Over the past five years, the question I’ve been asked the most (second only to “How many tattoos do you have?”) has been, “Have you ever tried yoga?”
The question was coming at me from so many directions that I couldn’t help but think that someone was trying to tell me something. The more synchronistic it became, the more annoyed I got.
I was sleeved. I listen to 60s garage rock. I do wardrobe, bartend part-time and drive a vintage falcon. What would make you think I’ve tried yoga?
The months leading up to the beginning of my yoga practice were grim to say the least. I had moved back to Los Angeles from Atlanta after a divorce. I couldn’t find steady work, even with eight years experience in one field and 15 years in the other. My cat was staying in the home of a woman I barely knew and didn’t particularly trust, and I was staying on a friend’s couch. I was more than thrilled to be a smoker and my favorite food group was cheese. (The latter still applies.)
My transitional phase had become a transitional rut, and I had doubts about my decision to come back to Los Angeles. I was convinced that I had made a huge mistake and that bartending in the dirty south until mustaches went back out of style was my destiny. There was something missing in me—a desire to change—and I was becoming desperate.
What I’ve not mentioned is that the couch I was staying on belonged to my best friend, who happened to be a yoga instructor. More synchronicity?
I clearly had the time for a new hobby. I also should drop that that I’m a perfectionist to a fault. Ironic, yet true and it kept me from trying new things: yoga, for example.
I had to be perfect out of the gate. I was confident in many areas of my life, but anything that could be considered sport-ish? Not so much in that area. I think it’s because I had always been shy, thin, and got more grief growing up than I care to admit. I typically stayed away from rigorous exercise. Yoga wasn’t rigorous exercise. It was then that I wondered why I had been so resistant. It was only stretching. Right?
(I will also tell you that I had a “borderline new age disorder,” which to me was a fate worse than death. It meant that I liked candles and I could meditate for 20 seconds. But you wouldn’t catch me dead near incense. I would have lit someone on fire if I had caught a scent of patchouli on them. I was convinced that yoga was done by people who wore tie dye and thought black should never be worn outside of a funeral.)
As it turns out, yoga isn’t just for hippies, nor is it for lightweights.
It’s been two years since I begrudgingly began my yoga practice in my best friend’s living room. My life has been slowly changing from the inside out, although you’d expect a physical act to do the reverse. My body tone and shape has changed completely none the less.
I cried my first few times on the mat. Getting into my body, and into my breath, brought me to tears. To hide my embarrassment of having a feeling, I immediately snapped at my teacher…which I suspect is more inappropriate than zen appropriate.
I wasn’t about to paint an upside down cross on my yoga mat, but you understand. I was forewarned that it might kick up feelings, and still I kept going, breaking through the fear of not being perfect and doing it anyway. Like many, I am so easily frustrated and hard on myself, but there is no room for judgment on the mat, as my teacher tells me.
Laugh at myself when I’m screaming The Ramones out of my car window?
Judge my horrifying and quite frankly, humiliating decision of my first tattoo being a tramp stamp?
That should be judged twice just on principal alone.
Clearly I’m not perfect at yoga or at life…it’s called being human…but the days that I can challenge myself and hold poses that used to seem not only impossible but terrifying, have been incredible. There have since been some struggles and some unrelated injuries but I keep trying.
I try to remind myself constantly that it is only yoga, only movements (movements on so many levels for me, not just physical), and allow myself the room to grow, to continue to become stronger, to learn about myself, and I’ve found it infiltrating other areas of my world.
It’s shown me that I can still learn, even when I don’t want to, that I am still teachable, even though I give my teacher shit, and that I can achieve things that may not seem within reach. It’s taught me that yoga isn’t specific to Berkeley or Krishnas with no shoes.
Most importantly, it has taught me that when I can clear my mind and be present, I am able to get out of my own way. In that state everything is possible.
Last night I was inspired to speak, in the ways that I know how. I was reminded what it means to be a writer. I was reminded of who we actually are. I was reminded that we have no fear where a blank page is concerned. Give me scraps, canvas, bar napkins…I will write on your wall if I’m left with enough chalk.
