Monthly Archives: June 2012

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

“So goodbye yellow brick road

Where the dogs of society howl

You can’t plant me in your penthouse

I’m going back to my plough” – Elton John and Bernie Taupin

My yoga teacher crush blasted “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” during Savasana the other night. It was my last yoga class in New York City before taking off for Iowa farm country. How apropos.

After we emerged from Savasana and bowed in Namaste, my yoga crush smiled and said something like this to the class, “I hope you like Elton John. I don’t usually play songs with lyrics in Savasana but I found this fitting today for some reason.” Just another

At Central Park Zoo

synchronicity that told me I had discovered the right yoga teacher. Noah and I may be leaving our yellow brick road here on Broadway to head to the heartland, but we have just begun our magical journey and we’re not quite ready to go home yet.Flash back to four weeks ago.

After dropping into numerous yoga classes with multiple teachers, I found myself in class with Mike. Now, I don’t know if any of you have had a yoga crush before but this is my first (and the first my husband is hearing about it too. Sorry Joel, it was only a yoga crush, no biggie.) Here’s how it went down: his cues were fabulous, his sequence was intelligent and creative, he was quick to make one-on-one adjustments, he challenged me, taught me a thing or two I didn’t already know, made me laugh out loud, and knew his anatomy down pat. He didn’t practice with the class (a pet peeve of mine.) Rather, he skillfully guided people into poses and watched his students with an eagle eye, making sure to point out things like the direction of my right big toe. He made mistakes and laughed at himself. He had no ego, or, if he did, it wasn’t visible to the class.

He isn’t the type of guy who would turn heads on the street. He has a shock of graying hair, an adorable smile, and is cute in an ordinary guy sort of way. Oh, he looked about my age. So no, it wasn’t a cougar sort of crush. Besides, I hadn’t spoken a word to him.

I’m pretty finicky about yoga teachers. I think I’m allowed to be as I teach yoga for a living when not traveling the country. After a bunch of dud classes, this time I picked a winner. I left class and grabbed a schedule, scanning it to see when Mike taught next. I was at his very next class. It was just as good. No, even better. Apart from the awesome sequence, I liked his off-beat sense of humor and the way he swore in class (he said ass like three or four times at least.) I’m not kidding: if you teach yoga and don’t have a sense of humor, you may as well hang up your lululemon short shorts, at least in my opinion. Sure, you gotta know your stuff but please, don’t make me fall asleep in Warrior 1 with a fake sing-song voice, boring cues and the same old, same old stuff. This class was everything but boring. My crush deepened. I quickly left after the class ended, still without saying a word to the teacher.

The next week, I was back. Class was awesome yet, all through practice, I kept wondering if I somehow had met Mike before. I know…. not very yogic when I was supposed to be stilling my mind. Anyway, he seemed familiar to me. Ok, I admit it. I stared at him a lot, trying to make it not so obvious. But it was more than this.

As luck would have it, we rode the elevator down together after class. He looked at me and asked me where I was from as he hadn’t seen me much before. Here it was….my big chance. Don’t screw it up Robyn (huh, screw what up?) Don’t say something stupid, Robyn. Don’t tell him too much. OMG, talk about monkey mind!!! For Christ sakes, we were in an elevator. I had to say something! So I told him I really enjoyed his class and that I wasn’t from New York. I was just here for about a month. Ok, I opened the door and he stepped right in. “What are you doing in New York?” he asked. By this time we were standing out on the street and he was strapping on his in-line skates (yes, it’s pretty dreamy: he skates to class.) So I gave him the three-minute synopsis: I was in Manhattan with my son while he rehearsed to be in a touring Broadway musical. “What show?” he asked. So I told him about Noah and Billy Elliot. Then he surprised me by saying that he knows all about the sacrifices a mother makes when her child is in a Broadway show because his mom did exactly what I was doing. His sister was the original Annie on Broadway.

At this point I knew exactly who his sister was. I only knew of ONE Broadway child performer by name before I was tossed into the Billy Elliot world. And it was his sister! Honest to God. She was the girl I wanted to be when I was 11. I knew every song from Annie and couldn’t wait to go see it. It was the first Broadway touring musical I ever saw in Boston and I remember it like it was yesterday. But, by the time I saw the show, Mike’s sister wasn’t in the role anymore and I actually recall being disappointed I didn’t get to see her. I thought back to his last name on the yoga schedule. I didn’t make the connection initially and why would I?

Things happen as they should. People are in our life for a purpose, or at least this is what I believe. So certainly there’s a reason I gravitated to his classes and a reason he resonates with me. I mean, really, out of all the yoga studios and teachers in New York City (and trust me there are THOUSANDS), Billy’s mom gravitates to Annie’s brother? In the divine order of life, we were supposed to connect. This is the way things happen for me. Time after time.

