NaNoWriMo – Ready Set Go….

It’s like running a marathon but never finishing.  I have attempted NaNoWriMo a few times, but I have never “won”.  National Novel Writing Month means one sits down on November 1st with a blank screen or notebook and systematically proceeds to produce 50,000 words, roughly 1667 words a day, all things being equal.  But fall behind a day or two and that seemingly easy task becomes a daunting 5,000 words in a day very quickly.

Last year I got a cold.  I had to work and that was all I had energy for.  I had written a few chapters, but when I got too behind I quit writing.  Rookie error I guess.

Truthfully, I have not been able to really write since I moved to Colorado after my year-long sabbatical, during which I traveled to 7 countries on 3 continents (and of course I wrote about my adventures.) I’ve been “home” now for 2 1/2 years.  With a real job to work around.  And lots of excuses to not write.  I’m tired.  I have work to do.  Facebook is just so totally fascinating tonight.  My roommate put on my favorite movie, so I have to watch it.

I need a kick in the pants.  NaNoWriMo is just the guy to do it.

I will try to keep you abreast of my attempts in my blog (which I also have not been writing lately.  My apologies!)

Come along for the ride, won’t you?

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Are Yoga Teachers Better in Bed??

Yes, yes, oh God, yes!

And here’s why:

• Yoga teachers know the body.

They know theirs and they want to know yours. Your yoga teacher lover won’t be afraid to touch you. Anywhere. And she won’t be shy about touching herself, knowing what feels good, showing you what positions will hit her personal favorite spots. All this body knowledge is going to make for some powerful sex.

• Yoga teachers have passion.

They have dedicated a lot of time to something that is not necessarily a lucrative profession. They have studied and asked questions. They have followed the urge to go deep in their physical, spiritual and emotional selves.

• The lights are on and everybody’s home.

Your yoga teacher lover has gone through all the body image stuff and come through the other side. Yoga classes are not a place to be shy or self-conscious. She has sneakily, in the beginning, compared her body to hundreds of others and learned to see the universal beauty in every physical form instead of weighing her own deficits. She has seen her body change and grow stronger and she has witnessed this journey in others: first in classmates, then in students. She has seen young and old, fat and skinny, athletic, voluptuous, tattooed, black, brown, yellow, pink and white and seen the beauty in them all. She has undergone a spiritual journey as well as a physical one and it has lit her up in ways she never dreamed possible. She is eager to share that new wealth. Finally, she has turned back to her own physical body and learned to appreciate its strength and grace and forgiven it for its limitations.

• Yoga, like the best sex, is about the journey, not goal oriented.

Yet, yogis are also pleasure-pursuers. Yoga has become a sport and like all sports, there is a high that you get when you master a pose, push a little farther, achieve the balance, go to a place that was previously unreachable. She has gotten high on her own body and she has received a contact high from others discovering their personal pleasure. She can spend all day exploring mutual pleasure with you. (Maybe learning a little about tantric sex could be great for both of you!) She can also hit it hard, fast and accurately when the occasion calls for it.

• And finally, the one you were waiting for:

How does the practice of yoga translate into a physical ability to be amazing in bed (or on the floor, table, against the wall, in the car, wherever these lovemaking sessions take place?) Strength, flexibility and endurance are components of yoga. They are also the elements that make the difference between boring same-old sex and something a little different once in a while. So enjoy exploring these things with your yogi or yogini lover because she has earned the appreciation.

Disclaimer: I have used the female pronoun here because well, because I’m a girl! But this applies to yoga guys as well—obviously!

(This is a re-post of my article in elephantjournal, 2 years ago. If you have not explored elephant, please do so!!)

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A GOOD DEATH?

I recently heard an NPR show about “a good death”. The author said he chose not to use that term, but rather to talk about the transition, and that there is a better view upon death that is uncommon in this society – the view of death as a part of life.

This is similar to the conversation we had today around the dining room table. My dad, my sister, myself, a doctor, nurse, and an intern were there. And of course, my mother. The subject of the meeting. My mother, hooked up to oxygen, an errant tear in her eye now and then, as we talked, took notes, and tried to stay on track, to be practical and not emotional. The doctor, an earnest nerdy Opie type, and one the most beautiful men I have ever encountered, said that the journey to death can be transformational, a blessed experience. Yet, to hear that and attach it to a person I love, a person I have never really been without and don’t want to lose….. that took tremendous effort.

I moved back here, to Colorado, a place I had already been (and my preference is to always go somewhere NEW – forward, not backward!) to be with my parents in their twilight years. I was explicit with that, honest with myself about it. I had it all worked out. But the reality is a little sketchier than my solid ten-year plan. I’m not ready.

