Category Archives: yoga – theory and practice

Ten Things Tuesday

I was talking to my yoga class on Sunday about how, when we turn over a new calendar, people start getting all self-critical and resolution-y (a fact they appreciated as they were jammed in the room with far more people than usual because of all the folks adhering to their New Year’s, go-t0-the-gym resolutions).  While I think that self-improvement is a grand thing – I mean, really; where would we be if we stopped trying to get better? – I think that we, as a culture, take the idea to its extreme.  We’re much more likely to tell you what we don’t like about ourselves – our flaws, our shortcomings – than we are to highlight what we have or what we do well and easily.

This week, then, you get ten things that Chili can do with relative ease, competence, or aplomb:

1.  I can cook.  Seriously; I have some killer recipes that I always – and I mean always – hit out of the park.  I am proud of my ability to feed people with satisfying, and sometimes sublime, dishes.

2.  I am a decent writer.  I haven’t quite worked this into what I want it to be in the grand scheme of my life, but I do have a facility with language and the ability to tell a good and engaging story.

3.  I’m an excellent teacher.  I have always, for as long as I’ve been aware of my own self, been put in positions to teach others.  Regardless of what I did – from figure skating to my work in a bank to fitness to English – I’ve managed to land  in situations where I was called on to teach others.  I love it, I’m good at it, and I’m grateful that I’ve finally found a place where I can do it for a living instead of just a hobby.

4.  I’m generous.  It helps that my life allows me to be generous with money and things, but I am also very free with my time and my energy.  If there’s something I can do to help you – if I can share a lesson plan or give you a ride to the doctor’s office or buy you lunch – I will.

5.  I’m a good listener.  I’ve gotten better at this as I’ve gotten older; I find that good listening often means having more patience than one would expect.  I’m getting very good at really hearing people, too, and I think that a lot of that can be credited to parenting my daughter; I need to do more than just listen to her words, I have to really hear what she’s saying and really think about what that means.

6.  I’m neat and (mostly) organized.  I’m certainly not a type-A personality, but I do like a reasonable amount of order.  I know where things are (that is, if someone in my family hasn’t moved it on me).  My car is not a rolling dumpster and things do not rot in my refrigerator.  My children have regular dental and doctor visits and our cars’ oil gets changed when it’s supposed to.  Our clothes are clean and reasonably wrinkle-free.  I pay my bills on time.

7.  I can solve problems.  Like the listening thing, I find I get better at creative problem-solving as I get older and have the capacity for greater critical and inventive thinking.  Sometimes, I can come up with simple, easy solutions and sometimes my answer to a problem is complex and convoluted and resembles a Rube Goldburg device, but either way, I get shit done.

8.  I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong, unable to do something, or confused.  I will ask for help or clarification when I need it, and I’ve gotten much better at acknowledging when I’ve made a mistake or behaved in a way that wasn’t warranted or appropriate.

9.  I’m flexible, and not just in the “well, DUH; you’re a yoga teacher!” way, either.  I’m not upset anymore when plans have to change or when something doesn’t work out exactly as planned.  I’m a lot less tied to outcomes than I was in my youth, and I’m finding that opens a lot of doors for me.

10.  I am kind.  I go into situations assuming the best about everyone involved.  I am polite and gracious in public (and in private, too, come to think about it).  I try very hard to be always aware of the kind of energy I radiate.

So, what do YOU do easily and well?  What gifts do you bring to this party?  What do people go to you seeking?

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Looking Forward

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Even though I don’t do resolutions, per se, I do take this time of year to reassess my focus and goals.  What can I say?  I get caught up in the momentum of everyone else’s resolution making.  So, in that spirit, I’m going to take a few shots at finishing this sentence:

This time next year, I …..

