Wednesday, August 27, 2014
YES, it's TRUE!!
I'm returning to teach regular Tues/Thurs evening classes at Flying Studios starting next week!! Thanks for your patience while I've been easing back from maternity leave.
My permanent schedule as of Sept:
(in the Annex)
Can't wait to see you in the twinkly twilight.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Yesterday I sat with my kid in my lap and leafed through the latest Yoga Journal. There was a fashion supplement, a celebrity profile of a pretty teacher who married a famous actor, and a whole feature on how to dress to hide your figure flaws to look thinner on the mat ("How can I conceal my butt dimples?").
I cancelled my subscription.
I felt sad. And dejected. And not good enough, especially since I'm a butt-dimpled new mom with a muffin top and it's been awhile since I've done Natarajasana in high heels on a rooftop like Hilaria Baldwin. But mostly, I felt disappointed, because I've written a few pieces for YJ in the past and have always felt proud of finding a market for intelligent mindful writing amidst the glossy mainstream rags.
Today I'm sitting on the floor with my kid in my lap and he's chewing on a soft fabric car with wheels that spin across the 3 sheet-covered yoga mats that we've laid out across the living room floor as a playmat. We're making frozen toaster waffles (nope, not organic) with maple syrup and reading Where The Wild Things Are, which, incidentally, includes no fashion supplements. He's learning how to sit by himself, and falling forward into Paschimottanasana every time. I'm wearing old black tutu-leggings with a hole in the crotch, my peeling, calloused feet haven't had a pedicure since January, I ate 27 dark-chocolate-covered almonds from Trader Joe's for breakfast (after finishing the peanut butter cups first), and my bare face is blotchy with postpartum rosacea.
It doesn't look anything like a Yoga Journal spread. There are no high heels or probiotics to be found. And yet, it feels very much like yoga.
My son is the child of two long-time yogis. He'll grow up learning a lot about yoga. We'll teach him the Primary Series when he's ready. He already does Navasana in the bath, and says goodnight to Buddha and Ganesha and Shiva and Vishnu every evening before bed. But I want him to know the kind of yoga that's about being wild and loving and unpretentious and free. The yoga that means learning how to be real, and fearless, and gentle, and compassionate, and kind. Not the type that wastes precious life energy worrying about covering up the "flaws" in your "apple- or pear-shaped" temple of All That Is Good And Holy.
So we'll keep eating waffles. I'll bandage my blistered toes. And we'll leave the Yoga Journal on the magazine rack for someone else to buy.
Monday, August 11, 2014
I'm currently teaching a very limited regular schedule in the wake of my son's birth earlier this year.
Please join me on Sunday mornings at Flying Studios for now, and stay tuned to my Facebook and Twitter feeds for updates about ongoing subbing at Yoga Toes Studio in Point Reyes, OMpower Cycling & Yoga, and elsewhere.
New regular classes to come in September!
4202 & 4308 Telegraph Ave
Sun 1045am-1215pm (in the Annex)
Friday, July 11, 2014
This is great news, right?
Because it means that we are so close to each other, we really know each other well; we are deeply, poignantly connected. It's almost heartbreaking how connected we all are as human beings. More than we can ever imagine....
All the suffering in the world is not a mistake. It's not your fault, and it's not my fault, and it's not anybody's fault. It's not our parents' fault, it's not our ancestors' fault. It's what connects us to each other. It's what binds us to one another. If only we could have the courage to allow ourselves to feel the suffering and the loss fully, we would appreciate it for what it is: the nature of the world. Not a mistake.
The nature of how things actually are, that they're here at all, means that later they won't be.
And that's the pain, and that's the love.
That's the love. And that's the miracle.
— Zen priest and teacher Norman Fischer
He's fallen asleep, finally, finally.
His teething mouth is clamped onto the Ergo strap.
(Is he breathing?
Yes, phew, breathing.)
I am so tired. He is so tired.
He's been up every hour the last two nights.
Out of the blue, after settling into a nice pattern of sleeping for 6-7 hour chunks, followed by a quick 3am feeding, then cuddling in the big bed til 7am. It had become a lovely routine.
We took it for granted.
He hates to nap. He needs to nap.
I need for him to nap. Desperately.
Those naps save me.
Just an hour of feeling like an intelligent adult human again, those naptimes afford. Not playing with stuffed monkeys or narrating my day ("Ok, now we're going to take the spoons out of the dishwasher and put them in the drawer") to ensure his verbal capacity a few years from now. Just being quiet with myself. Craving solitude, independence, asana, wondering if I'll ever read a book or write an article again. Wondering how I ever took all that solo pre-motherhood free time for granted. Resentful that my younger self wasn't more aware of what a precious commodity those unbounded still moments were. Dismayed at the nothingness I'm getting accomplished of late.
("Nothingness," other than raising a human and singing to him and reading to him and making sure he doesn't suffocate or get his foot stuck in the crib slats and keeping him fed and clothed and being single-handedly exclusively mammarily responsible for putting rich fat rolls on his wrists and his ankles and his hamhock thighs.)
I want to take my husband out to soak in hot springs to celebrate his birthday. He's been working nonstop for months with zero time for asana or even a walk or even lunch. There are no spas that accept children. We can't really get a babysitter; doesn't make sense, too expensive; my boobs would need to be pumped if we did that, and Robb wants to be with him, anyway.
