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Change… Organic and Otherwise

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We rented a house on the Outer Banks (“OBX”) of North Carolina, which is a place in and of itself accustomed to change despite the earnest and feckless desires of mere mortals who decide to defy Nature by building houses yards from the Atlantic.

We arrived on a cool March afternoon after driving several hours from our roost near Washington, DC. The two younger sons traveled with me and my husband in our giant SUV. They in the back seat enjoying their various iDevices and occasionally participating in conversations as we collectively listened to the entertaining and dubious Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff.

The sky was overcast, the winds pretty fierce and the shoreline was booming as the high tide was due in a couple hours. My youngest son, known as “Thing 3” to anyone who’s familiar with my writing (which has taken a back seat to my 11-times a week yoga teaching schedule) has been renamed “Tech Support” from time to time because of his interest in all things technological. (Don’t confuse “interest” with “competency” as he’s still learning and when I got a new computer a few weeks ago he scrubbed my old one and it took a shit ton of data supposedly stored on the “CLOUD” with it… but it’s only 1s and 0s right?).

When we pulled in to the OBX driveway, he said, “we’re under a storm surge warning which will cause high surf from tomorrow night at 8pm until the following evening at 8pm.” He was correct. The waves were truly the highest I’ve ever seen and the accompanying winds gave me pause to recall my numerous dreams I’ve had wherein I’m in a seafront home and utterly surrounded by sea water. I haven’t had one of those dreams in a while, and as stirring as they can be, I don’t wake destroyed as one might expect.

Back in early March, most of the east coast endured a nor’easter named “Riley” (is it me? When did they start naming winter storms? Are they like the names of Mother Nature’s children? I think we should rename them things like “Scott Pruitt”; “industrial age” and “Valdez”) and what about gender neutral names? “Riley” is safe, I must say, different from “Katrina” or “Hanna” or “Andrew” I believe most storms used to be named after females, but it’s not so far off when we will have a Storm Robert or Nor’Easter Stan… I digress (get used to it).

Riley slammed where I live with 70mph gusts and 40mph sustained winds for an entire weekend. Power went out all over the region, but not at my house. My father stayed with us overnight and that was probably enough for everyone, mostly him. His power was restored the next afternoon. Where I’m from, Buffalo NY, my cousins got slammed with several feet of snow. Boston got hammered … it’s how it goes. But down here, in OBX, it appears that the seas still have not receded. Riley pushed the sands up the shore; buried in-ground pools and turned 6′ privacy fences to knee-high shin scrapers. Pools installed behind some of those now-demolished privacy fences are overcome with sand.

Here’s my view from the deck of the house we rented… the “bush” below is what’s left of the first dune garrison. I’ve marked up the photos immediately following to explain what the what used to be what.

In this next photo, the steps leading up the walkway used to take you to another “bridge” over the first dune garrison and then you would descend a second set of steps to sit access the beach. Locals tell me these steps, walkways and bridges were installed last Easter. Bummer. These first two photos are of the same property; the one immediately to my left (north). You’ll notice that things look relatively normal and typical for a winter recovery. What you won’t notice is the missing dune line because it’s been so completely taken out. Nor would you notice that the shore’s depth to the water is probably 100 feet shallower.These next photos so perfectly depict for me the example of the objective “luck of the draw” that Nature and Fate so deftly provide at every moment. This is the seaside of the house immediately to my right (south). I’ve marked it up to explain what the what used to be what. If you examine closely, in the area marked “pool” and you don’t believe me, you’ll see a set of entry / exit ladder handles for access to that pool (almost in the dead center of this photo). The fence line outside the pool and hot tub used to be 6′ off the ground. I doubt the owners of this property have personally viewed the situation. I can’t say I blame them. Slightly “above” the box marked “pool” is another box that denotes what used to be a pool next door.

This is what used to be the entrance driveway belonging to house to my right (south). The red area denotes a driveway. The green denotes the grass / foliage and the blue is the water that said ” HAHAHAHAHAAAAA!” to all those ideas of driveways and gardens.