We are driven by our passion…an innate need to tell a story. To touch someone, move them, help them….drive them. I see in words, in punctuation, in quotes.I see in script and type. I see stories everywhere I look. My eyes widen like a child’s…and it was during my childhood that I first wanted a muse. I don’t want to kill the mood, but I was watching Xanudu.
I even dream in stories; bright beautiful full stories. Last night I was reminded of this one…It woke me out of a deep sleep one night. I immediately grabbed the nearest tool, which happened to be eyeliner. It is a description of a lifetime with a man……My dream was set in a small town in Italy in the 1700’s. He was a painter, she was his muse.
It seemed easier then, you know, hidden away in the hills of our place.
“You are my muse”, he said.
“You are my heart”, she whispered.
Hours and hours, days upon days buried under pain and the promise of betrayal, I watched him work. Longing for our worlds to intertwine beyond the canvas and the sunset.
I do not remember the past clearly but as I woke this morning my eyes opened for the first time. Antiqued shards of pain wiped away as I thought of you. ….again.
“You empower me”, he said.
“You heal me”, she whispered.
To no longer battle time….It is infinate freedom. It is infinate spirit. Mirrors form a true reflection and I catch a glimpse of hope. Your hand brushes against mine and I remember. Your gaze locks mine and I feel. Your lips touch my mouth and I realize…you have always been my beloved.
I had challenges artistically when I was younger. My mother and father were not a fan of my artistic (endeavors? desires? need? ). It wasn’t becuase they did not support me. They are old school. They believe in tangible skills. Degrees. Paper proof. They could not understand my need to create.
I went down every avenue. Acting, fashion, painting, every medium was a new adventure. I used to wrap myself in bath sheets when I was seven and parade my latest design for my mom. I couldn’t stop it, even then. It was a drive I was unable to control.
They encouraged me, but I knew they wanted more….perhaps an interest in math? That remained their hope for me, until I wrote. I can still remember my mom telling me that she cried every time I gave her a birthday card or anniversary card. She would always say You write so beautifully. You should write for Hallmark. It still makes me smile.
We, as artists, know the power of words, and that power is, ironically, the only thing that ever slows me down. It scares me ever so slightly. That and perhaps my muse takes too many smoke breaks. My muse is not that robey Grecian chick on roller skates. They are my fellow writers, my soul mates, the man who cracks my armor. The ones who will listen to me vent and laugh, cry. They watch me fear and love unconditionally.
I’m sure you’re wondering why this power frightens me? It should be cherished. Shouldn’t it? It is because words can be misconstrued, twisted into ugly horrible things. They can cause the kind of pain that will cut your heart open. I cannot think and write at the same time. I must relinquish my thoughts and just keep going. If I say this will I hurt you? If I say this will you mistake it for opening my soul? Will my true self frighten you? Every word I type is vulnerable. Everything I write is a piece of me.
Perhaps I’ve offended some, certainly not intended in a hurtful or cruel manner, but every writer likes a good bout of controversy every now and again.
I am a writer. I am a creator. Some days I create pure shit. This is all a process. I don’t know if you are an artist, if you have all of our muses hidden in your closet or in a roller rink somewhere…. if you do please let them out (if only for coffee and some light conversation).
I do know this: As artists the only wrong we can do is to judge ourselves. We all have our uniqueness, qualities unlike any other. We all share a passion. So pick up your tool, your paint brush, pen, camera, your guitar with the missing e string. Get your hands dirty. Resist nothing.
Love each other, support one another and find your muse in everyone.
Once in a blue moon we can get caught up in a relationship that we perceive to be fulfilling. Ever realized after taking a step back that it was a shit storm?
It never hits you at first. Why? Because you think you’re in a relationship with Prince Charming. Turns out he is nothing more than a charmer. If you aren’t sure what I mean he’s the guy who talks a good game. He can talk up a storm. Words words words. Problem is, words can’t carry a relationship.
