Friday, February 28, 2014

The Odyssey

So, I coached another Odyssey of the Mind team even though every volunteer position I have ever taken on has ended up being a total nightmare.

This was a good reminder of that.

I love the kids. I always love the kids. I rock with kids even if they sometimes drive me crazy.

But the janitor threw away all of their materials, set pieces, and props. I had to chase a bunch of people around to get the team officially registered. Many of the meetings were extremely frustrating and felt unproductive because working with kids, on a tight schedule, in a program where they have to do everything without help is some frustrating and unproductive shit some days.

But we persevered. There was talk of forfeit when their stuff got tossed, but as a team, they voted to rally. There were thoughts of just...not chasing people around to get the team registered and to go ahead and let the blame of not being able to compete fall on those who needed chasing. There were (brief) moments of thinking maybe just letting them fail might be a lesson in itself--a lesson on the benefits of productive behavior and team work.

But, man, I love them. Frustrating and all. They're so clever and funny and determined and creative.We kept going. Sometimes I drank after the meetings but we kept going.

Our last two practices were this week. The first one, I was convinced they were doomed. It just didn't go well. The odds had been stacked against them and despite their best effort, they just seemed unlikely to experience any great success and barely seemed like they even cared. The second meeting, they pulled it together. In a remarkable way. I felt so much relief. I knew they could do it.

little kid is on another team coached by a friend and we have commiserated about the trials and tribulations of this labor of love. little kid's skit is hilarious and he has a big part in it. Big Kid is also a huge part of his team, both in performance and in leadership.

The competition is all day tomorrow, in a city about an hour away.

Big Kid started barfing tonight.

As I held a bucket for him to puke into, mind racing with how my team was going to come back from this, little kid woke up and started puking.

Mr. Ashley rushed to his side with another bucket and we looked at each other over the hunched backs of our vomiting children and shook our heads and then, inexplicably, because what the hell else could we do, we laughed.

I feel like I might barf, but I don't know if that is because I feel like I've done all of this for nothing or because I'm next. I have all of their props and paperwork and I absolutely have to be there, regardless of what happens. Even if I have to bring a barf bag.

What are the statistical odds? Really, I'm asking, I don't math.

My poor kids. All 14 of them.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Presidential Power

"Who shot Abraham Lincoln?" little kid asked.

Big Kid answered, "John Wilkes Booth."

"I guess he didn't like how he was doing things. You know, if I could bring anyone back to life, it would be Abraham Lincoln."

I was surprised, "Really? I would have guessed Ben Franklin or Teddy Roosevelt. Why Abraham Lincoln?" I was dying to know if Big Kid had some big civil rights question or assassination mystery to solve.

"I'd bring him back to watch Lincoln: Vampire Hunter with him. Just to see what he thinks."

I laughed. "He'd probably think it was pretty weird. Like, 'Really? After all that I did, this is how they've chosen to remember me?'"

"I'd bring back George Washington. He would be the best at killing zombies," little kid interrupted.

"That makes no sense, this has nothing to do with zombies," Big Kid clarified.

"Still couldn't hurt to bring someone back who could fight zombies real good. He was a war general. I'd ask him how he died, nothing I read ever tells me."

"We looked it up on Wikipedia, remember? It sounded like pneumonia and then they kept draining blood out of him and we decided that was probably the ultimate problem." I reminded him.

"Oh right. Well I'd still pick him because of the zombies. What if you brought him back and then he just had a heart attack and died of the surprise? That would be a bummer." I agreed that yes, that would be a bummer.

"I think Ben Franklin would think we were lazy but would be amazed by the technology. I don't think Lincoln would be impressed with us or the movie. We're kind of terrible people," Big Kid offered.

"Really? We're doing pretty well with civil rights, I think, comparatively speaking. He might be impressed," I said.

"Maybe," he conceded. "But definitely not with the movie."

No, probably not with the movie.

I think it's safe to say that if we ever get the power to bring one person back from the dead, my kids shouldn't be the ones who get to choose who and why.

Reading Level

So Big Kid's teacher approached me and told me he was assessed at reading at a 11th grade in the 9th month level. He's in 5th grade.

