June 30, 2008

Over-chaturanga

Not sure if it was just a lot of chaturanga's, or maybe yoga in general, but right now I am tight in my middle back (back of heart-space) and chest. Just feels like a strain....

I had two serious power/hot classes (Sunday morning and this morning) as well as taught two classes today (the second of which I ended up taking, since there were only two students)

Let's see how we feel in the morning, but I suspect tomorrow will be either a day off, or a good day to get in a gentle class.

The teaching went well - I had 15 students in the gentle class - and tested out my first "gentle vinyasa" sequence - a modified sun salutation on the knees, to get the students moving and flowing even in a gentle class. Seemed to go pretty well.

Tonight's class was small (2 students) bit they were both fairly advanced, so I got in some nice 1 on 1 work, with some strong postures and chances to assist.

Off to bed......

June 29, 2008

Balloon Self Portrait


I took this picture from the ascending hot air balloon, Saturday morning in Southington....if one zooms in a bit, one can see the intrepid blogger, snapping the picture

I actully remembered a camera for this flight, so took a few photos, here

June 27, 2008

So Much for Child's Pose

A few hours later, and the weekend has filled in nicely....

Hot yoga tonight with Nykki; who continues her streak of booty kicking. One of those classes where she took us down to the mat and we were all SURE it was time for, and up we went for more. Including inversions (got up into handstand). Wonderful practice.

A call from Mr. Balloon; chasing tomorrow. I'll bring the camera for some balloon shots.

Tomorrow night, we're planning to head east to the Vanilla Bean in Pomfret, for dinner and to see Mad Agnes. Ran into Margo this evening, which was a nice reminder.

And Sunday, a commercial movie perhaps (I'm guessing something frothy like Iron Man or Indiana Jones), with a friend I ran into at my yoga class this afternoon. Yes my yoga class. At least for the summer, my Friday at 12:15 Gentle Class. It says STAFF on the schedule, but it's mine.....

All Your Downward Dogs Are Belong To Us......

Balance

Right now, yoga is taking over my life.

Zippy would retort "Ha! Right now? How about for the last year?" - and he's kind of right. But this very moment, the past few weeks, it's been particularly acute.

There are night-time things I want or wanted to get to: Sunken Garden Poetry. Creative Cocktail Hour. The upcoming Hartford Cares rally. Hot Air Balloon chasing. Movie or TV nights with friends. All set aside, because I'm teaching.

I'm busy at work, with a nice backlog of projects, and plenty of places for growth. I'm keeping up with the incoming work but not getting ahead or catching up on things like cleaning, organizing, planning for the future.

And my own yoga practice has suffered - I missed on Wednesday; I just squeezed in a late class on Thursday; and today between work, body work, and teaching its not looking goog (although Margaret's 4:30 restorative class might be a treat, and I could always unwind a bit with Nykki at 6:00!)

Things will settle down, and settle in. Already my schedule is slowing; my Wed night assisting has ended as of this week. My Thursday night freebie class at the office has a few more weeks. This weekend I have absolutely nothing planned - free to chase a balloon, catch up on work, do some things around the house, take some electronics to be recycled (thanks, Julie!) or maybe do absolutely nothing. A nice break - after a weekend long anatomy class (3 weeks ago), a weekend long yoga teacher training (2 weeks ago), and the Gemini party and requisite cleaning, organizing, and visiting with family and friends (last week).

Of course, four weeks hence, I'll be camped out on a hillside in NY, at the Falcon Ridge Folk Fest. The coming weeks will be filled with preparation - camping supplies, foodstuffs, as well as loading up a spreadsheet with the performer merchandise.

No rest for the weary! This weekend, anyway, I'll pull back into Child's Pose and take care or myself. After that - more vinyasa!

June 26, 2008

Doh!

I forgot about a 10:00 am appointment today; had I remembered it I would have snuck into 7:30 hot yoga this morning. So now I get no yoga today, since I teach a class tonight at 6:00. Unless I hustle out of here tonight, so that I can sneak over to a 7:30 all levels class after teaching.

No yoga yesterday, teaching two classes. Maybe no yoga today. Clearly I have to reshuffle some priorities!

June 25, 2008

Defying Gravity

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules
Of someone else's game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap
- Defying Gravity / Wicked

I taught two yoga classes today - a gentle class this noon, and an intro class tonight. Both subbing for other teachers; the noon class planned, tonight's somewhat last minute, although I had a day to prep.

Just very powerful - to stand in the center of a room with students all around in a deep restorative posture. To teach two good sized classes, 10-15 students. To feel my energy resonate in the room, come back to me from students. To open my heart to the classes, to put it out there.

I am blessed with these opportunities. I am blessed with teachers from whom I have been able to learn. I am exhilarated, and scared silly at the awesome responsibility placed in my hands.

