I Need a Hero

So, Caitlyn Jenner received an ESPY award for courage. Of course, some people are disappointed with this decision. There are memes all over the internet comparing her to war veterans, police, firefighters. They are saying that she didn’t deserve the award because she isn’t courageous. She is not a hero.

A hero is a person who exhibits qualities that we admire, qualities like courage. A hero has the courage to carry on in the face of adversity, to stand up for what is right, to overcome social or physical obstacles, to lay down their lives for others.

But not all courage is that dramatic.

I have known some heroes. My dad was my hero, for most of my life. And now that he is gone, my mom is the courageous one; coming face to face with the other side of grief, moving through the world on her own, stepping out of her comfort zone a bit more each year. Heroic.

So many single parents I know are courageous; living from check to check,
struggling to take care of their kids, not knowing if they can put food on the table or pay the rent. Heroic.

Friends I know who battle depression are courageous. For them, just getting out of bed and getting dressed are acts of bravery some days. Heroic.

All of the teachers that I know are courageous; quietly huddled in corners during lockdowns, ready to do anything they have to in order to keep our children safe. Heroic.

Recovering addicts are courageous. Going out into the real world, and coping without slipping takes great courage and determination. One day at a time. Heroic.

Every single gay kid and trans kid who comes out is courageous; living their true authentic life, regardless of what society, or their churches, or even their own families believe. Heroic.

The world has room for all sorts of courage, all sorts of heroes. And it needs more and more.

Yes, of course, people who put on uniforms and prepare themselves to serve, protect and defend others are courageous. They know that at any moment they could lose their lives in the line of duty, yet they continue to do what they do, bravely. They are truly heroic.
But sometimes it’s not about having the courage to die.

Sometimes it’s about having the courage to live.

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The Real True Actual Secret Way to Get a Yoga Body for Free (in 5 easy steps*)

Everyone on the Internet is talking about their ‘Yoga Body”.

This is my yoga body! This is me in tree pose!  Look at me in my headstand on the beach! Here I am in crow on a mountain! And how about my pigeon pose in the park?

Yogis, yogis everywhere!

Personally, I’ve been pleased to see a number of round bodied, curvy yogis and so called “fat femmes” making their way onto more and more yoga web pages lately.

Some of my chubby sisters may be on the magazine pages too now, but I don’t know because I’ve cancelled all of my subscriptions. I cancelled them because they were perpetuating the promise of long and lean in order to make money.

Now, perhaps they’ll try to back peddle (pun intended). Once they realize that it is more profitable to preach that yoga is for every kind of body, we may start to see other sizes and shapes on their pages.

Oh, I’m sure they will continue to publish weight loss ads and they won’t stop endorsing clothing companies that only cut cloth up to a size 12. Because, let’s face it, if we start to actually believe that we are good enough, right now, just the way we are, we won’t have to buy anything.

They don’t want you to know the secret. The real true actual secret way to get a yoga body… for free!

And just to spite all of those magazines, I am going to tell you how to get a yoga body in 5 easy steps*.

Are you ready? Pay close attention.

1. Roll out a yoga mat
2. Lie down on the mat, flat on your back with your eyes closed.
3. Take 5 long, deep, slow breaths.
4. Relax everything and just breathe.
5. You now have a yoga body.

*Steps 1-4 are optional.

Namaste.

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Pits of Despair

Look at her!
Who told her she could wear that?
Oh my god.
What was she thinking?
Who lets her go out of the house like that?

Doesn’t she feel uncomfortable?
Doesn’t she have a mirror? 

(Yes, she does. She has the best mirror of all
It’s not made of glass
It is unbreakable
It’s not the mirror of a lover that showers her with compliments
It is a mirror made of her own I-don’t-give-a-shitness.
She owns it
She carries it with her
No one forced her to cover it up with cloth
No one told her to keep it to herself
No one shushed it out of her
Shamed it out of her
Embarrassed it out of her
Brainwashed it out of her
Blamed it out of her
Ridiculed it out of her
Objectified it out of her
Oppressed it out of her
Abused it out of her
Beat it out of her.
Or maybe they did.

Maybe someone did.
And she had to fight to get it back
She had to kick and scream and scratch and scrape
And claw herself back up
out of the depths of that darkness
out of that place of blame and shame
up to the light.

