Sunday, March 31, 2013

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air: a raw, foggy day at the beach.

My nieces in Wisconsin.  They're unbearably cute.

I've found the most adorable way to stay in touch with my chitlins on the other side of the country.

Have you heard of the children's book Flat Stanley?

Basically, this kid Stanley gets mushed by a bulletin board and then, after the requisite period of despondence, realizes his flatness actually makes for a pretty cool way of seeing the world. He proceeds to travel the world, envelope-style.

So my old friends Matt and Sarah have three cherubs out in Delaware, one of whom, Josephine, is my goddaughter. They're fab. Sarah reached out last week to see if I'd be game to help Charles (the eldest of the three, and old indeed, at almost 7 y.o.) with a wee school project.

See, he's supposed to send a flat version of himself out to someone he knows who lives relatively far away to learn a bit about your climate, what activities you do there, what y'all wear, etc. 

Naturally I was nerdily excited about this. What a crackerjack means of teaching kids about the world beyond their horizons. I wanna do this with every little flat child in my life now.

Flat Charles arrived in the mail on Thursday. I got home late that night and fell into bed after a heart-wrenching day, so his first sight of California came early Friday morning. We built a sleepy fire and tried to figure out some Cali-appropriate clothes for him, lest the nudity become a little awkward.

Flat Charles' first morning in Cali
The Mister thought it'd be clever to dress Flat Charles in a Miami Heat uniform, courtesy of the NYTimes. The newsprint-tall-African-American-headless-cut-out dude was an unfortunate miss, in spite of his remarkable scissors skills. So, early Friday evening, while we watched basketball and ate frou-frou local cheese, we set Flat Charles up with a nice comfy little shirt from Chinatown, trousers made out of cable car lines, good strong hiking boots for climbing Mt. Tam (and tall San Francisco hills), and a hip fedora for keeping warm and stylish on cold, foggy nights.

Flat Charles has been kicking it with us for the last few days. (Obviously I'm having a little too much fun with this to be normal.) We're hosting him til Thursday or so, when he goes back in the mail to Delawrae. He'll be a killer yogi by the time the week's out. At this rate, he'll also have learned a helluva lot about Eastern religious icons, and about what happens when you mix Tanqueray with pink lemonade.

Here are a few pics of our adventures.

Must admit, this feels like such a charming, creative way to connect with all those little guys who live too far for regular visits. Between Google+ video hangouts and Flat Charles-style photo essays, I'm realizing there are always new ways to cultivate long-distance relationships, especially with the wee ones (like godchildren, for instance) for whom you really want to be presence in the long-term.

Highly recommend to anyone with small children in their lives.

You can expect more where this came from.

Until then, here you go:

Ripping into some legit Cowgirl Creamery cheese
and watching NCAA basketball.  Go Blue Hens.

Meeting Ganesha, the Hindu elephant god

Kickin' it with Buddha.
Oh, and scoring a sweet wardrobe.

Chilling with Amanda G's Hindu goddesses

Getting to know the Big Buddha at Yoga Toes

Doing a little wedding planning with us on a cold, rainy Easter Sunday.
Oh, and raiding the leftover candy aisle.

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.

Happy Easter!

My classes at Urban Flow are cancelled this week to accommodate the Bhakti Flow teacher training. Please join Rusty for some extra-sweet 9am practices every day.

Back to normal next Monday.

Much love.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Raw, idiom: 14a. in the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state: nature in the raw

Got a sweet surprise this morning as I walked in to teach at Yoga Toes in Point Reyes.

Ms. Rachel, Mr. Kyle, and little man Connor made the trip up from the City for the day. How much fun.

This little mister is a total laugh.

You haven't witnessed cute until you've heard a 2-year-old say "Bu-ddha!" over and over in his high-pitched little voice.

And then scramble up to give 'im a cautious kiss.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.

What a strange 24 hours it's been.

I spent yesterday in two hospitals and three yoga studios. It was a day bizarrely bookended by all kinds of life cycle shit.

And I mean "shit" in the most reverent, awestruck, sacred kind of way.

* * *

My dear old college friends Aaron and Courtney had a baby Wednesday night. Court's a rockstar and the baby slipped out like a kid on a waterslide. We got the heads-up that she was about to bust a move into delivery around 3pm. By 7, little Logan Page had arrived.

