Showing posts from 2011

Yoga Is...

There's a great conversation going in the yoga blogs about the commercialization/sexualization of yoga and the commodification of women's bodies in the process. A regular complaint in the blogs and their comment sections is the lack of diverse images of yogis, particularly in advertising for yoga products. The predominant image of yogis being fit, bendy, young white women has been accused of scaring away people that might benefit enormously from the practice. Being a rabid yoga evangelist, I can't tell you how many times I've been told by someone that they're not "young/thin/flexible enough" to do yoga...and you can't blame them for believing that when the images they are exposed to show them physical forms that they don't apparently resemble in poses that seem laughably impossible.

Today I came across an article about a nonagenarian named Bernice who is being touted as the "world's oldest yoga teacher" by the Guinness Book of World …

It's Complicated.

When I started so purkh-ing over a year ago, I did it with the intention of blessing and elevating my dad and brother, and resolving any lingering emotion in relationships past. The prayer can be applied for the purpose of calling in one's Beloved, but all I really needed at the time was a clean break. I wasn't in the market for a lifelong partner.

Similarly, when I set up my online dating profile I was still not looking for a mate. I just wanted to date in a normal, Hollywood movie way and get a better understanding of dudes. It's been a real mixed bag of an experiment. One guy got so upset when I wasn't comfortable coming over to his house after the first date ("I thought I did a good job proving that I'm not crazy." Ahem.) that he determined that we could never be together. Another fella smiled and flirted and smiled, sent me links to his music and never called again. And then there was the guy in rainbow cheetah print leggings. We won't get into t…

Chapter Nine: Meeting the Natural Limit

There is a particularly searing Dear Sugar letter response with a quote that I love which has been resonating lately:
"Limits are not punishments, but rather lucid and respectful expressions of our needs and desires and capabilities."

Everyone has natural limits to what they are able to offer one another. They don't always express them in a lucid, respectful fashion, but when you meet someone's limit, you know it. When we have a need and it falls outside of a person's limitations, it can be really upsetting and we often take this personally as a rejection or criticism. I had a conversation with a dear friend today about this and framed it this way:
Say you really want me to tightrope walk. I don't know how and am afraid of falling so am unwilling to try. As much as you may need or want me to perform this daring-do, it falls outside of my limitations and it has nothing to do with you or your value.

Let's apply this same idea to human relationship needs. Per…

Chapter Ten: The Bright Light

Florence Nightingale's name has been badly maligned in order to describe caregivers who form emotional attachments to their patients. FloNi was no sap, though. She was a strong, courageous woman who flouted the wishes of her family and the conventions of society in order to pursue her passion. She gained the nickname "The Lady with the Lamp" from a quote in a report on her work in the Crimean War:
"She is a ‘ministering angel’ without any exaggeration in these hospitals, and as her slender form glides quietly along each corridor, every poor fellow's face softens with gratitude at the sight of her. When all the medical officers have retired for the night and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds."

The bright lights stand out in stark contrast to the darkness around them and attract an enormous amount of attention. Some people, unac…

The Rise of a New Nuclear

Awhile back I jokingly suggested to a very beloved gay friend that he and I might have a baby together if I reached a certain age and had yet to have the parent experience. He took to the idea better than I expected and we've been talking about it since. I don't know how serious he is (how serious are you about this, honey?) but the more I date, the more viable the idea becomes. Who says babies have to be born to people in a romantic partnership? Why not co-parent with a close friend you genuinely love, with whom you share important values and interests? Aside from the fact that all the homos we go to happy hour with agree that our baby would be beautiful. And that's what really matters, right?

Lately I've been living with my cousin and her daughter, my goddaughter, and informally exploring the possibilities available in the world of family, partnership and child rearing. I am by no means my godbaby's mother- I am far too indulgent to be anything but an auntie- but…

Chapter Three: Occupy Your Body

Let's forgo a whole lot of suspense and drama with this big ol' Spoiler Alert: The only person you can ever really significantly hope to change or control is yourself, home fry. March and occupy and scream and wave signs all you want to, but if you don't make internal shifts to become the person who can inhabit a new, elevated world, how in the heck do you expect the people of Wall Street to do so?