… will be 20 pounds lighter, stronger, and more healthy.  Seriously; I need to get this under control, not only for my self-esteem, but also for my health.  I’ve been making little changes which, to talk to the professionals, is the way to do it; little, gradual changes are more likely to stick, and so far I’ve made a couple of good ones that are sticking.  Now I need to make a few more, like going to the gym a half hour or so earlier for my Sunday class to get in some weight lifting (and maybe a mile or so of walking).  I’m also adding in some short-burst workouts that I can do in my living room with a couple of hand weights and an exercise ball.  I can do this… I need to do this.

…  will have spent less time behind my computer screen while I’m at home. I have already started this; I’m reading more actual books and just this morning I started clearing out my feed reader of the blogs that I only skim.  I don’t want my girls’ primary recollection of me to be sitting at my desk behind my computer.

…  will have stressed less about things I can’t control. One or two of the blogs I’ve cleared out are ones that focus primarily on political issues.  I’m going to stop fretting over the dumbass things people say on the television.  I’m not going to engage people who plainly have no interest in discourse.  I will tactfully avoid people who try to undermine my energy, and will be more mindful about not allowing them to do that when they can’t be avoided.  The partner to this is that I’m going to get MORE involved in the things about which I CAN effect change, and I’ve already got some ideas around that brewing in my head.  I’m sick of feeling helpless and frustrated, so I’m going to do something about it.

…  will have spent more time with the people I love and care about. My one big disappointment this year was that I didn’t see nearly enough of the people who make my life feel full and complete.  It’s not that I put those people off, it’s that we’re all so busy with the details of our day-to-day that it’s often weeks (or longer) before we get in touch again, and I’m done with that.  I’ve already made dates with a couple of people I’ve not seen in too long, and I’m going to see what I can do about making a weekly visit with people like O’Mama and my grandmother stick.  It’s my connection to the people I love that makes up a significant part of who I am, and I’ve let that go for far too long.

…  will have cultivated and nurtured that which makes me me. As an offshoot to spending time with the people who complement my energy, I will take time to be mindful of the things I need for myself.  One of the things I tell my yoga people is that taking care of yourself is not selfish; we can’t give what we don’t have, and if we don’t take time to restock our own stores and give ourselves what we need, we won’t have anything to offer anyone else.  I have a lot of people who need me, and I want to give them everything I can, so I’m going to start heeding my own advice and working on manifesting my highest and best.

Five valuable (and manageable) things.  What are YOUR goals for the coming year?

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Quick Hit: Yum

I’ve never been a huge eggnog fan.  These varieties, however?

These, I like.

A lot.

Of course, I don’t treat them like beverages; they’re more like dessert (and at something like 180 calories per quarter cup, that’s what they really are).

I’m baking eggnog poppy seed cupcakes for my Sunday morning yoga people at the moment, and I used the vanilla variety.  Despite the fact that I’m not much for nutmeg (I might leave it out of the next batch), the cupcakes do smell scrumptious; if there are any left over after class tomorrow, I might have one on the drive home…

 

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Compassion as a Public Virtue

This was posted on fb, from the Dalai Lama. I thought it something less than a coincidence, given what I posted yesterday:

Any idea that concern for others, though a noble quality, is a matter for our private lives only, is simply short-sighted.  Compassion belongs to every sphere of activity including, of course, the workplace.

I don’t have a problem with workplace compassion, specifically. That’s easy, really; I work with a bunch of really wonderful people and, even though the kids sometimes drive me to the brink, I am always able to see beyond their dumbassery and deal with them from a place of genuine love and concern; even if I need to step back and re-center myself for a second, I can always find that place when I’m dealing with my students.

No; my trouble comes in extending compassion to those whom I find it difficult to love, much less tolerate. While any number of you (hi, Joe!) will tell me that it’s not really my job to be nice to the bastards in the world, I’m not sure that fighting fire with fire is the right approach. I’m reminded of the MLK quote about love being the only thing that can overcome hate – treating someone with the same kind of disrespect and aggression with which they treat me just seems to me to give them more reason to hate and disdain.

It’s a lot to think about on a Saturday morning, isn’t it?

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Ten Things Tuesday

Ten ways to be nice to others – and it won’t cost you anything.

