Three Bullet Thursday

Hi all, this is your Thursday dose of “Three Bullet Thursday”, a quick list of yoga lifestyle information I’m processing.

If you are a yoga teacher, yoga student, vegetarian, philosopher, lover of metaphysics, or just another human out wandering around, this is the list for you.

What I’m Reading–Island by Aldous Huxley

This book was published in 1962, so it isn’t new. However, Island seems to be experiencing a bit of a revival in the literary world; I’m assuming it’s due to the presidential situation in the United States and the overall state of the world.

The book outlines an utopian life on an imaginary island where the inhabitants built a culture based upon eastern philosophies and religions including yoga, buddhism, and meditation.

Meditation as a lifestyle is a prominent theme. As a novice meditator myself, I found those sections particularly interesting and useful.

If you like philosophical discussion or you want to know how to turn your yoga retreat center into its own country, this book is for you.

What I’m Listening To–Johann Johannsson’s Orphee album

Johann Johansson is an Icelandic composer best known for his film scores; think “Arrival” and “The Theory of Everything”. Technically, this 2016 studio album, Orphee, belongs in the electronica genre. I’m loving it because there are no words and beautiful melodies.

Deep Thought I’m Pondering–“Bring with you a heart that watches and receives”

“Bring with you a heart that watches and receives,” is a quote by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a beloved American poet known for “Paul Revere’s Ride” and the Song of Hiawatha.

The quote struck me while reading Island by Aldous Huxley. Contextually, the author used it to elaborate on the concept of receptivity or open mindedness. The idea being that if a person chooses to project rather than receive there is room for misinterpretation and confusion. However, if one chooses to receive with an open heart and mind, clear communication, insight, and truth will be transmitted.

Want more?

Read the blog for more yoga lifestyle information and inspiration including past 3 Bullet Thursdays, Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes, and Yoga Philosophy.

 

Me too, I guess

Yesterday, on my way to Los Angeles, I watched a man try to clear security with a cat in a duffel bag.

The man was asked to remove the cat from the bag because:

1) you can’t send a cat through the belt screener

2) TSA needed to scan the bag the cat was in.

The man objected to his removal of the cat because he and the cat had not been formally introduced, and to him, taking the cat out of the duffel bag didn’t feel appropriate.

TSA promptly guided the man and the bagged cat to a private room for a formal introduction and security check.

After the private screening, the man and the cat boarded the flight without further incident.

There is so much talk these days about what is and isn’t appropriate behavior in the corporate world, in Hollywood, and at home. And while the conversation is around male entitlement and power, it should also be about self awareness and context for both sexes.

Like the man with the cat in the duffel bag, if we all just took a moment to consider our next step and how that would play out in the context of the moment with our current audience, so much of this wouldn’t even happen. Because in so many cases, the intent in these terrible moments isn’t actually sinister, it is just fucking cluelessness.

#metoo

This is us, for now

Last night, while schlepping my toddler from house to house in the dark , I heard a kid tell a group of trick or treaters about a friend who, upon returning to his burned out house during the Santa Rosa wildfire, found the family dog, burned but alive and waiting for him where their front porch used to be.

I don’t know how true this story is and I lack the journalistic integrity to do any sort of fact checking. But for once, this isn’t a story about truth. It’s a story about where we are right now.

Right now, we are going through the motions; doing what we are expected to do, doing what is normal. But our minds are on the fire. Our minds are on the future. No one is here right now. Not really.

We are a community in mourning. Telling and retelling our stories about the fire. Waiting for the time when we tell the story about the fire that was long ago, and how it changed us for the better.

Quick, Hold My Temper

Today, on my flight from San Diego to Sonoma, I received a lesson in the importance of context in relationships from the couple seated behind me.

The couple was bickering behind me:

Lady: hold this
Man: what is this? Are you going to have me hold your water?
Lady: yes
Man: well, what are you holding?
Lady: my temper
Man: okay

Nice work, lady. You sure told him, I thought.

Later, as they deplaned and I watched her patiently guide him down the aisle between the seats, I realized that what I had registered as a smartass comment from a bitter husband was actually a legitimate inquiry from a blind man who just wanted to know what he was holding.

Context is EVERYTHING.

