Alice, schmalice

Just who the heck is Alice, anywayz?

This post is primarily based on the chorus from the ubiquitous song, but Alices abound in literature for those of all ages. (Go Ask Alice, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Alice in Wonderland… Alice from Mel’s Diner, you get the idea. Feel free to respond with more sightings in the comments below.) 

“You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant, ‘ceptin’ Alice,” Alice’s Restaurant Masacree, penned by Arlo Guthrie, sung by millions every Thanksgiving since the tail end of the tumultuous 60s ’till now-ish. He finally stopped performing it live; he’s in his mid 70s and 18+ minutes is just too darn long in concert. Heck! It’s a wonder it got any airtime at all, and is the reason he’s considered a one-hit wonder. (“City of New Orleans” is eh. Don’t @ me.)

This classic song that’s really, supposedly, about the draft. More or less based on a true story*, this song to me is about coming home to yourself, looking within for the answers, and hopefully, maybe, juuust maybe, touching on inner peace: Brahman. Minus of course a questionable, somewhat offensive lyric buried towards the end, this song speaks to me. (The singer has updated and revisited this one line a LOT, although most radio stations play the original in its entirety, without repercussions.)

Alice’s restaurant seems to be a neighborhood place: “walk right in, it’s around the back/just a half a mile from the railroad track.” It has a homey, small-town feel. Also known as dives, or greasy spoons, diners are comforting, and welcoming, whether you’re meeting the fam, nursing a cuppa because you’re broke, or it’s after Prom, after hours, and nothing else is open. 

Diners are a staple in the NY Metro area. You can literally get almost anything: fillets, lobstah, fries, awful coffee, rice pudding, breadsticks and butter on paper, even adult beverages! Alice’s restaurant, to me, has it all. 

The song goes through many stages. First, the “no good deed goes unpunished” of the throwing away of the garbage. It’s all well and good to want to help someone out, metaphorically by listening, or literally by loading up that VW Microbus with years’ worth of actual trash, shovels and rakes, and implements of destruction, but even though misery looooves company, it’s not the way to work through your schtuff. 

What is it you want? Is it fame, fortune, your kid to stop being colicky, your partner to stop doing X, or start doing Y? We must look within to find it, whatever our “it” is:  there is no Alice. “You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant…’ceptin’ Alice.” There is no Alice. We are our own gurus. The guru lives in each of us. Not to say there aren’t people whom to admire, and learn from, but ultimately we must quiet the citta vriti, the mind chatter in Sanskrit, and realize that it was in us all along. Isn’t that one of many lessons from “The Wizard of Oz”? Cue the music…

Officer Obie, ahem, finds the narrator’s name at the bottom of the pile of garbage (because one big pile is better than two small piles, and it was more work to bring the one up, than add to it by throwing theirs down,) and punishes him in quite a Machiavellian way. (Ahem – maaaaad props to yours truly for spelling that correctly on the first try.) Digressing is part of the package… 

The trial has recounting of the epic helicopter flight, the 8×10 color glossy photos, and a blind judge. with. a. dog. Justice is blind, indeed. This was the biggest thing to hit the town, like, ever, so they pulled out all the stops.

Do we want to commiserate, or actually feel better? Do we want to take out the trash, and shed layers to get to who we really are? Growing is hard, but there’s that whole caterpillar uncomfortability whereby it’s just easier to shuck the silk and spread them wings. 

The trial is exacerbated by the beligerence of the defendant. Do we make things worse when someone tries to help us? Hm. Look at all the ads playing now on repeat – how to drop those lubs, how to get a partner, how to make a mint by giving up your latte or avo toast.  January is typically a time of resolutions: lose 15lbs in 10 minutes, organize one’s life/closet/files ONCE AND FOR ALL, take up knitting, hit the gym daily, quit x-vice. Can we resolve not to make resolutions? Perhaps intentions. 

We must help ourselves. Read, draw, paint, color, knit, dance, scream, DO. Read the books then go write your own chapters. 

The second part of the song is a yuge digression about the real reason he’s come to talk to the listener. That will keep for someone else’s post.  