1.  Take turns. Understand that waiting is a part of the society we live in, so please learn how to do it graciously and well.  No one needs you cutting in line, forcing your way by, or complaining about how long you’ve had to wait.  We’re waiting, too, and we’re being grown-up about it.

2.  Learn the rules of the road, and quit driving like you’re the only one out there. I was nearly run off the road this afternoon – with my children in the car – because the woman in front of me was moseying onto the highway at a dangerously leisurely pace while two 18-wheelers, with all their many miles of momentum, were coming up behind.  It was only by the grace of one of those truckers that I’m not still in a ditch by the side of I-95.

3.  Look around you. Hold the door, even if it means you get into the store 2 seconds later than you would have if you’d just let the door close on the face of the person coming up behind you.

4.  Be kind to cashiers, bank tellers, and toll takers. Just because you’re only spending 20 or so seconds with them doesn’t give you the right to be rude, dismissive, or superior.  Smile.  Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.”  Really.

5.  That goes double for receptionists and waitstaff. I swear to Goddess that I have to restrain myself from scolding grown adults I hear saying “yeah, give me a cup of coffee and the turkey sandwich.”  Really?!  A “please” is going to kill you?

6.  Going to the coffee shop, the kitchen, or the store?  Ask your coworkers or your family if they’d like anything while you’re up/out. How much does it cost you to bring back an extra donut or a soda?

7.  Leave it as nice as you found it. Nicer, even, if that’s in your power.

8. Offer to help if you can. So what if it’s not your problem?  Maybe you have a solution someone else hasn’t thought of.  Perhaps your offer of assistance is exactly what someone needs to find the will to finish a job.  Don’t dismiss the power of an extended hand, even if the help is graciously declined.

9.  Let people cross the street. You’re warm (or cool, or dry) in your car, probably happily listening to music, comfortably seated and safe.  They’re taking their lives in their hands crossing the road in front of cars driven by people who either don’t see them or don’t yield.  The time it takes them to get across the lane isn’t going to wreck your whole commute, I promise.

10.  Extend a little unsolicited love to people you care about. Drop a note in the mail (everyone loves getting mail).  Send a text.  Whip off a quick, “I’m thinking of you” email.  I don’t think many people understand how game-changing a little bit of unexpected love in the middle of the day can be.

Pass it around, People!  Happy Tuesday!

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Busy, Busy

We’re pretty much out straight today, you guys (but in a good way), so this post is going to feature a bit of randomness.

• Auntie is being wed in a week.  Tomorrow, the girls and I pack up and head to her place for a pre-wedding gathering of friends for a breakfast and an opportunity to have our piggies painted.

• I’ve still not decided on all the cakes.  I’m sure about Auntie’s chocolate – that’s not really even a choice – and I’ve got to call the bakery on Monday to make sure they’ll have one of The Girls cupcakes that I can pick up on Friday.  I’m sure I’ll be making my grandmother’s carrot cake (and she was delighted when I told her that her recipe would feature in my sister’s wedding day), but that’s all I’m 100% about.  I’m leaning heavily toward the coffee cake, the lemon poppy seed (which I’ll make in loaves, I think), and the light strawberry cupcakes.  Sorry, Dudley; no bacon, though I was momentarily tempted by these.

• It occurs to me that I’m running out of summer.  I need to get off my intellectual duff and start planning some classes sometime very soon.  Not today, though.

• Almost as soon as Auntie’s wedding is over, the Chili clan is packing up and heading to the lake (in fact, we’ll likely arrive at the wedding in a car pre-packed for the trip).  I’m very much looking forward to this vacation, and I’m kind of loving that it’s become a tradition for us.  We’ll have some visitors over the week – the bridal couple is contemplating spending Sunday with us, O’Mama and Sphyrnatude are coming for an afternoon, and BlueMoon and Babycakes will come at the end of the week, after which we’ll all trek around the lake to see Vertical Horizon and The Goo Goo Dolls in concert.  I think the week has the potential of being a lovely bit of activity punctuated by periods of nothingness.