Namaste.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com. Go here for more real life application of yoga philosophy

I wonder if the dry cleaner is open

For those of you just catching up, my family and I evacuated to Lodi, California last Sunday when the Northern California wildfires first struck in our hometown of Santa Rosa.

Seven days later and we are still here in Lodi, but packing up to go home to what is left of the town and surrounding communities.

Lodi is just 2 hours away, but here, you would never suspect that anything is amiss back at home. The skies here are blue, the air is fresh, and nothing is on fire.

Our little clan has much anxiety around going home for obvious reasons. What will it be like? When will it feel normal to live there again? How can we go to work if the kids aren’t in school and our nannies are still evacuated? How to we get the utilities turned back on? Do we really need a gas mask? These are all very valid questions and concerns. But what about the seemingly trivial ones?

My morning meditation was plagued with these. A list of questions an concerns harassed me today as I began to anticipate the return home. And they made me feel like a real shit head for thinking them. For example,

“I wonder if my dry cleaner burned down; I have those meetings next week and I really need those dresses.”

Will Amazon still deliver to my house? If not, when will they resume that service?

“I hope I don’t have to start using a different grocery story; it is a complete pain to learn where things are in other stores.”

This can’t be who I am, right? People have lost their lives, homes, and livelihoods, and I’m worried about my work wardrobe, two day shipping, and finding a new milk aisle.

Maybe it’s just too much to even comprehend from this far away. Hopefully, when I’m home and faced with the reality of what happened there, I can be the person who finds meaningful ways to contribute and rebuild.

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

Truth on the Train

Sorrento, Italy – Today on the train to Pompeii, I heard a man from Southern Florida tell a Napoli local that it gets so hot where he is from that even the animals die from heat stroke.

As a matter of fact, a few years back, a black cat just up and keeled over on the hot pavement right in front of him. He went on to explain that he immediately submerged the heat afflicted animal in a nearby river where the cat was promptly revived enough to scratch up his bare arm somethin’ terrible.

Watching this man tell his bullshit story I could see that he believed every word was true. It was also clear that the train passenger he was telling it to didn’t speak english and didn’t likely care if the story was true or a complete fabrication.

But the story made me think about truth and its subjectivity.

It is entirely possible that the cat was just laying down in front of the man hoping for a scratch behind the ears and instead ended up a victim of near drowning at the hands of a South Floridian with a hero complex.

I’m on the Amalfi coast this week at a yoga retreat, so truth or Satya is top of mind for me. Yoga, asana and meditation, offer a path to seeing things as they truly are, without the layers of bullshit we as humans pile on. Witnessing and understanding things just as they are.

Maybe he really did save the cat, maybe it was just a grim misunderstanding. But getting to the truth is a life’s work and in the case of this man’s story, we will never know what exactly went down. So chalk this up as another of life’s great mysteries.

This article originally published on GroundingUp

Be stronger

You can count on me to completely lose my shit twice a year; once in September and once in January. I call it, taking a ride on the crazy train. I know I have arrived at Breakdown Station when every little thing starts to piss me off. When my perspective turns bitter because it seems there is always something more to do and it is all my responsibility. When my usually positive and sunny outlook goes dark.

I mention this now because it is nearly September and that means the Crazy Train is approaching the station.

The September freakout occurs when summer exhaustion meets a new school year and then combines with the fact that my company is about to enter the fourth quarter of our fiscal year and I’m not sure how I’ll accomplish all the goals I set for myself by 12/31/–. These three factors converge to create a complete derailment featuring anxiety induced frustration and rage.

The January derailment occurs when holiday exhaustion meets the second half of the school year and then combines with the fact that my company just entered the first quarter of our fiscal year and I only have 12 months to accomplish all the projects we scoped.

Looking at them now, September and January seem to be two very dangerous and obvious kinks in the the railroad track. However, for the first time since embarking on my career and becoming a parent, I see and understand this pattern. More and more, I see that keeping the trains running on time, for me, is about two things:

#1–Recognizing when I need to calm the fuck down

#2–Knowing what it takes to calm the fuck down

During practice this morning, my yoga teacher said

“Notice if every little thing is pissing you off; then get stronger.”–Anna McLawhorn, Three Dog Yoga

Granted, she said this within the context of Warrior 2 (Virabhadra) which we had been holding for what felt like 3 hours, and we were all a little pissed off. But I heard it within the context of my own life and my own mental state.

