Wednesday, September 26, 2012


sophie asked us to
embrace our imperfection.
as i stiffly bent into something vaguely resembling a reverse triangle, i saw the word in my mind. imperfect. break it down. i'm perfect. it made me smile. it's exactly what she was saying. we are perfect in our imperfection. just the kind of thing i love to hear. especially when i'm struggling through a class as i was tonight. it's not that i'm not flexible, it's just that i'm not practicing. the very sound of that makes me a bit queasy because i don't want to have a practice. i don't want to practice anything. but i find, i am finding, i need to. that i will have to let go of my reluctance and practice. something. anything. the thing that makes my heart sing. i even contemplated zazen this morning. did i do it, no, of course not. but i did think about it.
there was a season of my life when i had something of a push in that direction. meditation. yoga. the whole bit. i did do more yoga. i even meditated some. but i found the dogma, though it was beautiful dogma, was still just dogma to me. it made me angry that i had to conform to something like that. so i stopped. mind you, this was a time when i had said,
if i'm to do zazen, i will just wake up and do it.
i didn't want to do it for any one, or any particular reason. i just wanted to know if it was what i was supposed to be doing with my life. yes, i'm this tedious, always.
so wake up i did. sit. i did. 45 minutes each morning for about a week, but then i got really mad because i felt like i was conforming to something that was not sincerely mine. there is only rebellion in me sometimes. i can't help it. sometimes i will walk away from the very thing i need, just to prove i don't need it. to my own peril, of course. but i do it anyway.
i find myself in this position in my life where no one is demanding, cajoling, or even inviting me to do zazen. and i want to do it. that is what i needed. that is the key that i sought before. not that wants or needs are my guide, but i had to hear it from some deep in the belly place, and not just make that shit up. i couldn't tell if i was enthusiastic for company or for zazen itself. to me, it looked like just another thing i was willing to go along with.
today, in the absence of that kind of company. in the barren fruitfulness that is my life, i find myself searching for the thing that i need now. zazen.
and after sophie twisted us into knots, and we ended up legs folded into some semblance of lotus postion, arms resting at heart center, quiet at the end of class sophie reminds us,
this is what yoga is for. so we can meditate without pain. so we can sit without pain.
and i wished, i could have sat there longer. the desire in me to sit. to be still. to meditate is stirring. and i'm grateful. grateful that it is not some show. something to impress. something that anyone will actually even notice, but that i get to be quiet and still for just a moment and experience peace.


before i dash off to sophie's class, i thought i'd take a minute to think out loud, and hope i can learn to let myself celebrate this place in life i find myself.
as i awoke, slowly on monday, that is, after i ran my daughter to school at 7:30am, and tucked myself back into bed for a little lingering snooze, i decided to just let myself laze about. there was no one to wait on today. no breakfast to cook, no coffee to make, unless of course i wanted some. mind you, this gives me great pleasure, to feed those i love (especially when they don't complain). but it is also wonderful to not have to do anything for anyone.
i slept the morning away, then roused myself for a cup of coffee and a movie. i found young goerthe in love to be just what i needed. something about the power of poetry. something about believing in yourself when it seems a pipe dream. when the odds are against you. when you are your own hell. i have known these places. lived in them. and now i find myself realizing dreams i had not thought would come to me now. but i am so grateful they have.
as i lingered in bed, tending to little other than poetry, a friend and i write poems together and monday we wrote at least three poems and finished a couple others. it was a very productive day creatively. but i found myself having to say out loud,
it is time for you to rest. you deserve to relax and have a day off.
making my way to this place in my life was exhausting. i tell my students this often, i understand. i was there. i know how it can be one mindnumbing deadline after the other, punctuated by work and family. forget about a social life. everything must wait, but it never seems to want to.
i am learning now, that everything, indeed can and will wait. that i can be in a moment of leisure. that i can trust in the goodness of people. that i can believe in love. i am in fact deserving of all this beauty. i have only just come to understand that fact and embrace it.