She's a damn purty little girl. (Way to go, team.)

I spent Thursday morning in an excited rush of gathering: getting my stuff together for teaching, wrapping up some bubbles and Cowgirl Creamery cheese for the new mama, and heading into the City a little early. Taught a sweaty noon class at Urban Flow and then hustled over to the hospital to meet the little lady.

She was what, about 18 hours old by the time I met her? And a sweet little kitten in every way, 7 pounds of quietude and warmth and cuddles.

After about 45 minutes, I zoomed back to the studio for a meeting, headed to OMpower to teach, discovered the melée of Giants/Athletics fans that had overtaken the 'hood for an exhibition game, and had just settled back into my car to head to Oakland when I got a phone call.

It was to be a Maundy Thursday bookended by hospital visits: one to a wee newborn babe, the other to say goodbye to an old friend who was on his way out of this world.

* * *

G had a stroke last Friday night. He's young, and healthy, and mad-fit; the kind of guy who climbs mountains and does triathlons and all that. He went out to dinner that evening to celebrate his daughter's 13th birthday, came home, and his brain crumbled. The firetrucks were out front by 2:30am.

I stopped at the hospital to see him on Sunday afternoon. He was more coherent than I expected, slurring a bit, yes, but recognized me and tried to make a few patched-together jokes. The words didn't come easily. He fell asleep mid-conversation, and the ICU nurses hustled us out so he could rest.

Monday night brought an emergency 7-hour brain surgery. They shaved off part of his spinal cord and cut out part of his brain to reduce the cranial swelling. Tuesday, he remained in a medically-induced coma. Wednesday night the neurosurgeons predicted that he had an 89% chance of full recovery.

Thursday afternoon he was braindead.

I found a voicemail waiting when I left the studio at 6:30pm.

Knew in my gut things weren't well. Got the word from our mutual friend E that there had been a series of strokes the night before, and G's brain could no longer wake his body up. The breath was gone. The brain was swelling again. The family had all been at the hospital saying goodbye since late afternoon, and the doctors would pull the plug later that night. I could likely stop by to see G one last time if I got there before midnight or so.

And that was it.

I did fine on the phone, kept it together, asked how E was holding up (they were long-time best friends, he and G, the kind that go to Vegas and Fiji together and stand up for one another in their weddings), and hung up the phone.

Sat stunned for a few minutes, disbelieving, numb.

Called the Mister and fell apart. Tears.

Speaking those words: "Ohmygod, honey: G is braindead" took everything to a whole new level. I understood. It was real. He'd just had a birthday two weeks ago. And now he was gone.

I wept my way across the Bay Bridge on my way to Oakland, windows rolled down, cold wind in my face, inching along in late rush hour traffic. I contemplated calling the studio manager to see if someone might be able to step in to teach for me. Figured there was no way I could get through class. But it was 7:15 already, and another teacher would need to be there in fifteen minutes. No way. Totally impossible.

So I sucked it up and said, "Rach, get it together. You have to get through this. Be present; find equanimity. This is your yoga." The Mister had already suggested that I dedicate my class to G. There seemed no better way to honor him than to dive into a place of sweat and breath and being absolutely one-hundred-percent fully alive.

I parked the car, wiped my eyes, put on some new mascara, blew my nose, and headed in.

There were 35 beautiful living breathing loving creatures in there waiting to get their yoga on. I knew as soon as I walked in: I had done the right thing.

* * *

There are few classes in which I remember being so fully present, so completely aware of the rich joyful heartbreaking cycle of life. I'd just come from squeezing a less-than-day-old baby, and after class I'd be driving straight to the hospital to say goodbye to my old friend.

In the meantime: sun salutations.

What a mind-fuck. What a grace. What a bookend of a day.

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, and Guru Devo Maheshwara all wrapped into one.

This body we're born into; the life we live, day-to-day, in the wretched and the exquisite; the moments of chaos, of destruction, of dissolution, of loss. The moment she takes her first gasp of air after 9 months in the womb. The moment you get the call that he's braindead, when two days earlier he'd just emailed you, "Thanks for the birthday wishes and let's connect soon!"