This is not a humble brag because I thinks it's a little ridiculous and I don't really understand the metric. I will brag all day long about how he loves to read, but I don't really care what level he's reading at.

She said at school he now has to read books that are 11th grade or higher. Kind of a problem when he's an emotionally young 5th grader--this is a child who refuses to read Hunger Games because he disagrees with the premise.  She said the school was having to order books specifically for him and I asked that I have some input in this process, and offered to buy the books, but didn't hear back. So I guess that was a no.

He was pissed about the assessment though. He was certain it meant more work and no more kids' books. I assured him that was not true, it just meant actual literature--that THIS is when he'd learn to love all of the different combinations of words in the world. Then I promised he could read whatever he wanted at home.

He got in the car the next day and handed me his first assigned book. By Ayn Rand.

"Tell me it's not boring, mom. This IS boring."

I read the first two pages. "It's boring. Terribly so. A lot of people like her though. I am not one of them, but maybe you will be. She has some...very different ideas on society than I do but feel free to form your own opinion. You might like it."

He did not. I told him he didn't have to continue to read it, that I would tell the teacher it was too dry and philosophically mature for a 5th grader, but he insisted that he would finish. In the meantime, I bought a stack of stuff I'd rather he read. He started with "Of Mice and Men."

As a Steinbeck lover, this thrilled me. When he was a newborn, I spent two weeks reading East of Eden out loud to him, more because I didn't know what else to do with him than any attempt at Baby Geniusing.

He came out of his room on the first night. "Mom, I just want to tell you something about this book."

Ugh. I was a bit worried we were going to go the way of Ayn Rand, and ruin his love of Steinbeck before he was actually old enough to appreciate it.

"Steinbeck gets REALLY wordy with descriptions. I like that about him but some people don't. If you don't, feel free to skim that stuff, I promise the story is still good." I assured him.

"No, it's good. It's just that...there's curse words. I like the book and I want to read it but thought you should know in case you forgot."

Oh, Big Kid. Wonderful, honest Big Kid.

"Well, John Steinbeck's allowed to curse, baby. You're not. As long as you know that, I don't really care. Sometimes 'bad' words add emotion that is necessary for the story line. A 5th grader doesn't need to add that level of emphasis in his own life, but I really couldn't care less if you read some curse words in a book. You don't have to read it if you don't want to, though."

"To be honest, that's kind of why I want to read it." 

He read it, and he loved it. He was sad at the end. He went on to read Animal Farm and is now reading Lord of the Flies. 

I gave birth to my own book club. And now I'm probably one of the few 5th grade parents seeking out great literature that includes curse words.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lean In

I had the longest day today. I had to be at the studio to train someone. Then I had to be at a lunch meeting for (gasp!) a new social media marketing job. Then I had to coach that Odyssey of the Mind Team. Then I had to go back to work at the studio because we had a visiting teacher who is a big deal, and we needed help checking people into the class.

It was exhausting and chaotic. One of my friends from teacher training asked if I was going to take the visiting teacher's class and I said I was so freaking tired that I truly didn't think I could. She said it would be good for me. I wanted to point out that 90 minutes of hot power yoga on an empty stomach in an exhausted, dehydrated person might really not be a good idea but instead I said I would lie down the entire time if I wanted to and no one better say anything and she agreed that would work. She gets me.

But once I was on my mat, I gave it my all. Our teacher was Sid McNairy who looks more like a football player than a yoga teacher and he filled the room, both physically and with his presence. It was so nice to just get lost in the sweaty, real, grounded, physical practice. Sure, my vision got a bit wavy at one point and I checked the thermostat and its clock a few times (I shouldn't be allowed to practice in that corner of the room. It got up to 96 degrees if you're curious) but I kept going. Until sweat was running into my eyes and blinding me and every bit of me was trembling.

We got into half pigeon near the end, which is a hip opening pose with one shin parallel to the front of the mat, and the other straight out behind, folding forward over the front knee and breathing into the comfortable discomfort, as they like to call it. He wandered over to the ipod to turn it on and then this gigantic, powerful man began to softly sing "Lean on Me" and invited us to join him. Slowly and softly at first, probably feeling a little unsure about singing during yoga class, people joined in. Not long after, I think most of the 66 students were singing along.