“Every little thing IS pissing me off and I DO need to get stronger.” I need to get my shit together and take back the things that make my life work, like yoga and writing and sleep. Those are always the first things to go when schedules fall apart and life gets hectic. I need to calm the fuck down. I need to get grounded. I need to stay on track.

 

 

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

 

Better Than a Kick to the Dick

The other day, I had the neighbor kids over for a playdate. There are actually 4 kids belonging to this particular neighbor, but on this day, I just had 2 of them in the playroom; 3-year-old Lily and 6-year-old Jake.

As is typical, an argument erupted within minutes of their arrival. Jake, in his carelessness, had somehow bumped Lily. She was incredibly pissed about it and was headed back home so she could report the offense to their mom who was folding laundry one house over.

In response, Jake initiated threat level orange apology tactics. When he realized he just didn’t have the apology that was going to come between Lily and tattling to their Mom, he went all in.

Fortunately, or not so fortunately for Jake, Lily was in the mood to negotiate and it went like this:

“Lily, I will let you kick me in the dick if you don’t tell Mom.”
“I want to kick you in the dick two times,” Lily countered.
“No, Lily, please, one time, and you have to promise you won’t tell Mom anyway.”
“How hard do I get to kick you in the dick?”
“As hard a you want, but you can only kick my dick one time and you can’t tell mom what happened.”
“I’m going to kick you in the dick two times and I won’t tell Mom.”
“Okay, that’s fine, hurry up.”

So I realize that I could make this story be about a few different things:

It did not escape my notice that Lily is one hell of a negotiator. I could turn this into a whole big thing about women and just when and how it is that we lose the ability to advocate for ourselves with conviction. But I won’t; that’s not my bag of dicks and there are a lot of amazing women marching around in pussy hats making that point much better than I ever could.

I could also make this a story about family values and opine on how exactly dick kicking becomes a viable form of currency in a household. I could post my judgement to the Internet and proclaim that under no circumstances will there be dicks kicked on my watch because I’m obviously a better parent than one that allows dick kicking.

But I won’t and you have yoga to thank for that.

Yoga teaches observation without judgement; to experience something without applying your own personal filters to it. To let a thing be what it is instead of what you make it (yoga nerds, that’s Satya I’m talking about).

So this is just going to be one of those “kids say the darndest things” stories. I’m going to laugh as a write it.

And that is better than a kick in the dick.

The names in the story have be changed to protect the innocent.
This story originally published on www.groundingup.com

My Year in the Blogosphere

Sometimes, people ask me if my BLOG makes a lot of money. When I am finished laughing, I explain to them that since launching GroundingUp last year, I’ve published 61 posts, and have had thousands of readers from all over the world (I see you Swaziland). Then, I like to disappoint them with the news that this BLOG has made exactly $0.00.

Fortunately, financial gain was not the founding principle of this BLOG. Yes, there are BLOGs out there designed specifically to generate online advertising revenue or drive a social media following, but this is not that kind of BLOG.

So what is it?

The insurance industry executive in me often demands to know what the business case looks like for this Internet property. It wants to talk about content strategies, click-through, and content marketing plans. That voice wants to know who in the hell is responsible for Quality Control around here and just what our ROI looks like.

And, until recently, I haven’t had an answer.

But, a few weeks ago, I attended a Q&A session with the comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Buried in the typical list of audience-generated questions about Jerry’s creative process was a question about his view on failure. And to this he said,

“So what, you told a joke, it bombed, move on, so what?”–Jerry Seinfeld.

I was immediately struck by two things about this statement.

1–Holy shit, Jerry Seinfeld is a yogi

Jerry Seinfeld is famously aloof. Even before he had “Fuck You” money, he was often considered detached and oblivious to situations around him. And yogis are all about detachment, or aparigraha.

In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty . . . in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.–The Law Of Detachment, The Chopra Center

2–It’s okay to have an aimless BLOG about nothing in particular.

Seinfeld ran for 9 seasons and often received criticism and praise for the simple fact that it wasn’t really about anything. That didn’t make it any less amazing.

It’s extremely difficult to find clear headspace for a creative endeavor when you are frantically trying to nurture a family and a career; where the stakes are so high you can’t risk even a moment of detachment.

