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Reality Check

Yoga Sutra 1.8: “Misconception occurs when knowledge of something is not based upon its true form.”

As Sri Swami Satchidananda explains it: “In the twilight you see a coiled rope and mistake it for a snake. You get frightened. There is no snake there in reality; there is a false understanding. But still it created a terror in your mind. It is not only valid knowledge that creates thought waves, but erroneous impressions also.”

We all have things we think to be real or true. Our relationships, our careers, whatever it may be that defines us. But what happens when your truth isn’t quite as you thought it was or should be. What then is the truth? What is real?

I’m going out on a limb here and I will probably piss off some yogis and yoga teachers in the process. But I don’t care. Gotta speak my truth.

And I know, I’ve probably already lost about half of you already…..but stick with me here. It will all make sense in a moment.

I left home in April 2012 and have been touring the US (soon Canada) ever since. Pretty much the only thing that’s kept me somewhat grounded in this tour de force is my yoga practice. Not the sweating, twist-yourself-in-knots type of practice that many Americans consider yoga, but the breathing and simplicity of the practice. Sometimes I just stand in mountain pose so that I can truly feel my feet on the ground. Other times I roll out my mat and do what feels good. And still other times I go to a yoga class. That’s where the truth starts to become fuzzy.

In every city I go to, I search for a yoga class that isn’t hot or power or rock ‘n roll or in a sling shot. I look for the studio that’s been in town the longest or has a teacher older than 19. I’ve been to studios from Los Angeles to New York City and many places in-between including, in no particular order: Wisconsin, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, Vermont, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Some of the studios have been chains, others just small spaces. I can tell you this for sure: yoga ain’t what it used to be. Everyone has a gimmick and everything is FAST. Yup, that’s right: FAST. In all but a couple instances, the classes have been crammed with as many poses as the teacher can think up in an hour, regardless of whether he or she knows how to safely get students from one posture to the next. Music is usually blaring (not that I have anything against loud music, but sometimes it hinders the ability to quiet the mind). The students look like they are competing in a yoga fashion contest hosted by lululemon (sorry, it’s true). Teachers talk incessantly even when they have nothing to say. Most classes have next to no warm-ups or cool-downs. They usually don’t mention the breath or the mind. One had no savasana at all.

Here’s the thing: This is what people want or at least think they want. This is how teachers are learning to practice and instruct.

It’s a sad but honest reflection of our culture. As a society, we don’t know how to slow down but yet we want to do things that are good for us. So we do yoga. Even if we don’t know what that is. We also teach yoga even if we don’t know how or even have an inkling of an idea of the centuries old healing practice that we are passing down.

Let me back up here for a moment. I opened my yoga studio nine years ago. At the time, I was pretty much the only Hatha studio around. Since then, there are now studios within 10 minutes of mine IN EVERY DIRECTION. All but one offer strictly hot, power yoga classes. I’m not even counting the gyms and YMCAs which all also offer yoga. In order for all these studios and classes to serve all those students, there have to be enough teachers. So almost all studios now offer training courses, many of which are franchised or canned (but the students don’t know this). I am not saying these programs are bad or that all teachers don’t know what they are doing. I am just trying to lay it all out there. Teachers are being pumped out faster than you can say Patanjali and students are coming to classes in droves regardless of whether the class is good or bad. They hang on the teacher’s every word even if the teacher has no idea what he is doing or saying. Students think that if they do enough chaturangas, they are doing yoga. Heck, they might even think that 20 chaturanga push-ups will quiet the mind. Skip it, they probably don’t know that stilling the mind and yoga are one and the same.

It’s not just happening in studios. Look at yoga conferences and festivals. Students flock to these big events where the classes are taught by those I now call rock star yoga teachers. These are teachers who have become “famous” in the yoga world and have large followings of students. Some of these teachers are actually very good at teaching yoga. But most are just overwhelmed with their own egos and the large base of students who seek them out in a convention center packed with 150 other adoring students. Most of these teachers are under 35 years old and many have been teaching this ancient healing art for less than eight years (that’s my unscientific poll but I betcha I’m right on the money here). I’ll admit it: there was a time when I aspired to teach at these big conferences. When people pay money to come to your classes or workshops, even if the money goes to charity, it feeds the ego. No getting around it. But after witnessing what I have over the past eight months, I want none of this.