And make no mistake: as much as some might want to demon- and other-ize the "1%", they are people. They were born of mothers who loved them fiercely just like you were. They eat and breathe and make love and feel pain and elation. Separation is not the answer. What we need more than anything else in this world at this time is a softening to one another. We need to get real soft and real gentle, to begin to see our own reflection mirrored back in the eyes of those who seem so very foreign and so very "other." These big, nasty egos keep us apart, tell us that w…

Chapter Six: Cruel to Be Kind

Let's begin with a conversation about Karma. Karma is about cause and effect. You reap what you sow. What goes around comes around, etc. Karmic actions are actions which are incomplete. The "live a good life" goal is for our choices to be aligned with the principle of ahimsa- to do no harm, to act with kindness and non-violence toward all beings. When we lean away from ahimsa in thought, word and deed, we generate ripples that can turn to waves and make big messes for us to clean up later. When we act in line with ahimsa our actions are expansive, elevating and life giving. If you think and act and speak unkindly, you will later be held responsible for those choices in ways that are perhaps uncomfortable. This is karma- the bummer effect of d-bag behavior.

As I age, I become increasingly sensitive to the size and quality of the impact that I am making in the world, or rather, the amount of karma I am generating or not. I want to preserve and ripple, build and destruct in…

Interweb Dating, Part 2: Lightening the Mood

The other day I read that as of October 31st there will be 7 billion people on the planet. Being in full-on prowl mode, I calculated that approximately half a billion of those people are men. I don't know how many of those half a billion men fall within my dateable age range of 26 to 33, but I reckon that's still a whole lot of dudes.

This has been the beautiful revelation of my online dating experiment: there are just so many men to choose from in the world! The majority of the men I'm coming across aren't interesting to me, but several of them are and as I am not patient and tactful enough to pull off polyamory, I'm not looking for many men- just one, really great guy. Out of all the possibilities on the planet, there absolutely must be someone out there who's a good match for me. How could there not be? In terms of probability, I might have a better chance of winning the lottery than of not finding a partner.

Being a passionate woman of extremes, in the pas…

Meditations on Interweb Dating

In the throes of talks about guys on the return leg of a little road trip last week, a friend of mine recommended that I try online dating. I had a brief, bored-and-sick-at-home foray into this scene over a year ago that scared me off. It just felt so artificial, with all the guys who contacted me all but sending me a copy of their bank statement. For the record, I genuinely don't care what a guy does for a living or how much money he makes so long as he's happy and doesn't complain about his situation without doing anything about it. Really. I think it's unfair that guys have to pay for everything all the time, unless they really want to- then, please, by all means. I won't object to being treated but I am just as happy going dutch. It's just my style.

This makes me sound cooler and nicer than I think I might actually be. See, I took my friend's advice and opened an account on a dating website. Not to brag, but in the past five days I've been contacted…


My 21 year old self used the word "hella" non-ironically.
She worked three jobs, went to school full time and went out dancing 3-4 nights a week.
Unsurprisingly, she regularly slept in until 2:00pm on the weekends.
She made a lot of lists and schedules.
She loved school.
She cursed like a trucker.
She lost her dear friend and cousin to leukemia, and handled the news with tears and a bottle of champagne in the bathtub.
She was a great record keeper.
She was unabashedly, brutally honest in private, incredibly passive and non-confrontational in public.
She lived in her head and could be really hard on herself.
She was a wild, spontaneous party girl.
She fell absolutely head over heels in love with New York City.
She was an expert in turmoil creation.

Recently I dug through my livejournal in search of the name of a sweet sailor I met years ago in a Hawaiian bar when I was barely old enough to be there. In looking for the gentleman's name, I ended up sifting through a year&…

Conquering That Which is Unconscious.