When are you ever ready to part with the people who have always been there for you? When they are gone, what is left? These last few months, as my mother’s health has been failing, I have wanted to talk to someone about it. But the person I always talk to is my mother, so that was not possible. I had to turn inward, to find refuge within myself. Sometimes that’s slim pickings.

So tonight, I returned home to my dogs, apologetic for their late dinner. I decided my own dinner would be Wild Turkey. But after the first drink, I paused. I feel the need to be more present than I’ll be if I choose to zone out. Tempting as the temporary respite from this pain might be, I don’t want to fight the true and real emotions that are coming up. Tears and sadness and heartache are testimony to a real relationship, one that matters in my life. What better tribute is there to my wonderful mother than to be here, really be here, and feel all the things that this transition brings up? To witness the emotions in myself and in others, and to acknowledge the depth of feeling – this is the gift of loving.

What’s true is that we never really know when it is our time to go. Some people live a long full life. Others don’t get the chance. And how do we ever know which category we will fall into? Some deaths are sudden and unexpected. Others may be drawn out, which gives us the time to say goodbye.

I have experienced very few deaths in my 51 years. A few friends have died of cancer. I’ve lost grandparents and aunts and uncles. I’ve lost pets; most tragically a horse who died young and without warning. I got a prescription for valium when that happened, and I realized that I would need to learn to cope better with death before I dealt with the loss of my parents. I started to study Buddhism and practice non-attachment.

Now I begin this journey, accompanied by the people I am close to. I’m not alone. And universally, I’m even less alone. Thousands if not millions of people make this journey every day. I’m one of the lucky ones. We have some time. I don’t know how much, and I don’t want to know. I will treasure moments with my mother, and I will take a break when I need to. I’ll get through it.

And although I can put a good face on this and recognize the opportunity for spiritual growth and practicing compassion, it really sucks. That’s the bottom line. The spiritual growth will come with, and after, the mind-blowing, bring-me-to-my-knees pain. The most important person in my life is on her own journey. And I will be there beside her, but I will not be happy about it.

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Let Go or Get Dragged

It often happens that the tiniest thing leads to self-discovery.  So it was when I posted a Facebook status meant to be one of those things supporting awareness of breast cancer.  Remember the one that said post the color of bra you are wearing?  Another one was post your shoe size.  This one had about a dozen embarrassing statuses to choose from; they varied from complaints about diarrhea or menstruation to “oh no, I’m pregnant.”  The most innocuous one I could find was “Someone offered me a job as a prostitute.”  After I posted it, I got varied responses from friends, from WTF to “go for it!.” 

But a girl from my past, who also went out with Iggy Pop (actually introduced us, and she and I were roommates for a time) started posting comments related to that time:  “Iggy stopped calling you when I moved out because you don’t have the skills to be a prostitute.”  (mind you, I hope to have learned a few things in the ensuing 30 years, but that is a side point.) She posted several comments along those lines.  After private messaging her to let her know that those things were hurtful, and that the status was one of the breast cancer things and not remotely true, she went on to say more mean things in our private conversation.  So of course, I unfriended her.  After calling her a bitch.  (not very Buddhist of me, but these things happen!)

And what occurred to me was simply this:  people I knew once upon a time are not the same people.  Nor am I (I would certainly hope not!)  And misguided attempts to rekindle old friendships may or may not work out.  It might be fine with Debbie, but not with Lisa.

I recently went back to New York because I loved that city once and wanted to see it again.  I was greeted by Hello Kitty in Times Square; in the 80s, it was Hello Pimpy.  But change is natural and I had a good time.  I saw my ex-boyfriend, who I’d become friends with again through phone calls.  We went out for a very nice dinner.  But when he asked me to stay a few nights with him (platonically) in Connecticut, he proved to be a crappy host, leaving me alone in his house while he pursued work meetings and a girl he’d just met.  You see, back in the day he liked to party and date strippers.  Fast forward 30 years, that’s still his M.O.  And he was more interested in pursuing his next piece of Brazilian tail than entertaining an old friend.

Like everything, it all comes down to attachment.  Attachments are expectations, and when you expect something to go a certain way, you are disappointed when it doesn’t.  Friendships (even on Facebook) can be like that.  And today I had to analyze my own response:  why was I so hurt by my ex-friend’s comments?  Why do I feel strongly about reconnecting with people who are better left as nice memories?  Could it be that a part of me is still invested in that time, just like she is?  Thirty years later, am I convinced that part of what defines me is that I once went out with a famous punk rocker?  (Who was really more of a creepy old man if you think about it; why would a man in his mid-thirties take up with an 18-year-old?)