Charming: He’s well spoken.
He opens your door.
He wants to take you and your mother to dinner.
Charmer: He’s well spoken with multiple women.
When he’s opening your door he’s distracting you to check out her ass.
He wants to sleep with your sister.
Once upon a few years ago I was in a very lame yet cosmopolitan magazine situation. He called it a relationship, but only to me.
What can I say? He was a sweet talker. I had been through the ringer and he spotted that a mile away. I was vulnerable and naive. I have fortunately grown miles away from that darkness but growth did not come without lessons that hit me over the head with a 2 x 4.
He wasn’t entirely at fault. I was listening to his words and not looking at his actions.
I learned a lot from that so called relationship. I learned that words aren’t actions.
He tells you he loves you but he won’t acknowledge that you are in a relationship. He never follows through and he always has an excuse, which usually consists of more words. You’d think by now I would hate words more than anything else, yet here I am writing.
Buying me stilettos cannot make up for not being around. (They’d have to be really great stilettos…I’m talking Christian Louboutin great.) There is no price tag for being present- pun seriously not intended.
I’ll take an authentic man who makes an honest living and is there when I need him over cash and prizes any day. I don’t give a twirly fuck how much money you have. Showing off is not showing up. That was my second lesson.
I also learned where I draw the line in the name of “love”. One night, over dinner, the Charmer strikes up a conversation which very quickly cut to – “How would you feel about an open relationship?” I couldn’t believe the words were coming out of his mouth- dude are you serious?? No warning, just bam! He may as well have said, “I’m done”.
No judgment. If you want to have an orgy, knock your socks off. Throw in bacon grease and firecrackers if that works for you. Go nuts. All I could say was, “Um….I’m gonna go with No.”
I knew I couldn’t wouldn’t compromise my beliefs to stay with him. He did me the biggest favor he could have done for me. At that moment, I saw things clearly and I saw him clearly. His response: “I guess we aren’t compatible.” Clearly. That was my third lesson.
In case you’re wondering, his desire for an open relationship, was that so he didn’t have to hide that he was already cheating, which I found out post mortem, illuminating my point that he was not charming at all. He was a charmer. Maybe not all charmers cheat, but this one did.
Lessons in love aren’t always easy to take. They can be gentle to be sure, but for me they usually come in the form of bone cutting-jump on the cross-shock to my system-holy shit snacks-fuck my life experiences.
I walked away from that relationship, walked back, walked away, walked back, walked away and slammed the door. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of struggle. I knew that we had a connection, I couldn’t have been more certain of that. You see, there were probably tons of things I could have or perhaps should have done differently in that relationship. I’m sure I could have second guessed myself all day long, but none of that needs to go on paper.
For the longest time I assumed that having a connection, especially one that I thought to be karmic, meant that it was supposed to work.
I didn’t understand that perhaps karma needs to be worked out by ourselves, for ourselves. That was my biggest lesson of all.
Having karma doesn’t mean that we are soul mates. Please don’t confuse the two. I do believe that every relationship, every connection, presents us with opportunities to either learn or teach. Maybe, just maybe our lessons aren’t in the way we behave in our relationship, maybe the lessons are in how we behave when it’s over.
estranged thoughts make up for the ones that made you hurt. we both know, i can never show what you’ve done…..what you’ve done for my pathetic lovely life. i’m not suggesting i don’t have the nerve to tell you but….
i would prefer elective surgery to the knowledge of your difference. if i write it down i can’t pull out the dent you made.
i dream of words to move you as my voice disturbs your rotting heart. i just dont want my pretty falling out.
you understand none of this is sane. and i don’t plan to ever listen well…but even the most delicate whore has flaws. you make the scars less visible. you make me feel less dirty than the day before.
and i’d prefer elective surgey to the knowledge of your difference. if i write it down i can’t pull out the dent you made…. .
i can’t pull out the dent you made……
Thank you Facebook for finally catching on. I was over posts of food pictures the first time I saw one. I’d much prefer the use of media to be positive. Perhaps if we all focused on posting things that are of substance, we might actually be the change we want to see in the world. Instead of hitting on people you knew ten years ago or sharing the horrors, we can collectively share some joy.