Monday, September 24, 2012


remember not to instill your fears in your child.
this is something that comes to mind often. i have labored to raise a true artist. and as she draws ever closer to her field, her calling, i watch and hope she finds the road she will travel. the road that will bring her joy.
it is sometimes easier, i'm sure, to project your fears outward, than to stare them down. i try to own mine. to invite them in for tea. fears have purpose, i believe. they are some incarnation of what we want, what we've known, what we hope will not limit us. fears are just an amalgam of the stuff we want to scrape off our shoe, but can't.
mind you, i lean into the wind on this one. i pull my coat up tight around my neck and go forward. i appreciate those who push through their fears, too. and sometimes, along the way, i understand, briefly who i am. what i am to do. and the fears dissipate for that one hot second after a rain, when everything is washed clean and the steam filters up through the sunlit sky. and i understand it all.
so when fear comes calling, like my kitten turned cat, at five am, trying with all her messiahlike powers to get lazarusme out of bed, but there i lay, ignoring even her mighty power. i know that this is how it must be. she will wait, lurking outside the door until i emerge, and dust off my eyes. breaking through the veil and setting down her dry hardwon meal. she will pick at it and wander off, to pester another day.
i do not entirely think it is satiation she ever wants. or fear for that matter, it is not me crumpled in a heap that is the aim of fear, just a byproduct. what i'm coming to believe is that my powers of concentration and my ability to downright ignore that which is pestering me, fear and cats alike, is just the state of this life. the name and face may change. mine, fear's, the cat's. but it's the same story.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


sophie is from france. that is why all her words sound like they have rs and i have trouble sometimes making out what she's saying. but, i have come to regard her with the enthusiasm of a devotee following a guru. i realize this afresh after seeing her tonight for the first time in a couple months.
it's not that i want to like anyone that much, believe me. i'd rather be my own little island, at least in my mind. but when i find someone who exudes such calm, who seems to be the center of the universe, it is hard for me to miss any opportunity to experience that.
mind you, i'm not a hard core yoga person. i just do it because my back locks up like rusty old rotars if i don't. even tonight, before class, i could feel myself locking down into some semblance of vetebral gridlock. not good.
so, i arrive early, and am met with a sensory assault the likes of which i no longer subject myself to. the aerobics or boot camp guy has the overenthusiastic music cranked up to ear splitting level and is hollering over it at the attendees of his class. why these people don't just turn the tunes down and ratchet down their voices accordingly, i don't know. but i guess, some people need a good solid yelling at on a regular basis makes them feel motivated or something. personally, it drives me away.
of course i peeked in the class to see who the hell it was yelling so loud and making such a racket, mostly so i could avoid that class and instructor at all costs. but then i retreated to a window nearby and curled up to look out.
that is, until sophie walks in. tall and tan, freshly back from france. hesitant in her english, which, no one really cares if she can't come up with the word bellows on her own. it's just her presence that draws us, or at least me, i'm sure. she wanders in like some freshly emerged goddess and stands there smiling, making small talk with the group of women who have gathered.
of course, i'm going over to the group to hear what she has to say. something about her grandchildren. and i just stand there smiling. so good, so infinitely good to have her back, i cannot tell you.
the subs were decent. hell, one of them was maria. and i love maria. but maria ain't sophie. nobody is sophie. and while i was lamenting my schedule having changed so i will miss sophie's thursday morning class, she tells me tonight before i leave that she will be teaching two new classes both of which fall on days i'm available.
but you have to pay for them,
she says.
of course, i don't care about that. to have three hours of yoga a week with sophie is worth any price. truly. and while tonight i did struggle to figure out what poses she wanted us in, i left feeling refreshed, alive, grateful. and that is why i do yoga. that is why i attend whatever classes with sophie i can. she has this way of guiding me without even trying. some people have that about them. i've never been much of a follower. i'm not a good student in many ways, for many reasons. but sophie just leads, and i trust her. i want to see where she will take me next.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

where were you

it seems this season, this time of being is ripening into something magnificent. there is only one thing required, the one that that has always and only been required. presence.
only now i have found the one who can look back. and see me, clearly.
it is not without much surprise i embrace this part of the journey. it is not without many memories wafting by, and i breathe them in, one last time. as i exhale the good, the bad, what was, what i wanted, what will never be, i savor the sweetness of what is. what has come to me. and i am grateful.
grateful for this life. these moments of tenderness. this understanding.
they are, without a doubt, worth all that had to come before.
this unfamiliar eagerness to begin a journey hand in hand, replaces the desire for one to take my hand. and now walk with me. into the sunset, to linger with me in the predawn hours, and to laugh as often as we can.
it has been a long time coming.
i am glad it's here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


