Monthly Archives: November 2017


Blessed Thanksgiving! Today we turn our attention towards what we are grateful for in our lives. It’s my favorite holiday.  This topic fits nicely with the thread of my previous posts and it’s the perfect day to reflect on the practice of gratitude. Gratitude is the attitude that takes the edge off judgment and comparison and helps us see with the eyes of the soul. It is the best antidote for negative thinking I’ve found. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could practice thanksgiving every day?

When I have a bad day or go through a hard time in my life, I try to find something to be grateful for and shift my focus to that rather than dwelling on the difficulty. For example, when I was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, I remember feeling very grateful that I had 51 good years on my deformed hips. Many people with dysplasia have to have surgeries very early in their lives, often just to get them by until they can get a total hip replacement. Yes, I could have felt sorry for myself and railed against how unfair life can be, and I did have moments of profound sadness, but I saw no purpose in staying there. I needed all my positive energy to move forward with the surgery and recovery process.

Lately, when my recovery is not going as fast anymore, I can get frustrated and focus on what I can’t do. In those moments, I turn my attention to what I can do that I couldn’t do a week ago or a month ago. I focus on my heart and feel gratitude for how much I have healed. This shifts my focus from what I can’t do to what I can do and then everything changes.

During my recovery, I have been constantly moved by the generosity of so many people who have helped me along the way. I’ve softened and grown closer to my beloveds, especially my beloved Scott. I am so very grateful for his presence in my life. I am grateful for the loving family and friends that have supported me, through my whole life.

None of us are an island–we all need others to survive. Today we celebrate with our friends and families. We enjoy delicious food. Many lives and hands brought us the gifts we receive today, and every day. We all face challenges. But it’s easier when we are grateful for the many blessings that carry us through and sustain us.

The Practice

Start and finish each day with a gratitude. Find something, anything and focus on that for a few minutes. When something challenging comes your way, seek something to be grateful for in the situation. Notice what changes in your life as a result of cultivating gratitude in your life.

Another great practice is to make a list of all the things you are grateful for and read some of it when you feel negativity getting a hold of you. Today is a great day to make a gratitude list.


This week in my conversation with Debs we talked about comparison–a close cousin to judgment. She asked me to write something about this subject. Upon reflection, I would have to say my experience is that comparison comes before judgment. We compare ourselves against another (or others) and then we judge who is right, wrong, better, worse. We tend to attack the wrong/worse one and put the right/better one on a pedestal. This creates suffering for both us and the other. We can also compare situations, people, things, animals, etc. with similar results.

What creates the suffering? Isn’t it true that some of us are better at certain things than others, or we possess qualities/things others don’t? Isn’t it so that we like some situations, people, things, animals better than others? Sure. It’s what we do with that information which can cause suffering.

I learned the most about comparison on my yoga mat, so I’m going to go there for some examples. My teacher said to me, “Be on your mat in each moment with your body as it is in each pose. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, including me. Your business is on your mat.” It was then that I became painfully aware that I was always on everyone else’s mat. How were they doing compared to me, me to them? Was I more flexible or them? Who was stronger? Who could hold their balance longer? If I came up less than, I attacked myself, put them on a pedestal and felt envious. If I came up better than, I put myself on a pedestal and looked down on them. This goes against every principle and value of yoga there is! OUCH!

Then began a long practice of staying on my mat. More and more, I can be there. And then a new challenge will come and I stray into comparison again. Lately my challenge is my new hip and all the changes it has brought into my life and onto my mat. I am not as flexible, strong or balanced as I was before. Now my comparison is with a previous self who no longer exists. Who, honestly, may never exist again, not in her previous form. This causes me great suffering and I can weep on my mat. But, it is my choice to make this very unfair comparison and find my current self lacking.

Another choice is to be with where I am on the mat in each moment without comparison and judgment, but with discernment and compassion. What can I do? Where is my new edge? What happens when I drop the judgment about that edge and just breathe into it, embrace it, wrap lovingkindness around it, be grateful for what I can do? Well, my muscles relax and I can drop more deeply into the pose because I am not fighting my own body. My body can trust me and stop pushing against me in order to protect itself. Sometimes it tells me to do another pose, or to give it a rest and just go straight to savasana (relaxation pose).

