strengthen and improve vision. Space is limited! Please call soon to hold your space (September 17 &18)

And very very very big…Mike Dooley (tut.com) is coming on October 2! Please sign up soon so we know what kind of space we need to hold his talk. Mike has over 44,000 fans on Facebook — make me feel like a schlump!

All this and more below, including other October highlights. Remember that Fall is a wonderful time to transition your health! Sign up for an Ayurvedic Consult with me in September or October and take $10 off of Ayurvedic Cooking class (October 9)! You’ll be amazed at how small changes can have dramatic results.

See our entire newsletter, including events here: http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs009/1101497121160/archive/1107400722380.html

And here’s your Ella photo of the week:

Ella autumn
Ella says, where did summer go?

Seeking Partner (s)…

Hi Everyone,
As I write this the stock market is falling, the US has been downgraded by the S&P, and our Congress went all dramatic on us with the debt ceiling limit issue. So is the sky falling?

It’s still nice and bright in breathe books. We have about 25 people upstairs in second wind at an IONS meeting and another 10 or so are in breathing space for meditation tonight. I took in some BNotes today (our new local currency) and our psychic readers are booked up for the next week. It feels good in here…in the little breathe books world!

But as the planet goes through these massive shifts (perhaps pre-cursors and transformations leading to Dec. 2012) I’m trying to create my world exactly as I want it to be. That is why I’m having a Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, August 25 at 7:30 p.m. to talk about the future of breathe books. It is my intention to find an individual, or a group of people, to partner with me so that we can grow breathe books and its programs.

Among the most popular events at breathe books are the Ayurvedic classes, consults, workshops and retreats — here — and other places around the region. I want to continue to grow this side of the business, which teaches people how to take their health and well-being into their own hands through nutrition, creating a healthy and detoxifying daily routine, meditation and yoga, among other life-style changes.

I also love love love taking people on trips to sacred sites around the world. Our trip to India in November already has 11 people signed up! I would love to have the time to travel more and show people the world through spiritual eyes.

But I also love love love breathe books!! So I’m trying to figure out a way to keep a presence in the shop while doing what I do best for me and hopefully beneficial to the community. It seems this can be accomplished by partnering with someone who loves the store as I do, and wants to create a niche for themselves, which would allow me time to teach and travel, while they establish themselves in breathe books, creating an even stronger presence in the community and the independent bookselling world.

Does this sound good to you? Let’s talk about it! I look forward to hearing what our customers have to say. The book world is changing daily. With the closure of Border’s, perhaps “small and independent” may be the way to go! We can shift more easily with the times, we are in better contact with our customers and community, and can respond faster to what you want and need.

Feel free to contact me anytime for more information on partnering with breathe books. I’m in the exploratory phase, but I thought I’d let you in on it!

love,

Susan

p.s. to all who have emailed me about Ella — here is your picture of the week!

Ella Relaxing
Ella and me relaxing on Sunday.  Photo by Larry B.

new business model: how do bookstores survive? And what about the puppy?

I’ve been thinking A LOT about this lately. We sell less books; you buy less books, but maybe more ebooks or books online – which is fine! It’s just the way things are, but we don’t sell ebooks and I can’t compete with online sales, and even if we did, the margin of profit is pennies on the dollar. I’d rather let Amazon, B&N and others deal with that right now.

So I just have to do what I do best (and I’m constantly re-evaluating that!) What is it that we do best at breathe and how do we monetize that so that I can pay the rent, pay my staff and make a living for myself and be around to create more?

I’m working on the answer to these questions and would love to hear your thoughts (email me at susan@breathebooks.com or comment here).

Our comfy little shop is the fertile ground upon which so many interesting things grow. As many of you know, breathe books has presented me with several life-changing gifts over the years, including meeting my husband Larry and our new puppy Ella Shakti!

Ella Shakti Weis-Bohlen

So while I try to figure out the new economic reality and what it means to you and me, I can also just play with my puppy.

After we got her, the book by Eckhart Tolle, Guardians of Beings, kept coming into my mind. I took it home and read it the other day – tears filled my eyes. My little puppy is here with us for so many reasons – our little Guardian of Being who teaches us to constantly be in the moment. I think all she remembers of the past is how warm her mommy felt, and how safe she kept her. Her thoughts of the future are probably more of that – can I snuggle with mommy and daddy? Will they keep me warm and fed? Can I run around a lot today? She looks at us with those amazingly human eyes and just exudes love and gratitude. I try to shine those feelings right back to her.

Stay in the moment. Everything is fine right here. It will all work out as long as we keep doing the best we can…I want to do the best for my husband, my puppy, the store and the community. And, oh yeah, and me too! So I’m going to play with my puppy now.