Say you have a bad habit. Perhaps it's a habit that is so deeply ingrained that even once you're aware of it, you cannot stop. Specifically speaking, I have a talent for attracting damaged men. As damaged as they may be, the one, real common factor amongst them is me, so the truly damaged thing is how attractive I find them. I've identified and admitted my problem, and yet, even with all this consciousness, my damagedar is just as keen as my gaydar. The one emotionally fucked man in the room and I will inevitably find each other, make a powerful connection, I will reach out and he will never respond.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

As I grow in self-love, this cycle becomes less satisfying with each heartache. I am unhappy and for the first time actually think that this is a problem to be solved. My big question is, how in the hell do you stop doing something that's so unconscious? When the people you are instantly attracted to always end up being the same type of person, I suppo…

Preface: Where Babies Come From

Our story, yours and mine, begins as so many stories do, with a girl and a boy. Not just one set of girl and boy, though, but with hundreds of couples who came together to make new life, reaching through time and space back to an ancient place, oh-so-long ago. We are the outcome of an infinite number of other people's choices and a whole lot of grace. Allow your mind to wander back through the generations, tracing your way through the delicate, intricate path that brought your being into the world, and then you try to tell me that the things that people do don't matter. Our decisions matter precious much, not just to those alive today, but to all those who are to come. The ripples we ripple reach farther than we can see. Never doubt your importance in the grand scheme of things.

In love or indifference, in lust or intoxicated, in the traditional bed or the back of a car, our parents got down and we sprung into being. Our bodies began as two distinctly different pieces of organ…

Your Body is Beautiful.

My mother bought me my first bra at 9 years old out of necessity. Unaccustomed to such accoutrements, I almost always forgot to wear it and would panic when I remembered my new, missing article of clothing. My breasts arrived amply and without warning, becoming the source of a good deal of embarrassment and shame. I got into the habit of wearing baggy, ill-fitting clothes to hide what I didn't realize were lovely curves, and began to identify as a "big girl." I have never really been overweight, but I didn't look like the models in Seventeen and YM, and to me that equated to being fat. So I hid my body under my big clothes and hoped that no one would notice me and my feared, resented breasts.

Then I went to college and started taking ballet three mornings a week and practicing on my days off. This physical activity combined with shifting hormones led to loss of baby fat and my favorite high school teacher questioning my eating habits when I went to visit her over my …


There is nothing that irritates the shit out of me more than being lied to. When I ask a question, especially a specific, direct one, I expect an honest answer. If I didn't want to know, I wouldn't ask. Believe me, I know that telling the truth can be really tricky. I have not always been perfectly honest. I've been known to exaggerate, bend the truth or omit things altogether. We've all been in situations where telling the truth seems absolutely unthinkable, the confrontation simply too much to bear. Confrontation used to terrify me- even small, silly things like calling the phone company. It's been one of my greatest learning curves, one that I still work on daily, to gracefully navigate confrontation and speak my truth.

Practicing doing so and becoming more confident has not necessarily made it any less complicated, though. Yogi Bhajan said about communication: "Let your words be straight, simple and with a smile," but it can be awfully difficult to fi…

Anchors Within!

The tattoo spanning the upper middle part of my back is an anchor. Inscribed on said anchor is the first part of this Sanskrit quote: "As the Mind, so the Man./ Bondage or Liberation are in your own Mind."
My life is grounded in this philosophy. It is the essence of Raja Yoga, the royal yoga of the mind, from which all yogic forms were derived. The second Yoga Sutra states that "the restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga." Plainly spoken, the entire goal of yoga is to control the mind. If we have control over our mind we cannot be bound by anything outside of ourselves. It means becoming unfailingly neutral: being able to perceive the happenings of the world without allowing our experiences to create ripples in the pond or making decisions about how things are. It means approaching every moment with curiosity instead of judgement: "Oh hello! What is this? How interesting!"