Two Things

JUST TWO THINGS

My friend Pat sent this recently, and I am so freaking morally opposed to email chain letters that I am not gonna send it around. But I'll blog about it, for 1/2 credit.....

Two Names You Go By:
1. Jude (rarely, if ever Judy)
2. Judith

Two Things You Are Wearing Right Now:
1. A ratty, faded, fake tie-dye nightgown
2. Slippers

Two Things You Want Very Badly At the Moment:
1. Financial calm and stability
2. To survive the next few weeks of work busyness and yoga teaching

Two People Who Will Fill This Out and the first to send it back):
1. Not applicable
2. Because I an not sneding it around

Two Things You Did Last Night:
1. Went to a kick ass yoga class
2. Laid out a yoga class for classes I am teaching this noon and tonight

Two Things You Ate Yesterday: my yoga teac
1. A bowl of my vegan chili left over from the Gemini Party
2. The last sliver of Carvel ice cream cake, also leftover from the party

Two People You Last Talked To:
1. Jane, one of my fellow yoga teacher trainees, after class
2. Zippy

Two Things You're Doing Tomorrow:
1. Electrolysis
2. Teaching yoga (do you sense a theme here?)

Two Longest Car Rides:
1. Chicago to Hartford (the week of 9-11)
2. San Diego to San Jose (I dunno, I had the weekend and thought it might be nice)

Your Two Favorite Holidays:
1. Thanksgiving, I guess - I've missed many of them for work so they are a bit sweeter
2. Christmas. Though fraught with pressure (to shop, to visit) it still has fond memories that are rekindled each year

Favorite Vacations:
1. What's a vacation?
2. Falcon Ridge Folk Festival - my annual retreat from the world

Two Favorite Beverages:
1. Iced Decaf Coffee
2. Water - especially after a long, hot yoga practice - I drink gallons

June 24, 2008

Suddenly Swamped

Somehow between Sunday evening and now, I got buried in work. One of my clients has been sending a steady stream of site data to analyze; I had one site pending but mostly finished as I left the office on Friday. And now I have maybe 7 or 8 sites queued up. At least a few of these are going to take a few hours each - either extended monitoring periods, full data sets with environmental monitoring, or new technology power analyzer data, which takes longer.

And oh, by the way, I have some site reporting to do from my recent visit to a local hospital. And my always patient San Diego client has some spreadsheet updates overdue, and I need to get up to speed on Dreamweaver (recently purchased and installed) so I can take over their website maintenance and updates......

So if I had any concerns about June billing, those can be allayed; things will be fine, assuming I can get all these reports done and some time spent on other things.

And oh, by the way, I am teaching two yoga classes tomorrow, one Thursday, and one Friday. I'm subbing a gentle class at noon (expected) and was slated to assist the final Intro series class tomorrow night. But the instructor got called out of town for a family emergency - leaving the studio to scramble to cover his classes. So guess who is teaching the final intro series.

Thankfully, I have been left with some pretty clear directions for the final class - lots of restorative / supported postures. I'm planning supported forward fold, supported bound angle (which pretty much uses every yoga toy on the shelf), and feet up the wall. One of my fellow teacher trainees is coming in to assist; she is an angel and I am excited to work with her.

There is that old chinese curse: may you live in interesting times. I think I'm living the yoga equivalent: may you teach 5 classes in your second week out of teacher training.

Thank goodness for Sean Corne. Cause she broke me and I healed stronger, and I'm gonna need it this week!

On a second front, NYKKI KICKED MY ASS TONIGHT. As part of covering the missed classes she ended up with a jam packed studio of combined power and hot classes, and damn if she did not lead one of the strongest and deepest practices I have ever had with her. Then she had to go right back in there and teach a gentle / intro class - - with a few of my fellow teacher trainees to help out. She's a freaking yoga warrior. We all are, I guess.

Off to bed; I'm gonna need every bit of energy I can muster in the next few days. And lots of sleep!

Cell Phone Madness

I left my cell phone at Webster Bank in Newington yesterday. Hit the ATM to deposit a check, was talking to mom as I walked up to the building, must have put the phone down on the little counter as I filled in the deposit envelope.

Someone from the bank found the phone, and went down the speed dial list making calls. They got my mom.

Mom got all confused (thinking Webster Bank was in Webster MA, and none of her kids live there) so she went down the list of kids making calls. Per my sister Kathy, Mom said:

"I tried Kevin, but he didn't answer, so it must not be his and Tommy never answers anyway, and I just talked to Jude so it's not her's....." as Kathy said - How's that make sense?