But here, it really can just be about creativity, trying something out, and letting people see an authentic version of me–with typos and grammar mistakes. Here, there are no stakes. It’s going to be fine if site traffic is down for the month of July or if I never find a viable way to monetize this content. And maybe, all this will ever be is yet another sketchy corner of the Internet.

To that I say, so what?

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com

How to bury a horse.

My first horse was a Shetland pony, which is basically a miniature draft horse. He was short and round and had wild, orange-blonde hair. His name was Candy and he was a complete asshole.

At the time of my birth, my mom, a horse enthusiast, had a pasture full of horses. Depending on who you ask, the actual number of horses ranges from just a few (Mom) to at least two dozen (Dad). Since I was small and Candy was small, he and I were more or less assigned to each other. Candy became my horse and we both deeply resented the arrangement.

On more than one occasion, Candy tried to scrape me off of his back by walking under a low tree limb or the upper board of a fence. He would surprise me with quick little jukes left or right hoping to dump me sideways. And, in the event I was feeling brave and generous and offered him a carrot, there was a 50/50 chance that little bastard was going to bite me.

Candy lived to be 16 years old. When his time came, we had the local large animal vet euthanize him. Burying a pet horse is similar to burying the family cat, but it involves a backhoe and a small bulldozer instead of a shoe box and a shovel. Fortunately, we had a large parcel of land in which to bury our horses. My dad, who owned a construction company had access to plenty of excavation equipment and was more than happy to dig the hole.

We laid Candy to rest next to his friend Jubilee, an old Buckskin gelding who had passed a year or two before.

My second horse was a young gray Arabian horse named Saracus. I received her as a gift for my 8th or 9th birthday. I didn’t have a horse on my birthday wishlist and I thought it was fairly obvious that horses really weren’t my jam,  so I was a little surprised when my mother presented me with one. My mother was beaming with enthusiasm at her well found gift for me so I tried my best to play along. Needless to say, my relationship with Saracus was even more complicated than what I had going with Candy.

Saracus was a big horse and she was green (not very well trained). I spent the entirety of my years with Saracus trying to convince my mom that I really just didn’t want to be involved with horses, which was something she couldn’t accept.

The final straw came when Saracus and I were riding in some sort of 4-H or rodeo exhibition in Granby, Colorado. It was hot and windy and we were riding in formation behind a rider with an American flag. That horse decided right then and there to lay down in the dirt and roll, with me still on top of her and in front of a stadium full of rodeo-goers. When she was finished rolling in the dirt, I took her to the horse trailer where mom was waiting for me and I said that was it.

I have no idea what happened to Saracus after that. I don’t know if my mom sold her or kept her. I was done.

I haven’t thought about my equestrian years in a long time; mostly because they were so unpleasant. But those years recently came rushing back to me as I tended to my mother, who had been thrown from her 17 year old thoroughbred sustaining a broken hip, a brain bleed, and various cuts, bruises and scrapes.

When I tell people this, I invariably get two responses:

  1. How old is your mother? Seventy? And she is still riding horses? That seems a little risky don’t you think?
  2. How old is your mother? Seventy? And she is still riding horses? Well good for her for pursuing her passion and for staying so fit!

I don’t have any particular preference for one response or the other as they are both extremely valid points. Yes, equestrian eventing is a dangerous sport at any age, and yes, good for her for staying true to her passion.

I have resented my mom’s obsession with horses my entire life. Every aspect of our family life was dictated by the fact that we had horses. But that resentment looks a little different to me now. As a 40 year old woman with a family and a career, I can see that it’s important to have something for yourself that isn’t work or family. But I struggle with knowing how much is too much.

At what point is my thing, which is yoga, negatively impacting my relationships? I’m a better wife, mother, and employee because of yoga, but where is the tipping point?

And what about Mom? When that hip heals, does she head back out to the barn to saddle up? I’d like to say no, because she will inevitably continue to get hurt as she ages. But then what, there will never be a replacement for what she gets from horses.

And it kind of seems like a shame for her to quit now, kind of like dropping out of a marathon 1 mile from the finish line. So I guess she needs to keep riding, it’s not rational, but to be a true horse person is to let go of all sense of reason and follow your passion.

 

This article originally published on www.groundingup.com