So we'll soak in our own dirty bathtub with the little squirty toys and the two half-empty bottles of baby shampoo and the crusty washcloths and save it for another year.
Here on my chest.
Squishy lips open, no longer clamping the Ergo, head precariously tipped to one side.
His eyebrows glint blonde in the sun.
In every instant, his hair changes color. It's a game-show of guessing what it'll end up. In some lights, mouse-brown like mine as a kid. In others, towhead blonde, like Robb's was. In others, undeniably red.
Only time will tell.
I get stuck in the monotonous moments and miss my old life in the City, desperately. Autonomy and urbanity and intellect and speed and hard liquor and stylish hats and no dirty diapers.
But then there he is snorting as you look down at his floppy sleepy head and you think to yourself that you'll probably need to get the snot-sucker out when he wakes up and there are World Cup soccer matches to look forward to tomorrow and Sunday and the fog is finally burning off over Tomales Bay and he looks so damn cute in that striped blue-and-coral-and-white shirt (gorgeous in blue, just like his daddy) that you almost forget about the sleeplessness and the stuckness and the pink ghetto housewife's life you've been living of late (even though Robb does all the laundry and the cleaning and the yardwork and the cooking, which leaves you doing what again, exactly?) and how it is totally opposite of the busy active masculine hustling working writing traveling life you've always lived and how all those articles still haven't gotten written because by the time he actually drifts off to sleep and you precariously settle him down and you hurriedly check your email and remind yourself to respond to those 37 high-priority ones from two months ago and pee quickly and brush your teeth and unload the dishwasher and sit down to finish that half-written blog
he is up again
and Christ-almighty, he was asleep!
and now he's up
and how did that go so quickly?
and when will the thank-you notes get written if he's always in your arms?
but he won't always want to be in your arms, not much longer, really, he's already so wiggly and curious, you know, and this is the most precious time of his life and you get to witness it, right here, in the VIP club seats, staring down at this most-perfect little bodhisattva, this short guru who's already kicked your butt into knowingness and egolessness and detachment from all that was and will be,
and some day he won't want anything to do with you, he'll ask you ashamedly to drop him off two blocks down the street so his classmates don't see him getting out the car with his nerdy mom, and he'll ignore your calls and be too busy out there to
sleep on your chest with his little legs straddling either side of your soft loose mama belly
and his eyelashes-for-days fluttering innocently against his cheeks
and his teeny ears listening to the whirr of the white noise fan
and he won't look at you with that radiant lit-up grin every time he opens his eyes
and rolling over will no longer be a feat worthy of celebration
and he won't proudly push up into Cobra afterward like a boss
owning the world in that post-roll moment of triumph
So you chill the fuck out and take a deep breath and look out the window at your beautiful hard-working husband weed-whacking on his day off which was supposed to be a birthday celebration spent soaking in decadent lush rich-people spas in Sonoma and which instead he will spend making you tea in the morning and getting you a gluten-free muffin downtown and whacking those damn weeds and hiking up Perth and giving the bubs a bath together at 6:30 and falling into bed after shoveling in a quick lukewarm dinner standing over the countertop and wondering if he'll wake up in an hour or maybe be kind and give you two before the bouncing-to-sleep on the blue exercise ball commences for the night
and you think of the friends whose babies were "fabulous sleepers" who slept 12 hours a night and took 3 long naps a day and you wonder what the fuck!?? and look down again at little blondie below (yes, I really do think he'll be blonde) and you sigh
with such great love
because you know
it'll all pass
He looks so much like my dad around the mouth. We found this pic of my father as a baby, taken in 1946 or maybe early 1947, and put it side-by-side with Duke's, and they have the same smile.
Larry's smile. My smile. And now, Duke's.
Dad, who's been dead 9 years now, who never got to meet his first grandson.
Duke, whose Larry-smile will, god-willing, live on long after his father and I are gone.
If that ain't a helluva gorgeous reminder of all that is fucking sacred in the world, I don't know what is.
The nature of how things actually are, that they're here at all, means that later they won't be.
And that's the pain, and that's the love.
That's the love. And that's the miracle.
Monday, May 19, 2014
Less than a month til we escape to the mountains. Join me for a weekend of wildflowers, hot springs and hiking. (Oh, and lots of yoga.) Spaces are filling up quickly — so sign up soon.
Wanna do something really good for someone really good?
Hop on over to June's Tibetan Studies Fund and share a little love.
The mindful Ms. McCrory (pictured at left) is on her way to UVA's Tibetan Language Institute, and she could use your support.
A few words from June:
I began practicing Tibetan Buddhism just over three years ago. I am so thankful for this practice, and for the benefits of greater patience, peace, and inspired study which have come from working with these ancient, compassionate teachings.
Last fall my studies expanded to include the Tibetan language. I find the language so joyful, and learning it stretches my mind in a way that my mind loves to be stretched! Now 8 months into my literary (written) Tibetan class, I have learned the 30 character alphabet, am writing and pronouncing words, and slowly getting the hang of grammar and form.