I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised that social media would take a hot minute to catch on to the happy posts. It took me years to learn that expressing gratitude can make such a huge difference in me, my life and the world.
Did I always have things to be grateful for? Sure did.
Was I happy? Yes.
Did I always express them? No.
My prayers were always a laundry list of wants. Every day was like a wish list. (I didn’t actually pray every day.) Then there were the bargaining prayers: God if you give me ______ I will never ______. Or I’ll change this if you ________(fill in the blank).
What was I thinking?
I was thinking I was 17 and I wanted a BMW. That’s what. I wondered why I still felt empty inside. I’m grateful today for my awareness—I’m grateful for much than I can type in 900 words.
Trying to find something to be grateful for every day is something I’ve found indispensable to me. I wonder what would happen if everyone did this every day?
Here’s what a daily list does for me…and I’ve been doing it for over 20 years.
It allows a shift in my perception. It allows me to see the good in things—and when I focus on the good how can I manifest the bad?
I suppose it could happen but since I’m not dabbling in black magic or conjuring demons I’m going to with it won’t.
My life isn’t perfect. It has it’s ups and downs…financial struggles…financial gains…matters of the heart happen…then don’t happen…then happen again. I have been through health issues, loss, and traumas.
I’ve been fortunate to overcome them.
I was a female Johnny Cash—I had the dress in black thing down. My life was four seconds away from becoming a bad country song. I was so negative; now, I see it in others. I see it in friend’s faces. I see it on my Facebook feed. I see the doubt, worry, concern. Some fears are realistic and need to be addressed but those aren’t the ones I mean. I’m talking about the tiny speck of a fear that can snowball out of control until you feel paralyzed.
I don’t like the snow. I don’t want to build a snow fort. And although I don’t have a fireplace, I do have heat and I’m thankful for that.
I still have fear, I still have doubts—believe me. Earlier today, I was forced to say an out loud, on the spot gratitude list while driving. (Yes, I was indeed talking to myself in the car like Suzy Banana Cakes.) The list allowed me to take a deep breath and stay away from that fucking snowball.
Ironically, this weekend will be the coldest we have had thus far.
Finding things to be grateful for every day has given me the gift of leaning towards faith—well, not every moment—but a really good part of the time. Every so often I need a tiny kick in the shin over to get me to cross that invisible line I’ve drawn between fear and faith. As I said, negative Nancy. Totally present and waiting for misery. That was my M.O.
I am able now, when something is removed from my life, to see a bit of the bigger picture. Instead of mourning or grieving that thing that was removed, I see hope and potential. I see opportunity. Sometimes this process involves meditation. Other times it involves chocolate and dancing alone in my living room with a paper towel roll as a microphone. (Don’t judge.)
At the end of it all, I get to see the universe pushing me to take a chance instead of wondering why I am being punished.
I am no spiritual leader—I’m just a woman trying to make it through this weird, crazy and blessed life. I battle every day with my demons. When I stay in gratitude, this bizzare phenomenon that I choose to call faith, the fight can be won.
I challenge you to find five things to be grateful for.
They don’t have to be huge. As I said, it’s about perspective. Post them here in the comments if you want—I’d honestly love to see a thread of pure appreciation. How cool would that be?
I’ll throw you five of mine, vulnerability and all:
I’m grateful that my father is cancer-free and that I get to be his daughter.
I’m grateful that I no longer live by my intentions.
I’m grateful that even on days that terrify me, I can still muster up some sort of faith.
I’m grateful that I have a place to share my experience…that every so often, I’m left a comment that my words have helped someone.
I’m grateful for my best friend; for her support, her strength, and for being there for me for the past 18 years.
My hope for you is that you find that comfort in thankfulness and live in that state of being as often as you can.