Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Training Day

So in getting "ready for the big day" there is this urgency or felt urgency to "get in shape."  And this time of year brings out the commercials of "Get in shape for summer" or "get your bikini body ready." 
I don't really feel out of shape.  In fact, I'd say that I'm in pretty good shape.  My love reminds me daily of how buff I am.  But somehow the chord of neurosis is struck when thinking of "fitting into my wedding dress" when, actually, it doesn't matter what size that dress is, because, I haven't purchased it yet!  Somehow, the self acceptance and comfort that I have is replaced by the desire to get to my 17 year old self and become "thin again."  What is "thin again?"  And what does that mean?  To get back to my 17 year old self would be like taking up stretch pants, smoking cigarettes, bleaching my hair beyond recognition and waiting for someone to love me who probably doesn't deserve my time, energy or my bleach blonde hair.  To get back to my 17 year old self's weight is like wanting to replace all the muscle that I have with some fat, start eating junk food that will surely send me to the gastrointenstinal specialist and create such anxiety that anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs will eventually make their way back to breakfast and after dinner mint time.  Yes, been down that road thank you.  I have no real desire to get back to that 17 year old self, so why would I want my body to go there?  What "ideal" am I clinging to that makes this somehow desirable much less attainable?
At the end of the day, what truly matters is that the person that I am marrying knows what I look like and loves it.
At the end of the day, we'll be married.
At the end of the day, ultimately, we need to love ourselves enough to be able to love someone else.
This is the Training Day.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Didn't really plan it this way

So having to say yes to some things and no to others.
Yes to starting my rewrite and revamp of a project.  This feels good.
Saying No to wedding planning and all the hoopla around that.
This doesn't feel good anymore for various reasons.
Carving out a little more peace and a little more creativity.  Kevin was right, we should have eloped.  But then again, no one would have been very happy with us about that.  So reminding myself that this will happen, everything will go according to plan, people will show up and ultimately, we will be married by the end of the night. 
Which is what I want.  And what I'm saying yes to.  Because of many things but this is one of them. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

And it's Sunday

As you know, the world didn't end.
And yet, I'm very sorry for your loss.
Your loss of face, faith, trust and beliefs.
Your loss of identity, commitment and the world you lived in.
And while your pain of of this loss may seem insurmountable
the fact remains that your loss of these things
has brought you closer to who you are
and what you truly believe in.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The End is...here????

 A couple of "rapture-inspired" friends have done a little post I found really interesting:

"In honor of what will, according to Biblical guarantee, occur on May 21st, pal and fellow blogger Delia Knight at threepageslonghand and I (dearlifefu.com) are writing 21 things that must be said before The End. Please join us. These can be serious, touching, funny, loving, unkind- whatever is real. You don’t have to fully identify the recipient if you would prefer not to- use a pseudonym or initials. GO!"

Yes, you can order a team t-shirt from deerlife's website.

I'm not going to make any comments about today that are uniquely snide or condescending.  I have in my lifetime experienced what it is like to be a fundamentalist religious person.  I'm sorry for what today is bringing to a lot of people, disillusionment, disappointment,  loss of faith, and unfortunately a lot of other horrible things.  So here is my list and I'm going for it.  