This summer I hope to travel from my home in the San Francisco Bay Area to Charlottesville, VA, to attend the University of Virginia's Summer Language Institute. I have already been accepted to this excellent and select program. Now I need to raise the funds for tuition, travel, and housing BY JUNE 1st, 2014.
The UVa Summer Language Institute creates an intensive language-learning environment on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, VA. 40-hour class weeks, Tibetan-language dorm housing, native-speaking teachers, and a resident tutor provide an almost immersive language learning experience. The result is 2 years of language study achieved in one summer session. This is the most comprehensive program I have found in the country. I consider it a blessing to be able to build this strong of a foundation here in the United States.
Why Tibetan? And why is this important to me?
You may or may not know, but there is a pressing need for translations of Tibetan Buddhist texts. In today's global world, practices like meditation and mindfulness are widely recognized for their benefits to personal health and well-being, and the integration of these methods is currently producing positive results in our classrooms, business environments, prisons, and healthcare facilities. Why has Tibet been such a great container for this wisdom? Because translators hundreds of years ago Translated the Buddhadharma into Tibetan. We are in a new renaissance as this wisdom lands here in the West. It is going to take countless conversations between translators, scholars and teachers to further share Tibetan practices, cultural information, and texts relevant to our culture's needs.
I am studying to become a translator to help fulfill this need and to transition into a new and fulfilling career path. Learning colloquial (spoken) Tibetan at UVa this summer is a way for me to literally bring the language to life, providing an experiential understanding of the language and Tibetan culture, and increasing my nimbleness as a future translator by giving me the ability to connect and dialog personally with Tibetan people.
This path of study is important to me because I have finally found a deep and multi-faceted path of study that I adore. I believe my work in this field can and will actually help people, in ways that I cannot yet begin to imagine.
I would be honored if you would contribute to my Tibetan Study Fund today.
Friday, May 2, 2014
Here's my latest newsletter, including details on my return from maternity leave and an adjusted teaching schedule for May, subbing in Point Reyes, upcoming retreats, bebe sweetness, and more.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
I'm returning to class this coming Sunday. Teaching again for the first time in 3 months. Putting on leggings and painting my chipped toenails for the first time since February.
I can't wait! (What am I thinking?!?! This is ridiculous, I've never even left my kid for more than an hour and now I'll be away from him, not just across the room, but across a whole bridge for about FIVE, once you figure in the drive and parking and the closing-up the studio and all.)
What am I thinking!??
I am thinking that it's about goddamned time. That I've missed you all, and missed teaching, and missed the music and the sweat and the stretch. But also that I've had plenty of that and more right here at home with my newborn son since he was born. The music (chanting to him noon and night) and the sweat (dripping down me at the most inopportune of times — thanks, pregnant-lady hormones) and the stretch (the cosmic emotional and psychological stretch of transforming in one breathless instant from freewheeling hard-drinking 30-something chick to responsible tee-totalling parent of a small living creature who desperately loves and needs me in every way). Yes; I've sung and sweated and stretched, all right.
So I may not have had much (ok, any) time to do asana since the little guy arrived. But I've had a helluva lotta time to do yoga. The kind of yoga that means sitting with what's difficult, and choosing how to react, and remembering to breathe.
Over the weekend, I scrolled through Twitter and stumbled across this essay while my little guy slept in my lap. I didn't have the heart to wake him just then, so I stayed put and snuggled him and read with one hand holding my iPhone, there in the pre-dawn dark.
And I found this incredibly powerful, sobering, all-too-true story of a Sacramento yoga teacher who, unbeknownst to anyone, taught 2 Easter day yoga classes last week and then went home and shot herself.
We need to create a space where yoga teachers can be real, without shame or guilt that they're not enough. We need to do it for ourselves, and most certainly for our students. We need to teach them that yoga is not about exercise, or becoming perfect — or even becoming the best we can be. It's about looking in the mirror and seeing what you see, and if it's something you can change easily — great. If not — well, we sit with it and try not to react.....
What this means for us, is that in our rush to enlightenment, or peace, or whatever it is that we think yoga will give us, we're bypassing the experience. We're actually short-changing ourselves and our students. By not copping to our own struggles, we're telling our students that they should aspire to not be human. The work is not to shed the old self — it's to integrate it. And to integrate it means that you can't just get rid of it. Again, the lotus flower doesn't try to get rid of the mud from which it came — it simply reaches for the sun. If its roots were pulled out of the mud, it would die. I'm not saying that we need to unload all our troubles onto our students. Not at all — save that for your therapist. But we do need to let them know that this practice is not all about puppies and rainbows and peace signs and feeling good. We need them to know that feeling bad is part of the process — an important part actually — and it's part of being human....