Throw out whatever needs tossing, and let’s get on with it!

*Story has it that the song is based on the singer actually trying to help friends who bought out & were living in a deconsecrated church. There’s even a movie for the ambitious among us who wish to watch. 

If this resonated with you, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email. Until our mats unfurl again, be well.

-M

Everybody talks

“Never thought I’d see the day, when everybody’s words got in the way,” Everybody Talks, Neon Trees

Blah blah blah. Yadda yadda yadda. Wha, wha, wha. (Side note: how do you spell what the adults in Charlie Brown’s world sound like? Hm.) Many of us talk to hear ourselves speak, but we aren’t really saying anything. More on that later. 

A book came out at some point about the different Love Languages. Mostly malarkey, (probably??? Not sure as that’s not my bag), there’s probably a grain’s worth of truthiness in there somewhere. Some saps probably go to the card store late in the evening of the 13th of February and grab whatever hasn’t been picked over, scribble a note, and add it to the big honkin’ heart-shaped box of chocolates and gas station flowers. (Don’t go all Forrest Gump on me, here: stay with me.) Hey, at least they remembered.

Some fix the holes in the drywall your bunny made so you don’t lose your security deposit. 

Some are your ride or dies. 

All of these are someone talking to you. Do you know how to listen? How to hear? 

In Yoga class, I often remind my students, “if your {insert body part here} is talkin’ to ya, back off, or pause [the movement] and breathe [into it]. Hopefully they heed my suggestions. It’s up to them. Sharp, pokey, pins & needles are bad; sensation is good. 

In foreign language class, I often say to my students, listen to me now, and hear me later, before gifting them some pearl or other. 😉 How might one tease apart the difference between listening and hearing? To me, listening is more literal. One can listen to music, one can listen to instructions given by whomever, or one can listen to deafening silence. 

Listen can be major ‘tude, as in, “listen here, lady!” This is right before someone lays. down. the. law. Or calls the manager? (Who else is glad we put 2020 to bed?) 

Hearing is more akin to deep listening. When in conversation, one might reply, “I hear ya!” to express sympathy, empathy, or some other -pathy. It might be the path to deeper connection, and more healing. Don’t ask ‘y.’ (Get it? I took the -y off the root -pathy! Ha! Reminds me of some algebra jokes. Comment below to hear ’em.) 

It is taken to mean one understands another’s POV. For my students, it means they should harken back to whatever’s been intoned and act accordingly. 

How can we turn off, at least temporarily, the citta vritti or mind-chatter in Sanskrit? Many will suggest meditation. If this conjures up images of sitting criss-cross, apple sauce on a cushion, OMing, you’re not alone. You’re not 100% right, but you’re not alone in thinking that. Meditation can be doing dishes, running, *or* sitting cross-legged on a cushion with or without beads. One can focus on a mantra, one can count breaths, or one can count beads. There are so many choices, all of which are valid. Any of these will allow the monkey mind to. Take. A. Break. Not to worry, they’re all there, clacking away on those Smith & Coronas, writing Shakespeare. Give ’em a rest, wontcha?

Everyone talks differently. Perhaps it’s time to shut up and listen so we can hear them. 

If this resonated with you, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email. Until our mats unfurl again, be well.

-M

PS Algebra jokes, anyone? Bueller?

“Don’t be fancy, just get dancy”

“Don’t get fancy, just get dancy,” Raise your Glass, P!nk

You’ve all, no doubt, heard of the KISS method. Depending on if it’s the teacher who’s got to behave themselves, or your Dad, who doesn’t, the letters stand for either: “keep it short n’ sweet,” or “keep it simple, stupid”. 

Why are we so insistent on: “bigger, better, faster, more!”? My car takes gas and oil, and there’s only one comma in the price. It gets me from point A to point B, although who’s going anywhere at this point in the global pandemic?

My phone is a few years old. The corners of the case are faded, but it still protects the investment I finally paid off. (Ugh, planned obsolescence is so over, right? No? Just me? Hm. Okay.) It’ll keep limping along until the new ones are so different the learning curve steepens significantly. Same with my laptop, tee-shirts, and myriad other detritus.

