Friday, October 30, 2015


Adele is killing me.

You might not know this about me, but everything I write has a soundtrack. I know visual artists who do this, and I supposed I used to do it when I was drawing and painting. When I'm working on a piece, there is usually a song on repeat either in my mind or in my ears.

My medium has shifted, and so has the soundtrack.

The sentiment is the same.

Tonight, Adele is killing me.

Does it hurt you, too? Do other people feel this way? I wonder.

I see people in this coming-and-going orbit, people who seem happy to be where they are in relationship to the sun, who are blissfully unaware of their contrails of space dust. And others who are dragged along in the mess of debris, too bound up by love or addiction to break free from the gravity.

Sometimes I feel like that comet - bright, fast moving. Dragging lots of tiny, swirling memories. Outrunning the emotions that are moving a million miles an hour, chasing me down.

And sometimes, I'm the dust.

Pulled in a direction I'd rather not go, retracing a path that isn't mine. Too timid or fearful to break from the pack and fall out of orbit.

Tonight, I can't tell who is in control. Who is piloting this alien ship.

But I know who is singing.

Tonight, Adele is killing me.


Last night I had an "episode." Not like the West Wing landed on my couch, but more like I had a convulsive writhing, thing somewhere between my head and my heart.

I spend so much time overwhelmed. There is a lot to do. I have bills to pay and mysterious water leaks to resolve, people to pray for and a Squash Situation in my refrigerator. My 1,000 brilliant ideas for inventions and books will eventually need to escape from my brain, and oh - there's Christmas shopping to be done.

You know that I am writing a book right now. It's actually a pretty awful and gruesome process - not entirely unlike giving birth. Sure it's pretty in the end, if you take a few well-placed, well-timed black and white stills, but in the youtube video you can hear some disquieting animal sounds.

I have written a lot. Some of the better pieces have strong titles, like Million Dollar Baby, while others are in documents cleverly titled "Untitled2" or "writing bits" or "disorganized ideas." In my file "unpublished" I have 50 of these beauties, while the file titled "Name of my Book" has one big ol' file in it that meanders from story to story.

This is overwhelming. As is my intense desire to eat anything covered in cream cheese icing, including my computer.

(this is why people make microwave cakes in mugs)

Women do amazing things when someone is in labor. They boil water. They light candles. They deflect inlaws and wrangle wayward cats. They prepare food.

They hold space.

I put out a plea on the FB, because I believe whole-heartedly that Facebook is really a forum for modern prayer, and lots of my women friends answered: how can I help? What can I do?

These are wise women.

I spoke about holding space yesterday - an idea that is mostly lost on us as we lop memes at one another. Quotes which may (or may not) have been spoken or written by the proposed author superimposed on peaceful scenes of running water or sunsets or someone calmly appearing to meditate near running water or sunsets.

This is not holding space. This is memeing, which, for the purposes of this post, is here-to-for a word. Memeing is the cousin of should-ing and the step-sister of shaming. It requires assumptions. And I'm so grateful that the women who are my friends do not thoughtlessly attempt to solve my myriad problems with a 400x400 pixel prayer-bit re-hashed and re-written and (wrongfully) attributed to Buddha or Dr. Wayne Dyer.

Acknowledge. Ask a question. Let me come to my own answer.

(or bring me cake).

The Desert (again)

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our own discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled.

I wrote this awhile ago... years ago, when I first started working on The Desert curriculum. I stumbled on it again tonight, while re-reading theflotsam in my dropbox.

(Maybe it's time to start again)?

"Desert sand is unlike beach sand. On the beach, if you dig a few inches below the surface, your toes hit cool sand, sheltered from the sun. Smooth sea glass floats to the surface, and signs of life and death surround each step. In the desert, the sand is baked into hot slabs. Dry grasses poke towards the sky and cactus defend the little moisture they have found. Cracks crumble. Nothing moves. Where the ocean breathes rhythmically, the desert holds her breath.

Everyone spends time in the desert. You find yourself there, one day, awake and lost. Each day in the desert unwanted burdens and extra weight fall off. As it is said, “In learning, every day a new thing is added. In the practice of the Tao, every day, something is removed.” Films of people lost in the desert show them removing items that no longer serve as they’re no longer headed where they had planned. Eventually, everything falls away and they emerge a new person, or die trying.

Life has a desert, and we try desperately to stay away from it. We board the "education train" as children, and soon learn that if we get off of the mainline train, that we might step right into the heart of the desert. So we remain in the safety of the train car, unnumbered, with an unending line of cars both ahead and behind. 