Wanderlust Austin

Wanderlust Austin

DSCN0733

Me and my gal Michelle

It all hit home in Austin, Texas. Michelle, one of my closest friends, lives there. We did our yoga teacher training together at Maha Yoga Center with a gifted and wise teacher. For the past four years Michelle has been whining about the yoga scene in Austin. I keep encouraging her to teach because, well, she’s the real deal. She has tried but can’t seem to find a studio to teach at — somewhere she can keep it real. She said all the studios are hot or power or fast or gimmicky. She said all the studio directors and teachers don’t know a thing about anatomy and sure as heck can’t teach a breathing technique. I didn’t believe her. I mean, really, Austin? It’s a pretty progressive city with lots of yogis. Since I try to take a class in every city I visit, I was determined to hit a studio in Austin with my yogini friend Michelle. We picked a studio named after its famous circuit of yoga festivals: Wanderlust. It looked hip and fun. Let’s just stop there….We walked into a noontime class and had to restrain ourselves from laughing out loud. The skinny teacher in perfect yoga clothes had us rolling on the floor, literally. We rolled and then jumped up. Rolled and jumped up. Rolled and jumped up. We did a few fast poses in-between the rolling and jumping and then she bid us adieu. No rest for the weary. No savasana.”That wasn’t even on the top five worst classes in Austin,” said Michelle as we walked out. I raced back to my hotel to roll out my yoga mat. My nervous system was completely out of whack.

I know, I know. To each their own. But really, call that what you want, but don’t call it yoga. To me (and you are welcome to disagree) yoga was and is about quieting the mind, breathing, finding stillness, feeling grounded and balanced. It’s about moving in a way that makes sense and is rooted in anatomy and yogic science. It’s about being honest with yourself and your students. It’s about knowing your limitations. It’s about slowing down so that you can listen and hear your own inner voice: the voice of intuition. It’s about finding stillness amid the activity. Try doing 20 poses on both sides in an hour. There’s simply no time for stillness. Police give fast drivers speeding tickets. Who is going to slow you down in life? Just you.

Witnessing the yoga scene around the country has caused me to consider closing my studio on several occasions. I’ve become skeptical of myself. I mean, what is my purpose for being here when I’m losing the battle to hot yoga studios, fast classes, and DVDs/podcasts that promise results in 20 minutes? I have often wondered if perhaps I’ve got it all wrong. But then I come home and realize that what we are doing here is worth it. Regardless of whether we’ve got five students or 500.

This is real.

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Categories: Etcetera, humor, On the Road, Philosophy, That's Life!, Travel, Truth, Uncategorized, Writing, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

2012 in review: Thanks everyone for reading!!!!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 11,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 18 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, humor, On the Road, Philosophy, That's Life!, Uncategorized, Writing, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Without Love It Ain’t Much………

Really? Sheila E.? I’ve quoted lots of famous folks but never her. But this time this line, this one phrase, warrants a quote (you can ignore the rest of the song if you want):

She wants to lead the Glamorous Life
Without love
It ain’t much

About the only thing I have in common with this are the last two lines. I never wanted to lead the Glamorous Life. And tour life certainly ain’t it.

I just figured since it’s almost Christmas and all that, it would be a good time for me to reflect on what’s really important in this human existence: to me that is family, friends, shelter, good food, and of course love (clean laundry and a car go a long way too!) I know I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again (well, because damn it, it’s my blog and I can if I want to): you learn a lot about yourself and others when you live on the road — floating between different hotels and cities every week. Although I wouldn’t trade this for the world because it means everything to Noah, it certainly ain’t no glamorous life.

Let’s take Monday for example. In my world, Mondays are travel days. We leave one city behind and head to the next. This week, we left Austin early in the morning to catch a direct, non-stop flight to Baltimore. I had all good intentions of making it here (that would be Baltimore at the moment) by dinnertime to enjoy a meal with my parents and cousins. Well, we left Austin on time and 2 1/2 hours into a three hour flight, the flight attendant announced we were turning around to refuel in Little Rock, Arkansas and then head BACK to Austin. Seriously? Seriously. So, for the second time in my life in the same one week span, I found myself on a plane landing in Arkansas. We took off a mere 30 minutes later and went right back to where we started from. We deplaned 4 1/2 hours after traveling around the country. Welcome to Austin, er, Groundhog Day.