I prefer to have things simple. My triangular-shaped salty snacks do not need to shred the roof off my pallet. My Yoga practice can be some seated cat-cows, some twists, and essentially a nap. I might never even get off the floor. And. That’s. Okay. Not to say there isn’t a place for Cirque du Soleil-esque contortions, and a hot n’ sweaty, “I -am-spent,” clean up on aisle 3 practices, but that’s not an all-the-time thing. Depends. 

In The Injury-Free Yoga Practice by Steven Weiss, MS, DC, RYT, he discusses the “baby bear” intention. This is how we remain injury free: by finding that sweet spot between effort and ease, phoning it in, and going all out. (Can we say b*lls to the wall? Whole hog? Hm…who cares: it’s my blog & I’ll blog if I wanna…)

This brings to mind Samasthiti, also known as “effortless effort,” or Tadasana, mountain pose, in some traditions. It is a tightrope walk, to be sure, but a nice place to revisit over and over again, like a touchstone. As Suzie Hurley of Tacoma Park, MD tells her students, “It’s not how far you go; it’s how you go far!”

Let’s do more movement that just plain feels good. Who cares what it looks like? Of course, as the yogini down in g-d’s waiting room said in class once: “you should listen to your body first, your doctor second, and me third.” In other words, trust yourself. If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it! It’s oft’ been intoned not to sacrifice for the glory of the pose. Keep it simple, sweetheart. Alignment is in the bones of the hip holder. I want my students to know where their parts are in space: how they apply that knowledge is up to them. 

When in doubt, dance! It’s alright, and it’s all right. 

If this resonated with you, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email. Until our mats unfurl again, be well.

-M

“Message to myself”

As the hardest-working lazy person you’re likely to meet, I have spares everywhere. There are nearly-spent toilet paper rolls in the vanity, there’s a quarter in the change compartment of my wallet (thanks for the suggestion, sis), along with a twenty dollar bill in my super-secret wallet compartment (thanks, Mom), there used to be bread sticks and crackers in the glove compartment of the car when diners were frequented, and there are things so well hidden that I don’t know what or where they even are. Things are left blocking the door so that they make their way to the car on the way to their ultimate destination. On the car hood as we speak are my produce bags because on a snow day, you do laundry…but the car was locked and I was too lazy to go to the spot where the key fob is. My phone is full of undone lists, half-done lists, never-gonna-happen-but-I-meant-well lists, and wish lists. 

What is the meaning of all this? I send messages to myself to remember. To remember to breathe. To remember to get on my mat and practice. To remember to get Tru Lemon for boyfriend’s mom’s waffles. To remember to make calls, or when plans with friends are. To remember to make that schedule that eludes me. 

“I’m sending out a message to myself/so that when I hear it on the radio/I will know that I am fine/I will know that I am loved,” Message to Myself by Melissa Etheridge. Since I wanted to get an exact quote, the lyrics were searched up: online, they read “…I am love.” In the video, she’s painting “…I am loved.” While watching the video on that music channel, it sounds like she’s singing: “…I have love.” 

More waxing poetic on the nuances of language. If one is love, then can one still swear a blue streak? Can one think unkind thoughts? Can one snarf the last pastry save three bites of crust and no filling to speak of, and not really realize? Ahem, and still be forgiven, and more importantly, loved 🙂 Can one lose entire days playing silly word games, or mindlessly scrolling through various social-media sites? Can one be passionate and still procrastinate? Yup! This is part of the human condition. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Seams rip. Dinner burns. Traffic snarls. “Reply all”s happen. 

If one is loveD, is that enough? Does one just merit that for existing? Does it need to be earned? Can you bank some for later? Is it a bank where you have to make deposits? Can it be rebuilt/replenished if razed? 

If one has love, along the same vein, is that enough? This may give us stability, a home, grounding to flex those creative muscles. For the longest time, my mantra while meditating was: I am light (on the inhale), I have love (on the exhale.) It took awhile, but the shift was made, and now it’s I am love. We’re all works in progress. 