While these situations certainly aren’t’ catastrophic and none of these properties are a total loss, these are changes. Most people who own beachfront property usually just have to clean out the cobwebs, freshen up the carpets, steam clean the curtains and wipe down their windows to prepare for the rental season. The owners to my south are probably wistfully recalling those days of such burdens. We met a man one morning during our walks who owns a home several doors south on the shore here. His name was Bob. (For reals.) “It was the most beautiful property on the island,” he said (and I get it, we all think our home is the best or our kids are the smartest and best looking), but even what survived the storm wasn’t terribly impressive to me… it looked pretty weathered and neglected compared to other properties around his house. He had “a gorgeous pool” since surrounded by and filled with sand. Hanging at a 45˚ angle was a woeful five-and-dime “TIKI BAR” sign hanging and flappimg from one nail. Just below it was a faded and operative rainbow-themed windsock that somehow fared better than his obliterated privacy wall. It’s weird what survives these storms. “I’m screwed,” he crowed. I nodded in sympathy even though I didn’t agree with his summary. The house is still standing. He’s not exactly homeless and the lot alone is worth at least $2mm. And it was not t his only residence — he chose this lifestyle to rent their home in OBX to vacationers and then travel by RV the rest of the year. But who am I to decide who’s screwed and who isn’t? Bob was sad, but he was feeling sorry for himself. I heard later from neighbors drinking beers on the 20′ of boardwalk in front of our house that Bob opted to NOT have the maintenance and cedar fortification of his dunes and now he’s reaping that. Walking by Bob’s place a few days later I noticed that all evidence of the pool is gone and the sand is flat where it used to be. It seems that everyone has a Tiki Bar here.

Riley and its ilk are largely organic phenomena. I have little doubt that humanity and our “advances” have greatly sped up the oft-debated climate change process, but by and large, isn’t all change, effected directly or indirectly by humans, thus organic seeing as how we arent’ exactly inorganic to the planet?

I miss writing. I enjoy the yoga teaching, but I really miss the writing. Things have changed so much in my life (as I’m sure it has in yours) in the last several months that at times I feel as though I’ve aged 10 years. In my little tribe we’ve experienced a fair amount of turbulence, but what is life without change? And change without turbulence really isn’t change, it’s just “different.” The short of it is that parenting is not for wimps. The long of it is that it’s been difficult being a parent. Three boys, all teenagers now, and the boundary-pushing, shitty attitudes and straight-out rebellion is exhausting. I’m not so absurd to say that “I wouldn’t change a thing because all of it is a blessing…” because trust me, I’d change plenty. Kids make stupid choices and end up hurting themselves. We all did it and we will all do it again and those of us who managed to get here, this far, I guess are the norm… there are a lot of us still out there, aren’t there? So does that mean that the odds my kids will all make it to 90 with fun and compelling stories but not horrific ones of personal destruction and devastation? I sure hope so. I don’t like change. I don’t like my kids growing up and I don’t like my dad getting older. I can fight it, like an idiot, or I can continue to look for the silver linings (not necessarily the blessings) of even the most crushing experiences, for every experience is a teacher.

Thank you.

Laundry Can Wait … What’s Taking Up Space In Your Life?

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I just returned from seven days at the shore. Outer Banks, North Carolina, to be exact and it has been a while since I’ve taken a trip with just my tribe. Last summer’s trip to my hometown of Buffalo, NY, and summer childhood playground of Bay Beach, Lake Erie, Canada was a bit of a shitstorm (the weather was great, truly, but another atmospheric energy vacuum disturbance was at play) and the fact that this is the first time I’m mentioning it should tell you how taboo the content is. Nonetheless, despite my body’s awareness of the angle of the sun and the lift of the heat and inner knowing that I’m not usually below the Mason-Dixon Line this time of year, I packed up my stuff with my team here and we went south to the OBX. 

Okracoke Island, looking north.

From Okracoke looking west.

Okracoke Island, N.C. Superior in all ways. Looking South.

We got a 4×4 vehicle beach pass. I HIGHLY recommend it; this is our approach to “Shelly Beach” near Hatteras light house.

My view from our rental hovel. Full moon rising.

The drive in, once you clear Nags Head. Totally natural.


It was glorious. It was some of the most primitive and expansive beaches I’ve ever seen. It rivaled the Pacific Coast in its big sky, boundlessness. I never felt so small and yet so alive at the same time. They say that there are more stars in the sky than there are grains of sand ALL OVER our Earth. I’m good with that now. It used to intimidate me because I would think, “Why bother?” But now, the obligation to be a person of purpose — no matter what that is: trash picker, photographer, pasta cooker, laundry folder… is too great. The odds that we are here because God, the fates, the universe deemed it, are too fine. We must live well. It’s our duty. Just do it with love.  