The airline folks could not book us on a plane to Baltimore until Thursday. Meanwhile, it was 6 pm Monday and Noah was opening the Billy Elliot run the very next day, IN BALTIMORE. Meanwhile, all flights to Baltimore were canceled due to heavy fog and the entire Billy Elliot cast, on various flights, were all in the same boat. Some did make it to Baltimore via Washington DC at 2 am Tuesday morning. The rest of us headed back to the same hotel we checked out of earlier that morning. Noah and I ended up rebooking ourselves on a flight on a different airline the next morning with a couple other castmates to NEWARK. So we had dinner, went to bed and tried the same thing the next day. Luckily, all went smoothly this time. We made it to Newark by 11:30 am, got a rental car and drove three hours to Baltimore.

Noah made it here in time to open the show. Somehow he had bountiful energy and did an amazing job, or so my relatives and the reviewers said. I was too tired to even think about going to the show.

Wednesday was a blur. Usually Tuesday is our “settle in” day — yup, following travel Monday. We buy food for the week, try to make the boxy hotel room feel a little more Jumpin' in Baltimorehomey, get our bearings around the new city, find the Starbucks, etc. There was no time for that. We were up super early, again, and Noah headed out to do several TV and radio interviews. This is always a blast for him and again, his energy was up and he was incredibly articulate with the various reporters. Nothing but a polished professional. I was the one dragging. After the press appearances, I brought Noah to tutoring and I FINALLY headed out to buy food with my relatives in tow. After stocking up on food and snacks, I picked Noah up, we grabbed a quick bite and headed to the theater for his physical therapy appointment. OK, you get the jist. Non-stop running around.

As if this craziness isn’t enough, not all of our hotels — mind you, these are our HOMES — are what we might consider comfortable. Most of them are problem-free but not this time around. I can’t even begin to list the issues various cast members have had at this hotel: bugs in the rooms, mold, no hot water or only hot water. The list goes on. I won’t mention the name of the hotel because well, it’s almost Christmas and that wouldn’t be nice. Also, the staff here has gone above and beyond in trying to fix the issues and my room is quite liveable at the moment. But still…..

In the midst of this, I somehow manage to run my yoga studio at home. Don’t ask me how. Even I don’t know most of the time.

My cousin asked me what I do all day when Noah is in the show, rehearsals, dance classes, press, school and so on. I tried to explain but then I just sound ridiculous. I somehow have not a spare second.

It ain’t glamorous. I miss my house, my husband, my sons, my parents, my dog, my community. But it’s our life right now and I just have to keep everything in perspective. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime that we are grateful to have. Noah loves it and without love, it ain’t much. That’s all that counts.

Just don’t ask me if I want to go on a plane to a hotel on vacation when this tour is over. I think I’ll opt for the tranquility of my own house for a while.

From Baltimore to your home: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have” — Anna Quindlen

It’s been an interesting ride, these past six months. As I sit here — taking a break from organizing our suitcases once again — I am contemplating where do we go from here? Not just Noah or Noah and I, but our family and my yoga studio?

But first, let me backtrack for a moment…..we arrived home on Monday, Nov. 19 and turned around the very next day to head into New York City. That was a whirlwind, albeit a successful day. We hit Massachusetts again on Wednesday at 1 am and I spent that day preparing to host 20 people at our house for Thanksgiving. It was a fabulous day but I’m glad I can check that one off the list. I taught a post-Thanksgiving detox flow yoga class on Friday morning. We hit the Nutcracker opening night on Friday night and spent the weekend organizing our lives to hit the road again — for six months!

Packing for long trips can tell you a lot about yourself. I’m serious here. For me, I’ve discovered that I don’t need much to live comfortably. Which brings me to my life as I used to know it. Coming home to my big house in the suburbs (never felt big before but after living for months in one hotel room, it sure feels big now), on a couple of acres of land with a yoga studio on the property was my dream. I guess the operative word here is “was”. I’m not sure it “is” anymore. I thought this was going to be my life. Living in this beautiful place with my incredible family. Running a yoga studio. Teaching classes. Being a mom to my children and having the flexibility to be available when they needed me.