In fact, my brother Tom called the house to see if it was mine, and Zippy spoke with him and assured him I had my phone, since we spoke while I was en route to Unionville to teach yoga. But unbeknownt to Zippy, I was burning some OnStar phone minutes (I bought an intro rate block of 200 minutes for $20 when I got the car, and have never used 'em). I had already noticed the phone being missing (assumed I left it at work), and Zippy seemed like he had a hard day and needed to talk.

Ah well, all's well that end's well - I picked up my phone this morning. Kudos to Webster Bank for tracking me down. And the whole thing gave my mom something amusing and interesting to talk about for a few days: the mystery of the missing cell phone.

June 22, 2008

Djembe Fever

Kathy brought over two djembe (djembes?) last night, so as the Gemini Party wound down, she showed us how to play, and I banged out a little bit of rhythm. I play a little at Kirtan (certain "everyone pick up a drum" numbers) but I've never really spent much time at it. It was fun.

This afternoon, we went to see The Visitor (a really wonderful, quiet film) in which djembe playing was featured prominantly. Official site here

The film was lovely on a few levels - a college professor emerging from depression and repression, an essay on the struggles of immigants living in the cracks of the legal system, and a lovely postcard from New York City.

What was interesting, to me, was the film's use of african american actors for almost every official, governmental role (immigration officers, TSA officers, police, etc.) The contrast between the college professor (white), the immigrants ( Syrian and Senegalese) and the people behind the juggernaut of law enforcement and immigration was interesting.

Historically, each wave of immigrations lifted up the previous generations - the Irish were untouchables, before moving into service sector (police, fire), then into politics and the mainstream. On some level, the movie seemed to be observing how the recent anti-immigrant / post 9-11 sentiments are, in some ways, finally allowing the african-american population for whom the american dream has remained out of reach, to finally step onto the privilage escalator.

Good film....

The, dinner at the Corner Pug. Where Zippy and his family were predictably loud, and I ran into yoga friends, who I joined in the bathroom to escape the frenetic Palter family!

As I type this, the Palters continue the cacophanic discussion in the next room. I'm getting a headache, so I'm escaping to blogging and catching up on some website projects....

Homouroboros - Peter Hudson Design



Peter Hudson Design here

Props to Adam Finch Palter (whose website is out of date) for the in person link....

Gemini Party

Our 6th (or is it 7th) annual Gemini party came off without a hitch yesterday. A mixed crowd - a little light on some old familar friends, but with some new faces (folks I know from the yoga studio and from hartford) made for new energy. We had a good time; we have too much alcohol and soda left over, and we have way too much food.

I was buzzing all day, interrupt driven in the microproceesor parlance. Greeting guests, fetching drinks, arranging / cooking food, mixing and mingling. I barely ate all day - salads, desserts, etc. I grabbed between tasks. I cooked up a burger today for lunch because I missed them yesterday.

Today is a day of rest and relaxation; we're cleaning up slowly and in pieces. Snuck in an all levels class this morning (slept through my normal sunday morning 8:30 hot yoga) - and we may do a movie this afternoon (with zippy's family)

Getting ready for a full week. A bunch of work tasks, plus 5 (count 'em) yoga classes. Monday night subbing in Unionville (first time teaching there). Wednesday subbing into a gentle class at noon, and then assisting an intro class in the evening. Thursday my freebie office class. And Friday, my first 12:15 gentle class, that's my class for the summer!

June 20, 2008

Be it ever so humble....


...there's no place like Om (or Aum, even)

A small gift from one of my Thursday night students, a yoga plaque. Sweet!

Apricot's with the Loud Family

We took Zippy's dad out to dinner last night - Apricot's in Farmington.

It started off awkwardly - I got there about 7:40 (7:30 reservation) and asked at the waitstation for the Palter reservation for 5. "You are the first to arrive" I was told, so I opted to go sit in the bar. Which I did, until about 8, until Zippy showed up. They had been sitting upstairs, since 7 having never actually told the staff that THEY were the Palter reservation. And oh by the way, Zippy never looked at his phone (which I had called ehwn I arrived)

::sigh::

Anyway, once there, the food was DELICIOUS - I had a salad and scallops.

As for the Loud Family reference, well, that side of Zippy's family (his dad's side) has a communication style that is pretty much "whoever can talk the loudest holds the floor". In numbers, they can be headache inducing. Last night, brother Adam regaled us with a long (and often, riotous) tale of trying to bring a case of Shiner beer from Austin to his other brother in San Fran. Do not even want to think about the carbon footprint on that beer.....not to mention the billable hours that Adam put into this project.

It was a good story, but told at full volume, in great detail, in the normally sedate Apricot's filled with high school graduates and older couples on anniversary dinners....well, a bit over the top.

Anyone coming to the Gemini Party (2 pm until ???, Saturday the 21st, email me if you want the address, internet stalkers welcome) ca meet Zippy, and his dad and uncle, and sister and brother. Bring your earplugs.....