1.  C.R.F.  - You're wrong.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  You're so screwed that I can't begin to make this effectively come across to you.  But today will.  And then come see me.  We'll have a big chat about what metaphor, allegory and mythology is.  You'll see.   And then you'll understand.  That is of course, if you don't off yourself first.  Remember, I used to be one of you.
2.  KT - You're a wack job.  I hope you don't teach children anymore.  You probably suffered in life. I think giving a kindergartner a report card like that is pretty cray-cray.  Thank God I got a good laugh later.  And my mother never took you seriously. 
3.  Adam - We ate parsley and pretended it was spinach and that we were Pop-eye..  I never knew what really went on in your house.  Only that you were my friend and I had so few friends it was nice to have a friend like you.  My mom said she saw you on some TV Evanglist show and that you had been adopted by some family.  I hope they loved you and took good care of you.  I wish you well.
4.  Alice - Thank you for teaching me to be kind.  And to laugh at old movies.  Because they are funny.  And special.  You are too.  Thank you.
5.  NM - I ran away to your house.  We tried to fix my teeth.   We got in lots and lots of trouble.  We had lots of fun.   I guess what you saw in my childhood and I saw in yours should make this story sad.  But I don't feel sad.  I feel like I truly know what friendship is.  The ability to see a person as they are, not a creation from circumstances, and love them.  I don't know where you are or what you're doing.   But I understand your need to find yourself, your own identity, without having someone tell you who you are and what you should do. 
6.  JTB - You saved my life.  Saved my life.  Don't ever forget that.  I am here because you said what you said and did what you did.  I will always love you and your family for that.
7. RT - You were one of the many men that stepped up and showed me what a real man can be:  a father, a caretaker, a righteous and just authority figure, a loving person.  You were not perfect but who is.  You are much loved and much missed.  Thank you.
8. TTJ - Thank you for putting up with my crap.  You are awesome.  One of my sisters forever.
9. ST - Ditto.  You rock.  I loved having you as my adopted older sister.  I love you and your kids.  Thank you.
10.  CHN - If you are still alive, get some help.  Get clean.  It kills me inside that you have lost them both and don't care.  It is never too late to get off the merry-go-round.  It's never going to stop until you get off.
11.  NN - You know what you did.  And how many you did that to.   I don't believe that you can ask God to forgive you if you're not sorry.    And if you're floating around thinking that all is good and you're on the winning side now, I hope today is a big slap in the face.  Big.  And then you're sorry.
12.  AI - I don't waste much time on you other than the clarity I have now.  I won't waste one more breath or sentance.
13.  BP - I know exactly who you are.  And exactly what a piece of garbage.  You will get what's coming to you, I don't have to ask a punishing God or karma for that.  All I can say is you better pray that you never make the mistake of coming across my path with anything less than an apology.
14.  TO - Thank you for being the sociopath in my life.  And helping me understand that no amount of love in the world can change someone if they don't want to be changed.  I wish that was different.  But you also helped end my cycle of dating drug-addicted, sociopaths.  Thank you.
15.  Family - we have complicated ties.  And complicated storylines.  Thanks for being in the parts where you counted and made the difference.  And sorry for the mud and the muck.  It hasn't been easy for any of us.
16.  JKH - Freud was sort of right.  What I really think, I came here to save you.  We agreed on that before we came.  And then when that came off, we changed.  I would do it all again.  All of it.  You are an amazing person.  I don't want to imagine my life without you.  I love you.
17. KS - You are my lucky charm.  I wish I would remember this when I get mad at you.  I wouldn't want to spend a minute without you.  You are amazing.  You jumped into the great void.  I'll jump with you anywhere.
18.  Dad - It's complicated.  Your drug takes over like none other.  Heroin should be her name.  I wish you all the best.
19.  A - You abuse people.  You need some help.
20.  J - It's been horrible.  We survived but couldn't keep our relationship tied.  It's complex.  I'm so sorry.  I don't know why I hated you so much.  That is my weakness.  You are nothing to hate and don't deserve that.  I wish I had been better.  I love you and am so proud of what you've done.  You did it. 
21.  Left blank - in case I have more later.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Journey

So I embarked on this journey called The Artist is You Mandala Experience a couple of weeks ago.  My friend Cathleene is teaching this.  I went into this as a non-artist, meaning my creative expression doesn't normally come into this arena (meaning paint, drawing, etc).  I don't want to sound too airy-fairy about what this experience has been or what it is.   What I can say is that we start with some seated guided meditation and then let things come out as they come out.    Cathleene really keeps us stayed tuned into ourselves, where and what we're feeling and keeps us on a path that I would describe as "stepping into the void."  The picture on the left is the piece that I finished last week.  This came from nothing.  I didn't know where it was going, or coming, I just went with it and stayed.  What has emerged has shocked me.    The two animals, a jaguar and a dragon, were not a part of the original thought.  They came as a result of the evolution of the piece.  There were "mistakes" that were then realized as not mistakes but what was to be this piece. 