I have found when I stop pushing on other people or animals, I get a similar response: relaxation, trust, warmth, a drawing closer instead of pulling away. We often compare others with who we wish they were or with someone else we like better.  We can wish we were with someone else, somewhere else, or that we were someone else if we are on the short end of the comparison stick.

Debs called me at this point in my writing this post… She asked me to talk about lasagna vs. grill cheese sandwiches (that woman is all about food). She finds herself craving “lasagna” both the food and people she loves who she considers the “lasagnas” of her life. But she finds cheese sandwiches boring, both in food and people. When she’s with a cheese sandwich, for example, all she can think of is the lasagna and why can’t this person be more like the other one I prefer?

I pointed out that we all need a balanced diet to be healthy, both when it comes to food and people! We need grilled cheese, lasagna, fruit & veggies, chocolate, granola, wine, and the list goes on. Even though we may have preferences for lasagna over cheese sandwiches, it takes all of it to make the world go round, give us the experiences and nourishment we need, and help us appreciate lasagna.

Then she said something very profound, “I need to be the lasagna. Then I’ll bring more lasagna into my life.” This is another golden truth about comparison. Sometimes it leads us to see, usually through envy, what it is we would like be.

Today’s enlightening practice:

Drop the comparison stick. When you find yourself comparing, be aware that is what you are doing and STOP. Breathe deeply into your belly and focus on your heart. Open it. Open your mind. Find something you can appreciate and be grateful for in yourself, in the other, in the situation. Shift your focus more to your gratitude than what is lacking. Be 100% present in the moment with acceptance of what is.

NOTE: Sometimes we are in a situation or with a person where our discernment tells us to get out of there, to withdraw, to move away from. In those situations it can be unskillful and dangerous to remain trying to find something good to appreciate! I personally find my body, especially my gut, is a good indicator and I’ve learned to trust it.

NOTE 2: If the comparison stick has helped you realize that you need to cultivate some quality in yourself that you envy in the other, stop despairing and get to work!

What I will do today:

Go eat some lasagna at my favorite Italian restaurant with my sweetie!

7.5 Weeks – Graduation!

I graduated from the Reno Orthopaedic Clinic (ROC) this week. Unless I have a problem before, I will go back in a year for my annual checkup and xrays. This clinic has been my home away from home for the past two months. Fortunately it is just 5 minutes down the street, and ironically, catty-corner from St. Mary’s Hospital where I was born.

I saw my surgeon’s assistant, Davis on Thursday. I told him I was still walking with a limp and having trouble strengthening my gluteus medius (muscle on side of the hip that stabilizes you when you walk), also some pain around the incision and in the muscles. Davis looked at me quizzically, and said, “You are at 7 weeks, not 7 months.  We had to part your gluteus medius and then stretch it longer to fit over the implant and accommodate your new, longer leg length. It is going to have a big adjustment for awhile. Give it 7 – 12 months. Adjust your expectations and keep a positive attitude. Keep working on it. It will come.”

Just to give you a mental picture, Davis is a no-nonsense man with a handlebar mustache. He was dressed in a purple suit with bright red socks (he is always in something I’ve never seen before that is both snazzy & whimsical). I often think he dresses this way to take a little edge off his no-nonsense communication style and help you feel a little more comfortable with the fact that he is going help out with “cutting open your hip, sawing off the worn out parts and throwing them in the trash, drilling a new socket in your pelvis and then screwing and hammering metal implants into the socket and your femur.” (Yes, he actually said something a lot like this at my 2nd consultation in August. I remember asking what they would do if my femur cracked while they were hammering in the implant. He told me they would wire it together and it would be fine. Though it didn’t crack, they did end up wiring it together just like he said, and it seems to be fine.) By the way, Davis also did a lot of the stitching on my nicely healing incision. He is very skilled at what he does and I, for one, and Scott for two, very much appreciate his candid approach to communication and his unique fashion sense!