June 18, 2008

$5 Yoga - By Someone You Know

West Hartford Yoga is having a summer special, offering $5 gentle yoga classes for the summer. See schedule here.

The $5 classes are:
* Tues (Carissa) / Thurs (Corrina) @ 7:30 am - Hot Yoga
* Mon (Sharon) / Wed (Sharon) / Fri (Jude) @ 12:15 - Gentle Yoga
* Mon (Donna) / Wed (Kristen) @ 4:30 pm - Gentle Yoga
* Sat (Staff) @ 11:00 am - Intro to Yoga

So if you have had a hankering to try yoga but the cost has been an issue, this might make if more accessible.

And yeah, that's not a typo. I'm teaching a regular class through the summer! Fridays @ 12:15 pm Gentle Yoga with Jude!

P.S. - I'm still working on it, but you can see my upcoming classes and yoga stuff at my new website judesyoga.com

June 16, 2008

Greetings from the Worst Place in America

Live in Hartford blog. By Julie.

I'll suspect I'll contribute a thing or two.....

Suddenly Teaching

I led a gentle yoga class today at WHY (subbing). Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be standing in front of the room at the studio; it's the big leagues, in my eyes. I figured, at the very least, I'd have to go out and slay a few dragons first. The class went well - I kept to time (even a little under, so there was a nice savasana), I stuck to my class plan (missed a few minor postures, but no biggie), I spent some time in front of the room as well as walking around the room. And I even took the class to the wall for down dog / shoulder stand on the wall. Fun!

I also drove out to Unionville, to take a class with Sharon Ruvane at Valley Fitness. I'm subbing for her this summer on Monday nights, so it was nice to meet her, meet some of the students, and take her class to get a feel for what her students want. I think its gonna be a good fit; I am looking forward to it.

June 15, 2008

Sitting on Jude

Friday night, during practice, one of my favorite teachers, who has been assisting the teacher training, came up to me during a prone posture, and sat on me. Now, it's not uncommon for a teacher to make close contact with a student doing an assist - there are assists that involve using the body, the feet, and getting up close and personal - but this was during abs; and she was just messing around - sort of like her breaking into dance during a peppy tune on her class music disk. I was flustered, are you sitting on me? Fortunately, she is waifish and my abdomen is pretty rugged, and it was funny as heck as well as flattering. I mean, how often does one get sat on in life? I can only think of a few instances - dogs, children, an occasional lover.

Yesterday, in supta-bodhakanasa, there she was again. "Sitting on Jude is becoming one of my favorite things" she said, as she looked into my eyes laughing mischievously.

I'm a person who has a certain personal space. I do not seek out touch or body work, I am in and among the masses but retain my independence. I let others in only as closely as I feel comfortable and let them. So to have someone sit on me, to completely tear down the de facto walls, well, pretty powerful and scary, but nice.

Not sure this would fly in a regular class, but in the teacher training, we've become like a litter of puppies, tumbling together, making contact. We curl up into little circles to eat our meals, people nap unapologetically during breaks, we give and receive massages and informal body work, the day is filled with little touches, squeezes, connections.

Getting sat on during yoga practice is pretty great.

Saying Goodbye

Today is the last day of Yoga Teacher Training.

I won't be certified for a few months; I have a national workshop to complete in October, as well as book reviews to write and some student teacher to document. But today is the last time we 30 trainees put down our mats for practice, the last time we sit in a sharing circle, the last time we drop down onto the studio floor for dinner and rejuvenation.

It is a joyful time - who could imagine that this day would come, a year ago when I wrote a check to hold my slot in the class (I was the very first person to sign up). Who could imagine that this day would come, that Friday night in January; meeting my fellow trainees for the first time, looking over the book, the 5 weeks of training, workshops, homework, assigned reading, student teaching all looming large in front of us. I felt fear that night - teach a class? Me? Where will I find a place to teach 5 free classes? Get paid for teaching yoga? Me? It all seemed so overwhelming and unlikely.

And yet, here we are. I'm planning to teach my first class at WHY on Monday - a gentle class subbing for one of the regular teachers. I'm also traveling to Farmington to take a class with a woman for whom I will be subbing throughout the summer. Sooner than I can ever imagine; I am becoming a yoga teacher.

So....one last time into the breech. Into an extended Barbara class, filled with ab work and sweat, demanding that I change clothes afterwards. She promised inversions, so I'll be upside down. One last sharing circle. One last meal with my fellow trainees (tonight, I am ordering something from Alchemy, to treat myself). And one last joyful celebration, as we are given our final feathers (I'm predicting an eagle feather, white with a black tip, just a hunch), and dance in the studio like madmen and madwomen.


This is my yoga teacher training class: my friends, my teachers, my peers, my family. It has been an incredible six months. And as excited as I am to be finishing up this training, to begin to teach, to have a little more space in my life, I am gonna miss these weekends so much. I am gonna miss these spirits.

