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Posts Tagged ‘pooka’

Yesterday I resisted moping around — and i had a lot to mope about. I was feeling sad over changes in my relationship especially.

My mom is back in town, meaning that I am under the microscope again. We are sharing the car while she is here, and thankfully I decided to drive her to my brother’s so that she could take care of my nephews while their parents were doing their church duties. I didn’t want to be depressed and isolated and car-less here in the basement on the side of the mountain.

I haven’t seen much of my family lately. Things have been strained since I resigned from the church in such a public way. They were so happy to see me, and full of so much love in my time of sadness. My littlest nephew, Logan, gave me the sweetest hug. They were all heading off to church, but my brother Ted suggested I go to their pool. They live in Saratoga Springs in a development with a pool fed from the natural hot springs. “It’s Sunday,” he said. “No one will be there.”

So Pooka and I drove home, got my bathing suit, and headed back. The sun was bright, the water was really warm, almost hot. From the first moment underwater, I felt the sadness melting away.  He was wrong — there were actually quite a few families there. At first I thought maybe being there wasn’t such a good idea, reminding me of what I thought I lost. It was a little cold to be in a bikini in the sun, at first, so I headed to the hot tub. Ah. So healing.

Back in the sun, lounging on a chaise next to a flowering bush, minding my own business, a wasp landed on my thumb and stung me.

But from there, it got better. I didn’t leave. I just moved away from the bush. It got warmer. I swam some more. After two hours of just sitting with my thoughts, kissed by the sun (ok, a little burnt, but it felt sooo good!) I went back to my brother’s. Logan gave me another big hug. He stuck with me all afternoon. We trampolined. I showed him Pooka’s trick that Tyler taught her (sit! shake!). We tried to teach it to Jack, his boston terrier. We trampolined some more, with Garrett. We played tag on the trampoline. It was impossible to not laugh, collapsing in giggles and out of breath. We brought out a bowl of popcorn and trampolined with that too. I thought of parents scolding for something like that, but thought, what is the harm? (and again thought of Tyler and how he let Elliott paint a robot and a sun and other designs on his bedroom wall, and also of how I had painted a heart on Harper’s wall before Tyler evened it out with the roller.) We tossed popcorn to Pooka and Jack, and finally let Pooka eat all the popcorn that had suspended midair and hadn’t fallen back into the bowl during the trampolining.

So much comfort and care. They really are beautiful — my nephews, my brother, my sister in law, my mother.

We stopped by my other brother’s on the way home to pick up his ipod so we could have Mad Men marathon (season 2). Again, though things have been strained, they were so loving. Jennifer gave me the sweetest hug. They had three desserts, and i decided to eat all three. A little sugar therapy.

So my mom and I watched four seasons of Mad Men.

I’m so grateful to be surrounded by family love. They have known me all their lives, most of them anyway. We have a history, yet it was still hard for them to come to terms with me and my “wearing my heart on my sleeve,” as my mom puts it. Tyler’s family, on the other hand, doesn’t know me well — mostly from the really nice thanksgiving weekend we spent visiting in Arizona. They have found my blog, the old one, at least, and are upset about it. More sadness. I am no longer a Mormon, and I have been critical. But that’s me. When talking about my experiences, I don’t mean to criticize others for something that brings them happiness.

I forgot to take my camera battery out of the charger at home, so I didn’t get to take pictures, but here’s one of a similar day last year, when Cooper was alive.

trampolining is such good medicine!

trampolining is such good medicine!

I think that I lost myself for a while in my relationship, something i always intend to avoid, but that always seems to happen when things aren’t going well. I can’t afford to do that. No one can. And if we truly can get back our friendship, that’s all that really matters. I was mourning the loss of a friend. I was needy. I was intense. And I’m sorry.