It was so lovely. Probably like church if church were full of sweaty, half naked, trembling people who take the lord's name in vain during chair pose (fucking chair pose).

Church should totally be more like that, by the way.

Anyway, as I sat there with my forehead resting on my arms, I was overcome with emotion. I thought of the friends on either side of me, and those that I've made through yoga, and my "real life" friends, and my family, and I also thought a lot about you guys. About how many people I have to lean on. Shit. If that's not lucky, what is? What more can you really even ask for? I've spent so long feeling alone and not only am I NOT alone, I never was alone. I just didn't realize what was available.

I saw a friend today and she asked how I was and I told her I needed a hug. Not because she would expect a hug or I felt like I had to give a hug...because I needed a hug. And it felt really good, to literally lean on someone for a moment.

I have people to lean on. I need them.

Thank you for being so giving of yourselves through your comments and even just your presence.

Thank you for letting me lean on you.


I'm so tired right now that I just had a completely crazed, day-dreamy thought that if I lost one of my legs, people would HAVE to understand my need to slow down. I was starting to think of the easiest and least painful way to lose a leg before I realized this was probably not one of my better plans.

I'm that tired though.

I made a list and I have 8 jobs now. Some small and some that don't really pay me, at all, but 8 different people/places that expect things from me professionally and semi-frequently. How the hell did that happen when my main career goal was NOT to ever work again? But quitting 8 jobs seems like a shit load of work. And I like doing each of them, just not all at once.

I could do almost all of them with only one leg though, so that's not a solution after all.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

This is Hard

Life is so messy. Why does something so beautiful have to be so awfully, heart-wrenchingly, terrifyingly messy at the same time?

I may have mentioned, probably around 5 years ago and never again since, that my father has stage 4 (that's the really bad type) colon cancer. Then I mostly stopped thinking about it--of course, that's not really possible but cancer is a sneaky bastard, particularly in this case, and allowed for long moments of coasting quietly through this roller coaster ride for life, and during those moments, I just tried not to think about "it."

"It" is complicated and maybe even more so when the relationship is complicated. My dad is an alcoholic. Not the terrible monster beating and molesting people type, just the selfish, indifferent, occasionally absent kind. Man, this is hard to write. Because it's not cool to say, right? About a dying man. About a dying, not-certifiably terrible man. So not only do I feel limited in speaking of my grief but I feel even more limited because who thinks like this? Who says things like this? What kind of jerk...? I want to delete that last paragraph more than you'll ever know. I want to protect him, and this awful side of me, from you.

There was a moment that I blurted this horrible personal truth out to my hairdresser (the keeper of my soulful secrets) and admitted that there was a time after his diagnosis, that along with our confusion and sadness, the rest of the family felt a bit like he just got a free pass now. Without much familial investment at all over the years, he was going to need us and it would be inhumane to not just drop our former issues and be the kind of people that we would prefer to be in this situation. To be that kind of family, the kind of family we all wished we were, with the devoted wife and children beating their chests and crying to the heavens over the injustice of our lost patriarch.

But again, life is messy. Particularly when any form of addiction is involved.

(And my hairdresser laughed and cried at the same time, hugged me, and told me her story was very much the same and that I should write a memoir of my grief, for people like us. But I think this will suffice. That is why she is the keeper of my secrets, though.)

He has had good times and surprising stretches of being sober where he is enjoyable, and he has had bad times. He can be difficult to be around (this is the diplomatic way of stating this point).

The last time he was in the hospital, we were alone when the doctor came in and lectured him about drinking after his story changed a bit about how much he'd been doing it.

Finally, the elephant in the room had been unleashed.

When the doctor left, my dad said he didn't want to live if he couldn't have a beer with his chicken wings, and I told him that it really was his life and he could live the rest of it however he wanted, but that if he chose that to understand that he was basically choosing suicide--a long drawn out version, but suicide nonetheless since the tumors on his liver left no room for messing around. I reiterated that it was his decision, that it wasn't my life, but that I wouldn't bother with all of the chemotherapy and experimental treatments if he was choosing to give up in this way. I said it with kindness and without judgment, just a matter of fact way to say he was welcome to do that but let's call it what it is.

He quit drinking. For a while.