• I’m trying to wake up a little earlier every morning.  I’m doing this for two reasons – the first is that I don’t want the first few weeks of school to be torture in the morning.  The second is that I’m recognizing that I need more yoga practice than I have been giving myself, so my plan is to take that time to unroll a mat in the family room and do a silent practice just for me.  Teaching is very, very different from a private practice, and I think that the private practice will do me a lot of good.

Okay – I’m out of here.  I’m taking the girls to the library and visiting my grandmother this afternoon, and it’s about time to get started.  Have a great day!

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Ripples

Sometimes, I’m brought up short by the affect I have on people without my ever being aware of it.

As I waited this morning for the Pilates class to clear out of the room my yoga class is held in, one of my regular participants (who I know by face but, to my chagrin, not by name) approached me and asked if she could talk to me in private.  We scooted down the hall a bit, and she told me that it was likely that she wouldn’t be able to stay for the whole class and that, if she left in the middle, I wasn’t to worry.

Of course, that made me worry.  It was clear she was distressed, and I asked her if there was anything I could do.  She confided in me through tears that her father had passed unexpectedly last week, and she wasn’t even sure she could come to class.  She told me that she brings herself here every week (from a pretty substantial distance, I might add; she may be the person who travels the farthest to come to yoga on Sunday mornings) because, for her, it’s a spiritual practice as well as a physical one.  The environment I create – the energy I invite and maintain – are nourishing to her, and she came to class today hoping to absorb a little of that energy and, perhaps, balm her pain.

I am touched and humbled by this woman’s words.  While I am mindful of the energy I radiate, I never really stop to consider that it has much of an affect on anyone beyond myself.  That I can be a solace for someone in that kind of pain means something to me, and I approach my practice (and my life) with a renewed sense of the importance of the ripples we send out into the world.

I WANT to be someone that others look to for comfort and security.  I WANT to be a place where people feel safe and seen and genuinely loved.  It seems that – at least, for her – I’ve succeeded in that effort, but I’m taking this morning’s experience as a call to be ever more mindful of applying my energy deliberately and carefully.

What kind of ripples do YOU make?

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I’m Just Here for the Food

This weekend is going to be all about the eating.  We’ve been invited to the O’Mama Family Passover Seder on Saturday, and Easter, with its brunch-time, glorious yumminess is Sunday.  I think I’ll begin my new exercise routine on Monday…

I’ve written about this before, but it’s become a topic of conversation both in my workplace and in my home lately, so I’m giving it to you again; the Chili family doesn’t follow a defined faith tradition.  I was raised in an entirely ambivalent household and Mr. Chili was raised in what I can only describe as a very moderate Protestant tradition; his parents still go to church, but they only say grace at major holiday meals (Thanksgiving and Christmas) and I have never heard them talk about church in anything but a social context.

We had the girls christened, but not to make them Christians; in fact, we looked at the ceremony as more of an introduction of the girls to their larger, community family than anything else, and the minister who performed Punkin’s Pie’s christening (who also happened to be the man who performed our wedding service) made the event exactly that – a public recognition of the children and a call to the community to support them and their families.

If you don’t look too closely, we come off as non-devout Christians because we do celebrate the big Christian holidays of Easter and Christmas.  Really, though, one would have to not look closely at all, because if one did, one would see that we celebrate these holidays in a completely godless, practically heathen way.

For us, it kinda really IS about the food and the presents (and the family and friends, too, of course, but you know what I mean).

The wonderful thing about not being tied to a faith tradition is that we get to participate, with unbridled joy and gusto, in the celebrations of others, too.  I am particularly touched by the fact that we are not just invited but expected at O’Mama’s Seder in the spring and her Chanukah festivities in the winter (mmmmm… latkes!).  Last September, we Chilis were in attendance as Sphyrnatude blew the Rosh Hashanah shofar, and this September, we’ll get to celebrate Monkey’s bat mitzvah.

I’m hoping, as the girls grow up, that they date people who bring even more customs and rituals into our lives.  How cool would it be to have someone to teach us the celebrations of Ramadan or Diwali?

