Archive for the ‘About Amber’ Category

It’s A Family Affair

Someone wrote me and asked me to write on the topic of family. He pointed out that I have a great family, so how do people who are not as fortunate as me stay positive when it comes to having a dysfunctional family.

Well, to be honest with you, there are entire sections of my family tree whose branches have been severed. It happened when I was very young, and it was hard to deal with then.

What ended up happening, though, was that people who were not even related to me by blood became family. That’s right. Some of my closest relatives are not even related to me by blood or marriage.

I could care less about the DNA, to be honest with you. I love them with all of my heart and they are my family.

What is Family?

Family is a cultural construct. That is what I learned in my studies of anthropology, my major in college.

In some cultures, first cousins call each other brother and sister. The anthropological definition of family is “two or more people who define themselves as family”.

If you are a product of a dysfunctional family, you could try to create your own definition of family. Struggling performers in New York City do this all of the time by celebrating the holidays together because they cannot afford to go home.

I know lots of people who made the healthy decision to sever ties with family members who were abusive. Personally, I applaud any choice that removes people from detrimental situations.

Making Room For The Good

In yoga, after a vigorous asana practice, we lie down in savasana, or corpse pose. It is the final relaxation pose where all we do is try to let go of tension, and to expand the moments in between our thoughts.

Savasana – The Final Relaxation

What that means is we try to just be, instead of thinking about how we should be.

Savasana is meant to be a metaphorical death where we surrender the things we no longer need, so we can make room in our lives for the good things that will benefit us.

What or who do you need to let go of in your life in order to be happier?

This is your life for the making.  I do not recommend holding on to things that are not good for you, be that stress, anger, rage, resentment, jealousy, or unhealthy people in your life.

Even if you still deal with your dysfunctional family, you do not have to let them have power over you. You can choose to live your life for yourself and for the people who are good for you without letting unhealthy people control your actions or your emotions.

When you let go of that which you no longer need, you now have room in your life to accept love, joy, gratitude, happiness, and healthy family members, blood relatives or otherwise.

Family, like life, is what you make of it.




Yoga For The People

Everyone deserves the opportunity to experience yoga. It is a mutual goal of mine and of Charm City Yoga’s to bring yoga to as many communities as possible. We want to spread the joys of yoga as far as possible.

The West Side of Baltimore does not have convenient access to yoga, until now. This Wednesday, I begin teaching Community Yoga at Eubie Blake Cultural Center at 6:30 pm. This class is open to everyone who has ever been interested in learning about yoga.

Community Yoga at Eubie Blake Cultural Center is intended to be “Yoga for the People”. Community Yoga usually only implies great yoga at a cheaper rate, in this case $6. I intend to emphasize the “Community” in Community Yoga.

My goal for the class is to teach people what they want to learn. If people want relaxation, I will give them relaxation. If they want fitness, I will give them fitness.

I see yoga as a gift. It has brought balance, peace, health, strength, and fitness into my life. As a teacher, I want to share those gifts with others.

To demonstrate our commitment to bringing yoga to as many people as possible, Charm City Yoga is offering the first Community Yoga Class at Eubie Blake Cultural Center free of charge as a part of the Free Fall Baltimore.

The first class will be held on October 19th at 6:30 pm at Eubie Blake Cultural Center, 847 North Howard Street. The regular price after that will be $6. Mat rentals are an additional $2. The class will meet regularly on Wednesdays at 6:30 pm at Eubie Blake Cultural Center.

What:  Charm City Yoga Presents Community Yoga at Eubie Blake Cultural Center
When: Wednesdays at 6:30 pm
Where: 847 North Howard Street, Baltimore – on Howard, just North of Madison Street, across the street from Maryland General Hospital
How Much: First class on Wednesday, October 19th is FREE. $6 per class every Wednesday after that. Mat rental is $2
Parking: There is plenty of street parking along Howard. It is free after 6 pm.

If you know anyone who is deserving of yoga, but the price tag or the location is an obstacle, please share this class with them. If you do not live in Baltimore, remember that all local yoga studios should offer affordable Community yoga classes. If you are having trouble finding a class, email me at, and I will help you find one that fits your needs.