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future cherries

future cherries

Though everything outside this morning was flocked heavier than any christmas tree, it feels like springtime for me.  (It helps that much of last night’s heavy snow has already melted!) Today marks my one year anniversary of leaving Puerto Rico and moving to Utah. It has been a very difficult year, chronicled in my old blog, A Series of Small Failures, which I am retiring today. The main goal in moving to Utah, into my parents’ basement (ouch–how i miss having a great job and a house of my own!), was to get out of the massive debt I was in, mostly due to opening and running my beautiful little organic vegetarian restaurant, Natural High. Rincon, the surfing mecca of the Caribbean, is gorgeous but sparsely populated when the tourists go home, making any business endeavor there impossibly challenging. A year later, I still don’t have a job and I’m still in debt, so when looking at the past year through that lens, I’m still failing. But it feels like time to change. I liked my old blog title originally because I felt like my life was truly a series of small failures. I wasn’t throwing a pity party — it was sort of tongue in cheek, trying to make light of the situation.  I was processing. But it got really depressing.  I like to think that failures are attempts at doing something grand, and I’d rather fail than not try at all. Still, it sounds so negative. And I am shedding that negative persona.

My parents convinced me to come home to Utah last year. Utah was never my home — i grew up in California — but Utah is where my brothers and their families live, as well as my mom and dad. And the offer to live rent free while i got back on my feet, something they’d offered for years, suddenly seemed like the only real option i had if I wanted to really move on. How easy it would have been to stay in Rincon, making the bare minimum to exist and having ample time to take my dogs to the beach every day… But I had depleted my entire life savings betting on myself and my restaurant (FAIL!). Now, that move seems almost prescient — if i was going to lose it anyway (and many people have lost most of their 401ks and other savings in the recent market madness), at least I got to spend it living on a tropical island and trying to build something of value that I owned. Worse than just losing everything I had saved, I actually took out loans to keep feeding the dream. You sort of have to drink your own Kool-aid when in business. If you don’t believe in yourself, who else will?  I needed to move away, however, to break the connection to my ex, who I owned the restaurant with (imagine working with your ex practically every minute of every day). Plus, I thought getting a job in the states would be easier.

I didn’t think the job would be a problem.  I was a staff writer for Fortune and the San Jose Mercury News. I had tons of experience. But no one would hire me!  Even though I wanted to keep teaching yoga, I didn’t believe i could make anywhere near enough money to pay down my debt by teaching, and eliminating the debt was my primary goal. So I looked for journalism and other writing jobs. I did lots of freelance at first, but the recession hit. I’d apply for jobs and get no response whatsoever. I finally got an interview at a natural foods store for a position in their produce department, but after a three month search, the job went to someone else. Talk about demoralizing. In one of the most surreal events, I applied to be a census worker. I drove to Springville in February to take the test (a Kafkaesque experience in itself). As they hire people based on their test scores, and I had aced the test, I was sure I’d be hired. But I found this out later: when they have a position, they start at the top of the list. They call. If you don’t answer, they don’t leave a message and move on to the next name. After a little digging, I found out that they had tried to call me three times when I was in Connecticut last month working as a personal chef/private yoga instructor for a family–a career that seemed promising for a month or so, but fizzled because I slacked on promoting myself. Alas, there was no cell phone coverage in the home where I was staying and working, so I didn’t even get a missed call notification. I was so hoping for the Census experience because I needed the money — plus I thought it might be fun to write about working for the government. I even thought about joining the Navy Reserve. No joke. I was that desperate. One bright spot during that time: I wrote three articles for Yoga Journal — fun and rewarding.

As if dealing with unemployment and being broke and in debt wasn’t bad enough, we had a family tragedy last summer that made everything else seem unimportant. When my nephew died, I sank into such a deep depression that I really didn’t care about finding a job or pitching freelance articles or anything for quite a long time. I am so grateful that I could be here with my family through that, and to this day.

It feels so good to be emerging from that black period. Good things happened, to be sure. Healing happens, slowly. Rededicating myself to my daily yoga and meditation practice has been the key. I also started a daily yoga blog, which i kept up for about two weeks. FAIL! but at least I’ve been practicing every day. Also, feeling loved and accepted by my amazing boyfriend — who stuck with me through all the darkness — as well as other friends I gradually met helped immensely. It’s challenging meeting like-minded souls here in Utah County, but it’s happening.

