Bebe in blue.
Also known as Ellington a la Ella Fitzgerald, here.
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.
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
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.
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order—willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern....
There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading — that is a good life.
— Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
There was nothing wrong with the "old" you. You are innately good.You know that, right? That the fantasy 30-pounds-lighter, detoxed, Crest-White-Stripped, green-juicing version of yourself would be just as good and as happy and as complete as the right-now, squishier, softer, nacho-eating, TV-watching you?
You are innately wise. You are innately lovable, here, now, just as you are.
We need to talk.
I know you are planning to start a diet next Wednesday. I used to start diets, too. I hated to mention this to my then-therapist. She would say cheerfully, "Oh, that's great, honey. How much weight are you hoping to gain?"
I got rid of her sorry ass. No one talks to ME that way.
Well, okay, maybe it was ten years later, after she had helped lead me back home, to myself, to radical self-care, gentle Self-Talk, to a jungly glade that had always existed deep inside me, but that I'd avoided by achieving, dieting, people-pleasing, multi-talking, and so on.
Now when I decide to go on a diet, I say it to myself: "Great, honey. How much are you hoping to gain?"
I was able to successfully put on weight on book tour by eating room service meals in a gobbly trance in 13 different hotels. So that was exhilarating, to make myself feel like Jabba the Hut.
And then I accidentally forgot to starve myself in December, or to go back to the gym, which I've been meaning to do since I had a child, 24 years ago.
So I am at least five pounds up — but praise be to God, I do not currently have a scale, because as I've said before, getting on a scale is like asking Dick Cheney to give you a sense of your own self-worth.
I can still get my jeans on, for one reason: I wear forgiving pants. The world is too hard as it is, without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing. I struggle with enough self-esteem issues without letting my jeans get in on the act.
By the same token, it feels great to be healthy. Some of you need to be under a doctor's care. None of you need to join Jenny Craig. It won't work. Some of you need to get outside and walk for half an hour a day. I do love walking, so that is not a problem for me, but I have a serious sickness with sugar: if I start eating it, I can't stop. It turns out I don't have an off switch, any more than I do with alcohol. Given a choice, I will eat candy corn and Raisinets until the cows come home--and then those cows will be tense, and bitter, because I will have gotten lipstick on the straps of their feed bags.
But you crave what you eat, so if I go for 3 or 4 days with no sugar, the craving is gone. That is not dieting. If you are allergic to peanuts, don't eat peanuts.
So please join me in not starting a diet January 1st.
It's really okay, though, to have (or pray for) an awakening around your body. It's okay to stop hitting the snooze button, and pay attention to what makes you feel great about yourself, one meal at a time. It's an inside job. If you are not okay with yourself at 185, you will not be okay at 150, or even 135. The self-respect and serenity you long for is not out there. It's within. I hate that. I resent that more than I can say. But it's true.
Maybe some of us will eat a bit less, and walk a bit more, and make sure to wear pants that do not hurt our thighs or our feelings. Drinking more water is the solution to almost all problems.
I'll leave you with this: I've helped some of the sturdier women at my church get healthy, by suggesting they prepare each meal as if they had asked our beloved pastor to lunch or dinner. They wouldn't say, "Here Pastor — let's eat standing up in the kitchen. This tube of Pringles is ALL for you." And then stand there gobbling from their own tubular container.
No, they'd get out pretty dishes, and arrange wonderful foods on the plates, and set one plate before Veronica at the table, filled with happiness, love, pride and connection. That's what we have longed for, our whole lives, and get to create, now, or on the 1st. Wow!
There are gaping holes in everything. Life is a nice fresh batch of Swiss cheese. (Note to self: Savor the holes, too, like the spaces between musical notes.)— Anne Lamott
For many years, when feelings of grief or humiliation or self-hatred overwhelmed me, I reached for the anesthetic at hand — sometimes food, sometimes alcohol, sometimes an addictive kind of love and sometimes, in the beginning, even yoga practice. Maybe you’ve identified your own numbing-out strategy, or maybe you haven’t, but most of us have struggled with these cravings. In fact, they’re so common that there is an ancient archetype associated with them — and it’s called the Hungry Ghost.
Who is this Hungry Ghost? Though I call her “she,” my own Hungry Ghost is androgynous and so ugly she’s lovable. She has an enormous and wrinkled head, and, unlike traditional representations, she has a great cavernous mouth into which I have poured various unhealthy substances in order not to feel. Yours, if you have one, may look different.
You may have seen a picture of the Buddhist Wheel of Life, a mandala that depicts the Six Realms of Existence, realms we cycle through endlessly, birth after birth. Beneath the Human, Animal and Hell Realms is the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts. These creatures are withered, E.T.-like, with bloated bellies and necks too thin to eat or drink without feeling unbearable pain. Hungry Ghosts wander, insatiable, unable to nourish themselves. “The very attempts to satisfy themselves,” writes Buddhist psychiatrist Mark Epstein in Thoughts Without a Thinker, “cause more pain….Attempts at gratification only yield a more intense hunger and craving. The Hungry Ghosts must come in contact with the ghostlike nature of their own longings.” They must understand their own emptiness. Remarkably, the Boddhisattva of Compassion appears in the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts, “carrying a bowl filled with objects symbolic of spiritual nourishment,” says Epstein. It is only when we embrace the Hungry Ghost with compassion that we feed its starving spirit....