Monthly Archives: October 2007

Randomness on Wednesday

In the proud tradition of Falcon, I’ve got some ramdomness for you!

• Mr. Chili and I are headed to IKEA this morning with a van and a credit card. Our hope is to score a new bedroom set, some bookcases, a couple of wardrobes, some end tables for the living room, and a filing cabinet. While I’m eager to have all the other furniture, the filing cabinet is at the top of my personal priority list; I can’t bear anymore the mess of paper that I’ve accumulated in my short time as a paid teacher, and I really feel the need to get it under control.

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• Last night’s trick or treating went well for my two little ghost pirates, though the house that usually gives out the king sized Nestle bars was dark yesterday evening. Photos will be forthcoming.

• My cell phone’s clock application reset itself for Daylight Saving Time last weekend, and it pisses me off. The phone itself knows what time it is, but the clock application is an hour behind – a week ahead of schedule. Of course, there’s no way to manually reset the clock application (my ONLY complaint about my SideKick is the lousy clock application), and I’m afraid to use it as my alarm because I just KNOW it’ll realize it’s wrong and reset itself again. Even though I’ve had trouble with the cell phone clock before, I’m actually blaming the stupid president for moving the date we change. Does anyone know what the rationale behind THAT was? (and I know – I know – we’re talkin’ Dubya here – “rational” does not figure heavily into the kinds of adjectives people use to describe him.)

•Who’s the genius who puts STICKERS on shit? There’s nothing that pisses me off more than getting half of a sticker off of something I’ve bought – this soup pot, for example: there’s no reason on the Goddess’s earth that a vinyl cling wouldn’t have worked PERFECTLY there – or even a sticker with Post-It type adhesive, but no – they’ve got to use frickin’ Gorilla Glue on a flimsy paper sticker. Grrrr!

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• Thomas’s makes these little mini-bagels in different flavor varieties, and I’ve taken quite nicely to the strawberry ones. I’m also overly fond of the plain bagels, toasted, with just a little too much peanut butter on them. They’re my “between classes” sustinence. Is it just me, or are “mini bagels” the exact size that REGULAR bagels used to be?

• I finally put a key to my own front door on my key chain. For literally years – I’m thinking maybe even ALL the years we’ve lived here – I’ve not had a key to my own house. Other people have them, but not I! Nope; I go in through the garage, the inner door of which is never locked. For the longest time, we didn’t bother to lock the front door, either, but the Universe is telling me that this may no longer be prudent. Now that the door’s being locked more or less regularly, I have to recognize that, if I come home during a power outage and can’t open the garage door, I’m locked out. There’s a key on my chain now, and I’ll likely hide one somewhere in the yard, too – just in case.

• I had, according to the sucky site meter that WordPress offers, 157 views to my blog yesterday. Two comments. TWO. What’s up with that?

I hope you all have a happy Wednesday. Please wish us good furniture buying luck!

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Filed under Little Bits of Nothingness

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten things – of the innumerable things – I love about my husband:

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1. He is, at his heart, a truly decent man. He is kind and thoughtful, considerate and gentle. Above all else, he’s a good person.

2. He plays with his children regularly and with abandon. He reads to the girls every night, even if he has to do it over the cell phone when he’s away on business trips. He’s never “babysat” his own daughters.

3. He puts the toilet seat (and lid) down. Every. Time. He knows how the vacuum cleaner works and he isn’t afraid to use it. In the winter, he’s willing to venture into the basement to switch laundry between machines and bring dry laundry upstairs – where it’s warm – for me to fold.

4. When he goes away, he calls. A lot. He calls when he reaches the airport. He calls when he’s boarding the plane. He calls when he lands and he calls when he’s arrived at his final destination. We don’t contact each other obsessively during the course of a regular, “local” day, but when he’s away, he makes a point of letting me know that he’s safe every step of the way.

5. He has a sublime sense of humor that I am perfectly attuned to, and he makes me laugh every single day.

6. He has an incredible work ethic and cares enough to do things right. I am proud of the professional that he is.

7. He is open-minded and accepting of others’ views, even if he doesn’t agree with them.

8. He is not ashamed to cry when something moves him. He has a keen sensibility and doesn’t feel the need to bury that in an inaccessible place.