I am crossing my fingers and praying that i’ll get this really cool job next month that seems likely to be mine.  I’m practically counting the days until I can move out on my own again!  I am talking to yoga studios about teaching again — for love, not so much for money. I finally put a few things up on Etsy, and I’m learning lost wax casting to make unique pieces to incorporate into my jewelry. Despite the desperate state of journalism, I actually was given an assignment last week to write about Iowa and Vermont’s recent same-sex marriage laws for Salon. I can’t even remember the last time someone called me and asked me to write something. Okay, yes, I do: it was my story of resigning from the Mormon Church last November after Proposition 8 passed, nullifying same sex marriages. But before that? It had probably been years since I was asked. As a freelancer, it’s usually the other way around.

So things are looking up. Tight buds are opening, gradually.  I live near an orchard, and on my daily walks past it, I watch the trees blossom. Cherries, apples, apricots, peaches, plums, mulberries. I know them all, as I plundered them freely last summer and fall. I thought the orchard was abandoned, but it turns out that the man who owns it is old and wasn’t able to spray them last year — thank god for that! — so he didn’t bother harvesting them. It seemed such a shame to watch the fruit wither and fall. Those were the best cherries and apples I have ever eaten. Plus it was so beautiful to observe the fruit growing through the months. Perhaps the anticipation of its eventual ripeness made picking and eating it more enjoyable.

It’s still challenging living in my parents’ basement, not having a job, trying to create structure and motivate myself to keep writing and creating jewelry and making my credit card payments. My parents are constantly giving me advice: “Just get a job at a bookstore! Just get any job!” But I’m grateful for the time to cocoon, think and heal. Taking the wrong thing means not being available for the right thing. Which I think this thing is. I hope I hope I hope. Here’s to new beginnings. I miss Puerto Rico. I miss my friends, my yoga teaching, my restaurant, the beach, and the dogs I left behind with my ex. I brought two of them with me, but I only have Pooka left. Gogo seems to be adjusting pretty well to his new home. I still miss him every day.

It’s taken a while, but i finally feel I am blossoming.

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ardha chandrasana

ardha chandrasana

 

 

I need some new photos. 

It does not look like this where I am right now. The ground looks like frozen meringue with a crystal crust. It got warmish yesterday, so the snow melted, then it started to rain, which turned to snow. So our trail along the canal looks sort of like a candy-coated lunar surface. This the only picture i can find of ardha chandrasana (half moon), taken where I used to teach yoga in Rincon. My ardha chandrasana today was a more bundled version (three down coats, a hat, mittens, scarf, jeans, and shoes with trackers). 

Pooka did not like the idea I came up with yesterday — of being fed and having to wait for me to meditate before going out for a walk. I got the furnace going, hoping she would chill there for a while, but no. She would have none of it. I sat in meditation for maybe a minute. It was really really cold, so i grabbed my coat, and this, to Pooka, means time for a walk. So I caved.

We walked along the canal for about half a mile, to Savage Lookout — a point that juts out and overlooks frozen fields. Sometimes Savage Lookout feels like a stage. I like to do a few poses there before turning back. Today I lifted my arms up, pressed the right foot into the snowy earth, bent the right knee, and hinged over into warrior 3, arms extended overhead, parallel to the earth, in line with the left leg. I lost my balance and dropped the right hand (holding Pooka’s leash) to the ground, rested the left hand on my right foot (the ground was was icy!),  lifted the left leg into standing splits, and then stacked the left hip over the right, shifting into half moon, hovering there for a few breaths. For balance, I repeated it on the other side.

Then I squatted down and Pooka came over and got close, so I wrapped my arms around her in the squat and took some deep yogic breaths. It was miserably cold. This is the first time my legs have felt cold on our walks. My thighs were frozen! Walking back, it felt like my brain was freezing. 