And wearing those shoes
those shorts
that dress
that bikini
and bleaching her hair
painting her face
shaving her head
tattooing her body
not shaving her armpits
maybe that is her reminder
every day
her constant reminder
that she is in control now
that she is self assured
she is independent
she is worthy
she is
powerful
she is proud.
and she is free to choose.

Who told her she could wear that?
She did.  
So please
shut your mouth
and move along).

Look at her.

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Brick City Birthright

If I stand right here and close my eyes I can see my Father’s face.
Seventeen, sullen, pasty and pock marked.
His malnourished body bobbing and weaving,
long lanky legs moving through the thick humid air
propelled across the smoky slate sidewalks
by his poorly soled shoes.

Cold hard metal strapped around his ankles.
The demons in hot pursuit on his heels.

He is moving further and further from the heart
of darkness to the light at the edge of the city.
Passing through the places where even demons don’t dare to dwell.
Moving purposefully forward,
fighting hard against the force of gravity.
Rounding the corner with all the courage and speed that he can summon,

he leaps across that line
removes the shackles from his ankles
and fastens them

securely

around my unborn arms.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 Dirty Old Town 
In the Summer, In the City

 

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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Learning to Fly

The other day
a bird fell from the sky
and landed on the ground right in front of me.
I screamed
Oh no! We have to save him!
And Shannon said
No Mom, just leave him alone.
You have to let nature take its course.

I watched his delicate chest heaving.
I stood transfixed on his tiny heart pulsing out a frantic beat,
until I was startled
by screeching sounds above me.
I looked up to see his mother, hopping on branches, screaming.
I wondered if he heard her
calling out for him
as he breathed his last sweet breath.

Today
I was walking Shannon to the corner.
I stopped for just a moment to say good morning
to the crossing guard.
I heard Shannon say good morning too,
but when I turned toward her a second later, she was gone.

I called her name,
and then called again louder, my arms in the air, waving frantically.
But I’m sure she couldn’t hear me
over the pulsing beat in her headphones.
I watched her for a moment
as she flew up the hill, never looking back.
And I turned to walk downhill, alone,
in silence.

****************************

Goodbye, little bird.

Pink Floyd, Learning to Fly

_______________———___________

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Gather Ye Cherry Blossoms

Tonight, my fortune cookie says:

What do you think of when you think of “the longest days”?
Is it sad to think that those longest days have to end, because they are bright and beautiful?
Or is it comforting to know those longest days are going to end because they are dark and dismal?

During the winter when the days are long and dark, it’s a comfort to know.   Sometimes the season feels like one cold dark day that just doesn’t want to end. Then spring comes, the daylight hours get longer, things are brighter and more hopeful.  When the longest days of summer arrive we wish they could last forever.   But we know that soon we are in for a fall.

One of my favorite places to watch the changing seasons as a child in Newark, NJ, was Branch Brook Park. And the most anticipated time of year in Branch Brook Park was the second week of April when the cherry blossoms bloomed. Every day for two weeks at the end of the winter, we would check to see if the trees were budding. Finally one day there they were, the first buds!  Then within a few days the world was covered in a sky full of pink and white flowers.  It really was the most amazing sight as a child,  a magical fairytale land.

I still wait for them every year.  During the first 2 weeks of April I drive through the park almost every day, waiting, looking, hoping, waiting, wishing, waiting that they would hurry hurry hurry up and blossom already.

And then, one day, it happens. And then, I want time to stand still. I want be there, under the trees, suspended in time.

In Japan, where the trees are more prolific, there is a word for this; hanami,  flower viewing. Some businesses actually close for hanami. People meet under the trees and picnic, enjoying the blossoms. They sit under the trees during the day, and hang lanterns so they can sit under the trees at night.  They just sit under the trees and view the flowers. They take the time to appreciate them while they can because they are so transient,  ephemeral,  impermanent.

The blossoms are a physical embodiment of the fleeting nature of all things in this life.     They bloom, and then within days they are taken away on the wind, snowing down to blanket the ground, making way for the green leaves that last through the summer.

For thousands of years they have been the stuff of poets, inspiring a million haikus, sonnets, terzanelles.  Nothing gold can stay, so gather those blossoms while ye may.