9. He has a glorious goofy side. He likes to turn the music up loud and dance in the kitchen, he loves to go on adventures and vacations, and he’s like a little kid when we go to amusement parks.

10. He makes me feel loved and cared for and safe. He engenders a profound feeling of trust in me, and I know for sure that we are strong and together. When he said “I do,” he meant it…. and so did I.

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Filed under admiration, celebration, Home and Family, love notes, My husband rocks!, ten things Tuesday

Sniff!

I TOLD you I wouldn’t make it out of the weekend without crying!

The YNG troop were sitting around in a circle on our mats yesterday, discussing the inspirational reading we were asked to do for homework:

1.33 In relationships, the mind becomes purified by cultivating feelings of friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion for those who are suffering, goodwill towards those who are virtuous, and indifference or neutrality towards those we perceive as wicked or evil.

The class was discussing the idea of non-attachment, even when it comes to oneself. One of the women in the group mentioned that she’d been part of a retreat where participants brought in baby pictures and the group took some time at various points during the retreat to reflect on the photographs and leave messages for the owners (the pictures were anonymous – the participants were asked to write to the essence of the individual in the photos). The idea was to try to get people back to the spirits they were when they were brand new – before the world and all its stresses and influences and expectations intruded. They were trying to practice non-attachment to the labels we use to identify ourselves and get back to who they were when they just were.

While I thought that it was a lovely idea, I found myself instantly struck with feelings of panic and exclusion. I don’t HAVE any baby pictures. None. My biological mother, if she followed through on her threat, has destroyed them all. While I like to think that this doesn’t matter to me (and, on a practical level, it doesn’t), I also realize that the photographs represent a connection to the baby that I was that I can never really recover.

My classmate wasn’t suggesting that we do this activity, but I found myself expressing an objection to it anyway. I told the group that I thought it was a truly lovely idea, but that I, as someone who came from an abusive household, don’t have access to my baby pictures. While it might be rare for someone in a group to not have baby pictures, we should still be sensitive to the fact that it’s possible that an activity like that may alienate someone who really doesn’t need any more alienation in his or her life.

I surprised myself by saying that. I had no intention of sharing that part of myself with these people, and I’m not sure what it was about that moment that compelled me to reveal the nature of my past, but there I was, saying it anyway. I managed to hold it together enough to say what I had to say publicly, then Cicely called a break (whether her timing was intuitive toward me or not, I don’t know).

I sort of receded back toward the wall behind my mat, trying to regroup, when the woman who told the baby picture affirmation story came to sit with me. She was kind and gentle with me, and I tried, through my tears, to explain to her that I really am okay – that I believe that I CHOSE those people to raise me so that I could learn the important things that I learned as a result of the way they treated me – but that I am still – and always will be – in the process of healing. As we were talking (well, as she was talking and I was half talking, half sobbing), another woman came over to us and thanked me for sharing that part of me with the group. She recognized it as a difficult and painful thing, and said that I may have helped someone else in the troop understand or learn or grow as a result of what I’d said. They hugged me before they left – genuine and heartfelt hugs that I really appreciated – and then the lovely woman who was sitting next to me leaned over, told me how sorry she was that those were my experiences, and hugged me, too.

I am always going to be healing from my childhood. I am always going to be learning from those challenges. I think I may have gotten a step closer to whole through this afternoon’s experience. My hope is that, in my healing and learning, I can help others heal and learn, too.

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Filed under Home and Family, learning, Parenting, Questions, ruminating, Worries and Anxieties, yoga - theory and practice

So THAT’S What I’ve Been Doing All This Time!

Yesterday morning at Yoga National Guard was mostly spent in practice. David taught Kali Ray Triyoga, which I’d never heard of before but, it turns out, is very close to the style of yoga I’ve been teaching for years.