We go to college, we go to graduate or medical school, and we get married and buy a house in the suburbs. When we wake one day, unexpectedly in the desert, we panic, we resist, and we try to go back to sleep. But once our eyes are opened, it is impossible to follow the monotonous, thoughtless steps that have kept us on the train for so long..."
desert road
LoveRoots Photography

Are you with me?

The Best

I have had the great honor and privilege of teaching at Cambio Yoga since the very beginning, way back in 2009. It felt like an honor to be invited to teach at a locally-owned studio, especially after I had been expressly un-invited to teach at a large corporate studio. Sure, I'd been teaching for years, but this was my first time teaching at a Real Studio. Before that, all I had done was teach in the fake places, like homes and elder care facilities, schools and parks. Even though I thought a donation-based studio would probably fold in three months, I felt like THIS was IT. The BIG TIME. When THE REAL TEACHING would begin.

No one came.

(To my first six classes)

And it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

The first week, I just did my own practice. I taught myself the class I was planning to teach the mysterious students who had apparently not received the Invitation from the Universe to come take My First Real Class.

The second week I felt a little worse, but still did the practice I had planned. I had made up an entirely new sequence, just in case the first sequence that I hadn't actually taught to anyone was bad juju.

The third week I cried.

I had thought that this opportunity would be the beginning of something grand, that people would love me and that I would instantly become famous and people would publish my book and I would have a baby and....

(trust me, it only gets more ridiculous).

The fourth week I didn't even go into the studio. I sat in my car and waited to see if anyone would pull up. And then I cried again.

The fifth week I thought about throwing in the towel. I was driving like a madwoman across town to wait for a big ol' goose egg. It was humiliating. Didn't people know that I had been teaching for awhile? That I'd been practicing for a really long while? That my EGO was on FIRE?

I walked into the studio and sat on the floor in the middle of the empty room. It smelled like fresh paint and hope a day or two past its expiration date. I sat. I stared. The mirror stared back. I dedicated that hour to my practice, to what I needed. Not a preconceived, pre-set notion of who would be there, but who was actually there.

I showed up for the student in the room.

(It just happened to be me).

I said the things I needed to hear, which is all any of us teach anyway. I moved a little, I meditated a little. I had a great practice.

And you know what? The next week, I had more students. And I never had an empty Wednesday night class again.

This year, cambio. turned six. Six years of Wednesdays, give or take a few. Six years of showing up for whoever was in the room, teaching whatever it was I needed to learn.

(How's that for ego?)

cambio. was voted "The Best" again this year... it's been many years that this has happened, and part of me has a big ol' sense of pride and part of me has a big ol' sense of WTF. I don't believe that one studio is the best, or that one teacher is the best, or that anything is really "the best." We just happened to be judged by a group of people who think that the Earth is flat, and that only one studio can be at the front of the pack.

We forgot, we forget, that yoga is a circle. The Earth is round, people, we're all in the front, and we're all tied for best.

Teach to the people in the room, wherever the room is. In studios, prisons, churches, schools, the park, or the privacy of your very own potting shed. Be the best, because - well - you are.


An instructor gives you what you ask for, what you want. A teacher gives you what you need, whether you want it or not.

A guru shoves your shadow into the spotlight, illuminates what you've tried to conceal beneath layers of makeup and social constructs. 

And they may not even know they've done it.

I question anyone who calls themself a guru, truly. We choose our teachers, they do not choose us. We stalk them by soaking up their words, their classes, their very essence and then - if we're lucky and we've done a bit of work, maybe with their help - we graduate. We transcend that relationship and move along.

Sometimes kicking and screaming, and sometimes, without a thought.

When I teach teachers, I'm often asked how people can teach things they can't do - and I like to answer out of both sides of my mouth. 

On the right: If you are instructing asana, you can easily instruct someone through the contortions of the body without asking your body to do that very thing. And earnestly, I believe that performing an asana for someone to replicate is often mistaken for "teaching" by both the teacher and the student. We believe that those whose poses look sexy or perfect or accomplished on Instagram to be great teachers, simply because they can lick their elbows or dangle precariously over the edge of a cliff wearing incredibly tight pants.

(It helps to have a tight a$s).

This is not teaching. It may be art - either performance or photography - and it has some merit in that sense. But it is not teaching, and it is not yoga.


On the left: You cannot ask a student to meditate if you do not. You cannot teach lessons you have not learned. You cannot remove darkness when you remain in shadows. Teaching involves having been there - as in, the place where the ego roams, or the sadness stews, or the desperation runs free.

This is not a double standard. Let me tell you why.

You can be skilled at teaching and know only a small number of things. This can make you a great teacher.