“It’s funny how you find just what you seek

Love is what you get,

When love is what you speak”

In Yoga, many of us are wont to intone: where your mind goes, your energy flows, or what you focus on, you find. Yoga is the ultimate single-tasker. (Read that somewhere – not not attributing, just don’t recall where.) If you flash on your grocery list during candy cane pose, Ardha Chandra Chapasana, you’re going to take a tumble. Yoga is the ultimate in just this, here now. Savasana, or corpse pose, is the hardest one of all, the one yogis spend yeeeeeaaaars practicing and preparing for. You just lie still and breathe, typically at the end of class. If a thought comes, put it on a cloud and send it on its (merry?) way. It’ll be there when you get back. Lather, rinse, repeat. We come to our mats over and over again to begin anew. 

If this resonated with you, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email. Until our mats unfurl again, be well.

-M

“Love’s an hourglass…”

“Love’s an hourglass, it goes out wide and comes in closer,” “Amnesty is Granted” by Sammy Hagar.

*side note right up top: this is on the Meat Loaf Album, Welcome to the Neighborhood, so my assumption was that it was, like most of Meat’s songs, written by the prolific and incomparable Jim Steinman. Whoops! #themoreyouknow 

For the month of November, I was presented with the opportunity to participate in a metta meditation. For those unfamiliar, it is one of many, many, many types of meditation. One practices loving kindness by sending love and healing vibes to oneself first, and fanning it out to others. The order, roughly, is to self, to family and loved ones, to acquaintances, to strangers, and to those whom we mightn’t fancy, or are in conflict with. (Ahem, that’s to put it mildly, but hey! a yogi’s gotta do what a yogi’s gotta do). 

Eventually, it becomes a flowy boomerang. Love goes out wide to whomever you can possibly think of, including: the mail carrier, frontline workers, the GOP, the barista who makes you your usual, and everyone in between. It comes back to self. “It goes out wide, and comes in closer.”

You silently repeat mantras such as: May I  live with ease, may I be happy, may I be free from pain. Of course, for the grammarians among us, we change the verbiage to: May you live with ease, etc..

Place your hand on your heart to feel that connection. 

Although the hourglass has a finite amount of sand, “let’s start again right now.” Flip it over, dig deep and find that inner well (ha! I mistakenly typed will, so let’s ponder that. My keyboarding teacher in high school pitied me most likely, and gifted me a D-.) 

It starts with me. Love fans out wide, and comes in closer. It brings us closer to ourselves, with a capital O, since aren’t we all one anyway? 

If this resonated with you, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email. Until our mats unfurl again, be well.

-M

“If ya got no love…”

“If ya got no love, then you’re with the wrong…” Rock DJ by Robbie Williams

How did you finish the lyric? (It’ll be at the end. No spoilers per se, but I cut it off there on purpose.)

Love is a funny thing. As Huey Lewis & the News called it, “…a curious thing…make one man weep, make another man sing.” 

Self-love can be hard to come by. Many of us seek validation from outside sources: money, fame, prestige, the latest and greatest, arm candy, or a partner. Or name-your-own-vice. What a fun board game that’d be! How can we be true to ourselves, and tap into that extrinsic nature of who we really are? This is where the Anandamayakosha, or the Bliss Body, comes into play. 

It is deeper than Santosha, or contentment, but that’s a good place to start. We need to learn to like ourselves before we can learn to love ourselves. Kinda a “crawl before you walk” deal. (Unless you’re Meat Loaf: “ya gotta learn to dance before you learn to crawl.”) I digress…a lot.

One must learn to love one’s self enough that outside schtuff is not necessary. Eventually, hopefully, the detrius of one’s life, in theory anyway, becomes very “take it or leave it”. At a training, we were led through a shelf meditation by the incomparable Joseph Le Page. It was a pretty indescribable, ne surreal, experience, but here goes nuttin’. Please note that I am taking a lot of liberties with this. Any errors in recollection or conclusions drawn are my own. 