See you there!

With love,


Think Before You Speak

Thoughts are more powerful than actions. That is what yogis believe.

The thoughts that race through your head on a daily basis define your existence.

Think about it. Have you ever known someone who speaks misery? Well they have a pretty miserable life right? And what people speak is a direct representation of their thoughts.

Now, have you ever known someone who only or mostly speaks positive words? Their life seems very easy.

My critics will argue the chicken or the egg theory here; they speak misery because their life is miserable, and not the other way around.

Please contemplate these words from some of the greatest minds in history:

I think, therefore I am. -René Descartes

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world. -Buddha

As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. -Proverbs 23:7

The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it. -Marcus Aurelius

Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Remember, happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely upon what you think. -Dale Carnegie

No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking. – Voltaire

The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking. -Albert Einstein

Change your thinking and you will change your world

I saw this online this week and I wanted to share it with you.

Think before you speak:

T – Is it the truth?

H – Is it helpful?

I – Is it inspiring?

N – Is it necessary?

K – Is it kind?

I encourage you to apply that acronym to your thoughts as well. Begin to analyze your thoughts and analyze your words.

Are your thoughts truthful, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind? If not, that might explain why there is unhappiness in your life.

Try thinking more happy thoughts and see if that does not change your outlook. I guarantee-just as Buddha, Jesus, Einstein, and a myriad of other great thinkers in the world explained-that when you change your thoughts, you will change your world.



One Step At A Time

All seemingly insurmountable tasks are accomplished the same way: one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

A lot of people ask me how I get through my incredibly long days. Most days I start at 4:45 am, and do not get home until after 8:30 pm, sometimes after 9 pm.

I get through my very long days one step at a time.

Focus On The Moment

I used to suffer from anxiety. I would constantly worry about all the tasks that I had to complete and I would let that worry overwhelm me and make me feel like I was drowning.

I am here to tell you that letting worry overwhelm you is not an effective strategy to accomplish your goals.

Yoga taught me to breathe deeply and to focus on the moment.

I often tell myself: “the future will unfold itself, and I will deal with the future when it happens. Right now, I need to focus on the task right here in front of me.”

By focusing only on what is happening before my very eyes, yoga cured me of anxiety.

And Enjoy The Moment

Moreover, I am much happier when I live in the moment. My very long days also could not be done if I did not enjoy what I was doing.

A very effective motivational tool for me is to make what I am doing enjoyable, because I cannot complete anything unless I am having fun.

If the task you need to complete is not enjoyable, try making a game out of it. Reward yourself after you get so much work done, or time yourself in intervals to see if you can keep beating your time.

Because Life Happens In The Now

Your life happens in the present moment. The past has already occurred, and the future has not happened yet.

Be alive and aware of what is happening around you in the present moment. Focus on one task at a time, one moment at a time, one breath at a time.

I guarantee by doing so, your mind will be calm and you will feel much better about your ability to accomplish a difficult goal.




Slow Your Roll

Yesterday, I saw more than average amount of people pulled over by police officers. I watched a car get pulled because of speeding. The rest, I assume, were pulled over for speeding, too.

This will upset my grandmother, but I have to confess that I do speed. I drive over the speed limit, but I do not drive recklessly. I speed because I am in the car over 2 hours every day. It is a means to get me to my destination on time.

However, because I saw an inordinate number of police officers yesterday, I am taking it as a sign that I need to slow my roll.

Sometimes when we notice something recurring in our lives, there is something there we need to pay attention to.

Clearly, I need to slow down when I am driving, or I am liable to get a ticket. This is going to require me to break some bad habits.

Breaking Bad Habits

Breaking bad habits requires awareness of the present moment. We acquire bad habits by not thinking about our actions and by operating on autopilot.

What I need to do in my situation is to actively pay attention to my speed to make sure I am within speed limit (OK, at least only a few miles over the speed limit, or so:)).

Do you have any bad habits you need to break? If so, the trick, as it is in my case, is to pay attention.

That is easier said than done, but it can happen. For example, every time I notice that I am speeding excessively, I need to acknowledge to myself that this is a bad habit I want to break.