The weather was sublime, the people were kind and patient and everyone was on vacation — even seemingly so the people who were working. The owner at Uncle Eddy’s mini golf and custard, a Texan at heart, was all North Carolina sunshine and fleecy clouds. His young co-worker, a bespectacled ginger with an odd personality who took it upon herself to tell me about the houses she had just cleaned the day before, “One has six bathrooms, two of those with a bidet, and eight bedrooms. It’s real nice, it’s got granite counters and stainless steel kitchen and a hot tub and a pool. Hardwoods in the foyay and marble floors in the kitchen (ouch, sounds like it should be the other way around and in Manhattan). Each bathtub is a jacuzzi (back when those were in vogue I guess) and the carpet is real nice. Chandeliers and giant windows… I don’t do windows…” Of course not. 

As we were in our hovel, compared to the place she mentioned, I marveled at the austerity of the place and how important that austerity is to truly let the mind and the spirit relax and retune. There were maybe no cookbooks anywhere and maybe a handful of family portraits. The “artwork” (mostly cheap prints from shops on NC-12, the main road in and out of OBX) depicting dolphins (thus denoted with the caption “D O L P H I N S” beneath) and wind-tamed dunes on the walls had all succumbed to the UV rays that blast through the glass facing the shore and had taken on that cream-pink-blue tone, where the image starts to fade / bleed into the empty space, a sure sign of the deterioration of the paper upon which they were printed. What was funny to me in retrospect is the placement of some of the images: they were also on scant mountable surface area of the very walls that faced the sea. Call me a jerk, but if the choice is between watching the rolling tide of the Atlantic, witnessing real  d o l p h i n s  actually do that thing they do when they swim, and watch the occasional flock of pelicans fly amidst the wind drift just above the water, versus glancing at artwork (shit or Renoir), I’ll choose the sea. So about that austerity thing: discern. If you’re going to decorate scantily, just do it well. 

The house had a washer and dryer. I told my children and myself: don’t bring more than you really need: 3 of everything, nothing fancy. I ignored my own instruction and overpacked (not terribly). However I wore everything I packed. And I did. Except one t-shirt and one pair of shorts. I did bring three swimsuits. I wore two. Of the two I wore, I wore only one once. I own this. So I lied. I didn’t wear everything I packed. I know you might think this is not a big deal, but for some reason, it bugs the crap out of me. Ethics. Do what you say. Say what you do. The inner “disturbance in the force” of my own mind because I know I have too much shit in my life to begin with.  And to top it off, I bought things while I was there. Two t-shirts and a pair of sunglasses. And a hat. And a Turkish towel; the real kind, not the fluffy kind. My husband bought me a hammerhead shark plushie, much to my squealing delight.

We packed enough sunscreen though and that was super important because my middle son, Thing 2, decided he didn’t need sunscreen — he wanted to correct his farmer’s tan, so without my knowledge he went all day on Sunday without SPF. That was an unwise choice, and he paid for that for days, but he was pretty good-humored about it. My youngest son, Thing 3, simply didn’t put any on — there wasn’t a plan. He rather fancies his alabaster, blue-hued skin tone and because he is the third of our three children, we simply forgot about him. Not true, but essentially it’s become somewhat of a pattern here. We used to call him “the merry wanderer” (because he’d just take off) until he burst into tears because he thought we were calling him a girl, “Mary Wanderer.” When I explained the distinction, that  “merry” meant “happy” like how we say “Merry Christmas” which only made things worse and began a whole new trip down the idiomatic rabbit hole and I gave up. So we only call him “the merry wanderer” behind his back now. As a joke now, whenever I’m unsure of where he is before we leave anywhere, I pretend I’m Katherine O’Hara in “Home Alone” and freak / shout, “KEVIN!” like she did from her first-class seat to Paris while Kevin (McCauley Caulkin) was back home in Lake Forest going through his brother’s stuff and eating ice cream pizzas for breakfast. Anyway, true to form, he had no sunscreen on for about 2 hours and that did him in for a couple days. On our penultimate day, weary of his excuses to not be outside, I bought him a board shirt for $35 and he wore it for 90 minutes until he complained so much about where we were (the sound side of the island, now referred to affectionately as “Shit Hole Bay” for many reasons, primarily amongst them that the water is probably 90˚ and foamy). My eldest, bolstered by his own experience with sunburn and his equally fair-skinned girlfriend’s presence on the trek, was pretty good about his skincare and only got burned where his skin rubbed against the boogie board and where his shoulders would’ve taken a beating from the waves. So, pretty much everywhere.