I don't know whether our friend and colleague suffered from depression or not. I have to think that maybe she did. She didn't let on. She didn't tell her best friend. She didn't tell her teacher training community. She didn't tell anyone. I have to think that we didn't create a safe place for her to be real; to cop to "un-yogic" thoughts or actions. In the competition to be the best teacher, have the most fun classes, offer the most awesome sequences, we've boxed ourselves into a lie. We put our best faces forward — and not just in the classroom, but on facebook and other social media outlets. We are bombarded by people with exciting lives, doing fun things, with amazing families who love them. No one posts anything when they're not on the top of their game — well, maybe a couple of people do, but largely, it's a world where we're never enough. We're bombarded with posts to think positively, create our own happiness and reality. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but if you're low, and maybe have been for a while, you tend to think that you're doing something wrong, because everyone else seems to have it all wrapped up. We're constantly comparing ourselves to others — on the mat and off the mat. We do it — we're human. And we usually find that we come up short. We need to let our students know that we're just like them. We're not super-human. We struggle, we suffer — it's probably partly why we teach! And sometimes yoga doesn't work. Or at least we think it's not working, because we're not seeing the results we want to see. I'd argue that it is working, and has been all along. The fullness of the practice includes the darkness. We are darkness and light in equal measure....Wow.
I was struck breathless. So struck by the reminder, the imperative, the responsibility for us yoga teachers, us spiritual guides, us leaders of any kind, to embrace our shadows, to live in them and be fearless enough to own them.
That in mind, I feel more committed than ever to keeping it real. To resisting the urge to package my yoga-teacher-life as one that's all shellacked grace and ease and happy shiny people holding hands, one that never feels cold or pain or ache or indigestion. And to offering my own humanity as proof of why this transformational practice works.
So, that said, I give you
7 Confessions of a Postpartum Yoga Teacher
1. I have back fat. It used to be belly, and it's for real. I feel it scrunching on my left side every time I pick up my kid and burp him over my right shoulder. And I hope to create the kind of environment where you feel safe letting yours fly free, too. A good teacher is not necessarily the skinniest, most muscle-y one. Some of my best teachers have been far from nubile or svelte or ripped. And some of my, ahem, "less-best" teachers have been super mad fit. And their fitness didn't mean a damn thing. Their muscles didn't give them the words to change my life, or or the wisdom to slow my racing mind. I want you to feel free and confident to take up space. To own your bodies, to own your stories. To own your size. (It's powerful, you know. It's the most formidable tool you wield as you move through the world.) And to own your scars. And your back fat. 'Cause you've earned 'em.
3. I don't want you to be perfect, either. In fact, I've never had more sympathy for you or your body. (Especially during core work!) Sympathy for every moment of weakness, every soft spot, every source of pain or struggle. (You should see how shitty my sit-ups are these days. And I love them. Navasana, too.) So take Child's Pose. Take it over and over if you'd like. Modify. Skip. Take a breath. Sneak out to pee during the standing series. Do what you need to do in order to take care of yourself. There is no prize for the most Chaturangas. So screw 'em and skip a vinyasa if you need to. Your breath is the whole point, anyway, you know.
4. I don't give a shit what your fancy asana tricks look like. I mean, don't get me wrong; I'm sure they're amazing. And I give you mad credit for putting in the time and effort to practice them until you achieved them to the degree of ease that you can show them off in class while everyone else is in a reclining twist. I don't give a shit because I know they are temporary. I used to be able to rock all kinds of cool things, too. (Sure wish I'd thought to take a few pictures for proof for my grandkids someday. D'oh!) And I can do a few of them already again now, and I may well be able to do them all again some day. Or I may not. Either way, those fancy poses are not me, and never were. And they're not you, either. So don't get too attached. They're impermanent, just like everything else. And someday, one way or another, they'll go.
5. I'm tired, too. I get hopeless and scared, too. I get fearful and obsessive and my mind runs off the rails like a runaway train and I have to rein it in over and over from dwelling on the things that frighten me. And I know anyone who's human has that same experience because hey, duh: we're human. That's why this practice has been such a godsend. And that's why I want to share it with you. Not for the workout or the ego boost or the perpetual gooey talk of love 'n light.
6. I respect your time. Before I had a child I had endless hours to practice. Man, did I take that free time for granted! Man, do I wish I'd known to appreciate it when I had it. Now, just two months into being a parent, I know how rare it is to get even 20 minutes for a jumbled incomplete practice. (I was torn as to whether I should even write this blog today, because I knew that in choosing to use precious naptime to write I'd be sacrificing my asana time for the day.) So I promise not to waste your time. I will do my best to start and end class on time, and to pack the class with a well-rounded flow, a quiet meditation, a soothing savasana, and as much mindful content as I possibly can. Because I know this might be the only time you get for yourself all week. And that being here, just showing up and staying with it all, easy and not, will make you a better mother and partner and person.
7. I want you to know how inherently lovable you are. How beautiful you are. How magnificent you are. That you are a bodhisattva; an awakened one; a beloved Child of God. Looking at my kid while he sleeps (and I can't help doing it all the time, I mean, geez, he's so damn precious it just melts my heart), all of that goodness becomes abundantly clear. It breaks my heart to think that he might ever have even a moment in his life when he forgets his fundamental goodness, his unchanging lovability, his intrinsic sacred being. That deep knowing is all that matters. And that goes for you, too.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
A month and a half, to be exact. Or more. Either way, hullo there.
I've missed you so.
I've missed you at 3am when I'm nursing and thinking about all the articles I wanna write about boobs and gender and the politics of breastfeeding and how utterly exhausting and wondrous it is to be one human being's entire source of sustenance at 11pm and 1am and 3am and 5am and 7am and wash rinse repeat ad infinitum and how privileged I am to be able to nurse my kid instead of jumping right back into work 2 weeks after he was born.