But my oldest son is a junior in high school with only about 18 months left living here, I am living on the road with Noah, my husband works in Boston and my step-son lives closer to the city as well. Nobody’s life seems to be here or will be here anymore. The reality of all of this hit home this week, this Thanksgiving week. I can’t see Noah going back to Sharon High School after Billy Elliot. Not sure where he’ll go but it likely won’t be here. And what about me? Do I want to try to go back to my old life? And therein lies the struggle.

Should I stay or should I go? Being on tour could give me a good excuse not to think about this pressing question. But this would be just a temporary escape in just about every way. I’d rather deal with it head on as it just won’t leave my head otherwise.

You see, it’s not just a matter of whether or not to stay in this physical place. It’s a matter of moving on emotionally and spiritually.  We’ve all experienced this in some way or another. Even if you don’t think you have — trust me, you have. More often than not, we opt not to deal with the fork in the road. It’s easier to stay stuck. Why? It’s familiar, it’s routine. It’s simply easier than moving in a completely new direction. But the signs are usually there. In fact, they are ALWAYS there. It’s just a matter of being open to seeing them. It’s a matter of listening when the noise seems way too loud. As one of my yoga students said in class Friday, “no matter what decision you make, you need to be at perfect peace.” You need to listen first in order to arrive at this peace.

I keep seeing the signs. I know where peace lies. The universe also knows and it always shows us the way. I am thankful for that.

The signs were loud and clear a couple of weeks ago.  In early November — before we went to Indianapolis for the Billy Elliot run — Noah, Joel and I spent three days in Los Angeles. We had some meetings there, Joel was going to work out of his law firm’s L.A. office, and we were going to see family (ironically both my 1st and 2nd husbands are from Southern California so about 2/3 of Noah’s extended family lives there). I also lived in L.A. for 14 years and went to college at U.S.C. (before Noah was born) so it always feels like a homecoming to me. But this time felt different from every other time I’ve been there to visit over the past decade. We stayed in Studio City, where I used to live. It felt eerily like home, like my “current” home. About 14 years ago, when Ethan was two years old, I convinced my ex-husband to leave this place. I didn’t want to raise my kids in this showbiz bubble. Yet, somehow we ended up in this showbiz bubble. I even married Joel, whose family works in the entertainment industry in L.A. Somehow this felt uncannily comfortable to me.

The signs have been loud and clear this week too although I’ve had to fight not to muffle those loud signs. After a week in Indianapolis and coming home to the Boston area for a week, the only thing that really feels like home to me here is my family. All of them, quirks and all. Yet the place, this place, doesn’t seem to matter to me anymore. My career, my studio, my house…..they all feel like paperweights. They no longer define me (in fact they never did, I just thought they did).

Which brings me back to that question: Should I stay or should I go? And if I go, where to? I guess the important thing for me is……the place doesn’t really matter. I know the answer and there’s no looking back.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, On the Road, Philosophy, That's Life!, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

Straddling Two Worlds

Hello again! Since I had no time to write while I was “home” in Boston, well sort of home, I am considering this blog post a reflection of the whirlwind time we spent there during the Billy Elliot run from July 24-August 19.

Some of the veteran touring parents warned me that when a show plays in your home city, this is the most exhausting time on the entire tour. Still a newbie to all of this, I didn’t believe them. Let’s call me a believer now. You see, being home while “on tour” means you have to straddle two worlds: life at home and life on the road. This is not just tiring but surreal on many levels.

Let me back up by saying that the run in Boston was nothing short of incredible for our entire family. Based on what we are aware of, at least 750 people we know came to one of Noah’s performances (I didn’t realize we had that many connections!) And we keep hearing of yet more friends who were there. At one show alone, about 400 people from Noah’s Boston dance family were in attendance. The audience went nuts the second the stage manager announced “The role of Billy tonight will be played by Noah Parets.” And that was before he even hit the stage.

Because of the throngs of people coming to each one of Noah’s shows, I went to most of them as well. I sat with different people at each show and had the opportunity to catch up with friends and family by grabbing dinner or a drink before or afterwards. If it were not for this, I would not have had time to see so many people who I wanted to catch up with.