I showed him some of my flexibility like being able to touch my toes and bring foot up to my thigh cross-legged. I said, “This is really coming back faster than I expected.” He told me this was very unusual. Probably has to do with my yoga. He looked at my incision and was pleased with how it is healing. He then announced I no longer had any restrictions and they would see me in a year. I gave him the first draft of Rhonda’s Hip Tips (see the Resources page). I told him they could give it to other patients if they thought it would help them.

On the way out, I saw Dr. Shukla and shook his hand, thanking him and Davis both for their great work on my new hip. I touched my toes for him and told him I was just having some trouble with my gluteus medius and still limping. He said, “Yep, that’s going to fight you for awhile.” He gave me one of his shy, cherub smiles, the ones that make the nurses exclaim, “Isn’t he adorable?” You gotta love Dr. Shukla.

Then I went out for my final PT session with Lori. While I was standing in line to check in, Dr. Shukla came out calling my name. He rushed up to me with the Hip Tips in his hand and said, “This is great, can we use this?” Yes, that is what it is for, I told him. He said, “We could use something like this from the patient’s perspective. There is good information in here. Thank you for doing this.” I thought, “How sweet.” I really am lucky to have such a good doctor and team. Everyone here has been so good at what they do and wonderful to work with. I will definitely return to this clinic and hopefully, be able to have the same great surgical team, work on my left hip when its time comes.

Then I went in for my last PT session and Lori and her intern, James did my final range of motion and strength assessments for my discharge. My range of motion is pretty much even now in both of my hips, which they also remarked is unheard of. Lori said, “I’ve got to start practicing yoga.” My strength was good except on the side of my right leg where that gluteus medius is just not there yet. We went over all the exercises I can do at home to continue strengthening it. I am grateful to the PT team, including my assistant Jessie, who helped me get where I am at 7.5 weeks. My setbacks were always my own doing. Remember to listen to your body and tell your PT’s if an exercise is too much! They cannot know that if you don’t tell them.

So, I am officially graduated from the ROC and on my own. I know it is time and I’m confident I’ll find my way from here. I also know they are right down the street if I have a problem.

To celebrate, I bought a year membership at St. Mary’s Fitness Center across the street from the ROC. They have an amazing pool, jacuzzi and hot water therapy area which I intend to use regularly. I’m thinking my fitness routine is likely to become more water oriented now… I did go once last week and wow!!! I remember a fellow hip lady saying in her blog, “Get thee to a pool!” She was so right. I can still swim like a dolphin and I can walk in water (on water is still beyond me ;-). I haven’t done laps in 25 years and it was awesome to see that I can still do all my strokes and kicks. The PT’s told me that walking in the water can help to restore my normal gait because all the weight is lifted off the joint. I found this is true. It felt so good to walk with a complete stride, though I’m still pretty unsteady and need to hold the hand rail.

It feels like I have come to a completion now, at least of the most intensive first part of this adventure in hip replacement. I suspect I will post something about once a month at this point so my fellow hip people can see how it evolves from here. One thing I really want to stress, is that we are all unique. This is my journey. Yours will be different. While it is good to hear about other people’s experiences, and you can learn a lot of helpful information from that, remember to be true to yourself and your body.

Judgment vs. Discernment

Yesterday, I had a fascinating conversation, as I often do, with my friend, Peggy. We got on the subject of judgment vs. discernment. What’s the difference? We came up with some good distinctions I wanted to share.

Judgment often comes from an ego-based place and it tends to have a hard edge to it. When I’m judging, I notice tension in my jaws, tightness in my heart, narrowing of my eyes. It often comes out as criticism of another’s thoughts, actions, beliefs. “I can’t believe she could think that!” “How could he have done that?”  “Who could hold such a belief?” It is about condemnation from a self-elevated place. In this place I have forgotten “judge not lest ye be judged.” I want to change the other to be more like me, because I’ve got it all figured it (ha!). There is a strong element of righteous indignation that makes me feel superior to whomever or whatever I’m judging. It is about force, forcing my opinion on someone else. The other thing I notice about judging is that I’m often judging something in myself that I have projected onto the other person (remove the log in your own eye, before seeking to remove the splinter in your neighbor’s). If I’m particularly riled up about something, I can be sure it is a reflection of something I’m doing myself that I don’t like.