I've missed you at 8pm when I'm mixing up my gluten-free vegan 5-ingredient oatmeal cookie dough concoction for the next day's lunch and listening to hear if the just-now-sleeping babe in the next room has woken up from the fridge door slamming. Oatmeal, I've learned, is an excellent means of increasing your milk supply. So I've been shoveling it in. By all accounts, it seems to work. I've eaten more oats in the last month than in my entire life heretofore. (Howdy, digestive tract!)
I've missed you at 7am when for all those years heretofore I used to groggily, happily settle in with my bottomless cup of coffee and pajamas and get lost in the morning news and then read and write all day. Nowadays, 7am looks more like rousing baby and a foggy brain from not-much-sleep and a wondering what day of the week it is again?
There is so much I'd like to write. There is so much I'd like to say about the zillion weird and wonderful and strange and amazing and awful and awesome aspects of this whole brand-new-parenthood thing.
And yet, it's taken til now, yes, 2 months after my gorgeous and wise boddhisattva of a son was born, to get my ass in front of the laptop with both hands free to type, a head awake enough to write, and a body enlivened enough by an afternoon walk past Manka's that I can sit for a bit again without going stir crazy.
I'll apologize ahead of time for a post that's brief and scattered and a bit all over the place. That's rather reflective of my mind-state these days. I am spending most days and nights nursing, sometimes with one hand reading Twitter at 3am, sometimes with my head nodding off to sleep with babe at the breast. Breastfeeding is my drishti and my dharma, my meditation and my manual labor. It is at once magical and monotonous. It is Dairy Queen writ large. It is my current and only purpose of late. Nothing else matters. It took me a minute to realize that, and boy, did life get easier once I accepted it and let the workouts and the emails and the planning and the writing slide.
All kinds of crazy gender politics going on here. Feeling myself strangely stuck in the pink ghetto that is "women's work," that "being home with the baby" stuff that makes me feel utterly obsolete from the rest of the world. (And yet, I think to myself: Hillary Clinton did this. Joan Didion did this. It must be ok. It must mean my other ambitions are salvageable, yes; that I won't spiral down the sinkhole of Mom jeans and endless timeless indistinguishable days spent wiping butts and cutting crusts off sandwiches?)
Which is, of course, all true.
Babe is wrapped up tight on my chest in my little sister's hand-me-down Moby. This sturdy brown wrap nestled two little girls in Wisconsin for a few years, and now it's mine to wear while I walk up and down the quiet streets of Inverness and ogle fairytale cottages while checking obsessively over and over to make sure the little man is still breathing down there at kissing distance.
This wrap is an ambitious girl's godsend. It means I have hands that can work and type and stir and lift, and a body that is suddenly liberated from hours in the rocking chair. It means the little man and I can breathe and walk and get the fresh air that we've been craving. It means I can stop bouncing him in my arms on the big blue exercise ball and have a hand free to tuck the stray unwashed hair back behind my ear again.
(Did I mention that my husband is an angel? A total mindful thoughtful generous patient godsend who does all the laundry and buys all the groceries and changes all the diapers? Well, he is. And he does. You should get one like him. I don't know how anyone does this without a partner like him. Seriously.)
He's gorgeous. He's otherworldly beautiful.
He's cooing and smiling and eating like a champ.
He's long and lean and has the strongest neck and the brightest eyes and one cute dimple and naturally, naturally, the pediatrician thinks he is a prodigy.
And we love him so much.
It's been a wild ride thus far, a trip, this motherhood thing. I've come up against all my old shit; all my old feminist prejudices against stereotypical female work and all my old desires to transcend this female body and live a life that's independent, ambitious, non-gendered, liberated, autonomous, free. And yet, in spite of an adulthood consciously crafted to be just that, suddenly, in these last two months (well, 11 months, really, if you count pregnancy, which you should), this female body of mine has entirely determined my reality. My boobs have kept me close to home. They have reminded me of my inevitable femaleness at midnight and again at 2am and then 4am and 5am and 6am, because whose babies actually sleep through the night like all these articles are telling me they will?!? My brilliant overachiever of a little man doesn't even really like to nap, you see, hence the lack of blogging or showering or anything but really being utterly truly presently in the moment.
And remembering to breathe.
And knowing that the dishes and the laundry and the manuscript will wait.
Michael Stone quoted a Japanese monk on a podcast that I was listening to while nursing one of those first difficult evenings home from the birth center. He said, "All spiritual practice is just taking care of things."
My god, yes. How I needed that reminder.
That reminder of the sacred ordinary.
That reminder that, as Stone observed, breastfeeding is blue-collar Buddhism.
That reminder, over and over, that wiping butts and washing out the pump and sucking snot out of Duke's stuffy nose and shifting in that goddamned life-saver of a glider and giving up on brushing my teeth and choosing snuggling over my yoga practice, that all of that "taking care of things" is spiritual practice. That every element of these last two months has been utter abject absolute spiritual practice. Even if it's meant few-to-rare minutes on the mat and longed-for-but-barely-achieved walks outside.