It was a guided meditation where you “walk” through a scene. You begin to shed layers – first the, ahem, easy stuff, like material possessions. No car, no house, no baubles, you get the idea. Then, it gets a little gritty. Shed your interpersonal conflicts, your body, your labels – parent, partner, job, yogi, religiousness, etc. Finally, the really stubborn stuff, the you you think of yourself as: your personality, and finally your meat tube. You placed things on a shelf as you walk by, getting lighter with each step. What’s left? This is to really drive home the differences between purusha and prakriti. A gross oversimplification is that purusha is the Soul, the self, pure consciousness. Prakriti is that which is created, nature, the “creatrix” (the female energy.) 

What’s left is beyond your essence. Sorta-but-not-really what makes you, you. Methinks it’s Brahman, the Absolute. “…our own true being, whose nature is all-pervading oneness…encompasses and transcends all the koshas.” (The Yoga Toolbox.) 
You cannot have one without the other. We need to be in touch with who we really are, but creature comforts are cool, too. While it’s nice to be at one with, uh, oneself, and with the Universe, polite society says we must live indoors, wear clothes, and get to work on time. We are trying to return to purusha, but the road is littered with shiny objects. Buy! Buy! Buy! Replace with the latest and greatest. Planned obsolescence. In the 20th century, you cannot get by without at least *some* stuff, but how much do we reeeeeallly need? And if/when we *do* get to purusha, how do we not get complacent? The purushans didn’t know how good they had it til consumerism came along. And so it goes, cyclically, like most things. Chicken-egg much?

“If ya got no love, then you’re with the wrong…” The wrong philosophy? The wrong partner? The wrong job? Examine what’s not working, and how to tweak or abandon it to start anew. Learn to love yourself, it’s “the greatest love of all,” belted out the late, great Whitney Houston. 

Robbie Williams’ clubby beat intones, “If ya got no love, then you’re with the wrong man…it’s time to move your body.” Move your body alright, towards whatever your heart’s longing for. Leave your credit card at home…”don’t need no money to ride this train.” (Thanks Mr. Lewis…and the News).

The rest of the song, Rock DJ, is quite deep…just kidding! It’s a danceable derp fest with some pretty questionable lyrics. Like the lyric, the video goes too far. We don’t need men, we need ourselves! 

If this resonated with you, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email. Until our mats unfurl again, be well.

-M

Woyms

“There’s a bathroom on the right…” 

This is not the lyric, but it’s so commonly misheard in the same way that John Fogerty, lead singer of the now-defunct band Creedence Clearwater Revival, oft’ used to do a verse or two “wrong.” For the purists, the chorus is “there’s a bad moon on the rise,” and the song is of course “Bad Moon Rising.” It’s a karaoke favorite I always bust out whenever my Dad lets me drag him to the bar. (Side note: he still says, in his Bronx accent, “I can’t believe I’m at a bahr with my daw-tah.” I have had a partner for more than a decade, a car, and a house, and have been legal for more than two decades. Oh, parents! He’s a good sport, letting me sing, nursing his beer.)

Seal, another favorite artist of mine, purposefully does not include lyrics in the inserts of tapes and CDs. It apparently is paramount to him that the listener interpret as they see fit, and not be influenced by what he’s actually crooning. (In some senses, perhaps listeners personalize their listening experience, depending on where they are in life, and would be disappointed to hear the penned words.) It’s been said that happy people listen to the melody and sad people listen to the words. Hm…This does not apply to me since I usually hear both. For fun, if a song has several parts, the CD gets rewound and the track repeated again and again and again ’til they’ve all been practiced. What a hoot! Good thing I commute solo…

My Mom was a professional singer, performing at weddings, in clubs, and various other affairs. She didn’t know all the words! (Of course, if people are a bit in their cups, neither do they.) She communicated with her voice, her passion, her authenticity. Eyes closed, head thrown back, it was all laid bare. Whether she was singing in someone else’s language, or her own, she communicated. She still does, just not professionally anymore.

I’m sure we all remember that silly internet argument with what color the dress was. Or we’ve all seen the optical illusions – like the “is it a duck or is it a rabbit?” illustration. 