Yes, we invited our son’s girfriend. Yes, that sounds like a big step. They are their own pod; I make no inferences. She cheerfully and naively consented to subject herself to our randomness for two 6-hour-long car rides. Her parents were also going to be away for the same period we were and I didn’t want her to be alone. She’s a really great girl: super bright, energetic, optimistic, real, game, human, female (so important for me — surrounded by nothing by males in canid or human form), patient and so kind to our youngest — like the type of kindness you read about — and she had her own room directly across from ours. She was an asset and we loved having her there.  

We also forgot things: butter, salt. The boys didn’t pack their own shampoo. I’m really glad they didn’t remove the toothbrush, tooth paste and dental floss kits from the car when they last visited the dentist, as they came in handy. 

We also brought a bunch of stuff we know to NEVER bring again. There’s a reason this area is the birthplace of modern aviation: the wind. So that means for us, people who really just want lie on the beach and maybe paddleboard to not bother there because the winds are so constant and so beautiful that you will get pushed so far away from where you started that a sail really is not just a cool-looking accessory. We also realized that it’s folly to bring any of the following beach games: 

  • Ladder toss game
  • Frisbee
  • Track ball
  • Kadima
  • Spike ball or slam ball
  • Badminton 
  • Beach ball 
  • Feathers

Things to bring next time: 

  • Kites
  • Flying suits
  • Capes
  • Anti-gravity gear
  • Jet packs
  • Vitamix (I missed my blender)

Despite their natural spartan appearance, the beaches at night were abundant with ghost crabs. I used to like them. I recall walking along other Atlantic coastlines and seeing maybe half a dozen in an hour’s time. Not here. It was like the invasion of the laterally locomotive diaphanous exoskeletal amphibious arachnids. In less than 30 minutes I avoided stepping on or freaked out from seeing about 30 of them of all varying densities and intensities. Most of them did their crab thing: run sideways from the beams of my uranium-powered flashlight saying “fuck off, landlubber!” But it was a bit much after a while. I actually started to get anxious about it and I knew then that that was not why I was on vacation. So I begged my husband of limited night vision to take me back to our home, which he did, and I plopped on the teal courduroy sofa and watched a documentary about heroin addiction. I kid you not.  

Over the days, I watched my assembly of tchotchkes grow and while I didn’t put on a hair shirt, so to speak, I remember the a plan in my head to unload my life and my psyche of things which no longer bring me pleasure and to rid myself of the things which hold me down. Things that are attached to people who’ve hurt me or who represent unresolvable times in my life. Things I bought while with those people feeling the pressure to buy them because the person selected it for me even though I didn’t really have the guts to say “no, that’s not me. That’s actually you thinking you know me,” or even worse: my buying the item because I wanted to curry the favor of the person I was with because that person liked it more than I did. It’s all very meta. So I am pleased that I bought delightful, made well and intentional things from small local shops. Am I rationalizing? Of course I like to think I’m not.     

The abundance of these shoreline mega shops, “Sunsations” and “Wings” and “Wings Super Store” and “Kitty Hawk Kites” (how many kites does one need?)  along NC-12, was disconcerting to me. It made me think of how much shit we all have and that’s because we believe the commercials, the narratives that say, “you need this” and “you’re worth it.” Some things I did need that I recently bought: the linen clothes from J.Jill (uh, vanity size much? Yes) because I am tired of burning up in the heat while trying to protect my skin (I just had my 4th basal cell carcinoma removed from my body two weeks ago) and an AMAZING SPF 50+ sun/swim shirt from prAna which I believed saved my skin while at the beach. My surgical dermatologist, a funny man, said “I’ll see you again. And be skin smart but don’t freak out: if you lived in a cave from here on out, you’d be coming back for more surgeries. This is all delayed from many years before…”  

Great. 

The austerity of the beach (house) was refreshing. It didn’t really occur to me how sparse the place was until I arrived home and opened my own door. “But this is where we LIVE,” my husband reminded me. “I like it here.” And I get that, and I love it too. But… we have too much stuff  and he agrees. We don’t need the behind-the-bike tag along trolley for toddlers anymore… unless we turn into our neighbors and have our grandchildren live with us while our child goes to medical school. True story. We also have neighbors who’ve stolen our cat. No joke.  