Guru Sakshath, Parambrahma: the God that is nearby, within, here, and the God that is beyond all this, vast, formless and supreme.

I felt each and every one of those sparks of divinity, there in that room.

I felt so aware of the breath, the ruach, the spirit, that literal life force — call it prana or the Holy Spirit or qi or what-have-you — pulsing around me, walking up and down the studio floor calling out instructions, literally surrounded by, enveloped in breath; the urgent, rhythmic, conscious, musical soundtrack, that heat-building, nervous-system-calming, life-transforming Ujjayi ocean wave rising, falling, victorious, triumphant, alive.

I thought of Logan's little soft kitten breath there in my arms 5 hours before, whispering, delicate, oh-so-fragile, just barely begun.

I thought of G's heavy, labored, machine-driven breath 2 hours later as I stood next to him at the hospital bed holding his warm pulsing hand, listening to the machines beeping at my right, his swollen tongue pushing out of his mouth.

I looked down and saw the hospital band on his wrist with his name and birthdate: 3/18/51.

And I thought of the same plastic band on Logan's wrist, not even a day old: 3/27/13.

And I felt my own living breathing body sitting there cross-legged in the midst of a sweaty room of yogis, wrapping up a day swaddled in so much mind-blowing life and death, so much Brahma and Vishnu and Shiva, Shiva, Shiva.

We give good lip service to Shiva, we yoga teachers. We talk about learning to stay cool and calm and equanimous in those moments of our lives when everything falls apart. We preach about cultivating peace and softness and gentleness in the midst of pain.

And then there you are standing next to the man whom you once knew and who will tomorrow be a corpse, and you think of his 13-year-old daughter, whose life will never be the same, and you wonder if she'll be ok, and you know she will, because she's scrappy, and beloved, and strong, and you will all come together and teach her to surf and teach her to love and teach her to cry and remind her that she is not alone.

I sat on the floor in the middle of the room last night after savasana as all of the students had curled their knees into their chests and rolled over into the fetal position ready to close out the practice. I saw them there, vulnerable, soft, child-like, open, brand-new, and I thought of the way we move through the entire life cycle in the course of just one practice: hitting the mat strong, present, fully alive in the breath; we work our way up to that peak pose, the backbend or the Scorpion or the Kurmasana or whatever it might be; we slow down, melt into forward folds, slip into a seated meditation, watching the breath, watching the breath, and then softly, OM shanti shanti shanti, lengthening into Corpse Pose, savasana, a literal little death.

Letting it all go.

Practicing for later, for the day it will be us.

It's Good Friday. It's a day when I would've thought a lot about death anyway. Holy Week always was and will remain a sacred time for me, a quiet few days wherein I draw close to my family and remember, remember, walking the path of Maundy Thursday into Good Friday into Holy Saturday into the joy of Easter Sunday. It's a time when I feel the loss of my father all over again, and remember his fearlessness, his joy, in stepping into death these almost 8 years ago now. It's a time when spring's busting out all over and I'm reminded of the perpetual cycles of our lives, the way there will always be new babies, and they, too, will age, and one day find grey hairs popping up and wrinkles folding in.

And I think about the suffering in my midst.

I think about the way we resist it. Or fail to speak it, out of fear, out of loneliness.

I think about the ones who are aching to get pregnant and can't. I think about the ones who are struggling to parent, to keep it together on no sleep and too-few hugs and a too-small salary. I think about the ones who are grappling with old age; I think about G's 85-year-old mother with her red eyes last night who had to drive in from Grass Valley to bid goodbye to her baby; and I think about wee little Logan Page, who is all brightness, all lightness, all fresh hope, new beginnings, clean slates. How much eager hope her parents have for her life. And how the cycles of life keep churning, whether we give them permission to do so or not.

All of life is holy ground.

Be in it.

Be in it all the way, balls-out, fearless, open, honest, relaxed.

I sat there in the midst of all those sweaty bodies last night at the end of class, after a day of one hospital, three classes, and another hospital yet to come, and I felt the stillness of just being with what is. We sat in meditation and I offered my practice, my class, my teaching to G, that my breath, my song, might lend him peace, might remind him that he matters. And I felt the oneness of the breath as we hollered out that final OM, heard the echo hang in the silence, and knew I was right where I should be.