Next week I am flying to Texas to meet yet another old friend.  This blast from my past is someone I co-starred in a film with (the only movie of note during my actress days.)  I’m excited, but determined not to have expectations.  It will be a nice little quick trip, but I hope we find new common ground to talk about, not just the “good old days.”

I used to whip out these things in conversation like little party tricks:  I used to date Iggy Pop, I starred in a feature film by a respected director and went to the Cannes Film Festival, Andy Warhol took my photo at a club…. Blah-blah-blah.  Watch me walk like a duck or wiggle my eyebrows like Groucho Marx.  I am still guilty of bringing things up, but less and less these days. Nobody really cares.  It’s amusing at best.

So what IS important?  What can I tie myself to if not these significant moments in the past?  Am I one of those people who peaked early, a has-been, an also-ran?  Or is it just a construct of our society that fame and riches are the only important things that define a person?

These days, I have a much calmer life.  I’m a teacher, a writer, and a yoga instructor.  I have taught for a dozen years, 3-6 year olds, and most of them children with special needs.  I have taught kids to have respect for themselves and others, to work hard and play nice. I am bringing free yoga to seniors in retirement homes this summer, as well as teaching both seniors and kids in a local studio.

I think that what’s important in life is not so much the cool stuff you have done (read: things that will impress other people) but the work you continue to do, how you contribute to our world and its people.  And the place to determine that is not Facebook, it’s out there where real people live and work and play and grow.

Namaste, bitches…….

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LIFE IS A GARDEN

Okay, I have a big confession to make:  I have never been much of a gardener.  My mom was a gardener, and my sister followed suit.  So why did I need to join them?  I wanted to be a gypsy traveler.  To be a gardener, one has to have a home, generally speaking.  You can have a front garden, a back garden, even a side garden.  But it’s difficult to have a traveling garden.

Now I have settled, at least for the moment.  I’m now 50/50, homebody and traveler.  (Okay, maybe 37/63…).  The point is, I can now have a garden.

Last year, I watched in fascination as my rosebushes bloomed, christening my first spring in the new house.  The roses were large and showy, and some were delicate and tiny.  They ranged from deep red to cherry red, yellows, pinks, whites, and some almost purple.  I sent a prayer of gratitude to the old lady who had previously tended to them as I cut some and put them in a vase. 

This year, I have watched as flowers bloomed in succession.  First, I had lilacs and tulips.  Then daffodils. Now, it’s the irises that are coming out, and the lilies I just put in a month ago are poking up out of the dirt, showing me they’ll be coming out in summer.

I remember planting bulbs with my daughter, a long time ago.  We buried them a few inches down and she patiently checked daily until we saw tiny green shoots coming out.

“Mama, where are the flowers?”

“They’ll bloom in April,”  I told her.

“How do they know when to bloom?”

How, indeed?  But sure enough, in April, we had crocuses of purple, yellow, and white, clustering around the rocks in their showy frocks like a gaggle of teenagers at a prom. 

And I notice the sequence of blooms: the lilacs and tulips, the irises, and soon, roses and lilies.  Selfishly, I want them all at once, and I want them to last the whole spring and summer.  Why can’t I have a burst of gorgeous color, everything at the same time? Somehow, the flowers just don’t agree.  They burst and die, a succession of fireworks in the summer sky.

I realize that the garden is like life, in a broad, clichéd way:  you don’t get the tulips and the lilies at the same time.  Each blooms and fades in its own time.  Of course we want it all at once, but it wouldn’t be right.  They say you need the dark times to appreciate the light.

I am sure there are gardeners, or lucky beginners (like me?) who are able to schedule the blooms in the garden so that they are one after another, so that they are never without color and fragrance.  The spring and summer will be bright and festive, flowers popping and blooming and adorning the garden for the whole season.  I aspire to be such a knowledgeable gardener.

In the garden, as in life, I want to keep the colors coming, one surprise after another.  And I know that as I learn, I will get better at it every year.  I look forward to it, as I combat weeds and unwelcoming dirt, and I know that as I practice I will have rich blossoms and fragrant flowers and luscious greenery to adorn my life.

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THE BLOG I ALMOST WROTE…

 

This is not the blog I wrote this morning.  I scrapped that one.  It started like this:

“Did you ever have one of those days?  I recently found out that the guy I had a 5-year relationship with (a relationship that ended painfully because he just could not make a commitment and I needed to move on with my life) – just got married.”

