October 31, 2009

Big Day in New Britain

Spent a lot of time over at the new place today - really starting to come together.

A solo run over this morning with coffee table, end table, nightstand, mirror, vacuum, and some odd boxes. I spent the morning cleaning - detailed the fridge (it looked clean, now it really is) and scoured the cabinets. Even vacuumed the top. Cleaned the new (used) microwave, cleaned the table and chairs, washed and put away new dishes, flatware and old coffee cups.

After noon my friends Robert and Kristen came over - and after a tour, we headed out to lunch - the Paradise Restaurant is right down the street and is apparently pretty well known (well, Robert mentioned it as noteworthy, and I took them there not remembering the name but remembering that the place always looked busy). The pizza was great, they have three kinds of crusts and New York style is the pizza of my youth. Seems like a pretty great place for a quick breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Just like that, I am settling into a new 'hood.

Then we headed back to Hartford to pick up a load - with their help, the folk festival supplies and my spring / summer clothes were loaded up pretty quick, along with a ladder, XC skis, and snow shoes. We got back to the condo to find my friend Pat waiting with his son, a friend, and a UHaul. Patrick (son) wanted the pool table. Which was a b*tch to get out of the basement and up the hill to the truck, but brains won out. Lifting and carrying was not going to work, but I suggested we use the carpet scraps from the basement to create a path to slide the thing out the door and up the hill - which worked great. Then we tipped it up on end and into the truck where it slid in. I dunno how they got it out on the - other end - hope it went OK. But Patrick was beaming at the prospect of owning such a nice table - and I am glad it went to a friend.

Kristen, Robert, and I finished our unloading and then retired to the back deck for a beer and a chat. It was balmy for the last night in October and as we relaxed I felt the warm vibe of my new home, just felt like a wonderful christening of the place.

After they left, I hung out for trick or treaters (just had a few) and put away the seasonal clothes upstairs in the studio closet. Definitely have 1 or 2 tubs too many but I can work on reducing that, but everything is in the closet and the sanctity of the yoga space is intact.

Tomorrow, more time over there. The morning might bring balloon chasing (although the weather is iffy) - alternately I might hit the mat. Then back to work at the Condo - need to clean the bathrooms tomorrow, scour the basement floor (removing the pool table revealed a somewhat greasy / slippy floor, perhaps related to the pool chalk). Also clean out the understairs storage area (full of condo yard stuff) and put my camping gear away. Take some shelves over (fetched from the office). Perhaps take some kitchen things over.

It's a big project - but it's getting done. I'm excited to start living there....

October 30, 2009

Moving Update

The condo is slowly becoming mine....feeling like home.

I've trucked (or car'd) over a bunch of stuff so far. All my books are over there, all my music. My kitchen table (right at my limit for solo moving) and chairs. A microwave table / kitchen cart. Bookshelves. A few boxes of miscellany.

This weekend looks like a busy one - with planned trips to bring coffee table, end table, microwave, stereo components, televisions, video components, my bike, my folk fest / camping stuff, and my seasonal clothes. Probably a few other odds and ends as well.

I'm also planning to do a lot of cleaning this weekend. Want to clean the cabinets with Murphy's wood soap (inside and out), clean the fridge (it's in good shape but can't hurt), both bathrooms, all the windows, the new table and chairs. Maybe fire up teh grill to see if it works, sweep the deck (leaves), clean the deck table and stow (or toss) the umbrella.

I made my first run to Home Depot this morning. Dropped some bucks on washer hoses, a dryer vent hose, new house number, letters for the mailbox, new locks, a porch light timer, some 3 way switches. I replaced both the front door and basement door with new lock and deadbolts (with a single key) which ought to make for a lighter keychain (previously 4 keys). I am shopping for a new mailbox but did not see anything I liked at Home Depot. I want to put in a timer for the front porch light. And replace the living room light switches (the switched outlet showed low voltage and high impedance, probably a flaky switch).

I've got all my books put away (and brought the empty boxes back to be filled up). I laid out my yoga mat in the spare room (mostly to remind myself to keep that space somewhat uncluttered and set aside).

Lot's to do but I am picking away at it piece by piece. Fun, tiring, exciting.

October 29, 2009

My Moving Blueprint

Mostly for my facebook peeps.....but you blog readers can know too.