Through this ordeal, this fantastically shitty ordeal, we are closer than we've ever been in the past. He calls to update me on the progress of his illness and treatment and when sober, he would call frequently and we would talk about how a beer is just not worth it. When he quit calling, I knew.

His doctor called my parents' home at 10pm on Friday night and said based on some blood work he was reviewing, my dad was in liver failure and needed to go to the hospital now. He thought he was having a shunt placed in his liver and when I visited the next morning, we chatted casually about the time of the surgery and hospital food. There was a bright yellow unsigned Do Not Resuscitate form on the bedside table that matched the pallor of his skin and the whites of his eyes.

Since the beginning of his illness, we have this verbal dance that we do. He likes to point out that he will die, I think needing to talk about it but not being sure as to how, and then gives an estimate for that. My job is to acknowledge it and then refute it.

"I could be dead in 6 months," he'd say bluntly, waiting for a reaction.

"Yeah, you could," I'd reply. "Or you could step out the front door and get hit by a bus this afternoon, or you could live another 5 years. They gave you 6 months to live almost 5 years ago, so who knows what other odds you'll beat. You have no way of knowing, no one does."

"There are only two forms of chemo left I can try," was another intro to this conversation. "I could be dead within the year."

"Yeah, that's true, and it's a scary thought," I'd say, taking my turn. "Or this round of chemo could hit the 'reset' button and science could catch up and you could live for years still." That was one of his favorites, we repeated that dialog many times in many different but strikingly similar forms.

But this past weekend they had decided that his liver was inoperable and his favorite nurse gave him a kiss and a hug and tearfully told him it would probably be weeks.

This news was delivered as I sat waiting for the Lego movie, and I left my kids and husband at the theater without a car and drove back to the hospital, all the while thinking, "What do you say to someone who just found out that they are under hospice care?" or even more importantly, "What don't you say to someone who has just found out they are under hospice care?" Don't ask me because I still don't know. I was also wondering on the way there, is there anything harder than seeing your dad cry?

And then I found out that there is.

It's seeing your dad scared out of his mind and trying not to cry.

"They said weeks, but how can they know?" He asked, forehead furrowed, eyes watering.

"They don't know. They said months 5 years ago. No one knows," I said my lines, knowing that they know.

"They said weeks but it could be months, don't you think?"

"You've been feeling great. It could definitely be months," I lied to the yellow man before me.

"But I guess months isn't a whole lot better than weeks," he said with an air of defeat that I hope you'll never witness in your own lives.

"Of course months is a whole lot better than weeks. Every additional day is better."

He nodded.

I told him it must be scary right now and asked if he would rather this or something unexpected and without hesitation he said he would rather this, knowing it was coming. I'm not so sure I agree. From the outside looking in, this is torture of the worst kind.

I pointed out that while he still felt good, he should think of things he would like to do. That we would make it happen.

He would like to work and be with his dogs. That's all. He said he was so glad that they would outlive him, because he couldn't stand to lose one of them--forehead creasing, eyes watering overtime at the thought. He has a tiny, nervous little Chihuahua mix and a Dachshund, to better paint the picture of this "tough farm boy" and his beloved pets.

We spent the rest of the afternoon talking about what money was in what accounts and how my mom will be okay and how weird and morbid funerals are and who to tell and how to tell them and the importance of accepting the help of hospice, like this was a perfectly average way to spend a Saturday with my parents, casually discussing the end of someone's existence with that someone.

In a surprising (and messy) story twist, the liver doctor came in at the end of the day and declared the cancer doctors to be full of doom and gloom and said let's give it a few weeks and see what happens. Told him to go home and have a drink if he'd like. Thanks, guy, good looking out. How's that Hippocratic oath treating you these days?

But he is happy to be at home and with his dogs. He is happy to have his hope for a "few more months" confirmed by an outsider of our regular routine. He is happy to hold on to what is most likely a lie. As far as I know, he did not have that drink.

And in the background the rest of the family has whispered and texted talks of hospice and palliative care and arranges for special food and tries to give him a good balance of space and company. He fell down on Monday while feeling weak and told my mom he thinks it will be days and not weeks. He seemed surprised.

Out of habit, I fell into my role and thought, "It could be weeks, no one knows."