The more I consciously acknowledge that I need to change my habits, the faster I will bring change into my life.

So, I admitted it publicly. I need to drive slower. There. I said it. Now with constant repetition, and with more awareness of the speed limit, my habits will change.

Stop And Smell The Roses

Have you noticed any places in your life where you need to slow your roll? Remember slowing down does not just refer to driving. It can also mean to stop and smell the roses.

Our society is fast-paced. Sometimes we are so focused on the end results that we forget to enjoy the moment. I will go into more detail about savoring the flavor in tomorrow’s post.

Today, just notice if there are any places in your life where you need to slow down, and if there are any bad habits you notice you need to change.

With love,



Self-identity is a curious thing. This is especially true when we hold on to the things that define us as individuals as if our life depends on it.

Invariably, those things end. When they end, if that is how we define ourselves, we are in for a world of hurt.

In yoga, it is recommended that we practice non-attachment. Experience the world but do not try to hold on to the people or experiences that happen in your life.

The “Self” Versus the “self”

The Self in yoga is a part of the Divine. The self (with a small “s”) is the identity that you think you have.

Yoga’s spirituality teaches us that you are so much bigger than your identity. We are all a part of something much larger than the self; we are a part of the entire universe.

That Divine part of you that is connected to everything outside of the self (small “s”), that is the part of you that watches your life occur like a play. That is what is meant by non-attachment.

Observe Your Emotions

Observe the events in your life instead of becoming attached to them. Experience them, do not try to hold on to them. Just be instead of trying to control what is happening around you.

This is the path of the yogi, and it is much more peaceful and less dramatic than the life I used to lead.

Before I found yoga, I used to get bent out of shape over everything. Now I witness my emotions. I watch them instead of letting them control me. I still experience them, but they do not run my life.

Smile Like You Mean It

A wonderful way to practice non-attachment is not to take life so seriously.

Sometimes you will be elated, and sometimes you will hurt. All of those emotions are a part of the spectrum of being human.

Be aware in the present moment, no matter what is going on, pain or pleasure. If life’s emotions become overwhelming, try practicing gratitude until it makes you smile.

Phoenix Rising

Remember you cannot truly appreciate good unless you know the bad, too. More importantly, when you experience the full range of emotions, maturity and wisdom are born inside of you, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

What more, when you stay open to possibility, instead of running away from pain, you will find deeper parts of your true Self that you never knew existed.



Develop the mind of equilibrium.
You will always be getting praise and blame,
but do not let either affect the poise of the mind:
follow the calmness, the absence of pride. -Buddha

Picasso, Self-portrait, 1972

All Good Things Must End: Re-Posted

In lieu of a new post today, I am re-posting. Today marks the end of an era for me. My brother’s band, Fools & Horses, will be performing their final show. Here is a blog I wrote for them the day after they announced their retirement.

All Good Things Must End

Everything ends. I am not expressing that to be morbid. I share this with you today as a reminder to enjoy every moment and appreciate it to the fullest, because one day, it will end.

Two days ago, my brother’s band, Fools & Horses, announced that they are calling their 9 year run together to a close. While this is not the end of a life, it is the end of a lifestyle for me and my friends.

As I look back on 9 years of shows, 9 years of parties, 9 years of road trips, and 9 years of amazing music, I am so grateful for all the joyful memories. At first, I was shocked and sad, but the end of the band gave me a chance to remember all of the good times. I was able to re-experience gratitude for all of these memorable events.

Moreover, I will always love the music they released. As a band, they created 4 studio albums, 1 remix album and 1 power hour album for their college friends. 🙂

Today, in the great yogic tradition of spreading joy and love, I would like to share with you the four studio albums and the remix album by Fools & Horses. They are truly worth a listen, and available on iTunes if you would like to own a track, an album, or the entire collection.

We have to live every moment to the fullest. Appreciate and enjoy all that life has to offer. Before I close, just remember something I have said before: if something special in your life comes to an end, do not be sad it is over. Instead, be very grateful that you were able to experience it in the first place, because nothing lasts forever.

I am so grateful for the 9 years I had with Fools & Horses. Matt, Tim, Kent & Steve, I love you always!



Matt, Kent, Tim, Steve