You can be terrible at teaching and know ALL of the things. This will never make you a great teacher.

I have learned this lately, as I realize that what I teach has evolved from the basic asana, the rudimentary anatomy into the synthesis of material and integration of everything I've experienced so far.

A guru is a person who shoves you into the spotlight - often by accident - and never, ever, because it will make you bow down to them and call them a guru.

My guru is a 13 year old boy who has never spoken a word or taken a step. My guru was a ridiculously amicable divorce. My guru was a 6cm polyp named Polly.

What is yours?


Today, I was charged with holding space for a dear friend. Holding a story close and building a damn and a filter between what needs to be held back and what can trickle through. I'm accustomed to telling the truth - the whole truth - and helping you see the detritus in your life by showing the flotsam in mine.

But today I cannot. Today's truth isn't mine to share, and that is hard for me. 

And it is a privilege.

I always joke that I'm writing a book, because you cannot MAKE THIS $HIT UP. In fact, it's because I'm the filter between the whole truth and the tiny pieces that need to come out is paper thin - page thin. My life makes me think that the writing staff on Grey's Anatomy are just lazy, because reality is truly stranger than fiction. Life is hard enough without major failures of mass transit and rogue icicle accidents - birth and death take us to our knees with our foreheads pressed against the cold tile of the shower, because any wall can stand in when the wailing is too much for the heart and Israel is too far away in time or space or faith.

The plainest and commonest of experiences are truth enough.

I've been holding many stories while I wait patiently for others to unlock the deep and otherwise private secrets of those closest to me. Many of us do this like spiritual ventriloquists; we throw our voices and dance wildly in the streets to pull focus from a wound that's not ready to air.

A story that hasn't found it's own words yet.

Our words cannot dispel another's grief. Spoken out of turn, we shine a light on the tender flesh that is trying to heal and even when the light is cast out of love, it can burn.

So today, I feel for you who keep secrets for others. Not out of shame or fear, but out of respect that their story is theirs and that it will emerge in time. Let me encourage you that after that time, your story will follow. Your experience of a story IS your story, whether you think it belongs to you or not. You know where you were on September 11th, even if where you were was a top-tier college dorm huddled around a 10" television and not running barefoot through the plume.

My story is valid because I have lived it, even if it sparked from burning embers that flew in across the ridge - and so is yours.

And it can wait.

Spirit Vomit

I did the worst thing ever.

(well, for a yoga teacher).

The thing I say I'll never do, that just can't be done, because it is the very basest thing.

I vomited all over a student, right after class.

(spiritually speaking)

For whatever reason, I apparently taught a kick-ass class on Wednesday evening. People raved about it, despite the fact that no one seems to be able to tell me why it was a good class. I can tell, because the spirit was speaking through me. I wasn't forcing things, I was just doing that thing where the spirit moves through you - like you're a really well informed back-up dancer for the universe, even though you didn't realize your body knew the steps. Someone else is dangling your puppet strings and you're just in sync.

And then.

The marriage vomit happened. 

I got divorced. You know this. It happened the same way a car accident happens - slow motion, with lots of back pedaling and neck tension and plenty of lookie-lous commentating on what went wrong. Spirit moved through me in the terrible way, the gut-wrenching, soul twisting way that it does when you realize that the things you're doing are completely outside of your control.

The pain in my body so desperately wanted to protect my friend - the one headed for marriage - from the excruciating pain that results from The Bad Thing. The unexpected ending of the perfect union, that I couldn't contain or filter or funnel the ectoplasmic spirit vomit GetAPrenupNowEvenIfYouLoveHim blah, blah, blah, worse, worse, worse.

So I'm saying here what I wish I had said then, knowing that the venom is out there and that it will be my karma to get that back right in the ass, right when I'm staring down a great life transition. This can't undo, or take back, but it will help me the next time I have to grin and bear, when I don't want to lie but I must support.

1. Do not let your wedding day be the best day of your life. Let it be the best day of your life, so far. Make decisions in every moment to enjoy it, and practice living like the star of the show. And then let better days come, don't let the best land in the past and the rest slide downhill.

2. Do not let anyone have the power to ruin your day. Everyone has their stories, and sometimes they are on hiatus from attending weddings, out of protection for themselves and for you. Do not take that personally. The only people who must be there are you and your beloved (and whatever squirrel is officiating).

3. Let me be a landing place for you, and know that I will always love you as you are, without regard to whether you are married or separated, struggling in secret or crumbling in public. I will hold you in dark moments and light, and I will never cower from whatever darkness may ever come your way.

Love is like four turtles swimming in opposite directions.

And I am the ocean.