Expanding

Hi All — the following is a letter I posted on Facebook recently. I send it with an open heart to all our wonderful supporters and customers:

Dear breathe books customer,

I need your help.

Throughout the almost six years since I opened breathe books we’ve been quite successful. We attract authors and presenters from around the world, we have turned a profit every year since we opened, and we hired Jenn Northington as full-time manager late last year.  It is a good business. Classes are often full and people show a great interest in our programs, but the truth of the matter is that people are simply not buying as much as they used to.

Still we have had such wonderful success, but I am not immune to the current economic situation. It’s become increasingly difficult to keep cash flow at a level to cover operating costs. That money allows us to pay presenters to come to breathe, and to stock the great variety of books, music, gifts and other items on our shelves, drawing a diverse group of customers. Inventory is a major investment.

To address this we’re doing something that may sound counter-intuitive: we’re going to expand. I believe that I need to bring you more of what you want.  In order to adapt to this new reality, breathe books is launching an expansion program.

The expansion plans include diversification of products, the addition of new classes, and ultimately the purchase a beautiful space to hold more classes, workshops, concerts, cooking classes and more. Here is where we need your help.  In order to finance the new business plan, we are starting a community investment program, modeled after a successful program in Brooklyn where the community recently supported the creation of a new bookstore in their neighborhood.

So I’m asking you today to help breathe books thrive as a center of community and learning. You can either donate money, invest in the store and receive interest on your principal (2% – 4% – you choose your interest), or purchase gift cards that never expire but have a start date one-year from purchase. Rather than having money sit in a CD in a bank, every time you come to breathe you will actually see your money at work. This is not only an investment in breathe books, it’s an investment in our community.

Please let me know if you are interested in learning more.  I’d be happy to send you the promissory note, investor’s agreement, and a business disclosure form, per Maryland State law. And of course I’d be happy to talk to you about how we will use the money raised in order to create a deeper foundation for the bookstore and continue to offer classes, books, products and experiences that enrich us all.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this letter and for considering becoming a breathe books community investor!

With much love and gratitude,

Susan L. Weis

proprietress, breathe books, LLC

home…maybe

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca

Back from Peru. We arrived home Friday night – at least I think we did. Some part of me is still floating above Lake Titicaca. While we were visiting this magical lake, we met with the hotel and tour company owner Jorge Luis Delgado. Jorge is also the author of the book The Andean Awakening.

Jorge and our guide and Shaman, Amaru Li, are very old friends. Amaru asked Jorge to meet with us, so he joined our group as we sat outside in the brilliant Andean sun on the shores of Lake Titicaca. His hotel, the Taypikala Puno, is designed so that you can see the lake from practically every angle. (I was able to just roll over in bed at 5:30 in the morning and watch the sun rise over the lake. Spectacular.)

So, meeting with Jorge…he told us the most incredible stories about Lake Titicaca and it’s energetic connections to the other planetary ley lines and high vibrational centers on our planet. He also told us about supposed tunnels under the lake which connect to other portals. He spoke about our “space brothers” and their visits to the lake and the region. Jorge spoke with such clarity and integrity. He is a great Shaman and teacher and it was an honor to spend time with him.

Jorge is hosting a gathering of masters and teachers at the Taypikala Puno on February 14, 2010. I woke up the day after our talk and went down to the front desk and made my reservations for February. I don’t want to miss this.

This trip to Peru was profound. It seems like it’s taken me to another level, another state of awareness. This heightened state began in earnest in February 2007 when I went to Glastonbury, Avebury and Stonehenge to prepare for the trip I would take with a group in July of that year. Since then I’ve been on some incredible trajectory which has included visiting India for the second time, and my deep immersion into Ayurveda. I’ve traveled some of the most powerful ley lines on the planet, spent time in crop circles, and ventured into the depths of my own being. Somehow it’s all lining up in an astonishing way.

I know this is a lot to share, but I want you to know what traveling the world’s energy lines and chakra sites can do to you. Just be open to the possibilities and receive, receive, receive. I have a favorite line from the Borg…resistance in futile.

Receive.

see photos from the trip at: www.facebook.com/susan.l.weis.

Peru!

Mother Earth

Mother Earth

First of all I have to say that this post will be full of typos and other errors because I´m typing on a keyboard with half the letters rubbed off, and it´s in Spanish. ) If it wasn´t for the Conquistadors I´d be writing in Qatchua.) So please forgive me!
I´m sitting in our lovely hotel in Machu Piccu. We spent the day climbing among the ruins here. It was magnificent. Our group of 7 has already taken in so much of Peru and we still have a 6 days to go!

I just keep using the word ¨stunning¨reálizing that I´ve got to come up with another word to describe what we have seen, but I´m hard pressed to do so. Each day is more beautiful than the one before.