Triyoga is essentially “flow” yoga – allowing the breath to dictate the movement and flowing from one pose, through a transition, into another pose as the breath moves. I taught (teach) this way intuitively because it felt (feels) right to me; inhaling up, exhaling down, allowing myself to move – or, as some call it, to dance – with my breath. When I’m stressed out or overwhelmed, I find that doing something – ANYTHING – in rhythm with my breath is profoundly calming and centering: breathing in four steps and breathing four steps (walking meditation), circling my arms up on an inhale and down on an exhale, looking up while breathing in and looking down while breathing out – all of these things have brought me out of rages or panics or blinding frustration. Try it sometimes – you’ll see what I mean.

Another reason I really like the style is that it allows the student to take some authority over his or her practice. I tell my students that they don’t have to look like I do in a pose and they don’t have to keep up with me; “if I say “inhale” and you’re not done breathing out yet, finish breathing out! Set your own pace. I will always wait until everyone is back to neutral before I move us on to something new.” My wish is for them to go inside themselves, to honor their bodies and their breath, and to accept and settle into themselves because, too often, we relinquish our control to the “authority” of others – teachers, bosses, parents – without recognizing how much power and control we possess in ourselves. Coming back to oneself and taking ownership of that power is an important part of what (my) yoga practice is all about.

We did a bunch of kundalini breathing exercises to start the practice, and I’m starting to warm up to them despite my initial resistance. I’m surprised by how much heat I can generate in my body with some of the breath work, though it does take me a while to get used to allowing my body and movement to move my breath. Once I get into it, though, I find I experience pretty intense releases of emotion. I mentioned yesterday that I’m not really all that into this weekend, and I’m still not quite over that feeling. I was surprised to notice myself welling up during the breathing exercises yesterday morning, and I can’t really tell you exactly why I may not make it through the weekend without a good cry (though I’ll try to save it for when I’m alone in the car on the way home). There’s something stored up and locked away that this work is opening up for me – I may not even realize what it is, but I’m willing to honor the process I’m going through to release it.

So, I’m back at it today, even though I’m still not quite into it and am really hoping that I don’t crash and burn before 11 a.m. Mr. Chili leaves for Maryland this afternoon and I’m really hoping that the class will break for lunch early enough for me to see him again before he goes – I’m going to ask Cicely if we can leave a little earlier than we usually do; I’m pretty sure it won’t be an issue as David told me yesterday that today is going to be spent in discussion and lecture, and that’s easier to keep on a tighter schedule than practice. Xena is going to stay with the girls until I get home around 5:30. I’m looking forward to dinner with her and my daughters – maybe we’ll order a pizza or something. After all this yoga and cleansing breath, I could use a little junk food.

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Filed under learning, my oh-so-exciting life, strange but true, technical difficulties, Worries and Anxieties, yoga - theory and practice

Yoga National Guard, Weekend Two Begins

As a teacher, I’m a little ashamed of myself.  The first exam for YNG was last night, and I just KNOW I bombed it.  I got pronation and supination backwards, I’m pretty sure I confused ligaments and tendons, and I completely forgot the planes of the body.

Dammit!

My only consolation is that the penalty for getting more than five questions wrong is that we have to – get this – write a paragraph!  THAT I know how to do!  Actually, writing will help me really grasp the concept far better than the coloring book and handouts will.

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Really, though, I wonder how much of the details of anatomy I’m really going to need.  As it is, I’m already pretty intuitive about alignment and cueing.  I’ve had students tell me that they didn’t understand how to really get into a pose until they came to my class, and I didn’t get them there by telling them to be mindful of their lateral flexion.  I’m not saying that it’s not important that *I* know that stuff, but I really do wonder how much of it I’m going to use in either my personal yoga practice or in my teaching.  Still, being able to honor something intuitively and being able to spit it out on a multiple choice exam are very different things, and I’m going to have to work out a better system for preparing for YNG exams.  One of my classmates told me she did all her homework just before coming to the class, and that, she said, is the only reason she thinks she did reasonably well on the test.  I’m going to try that next time.