We are getting better at all the little details every day. As one does, with spiritual practice. Sleeping more and eating better and breathing deeply and realizing how quickly this little window of time will pass.
Folks keep telling us to "enjoy this magical time!" and I think to myself: where's the magic in being so cracked out from exhaustion that you're barely coherent enough to take a phone call? But then I scroll back through photos from Duke's first few days at home, and see how teeny-weeny this cherubic little creature was, and how quickly he has changed, truly, moment by moment, day by day, and I know it's flying by faster than I could've even imagined. And how precious every single one of those moments has been.
Tara Brach taught me last year in the midst of moving house to remind myself in moments of mundanity or difficulty: "Let this moment be as sacred as any other." That in waiting for our "real lives" to begin we miss the actual stuff of those real lives.
That the daily routine is supremely sacred; as sacred as any baptism or graduation or birth or death. The moments in-between. The ostensibly unsexy ones. As my friend Jess called them, oh-so-aptly, those many "unglamorous" moments in the first few weeks home with a new little one.
Friends, wonderful friends: you've called and emailed and texted and stopped by and wanted to visit and have lunch and take walks and catch up and hear everything and I have, for the most part, managed to not even reply to a whole 2% of you. I'm sorry. We've had full hands. We'll get around to it, soon, I promise, once the day-to-day rhythm settles in a bit and we make sense of morning-times and bedtimes and everything in between. I already see a difference. Some day, one day, soon, I'll get you called back and written back and all that jazz. In the meantime, know we're grateful.
Quite amazing to me that folks do this all the time. Quite amazing to me that I get to be home here, now, with this little Buddha, knowing full well that so many mothers aren't so lucky, that they've gotta leave their fragile little angels with strangers, head to work with aching hearts and leaking boobs, and stay the course. How blessed I am to be here, now, in day-old sweats and messy ponytail and tired eyes.
We're here at the end of April already, somehow. I'll be back in the studio teaching in May, easing my way back with an adjusted schedule. Details to come shortly. It's funny to think about teaching again after having so little time to do much asana in this brand-new-body of mine over the last several months. And yet, after all this, I feel a thousand times more qualified to teach the philosophy and the gentleness and the spaciousness and the non-judgmental noticing that is YOGA than I ever have. My backbends may be in rehab, only shadows of their former selves, but my mind and my heart are oh-so-much wiser. And I look forward to being that woman with you in the studio.
We're headed to the mountains in mid-June. I hope you'll join us. My 3rd annual Bhakti In Bloom yoga retreat takes place June 13-15th in conjunction with YOGASCAPES at Sierra Hot Springs, just outside of Tahoe. It's a dream of a rustic escape into nature and hiking and healing mineral tubs. Please join us. I'm so excited to dive back into post-maternity-leave teaching with this retreat. It will be so good for all of us. And babe will be there to ring it in.
Little man is breathing softly under my chin, I've scarfed down the last of my oatmeal cookies, and it's time to sneak outside for a quick breath of fresh air before he wakes up. Thanks for reading. Thanks for being. I'll be back again soon. The naps are getting a little more reliable each day.
Monday, April 21, 2014
I'm thrilled to announce our 3rd annual BHAKTI IN BLOOM yoga retreat at Sierra Hot Springs. Join me and YOGASCAPES June 13-15th for hot springs, hiking, nature, and tons of great yoga.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Tired mama. Sleepy baby.
One week old today.
Getting to know the wee hours of the morning veeeery well.
Grainy photo snapped in the pre-dawn darkness of 5am, so as not to wake the (finally) sleeping prince.
Full hearts all around.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Duke Lawrence entered the world with a swagger on his mama's birthday, Saturday, February 22nd at 5:58pm. He's perfect and gorgeous (and the spitting image of his daddy — even down to his big man hands!).
Duke (as in Ellington, the jazz great), because it is strong, clear, and unpretentious, and has a musical lineage dear to both of us. And because it sounds so damn good.
Lawrence (in honor of my late father Larry, and Robb's late friend and teacher, Larry Schultz), that our little Larry might be blessed and inspired by their bright spirits, their wide smiles, and the unparalleled love for life that both embodied.Duke's been hitting the yoga mat every morning since he showed up. He hates the swaddle. Totally gets in the way of his Surya Namaskaras. Piano lessons start next week, along with tackling the Transcendentalists. The usual newborn fare.
Like, dopey-adore him.
(Here's a shot of Aunties Claudia and Heidi when they came to squeeze him.)
Yesterday after breakfast we did our first Ellington tutorial. Listened to a little Ella Fitzgerald covering "Mood Indigo," some "Satin Doll," and, of course, some Louis Armstrong trumpeting with Duke himself on the keys, just for good measure.
Next on the agenda: that legendary "Sentimental Mood" Coltrane duet, "Take The 'A' Train" with a little more Ella, and, of course, "It Don't Mean A Thing."
(Extra credit points for the sweet versions of Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke" that have been sent our way.)
After a gorgeous sunny weekend (all of which was spent indoors laboring and recovering and learning the ins and outs of diapering and burping and swaddling and whatnot), we're tucked in cozily at home in the midst of a churning early-spring rainstorm. The rain is supposed to linger through the weekend. It's perfect weather for staying in, noodling around in sweats, and getting to know one another.