These two animals, in viewed as totems, are very powerful signs.  So in my research of discovering what they mean, I've found a lot of information.  The Jaguar represents Shamanism , Intuition, psychic abilities, integration of spiritual beliefs and morals, while the Dragon represents Primordial Power, overcoming obstacles, courage, strength, and grounding.  I feel like because this was not forced, this project was very much a moment to moment exercise, that these symbols emerged because they needed to tell me something.  This is a piece that is now hanging on my wall and I will be meditating with.  The messages that I have found from these websites are resonating with where I'm at this moment.  Which is touching the deep of the void and finding out what's there.  This is why I'm in this class and what is being called forth at this moment. 

I'm so excited....

Friday, May 13, 2011

Midnight Blue - a love poem to artists

Art by Cathleene Cienfuegos
The color of the sky at midnight is blue.
This was news to me.
The painting she was creating,
as the song on the radio
inspired by this awareness.

It is these little things that illuminate my holes in perception
These things I do not see, feel or experience.  
I wonder what I've missed and what I'm missing.

If it wasn't for those who see these pieces of life
notice, pause, breathe, take in, experience
and translate them into expressions.

This wasn't how this poem was to turn out
but I put it to paper anyway
it's important sometimes to just say things
if not well then just say them.

Your art transforms my world
makes me see things
sometimes for the first time

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

On the Mat

Subbing a class is not my most favorite thing to do.
In fact, it's my least favorite.
This is one of the reasons why:  Last week, I went back to one of my classes that I had a sub for the week prior.  On walking into class I heard this "Oh good you're hear."  Suffice it to say, the sub that had taught my class had not lived up to the expectation.  And while there are many reasons for this, which I heard about later and agree with the dissolutionment about, some of it comes down to one key idea:  the teacher did not live up to my expectations of what a yoga class should be. 

Being a teacher for a couple years now, I've learned a lot along the way.  And have much more to learn.  There are so many practices of this thing called yoga.  So many blurred boundaries.  And yet, so many "right" way to do things.  There is a swing happening at this moment, an abundance of places to practice yoga, and yet limitations on what is offered.  An abundance of people practicing yoga, an abundance of yoga teacher trainings, an abundance of yoga teachers and things are a little, let's just say sticky.  A blog that I have recently found and get a kick out of is Recovering Yogi, which does a lot more poking and pointing at some of these problems in the current state of yoga here in the U.S.  But really, it's for people who have gone down that path and found some not so enlightening things.  Which, are enlightening, surprisingly. 

I find myself not wanting to teach so much at the moment.  Because I'm shifting perspectives.  Coming from a "power yoga teacher training background" and not being so hip on that at the moment, I find myself in another teacher training, "Hatha" with a teacher who has taught Iyengar for over 25 years.  Why, do you say, am I doing this?  It's my opinion, but going back to what I consider the origins of yoga in the U.S. and going back to these traditions is enabling me to become a better teacher.  Specifically, my teacher, studied directly with Indra Devi and B.K.S. Iyengar who both learned from Krishnamacharya considered one of the main lineages of yoga as we know it in the U.S.  (Don't ask me how to pronounce Krishnamacharya anytime soon, it's just a bad, bad, bad job coming from my mouth.)  Another of Krishnamacharya's students is Pattabi Jois, founder of Ashtanga Yoga.  And later in life, Krishnamacharya's son, TKV Desikachar, studied with his father, emerging with Viniyoga.  So learning from a teacher from this lineage is going back to basics and fundamentals and decades of experience.   There's been a refinement to the original teachings, which is where Iyengar and Ashtanga emerged and then more with Viniyoga.  The evolution has brought many blessings and greater understanding of the practice.  I can trust more of what I'm being taught here because there is this vast experience and greater understanding behind it. 