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Happy Everything, Everyone!

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Detour

Today’s post is here, instead of in this space.  We’re taking the girls to go see How to Train Your Dragon this afternoon, and I don’t have time to write two posts…

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Ten Things Tues… er… Wednesday

I had crappy access to internet on our mini-vacation, so I didn’t even TRY to do a Ten Things Tuesday from my phone. Here, then, are ten things on my mind today (which is Wednesday, for those of you keeping track).

1. I’m SO glad the weather we’re getting is rain. If this were snow, we’d be literally buried.

2. The girls and I went to O’Mama’s for breakfast (real oatmeal… mmmmm!) and then got in the car and went to pick up The Girl for lunch. She broke her shoulder almost two months ago and is still out of work (!) and Auntie told me the other day that she’s been spending too much time at home, alone, isolated, and sad. I couldn’t have that, so we stole her for some girl time and lunch at Bertucci’s. While we were out, I bought a copy of Outlander for her to read. I fully expect to hear from her in a few days, begging me to bring the next book over as soon as possible (which, of course, I will)…

3. I’m trying (and failing) to not fret about some of my students. I know I’m supposed to be on vacation, but I can’t help it.

4. I need to start seeing my chiropractor again. The problem is that, since I started working, our hours are entirely incompatible. I’m trying to get an appointment with him this week; maybe we can work something out.

5. I start teaching yoga at Bowyer’s school next Tuesday afternoon. I’m looking forward to practicing more than just once a week, and I’m hopeful that this gig (which runs Tuesdays and Fridays through April 9th) will be enough to help me solidify a new habit.

6. I need to get myself in gear and plan my classes through the April vacation. It’s not going to be a difficult thing to do, really, I just need to set aside some time to do it. I also need to figure out sub plans for next Friday because…

7. I’m going to a seminar on the history of slavery in pre-Revolutionary War America. I’ve been doing the reading (so far, from American Slavery 1619-1877 by Peter Kolchin) and have been thinking a lot about the idea Kolchin puts forth that slavery as a concept was not especially distasteful to a greater percentage the people of that era.  Society was far more stratified then, I understand, and people were used to oppression from those “above” them; slavery was considered part of the natural order of things by most people until the Great Awakening of the mid-1700s.  THIS is the kind of thing I’m taking this course for – not only do I spend a fair bit of time teaching my kids the history they need in order to begin to approach the literature we read, but *I* need to have the opportunity to think in ways that I might not get to all on my own.  I love being a student.

8.  I think I may have found a recipe I can make work for the roasted garlic and cheese cream sauce I had at the Cheesecake Factory earlier this week.  I’m still eating the leftovers from that trip, though, so you’ll have to wait until I run out and have to make my own to find out whether it’s any good or not.  I will report findings (and a recipe, if it’s good) as soon as I have them.

9.  I’m working REALLY hard to get over being incredibly pissed off at someone I really love very much.  This person’s been going through a crisis for the better part of a year, and for the better part of a year I’ve been gently reminding this person that I’m here and happy to listen.  The other day, I mentioned it again, and was told that I’m not a comfortable person to talk to because I’m “too biased.”  There are about five different reasons why this infuriates me, and I’m trying to decide whether it’s worth it to point out to this person that the path we took to get to where we are was NOT of MY choosing.  The thing is, though, I’m not sure that my person is in any condition to hear that right now, and I’m damned sure that my person doesn’t want to add me to the list of things to be reconciled and dealt with.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.

10.  Mr. Chili and I went to see The Book of Eli the other day (the Movie Gods were with us on Monday night; Eli started at 4:40 and The Last Olympian started for the girls in the next theatre over at 4:45, so we all got to see what we wanted).  Like The Sixth Sense, Eli was a movie I wanted to see again IMMEDIATELY after the credits rolled; there was a lot I missed.  I’m looking forward to having it out on DVD now that I know what to look for…

Happy Wednesday, Everyone!

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