Praise for the things we know

I know that it's sad to follow someone out of yoga class when, even after 90 minutes on the mat, their shoulders remain visibly tense, their necks strained. I know that sometimes I can see that pain, even though they smile and talk more loudly at my look of concern. Those times, seeing people in such deep struggle, I want to touch their arms and say, "You can stop. You can release completely and the world will still go on. Nothing is going to crash onto your shoulders." And I know I want to do this because sometimes I need someone to do it for me.

I know that listening to live music gives me a sense of community. It takes me back to Sunday nights in State College, to a monthly singer/songwriter series that brought the likes of John Gorka, Dar Williams and Catie Curtis to town. What I loved about those nights - what remains with me even now, as I listen to recorded music on a rainy night in a city far away from State College - was that everyone's hearts were in the same place. Everyone in that beautiful room - all exposed beams and floor to ceiling windows and the Rothrock State Forest beyond - was smiling and warm, and everyone left those shows intending to pour light into the world*.

*The idea of pouring light into the world is something I can't claim but keep close. It came to me from Rumi's One Song, which I've heard and seen on the radio, in yoga class, on a friend's website and in an old birthday card in the past few days. Thank you, universe. I got your message, and now I'm passing it on.

One Song, written in the mid-13th century, is so appropriate for our time that reading it stops my breath, even though I know it by heart, even though I know what's coming. It's so simple, to praise, without the stigma of Prayer as we see it now, political and inaccessible. But to praise - to honor and thank and recognize...why are we not doing that all the time? Why am I not doing that all the time?

One Song

What is praised is one, so the praise is one too,
many jugs being poured

into a huge basin. All religions, all this singing,
one song.

The differences are just illusion and vanity. Sunlight
looks slightly different

on this wall than it does on that wall and a lot different
on this other one, but

it is still one light. We have borrowed these clothes, these
time-and-space personalities,

from a light, and when we praise, we pour them back in.


Oh I'd, I'd Drive All Niiiiiight Again, Just to Vote for Obama...

If Bruce Springsteen, the Dead, Jimmy Buffett* (forgive me, but come on! Some of his songs are really sweet!), James Taylor and Jay-Z ALL like Obama well, hell, then I do, too.

Ok, so I've liked him all along. But still - the Boss? Who could vote against the Boss?

Well, maybe the three friends I went to Mexico with shortly after purchasing the Essential Bruce Springsteen collection (two cds plus bonus disc!). I was a little obnoxious interrupting all their important sunbathing to recite the authentic American poetry of the kid from Jersey.

Whatever. They were listening to, like, Shakira.

Of course, if she were eligible to vote, I'm pretty sure she's vote for Obama, too.

* And I know, I know, that I'm the first to mock the pasty bloated frat boys who don grass skirts and get shitcanned for Buffett shows. Of course I do. They're ridiculous. But that doesn't change the fact that "A Pirate Looks at 40" is a beautiful song. Don't hate the Jimmy, hate the fans.


Boulderer's Mind, Beginner's Mind

Fall off the starting moves, get back on. Fall off the starting moves, get back on. Fall off the starting moves, get back on.

Bouldering in Little Cottonwood Canyon a few days ago with one new friend and two old ones, I felt the peace of Beginner's Mind, or Shoshin.

As I landed on the crash pad one then two then five then eight times, I realized that the climber I was before didn't matter. The climber I'd be later didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was left hand on the sidepull, right hand on the undercling, push off right foot, flag left foot.

Later that day, in a yoga with a teacher I didn't know, I eased into the first downward dog of the practice and at once my body complained and my mind drifted from the mat: Tight hamstrings, achy shoulders, sore wrists, stiff neck, too tired, really hungry, I hate this halter, I wish I had a headband, I wonder if Lululemon is coming out with petite pants anytime soon, I should figure out what I want to do with my life, like, what do I really want to do....

Then the teacher mentioned the Muladhara (root) chakra (signified by the color red, by a square, by grounding and stability) and as soon as I heard those words, I was back on this earth in the room on the mat, and I was present again. The only thing that mattered was that moment that stretch that release. Yogi's mind, beginner's mind.

It's all connected.


A Toast.

Here's to Brad, who knows how much I love NPR's, "the PuzzleMaster Presents," and reminded me, on Saturday morning, when to listen.

Here's to Sarah Tomson Beyer, whose FlowMotion workshop on Sunday reminded me that yoga is everything; like a zoomed-in photograph, yoga magnifies the beautiful, the flawed, the easy and the hard. It sees through the facade to the bones - who you are, why you're there and where you need to go.

Here's to Nicole and Paul for letting me tag along to Hellgate. It was a big group at a small crag and it reminded me why I started climbing in the first place - to spend time with friends and enjoy autumn afternoons and climb a bunch of routes and come home tired and hungry and looking for socks and a sweater and a movie and a glass of wine. It was one of the best days of climbing I've had in a long time.

Here's to Jami Larsen, who opened her yoga class this morning with this quote from the president of India, Pratibha Patil. I'm paraphrasing here, but it was something about how, in these times, when fear and concern are so pervasive, we should look to the great and peaceful leaders - past and present - for guidance. She's a smarty-pants, that Pratibha.

Here's to NederJen for being so kind.