I will see them around the studio, I will run into them at Whole Foods, I will trade emails. But I will not be here again...

June 14, 2008

Out with a Bang

I returned from yoga training last evening to find that Tim Russert has passed away. Not being much of a television junkie who gets most of her news from NPR, I perhaps have not watched too much of Mr. Russert's work. Yet I watch enough to know that he was a fixture, a force in the news media and political scene. He is being praised and mourned widely.

It is a reminder to us all of our mortality - no matter what our status in life, fame, celebrity, wealth, and power. And a warning to men in particular, who so often succumb to these sorts of sudden, fatal failures of the heart without a lot of warning.

Although I am not a huge fan of using celebrity deaths to promote a cause, there is an interesting piece on Mr. Russert's death and cardio-vascular health here

June 13, 2008

Winding Down

We are about three hours away from the start of our final teacher training weekend. Not that training is over - I still have book reviews to write, a national workshop to attend, some classes to teach and to document. But in terms of the teacher training weekends, the formal "sit in the studio as a group, large sharing circle, eating meals together, practicing together" facets of the training - well, this weekend is it.

As usual, I am of two minds about that. I cannot believe that 6 months ago I was sitting in the sharing circle for the first time. Now, I'm starting to teach yoga. Pretty freaking amazing. And though I do not feel "all grown up" as a yoga teacher, I guess I have changed.....

I remember how freaked out we were at the start of the first weekend - long practices. Long training weekends. Much homework. High intensity yoga, high intensity training. Now, the actual training - the yoga, the training, the long hours, the homework - none of this is particularly scary.

But saying goodbye to the community that has grown up, to the trainees some of whom I may never see again. Very scary indeed......

June 12, 2008

Catching Up

It was one of THOSE KIND OF DAYS. Which started out at the office, working. Then onto a bodywork table for a few hours with the incredible (and life changing) Ellen Heed. From there, I staggered (in a state of openness, bliss, and rubbery psychic euphoria) to lunch, then down to Rocky Hill for a different sort of table experience (involving electricity delivered via a needle).

Then a little shopping (for a birthday gift, although I found some cute shoes at Kohl's). Then work. Then a support group meeting in new Britain with the Zipster. Back to the studio to assist the intro class. Then off to Hartford for a delightful birthday party with wonderful people, at a beautiful apartment.

And finally, to sleep, perchance to dream. And process (I'm sure the deep work with Ellen is gonna be processing for a few days, or weeks).

Tomorrow, work and yoga, and in the evening, teaching another freebie class at the office. This coming weekend is our last teacher training class.

Life is coming at me fast and furiously....

June 09, 2008

What Kind of Yogi Are You?


I'm a Balanced Yogi!


A Balanced Yogi

You love your friends unconditionally and accept them for who they are no
matter what their yoga style preference, religious beliefs, or spending habits.
You focus on the good in people and would never try to change them. Almost
everyone feels comfortable in your presence. You live your yoga. You are an
inspiration to yoga students everywhere!

Take the Yoga Journal Yoga Snob Quiz!

In for the Long Haul

I got a letter from my automobile insurance company on Saturday. Not unusual; I get bills, periodic policy updates, new insurance cards, IRA stuff (I also have my IRA through them), and offers for other services. This was different, though. In the envelope were a pair of shiny silver stickers, emblazoned with the company logo and the words QUARTER CENTURY MEMBER. 25 years with the same company.

I did the math, and it makes sense. I took out my own policy around this time of year in 1983; I graduated college and was no longer elegible under my mom's policy so I had to get my own. And though this particular insurance company serves military and veterans (I am neither), my dad was and I was eligible to remain a member as a child of a vet. Kind of sobering to have hung around any one place (even if its an insurance company) for that long.

This weekend at yoga teacher training, we got sorted into two categories. The LIVER tribe were folks with stronger (less flexible) ligamenture. Typically people from warmer climes, people with more yang energy, people with a higher concentration of "fast twitch" muscle fibers.

On the other side of the room, the SPLEEN tribe (my people). People with a more flexible ligamenture. Typically from cooler climes, people with more yin energy, people with more slow twitch muscles. And of course, people all along the spectrum, with some that Ellen was unsure of or felt were in between.

Liver people make better sprinters, spleen people make better long distance runners. We were segregated to help us (as teachers) identify our students - some (livers) really need to work on flexibility, need heat to open up, but have plenty of strength and stability. Others (spleens) are plenty flexible, but need to focus on stability and structure in our practice. It was interesting because we did not sort out simply by body type (ectomorph / endomorph) - there were a range of body types on both sides of the room, although the spleens (more fascia marbled in the muscles) were a bit curvier in general.

