June Blooms

Oh hey, sweet blog. Happy summer.

Gave the little ol' lady a quick facelift the other day. She's 11 now, 77 in dog years, which is probably more fitting given how quickly the tech sphere shifts these days.

We finally moved into our new home a few weeks ago, so the moving hustle that began back in February feels like it's finally slowing. Two months of living in a short-term sublet meant we were looking/searching/bidding/losing/winning/closing in the midst of the cray-cray Boston real estate scene. That melee of verbs has slowed now that the movers have come and gone, and the main project now is just settling in.

Duke and I sat on the front porch and watched the movers hauling boxes and furniture into the house. He turned to me and said, "Mama — did they start as tiny babies and grow up into big movers?" I said, "Yes, honey, exactly."

He asked the same thing about the Cambridge Public Library later that day.

Three is such a curious age. (Also: awesome. Also: exhausting. But mainly: awesome.)

Our new place is across from a playground (did I mention that 1000x yet?). It's truly life-changing. Like a backyard on crack. Splash pads and basketball courts and swings and rock walls and a park for picnics and no sand (yessss). We are out there at least twice a day, and my kid has built-in playmates whenever he'd like, and the ice cream truck rolls by every afternoon, and I can stroll across the street with a glass of wine. Win, win, win, win.

We didn't know a thing about Boston or its particular neighborhoods before moving out here, so we were really intentional in the process of whittling down where we wanted to land for good. We bounced back and forth from urban to beach to everywhere in between, feeling out suburbs and beach towns and Cambridge itself, with commutes and walking lifestyles and opportunities for building community being huge factors. Ultimately, we settled on urban minimalism, in one of the most densely-populated cities in Massachusetts, and damn, am I glad we did. We are so happy with our tiny beautiful new flat.

But more on that another time.

This week feels like the calm before the (sweet) storm. July will mean a lot of visitors and travel. Starting this weekend, for a span of a good six weeks or so, we will either have visitors every week, or are in New Jersey, or Nebraska, or somewhere in between. So looking forward to catching up with family and lots of East Coast peeps I've not seen in far too long. But savoring the June stillness right now, that warm sunny quiet that comes of having fewer commitments and longer days and lots of watermelon.

This summer has turned into a bit of a teaching sabbatical.  I've been holding off even starting to explore studios until Duke is settled in a good rhythm with school and childcare. He started summer camp this week, so I'm looking forward to having the chance to dig in a bit and maybe even take a class here and there. (So far it's just been squeezed-in home practices whenever I can). I expect that by September or so I'll be back to teaching regularly again.

The big question is: what will that look like? Studio classes? Non-profit? Corporate? A gym? A meditation center? We'll see. I hit up a new gym yesterday and snuck past the group exercise room, where a gaggle of elderly ladies were rolling around on enormous balls, to do my own practice in a sloped corner of the empty spin room. But I felt unexpectedly inspired by being there. Maybe a gym is where it's at? Fewer expectations, no guru complex, no bullshit, just helping new yogis to feel better in their bodies and suffer a little less?

We'll see. I am grateful to have so many wonderful friends and colleagues in the Boston yoga scene already. Inspired by what's being done around me. And glad for a chance to witness good new things unfolding right here in my own backyard.

Have you been following the news about Roxane Gay's new book, Hunger? I've been fascinated by coverage of the just-published memoir about her body, its reception, and the fat-shaming she's receiving even in the midst of promoting it. Didn't realize she grew up in Nebraska, too. Can't wait to read her thoughts on bodies and space and the politics and socio-emotional angles of taking up space. Got it on the library hold list already. Fascinating for anyone else who's interested in bodies, culture, and gender.

I've been grappling with the ongoing question of how writing about yoga and parenting can possibly be relevant to the real world of late (well, since the election, honestly, but even more of late). There's so much suffering out there: London. (London, times ten. Why does it seem every time I read the news Londoners are suffering again?). Alexandria. The SF shooting at UPS. (That one hit close to home, as I've picked up many packages at that facility over the years, and used to often sit and work at the Whole Foods up the street on 17th and Potrero.)

To be completely honest: writing about yoga, parenting, etc. feels trivial. Trite. Silly. Flimsy. Stupid. How can anyone use up mental or emotional energy reading or writing about shit like that when all this other hell is breaking loose? How can any writer with a heart and a soul NOT redirect all her intellectual and professional energy toward writing diatribes against DT and his GOP mafia posse? Cue the existential (professional) crisis.

So when I read this article the other day from Motherwell Magazine, it helped. I felt less alone. Knew I wasn't the only one grappling with that nagging sense of triviality, and that question of purpose. Reminded that there's a certain universality to things like parenting that will always transcend the current political scene.

More importantly, I remembered why I do this shit in the first place. Why I teach, why I write, why I came to love yoga to begin with. And it's because everyone's suffering so damn much. Suffering in their aching, aging bodies, in their whirling minds, in feeling stressed out and anxious and overworked and unloved and invisible and undervalued and adrift. (Fuck, there is a lot of suffering in the world.) Reading the news on any given morning is enough to remind us of that, constantly, perpetually. We practice yoga and meditation because it helps to alleviate our suffering, if even only for the flash of stillness before we roll up the mat and walk out the door and check the news and dive right back in. So maybe it's actually more important than ever, this practice, because it gets us focused and energized and still for doing the big work of justice and mercy and peace.

Not to sell shit. Not to fill retreats. Not to get rich. To share tools with people so they might relieve their mental and physical suffering. Because their bodies hurt and their hearts are broken and their minds just won't get quiet.

Yoga and meditation offer an alternative to food, drugs, shopping, booze, numbing it out. They teach us how to sit with strong emotions and be ok. And that, right now, in the midst of so much chaos, is the best gift we can give one another. Amirite?

On that note, here's some good/interesting shit happening in the yoga world:
  • Did you catch this recent NYT article about how yoga teachers need a code of ethics? Interested to hear your perspectives. Had a thought-provoking exchange with my old friend Emily, who is also a teacher, and who offered the critique that the yamas and niyamas should be enough of an ethical regulator to begin with. It's a complicated question, this. (For instance, given the lack of authority held by Yoga Alliance, and the fact that they're essentially just a registry, who the hell would be the central authority to offer and maintain and monitor that kind of ethical code?) Worth a conversation or twelve.
  • While we're talking yoga and ethics, check out the excellent work being done by Boston's own Down Under School of Yoga. I'm inspired by the way they've committed to provide a living wage and benefits for their teachers. Not easy to do these days. (Not easy to keep an independent studio open, let alone offer your employees health insurance.) They are setting a standard, to be sure. Well done.
  • Am I the only yogi out there who doesn't give a shit about cat yoga and goat yoga and who the fuck knows what else kind of gimmicky yoga? I saw this piece about cat yoga in the NYT the other day and just shook my head. And then this morning I got a newsletter from Yoga Journal advertising "Your Dog + Meditation = Petitation" as the "key to success." Uhhhh, whaaaat? After all the smart, thoughtful yoga think-pieces I've pitched to the NYT, cat yoga is what gets published (and gets a million clicks and shares)? Damn, dude. I can see how that kind of gimmick could be fun for shits and giggles, but how the hell does anyone actually walk out with a lighter, clearer mind? I guess when you're trying to snuggle a cat on your belly during Reverse Table Top you're not thinking about #TrumpRussia or climate change or your overdue library books. So maybe that's a start. Not my jam, though. I'll leave that up to other folks.
What are you reading and listening to these days? Where do you find hope and stillness and a measure of peace? Or not? Love to hear.


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