Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Few Wedding Pics, and a Very Mellow Aloha from Hawaii

All married up.

One week since the big shebang. Sitting here in Kauai listening to the ocean roar just beyond the lanai, belly full of pineapple and coconut water, finally opening my laptop for the first time since before the wedding.

I set my email Out Of Office auto-reply way back on the 18th. It was arguably one of the most thrilling moments of the last few weeks, right up there with walking down the aisle or stepping off the plane to Lihue.

Nice to unplug.

The wedding weekend was perfect, really, in every way. Could not have asked for more. Wonderful families all in one place, weather that held, delicious food, great company. As I imagine many brides and grooms have experienced, the wedding evening itself was one big wild blur. What we would've given to have been able to streeeeeeetch it out a few hours longer so that we could've had much more one-on-one time with every single beautiful soul there.

Family was in town through Monday evening. We had time to take the Wisconsin babies to the beach for their first dose of the Pacific, relished a final dinner together, and hurriedly packed for Hawaii. Woke at 3am Tuesday to head to OAK, made it painlessly (and yes, sleeplessly) to Lihue, and found ourselves in lush island paradise.

Robb's been here 5 or 6 times and knows some fab old friends on the island. It's my first time here, though, so I'm seeing it all with new eyes. We have a quiet house all to ourselves. Yoga mats laid out perpetually on the lanai. Private, no prying neighbors, Vitamix on the counter ready to rock.

It's hot, here; tropical, yes. Hard to motivate to do much of anything during the languid afternoon hours beyond sprawling around and listening to the breeze. I'm learning to appreciate the wonder of iced peppermint tea. Well, of anything iced.

We are enjoying disappearing.

Days start with a walk or a swim in the Ke'e Beach lagoon under the shadow of the Na'Pali Coast. Then, yoga on the lanai. Then, eating and drinking ourselves silly. We're fat, well-rested, and happy. Watching football, eating farmers market pineapple and mango like it's going out of style, and sleeping enough to make up for all the short nights in the last few months.

A few pics are below. All credit goes to the most-amazing Paige Green Photography for capturing the evening in the most magical, realistic, breathtaking of ways. We adore you, Paige! Thank you for giving us the great gift of so many sweet memories. We can't stop looking through the photos and reliving each moment.

Love from Kauai.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


A perfectly perfect weekend.

More to come.

Here's a sneak peek.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The most precious wedding gift I could ever receive.

Saturday is our wedding day.

College friends have already arrived from the East Coast, my siblings (who haven't been all together in 4 years or so, I'm guessing?) are on a plane as I write, the wedding bulletins are folded, placecards are addressed, and final details are coming together with surprising ease and grace.

I guess making those 72 obsessive-compulsive lists paid off in the end.

I taught my final class last night. Not back in the studio again for three weeks. (Feels strange!) We had time to hike and practice yoga together today. And the weather's clocking in at a dreamy sunny and 82.

What can I say? Already this week feels like a gift.

Gotta tell you, though; we received something that trumps all of that a few days ago.  Sunday afternoon I came home from teaching to find an email from my cousin John in Nebraska.

My father had performed John and his now-wife Nici's wedding 10 years ago in August of 2003. He had spent the previous year undergoing chemo, radiation, and drastic surgery for esophageal cancer. Having gone into remission that summer, he was back in the saddle behind the pulpit, although still weak and somewhat a shadow of himself. I picked up where I'd left off the autumn before and made plans to follow through with my original notion of moving to San Francisco to go to graduate school. John and Nici's wedding service was literally one day before I packed up my old red Ford Festiva with everything I owned and drove out on I-80 to live in a 1910 flat on Lower Nob Hill, sight unseen.

When we knew the end was near, about 3 weeks before my dad died, I flew out to Nebraska for a quick weekend in early April 2005 to say goodbye. We sat and talked there by his hospital bed in the living room, recording the conversation on an old tape deck (though I've never yet had the strength to listen to it in the years since).

At one point, he asked me, in his frail voice: "Rach, do you think you'll really never get married?"

And I proceeded to outline all the firm reasons I didn't believe in marriage and why it was a hopelessly-failed institution and oppressive and rooted in the exchange of property and blah blah blah.

And he raised his head, straining every muscle in his skinny little neck, and looked at me with clear blue eyes blazing out from under his heavy tired eyelids, and he said: "Yes. Sometimes it SUCKS."

"But it's an adventure. And I'd hate for you to miss out on that."

I think he would be very proud today to be prepping a wedding sermon for his bossy, fiercely-independent, feminist daughter. 