Interesting. I never considered myself to be the naturally flexible sort, but I guess I am. And I'm definitely a long-distance runner, when it comes to life - I get on a path, I start taking small steps, and somewhere along the way, I get to my destination. But it's incremental and never all that dramatic.

Spleens and Livers. Marathoner and Sprinters. Takes all types....

June 07, 2008

Anatomy Training

So I'm 1/3 of the way through a Functional Anatomy for Yoga Teachers training weekend with Ellen Heed.

I'm the girl in the back of the room making little noises of happiness, ohs of enlightenment, and giggles of amazement - at the beauty and complexity of the body, at the recognition of anatomical structures which I have come to know intuitively (through my practice, through my teachers' languaging). As Ellen talks of particular bones and muscles, I sit there touching myself, digging around for the bone or muscle she is teaching. I'm pretty sure Nykki (assisting Ellen) is up front, watching me, and laughing her ass off. It's all pretty exciting, personally.

So far, the biggees for me have been understanding the back - pinched nerves, bulging or herniated disks, facet syndrome. I have my own struggles with lower back pain (tweakiness, really, I suspect its more muscle strain than anything) so to get a good mental picture of my back is wonderful, as well as how particular postures are beneficial or potentially harmful. And getting a good mental image of some of the muscle structures that my teachers reference - the psoas, the piriformis, the abs.

It's mostly a "sit and listen" kind of class so far, although I see on today's agenda an hour long guided meditation and a 90 minute yoga practice. But my body, accustomed to daily yoga, is kind of cranky this morning. Today's practice will help, and I'll definitely try to hit the 8:30 a.m. class tomorrow morning, before the training begins.

Ellen has this model of the spine, from the bottom of the skull to the pelvis, that she uses throughout. At times, she sits up front with this spine on her knee - like one would hold a child, a puppy, or a ventriloquists dummy. It's very endearing.

Ellen is in town for a few days, and I uncharacteristically signed up for a few hours of body work. Ellen specializes in deep tissue work around scars, and is a certified Sexual Bodyworker (only in CA, as she says) - and I'm thinking I might have some things she could help me with.....

Bad Blogger

There is so much going on in Hartford these days, and much of it not so good, and I have not been blogging about any of it. Bad blogger. I've been wrapped up in my own life - which has been full, challenging, and complicated.

First, the hit-and-run accident on Park Street which has gained national attention, especially the videotaped reaction of the passersby and pedestrians. It's a horrific thing that happened, and you know, the initial accident, caused by folks in souped up cars playing GTA on the streets of Hartford, is, IMHO, completely a police issue, Chief Roberts be damned. People playing their music at ear splitting levels, public drinking, zoning violations, driving illegally outfitted or unregistered vehicles, street racing, speeding, riding crotch-rockets at high speeds, riding pocket bikes on city streets, parking illegally - all of these things are quality of life issues which the police should be addressing. And although I think the Zipster is a little over the top in terms of anger and frustration at some local quality of life issues in our neighborhood, it's also true that the police almost never deal with these issues without repeated requests.

And I do put the blame for this both in the police department's hands as well as the mayor's office. Because I do think Mayor Perez knows from whence his support comes, and if he were to start enforcing some of these quality of life issues, his popularity would wane. Hartford is not that big a city, and I have to believe that a lot of folks are connected to the home-grown mayor and police chief by as little as 2 or 3 degrees of separation that might drive a little leniency. I wonder how often these assholes have gotten pulled over and let go, because driving too fast, having an illegal car, driving recklessly is not THAT big a deal and besides. Well this time, it was.

As far as the pedestrians - well, I am of several minds about that. The fact is that a number of people *did* call 9-1-1, so the characterization of the city as uncaring is not accurate. And there is a certain shock value with something like that - you cannot believe it happened, it takes a minute or two to react unless one is trained in law enforcement, medicine, emergency services, etc. I will say that there is a certain "none of my business" aspect to living in a city, with gangs and crime rampant. I've certainly driven by what looks like a drug deal going down, and not phoned it in. Is it just a person in a funky neighborhood coming out to greet a friend in a car, or is it drugs? Hard to know, and I'm sensitive to my own cultural biases. And if I drive by an accident or incident where there are already onlookers there, I rarely stop in the middle of the street. I'm not trained to help, I'll call 9-1-1 if I don't see anyone on a cell phone, but pretty much all I can do is stop and gawk, and that's not helping anyone.

Yeah, it looks pretty shitty for the city. My prayers go out for the victim of this, and other recent crimes. And maybe, just maybe, this will be the catalyst for change both within the cities residents and the city government and law enforcement.