My innocence was a bit besmirched when, yeeeeeears later, I found out what the words for Extreme‘s “More than Words” *really* meant. Yowza! It was a song I had with a boy 100 years ago. Still brings back good memories though. Lemme have this one as I am consciously choosing to put that genie back in the bottle  🙂 

Seems there are seven stages in the communication process: sender, encoding, channel, decoding, receiver, feedback, and context. It is easy enough to get derailed at any point along the continuum. 

The sender is the one who wants to communicate. They must take into account their message, and make sure it’s useful and correct. 

What channels do you use to communicate? I send a lot of text messages because it’s faster. In public, we currently wear masks, so the eyes become ever more important. How you communicate is almost-if-not-more important than how you’re received. We must speak the same language…no! We must speak in the same way. Take a pause, take a breath. Maybe summarize for the person to make sure you’re on the right page before plundering ahead blindly. Believe the best in people until given ample evidence to the contrary. 

Decoding is just as fraught as encoding. We hear what we want to hear, if we’re even paying attention at all. Most of us are just waiting for our turn to talk.

What does this have to do with Yoga? Everything. Every breath, every movement, every choice, every non-action is a dance of sorts with whoever’s around, even when you practice by yourself. Reread that: I’ll wait. 

How can we quiet the citta vriti, or the seemingly-endless “mind chatter” in Sanskrit? For me, it comes back to my mat. Sitting to meditate, or cranking up the tunes to practice, or practicing unaccompanied with just the sound of my breath. We follow that breath, sometimes repeating “in” on the inhale, and “out” on the exhale. If AND WHEN you lose focus, start again. And again. And again.  

This week’s title refers to ear worms which are the song snippets that endlessly loop in our heads. In Spanish, we call them “gluey” ’cause they stick in your head. What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? Ha! Getting half a song lyric stuck in your head. 

What lyrics have you misheard? Maybe yours are “better” based on where you’re at. “There’s seven steps to heaven, but that stairway’s just too steep,” Last Damn Night by Elle King. If you’re genuinely happy where you are, maybe that’s where you’re supposed to be and eff everything and everyone else.

If this resonated with you, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email. Until our mats unfurl again, be well.

-M

“Stand in the place where you live”

“Stand in the place where you live” – Stand by REM

It may have taken awhile, but I am firmly rooted in who I am, and who I am not. My parents raised me to speak my mind. It is good to have opinions…but not too many. How many of us, especially those cis-gendered females among us, feel like too much? “Extra,” as the kids say. (Side note: bf haaaayyytes when new slang comes home with me, but that’s what you get when you work with freshmen.) 

Even though many say we are spiritual beings having a human experience, we still need some place to “live.” Be kind to your body since it’s housing you. How can you stand in the place where you live? For some, it’s mantra. For some, it’s a chip in your pocket from x-days sober. For some, it’s scripture. For still others, it’s pop music, the sunroof open, and the open road. For still and away others, it’s writing, reading, their -ing of choice. 

The song goes on to say, 

“Think about direction, wonder why you haven’t before…/

If you are confused, check with the sun/Carry a compass to help you along

Your feet are going to be on the ground/Your head is there to move you around”. 

On direction/directions: 

Are we actually paying attention? I purchased this “year to clear” class well over a year ago & started this same “year to clear” course 3 times already, and am barely into the third week, but the daily emails say I should be in month three or so. Whoops! One of the things that really resonated with me so far is the Four Steps: intention, action, non-identification, and compassion. Intention is a hard one for me, because I tend to whip through tasks, trying to beat the clock, or I’m liable to do three things at once. My Mom gifted that to me: she used to watch the Yankees on TV with the sound off because she didn’t like the announcers. She had the radio on with the commentators she DID like. She also had a bodice-ripper* in her hands. She could tell you what was going on with any of them. I used to read novels in chorus while singing, following along with the plot while hitting the high notes. Irritated the dickens out of Mr. Gremli, the choral director. 

Bodice-rippers, for the uninitiated, are dime-store, ahem, rooooomance novels. The bodice is barely containing a heaving bosom, so heaving due to a swash-buckling ne’er do well pirate, playboy, bad boy-type smoldering over her. 

