Your yoga will change…

Or maybe it won’t. Either way, it’s okay.

When I started doing yoga, I was at a low point in my life. I was directionless. Uninspired. Lost. Depressed.

My sister took pity on me and magnanimously bought me a full year’s membership to the local gym which offered free yoga classes. And then she dragged me to one. (I think she was tired of seeing me moping around the house).

At first, yoga was purely a workout for me. I had an emotional attachment to it but only in the sense that it made me feel good (and look good!).

It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized that yoga had become this physical AND mental practice for me. I mean I always knew that yoga was so much bigger than me doing poses. I was starting to benefit from yoga beyond the mat. I was using breathing techniques learned in class during stressful situations. I could channel into the good feeling that resulted from my practice even when I wasn’t on my mat. I was also starting to follow yogic principles of practicing self-care and non-violence. I was no longer just a gym rat who happened to be in a yoga class. I felt like a yogi. I had finally (maybe accidentally?) tapped into the larger fabric of yoga. Despite myself I had moved beyond yoga as a workout to yoga as a way of life. And HOLY HELL I liked it! I could not get enough. My heart felt bigger than my chest. I was calmer. I was happier. I didn’t feel so alone.

One of the more beautiful things about yoga is its independent existence. Whether or not I believed in yoga, it just was. When I stepped on to the mat, I was joining the millions of other people who have done the same poses for hundreds of years and sharing in the cosmic energy. I didn’t have to be special. I didn’t need to be able to do certain poses to gain access to its full potential. In whatever measure that I wanted to take it on, it was enough and there for me. I don’t even have to be vegetarian (though some would argue with that – but that’s for another blog post).

One of my teachers spent over ten years trying to define “his yoga” and he finally concluded that yoga was anything good that he was doing for himself. It could be anything from practicing, meditating, going to bed earlier or choosing a healthier meal to eat.

And so maybe like my journey with yoga, your relationship with yoga might change as well. Or maybe it won’t. It’s okay. You will get there when you get there.

So tell me, has your yoga changed?

Yogitastic on the beach

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Why I’m not joining your positive thinking cult…

The other day someone tweeted that doing social good for her meant only tweeting positive things and good news. I rolled my eyes and muttered, “How on earth is that helpful?”

I am a firm believer in yin yang. The idea that opposite forces are connected and dependent on each other – that one cannot exist without the other. After all, how would we know what good is if bad didn’t exist? Our daily goal should be to find and maintain balance in our lives – balance between too much of anything.

Whether or not we acknowledge the existence of negative things in the world, they are there. No amount of positive thinking is going to prevent bad things from happening to us. If we choose to ignore it, we risk being unprepared when negative things do happen. Does that mean we should be walking around like a grouch? No, but there is a happy middle ground between negative and positive extremes. A middle ground that prepares us for the worst while hoping for the best.

Being unprepared for negative events is only one of my issues with too much positive thinking. Another issue is the potential for laying the blame on individuals for the negative things that happen to them. Things that are beyond anyone’s control. The idea that positive thinking can protect us from negative things then implies that these negative things that happen to people are deserved. That somehow someone did something to deserve cancer or some other terrible disease. Or that the guy with the corner office positive thought his way in there rather than working his butt off. These are obviously extreme examples but fall in line with the same train of thought. Ultimately, bad things happen to good people and to bad people. It is about accepting it and coping/moving on. Sometimes there just isn’t an explanation for the amount of pain in a person’s life. It is not necessarily a reflection of who he is. What will say something about him is how he has dealt with whatever life has thrown his way.

It’s nice to believe that the universe conspires to get us what we want but maybe it would be easier on our souls if we didn’t take it so personally. That we just have to accept what comes our way and cope with it as best as we can. You do your best and that is all anyone can ask for. Does this belief absolve us from doing anything? No. Does it mean not even bothering to participate? No. You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a lottery ticket.

Not to mention that some of the most brilliant and creative minds we know are borne out of strife. And if you think about the negative things that have happened to you, aren’t you a better person for it? A lot of positive change has come out of negative events so why do we think that we’re better off without it? Because it’s hard? Sure. But Thomas Paine said it best when he wrote,

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods…

Call me a realist. Call me whatever name you want but I’m not joining your positivity cult. Now let the good times roll…

You’re a mean one, Ms. Grinch!

For most of my adult life, I have considered the holiday season as hell on earth. It combines two of the things I hate the most – good cheer and shopping.

The cheerful well wishers, carolers, fake Santas and the “Isn’t it a great time to be alive?” folks all encourage me to be more creative about inflicting pain. (Where does one buy an anvil anyway?) Their clear joy and anticipation of the holidays grating on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard. If I could hide out during the entire month of December, I would.

And oh, how I LOATHE shopping! I hate the stress of figuring out the perfect gifts… Of not having enough money to get it… And the crowds! For the love of God, the rabid crowds at the store! (Are we people or animals?)

Don’t get me started on the commercialization of Christmas!