That aside, while in Boston, we tried to divide our time between staying in the city (much easier to get to the rehearsal halls, theater, and hotel) and our house out in the ‘burbs. I thought it would be a relaxing month as I would be able to spend time at home with my husband, older son Ethan, and dog. Reality check: not relaxing at all.

Straddling two worlds is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Huh? I know, sounds like the Twilight Zone and yes, it sort of felt like I was living in an episode of the Sci-Fi series. On one hand, I had my “normal” life at home with my family, my kitchen, my yoga studio, my own bed, my stuff, my car, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I even managed to teach a couple of yoga classes. On the other hand, I was still on tour albeit in Boston. I still had to rush around all day long and get Noah to where he needed to go, make sure he ate balanced meals, got enough sleep. And of course, we were at the theater for each show to meet all of those people. This went on for a month – six days a week. Each weekend, I would try to plot out the plan for the week. This only worked out about half the time. The rehearsal schedule perhaps changed or my older son needed a ride to his summer job or I needed to get home for the dog. Noah’s dad helped out a lot too and if timing worked out right, he could take over on the Noah end of things so I could return to my normal life for a day or two – uninterrupted.

Being home was like being literally dropped from outer space back into my day-to-day life. Nothing had changed but yet I had. Things looked and felt different to me. The pace was much slower than I had become used to. Everyone went to sleep by 11 pm – imagine that! Even my own bed felt foreign to me at first. On the last Sunday of the show run in Boston, we went back to the hotel with everyone else. There was a good-bye pool party which ran late into the night for a much-loved child who was leaving the show. There were tears and laughter. This felt strangely normal. I felt at home amid the chaos.

On the following day, we returned to our “real” home for two weeks. It was quiet and there were no late nights with tons of people around. It felt strangely strange.

Which brings me to now. Here we are in Detroit. No more crowds of people to meet at every one of Noah’s shows. Instead, I am settling into a routine once again. Now I have just this one life, this life on the road with our Billy Elliot family. It may look a bit different depending on which city we’re in. But it’s still one life. No more straddling two worlds. It is positively peaceful.

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, Etcetera, On the Road, That's Life!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Good God!

Jesus found his way back. Thank God.

It’s not what you think. Actually, I have no idea what you think.

Jesus Saves

Jesus is really Israel. And praise the lord I have friends who spy on my house or I would never have known Israel was even there. Confused? I bet….Israel, you see, is the tile guy who was at my house in Sharon, Ma. today finishing the tile work on my bathroom that has been under a remodel for two months. Israel drives a truck that says in bold letters across the back, “My GPS Is Jesus Christ.” If you ask me, Israel was heaven-sent. Before delving into a discussion about why my house is still being remodeled, I need to turn the focus back to Israel, er Jesus. Israel, the Brazilian tile dude, is in seminary school studying to become a minister. So this explains his truck and the reason why he says a prayer for everyone. I didn’t make this up. I couldn’t have if I tried.

We kind of like having him around. It’s not his fault that he disappeared for a month. In fact, the bathroom was supposed to be finished three weeks ago. But, as Joel likes to say, these types of jobs are always one-and-a-half times the estimated cost and take twice as long to complete as they’re supposed to. It doesn’t matter how much praying you do. On time construction projects are damn-near miracles. So far he’s been right on both accounts. In defense of Israel (don’t worry – this blog is not going all political on you), he’s not the general contractor and he could not complete his part until the other parts were done and ready to go. If any of you have ever remodeled a kitchen or bathroom, you certainly know what this is like. You could be sitting around waiting for days or even weeks for an electrician, plumber, painter or another key player to show up. In the meantime, fast-food becomes your friend and cramming the whole family into one bathroom becomes the norm. Not that I am complaining about the bathroom situation, especially seeing as my toileting facility in New York is tinier than the smallest bathroom in my house. I share my NYC bathroom with Noah and sometimes my husband. I should clarify: Joel is always my husband, but he only sometimes stays with us in New York and shares the bathroom.

Okay, back to Jesus. The home remodel project went on hiatus, apparently. We didn’t ask for this “break.” In fact, I was really “praying” to use my own bathroom when I was home last weekend as now I won’t be able to use it until July. And god-willing, it’s finished by then! But no such luck on my recent trip home. In fact, I get a call every day from Joel: “Nope…no one was here today. Everything still looks the same as when you left.”