Oh, and trying to sleep, and attempting to shower, and catching up on the 631 emails and 26 texts and 18 as-yet-unlistened-to birthday voicemails, too. I've had nary a moment to keep up with the flood of wonderfully kind and thoughtful messages coming in, so if you've sent an amazingly sweet text or email or note, know how deeply you are loved and appreciated, even if I haven't had the chance to get back to you. This is the first time I've been on a computer for more than 10 seconds since last Friday. And I've slept about 6 hours total since then (all to be expected, of course). The bags under my eyes right now are epic. But there's just too much goodness going down out there in the real world right now. So trust that our silence is indicative of snuggling and lullaby-ing and swaddling-in-vain and searching furtively for a few winks of shut-eye in between the smiles and snoozes and the baby sighs.
We won't get these rare few weeks back, ever. Computers, iPhones; they can wait.
Love from the three of us.
The Big Kahuna. He has some sweeeeet biceps.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Here's what an asana practice looks like at 39+ weeks pregnant.
(Speaking as one who is such.)
We're talking about 10-15 minutes, max — a far cry from the old days of 2 hrs every morning — and mostly seated poses, as standing balancing poses with a big ol' gut have been pretty much a joke since about 5 months along, and even simple inversions like Down Dog and Prasarita C, which were my go-to poses til about 7 months along, aren't necessarily so wise to do anymore, because of the risk of turning the baby breech.
This is less an intentional or well-rounded sequence and more, uh, like "This is all I can still actually kind of fake my way through." I usually move through these few poses after building some heat/moving the blood with a simple hike.
As for maternity yoga fashion: I always wear that silver dress at left to practice at home. It's good for inspiration. Though you've gotta hike it up a bit to get into a few of these.
Supported Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose, very helpful for preventing swollen feet)
Malasana (Garland Pose, or Deep Yogi Squat, wonderful for keeping your hips open and relieving low back pain)
Virasana with Gomukhasana Arms (Hero Pose with Cowface Arms, both sides, again, great to prevent swollen hands and carpal tunnel)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose, with only the slightest forward fold allowing for belly)
Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby, for just a few breaths, as lying on your back is not recommended and doesn't feel great)
Cat/Cow Variations (Keep 'em very, very simple)
Vasisthasana Variations (Drop the bottom knee, extend the top arm at a diagonal)
Parighasana (Gate Pose)
Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose, if you can manage to heave yourself down there and back up again)
Hamstring Stretches a la Ballet Class (Hoist leg up on kitchen counter and fold to side to allow room for belly to drop through)
Hanumanasana, both sides, if you're feeling REALLY motivated (Keeping hips super-open by necessity, to allow for belly)
Ice cream in bed whilst watching Jon Stewart
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Monday, February 10, 2014
It's been a week now since I taught my last class.
Just around the corner from 38 weeks and fully aware that Bebe could arrive any day. Doc seems to think he'll wait til his due date, though, so only time will tell.
In the meantime: holy stillness.
And I mean that in a lot of different ways.
After a winter of abject drought, on Friday, things shifted. In a big way. We trudged into Greenbrae for an OB check-up that morning, and the rain had started. It kept flowing as we stopped off in Sausalito for whooping cough shots and then powered south through SF to San Mateo to meet with our tax lady. Got home just in time to avert the mess of the wet evening commute, and hardly left the house all weekend.
The rain and wind intensified late Friday afternoon, and still haven't stopped. A few different unofficial local accounts estimate that we got anywhere from 12-14 inches around here.
Whoa mama. Just what (Mother Nature's) doctor ordered.
I've never been so glad to be trapped in my house, unable to go for a walk or get outside. I've never sat on my butt so much and not gotten irritable or antsy. (Surely some of that is the major-prego factor, I know). But the rain kept coming and the wind kept howling and the lights kept flickering and we just stayed, and stoked the fireplace, and listened to old-school jazz, and crossed things off baby to-do lists.
And it felt really good.
Yesterday I made pancakes for breakfast. Then brownies, mid-afternoon. I guess some people might call that "nesting," but it felt more like "what the hell else do you do on a wet Sunday afternoon when you can't do the Primary Series in front of the fire because you're hauling around a small living person and you don't have cable and the car seat's finally installed and football season is over and there's no good reason to venture out in the rain?"
The gratuitous baked goods were delicious, all. (Gluten-free and vegan, too, no less.) And my body is officially maple-syrup-shocked.
I've been watching the mist all morning here out the windows from our little treehouse cottage, and it's been slowing, gradually, until just now, finally, the sun's making a wan attempt to come out. This bodes well for the potential of actually moving my body for the first time since Thursday. A soggy, slow, waddling hike might be in order.
This last week marks the first time since I was, oh, 18 or so, that I haven't been working like a dog. It's weird. I'm kind of a hustler, you see. I like to work. A lot. It feeds me. Fuels me. Inspires me. Even when we were away last year on our honeymoon, I was fully aware that once we got home I'd have to jump back in and catch up on 2 weeks' of emails and admin and, you know, planning ahead and whatnot. Here, now, well, there's only One Big Thing we're planning for, and everything else is reasonably on hold.
And it feels, um, amazing.