Here's to Cindy, who posted this beautiful passage - from a Buddhist wedding ceremony - on her blog.

I will not die an unlived life.
I choose to inhabit my days fully to allow my
living to open me, to make me less afraid,
more accessible, and to loosen my heart so I
may feel all joy and all pain from within and
without. I choose to live in humility,
gratitude, and vulnerability so all that comes
to me as a seed goes to the next as a blossom,
and all that comes to me as a blossom
goes to the next as a fruit.

And here's to Marit, who gave me the inspiration for this post.

Its like they have a camera inside my head...

This came from Lisagh. See? Canadians are welcoming and funny!


Safe, prosperous and free

Even the yogic hip hop artists (ok, artist) are voting for the Man. Check it out.


My Brother was totally right*

Cindy McCain does look like Skeletor.


Here's Cindy, beer heiress and would-be (but not gonna be) first lady.

And here's Skeletor, a muscular humanoid with a yellowish bone cranium.


* I'm still working hard to abide by Thumper's Rule. I'm simply repeating what my brother said. So this snarkiness doesn't count. In my mind, at least.


Smith Barney? Bunch of Bitches.

It's hard to come up with goals; apparently I'm not a self-starter.

(Reminds me of the classic Chris Farley news anchor skit: "I'm not "hygenic." I don't "smell good." That being second only to the Matt Foley skit - below - in terms of funny.)

But back to my goal-setting dilemma.

In recent years, the only goals I've set have been athletic - running and climbing-related. That's fine, I guess, but what happens with those is that I either achieve them or I don't, and nothing changes about me, about who I am. I've either climbed something or I haven't, and neither result makes me a better (or worse) person (though I always feel like the harder I climb, the better - and more worthy - a person I am, but that's crazy-talk that I'm not going to address).

So now it's time for something real. God knows I have a lot of emotional stuff to work on, and thanks to my darling bloggie friends for their kind words and good ideas on how to get through it.

1. Be nicer, by which I mean, don't be bitchy (even to people who are better looking/more athletic/smarter/more talented than me). Don't do it.

2. Think more. Like, really put some thought into the things I say, do, buy, eat, use. As far as I'm concerned, this is it - one shot, just like Eminem says - so why waste it?

Argh. These are vague and lame. I'm still thinking. In the meantime, and in keeping with our nation's economic concerns, I'll share this important PSA from our friendly fund mangers at the Wu-Tang Clan.


Full Disclosure and the Concious Shift to Thumper's Rule

It's a down-tempo Sunday for us. Brad and I are both kind of achy and fighting colds; we're run down following a climbing event in Indian Creek (I've been away for nearly 2 weeks, hence the lack of posts).

So we've lit a fire (it's been snowing since Friday night) and are taking it easy. The dogs don't seem to mind, as they're also exhausted, dreaming and sighing at my feet.

While in the desert - with no phone or email or distraction - I thought back to my first time there, down that stretch of highway 211 toward Canyonlands, and finally acknowledged what I've been ignoring.

It's been a tough few months. Year. Couple years.

I can't actually calculate how long, but Brad's been around for much of it, and I know it can't be easy on him. I've lost my fire and spark and charm and psyche. I don't have a plan or any goals, and I'm tired of feeling mediocre all the time.

I don't know what to do, what my next steps should be. I feel guilty for being so extravagant - it's not lost on me that it's a fucking luxury to whine about feeling sad and not being skinny when I have friends battling cancer and losing loved ones. But if I could just snap out of this, I would, and I'd drench myself in the vibrance I used to have - the vitality that has seen me through everything good.

But I can't. I've tried switching meds all around and having my thyroid checked and changing my diet and getting more exercise and taking more rest days, and this summer was the worst yet. I looked up the other day and realized that it's the middle of October, again, and nothing has changed. I'm still unsure of myself, I still don't know what I want to do with my life, I still feel unremarkable and lame.


And of course it's not all bad. Certain things - walking Arnie, playing Scrabble with Brad, cooking, yoga, dance - give me joy. An hour ago, Brad and I walked the dogs to a nearby park to let them run amok, and on the way, passed a house with a bunch of those enormous, blow-up halloween lawn decorations (a giant tarantula, a ghost, a Homer Simpson dressed as a skeleton - huh?). Arnie wasn't sure what they were, so he crouched very low and crept up to them. After a few air sniffs, he moved in for closer investigation, accidentally bumping the tarantula's leg with his snoot. The resulting tumult saw Arnie hiding behind my legs, actively avoiding eye contact with the oversized nylon tarantula and his brother, Red Dog, who was almost-but-not-really rolling his eyes in embarrassment.

I need to set more goals and work harder at seeing all the good and funny and kind and joyful things and people around me. I made a promise today - to myself, but I said it out loud to Brad so that he could help hold me accountable - to start abiding by Thumper's Rule.

Without being too self-helpy, I'll say that I believe positive energy begets positive energy, and I've been putting lots of negativity into the universe lately. It's no surprise I'm a mess.

So all day - and I know it's only been one day - I've been censoring the snarky and hateful and nasty. I am sadly surprised at the effort it's taken. I guess I'm mostly snarky and hateful and nasty. Even the sarcastic has been tempered.

And it feels good.

It feels like a start.

More goals tomorrow.