The conflict for me is committing the time to unload the stuff from our lives. It’s not even an issue of finding meaning in the unloading, because I know it would not be time wasted, it’s that I want to be living. So I need to reframe that. I think it’s the only way to do it. If we punt things from our lives just because they are there, it doesn’t help the process; we are just doing the opposite in reverse: we are mindlessly ridding after mindlessly acquiring. I don’t want to do that anymore. I inevitably forget I’ve done it and spend time looking for the thing I unloaded… It’s crazy making.

Sure we can make deals with ourselves here on out to live intentionally and intelligently, but that solves only half the problem. And I have: I’ve made a pact with myself that I’m only buying things that add value to my life now. It’s not that I’m going to deprive myself of things, but I want to include things: moments, people, items, music, sensations that have MEANING. I believe this is a part of not only a higher consciousness, but also of getting older (I’ll be 50 in a couple months) and also an awareness of the smarter economy: sharing, recycling and repurposing.  

Just before we left for the trip my husband and I visited the municipal dump to unload an old TV (which had basically died — we kill things here, we don’t just replace them because we don’t like them anymore), our dead wooden deck table and other wood-based things. I was both exhilarated and dumbfounded that we live here in a country where people can responsibly bring their unwanted / defunct things to be … dealt with. I’m not sure what happens to those old washing machines and door frames when they are deposited at the dump, but I do feel like we are doing something right. I don’t know. 

So it’s not just that the beach house that was not filled with too much too much, it’s that the beaches were so not-crowded by both people and crap. It was lovely to look at things and not feel overwhelmed by them. Seth Godin once wrote in a blog post: “While enough is often enough, too much becomes nothing.” I don’t want to have so much that I don’t know what I have anymore, that it becomes nothing. 

I am noticing as I write this that I have a new (latent?) “issue”: stuff and its accumulation. I believe it’s because of my mother. I’m not blaming her, but I can tell you I’d be clearer about this issue — meaning my sense of guilt over it —  if she hadn’t spent her life surrounding herself, and thus my father who is getting on, with an accumulation of so much unused stuff shit that it’s both unusable and untenable at the moment. I know I’m going to have to deal with it and I also don’t want to do this to my own kids. It’s shitty to leave your shit on your children’s hands because you don’t possess the self-control to manage it. My parents have left a significant issue unresolved and I realize right now that I’m feeling its specter, looming, because I fear I will have to deal with it and I fervently reject it.   

So the unfolded laundry had to wait today. I decided to write about my trip because I wanted to share what’s on my mind. This post has been cathartic: it has enabled me to pinpoint and unload a heavy burden of unnecessary guilt while coming to an awareness about a pretty major situation that needs to be attended to which does NOT belong on my shoulders. I want to thank you for helping me get there. I know now that I am only responsible for and responsible to the things I do.

What’s taking up space in your head? What’s a burden that you’re carrying that you don’t even know you are? What’s going on…? We can’t carry other people’s shit for them because we have our own we need to excrete. 

“Moving toward an inwardly simple life is not about deprivation or denying ourselves the things we want. It’s about getting rid of the things that no longer contribute to the fullness of our lives. It’s about creating balance between our inner and outer lives.” – Elaine St. James

Thank you. 

Non-Attachment: An Update

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I have friends who know the intention I set for 2017: to practice non-attachment as “best” (ha!) I can.

They ask me from time to time, now that it’s May and we are more than 1/3 into the year, how it’s going.

I tell them, “it is what it is,” and laugh. Because that’s all there is and yet, there is so much more.

My beloved older brother and I were together in February on a 75˚ sunny day that made us feel like we were in Florida in February — when the angle of the sun is so distinctly “winter” that you know the experience is novel — when we weren’t. We were running an errand and I drove with the top down. I was thrilled to have him all to myself for that special hour. He’s a busy man, husband and father and we were all together as a family again to celebrate our “Second Christmas” because we are all in different places on actual Christmas.