To not have anxiety watching the urgent "must-reply-ASAP" emails piling up.
To actually read a book and not feel guilty about that other thing I "should" be doing. Usually for someone else.
To sleep enough, and eat enough, and rest enough, and stop hustling.
It's the literal and figurative lack of hustling that feels most strange, and new. No more hustling from Point Reyes to San Francisco to Oakland and back in the course of 12 hours. No more hustling to crank out those imperative email replies before hitting the road til midnight. No more hustling to throw up a quick blog post before rolling out the door.
Just staying, being slow and still and present. Sitting for 3 hours to write thank-you notes and feeling amazingly rewarded at finally getting them done. Making pancakes yesterday and not feeling like I should be practicing instead. Watching Ken Burns' "The Dust Bowl" and loving the learning and the sense of connection to my prairie-bred, German-immigrant, Nebraska farmer great-grandparents who somehow managed to struggle through those years without feeling like I had another, "more important" project to be completing.
Whoa. Feels kind of wonderful to exhale.
I realize this will all change in a matter of days, or weeks. Oh yes. People have been quick to remind me that the quiet solo hours I've always savored reading and writing at coffee shops will soon be a romantic thing of the past. And while the indubitable truth of that reality makes me want to drink heavily and cry, I also know that there'll be a lot of sweet hours to come full of "doing nothing" whilst rocking my milk-drunk baby to sleep.
I know I'm lucky to get this little window of time. I know not everyone is so privileged, that a lot of full-term pregnant women are stuck flipping burgers and shuffling around on painfully swollen feet in front of the grills at McDonalds until the moment they go into labor. I feel grateful to have these few still hours to prepare, to anticipate, to settle, to ground, before we launch into a wholly unknown realm. And I've gotta say: mothers-to-be, if you're able to sneak in a week or two of leave before the whole world changes, it's a dream. A relief. A necessary pause. A sacred moment of time in which no one expects you to do or perform or show up or wear a bra. In which you can tuck in and disappear and breathe deeply and just be.
And it is really lovely.
If you have any down-time to read today, check out these couple of pieces:
Nathan Schneider on 12 Ways Catholicism Is More Radical Than Pope Francis. Yes! Progressives are loving on Pope Frank a lot lately, which makes me happy, but most of them don't realize that he's actually just living by Christian doctrines, as opposed to most of the right-wing fundamentalist "Christians" who've distorted the actual teachings to serve their own reactionary socio-political and economic ideologies. Back in the day, I used to tell people I was a "radical Christian, but that's redundant." I don't know how "Christian" you can officially consider me anymore, but I still hold fast to the understanding that Christianity is at its heart wild-and-crazy-revolutionary. Check it.
The SF Chronicle wrote an article about Zeke and family in the wake of Ron Powell's tragic death last week. I was so heartened to see such a widespread outpouring of compassion and support. You can read more and see Paige Green's poignant, bittersweet family photos here.
Susan Piver on Buddhism and heartbreak. She is so good. There's a lot of trite, crappy writing about love going around this week. This isn't that. Read it.
Kate Geiselman on the challenges of teaching community college. I so appreciate this perspective. In the vein of Matthew B. Crawford's fantastic look at shop work as soul craft, here's yet another scholar who says: hey people, maybe there's a problem with this cultural myth that a 4-year college degree is a ticket to financial success and personal (and career) fulfillment. Especially when private (and, sadly, even public) universities are charging increasingly obscene prices to crank out what are often useless college degrees.
(On that note: read this book.)
Joe Fassler on Ingmar Bergman, his muse, his art, and what all great artists (writers, musicians) need: solitude. On whether pain is necessary for real creativity, and what it means to live in service to one's art, to sit with the overwhelming humanity that (said Bergman), "oozes out of me like a broken tube of toothpaste; it doesn’t want to stay within the confines of my body." And then there's this, sounding suspiciously more and more like meditation: "You can't run away from your emotions and your memory and the material you're working on. Artistic solitude is a decision to turn and face these feelings, to sit with them for long periods of time. It takes the courage to be there. You run into your own pettiness. Your own cowardice. You run into all kinds of ugly sides of yourself. But the things that you've experienced in your life become the writing that you do. And there's no easy way to get to it. And that's what Bergman and other Swedish writers have taught me—to stay in that painful zone, discipline myself through it to get where I want."
Michael Sam on coming out as gay just as he approaches the NFL draft. Love this story. Love his bravery. Love the overall celebratory and supportive reactions emerging from all corners. Hope, hope, hope he gets drafted and goes big.
Oh, and if you really, really have time, like prego-lady-waiting-to-birth-a-baby time, or are riding out a snowstorm somewhere on the colder coast, watch the aforementioned Dust Bowl mini-series. And then check out the new Netflix documentary about Mitt Romney, simply titled "Mitt." It's a fascinating inside look at Romney's two failed Presidential runs, heavy on family home videos and hotel room prayer sessions, although short on actual policy and strategy insights.
Be fierce in paying attention to what's already working. What's already fine.
Because in every single moment, many things are already fine.
Susan Piver always gets it right.
This is some of the best writing on love/heartbreak that you'll find, in a week often saturated with (dare I say mediocre?) tawk of love.