what is your dream and why do we have them.
is it some sick, twisted plot of an uncaring god, that we dream the unattainable. reach for the unreachable. and fail. always fail.
or do dreams serve a purpose.
i don't understand how it works. don't pretend to even know the inner reaches of my own mind. but i do know, i have dreams. big dreams. sometimes, they weigh on me, so heavily. i can hardly catch a breath.
sometimes i see the dreams of others, and the slumped shoulders of unfullfillment and wish, just wish i could make them all come true.
but i cannot.
if i stop there, hopeless in my singularity, there really is no point in waking up day after day. if i let the odds of my big dreams actually coming to fruition stop me, then i'd rather not be alive. for that is what fuels my heart. my soul.
the idea that my dreams, and yours, can come true. that is what i wake up each morning to see. do i have unclouded sight. do i get lost along the way. am i certain of the outcome at all times. no and yes as the case may be. i am fraught with humanity, just like you. i have only twenty four hours. i have only one heart to give. i have only one short span of years to live these dreams. or die trying.
i'm by nature, a feeling creature. i don't spend a lot of time on logic. i don't wrack my brain for outcomes. i just move forward by instinct, guided by some inner pull. turn here, look there. believe in this dream. and i do. to the best of my ability, i follow the whisper.
sometimes i find myself bloodied and bruised lying in a heap on the floor. other times, i can't contain my joy. and then there are days when i'm just trying to breathe in and breathe out. dreams aside, living must get done. bills paid. who knows how it works and why. i don't understand any of it. i really try not to bend my mind into philosophical pretzels.
what have i to show for this feeling sense. for this moving forward on a seemingly undirected path. on paper, not much. but i will tell you this, i have never known freedom like i know it now. i have never known myself, as i do now. i can be compassionate with myself and others, because i understand darkness, not because i have avoided it. i look into the abyss that is my soul at times, and i do not look away. it is part of me. i am grateful for it. the presence of darkness makes the presence of light so much more magnificent. i cannot apologize for it. nor do i try. i just keep trusting. that which needs to happen, does. i believe this. it is how i live my life. moving from trust to trust. following the whisper. believing the dream. i will see it come to pass in my lifetime. and my daughter, she will be free too, if i can help it.

disturb the waters

i have spent a great deal of time this summer immersed. whether at the beach, or in a river, i have kept myself in my element on a regular basis.
this sunday while tubing down the delaware, i decided to take off a shirt, since the clouds had disbursed and i was nice and toasty. i had been in and out of the water a lot by that point, my tube had no mesh seat, as it were. which was to my liking, i could just lift up my legs and arms and disappear into the murky waters.
mind you, this is where i belong, in the water, not on the water. i didn't ever think that anything bad would, or could, happen. so when my arms got stuck behind my back and i'm sitting in a tube floating, there is no option for me other than lifting my legs and dropping into the delaware.
of course, dear reader, i'm sure you know, what i discovered. one cannot swim with one's arms behind one's back. my bad. not only was the shirt behind my back but at some point in my descent into the depths, it covered my face completely. so when i emerged, i was looking through a shirt at the filtered light of day and kicking my feet lightly, with my arms behind my back. the shirt is now houdini's straight jacket, or might as well have been, and i am in the water.
a couple things crossed my mind at this point, as i see the tubes floating before me and i am trying to decide what to do. first, i realize, i just have to breathe. there is nothing impeding my breathing. just a shirt covering my head and binding my arms. my legs are free, i'm still kicking, as they say, so i just breathe. and in my typical stubborn way, refuse to die.
my options are pretty limited at this point, as you can imagine. honestly, i'm not sure how the shirt came off, i think i went back under the water to get out of the shirt, which was pretty tight on my face, but it was the only real option i had. when i did that, it gave a little slack on my arms which i was able to wriggle free in the water.
at this point, my tubing buddies are saying,
are you okay?
i am still wrestling in the water, but manage to fling the shirt up and off, and hook an arm around the tube. i think the first words i uttered were,
that was really dumb!
but here i am, still kicking. still planning on throwing myself in the atlantic tomorrow, provided it is not too cold yet. i hope it is not. i love the water. i need the water. the winter is tough for me. but i take to salted baths.
if you have never gone tubing down the delaware, it is the most luxuriously peaceful venture ever. i highly recommend it. be sure, if you're not a strong swimmer, you wear a life vest, some parts are deep, and if you're a dork like me and throw yourself in hampered, it might just save your life.