As if days and weeks aren't awfully close as it is.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Pretty is

Today in the car, Big Kid was telling me about some YouTube guy that he follows and how he went viral overnight because of his rant about women.

"Hmm, that's crazy," I said, only half listening because as soon as they say "YouTube guy," I mentally turn the channel.

"Yeah--he even went Tumblr viral and he doesn't even HAVE a Tumblr!!"

"I bet he's happy," I offered, still not sure what Tumblr viral was or if I even want to know.

"No! He went viral because it was so bad. What he said was so bad, mom, and he won't apologize! That is so dumb, to know you've hurt so many people and not WANT to apologize!!"

"Well, what did he say?" My curiosity piqued.

"He said that girls need to shave their legs and wear makeup and do their hair and always dress nice. He said if they have peach fuzz above their lip they should shave it! That could hurt a girl! Seriously, he's LUCKY to even get that close to a girl...especially now."

"Huh. Yeah, girls and women get tired of being told we should look a certain way because boys and men think so. There don't seem to be as many suggestions that guys always style their hair and dress nice. I think a lot of times girls feel like we're always expected to be pretty, and that's not really important in life."

"You know what girls need to do to be pretty?" He asked.


"EXIST! That is literally it, mom. Just breathe air." I laughed. "For real, I have never even seen an ugly girl, ever," he added.

"Really?" I asked.

"Really. I mean, not all girls look like tv stars but I've never seen one that was ugly. What would even make them ugly?" He asked with sincerity.

What a good question. 

Monday, February 17, 2014


little kid is grounded from Minecraft (including Youtube videos about Minecraft, because these are as addictive as the actual game) for a week for repeatedly forgetting to bring his homework to turn in on Fridays.

It's about to be the longest week of my freaking life.

My morning began with some "morning snuggle time" that involved stealing all of the covers while I was still asleep before launching into a rambling conversation about baby horses and how impossibly long their legs are, and how absurd it would be to put a baby bonnet on a baby horse and try to put it in a baby carriage so you could feed it a bottle. Have you ever done that, mom? No? Would you put a saddle on a baby horse and try to ride it? Why not? But you could, right? No? What about the baby carriage thing? If you had one that was big enough...? No? Have I told you about the baby horses in Minecraft with their long legs? No? You don't want to hear about them? Their legs are long.

Then we went over every pet I've ever owned in my life time. I have had A LOT of pets.

Then I begrudgingly woke up. I was having an amazing dream before this began, by the way.

He decided to have an apple as a morning snack and sounded like a baby horse while eating it. Now he's swatting a balloon around the living room--his second balloon, actually, the first one popped, loudly, and they keep landing on me while I try to prepare for an important job training thing I'm doing later today. It's morphing into some strange jumping jack/flailing/balloon swatting nightmare.

A week of this?

I don't know, is homework that important?

Would it be illegal to lock him outside for a week? Or just frowned upon?

Monday, February 10, 2014


Holy shit. What a weekend. What a terrible, horrible, wonderful weekend.

Inhale and exhale, the refrain of the past 5 months of yoga teacher training.

So as indicated in the post below this one, Friday sucked. I was sad and felt picked on. I had a good morning power class though, and then a 2 hour workshop with my favorite teacher. I did handstand and side crow and eight angle pose, which is some Cirque de Soleil-like shit, in my opinion, all things I'd never done before and truly didn't think I was strong enough to do.

I decided to rally. I dug deep in my heart for something personal and touching to share during that night's practice teach. I was nervous but ready and eager. You passed or failed and could stop teaching once you did. When people passed, there was much excitement and jubilation. Everyone was passing. I told myself that THIS would be the night where I would give them what they were looking for, from the heart, and THIS would be the night where I finally got some positive feedback for my hard work.

So I got up. I kept my voice strong but tried to sound less rehearsed as I got people breathing and into the first pose. I created connection by speaking directly to individuals. I got them into the first pose and was leading into my story (that I didn't fully rehearse, so it wouldn't sound rehearsed) and before I could even start, they pointed to my mat and told me to go sit down.

What the fuck? I was baffled.