I just sort of nodded as he talked about his sister. I decided not to say anything back. We said goodbye and off he skated. I walked slowly back to my apartment with a smile on my face.

Flash forward to last Thursday night. My last class at the studio with Mike. Besides our one conversation, we had not spoken another word, not even at the class I attended a couple of days after that elevator ride.

He played Goodbye Yellow Brick Road loudly. So loudly it would have been annoying if he wasn’t my yoga crush. After class, I just had to say goodbye and thank him for the great classes and inspiration (I didn’t mention the ass cracks although they also kept me coming back.) I asked him if he knew that Elton John wrote the music for Billy Elliot. He had no idea. He also didn’t know I was leaving in a few days for the Midwest. He didn’t even usually play songs with lyrics. But there was a reason he played this song on this day. We were meant to meet. This much I know.

He gave me a big hug. Goodbye Annie. Goodbye yellow brick road.

EPILOGUE: ONE MORE PIECE OF THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD

So I guess the universe had a couple more signs in store for me along the yellow brick road.

Tony Awards Day, Sunday June 10: This was our last full day in New York and along with errands, laundry and packing up, we decided we would try our luck and enter the lottery to buy tickets for “The Book of Mormon.” Just to set the scene — Times Square was filled with theater-goers. I mean, it was TONY SUNDAY! But since this was our ‘hood, we didn’t have to go very far to get to the theater at 12 pm. What we saw were piles of people, camped out on lawn chairs. Oh boy, odds didn’t look good for “The Book of Mormon” lottery.

I should back up here for a moment for those who have no clue what a ticket lottery is (something I just learned about upon landing in Times Square). Basically, anyone can arrive at participating theaters two hours before show time and enter a lottery to buy up to two tickets for $25 each.

After sizing up the crowd outside “The Book of Mormon,” Noah and I decided we’d try our luck elsewhere. Neither of us had seen “Wicked.” So, we walked around the corner, didn’t see any lawn chairs parked outside and tossed our names into the hat. By 1 pm, when they draw the winner’s names, the crowd had grown exponentially. Odds didn’t look good but I had a feeling we had won the second Noah threw his name in.

I was right. Noah won! We got front row seats for $50. I hadn’t given a thought to what the show was about and the connection to the yellow brick road. In fact, only a sliver of the yellow brick road even appeared in this musical, and that wasn’t until the very end. When did it appear? Right before the two witches sang “For Good,” a song I had never heard before. It was about how people come into your life for a reason whether you understand the reason or not. And, these people generally guide you in changing for the good. Crazy huh?

So, the musical was amazing and immediately afterwards we went to Ellen’s Stardust Diner for dinner. For those unfamiliar with Ellen’s, it’s a diner with a singing wait staff, most of whom are waiting out their big Broadway break. Our waitress, Maria, asked us where we were from and that, of course, started the conversation about why we were in New York. Once she found out Noah was rehearsing to be Billy, she said she wanted him to meet someone. Who? A former touring Annie! No kidding! Ten minutes later, another waitress announced that there was a performer in the house who is about to star in a Broadway tour. Next thing you know, Kristine Bogan, aka Annie, is at our table introducing Noah and the whole place is clapping for him.

Now, I still don’t quite understand all the Billy/Annie connections. But I don’t think it matters. It was a magical day and I know something happened “For Good.”

Goodbye New York. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, Etcetera, humor, On the Road, That's Life!, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

It’s the Little Things….

The other day Noah and I were out to lunch at our favorite Chelsea café. I had never had a conversation with the owner, but I knew who he was as I see him nearly every day. On this day, he stopped at our table and said to me, “I know you. And, how could I forget this boy? He’s so polite. Always saying ‘please and thank-you.’ You must be very proud.” Noah smiled shyly. I said thank you and the manager went about his day.

A couple of days later, we went to the Shake Shack in the park instead of the café for lunch. Noah politely ordered his hamburger and shake, sure to say please and thank you as always. The woman at the counter said to me with a smile, “That’s so nice to hear.” I was beaming from ear to ear as we walked away.

Then it hit me: I get to be here to share these moments in time while most children are in school and parents are at work. It’s these little things that make me so proud of Noah and the boy he is growing up to be. Am I proud that he is rehearsing to be Billy Elliot, one of the most difficult roles for a child to play in Broadway history? Damn straight I am. But honestly, I am most proud of the way he is handling change and how humble he remains. I am proud that he is so polite and appreciative of other people. And then it hit me again: I am not just putting my life at home on hold so Noah can live out his dream to perform on a Broadway stage. I am doing this so that I can have the truly incredible opportunity to spend time with my son and be here to notice the “little things.”