But TODAY, the Jesus Saves truck was parked in front of my house! Hallelujah.

How did I know this? Heidi, the new manager at Breathe Joy Yoga, drove by to teach her yoga class and saw the truck. Religious about keeping a vigilant eye on the comings and goings around my house, she snapped a picture, texted it to me with the message “Jesus Is Back”.

“Praise the Lord” I texted back. I called Joel and he confirmed the good news. Israel showed up bright and early.  It turns out that he needs to replace a bunch of tiles because the stone wasn’t installed correctly.

Oh lord.

Categories: Etcetera, humor, On the Road, That's Life!, Uncategorized, Writing | 2 Comments

Pass the Epsom Salt Please………

Long time, no write…..As you can guess, we’ve been busy. Well, Noah’s been busy and I’ve just, well, had no time……Our whirlwind started last week in Los Angeles when Noah began his dance training, wardrobe fittings, physical therapy, core cardio classes, and tutoring with the Billys.  For me, this meant trips back and forth to IDA (International Dance Academy) and The Pantages Theater (where Billy Elliot is playing) in Hollywood, and the makeshift school set up in Oakwood Apartments, building E, in Burbank.

And now we’re in New York City, Hell’s Kitchen to be exact. Funny how I had been here for four days before I realized exactly what neighborhood our small one-bedroom apartment was in. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have much time. But little by little, I am getting to know this pretty cool neighborhood. Noah, on the other hand, has basically seen the inside of our apartment and the studio where he is rehearsing in Chelsea (17 blocks downtown). That’s because he’s in rehearsals and tutoring from 9-9 six days a week. He went in Noah on Monday, May 7 and will emerge Billy Elliot on Saturday, June 10.

Ok, so now you’re probably thinking: what the heck am I am doing for 12 hours a day and why haven’t I had any time to write? I know, I know, it doesn’t seem to add up, does it? Well, here’s the low-down: think of it like the first year of a newborn baby’s life. For first-time moms (or dads), taking a year off from work after your baby is born seems like a luxury until you leave the hospital. Right? Suddenly you are home for entire days at a time and have no idea where the days went. You wake up after little to no sleep, feed the baby, change diapers, put the baby down for a nap and repeat. In between, you may have an hour or quite possibly 2-3 hours to do a load of laundry or make food for yourself. And then you are onto the same thing the next day. Essentially, you have windows of time all day long but not enough of a block of time to get anything substantial done. This is the best analogy for my life right now.

With the way “Billy” training works, I need to get Noah there in the morning and pick him up at 9 (or trade-off with the other Billy-in-training’s parents). Then, I have to be back to meet him for lunch and dinner breaks. Don’t ask…something about labor laws. All these trips require time to get there and back. You guessed it: leaving only small windows in-between. I decided that today I would grab one of these small windows and crank out this blog post.

Among the other essential things I’ve managed to do in my small windows: order food online as I realized I cannot shop the way I do at home. I figured this out quickly on Sunday night when I tried to carry four bags of food several blocks. I also bought a subway pass, met a New Yorker friend to check out a condo uptown, bought toiletries as the apartment was barebones when we arrived, visited a dermatologist as I needed a prescription, did a load of laundry, and took a yoga class (restorative yoga is in the cards for my window tonight — woo hoo!) I considered getting my nails done at the nail salon right next door but I didn’t think my window was long enough. So, the nails will have to be a mess until I get a bigger window. Oh, and I bought some epsom salt and frozen peas for Noah.

Except that all this doing nothing is exhausting and I think I’ll leave the peas to Noah tonight and reserve the warm epsom salt bath for me. It’ll be an evening of salted peas for us…..

Categories: Accidental Stage Mom, On the Road, That's Life!, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Life in a Snow Globe

One day you are living your regular life. For me this was a mixture of carting my kids around to various lessons, teaching yoga classes, running the day-to-day operations of Breathe Joy Yoga, possibly having to figure out dinner, going to sleep and starting the cycle all over again. Granted, there were days when there were more things thrown into the mix, such as doctor’s appointments, a trip to Whole Foods or OfficeMax or maybe a minor crisis or two to deal with at the studio or on the home front. Life was busy and most of us can relate to this.