After others went (and passed, and clapped, and danced, and high fived their team), it was my turn again. I started back up and they stopped me. I asked what it was they were looking for since they had specifically told everyone else what element needed to be added, and they waved me away and told me I had to give up my need to be right. I pointed out that I wanted to pass, though, and needed feedback because I had no idea what was going wrong. They pointed out that I used the word wrong and that I didn't have to be right.

It was incredibly confusing for me.

Then they had me tell the group that I was giving up my need to be right so I did but they said it didn't sound sincere. So I had to do it again. And again. And again. And again. Until I had to walk around from individual to individual and say it to them over and over until they "felt it."


Then, my favorite teacher, my mentor, the person I say I want to be when I grow up, someone who I consider incredibly intelligent and kind and genuine, got down on one knee (because I was on my knees, trying to convince a classmate that I no longer want to be right...I'm actually laughing a little as I type it, the whole thing is absurd) and looked me in the eyes and firmly asked if I knew I was intimidating.

Me? But I meet new people easily. I am approached so often by strangers in public (for good and for bad.) People smile at me a lot, and I smile back. I have what I feel is a genuine connection to their regular students and feel like I'm one of the people that makes the studio a "safe place" for others. I manage the staff with humor and flexibility and compliments.

To me intimidating is not a good thing to be. It's actually something I wish I were sometimes, I always feel vulnerable and envy those who don't seem that way. But I think intimidating people seem unpleasant and unfriendly, so that's no good.

She was staring at me, so I said that was something to consider. She said, no, really, no one's ever told you that? No. Never. She said something about people being afraid of me and that would make it difficult to do my job. It seriously blew my mind. I told her I did my job well and she said she knows I do. I turned and said the sentence I'd been saying to the last classmate still sitting, thinking that if she stood up I could teach and show them (and myself) that I can do this, whatever it was they were wanting me to do, and they started to clap which was the sign that I was I never really taught at all.

I was crushed. To the core of my being crushed. I felt like I had spent the last 5 months, however many hours, so many tears, so much struggle, giving up my lie that I was not enough and people did not like me. And then someone whose opinion seemed so important to me told me that my way of being is something that translates to unlikable. And I didn't even get to teach yoga.

I felt like everyone was passing, not just this exercise but the entire program, and I was just finding out on the very last weekend that I failed; not only was my teaching suddenly not going well but I apparently had a personality problem and a lack of self-awareness. I felt like I spent all of this time finding my pieces and gluing myself back together, having only a moment to marvel that I had actually done it fairly seamlessly, just to be dropped again to see if the glue would hold.

And this is not about making her wrong (or me right, believe it or not). If you asked every single person in the room how this went down, their perceptions would vary. She's not the type to make it personal, as odd as that sounds in relation to such a personal revelation, so I am certain this has been her experience with me and it's valid. This story isn't about her at all.

I stayed up all night long thinking of every relationship, every interaction, everything I've shared trying to figure out how I'm intimidating and not authentic. If it was something that made sense to me, I could (albeit unhappily for a minute there) accept it and work on improving but it just made no sense. I only slept for 4 hours. I woke up crying. I got ready crying. I brushed my teeth crying. I got it halfway together enough to get into the building and onto my mat in child's pose, where I spent half of the 90 minute class, with my forehead on my mat trying to figure out which of these people in my community may have felt intimidated by me at some point and wondering if my boss doubted my ability to do my job. It was a heated class and my tears mixed with my sweat and pooled up under me.

I thought about leaving. Forever. A scary person can't do my job at the studio. A scary person can't teach yoga. I got what I came for, and then lost it, and I didn't need the piece of paper. If no one else noticed the happy, friendly confidence I'd been feeling, then did it even happen? If I was still intimidating after all of this, there's probably not a lot of hope.

Yoga was not fun at all anymore.

Our "graduation" was a huge community class that we were all going to co-teach. I was literally sick to my stomach (correct usage of literally here) at the thought of doing it--where on Friday I felt good about my ability to deliver a decent class in front of strangers, now after all of my "practice," I was not even comfortable letting strangers look at me since I had no idea of what they saw since it was so different from how I felt. I had helped plan the graduation party earlier in the week and I quietly decided not to go.