Every year I look forward to their blossoming with hope and expectation, then they bloom, and slowly the reality of the never-ceasing passage of time starts to creep in. This soft pink world is bittersweet, rife with the knowing they will be gone all too soon, and I will be left standing there, surrounded by the fallen pink petals.

The soft sweet blossoms
I long for them every year
They come, and then go.

Sigh.

Last week John surprised me with a beautiful anniversary gift,  cherry blossoms that would last all year!   He gave me an amazing painting of a tree that is in Branch Brook Park.

It was flowing and textured and it popped off of the canvas.  And it was freshly bloomed! The paint was still wet, as a matter of fact.  It wouldn’t be completely dry for months. So while we tried to decide where I wanted it to hang, John stood it up on a bench on our enclosed porch, an out of the way bench that no one really ever uses.

I brought the girls out to the porch, showed them the beautiful painting, explained to them that it was still wet and told them to NOT go near it. Clearly, and succinctly.  Do. Not. Touch. This.

Less than 24 hours later I was awoken by the screams of a frantic twelve year old.

I ran down stairs to make sure that no one was injured.  Then I saw Shannon standing there with smudges of paint all over her clothes and hands.  I tried to understand what she was saying between the screeches and sobs, and then suddenly my mind pieced together what had happened.   She had sat down on the bench and smushed the painting.

I went out on to the porch to survey the damage.  I found the smushed painting, and I lost my yoga. I spewed a few expletives that she had never heard before.  It lasted for quite some time.

I’m not sure how long I had been Psycho Mommy, but there was a point in there somewhere, a moment of clarity.   I realized that perhaps this was the perfect fate for a painting of cherry blossoms.  The delicate beauty of the painting was just as fleeting and impermanent as the actual flowers.

And why do I love them so much, after all?

I love them for their bitter-sweetness. I love them for the unrequited longing they stir in me. I love them for the lessons of impermanence and non-attachment that they try to teach me time and time again.  I love them for the yearly reminder that I must gather their blossoms while I can, because time is fleeting and nothing lasts forever.

Nothing lasts forever.
Even the longest of days will come to an end.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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Be Still (a meditation on meditation)

There was a time when you were floating in primordial fluid.
Unaware of any past. Unaffected by what was to come.
No thoughts, no ideas, no words.
Nothing but the rushing sound of
your heart beating and your blood flowing.

That was You. And You were perfect.

There were no worries, no plans, no preparations,
no hopes, no dreams, no expectations
no stress, no fear and no regret
no past, no present, no since, no yet.
Then, on its own, on its very own and with no warning at all,
a terrifying and amazing miracle occurred and you were born,

and You cried.

For a while you remained unspoiled by ideas, with only basic needs.
Sustenance. Comfort.
And then you learned what was taught to you by others around you.
Their ideas became your ideas.
Their desires became your desires.
Their aversions became your aversions.
You went out into the world.
You developed discriminating tastes.
You challenged the beliefs of others.
No longer satisfied with simple sustenance,
you longed for other things; attention, acceptance, approval, affection.

Collecting your thoughts ideas and desires on the way,
dragging the past along with you into the ever-present future,
building up an overwhelming need for
something more,
something different,
something easier, faster, bigger, better,
that keeps you moving, moving,
always moving,
often fighting against the current.

You don’t have to fight the current.
You don’t even have to move forward.
Time will do that for you.
Let time do the moving.

As for you,
Be still
and know who you are.

Try to remember the time
when there was no need to swim upstream.
(When you were perfect.
When you were floating.
When life was fluid.
Everything that needed to happen, happened on its own)

and float again.

You can float again
through this womb of a world,
to some other birth that may or may not lie ahead.
You can float again,
without cause or concern
resting in the knowledge that you are still
growing and changing every day.

There is no moving forward,
and no looking back.
Turn your attention inward.
Deeper and deeper.
Peel away the layers of thoughts and ideas,
of dreams and desires.
of stresses and fears.
They are not You.

Get back to that You,
back to that place,
floating in the air around you,
unaffected by what may come,
nothing but the rushing sound of
your heart beating and your blood flowing.

Imagine that time before you were born
Imagine when
You were floating
You were fluid
You were perfect.

You were perfect,
You still are.
When you are still.

………………………………………………..

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