My action phase comes in fits and starts. It’s easy to set the timer and just plow through the piles…until a memory derails me and it’s hours of memory lane-ing. 

What direction I am going in depends on my current goal. I left most of my Master’s on a shelf because I was ill-prepared to be successful in early jobs, got frustrated, got po’d, and left. Eventually, retail got to me, my gf helped point me in the right direction, and here we are.

I also get lost a lot due to not paying attention. Oh, the symbolism! 

I was taking a Yoga class eons ago, and someone said, “ya know, you should be teaching.” So, a short (ha ha) year later, I signed up for YTT – Yoga Teacher Training. (This was not before dabbling in Yoga Therapy, but I’ma save *that* for the book!) 

On the sun:

What orients me is having a goal. Whether it’s saving money to take more yoga training, studying world language to pass yet another test, or run the Turkey Trot, my compass is that goal that’s been set. 

On feet and head:

Stand on your own two feet. You don’t have a leg to stand on. Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars. Do you follow your heart but take your brain with? Get those feet into the Earth – grass, dirt, sand, whatever’s not man-made. 

That compass…

While we may say some people’s moral compasses have been demagnetized, how do we find True North? I like to read, and have discussions with friends. I need to get back on my mat to attend to my practice. I re-started my gratitude journal. (Anal-retentive pitta-type Aries says I must “make up” the difference from when I wasn’t doing ot, so who’s got 108 things they’re grateful for and can list them….uh, now?)

Thanks for reading. Just a note: this is really, super, extra stream-of-conscious today, but a) it’s the 2nd one since I’m “behind,” and b) it’s nearly 9pm, and those who know me IRL know that after 8pm all bets are off & I’m pretty useless. To save you all, though, I didn’t say 2 instead of b to be funny…sometimes knowing the joke is there is enough…the bar is low enough. This was barely edited, although it was reread a few times. 

If this resonated with you, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email. Until our mats unfurl again, be well.

-M

“We moonwalk the foxtrot & polka the salsa,” Spice up Your Life, Matt Rowe, Richard Stannard, and the Spice Girls

Besides being super-catchy, and getting lots of air play throughout the 90s, this group’s songs were anthems for girls (and humans) everywhere. While Girl Power! as a battle cry might not have aged well into 2020, its heart is in the right place. Stand in your own power, with your friends beside you for support. Who doesn’t want to “spice up” their life? Among my personal faves: “We’ve always got each other.” “The lady is a vamp, she’s a vixen not a tramp.” “…’cuz I don’t care about the money, don’t be wastin’ my time.” 

Not all pop songs are silly bubble-gum drivel. By the same token, who cares if they are? Depth is in the eye of the beer holder…uh, the beholder. (Upcoming post: misheard lyrics that might actually be even better than the originals.) We need burger-flippers AND CEOs. We need things to veg out to, as well as things to make us think. I devour books whole, and usually find myself alternating light with heavy, and will read nearly anything I can get my hands on. 

When I first heard the song “Spice up Your Life,” which feels like 100 years ago, it made me tap my toes & sing along. But I can’t not hear the lyrics, like really hear them, and connect them to my life, and my Yoga. 

We are living through some confusing, confounding, changing times. Here’s what struck me today. There’s a medium-sized bush-tree-type thing between the chimney and garage. In Winter it’s nekkid, branches reaching in all directions. It looks spindly and not quite happy. In Spring, it’s full of yuuuuuge white flowers. In Summer, it’s green as could be. In Fall, it’s losing its leaves which have turned red. So far, so normal. It’s going through its cycle, as it no doubt has been for forever. However, there are fuzzy buds on it (it looks like a pussywillow’s but I really don’t know what it is.) Perhaps it’s the unseasonable temps, but perhaps it’s something more. The tree doesn’t know what it’s supposed to be doing. Ha! Who does? 

The quote for me means that it’s time to flip things on their head, metaphorically. Why not moonwalk the foxtrot? Let’s polka the salsa. Perhaps there’s nothing new under the sun, but we can sure “spice up” our lives! It is up to us to figure out who we are as we move through life. As Dolly Parton says, “figure out who you are and do it on purpose.” Everyone will put their own spin on things to a certain extent. 