Life moves fast. I watched a group of three-year-olds children playing in the park today and thought to myself, “Where did the time go?” I have worked full-time ever since my kids were babies so weekends were always hectic. When it was time for my boys to go to school, that meant even less time together. I worked, they went to school. After-school hours consisted of carpools and constant driving back and forth to dance, play rehearsals, activities, friends’ houses, etc. My kids grew up in the blink of an eye. I missed the little things – they came and went and I wasn’t around to witness them. Until now.

Catching these precious moments with Noah, however, means missing them with the rest of my family, particularly my 16-year-old son Ethan. But I can’t get the time back with him. I can only focus on the here and now. So now I look forward to our phone calls and hang up missing Ethan more. I have noticed, however, that I am paying more attention to what he has to say and when he was in New York visiting, our day together was

Ethan at Ground Zero

the best we’ve had in recent memory. We went to Ground Zero and I saw him go from a silly teenager to a reflective young man. The teenager re-emerged when we got to Mid-Town Comics and Ethan picked out a collectible comic book that he had his eyes on. That day meant the world to me.

I guess I needed to leave behind the day-to-day responsibilities of my “normal” life in order to appreciate what was there all along: two very special boys. Most people never get this chance.

For what it’s worth, this past month in New York has been priceless. I feel as if I am getting to know my own children in a completely new light: not as my kids but as the truly incredible human beings they are. I am so grateful that I am able to witness the little things. I couldn’t be more proud.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, Etcetera, On the Road, Philosophy, That's Life! | Tags: , , , , | 12 Comments

Losing My Identity. Finding a Purpose.

I’ve been in New York for almost four weeks now. The days are running together. I’ve gone from jeans and jackets to T-shirts and shorts in a matter of weeks. And I haven’t left the West Side.

My life has revolved completely around Noah, who is in intensive rehearsals to star as Billy Elliot in Billy Elliot, the National Broadway tour. This is a new feeling, a new way of life for me. If indeed you want to call it my life. For the first time in memory, I don’t have my own “thing” anymore: the comfort of my house, a job, routine, social life, teenage son to prepare for college, dog to walk, etc. My life consists of getting Noah to and from rehearsals, making sure he eats well, ensuring that he gets enough sleep. Well, that’s about it. Sure, I did this for my kids at home along with lots of other stuff. But this is VERY different. Different because it feels as if I am sort of lost in Noah’s life. It’s as if someone plucked me out of my own life and plopped me down in someone else’s. Now, don’t get me wrong….I wouldn’t trade it for the world. As a mother, allowing all my children to live out their dreams is what I’m supposed to do. At least according to my world view. But it doesn’t mean it’s easy or comfortable for that matter. In fact, sometimes I feel like a fish out of water. I forget what day it is. ALL THE TIME. I sit in the tea shop with my iPad or meander through the streets of Chelsea and suddenly it’s pick up time again. At the end of the day, I often return emails and wonder, “What the hell did I do all day?” Sure, I picked up Noah, dropped off Noah, made sandwiches, did laundry and maybe caught a yoga class. But, come on, really?  What did I do?” And somehow the days go by.

Yoga teaches us that we are not our labels, e.g. “wife”, “yoga teacher,” “accidental stage mom.” The opposite of “human doings,” we are “human beings.” We are here on this earth to be present to all that is. Huh? Yeah, I know. Heavy stuff. But it’s true or at least I believe it’s true. We also have a purpose or sometimes more than one purpose. As Princeton says in Avenue Q (this blog would not be complete with at least one Off-Broadway reference), “What is my purpose?” Most of us think of a purpose as a job, career or role as a parent or spouse. But is that really a purpose or is that more like an identity? And if you take an identity away, what then is your purpose?

I think we all basically have the same purpose, as crazy as this sounds. And that is: To just be…be open to all that is, embrace what life throws at you, and be prepared to make changes and/or go with the flow. Be willing to drop your perceived identity in the flash of an eye. And then…here’s the hardest part: Once that identity is gone, be comfortable with who you really are which has nothing to do with your job, career, role or how much money you make.

So, who am I? A yoga teacher? A writer? A wife? An accidental stage mom? Does it matter? Let’s strip away the labels and what’s left?

This is all I know: I am here and this is where I am supposed to be. Maybe being here for Noah, being truly present, is in essence a way back to myself. Maybe I needed to drop everything I know to be able to fully embrace change and just be here now. Maybe Noah is helping me find my way home.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, On the Road, Philosophy, That's Life!, Writing, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

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