So I go back to the why of my own study.  I had a very false sense of being able to teach when I first started.  It was all about cueing the postures.  "Lift the right leg as you inhale, step the right foot forward as you exhale."  It's great, I can do it all day long, there's an art to it.  But knowing WHY you're doing it, or where the foot should be besides between the hands when you bring it forward, well, those were things that I've learned over time.  And continue to learn.  And above all else, what the hell should I do with a student who can't swing their foot between their hands on the first try.  What's stopping them?  And how is it that I should help them. 

My teacher, I recommend finding one that works for you on a regular basis, explains in his very first class to students who are taking yoga with him for the first or hundredth time,  he's there to learn from his students as well.  His words "we learn from you."  His humble approach to the practice, to what his role as a teacher is, and his vast knowledge makes him a gem in this world.  But here's the snag:  If I only allow myself to learn from him, I will limit myself.  I am picky about who I take classes from, but again, if I'm not willing to allow myself to be teachable, I'm pushing away all possibilities. 

Let me take you back a few years ago to when I completed my Yoga Teacher Training.  I just have a few pictures to paint for you about this particular studio setting:  chain, completed the training within 3 months, they complete trainings every three months, about 30 participants at $2000 each, you do the math, the teachers I learned from had about 3 years of yoga teacher experience from what I can gather.  Drink the punch please.  As soon as I figured out that certain members of the teacher training were then selected to become teachers themselves,  I started to see a clearer picture.  This was employee training.  That they were essentially getting the employees to pay for themselves.  Even if you were "selected" to teach, you had to put in 20 hours of free teaching, which essentially was 40 hours, coming in 1/2 hour early and staying 1/2 hour after class.  This was considered "apprenticeship."  If other teachers took your class, often they did, they would provide you feedback based on your class.  This was considered mentorship.  And while modifications were discussed during the training, what I soon learned is that if you had an injury, limitation or just needed to modify, the class was not modified for you.  While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, imagine going into a class and having the whole class changed because of one person.  But if you have a group of people with bad alignment, you were to stop, give no more than three clear adjustments verbally, and continue on at the same pace. 
And for those of us that weren't picked, well, we were "qualified" to teach at any gym or health club a power style of yoga.  What was common was a few things:  a few of us continued to go to these studios and then give our feedback either to the teacher or talk to each other about what we liked and didn't like; those who started teaching elsewhere (like me) soon realized that what I was taught to teach wasn't accessible to anyone besides females between the ages of 18-35 with no injuries or limitations.  Step into a gym environment and see who is taking those classes.  Everyone.  Every-body.  With all of their "flaws" and their "limitations."  And who really has the limitation.  Me.  As the teacher, if this is the style that I'm choosing to teach, how can I safely and effectively guide a student through the practice.  I'm not saying that the style that I was taught to teach was bad, but learning to guide someone through the practice beyond cueing, beyond repeating the poses over and over again without giving options isn't effective.   And this particular style of yoga, coming from ideally the practice of Ashtanga, is a powerful and dynamic practice.  But it's not for everyone.  So can I make it for everyone?  How can I do that?    And so I started to question what it was that I was taught to teach.  And how it was presented.  And I went on to dig deeper, take classes from outside the punch bowl.  I started looking elsewhere. 

So back to my subbing.  And how I don't like it.  And what do any of my ramblings have to do with anything.  My biggest teacher is myself, my own practice.  Navigating on my own mat.  Second, my teacher, who is familiar with my body and can guide me in my practice.  Third, other teachers but essentially those who hopefully have taught for a long time.  I have found them in yoga studios and I have found them in gym chains.  And surprisingly, if I allow myself the opportunity to take a chance on a teacher I haven't found before, I may learn something, good or bad.  But when I walk into a room, even if it's a room I've taught in before or teach regularly at another time, and it's not my class, this is usually when I run into a former side of myself.  The one who thinks that yoga should be this way, and not another way.  If you'd like to hear that side, click on Stacia, who will help you understand what I'm talking about.  There is a large number of people in the room that don't want to be taught any different than what the normal teacher does.  Their experience with X, Y, Z yoga makes them experienced.  I remember one student specifically say to me "Well __________ at _______ says that I should do _________."  And me saying to her "Well that is not what we're working on today."  Needless to say, she never came back to my class.  And I don't blame her.  I pushed her buttons and contradicted what her teacher said.  Never mind the fact that she had taken the pose that I had her in, converted it into what she thought was the "more advanced expression" of said pose, but really missed steps 8,9,10, etc of the original pose, missing the emphasis on alignment that was necessary for the next three postures.  Ooopssssssssss.  I've done it too.  Oh, then I can do this and let me do that, why is the teacher going on to something wait, uhhh. 