I came into last night’s YNG with kind of a bad attitude.  I’ve not been sleeping all that well lately (I’m waking up in the middle of the night again) and I feel like I really need some down time; the commitment for this weekend is keeping me from being able to be still and regroup.  I didn’t really ever snap out of my attitude, either – last night’s class included the aforementioned exam, a lecture on the history of yoga (with Power Point slides) and a practice teaching in small groups.  I didn’t mind that last bit very much – I’m already teaching, so I don’t suffer the edginess and hesitation that my classmates do – but I found it difficult to be patient with the people in my group.  Toward the end of the night, I found I couldn’t stop yawning and could never really clear my head of the things I had to do at home (“I really should vacuum,” “tomorrow should be clean sheet day,” “do we need milk?”).  Uncharitably, I found myself checking for spelling and grammatical errors on the Power Point slides, too – “So-and-So SOOK out a guru living in a cave” and “This is when yoga came into IT’S own.”  I’m not proud of it, I was mindful of it and tried to pull myself out, but I never quite succeeded.

Here’s hoping that today (and tomorrow) will be a little better for me.  It’s going to be a long weekend, otherwise.

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Filed under learning, my oh-so-exciting life, yoga - theory and practice

Two Down…

…two to go.

Mr. Chili and I were discussing the World Series yesterday.

Understand that I’m not much of a baseball girl. At all. That may be un-American of me, and I hope you don’t like me any less, but I just don’t enjoy the game all that much. I kind of feel about it the way George Carlin does; I’m much more of a football girl, myself.

I’m not stupid, though – I understand the rules of the game and have a firm grasp of the basics. I was looking for a point of clarification on the Series yesterday from Mr. Chili, and our conversation went something like this:

Me: So, you’re planning to go see Dudley for one of the Series games, yes?

Him: Yep.

Me: That means you’ve got seven opportunities – the World Series is a best of seven deal, right?

Him: No. Four.

Me: Huh? It is NOT a four game series – that wouldn’t work….

Him: Sure it is – the four games the Red Sox win!

Oh. Silly me!

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Filed under funniness, Home and Family, Little Bits of Nothingness, My husband rocks!

The New Book!

The latest selection for the Dark and Stormy Book Club is Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein!

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A lot of people are unfamiliar with Shelley’s story – they think that Frankenstein is the tall green guy with bolts in his neck who goes around moaning and terrorizing villagers. They are surprised when they find that much of what they thought they knew about the story – what they learned from Boris Karloff movies – has nothing to do with the novel as Shelley wrote it.

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I love this book and I always have. I don’t really remember the first time I read it; I know I picked it up on my own in the summer between my junior and senior years in high school, but there was an awful lot going on at that time in my life, so I don’t have a whole lot of intact memories about that first reading.

Subsequent revisits to the novel have been profound experiences for me, though. I love the story and find that I see something different in it every time I pick it up. I respond to it very much from the point of view of an adult survivor of child abuse, and I notice that most of my interpretations of the story come from that place. I identify with the Creature and his struggle to find a family and a sense of history and belonging, and I find that my judgment of Victor is particularly harsh because of what I see as his failings as a parent.

The novel deals with a lot of really interesting themes – the power and purview of nature, the limits of human ambition (or, more to the point, what SHOULD be the limits), the pursuit of glory and admiration and the idea of hubris, the concepts of family and relationships and responsibility, the role of women, the importance of literacy and communication, and the nature of what makes us truly human. It’s a nearly bottomless well of really great discussion fodder, and I’m very much looking forward to sharing this with other readers.

I know a lot of people who hesitate to share their favorite things, and I’ve known a lot of English teachers who are reluctant to discuss their favorite stories; they don’t want to see them any differently than they see them – they want their favorite story to live in their consciousness the way it does right now; they don’t want anything to threaten or change their impressions of the story. I’m excited to share Frankenstein with others, though – I’m always interested in seeing new things (or old things in new ways) that other readers bring into my experience.

The novel is available online for free (here’s my favorite link) and can be had for almost no money at pretty much every book store (especially around Hallowe’en). Join us, won’t you?

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Filed under Dark and Stormy Book Club, reading, ruminating, social issues, teaching