We started talking about life in a way we hadn’t in years. It was just us. We got around to “new year’s resolutions” and I spoke of my new year intention. He is a really smart guy and he’s read a lot of amazing books and philosophers so he’s willing to go down the rabbit hole with me at times and I love those talks. I summarized up saying that “non-attachment” feels like a trap because I end up wondering if I’m “doing” it right. “Like, how do I know if I’m doing it the right way? If I try to stay in my own zone and let go of shit my kids or other people do, isn’t that like not caring about my own standards and personal space and boundaries? Do I stop caring about my family and dogs and just let them figure it out on their own? What if my not caring about something means that someone could get hurt or be negatively affected? Say, if I see a toddler walk into the street, of course I’d stop my car… when is non-attachment not good? Do I just keep driving and say, ‘well, he had it coming…’…”

I continued as rainclouds gathered above us on our way home and I wondered about whether I should close the top but decided to keep it open… it’s just rain… I can always pull over…

“Am I good at non-attachment??” We laughed.

Then I said, “Ah, fuck it.” We laughed louder and the rain began to gently fall around us amidst a sunny sky, and we were moving fast enough to stay dry.

The truth is that it’s hard. It’s hard to be soft when the world wants you to be broken instead. It’s hard to be aware when the world seeks to numb you. It’s hard to be open when you would rather clam up and turtle yourself in.

I have the true gift and blessing to host a “restorative / yin” yoga practice. This class centers and restores me in a way NO physical practice can. I have to be centered, or near-centered in order to give it fully. Sometimes that is easier said than done. I’ve been caught up in traffic or arriving on the heels of a disagreement with someone.

“Fake it ’til you make it.”

My therapist once mused about 10 years ago when I spoke of the crushing feelings I had about my mother and my father; about my childhood in spite of being a mother myself. A family event was on the horizon and I was a bit raw from the Work he and I had been doing in my head and heart. I didn’t want to attend but he said “fake it ’til you make it…”

I so dislike that phrase. I can’t fake it until I make it, because what if I never “make it”? And then, of course, what if I’m already there? What if the “what if?” is really “so what?” Because I dislike that phrase, teaching restorative classes means I can’t share what I don’t have, so I have to “rally” to let go. I realize it’s as much for me as it is for them.

I begin by inviting everyone to sit and to “soak” in their space. I propose a slow breath in. I suggest a flowing, peaceful breath out. I suggest an awareness of the heart rate and a connection with the energy in the room… after the first two minutes, I’m centered. I’m present. I’ve made it.

In those restorative classes, I talk about the poses and their effects on our bodies’ systems: circulatory, immunity, digestive, pulmonary, lymphatic and more… I read poetry, quotes and essays by Rumi, Chodron, Emerson, St. Francis of Assisi, Thoreau, Mother Theresa, Buddha, Lammott, Brach, Jesus… sometimes the stories are ancient and sometimes they are contemporary. Sometimes the readings are fresh to the class and sometimes they are repeats.

My sense of “non-attachment” means to me that it doesn’t matter if the quotes are the same, because every time I read them, it’s a new day for the listener and for me. It’s how our day shapes up which leads us to how we hear what is being read. For some people it might be the first time they’ve heard it and for others it could be the sixth. The point is, that life throws us experiences that shape HOW we hear those readings.

I remember going to Mass and being irritated by having to hear the story of Lazarus or Jesus Calming the waters, or of his curing a blind man by spitting in the mud that he rubbed in the man’s eyes, or of the woman at the well, or … or … or … until I realized: oh… this isn’t about repetition… it’s about lessons. For me, now in retrospect, it was about choosing to be irritated or choosing to NOT be irritated and listening.

Why am I harping on repetition? . . .Wait for it. . .

After a recent restorative practice, I was told that a new student loved it, but that the readings were the same as the week before. I got the impression that it felt stale to this person. It didn’t affect the same way as the first time.

NON-ATTACHMENT BREAKDOWN. BITCHY DEFENSIVE YOGA TEACHER BREAK-IN.

What is ironic is that I was also told by another student that what I read in that very same class was EXACTLY what was needed. People tell you things in these spaces. They feel safe in their vulnerability. A marriage was dissolving. Sobriety was new. Children were raw and wary from years of hurt and neglect. A rebirth was taking place right in that studio; right on that mat; right before us all in a private, silent, and beautiful way. This student found the readings both soothing and buffeting and it was all very needed.

As an adult child of alcoholics, I could identify with the children this practitioner had injured. I rested my hands on my heart and bowed to this yogi who is boldly stepping into the light, no matter if one reading is exactly the same as the week before. No matter if one pose is repeated.

justbeyoupillow

The whole point of a yin practice is to “get down” with who you are. To get close to the discomfort of being in your own skin and letting the feelings well up and breathe them out so we can let them go. The whole point or a restorative is to let stuff ride through you and try to practice non-attachment, to truly BE “it is what it is.”