Discernment is related to judgment, but it comes from a different place. Here’s a good definition I found online: discernment is perceiving without judgment and with the intention of obtaining spiritual direction and understanding. It is about Seeing with the Eyes of the Soul (previous post). Discernment seeks the truth from a higher perspective and it is softer than judgment. When I am discerning, I am not tense, my heart is soft and open, I am curious about the other’s thoughts, actions, beliefs. I ask questions and listen for the answers, not to pounce on them in order to correct, but to better understand them. Meanwhile, I’m also checking in with myself, hopefully my Higher Self, and my heart and gut. I’m trying to better understand myself in relation to the other (I’m also seeking the log in my eye). Out of this practice, I may be influenced to change my mind, or to refine or reframe  my thinking. I see the other’s way of seeing/being/thinking as equal to my own, not less than. I may also decide that my perspective rings more true to me and works better and that I’m sticking with it. But, I don’t go the extra step of judgment and try to force it on the other. Often this is a place of agreeing to disagree and moving on. It is about mutual respect and empowerment to make different choices and hold different beliefs, and still like each other. It doesn’t mean we go along with something we disagree with in order to please or remain connected to another. Sometimes discernment requires us to withdraw from an activity, group or relationship.

How I will practice discernment today:

When I feel the hard edge of judgment in my body and hear it in my words and thoughts, I will STOP and softly bring my attention to my heart. I like to hold the image of one hand on my heart and one hand on the heart of  the other. From this place of compassion, I will seek to understand both of us and empower both of us to be in our truths, whatever that may be. I give myself permission to be changed/influenced by the other. I also give myself and the other permission to decide to back away or disengage if that serves Truth. If I decide to disengage, I will do it with lovingkindness and not harshness.

See with the Eyes of your Soul

This post is part 2 of my inspiring phone call with my friend, Debs. We were talking about seeing life and others through the eyes of our souls, rather than through the ego-mind’s filter of judgment.

What does it mean to see with the eyes of your Soul or Spirit?

For me, this means that I rise out of my lower, ego-mind perspective and into the higher perspective of my Soul or Spirit or Witness. We all have different words for this part of us that is connected to God/Source/Spirit (we all have different words for that too). I personally like Spirit, and at times, Witness. So, the idea is to see a situation not from the narrow and often self-serving perspective of Rhonda Ashurst, but from the higher perspective of my Spirit.

Questions that help me get there:

“What is in the highest good for all Beings, including myself?”

“What do I need to be aware of in this moment?”

“How do I see this through the eyes of Compassion?”

Situations in which I use the questions:

  • Meeting new people and discerning why they have come across my path and what is the highest response I can make to them. (Sometimes this leads to engagement with them and sometimes it leads to avoidance or choosing not to respond.)
  • Considering the next action to take. Stay or go? Pray or do something? Email or read? Connect or disconnect? Exercise or rest? Eat/drink this or don’t? Say something or listen? And lately, ice or heat? 🙂
  • Choosing what response to make, including which words to use, or none at all.
  • How I will frame my attitude about a challenge that has appeared in my path.
  • Well, and the list goes on and is endless, but you get the idea.

How I will practice seeing with the eyes of my soul today:

As I move through my day, I will be mindful of the decisions/judgments I am making and I will lift up my perspective into my Spirit/Witness to do what is in the highest good for all to the best of my ability. I will remind myself to be compassionate with myself and others and my precious body.

6.5 Weeks

I made it to my 6-week anniversary this week and that is when all my restrictions were lifted-yay! This means the implant should be set in my bone (secure) and I can play with my yoga poses, and get into the hot springs and pool again.

I discovered I can sit in my meditation pose again, which was really cool! Here I am in my spot in front of the gas stove. This is where I have my morning coffee and meditate. Theo is happy to have me back at his level again, mostly so I can pet him.

I continued to work on strengthening my gluteus medius muscle to help me walk without a limp and do stairs. The PT’s gave me more ideas, I tried them all, probably shouldn’t have. Set myself back again, but not as far this week as last week. Now, I’m backing off again and accepting where I am. I can only do so much before my hip muscles fatigue and then it goes straight into the side of my leg and knee, and it hurts. There are some things I just can’t do, like stand on my leg for very long (though this is getting better) or climb stairs.