This is not meant to be an exposition on the Sutras, though. Ten …

Mama Knows Best

Ben Folds has a song about a couple on the verge of breaking up that I hold in mind when I start to get self-righteous about someone I feel I've "helped." It's this particular part that humbles me every time:
She said, "You've been pushing me like I was a sore tooth.
You can't respect me 'cause I've done so much for you."
He said, "Well I hate that it's come to this
But baby I was doing fine. How do you think
That I survived the other 25 before you?"

On Monday night my cousin took me to a talk at the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley, where we heard Kavita Ramdas speak about the value of investing in women and so-called "women's issues" that really concern the whole population (trivial things like education and health care, pfft). She challenged the very word "developing," asking us to consider what these countries were supposed to be developing into, exactly. Considering the current eco…

The Curse of Too Much, Not Enough

"Am I okay? Am I okay? Am I okay?" I am plagued by this question. Every moment of every day it rolls around in the depths of my subconscious, seeking an answer in everyone else's words and actions. When I look in your eyes, no matter what I ask aloud, I am really asking you if I am okay.

"Am I okay?"

The implication in asking is that I do not believe that I am okay. For reasons obvious and still opaque, I have come to this point in my life thinking that there is some terrible flaw in my very make up- something about me that makes me unworthy of respect and adoration. It is the curse of too much and not enough. I find myself privately, quietly lamenting how if only I was a little more and a little less then I would be "perfect" and "worthy" of love. If I was enough and not quite so much, then I could fix it. There is something wrong with me and it is ruining everything.

This is not true. This is the ego speak of a little child who is self-cen…

A Year in the After Burn

A little while ago, Facebook began reminding me of my statuses from years past. Today, it reminded me that I came home from my first trip to Black Rock City exactly a year ago. The actual status was:
"speechless. so tired. so happy! and grateful! i'm a rocketship, zoom...!"

My experience of Burning Man was a refreshing reset button, helping me to move on from a relationship far past its usefulness and gain a stronger sense of myself as a powerful, whole, goddess of a woman. It is still my favorite vacation ever. It was what happened when I arrived home from the desert that made all the difference, though.

The day I left for BRC, as I sat in the lobby of my building wearing a hula hoop and waiting for the lovely Sarah to collect me, I met the cute, young couple that was moving into the apartment next to mine. We exchanged casual conversation before I left and I promptly forgot all about them until the night I arrived home late to heavy bass music shaking the building. And …

Gracias Grazie Merci Danke!!

This week I've had the pleasure of hanging out with two very darling, extremely grateful little children. These kids say thank you for everything to everyone. The ice maker in the freezer starts making ice: "Thanks refrigerator!" They like the strawberries from Trader Joe's: "Thank you Trader Joe's!" We see the garbage man: "Thank you for picking up the garbage, garbage man!" No joke. They do a lot of other adorable things as well, and are basically the kind of kids I hope to raise someday: curious, silly, bright, adventurous and grateful.

Being surrounded by a sea of gracious thank yous all week has been extremely uplifting and really put me in a gratitude mindset. While writing on the train this morning all I could think about were the many things I'm grateful for, and so I listed them. This put me in an indelibly good mood that carried through my walk home during which I decided to throw any remaining normalcy to the wind and say thank …

Love Recycled, Grown, Transforming.

The myopia of love (or infatuation, whatever ails you) is so enveloping when you're in the thick of it that it perhaps never occurs to you that someday you will not care about the person who used to take up 97% of your brain power. Time and space begin to stretch between you and your former, and eventually their name will come up in conversation and you'll realize it's been months or years since you thought of them. Or their relationship status on Facebook will change and you can begin to answer the question, "What happens to all those people I used to be in love/infatuated with?"

This is not something I ever really consider. By the time I let someone go, I've exhausted myself and the connection so completely that there's no returning- it's part of my intense, all-or-nothing charm. Recently this guy I used to have a mega-crush on got married. Long ago I sent him to the Island of No Romantic Feeling and he had come to only exist for me in the periphery…