Svadhyaya, or self-study in Sanskrit, is an on-going process. I know I feel better when my mat gets rolled out on a regular basis, whether for asana practice (physical postures,) or meditation. My practices allow me to go inside, and be alone with my thoughts. Sometimes, though, they allow me to leave my brain at the door, and just move and feel. 

I like my everything bagels with strawberry cream cheese, and my raisin bagels with veggie. I talk, I listen, I read, I feel, I debate, I sing, I me

Try this experiment: close your eyes. Picture a tree swing, something most suburbanites are familiar with. Don’t think about it too much, just whatever image pops in your head. Which one are you? Did you moonwalk the foxtrot? Did you polka the salsa? There is no one way to be. 

Whatever image comes into your head, it’s yours. Run with it, and let’s go dancin’! 

If this resonated with you, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email. Until our mats unfurl again, be well.

-M

Salisbury ‘cuz there’s a lot at steak…

Salisbury ‘cuz there’s a lot at steak…

“You can keep my things, they’ve come to take me home,” Solisbury Hill by Peter Gabriel

You never know how much cr*p you have until you have to move it. I have moved a LOT in my day, and it does not get any easier. But, every move has been for the better, even though I might not have realized it at the time. 

Packing up all my stuff – stuffed toys, my now-defunct stereo from high school, boxes of old invoices and receipts, photo albums, and other detritus accumulated from years of not throwing stuff out – was not nearly as much fun as it sounds. There’s always the final sweep, one more box, one more cabinet to clean out, then there’s a squirrel and it’s hours later because I just *had* to pour over my middle school yearbook. One. More. Time. 

Moving out of my parent’s house made me feel like a grown-up. Moving in with a now-ex partner was neat. Of course, my clumsy self broke so many dishes his mom bought us rainbow-colored plastic tumblers. And he didn’t like my rabbit. Peace out, Cub Scout! (That relationship did not last, ‘natch.) Living above the bar with the world’s best burgers hands down, off campus, with the 80-degree-bedroom roommate who couldn’t hold a job was quite an experience.  Living “in the City” was something we all should experience at some point in our lives. Bagels and coffee a block away in one direction, the highway upstate (big, juicy wink for those who know me) in another. Too many other places to enumerate on…

Each experience allowed me to shed another layer, and to learn from my mistakes. This way, there is a strike in each category, and room to make new mistakes. Each move meant more boxes since there was…so. Much. Stuff. It’s hard to let go. (See literally every other post so far.)

Getting back to the matter at hand, though. The above-mentioned song really speaks to me. At first, the song says, “son, grab your things, I’ve come to take you home.” Maybe it means stop playing around, quit being silly, having struck out on your own, and come back to us. The subtext: you’re not ready to be in the real world. Still, it is rather infantilizing, *I* have come to take *you* home. The dad (I assume, but we all know what happens when you assume) is intimating he is there to collect a ne’er-do-well, immature kid after playtime. Grab your toys & back to your room.

Then again, maybe it’s a comfort thing. Grab your things, it’s time to come home where you’re loved and cared for. Someone will wash your clothes, and feed you. 

Eventually, the story and lyrics progress to the quote: “you can keep my things.” For me, the implication is that the main character has shed the trappings of the material world, and can go home with a capital H. This is Brahman, “the highest Universal Principle, the Ultimate Reality in the universe…the pervasive, infinite, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes.” The ubiquitous Wikipedia. 

We become reabsorbed into the Universe, to be at one with everything. We’ll be back, though, in some for or another.

When we finally shirk this mortal coil (thanks, Dad, for the colorful phrasing,) where do we go? Where’s home? Don’t look at me! I believe we come back in some form – energy, reincarnation, fill-in-the-blank. The so-called meat tube gets recycled and we are born anew. Sometimes while still here on Earth, in this lifetime, sometimes perhaps in the next. 

If this resonated with you, please feel free to comment below or drop me an email. Until our mats unfurl again, be well.

-M

PS I love puns. There, I said it. (That’s for the grammarians telling me about my malapropisms up top.)