June 06, 2008

Gay and Lesbian Film Fest

Got to two nights worth of films this year; sadly neither the opening night nor likely the closing night (both of which feature a nice reception / social hour afterwards). Website here

On Sunday, I took MYA and her friend to see Manuela & Manuel - Puerto Rican film. A bit deceptive; the blurbs and photos seem to imply than Manuela is trans and full time, when really, she is a drag performer who spends most of her time as a somewhat flamboyant / swishy gay man. So it was more like a take on "La Cage Aux Folles" (gay man trying to play it straight for a wedding) than any sort of detransition saga that is hinted at in the synopsis. Ah well, it was a funny film, worth seeing. Just not what we expected. IMDB.

Last night, Zippy and I went to see XXY - an Argentinian film about a young intersexed woman (assigned) struggling to come to terms with her ambiguous gender and sexuality. (I use female pronouns since this is how she is gendered in the film) Sobering, beautifully made, wonderful actors. It dealt quite smartly with the issues of surgical intevention - in childhood (a side character speaks of having had surgery as a child), and in adulthood (a surgeon is visiting the family to speak to the girl and her father about taking care of things now that she is 15). And it also presents the chices - the side character mentioned above was raise female but transitioned to male when he turned 18; the protaganist Alex is presumably being encouraged to have surgery to remain female. IMDB.

Definitely a winner, in my book.

First Yoga Class

Well, I did it: I taught my first real class this evening - students I rustled up in my office building and via Craigslist. It started inauspiciously (a husband and wife were there on time, which is two more than last week's aborted class) but others drifted in and I ended up with 6 students. I held it at my office space, in an amphitheater that has a good sized front area that would fit maybe 12 mats. It has some incandescent lights on dimmers which set an OK mood (instead of the banks of flourescents....)

I won't talk too much about the class....it was a pretty basic beginners class, with some breath work, some seated neck and shoulder and side stretch stuff, a bunch of postures coming from table (hands and knees), some very simple sun preps, and some warrior postures - before winding down. It was slated for an hour, and I ran a few minutes over because of people coming in late. But I was pretty much on track with time.....

And....I held the space! I got the lefts and the rights, I mirrored the class, I taught mostly from the mat to demonstrate the postures (5 of 6 students were new to yoga), but was able to work the room a bit as well, assisting, tweaking the music and lights, etc. No fumbling or stuttering, no rushing, I let the class unfold, the students breath and talked a bit about yoga - breath, prana, apana. Just seemed to hit my stride. And as I talked the class into savasana, and felt the familar energy of bodies releasing into the earth, of people letting go, well - it's a pretty amazing and humbling feeling.

Afterwards - pretty wonderful. One of my students is a therapist in the building who has practiced in the past - I met him for the first time when he saw my yoga signs and introduced himself. He came to me after class and said "Your voice is just perfect for doing yoga to". I was floored - have I mentioned how completely nervous and insecure I am about my voice? Finding my voice has been a big theme in my teacher training. And then he said "How long did you say you have been teaching? You seem as if you have been doing this for years...."

And another student, a woman who works in the building who came in 1/2 way through - quizzed me afterwards for her husband: wanting to know if I did private sessions! He's pretty far away, and I'm not really ready to do private seesion, so I promised to look up some studios up that way where she might find something for him. But....again, affirmation.

Some things to change for next week, housekeeping stuff. Some simpler music. Start 1/2 hour later which works better for the students. And now that I have some idea who my students are and what sort of teacher I am (it was almost like I was meeting this "Yoga Teacher Jude" person for the first time), work on another sequence / practice.

But....for the first time, I feel like a yoga teacher. After many years of doing my own practice and thinking "I might like to teach", and many months of training and hours in the studio learning how to teach, to have this sort of positive experience, this sort of "you can do it!" affirmation from the universe - pretty sweet.

June 05, 2008

Busy Busy Day


With a nod to Richard Scarry - this book was a favorite in our house (for my younger brothers) but I am sure we older sibs read it just as often....

Work this morning. Then yoga. Then a quick trip over to Ocean State Job Lot. Then work. Lunch in there somewhere. Then counseling. Then work. Then teaching a yoga class at the office. The off to Cinestudio for the movie "XXY", part of the G/L Film Fest. No rest for the wicked.

Spread the Word

This one comes in from my dear friend Jane Bolduc:

How do I love thee, MVYradio? Let me count the ways... Well, for starters, MVY radio is featuring yet ANOTHER of my songs, my FIFTH offering on this stellar internet radio station! Never Too Far has been added to the rotation on mvyradio.com's Local MusiCafe, the internet listening room at WMVY radio.

MVYradio is a 23-year heritage Adult Alternative station, known for its groundbreaking efforts with artists like Dave Matthews, Susan Tedeschi, David Gray and Joss Stone, and has been consistently ranked within the top 15 most streamed internet radio stations in the world. In 2005, there were more than 400,000 downloads from WMVY's Local MusiCafe.