As a wedding gift for the Mister and me, John had painstakingly transferred the 10-year-old 8mm tape to a VCR and then to digital format, finally uploading it on YouTube. I followed the link he sent, and there, in front of me, these 10 years later, unfolded a video of my father offering a wedding homily to John and Nici — likely the same words he would have spoken at my wedding this weekend, were he still alive.

There is so much joy involved in a ritual like a wedding.  I feel it overflowing even now, before most folks have even arrived. Robb and I are crying like little girls every time we receive a sweet unexpected card bearing good wishes or open a package sent with so much love. And don't even get me started on the waterworks that come with reading through the ceremony liturgy.

But, with sacred ceremonies like this one, when you've lost a parent, there is also a great deal of bittersweetness that simply can't be brushed under the carpet. As a kid, you never expect that your parents won't be present for something like your wedding. Growing up, we always pictured our Lutheran-preacher father standing at the front of the church blessing our marriages and baptizing our babies. The sorrow of that absence is one that any child of loss will feel, even on such a joyful day as this.

So John's offering us this most precious gift — the first glimpse of my father in action, familiar hand gestures and vocal inflections and all, in the 8 1/2 years since he passed — was perhaps the most incredible treasure I might ever receive. Robb and I sat on the sofa and watched my father offer his wedding advice, and it was the first time in all these years that he's ever "met" my dad. Talk about a sacred blessing. Talk about a welling-up of joy and gratitude. No registry, no fancy wrap, and no expense necessary.

We'll be singing a hymn at the wedding that we sang at his funeral. The same song that was sung at our baptisms, my sister's marriage, and her children's baptisms. Shiva's cycles of life, that cosmic dance of creation-preservation-destruction, moving full-circle.

Thank you, John, for your thoughtfulness. My wedding felt "made" already way back on Sunday.  You could have given us no greater gift.

Meet my Dad.

Friday, September 6, 2013

She reappears.

Good morning, y'all.  Happy Friday, happy September, happy back-to-school, happy football season (yessss!), happy Rosh Hashanah, you know, all of it.

Here we are.

Forgive the absence. Silence on the blog front for a good month or so.

I'm two weeks out from a wedding (mine), and on top of all of the to-do list rigamarole associated with that celebratory endeavor, have been simultaneously absorbed in a couple of other Big! New! Top-Secret! projects. Said sayonara to a couple of dear friends who've moved to Seattle in the last week, taught a yoga class for hotel workers in SF (which was rad, indeed), hiked up and down a beautiful forested hill a million times and back, and sat in a lot of traffic while the Bay Bridge was closed. Hence, no computer time, no blog love. Sorry, kids. I've missed you and stared at Raw Rach longingly in all of those moments when instead I had to turn to the wedding RSVP spreadsheet or wrangle family members' travel schedules or buy fancy-lady dress-up undergarments or hustle up some candles or find a high chair for my niece or sit down to knock out who's sitting where at what table that won't turn out awkward or unfamiliar.

You know.

Anyway, I'm here now (hooray), and it's a beautiful dawn breaking here in West Marin, and I have just a couple of minutes before I head out to teach Gentle Yoga over at YogaToes in Point Reyes. So thought I'd toss out a few little bits and barbs before rolling out the door.

Opera In The Park is this Sunday, September 8th at Sharon Meadow. This is one of my favorite annual rituals. Never disappoints, always thrills. Go! Really. You must.

Jon Stewart is back at The Daily Show as of earlier this week. Am I the only one who's underwhelmed by his return? And missing John Oliver's sweet, Brit-nerdy lack of pretense?

We watched Django Unchained the other night. Have you seen it? Violent, yes. But I kind of loved it. Tarantino knows what he's doing.

My colleague Andrea is teaching a stellar workshop for women at the end of the month at Urban Flow. She flirted with calling it "Menopausana" before settling on "Flash Dance!". You get the drift. It's going to be fantastic. Saturday, September 28th. You should most definitely go.

I've got a new article out in the latest issue of Common Ground. Their September issue is always yoga-focused, and this year's doesn't disappoint. Cover at left, story below.

And just in case you're the type who plans ahead — I've got just a few more classes left in September before I head out for a couple of weeks getting hitched and whatnot. I'll be teaching my regular schedule through Tuesday, September 17th and then whisking away to an undisclosed location for a little bit, where I plan to do nothing involving planning, spreadsheets, or lists. Back in the studio Tuesday, October 8th. Fabulous subs lined up for you in the meanwhile.

Finally, in amazing it's-almost-fall news, honeycrisp apples are back on grocery shelves. God bless America. There is indeed beauty and meaning in the world.