So when I'm stepping onto my own mat in someone else's territory, I'm not there to reinvent the wheel.  But I also am bringing myself, what I have to offer, my limitations and my strengths.  I'm not there to imitate what so and so does, nor am I there to make it harder for you to practice because I am an insensitive and mean person and want to make you suffer.  New teachers challenge in ways that are more mental than physical, in my experience.  I'm not saying there aren't bad teachers because there are and I definitely was one of them.  But ultimately, where I am now, is specifically using what I'm being taught by my teacher and sharing my direct experience with the pose and hopefully the benefits of the pose.  And hopefully I'm responding to what I'm seeing in the room, a room full of people mostly keeping up with the pace of the class and those that are modifying being supported by me to achieve their expression of the pose.  This is different than saying "just do what you can."  This is specifically looking at an individual's body, assessing what they need to do in the pose, and helping them understand what the pose is doing and what they need to be working on.  This is a skill that I need refinement on constantly.  And this is why I'm in another training with my teacher.  After 25 years of looking at human bodies, seeing where they need help, sometimes mentally, he knows a few things.  And I don't think after 2 years of studying with him, I'm going to have that knowledge.  Maybe a thimbleful.  It's going to take me a long time to refine.  Decades.  But I'm willing to stay the course. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Something I'd like to share is this thing called Spa Week.
You sign up with your email address.  And twice a year they do a "spa week" where places offer their services for a big discount, $50.  Yes, Spa Week will send you emails and lots of them.  But it's totally worth it.  Here's what I got:

1.5 hour massage for $50.  And after the first appointment, they let me book two more at the same price.
50 minute facial for $50.  I could book as many as I wanted over the next few months.  And add additional services like glycolic peel, for an additonal $15.

So why am I a big free advertiser for this?  Because massage is so good for you.  Because taking care of yourself is often something that I leave off the list myself.  So I saw this post on FB from a friend and have had a really good time ever since.  And I'm grateful. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day

Today is May Day.   I have fond memories of May Day from my childhood.  Flowers and gardening were very big in my household and the households of my neighbors in rural Whatcom County.  Flowers were not hard to come by so it was easy to pick flowers and leave them on the doorsteps of our neighbors.  I looked up the tradition and it was actually baskets of flowers and treats you were to leave, which explains why we just left flowers, not being able to afford a basket.  But we had plenty of flowers.  My mother had planted trees when we arrived on the property, so a beautiful Japanese Cherry tree bloomed every year, with it's soft pink flowers on each branch.  We had a large lilac bush that bloomed, along with tulips, daffodils, and a variety of blooms that would surround our house with the colors of spring.

But ultimately this holiday is attributed to the arrival of spring, the half way point of time, November 1st through May 1st, an unofficial yet insistence of spring.  An insistence that the season of winter has ended, that there is light to the darkness.  Like the seasons, I believe we as human beings evolve and change in cycles.  While the world seems dark, the spring of renewal, awakening and enlightenment come.  It is through our seasons of darkness, our winters of seemingly never ending cold, bitter and dank conditions that we become dissatisfied, disheartened and disillusioned with what is.  We think that this darkness is never-ending, although through history we know this is not true.  The truth is that through our darkness we can look outside of our current season and see a different and brighter existence.   Yes, it's true that some appear to want to reside in our current state.  But to see these as "unenlightened" is a false sense of our own superiority and egoistic nature to feel better about ourselves on thinking more "enlightened" than others and is a waste of time.  Spring comes.  This is true.  The flowers bloom.  This is also true.  And to perpetuate that winter will never end is a false idea.   Spring comes.  With it's promise, an end to darkness.  This is the world I choose to see and live in.