That we're all right where we should be.

Let your practice crack you open. We don't know how long it is until it's our turn. We don't know how many breaths we have left.

Be in it.

Be in it all the way.

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.


Urban Flow
     1543 Mission St. (at S. Van Ness)
     Tues 12-1pm
     Thurs 12-1pm

Flying Yoga
     4202 & 4308 Telegraph Ave, Temescal, Oakland
     Sun 1045a-1215pm (in the Annex)
     Tues 745-9pm
     Thurs 745-9pm

OMpower Cycling & Yoga
     66 Townsend Street (at 1st), South Beach
     Tues 515-615pm
     Thurs 515-615pm

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.

Yesterday as I drove into the City I listened to this interview with filmmaker Sarah Barab from The Secular Buddhist (one of my favorite regular podcasts).

Nerdy, I know.

Nerdily awesome, that is.

Barab is the creative force behind an upcoming indie documentary called Naked Mind. Here's a little bit about it:
Filmmakers Sarah Barab and Paxton Winters set out to document how Western scientists and Eastern meditators are collaborating in unprecedented ways to understand the human mind. Along the way, they meet meditation masters, neuroscientists, convicts, drug addicts, and Machig.

In contemporary American life, the term "mindfulness" has become a buzzword across a huge range of disciplines, from psychology and medicine to education, social action, and prison reform. This film asks: What does mindfulness mean, how does it relate to human happiness, and what does it mean to practice mindfulness in today's society? Interspersed with interviews from meditation masters around the world, NAKED MIND looks at the practical integration of mindfulness in the context of social reform and exposes the trappings of spiritual materialism while resisting easy conclusions.
Featured in the film are Fleet Maull, an ex-felon of 15 years who founded the Prison Dharma Network, and Willoughby Britton, a neuroscientist in the psychology department of Brown University. Britton's work exposes the hard questions around assimilating an Eastern practice into Western consumer culture and celebrates what secular modernity has to offer mindfulness practices in terms of feminism, democracy, and psychology.

Sounds sharp. Stoked to see it. Love me some intelligent indie cinema.

(And in case you, too, wanna help make this li'l film happen, you can donate to their Kickstarter campaign here.)

I'm plum proud to tell you that Naked Mind's writer is none other than my dear old college friend Sarah McCarron.

Sarah and I have known one another since waaaaay back in 1998, when she came to the University of Delaware a first-year smarty and I was a very bookish know-nothing sophomore. Back then, we shared a college-kid love for Thoreau and the Indigo Girls. We did a few Vagina Monologues together onstage. After college, we both split for Europe for a minute, did some time in graduate school, and eventually found ourselves on the West Coast. I even got to make her wedding cake last fall in Joshua Tree.

Over the course of the last decade, I've been thrilled to see Sarah's career as a professional actor and writer skyrocket. (Dude, she worked with Dustin Hoffman at HBO!)  She is mad-smart and so inspiring. And this summer she's doing more rad research investigating art as mindfulness practice. I'm grateful to call her friend.

That said — Sarah gamely agreed to participate in our Next Big Thing writer's circle, even though at the time she was buried in a Zen Brain retreat down in Santa Fe. Here she is with a few words on her next project. (Forgive my, er, slight delay in getting it up online.) Big thanks to you, Sarah, for your willingness to shed some light on your next big thing.

What is your working title of your project? 

Not One Not Two

Where did the idea come from for the project? 

I recently attended a Zen Brain retreat conducted by several of the neuroscientists and philosophers who work with the Dalai Lama under the umbrella of the Mind & Life Institute. Western scientists and eastern meditation masters come together to strengthen and enhance the dialogue around consciousness. It struck me so strongly that what is missing from the dialogue is a non-cerebral, non-cognitive perspective of a movement artist. Theatre and performance artists have been practicing in a lineage of non-religious and non-scientific consciousness studies since ancient times. So I'm exploring this history and what performance art has to offer the dialogue around notions of awareness practice, embodiment, and the cultivation of compassion in a secular democratic context.

What genre does your project fall under? 

Pretentious hogwash? No! Just kidding. Um.... I'd say quasi-scholarly essay.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

Anna Deveare Smith and Titus Welliver

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your essay? 