A lot of my classmates checked in with me. A lot of them offered their feedback on what had happened and on me as a person. None of them claimed personal experience of me being intimidating and some seemed as baffled about it as I felt. In these conversations, I realized that these were the type of friends I could expect to be honest with me and that these people genuinely knew me and cared about me and were listening generously and answering as best they could, with answers that weren't always easy to give. I had been feeling like I had made a terrible mistake coming out of my shell and their friendship made me feel like I hadn't.

Students began to file in for the community class. Regular clients who I help when working, people from classes I helped assist, and coworkers of mine all came to support us. When I would thank them for showing up, they would look warmly into my eyes and tell me they wouldn't miss it or they were excited for me or wanted to celebrate with me, all people I had only met over the past few months. I didn't feel very intimidating.

When it was my turn, I got up and did fine. Did I dazzle anyone with serious from the heart inspiration? No, I'm sure I did not. But my voice did not shake, I stood tall, I moved people through the poses with ease, and I felt okay doing it in front of a room full of 70 people after one of the most emotionally unpleasant weekends I've ever had.

I feel good about where I am as a beginning yoga teacher (who still doesn't want to actually teach yoga). My personality will come through when I actually have the opportunity...and a few positive chances to get it "right" won't hurt either (if I ever decide I want to teach, in which case please remind me that I don't want to teach.)

When being called up to get my certificate, one of my teachers announced that I had blown her away with my teaching that day and all four of the teachers hugged me and said nice things and one of them whispered "I love you" and I know she meant it.

My classmates and I all hugged as a group and individually, warm, real hugs. My husband and sons brought me roses. I went to the graduation party and we had dinner and drinks and took pictures and laughed and joked and hugged, and hugged, and hugged some more.

I am not intimidating.

There may be people out in the world who experience that and that's fine--I don't love that, obviously, but I'm not taking that on as being a problem about me or something I need to fix. I'm also not too worried about my authenticity. Maybe I am missing some big lesson or opportunity here but I'm just going to be me--my normal, slightly improved self, and continue celebrating the few times in life I do get it "right" in spite of my insincere promise to give that up.

I'm going to give up trying to interpret what it meant and accept it as true to some degree but not an accurate reflection of how I make others feel or any indicator of my ability to teach a yoga class.

Which I'm not going to do.

But maybe that was the lesson after all. I don't know. It doesn't matter. I'm happy! I'm done! I'm a yoga teacher. The end.

And exhale.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Miss Personality

Guys, I don't want to be a yoga teacher. If I tell you that I do, I'm lying. I just want people to like yoga like I do, so just save me some steps and go ahead and like it.


I don't have to be a yoga teacher. Anyways, aren't I officially a yoga teacher once I get the certification? I mean, technically, I will be able to check that off the list pretty soon here and return to the safety and comfort of my couch.

So, that's how my last yoga teacher training weekend is going so far.

Despite knowing my stuff (and I thought being pretty good at it) I pretty much bombed in our group practice teach. I feel like the teachers helped coordinate the bombing by being extremely vocal and heavy handed and lengthy in their on-the-spot coaching of me. It went on for like 400 years, no exaggeration. (Okay, maybe a little.) I felt small and confused as to what exactly they were looking for, but pretty clear that it was nothing I innately possessed. I was really annoyed to be singled out. Then I was embarrassed. And maybe my chin trembled and maybe, just maybe, I dropped some hot, quiet tears in down dog when I returned to my mat. I was really upset by the time I got home.

And after some processing, I know they were looking for personality and connection. They said I lack authenticity. One pointed out that my writing is excellent and I shine on paper, probably trying to prove that I'm very capable of this, but at the time it made me feel like maybe that's my thing to shine at, and maybe you only get one thing.

After even more processing, I think they were holding me to a higher standard because they see potential in me and thought I "needed" it, or something. They are wise women and do appear to be invested in my success and involvement with the studio. But if I didn't already work at the studio in a job that I love, I would've pushed someone out of tree pose and walked out the door.

It was that good.

I don't know. I don't think whatever they were trying to do worked. I am certainly not "unmessable."

So just do me a favor and like yoga. I will be a yoga teacher (on paper) soon and if I inspired you to like it, that would complete this goal.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

One Yoga Year

I just received a "one year anniversary" email from the yoga studio.