So the conflict: Do I change what I do to please the one person who itched that night when I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing and people tell me this class is like their church? That they wait all day for it? That they count the minutes until class? That it’s a form of body prayer for them? That it’s their sanctuary from the world? That it lets them go soft when the world insists they stay hard? I’ve been teaching this type of class this way for three years and I’ve never heard a “it was great, but…” and maybe because that’s people are too nice? Mmmmmmmnnnnope. Not around here…

“It’s not me it’s them.” Isn’t that a fun line? The truth is, it’s all of us. The insight for me, however, is that I’m keenly aware of my own shit and that any reaction I have to anything is mine, including this person’s reaction to what I did. Carl Jung said basically that when we don’t like something or someone, to pay attention to it because it gives us insight into ourselves. I used to really dislike that concept because it was right. It means “work”; it means we look in the mirror and parse out what we are and grow up and stop being little babies.

Are we judgy? Are we reactive? Are we irritated –in a restorative yoga class?! REALLY?!– breathe, molly . . .  by a repetitive reading SO MUCH that we are going to talk about it, or are we going to do some digging and wonder why we are so irritated…? So attached? What are the expectations of this person? Levitation?

NnnNgnnn. Breathing. . .     

So ok.

I love feedback and I am all for mixing things up, and frankly, some of the readings have felt repetitive for me. That said, I feel strongly that I must be guided to read what I read; that if I “preselect” what I’m going to read, that it’s not authentic, it’s “planned” and when is life ever really that way? As a yoga instructor, there are times when you think you have the best idea ever and then you get to your place of practice and you “read the room,” and your initial idea vaporizes. The moods of the people or the events of the day or the week DO NOT mesh with what you had in mind at all. That happens more than I’d like. In that way, I have to be responsive.

I remember a power vinyasa class I was preparing to teach. I had a whole line up all set. And as the people streamed in, the mood was SO unlike what I’d prepared to experience. I had to think on my feet; I had to find a way to ease into the place I wanted to bring us because while the tone of the room might’ve been heavy, the truth is that people come to that class to revive and to work, so I had to steer the ship.

But I’m attached. I don’t like what I heard about that restorative class and the readings. Do I say “fuck it” and do what I’ve done? Not if you know who I am I won’t. I will roll up my sleeves, do some digging about my reaction and serve the class to the best of my abilities. I could decide to blend both my worlds: write my own essays for the class that I teach, and maybe that has traction. I could write essays based on a reading and that would blend it all together. It’s a consideration. It’s got legs, actually.

And so RIGHT NOW, as I previewed this post, I find myself bowing in gratitude to this person who spoke up. I find myself utterly awake: I can change this, I can write up thoughts. I can share myself in a way that will never be experienced again. Why buy or read other writers’ works when I’m a writer myself…? Why not share me? Weave me into the readings?

Holy cow.

My prescription for non-attachment: lean in to what chafes you. Roll in it. Get its stink all over you. Decide if it’s worth learning from or letting go. There is no right or wrong answer, and my experience has been that if I can’t let it go it’s because I’m supposed to grow from it.

Thank you.

10 Things You Never Knew You Wanted (But Now You Absolutely Need)

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10 Things You Never Knew You Wanted (But Now You Absolutely Need)

I love this blog and you should too. MLP hits it out of the park and into the stratosphere where most of these models’ outfits are from. Enjoy and laugh again.

I Miss You When I Blink

Are you good at resisting advertising? I try not to be a sucker, but time and again, the glossy ads in fashion magazines draw me in with their magical promises. I don’t think I have any interest in the high-couture lifestyle they’re offering . . . until suddenly I do.

Take a look. Don’t you want it all, too?

hermes

If you’d asked me yesterday, “What’s on your wish list?” I wouldn’t have said sparkly red gravity-defying sneaker-huaraches, because I’d never seen any. But now I have — and now I feel stupid for walking around vertically like some basic fool all this time.

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jennifer-connelly-louis-vuitton-ss-2017-1.jpg

At first, I thought, “Matching blue lace top and leggings with reverse shin zippers? Hard pass.” But then I looked at Jennifer Connelly’s face and posture and thought, CHANGE OF OPINION, MADAME CHAIRPERSON. She is not kidding around. I’m positive that if I wore…

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