Back home, I combined meditation and cleansing. I drank 32 ounces of warm water with two teaspoons of himalayan salt dissolved into it. Really Fast. And then sat on my cushion by the fire. I decided to sit until the water did its trick. The salt water flush is like a tidal wave moving through your entire digestive track, pushing everything in its way out. And I needed it after that large Maggie Moo’s cocoa amooretto, pistachio, strawberry combo the other night.  The salinity of the water makes it impermeable by the kidneys and blood, so it doesn’t get absorbed. Gravity pulls it through you. I don’t know if it’s true that the salt helps draw out toxins on the way, but I like the way it sounds. It reminds me of swimming in the ocean.

That left about a half hour to sit near the fire and keep catching my mind wandering. The simple tool of refocusing on the breath helps bring me back into the present. My mom vacuuming upstairs (have I mentioned yet that I live in my parents’ basement?), the squeaky wheels of the vacuum, Pooka’s convulsion-like spasms while dreaming (complete with little growls and barks and claws tapping on the bamboo floors as she runs in her sleep), these are distractions I keep noticing but letting go of.

Just like thoughts, patterns that no longer serve me, and that large cup of Maggie Moo’s. Consciously acknowledging them and letting them go.

I still need to figure out a way to schedule in my asana practice. Just back from the walk in the morning, I want to drink coffee or orange juice. And then I think of food. And the asana gets postponed.  At least I got in that ardha chandrasana at the lookout.

postscript: got a tweet from @Spacekitten about her new mix and, being the impulsive person that I am, I downloaded it and kept practicing until almost 2:00.  Nice to hear new music. Thanks!

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parivritta parsvakonasana

parivritta parsvakonasana

 

This afternoon, I knelt down, palms pressed together at my heart, thumbs resting on the breastbone, and bowed to my inner perfection, that part of me that doesn’t want to rip someone’s head off at t-mobile, or swear when someone cuts me off driving, or feel uncharitable toward the person who has been using my lost cell phone.

Krishna Das has become an instant mood tranquilizer, so I put on All One, with its versions of Hare Krishna that lead me, like bugs bunny’s violin, to a calmer, less savage place. Hare Krishna starts to rock out, and I find myself feeling fierce in my calmness, pushing to the point of sweat. Sometimes tapas, or burning effort, is the perfect approach.  Tapas is “a burning desire to cleanse every cell of our body and every cell of our senses, so that the senses and the body may be made permanently pure and healthy and leave no room for impurities to enter into our system. It is in this spirit that the asanas should be performed.” That’s from B.K.S. Iyengar’s “The Tree of Yoga,” one of my favorite books on yoga. And today, feeling a bit irritable as I’m detoxing from some bad 2008 habits, it was perfect. I threw in a lot of twists, which help with detoxing. The twists wrung out little beads of sweat, and toxins from those numbing alcoholic beverages that were making me less grumpy (duh! they also make me numb). I’ve even been smoking occasionally (whatever was i thinking?), plus eating meat, taking ADD medication, which is so good to not be on — it’s hard to do inversions without feeling like your head is going to explode when on Ritalin — so there’s a lot to squeeze out. Shocked? Don’t be. Yogis are human beings.

I love the symbolism of twists. Wringing out the old, and making room for the new. Each twist compresses internal organs and glands, like squeezing a dirty sponge, forcing out toxins. And when you release the twist, fresh blood rushes in, cleansing, rinsing and soaking. Why don’t I do more twists? From seated and supine twists to the bound twisted triangle, even the balancing bound twist, bird of paradise, ah. Just ah. After an hour of tapas, followed by alternate nostril breathing and meditation, I no longer want to hurt a t-mobile employee. And the idea of the perfect me that I bowed to at the begininng, in anjali mudra, seems less ridiculous. A bit more attainable.

I decided today that part of making time for yoga every day is to schedule it. I’ve always had the excuse of not doing it first thing in the morning because my dogs always want to get up and go. Jumping up on the bed, licking my face, and then basically whining or staring at me (which is sometimes worse than the whining) until they get their way. So, I only have one dog now (Pooka), and she’s much more mellow than she was when Gogo lived with us (he has a new home and a new name!) My plan is to feed Pooka and then take my 15 minutes of meditation while she is eating, before doing anything else,  including taking her out. I hope it works. It’s another attempt to live life and not let it live me. Who’s the top dog here? 

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