And from there it got worse.  I went through my relationships and analyzed them, but when I stepped back it was all either bragging or whining.

And nobody needs that shit.

Yes, I was hurt.  The words came out like blood from a still-open wound.  When you loved someone a lot, it takes a long time to get over it. And maybe nobody understands.  But would it really help if they did?  I can talk about why I’m awesome (which is true.)  I can talk about how I’ve been wronged (which is also true.)  In the end, all I can do is learn and grow and carry on.  I don’t know why I was placed on this earth, and I don’t know how long I’ll be here.  I do know that I have been blessed in many areas.  I’ve made some good choices at good times.  I’ve also made bad ones. And a lot of life boils down to luck.

Some of the things I have hashed over for year after year are just like a dog chasing its tail.  As human beings, we get stuck in these cycles. But I don’t want it anymore. I feel like one reason I’m not resolving my biggest issue (being single for way too long!) is that I am spewing out negativity and regret into the universe, the place where my next and best partner (soulmate, amante, lover) is waiting! He’s probably waiting out the storm of negative energy.

So in the interest of renewal, I have decided to change my zodiac sign.  I fear it is the only solution.  I am going to stop being a sensitive (sometimes whiney-ass) Pisces and let my rising sign, Taurus the bull, take over.

Check out a Taurus description from Horoscope.com:

Strong, dependable Taurus leads the way when it comes to reaping the rewards of hard work. Lovers of everything that is fine and beautiful, Taureans surround themselves with material gains. This is a sensual, tactile sign. Touch is very important in everything from work to romance. Stable and conservative, Taureans are among the most reliable of the zodiac. While sometimes viewed as stubborn, this sign will plod along on a task until the very end, ensuring that everything is up to standard. They’re highly creative and thoroughly enjoy making things with their own hands.

 

Now let’s look at Pisces:

“Understanding” is a most appropriate keyword for this gentle, affectionate sign. Easygoing and generally accepting of others around them, Pisceans are often found in the company of a variety of different personalities. Their willingness to give of themselves emotionally lends to an aura of quiet empathy. A Pisces is comforting to be around. While not likely to be the leader, this sign’s presence is strong and vibrant in any cause they put their hearts into.

 

Which one would you want to tap into to harness the strength to change?

Sorry, Fishy, back burner for you for a while.  Hello Bull. And as for the world, better guard your china shop!

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Random Moments of Joy

Today is my birthday.  Sometimes that means it’s a happy day, other times it’s a little sad.  But today, a fairly normal day where I’ll do some homework, teach a yoga class, hang out with my daughter, I feel connected with small moments of joy in my life.

I meditated for ten minutes, and as I did, I gazed upon my altar with gratitude.  I am grateful, first of all, to have my beautiful house and a room where I can meditate and do yoga.  It’s a peaceful room, simple with its bare wood floors, the altar, a few lamps and pillow, and a basket of colorful yoga mats in one corner.  Banners on the wall say Namaste and Peace.  On the altar is a scattering of items I consider sacred; keepsakes of my travels.  One set of prayer beads was given to me in Thailand by our tour guide, Thai (yes that was his name!)  The other I bought in Seattle on a weekend away with my lover John.  Memories of times with him are always bittersweet – five years together that ended on a sad note:  the realization that I loved him more than he would ever love me (which finally gave me the strength to walk away.)

I began then to travel in earnest, and more memories are represented here on my altar:  a dried leaf that fell at my feet while I meditated at Machu Pichu in Peru.  A carved wooden elephant I bought at a Christmas market on the trip to Germany with my mother.  A blessed statue of Ganesha that I purchased at the first Wanderlust yoga festival in Copper Mountain.  Crystals that were gifts from dear friends.  Pomegranate “seeds” from the great Stupa where the beautiful Golden Buddha reigns majestically over Shambhala Mountain Center.  Also from Shambhala, a vial that held water from the Ganges, a gift from the writing teacher at a recent retreat that symbolizes my upcoming trip to India.

Breathing in, I take in the blessings of my life, breathing out I radiate gratitude.  There is so much joy among the painful moments.  Life can be stripped down to just this – breathing and accepting what is.

And yet, the things I listed are only artifacts.  They are, indeed, things.  They represent memories, but they are not the memories themselves.  The important memories are experiences, people, moments fully lived.  And yes, travel quenches something vital in my soul, but I also know that the things I really love and appreciate are not “things”.  They are the people near and dear.  My family.  My dogs  (yes, dogs ARE people!) Especially my children, the very blood of my life.

On this day that commemorates my birth, I am most grateful for these people who bring me the greatest joy. 

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