I think I had this picture in my mind that at 6 weeks I’d be able to walk without a limp or pain. And I can’t. And I’m bummed and frustrated. But, I also realize this is not unusual and I’m being impatient and unreasonable.

I did just walk around the block with out a cane, though! Granted it was slow and the limp was pretty bad, but I did it and it didn’t hurt as badly as it has before. I just need to keep at it, slowly and gently. Why is that so hard?

I did have Scott take another video of me walking, as promised last week. I can’t load videos directly into the blog, so I’ve loaded them on my Google Photos site in an album titled Rhonda’s Hip Adventure Videos. I put all of them in from the beginning, in order. If you are wondering which one you are looking at, click on the little “i” in the circle (for information) and it will tell you. Here’s the link: Rhonda’s Hip Adventure Videos.

Looking back on the week, I’d say it was about accepting where I am without judging where I think I should be (see my entry on that in Enlightening Practices). That doesn’t mean I don’t keep focused on my dream of walking pain-free without a limp. It means I hold that intention, I do the exercises I can to the point of the muscles fatiguing, keep walking and trying new things, and let go of when and how the outcome happens. Well, that’s the idea anyhow… The execution comes in fits and starts–I have a fit, then I start over! But I’m getting there.

Next week I see my surgeon again for the first time since I was in the hospital and I have my last two PT sessions. So, tune in next week and I’ll let you know how it goes…


Free yourself from the prison of judgment

This is my first post in a new theme (Enlightening Practices) inspired by my dear friend, Debs. It was part of a long conversation we had last night and she encouraged me to share it here. Thank you my sweet soul sister for our many years of friendship! This is dedicated to you, a person who faces a multitude of daily challenges with humor, perseverance, playfulness, courage and a wild sense of adventure! Drop the judgment and you will be free.

One of the things I have learned both through 25 years of meditation and many wise spiritual writings and teachers, is that we are very judgmental. Our minds continuously label, judge, analyze, compare. They can become tyrants that literally run our lives with their litany of “shoulding.” They literally imprison us within a jail of judgment–our own and our projections onto ourselves of others’ judgments. “You should be more like him/her.”  “You shouldn’t have said/done that.” “You should be stronger, smarter, thinner, richer, sexier, more at peace, blah, blah, blah…”

Under the “shoulding” is judgment that says we are lacking, that we’d be better if we were someone other than who we are, if we were somewhere else, if we were doing something else with someone else. Then we do it to others, especially the people we love.  And, we allow them to do it to us. You know, we have the power to stop this insanity!

We are rarely here, now, in this moment, simply enjoying it and being grateful. That’s why we call these “peak” moments. They are usually the stuff of our fondest memories when we are lost in the beautiful flow of life and forget to judge. In these moments, we know it is all perfect, and we are free.

And then we forget again.

So, this is the enlightening practice:  

Try living this day (or as much of it as you can, hey, a minute is a good start) without judging anything that occurs. Accept whatever comes across your path. Be curious about it. How did this end up in my day? What is the best way for me to embrace this? Remember that what we resist persists, what we reject with judgment keeps showing up. Sometimes, what seems like a bad thing turns out to be good, and what seems like a good thing turns out to be bad.

What I personally am going to work on today:

I am judging my walk. I still walk with a limp and it hurts and I’m frustrated. I expected it to be better by the 6-week mark. But I’m about where I was pre-surgery. I have been fighting this by pushing myself aggressively to strengthen weak gluteal muscles, so I can walk normally and without pain. Ironically, I’m causing myself more pain and setting myself back. So, today, I will embrace my walk just as it is and be thankful I can walk at all. I will be thankful I can walk without a walker or a cane. I will be thankful for all the amazing things my body can do 6 weeks after a hip replacement. I will be kind and gentle, while I’m helping my body grow stronger. Today, I will rest and I will cultivate peace and gratitude for exactly where I am in my healing process. And every time I “should” on myself, I will stop, breathe and remind myself of this practice. I will also be mindful of my tendency to judge others, and will send blessings for whatever is in their highest good instead.