So a year ago, I accidentally stumbled in late to a power class and got my ass kicked. I left feeling way too slippery, sweaty and overwhelmed, choking on the smell of incense and determined to never do yoga in a heated room ever again because it is nothing at all like sitting on the couch, of which I'm a big fan.

One year later I work there and am days away from being certified to teach the exact same type of class I swore I didn't like. Haha, universe, you comedic genius, you. (And when I say "comedic genius" we all know I mean "crazy bitch" but I'm too scared to say it.)

I still don't know if I want to teach though. I know 2-3 posts ago I probably said I did, but tonight is not one of the nights I think so. Mostly because I already have several jobs and I have done enough things that feel scary for the year, even though it's only February. I want to be the type of person that could teach a yoga class, but do I actually have to teach a yoga class to do that?

No, really, I'm asking.

(I just re-read that and I think you might actually have to teach a yoga class or two to be the type of person that could teach a yoga class. Fuck.)

At some point in this journey, I have assured people that I will not become one of those people who chirps up with, "You should try yoga!!" in response to every life complaint. I thought of those people as annoying and simple-minded and incredibly unhelpful. Rarely is anyone like, "Oh my god, I should try yoga! Problem solved! Thanks so much for suggesting it, I feel better already!" No. Those people are like, "Oh, right, I forgot she was one of those annoying yoga people, next time we see her at Target, let's not make eye contact."

And yet, I am one of those people.

Luckily my job gives me an outlet to do that. I cannot even begin to tell you how many people come in to buy a new student special and end up involved in a quiet and intense conversation about what they are looking for in life. How many people are willing to bare their soul about their anxiety or depression or real life stresses to me, the lady swiping their credit card, and how incredibly relieved they seem when I lean over the desk and share how I ended up there for the same reason and how far I feel I've come (and how far I have yet to go--another thing I love about the mental and physical practice of yoga, it is ever evolving.)

It carries into real life, too, though. Need to lose weight? Gain strength? Detox? Back hurt? Sleep better? Bored? Overwhelmed? Need friends? Anxious? Sad? Doing great? Do a headstand? You should do yoga! I cringe typing it and I try not to say it too often, but I mean it. For me, it's mental more than physical, but I love how yoga is different things for different people. Everyone I meet is looking for something and so many end up finding it there. Corny or not, it's a beautiful thing.

Part of my yoga teacher training homework was assisting classes. Assisting is when you go around helping people either do yoga poses better or feel better doing it and it involves touching sweaty stranger skin and being close to others which is not something I've gotten a lot of experience with from my couch. Some people don't really like it (I was one of them this time last year). I could sense that and it put the socially awkward penguin in me on high alert at first. But eventually I paid more mental attention to the people who would wave me over, mouthing, "Do that thing you did last time!" or giving me a thumbs up with a contented sigh or even just the ones that quit tensing up as I approached (because it's the small things sometimes), and I began to like it.

 At the end of class I would sit at the front with the teacher and look out over rows and rows of shiny, happy, sweaty, peaceful people during savasana, watching the dramatic rise and fall of their chests and the heavy, satisfied way their bodies settled and rested. It's a beautiful thing. In that quiet moment, I don't worry about them hating me or if I've contracted MRSA.

And I know they don't hate me. And I probably didn't contract MRSA. I hope.

But all of that (minus the MRSA) almost makes me want to be a yoga teacher.  I need to be a yoga student for a while longer before I could possibly be the kind of teacher I want to be, so I guess I have some time to think about it. I know I could do it, it's more of a "Do I want to?" thing. I also know I want to, so maybe it's a little bit of a "Could I do it?" thing. Skydiving was easier.

This ended up being pretty "Dear Diary-ish"...sorry about that. I think we worked through some things though and hopefully I've gotten my "Hey guys, try yoga!" out for now. I graduate on Sunday (thank the sweet baby Lord Jesus because love it or not, I'm done with this aspect of it). I guess we'll find out what happens next whenever it happens.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Wake Up Call

One of the neighbor kids keeps coming over and knocking like the SWAT team before 9 am on Sundays.

The only reasonable thing I can think to do is to hire a scary looking clown to stand outside her bedroom window at night.

I was considering some sort of shock device on the door that works on a timer and disables at 9:30 am but that seems pretty complicated. 

She's lucky she's cute.