The practice and performance of live theatre is a robust path of consciousness studies, not only equal to science and contemplative religion, but independently valuable in its non-hierarchical, non-cognitive, embodied approach.

Will your project be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self published.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

This has flowed with a speed I've never experienced! I'm often a deliberative writer, slow in preparation. But if the soil is rich, I can pump it out. This has only taken a few days. But it comes as a culmination of years of inquiry.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 


Who or what inspired you to write this essay? 

A frustration with a bias toward science and religion as authorities in our culture, and an over-commodification of the arts which contributes to a kind of aggressive underestimation of art in society. As well as a concern about an inherently disembodied lifestyle we are collectively susceptible to.

What else about your project might pique the reader's interest? 

A little known fact that the earliest visual images of the Buddha were made by the Greeks! In the image of Apollo.

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.

Current fave.

Raw, adjective: 8. brutally harsh or unfair: a raw deal

Can you make it through a whole practice without once talking shit to your body?

Gentleness. That's the whole point.

That's why I love this definition of meditation (first heard from Buddhist teacher Ethan Nichtern): the aim of meditation is not to empty the mind of thought, but rather to make friends with yourself.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture

I forgot my yoga top at home and I need one to teach tonight.

So I stopped at the Out of the Closet thrift store on Polk Street and bought 5 vibrant new-old tanks. For $12.50, total.

No child labor involved, no sheer pants fears, and all the profits go to HIV/AIDS. Man, that felt good.

Ahimsa, baby. In the way you shop.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Raw, idiom: 14a. in the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state: nature in the raw

This is what today looks like.

New hiking shoes FTW.

Raw, noun: 13. unrefined sugar, oil, etc.

Macaroon Saturday!

Morning: clear
Music: Dave Brubeck's jazz
Mood: sunny 

Good morning, kids!

Or, shall I say, good afternoon, that is, since it's coming up on 5pm and all.

I had the best intentions of posting this recipe right away, Bundt Cake Saturday-style, but the morning got away from me and the sun called us outside and before we knew it we were hiking up Inverness Ridge, new hiking shoes laced tight, just across Tomales Bay.

So here we are on the other side of the day, and the sun's making its way toward the horizon again, which means a perfect opportunity to fill up the coffee cup, put the feet up, and knock out a wee recipe for you.

We've been making homemade almond milk for a few months now (well, ever since the earth-shattering introduction of the Vitamix).  It's a game-changer, for sure, especially in breakfast smoothies.  You can just pucker up and really taste the legit almond flavor oozing out.  The thing is, though (in case you're not familiar with the process), when you make almond milk, you're always left with a solid hunk of almond nut pulp with which you've gotta figure out something to do.

We had good intentions of creating all kinds of rad concoctions with the nut pulp that was quickly beginning to litter our fridge: hummus (which we did, and it was deriscious), flourless chocolate cake, etc.  But too many weeks were going by without our actually making use of the thick, nutty stuff that sat invisible, unloved, on the bottom shelf, gathering dust behind the vodka and the broccoli.

This morning I woke up to day-old nut pulp in the fridge.  It was the first Saturday I didn't have to teach in a month, so I lounged in my pajamas and enjoyed the unfamiliar lull.  But then I ran across this recipe for Almond Coconut Macaroons, and I hit the kitchen like a lady on a mission.

So easy!  So delicious!  So resourceful!  So gluten-free!  And especially good if you've got wee ones around who just might be great at rolling some extra-fine dough in their fat little fingers.

I found this recipe and tweaked a few things.  The key here is to just play with it.  The original recipe looks like this:

            (Raw, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free) 
             Makes 18-20 Macaroons 
1 1/4 cups almond milk pulp, strained 
1 cup dried, unsweetened shredded coconut  
1/3 cup agave or maple syrup  
1 generous pinch salt  
Scrapings of 1 vanilla bean, OR 1 tsp good vanilla extract  
Blend all ingredients together in a food processor until they form a dough. Add a little more agave or some water if the mixture is too thick.  Line a dehydrator sheet with Teflex and scoop the macaroons out by round tablespoons onto the sheet. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 6 hours, or until macaroons hold together well but are still a little soft.