Click on this link, scroll down to SINGLE TRACKS, select ROCK from the "Prioritize Tracks By" drop-down menu, and find the listing for my name/song to listen to/download my song, Never Too Far.

This recording of Never Too Far was produced by my beloved friend and colleague Tim Gales, and features my pals Jaysen Hawks on drums, Norm Sancho on bass, Norm's talented and lovely wife Robin Rader on saxophone, songwriter extraordinaire Matthew Lee on keyboards, Anthony Mazza on electric guitars, and the melifluous tones of Heidi Allyce and Tim Gales on background vocals. Enjoy...

Oh & stay tuned for news on my LIVE CD! We're putting the final touches on the tracks (mixed/co-produced by Thomas Gallagher) from the Winery Awards Gig I played with my oh-so-phenomenal band, The Danglers (Tim Godwin, Lou Castro & Jaysen Hawks), back in September! We're working on the graphics for the CD (graphic design by Lilia Arbona, with original artwork by Paul Johnson), and hope to have it available for you (CDbaby.com and iTunes) by mid-July. I'm so excited for you to hear it!

Want more Jane? Check out her website, here.

June 04, 2008

Under the Covers

Woke this morning to the perfect sound of rain on the roof, a cool morning, and snuggled under the covers. I must have lay in bed a good 15 minutes, just enjoying the moments. Elo came in to sit with me. There is a bliss in such mornings.

June 03, 2008

He Sure Can Give a Speech

Working late, listening as I work. First politician I've ever really gotten excited about. Gracious to Senator Clinton (and Bill) and hard hitting Sen. McCain.

Gonna be an interesting summer and fall.....

June 02, 2008

So, Tell Me About Yoga.....

I've spent some time the past few days talking about yoga. First, to folks who have inquired about my upcoming classes. Also, to folks in the intro class that I am assiting at. And today, to people calling to talk about intro to yoga classes at the studio (I was subbing for the studio manager and a lot of her work involves talking to prospective yogis, especially when its intro class time)

So, tell me about yoga......what do you get out of it? What brings you back to the mat each day?

I am a spirit living in this body. And for years, most of my life really, I was not so happy about that. This body was wrong - the wrong size, the wrong flavor, too clumsy, unattractive. This body was like the car you inherited from an aging aunt - transportation for this spirit, but not something to care too much about.

Somehow, in the past few years, I have come to a different relationship with this body. Today, it is a most precious gift. A marvel of design and engineering, with intricate processes: breathing, digestion, heating and cooling, fighting off illness and infection. It can do some pretty amazing things - balancing, lifting, twisting. It has continued to serve me despite many years of neglect. And I have come to recognize that sometime in my past, my spirit floating in the ether, got the message it had waited so long for: there is a body for you. A life for you to live. Sensations. Emotions. Pleasure. Pain.

So yoga. It is a chance for this spirit, to reconnect with this body. To turn down the volume of the mind, chattering away with things of great import, and things of the least significance. To explore the abilities, as well as the limitations of these bones, these muscles. To feel heat rise, and sweat build. To explore breath, and feel this heart pumping.

I am fortunate - I have tasted truth; I know what I am. So yoga is a chance to explore that truth, to be alone with it, to sometimes actively ponder it, and at other times to simply sit with it and see what comes up.

Yes, talking to new students - its hard to communicate that. Instead, we talk about flexibility. About breath. About calmness and stress reduction. About blood pressure. It's all a bit of a lure. Yeah, you get those things. But really, you come to the mat hoping for a little piece of truth. It's all about preparing the way - plowing, weeding, watering, planting - in the hope that something will grow. Quieting the mind. Soothing the body. Practicing stillness during crisis. And maybe, just maybe, the truth will see a small quiet place, temporarily, in your life, and drop lightly onto the shore.

I live for those moments....

Making the Kool-Aid

Discussing yoga at the studio, and how when speaking to newcomers and prospective yogis who are thinking of slotting in one practice a week, it's difficult for those of us who practice more regularly to recalibrate our thinking. I was on the phone with someone today, reviewing the class schedule. She was excited to find two appropriate classes (in terms of type of practice and time) - while I was feeling a bit of disappointment that we could not offer her more.

I was discussing this with my friend and studio co-worker Kristen, who is also a diehard. How sometimes we need to tone down our yoga obsessions and zeal when talking to newcomers, how not everyone is gonna turn into a daily practice yoga whack job.

Me: I guess I drank the kool aid.
Kristen: I think you're making the kool aid these days

She has a point....

June 01, 2008

Chomping at the Bit

Hey, it's officially Sunday morning. 5:30 a.m., yeah, but normally the Courants updates the columnists pieces early.

I want my Colin McEnroe fix, but it's not there yet.

Whatsup wit dat?