I thought I knew what busy felt like…until someone picked up my life and shook it. I call this the Snow Globe syndrome. Suddenly I didn’t know when I would touch ground again or where I would land. And, no matter how hard I tried to dig my feet deeper into the snow, the force of change was just too powerful and up, up, up again I would go — into the air with no grounding in sight.

In my case, the snow globe started shaking when my incredibly talented 12-year-old son Noah was offered the lead role of Billy Elliot in the National Broadway tour, “Billy Elliot.” For our family, there was simply no other choice: Noah had to play this role and dance, act and sing on the big stage. It is his passion and who are we as parents to extinguish this in our children?

So this was a no-brainer. It was a resounding “YES” to taking the role. Then the snow globe started to shake. Vigorously. Accepting the role was just the first part in all this change. Accepting the change was yet an even bigger part in this role called life, my life. First of all, I would need to go with Noah on the road, leaving behind my yoga studio, my husband Joel of less than two years, my 16-year-old son Ethan, my 10-year-old step-son Jacob, and my dog Phoebe. It meant I would have about six weeks to tie up life as I know it, including hiring and training someone to manage Breathe Joy Yoga, hiring a cadre of new yoga teachers, figuring out a plan for Ethan to live between our house with his step-dad and his dad’s house one town over, getting all the paperwork in order for Noah’s on the road education, hiring dog walkers and dog sitters for Phoebe and a bunch of other things. Oh, and I didn’t yet mention that my major home remodeling project started just a month ago, meaning my house is being ripped apart as I write this. As the universe would have it, I hadn’t done a thing to the interior of my home since I bought the place almost nine years ago. It was circa 1980s chic. And yes, there is no such thing as that. So, for months we have been planning this remodel and alas, the work began days after Noah got cast as Billy. But the snow globe was already shaking so putting the brakes on the remodel was not an option.

There you have it: everything is changing. One month from today, while my physical home is still being remodeled, I will be living in Los Angeles, then New York City, then Des Moines, Iowa, then somewhere in Wisconsin and so on, and so on, and so on. Noah and I will literally be criss-crossing the country and Canada. I have no idea where we are staying as the touring company is in charge of that. So, I don’t expect the snow globe to stop shaking anytime soon.

About this time you might be thinking: what does yoga have to do with all this stuff about shaking snow? A lot, actually. Yoga teaches us that we don’t have to be in or at our physical home to feel grounded. Our only true home is inside of us at all times. And we can find hOMe by connecting to first chakra energy.

There are seven chakras running from the base of the spine to the crown of the head and each one is associated with different physical and emotional balances and imbalances (to learn more about the chakra system, I recommend the books Eastern Body Western Mind by Anodea Judith and Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss). The support of our family of origin and community is related directly to the first chakra, also known as the root chakra.

First chakra energy is inherent in our connection to family, which sometimes includes ethnic and religious traditions. These rituals and traditions help form our identities as we grow up. This is also formulative to our emotional and mental health. On a physical level, we primarily feel this “rooted” and “grounded” connection through our feet, legs, spinal column and bones. On an emotional level, our connections to family and community help support our mental and financial survival, as well as our ability to stand up for ourselves and stay strong in the face of adversity. First chakra energy manifests as a need for order and structure in our lives. And a balanced first chakra leads to a feeling of safety and prosperity in the world.

Knowing that I soon will be away from my physical home, community and family already feels as if my first chakra is being ripped out from under me. Order and structure is disappearing day by day. I have to keep reminding myself to feel my feet on the ground. Yoga asanas like Tadasana (mountain pose), Virabhadrasana I and II (Warrior I and II) and Tree pose (Vrksasana) are just some of the standing, grounding poses that I have found particularly helpful over the past month. (A good basic book to learn more asanas is Hatha Yoga Illustrated by Martin Kirk and Brooke Boon.) In addition, I have found meditation, pranayama (breathing techniques) and simply pausing long enough to stand tall and feel my own two feet particularly helpful as well.

Through all this change, yoga reminds me that I don’t have to be physically home or with my family to feel at home. As long as I keep connecting and grounding within,  it doesn’t matter where I go or where I am living.  I will always be hOMe regardless of where the snow falls.

Categories: That's Life!, Uncategorized, Yoga | Tags: , , , , | 12 Comments

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