That said, I changed a few things up:

I wanted something a little more chocolatey.  So I added 1/3 cup of baking cocoa, then blended the ingredients for about 30 seconds in the Vitamix (on High).  I ended up having to add 1/2 cup of water, and found the macaroons a touch less sweet than I'd have liked.

Lesson being: add an extra 1/3 cup of agave nectar to the original recipe, see what happens when you blend it, and then maybe still add a little water as you find necessary.

Use a spoon to remove the dough from the blender, roll it into tiny balls using your hands, gently roll those balls in finely-shredded coconut, and then place on parchment paper a few inches apart.

I don't have a dehydrator (do you?), so I experimented.  Heated the oven to 350 degrees, slid those puppies in for 10 minutes, and pulled them out just in time for the coconut to toast a wee bit.  I didn't really notice a huge difference in the "before" or "after," so feel free to disregard that and eat them as-is, especially if you're attached to keeping them raw.

The best part about this recipe is how much potential you have to tweak it.  If I were to make this same variation again, I might add a teaspoon more vanilla so the taste is more evident.  All afternoon I've been making mental notes on future variations that I wanna try.  Give these a whirl and let me know how they turn out:

  • Add melted chocolate chips or Heath bar crumbles for a sweeter touch
  • Add cayenne pepper to give the chocolate some kick
  • Add lemon zest or 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract to get a nice lemon-almond flavor.  OR add a touch of lavender for some lemon-lavender heaven.
  • Add orange zest or 1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract, either with the chocolate variation or with 1 teaspoon of cardamom for a more savory flavor
  • Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of almond or cinnamon extract for a unique kick
  • Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of peppermint extract and then roll in crumbled candy canes for a holiday feel
  • Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of chai masala spice and then HOLY GOD will that be good.
  • If you don't really care about the whole potentially-plastic-processed foods factor, get some of that old-school Jello instant gelatin (say, raspberry or cherry-flavored) and roll the balls in it.  Deriscious.
  • Roll the balls in chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts, or macadamia nuts

Be creative.  You get the picture.

Just as I'm finishing proofing this post, I hear word from the kitchen that we've got a new batch of nut pulp ready to rumble.  Here we go, dessert-lovers.  Something tells me we're gonna find a reason to drink a helluva lot more almond milk around these parts.


Update (as of Monday afternoon):

We made the Lemon Coconut variation last night. Check 'em out at left. They were delicate and delicious. Easy, too.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.

We make a fire, most mornings.

Things heat up inside while the sun comes up and the coastal fog burns off outside.  I brew some coffee, catch up on emails, he dives into work, sweeps the floor, goes out for a latte.  An hour later, the living room's piping hot, and I practice.

We make a fire, most evenings.

It gets hot quickly, especially if you put two or three logs on right away.  You make sure all the windows are sealed and the stove door's slightly ajar to get the flames cranking.  You throw on ratty long pants and a washed-out long-sleeved shirt over your yoga tank to kick the heat up a notch.

He picks up the Phalaenopsis orchid, softly, carefully, gently, and transports it to the bedroom, next to the window, in the weak dusky light, so it doesn't overheat.

When my practice is over and the windows are flung open and the breeze blows through, cooling things down, he just as softly, carefully, gently, picks up the orchid, brings it back into the kitchen, and sets it tenderly on the counter, turning it just so.

It took me awhile to figure this out.  Prior to that, I'd just kind of vaguely noticed that he, very quietly, moved the orchids around a lot.  I didn't really consider why.

* * *

The other night, I hit the mat.  The living room was sweltering, really hot, the logs having been cranking for a few hours.  I like it scorching.  Bikram-style, you know, minus all the sexual harassment.

Somewhere mid-Surya Namaskara B, I felt a teasing blast of cool air counteracting the heat coming from the stove.  It didn't make sense.  The evening was cool, for sure, a classic damp West Marin night, but the room had long been a toasty, crackling haven.

I stepped irritably out of Warrior 1 and marched over into the kitchen.  The window over the sink was flung wide open.  Not as in, "Oh, I forgot to close the window," but as in, deliberately, hugely, wide friggin' open.

What the hell, I thought.  How annoying.