We arrived last Sunday night June 7 and it was quickly on to Cusco from Lima. When we stepped out of the airplane in Cusco the air had a stillness to it I´ve never experienced. At 12,500 feet, the altitude was up there! But it didn´t effect me in a negativeve way. Rather I think I felt a little high. I don´t know if it was the air or the beauty.
Cusco is said to be the old spiritual center of the country. It has a feel of Nepal or Tibet in the way the energy moves. Stunning. Unfortunatly, all the major Incan sites were destroyed by the Spanish who, in turn, built Catholic Churches over the ruins of the Incan Temples. At least they knew were the spiritual energy was…

But I digress…
One really funny thing…hot stone massage Incan style. Fellow travelers Ann, Melissa and I decided to try this out. Three of us in one room with three young Peruvian girls. I was face down on my table listening to the lilting sounds of Enya when suddenly my girl hopped up on my table and planted her feet on my butt and began some sort of introduction to the massage with her hands and feet alternatively walking on me and squatting over me. I hadn´t even seen her face! It was just so hysterical to me I began laughing with my face down in a hole in the table. It was one of those uncontrollable laughing fits. Melissa and Ann couldn´t see me as their faces were buried in the their holes too. I was laughing too hard to explain what was going on , but they soon found out! Finally she hopped down and I was able to see the face of the sweet young thing, Marie, who introduced herself to me by walking on my back.

This had to be the deepest massage I´ve ever had. As I didn´t know how to say ‘ not so hard,¨ I would say ¨no mas forte¨ — sounded good to me! She would just look at me and say, ¨mas forte?¨ oy….it was so funny. And actually a really good massage!

Oh now back to the trip! Pisac. Wonderful market. Bumped into a past life soul mate named Jose Luis. (I love when this happens!) and on to the amazing (and, ok, stunning) Sacred Valley. As soon as I can I´ll post photos and more comments.

But before this we had seen the ruins at Saxxywaman – yes, stunning. You see, everything here is so overwhelmingly gorgeous and moving that it´s hard to keep track of. I could have spent three days in each spot so far and still not have seen or felt enough. There is so much to take in and so much to appreciate.

I fell in love with a rock at the ruins of Olataytambo. I do believe it is the sister of another rock I love so much in Avebury. Somehow they were separated at birth and one landed in England and the other in Peru. Not so far fetched when you see these sites.

Our guide, Amaru Li, has arranged the most beautiful trip for us, down to the very last detail. The hotels are the best in the country, including a place called The Bountiful Lodge in Olataytambo. It´s run by a fantastic guy named Emillio who is half Chinese and half Peruvian and 100 percent awesome. The Lodge in on a rushing river with those enormous rocks and the Andes for a backdrop. Um…stunning.

So, tomorrow morning we will arrive back to Machu Piccu for sunrise around 6:30 a.m. I know a few hundred others will be there too, but I am so honored to be among them. When we arrived at Machu Piccu this morning  thought to myself, well, now I´ve seen everything. At 46 I have seen so much — of this world — and others.  I can´t even begin to understand how blessed I am.

More soon…adios. Buenas noche. (please forgive typos!!)

susan

BEA highlights

I just got back from New York and Book Expo America. The show felt very different this year. It was quieter. Booksellers were all asking each other how things were going with true concern. For the most part the answer seemed to be that it felt kind of unpredictable. Some days were great. Others not so great. It seems to be a question of balance and figuring out how best to serve the public while serving ourselves as well.

At Book Expo the American Booksellers Association (the ABA) offers a day of educational programming geared toward booksellers. The classes are always well-attended and informative. We are all looking for ways to be be successful in this new economy. Looking at all the angles. Looking into the deep, dark corners. Planning for the long run. The ABA is a great support for us.

Besides bookseller and publisher angst there were plenty of high moments. For me it was practically sitting at the feet of Richard Russo and John Irving as they were being interviewed for a small group that gathered on the trade show floor. Oh that was amazing! To be so close to two of my favorite writers and to hear their candid thoughts on writing, reading and publishing.

Both of them now write screenplays almost as much as they write their novels. John Irving said he does them both at the same time. I’m not sure if that takes away from the novel — they both agreed that books are better than the movies! Russo said what movies show you, a writer needs to describe, so he always feels that challenge to “show” what he is talking about.

They both spoke about the structure of their novels. John Irving joked that they always involved a single mother, a dead child, and a town in New England. Both said they needed that drama to grab the writer. Russo said he often cringes when he gets to the point where he needs to describe some terrible scene, but it’s so key to the narrative.

It was such a revealing conversation. It’s moments like these that make me so so happy to sell books. To get the inside scoop from an author and pass it on to a reader. I love this.