Add to it all the stress of having to deal with holiday traffic, will my gifts (ordered online) arrive on time (if at all), did I forget to send someone a Christmas card, what about the obligatory holiday parties? It is complete and total madness! Silent Night my butt!

This season never fails to bring the worst out in people and I am no exception. As the temperature drops, I sink deeper into my sullen mood. When I happen to hear holiday music, it makes me want to drop kick cute puppies and kittens. I have my own personal thundercloud hovering over my head until I am safely ensconced in my sister’s house… A signal that all the holiday preparations and obligations are done and I can finally kick back , relax and enjoy.

But then it’s over too soon. And year after year I am left wishing that I could have enjoyed the holidays just a little bit more. Maybe sang along more loudly and more often when Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You came on. Or maybe even marinated just a little bit more in the gleeful anticipation of the holidays!

You see, my dirty little secret is that I love Christmas. I love celebrating Noche Buena with my family… Eating together, opening presents, playing Mahjong and Rock Band all day long in our PJs! LOVE IT! My heart could explode from the joy of Christmas. There is nowhere else I would rather be!

But I always feel like it’s over before I have even begun to enjoy it! This year though it is going to be different… I will get the business of gift shopping out of the way as soon as possible so I can revel in all the social celebrations that are to come. I can stay away from the crowds and sing along to all the holiday music with a clear conscience. And see? I even put up Christmas lights in my little apartment! So good luck to all of you this year… May you find a little bit more enjoyment in the spirit of the season.

Light Explosion in the Humble Abode

Happy Holidays, my friends! I hope it is a wonderful one!

10 things you should know about ME…*

*Post 2: In the get-to-know-me series. (I am still in denial that the series will extend beyond this post and the “Crazy is as crazy does” post).

10. Salt is my weakness. I laugh in the face of everyone else’s need for sugar.

9. I do not drink coffee. I consider it my major personality flaw.

8. I eat meat. In my world, steaks are more romantic than flowers.

7. The dictionary definition of road rage should have my picture with it.

6. I am a book snob. I will judge you based on the book you are reading.

5. I run away from drama queens like they are zombies. They are blood sucking vermin and they vill zuck ze life out ov you.

4. I tweet like my life depends on it.

3. I am a recovering Coke addict… And by Coke I mean Coca Cola.

2. I hibernate during winter. Definition of winter is weather with temperature below 70 degrees.

1. If you own an English Bulldog, I will be forever your friend. F.O.R.E.V.E.R. (Until you get a restraining order).

If you have any advice for the above personality disorders, please leave a comment. 🙂

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Older and wiser? (On “not” aging gracefully)

I think I’ll have to settle for just older… Wiser kind of comes and goes as it pleases. And what I’ve learned over the years is that I’m okay with that because it’s better than nothing.

So here’s to another year older… To being a little bit more cranky… To calling everyone under 20 years old a bunch of hooligans…

And to my sisters… I would have never made it in this crazy world without you.

I'm the short one in the middle!

An ode to idiosyncrasies

A picture of YogitasticThis is post ONE in what could be a “get-to-know-me” series… I said “could” because I’m not quite sure you’re ready for so much of my self-awareness. 😉 But for you to understand where I’m coming from you should know a little bit about me. To kick off my potential series I thought of the most salient thing about me that you should know… and it is this…

I am crazy.

Not in that wonderful Kate Winslet eccentric kind of way but more in a Katharine Hepburn no wire hangers kind of way… And while we’re on the subject of hangers I use white ones. ONLY white ones.. Not off-white or beige or like-white… Just white. Okay? Good.

I was not “cute” growing up… It’s probably the last adjective anyone would assign to me. I was surly and withdrawn. I didn’t stand out in a good way or a bad way. I didn’t look for trouble and he thought I was boring. I was just kind of there. Silently stewing… Observing… When they coined the phrase “watch out for the quiet ones,” they meant me. My mouth wasn’t moving but my mind was going a mile a minute.

I  don’t know if generally being left alone/ignored led to my obsessing over my surroundings but I am extremely organized… to the point of being handicapped. I start to twitch if someone moves something out of place… So creative juices only start flowing once everything around me is neatly in its place. Some days it never gets there. Sitting down to write only comes after a little decluttering and Swiffering of the furniture. Does it help that I’m terrified of creativity? Probably not. (A college professor termed it as “productive procrastination.”)

I am ultimately a collection of weird little habits, pet peeves and idiosyncrasies. Including my hatred for avocado to eating my food in concentric circles – a tendency I’ve thankfully outgrown. (I’ll probably have to dedicate an entire post just on that behavior). I’m functional and I look normal enough to the average person… trust me – sometimes that is all I can ask for.

Over the years I’ve grown and changed… for the better? In some ways. But crazy is as crazy does and maybe the only thing that has really changed is my ability to take me as I am. Warts, white hangers and all.

But I’m not the only one who’s a little weird, right? Right? Bueller?