And I went to slam it shut so I could hustle back to my mat before losing too much heat.

Then I realized.

The yawning window wasn't an oversight, an accident, an afterthought.  It was ajar on purpose.  He'd slung it open, wide, deliberately so, such that the elegant, towering, delicate white flower sitting next to it on the windowsill wouldn't overheat.

He didn't want to cook the orchid.

That's the kind of man he is.

Offering tender refuge to Phalaenopsis Aphrodite.

You don't need a spreadsheet or a carefully-crafted online profile to figure people out.  You can tell pretty much everything you need to know by the way they treat the weakest of the weak: children, the elderly, and yes — high-maintenance hothouse flowers.

Pay attention.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air: a raw, foggy day at the beach.

I sat down this morning and wrote a nice long new blog post for y'all. Was about to hit "publish." And then it disappeared.

Ok, then.

First-world problems.  What can you do?

SO let's try again.  It's a cold, wet, gloomy day here in Northern California, and I'm feeling a decided lack of motivation.  Maybe it's the fact that it's the first time I haven't hustled out of the house en route to someone or something in a week.  Maybe it's the weather.  Maybe it's a touch of gluten-poisoning from last night's (unfortunately-so-deriscious) Thai spring rolls.  Whatever you wanna call it, I'm quiet.  Made some coffee, built a fire, painted my toenails (Plum Seduction, if you must ask, which is a clear indicator that spring is here, I must say).  Cannot summon the will to do much more.

All signs point to slowing down.  To just being.

On another note: did you hear the news?!? Flying Yoga is getting a new studio space!! You're gonna have a lot more space to spread out in packed classes. Huge congrats to Laura, Aaron, and the whole big bad Flying crew for making this happen. Details here — and make sure to watch the cute video about it below:

On recommendation from One Who Knows, I've recently discovered yoga teacher and "Zen peacekeeper" Marianne Elliott's work.  She's fab.  Check out her excellent blog response to the recent hubbub over Sheryl Sandberg's book on how we women should be "leaning in."  I love her emphasis on practicing "enoughness."

Speaking of smart, spiritually-minded writers: I've been listening to a number of them of late.  Check out podcasts from Elizabeth Gilbert, Anne Lamott, and Natalie Goldberg if you've got a few minutes in the car or on the bus during your commute.  It's like filling your psycho-spiritual gas tank with uber-high-premium fuel.  Never cease to be inspired.

And while we're on the grrrl power note, check out the Top 4 Reasons Jesus Is My Favorite Feminist

Finally, it's spring.  First day of spring, to be exact.  In honor of this most fickle, fresh time of year, I revisited a favorite from the blog archives.

Now, it's time to finish reading this trashy article about the Kardashians so I can get to the mat.  Everything in my achy body today does not want to practice.  This is strange, and unfamiliar.  All the more reason to drag myself there.

Ciao, lovers.  Be well with your bad selves.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.

Our April book club selection will be The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards, by William J. Broad. You may recognize Broad as the author of last year's controversial NYT article, "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body."

We'll meet on Tuesday, April 9th at 7pm @ OMpower Cycling and Yoga.

Gonna be good.

Raw, adjective: 5. crude in quality or character; not tempered or refined by art or taste: raw humor

Evidence that there is a God.  JT, you're my hero. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Raw, idiom: 14a. in the natural, uncultivated, or unrefined state: nature in the raw

We had such a good time yesterday at our WildSoul farm-to-table yoga feast.

Thanks to Grace Hearth, Solyoga Trips, Mickey, and Gospel Flat Farm for such a dreamy day.  Oh, and thanks to that brilliant West Marin sun for rocking it out, too.

You can find 30+ more vibrant pics here.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.

I saw this the other day.

I keep thinking about it.

How true it is. How hard it sometimes is to be authentic, and fearless, and bold. And how deeply we owe it to ourselves to be exactly that.

Stand in your fullness. Be brave. Don't let anyone make you small.

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.

We're up and running on video conferencing!!  Now you can join in on The Roots Book Club from all over the world. Sign up here.

Big thanks to the tech elves who made it happen.

Update: We're now live on Goodreads, too. Join up and let's get the discussion boards hopping. Great way to connect from afar.

Friday, March 1, 2013