I'm planning the "big move" on Saturday Nov 7th. There is some slop there - if it's a nice (i.e. - flyable) day, I am sure there will be ballooning in the morning, so we'll get started later. I'm also on standby to teach an Intro to Yoga class at 1-2, if Shankara can not do it. But Nov 7th is the day, regardless.

We have access to Zippy's two trucks - and possibly 1 or 2 vans from friends. I'll rent a U-Haul if need be, but I'm pretty sure we can do without.

The key is, I expect that the move will be pretty simple. A mattress and boxspring. Two dressers. An armoire. An entertainment console. A rocking chair. I'm working at getting a lot moved over ahead of time. So it will be a pretty easy day and some pizza and beverages and hanging out in between it all.

As those who have watched me make other life transitions - I kind of put one foot in front of the other, not a lot of drama, everything gets done. So I expect that Nov 7th will be somewhat anti-climactic. But helpers are welcome to come along!

I do plan to be over at the new place this weekend - cleaning, moving, unpacking, etc. Helpers or onlookers or cheerleaders welcome. Not doing any major painting or changes - but I need to clean the cabinets, fridge, bathrooms, windows, floors, etc. I have some moderate sized things to move that could use a second body - not too heavy, just awkward. And since I now have a yoga room - maybe some guerilla yoga....

October 28, 2009

Home Owner

It's been the better part of a year since I imagined myself buying a home. The house behind where Zippy and I live was foreclosed - and I thought it might be a steal (and be a way to move out but stay connected). I did not get too far at that time, but the seed was planted. I spent much of the summer house hunting, and the past few months biting my nails as I waited for the mortgage to come through. And today, I closed on a condo in New Britain.

The past 24 hours had a small bit of drama. My mortgage broker called last night with the final settlement number - it was within the good faith estimate, but it seemed about $1000 high based on my calculations. I fretted a bit but did not panic, mentioned it to my broker, and this morning when I went to go over the numbers, I was proven right - the lawyer had added in some money for points which my new mortgage did not contain.

And after a grey but dry morning, I emerged from my office at 12:30 pm to a torrential downpour - so I arrived at the walk through soaked. I dried out en route to the closing (in East Haven) but the ride down (following my real estate agent in her zippy Saab) was nerve-racking (I need new tires, so was a little concerned about hyroplaning). Closing was pretty calm - I met the seller, and in a room full of people (two lawyers, two brokers, a buyer a seller, and my mortgage broker) I signed and initialed about 100 pieces of paper. And bought a condo.

After the closing I dropped by (in the rain) to empty my car (vacuum cleaner, some kitchen stuff from my office, my yoga toys and some musical gack), and then went to Target where I dropped $100 on house ephemera: garbage cans, light bulbs, cleaning supplies, laundry rack.

Zippy, our friend Pat, and I went over tonight after dinner - Zippy and Pat played pool (getting it in before I find a home for the table) and I unpacked more cleaning supplies, put some carpet freshener down and vacuumed the whole place. I have a lot of cleaning and organizing to do, and lots of moving.

I'm in the old place for another week or so - Nov 7 is the projected "big move" day.

But....yeah. Happy. Relieved.

In other news - I get a call from my primary credit card tonight. They were informing me of the new credit rules (and, I think, trying to sell me on keeping the "honor overdrafts and pay the fee" stuff, which I declined.) But in the process of that, the woman on the phone mentioned a credit line that was $4000 higher than it has been, historically. And so I checked tonight (as I updated my address to the new place) and indeed - my credit limit has been raised.

Does being a homeowner and having a mortage (which is at this point all of 9 hours old) automatically boost my credi-worthiness? I dunno. I am so not gonna come close to that extra credit limit, that's all I know....

October 26, 2009

Adrift in Wichita

I'm parked at a La Quinta outside Mid Continental Airport here in Wichita. Called my client contact #1 this morning around 8, to be informed "I'm in Tulsa, driving up this morning, will be there in 4-5 hours, will call when I get into town". Called contact #2 (the facility manager) to look for the rental test equipment. Which had not arrived yet. I asked him to call me when it got there.

It's now 12:30 local time, and I have not heard from either individual. So I have looked up a nice local yoga studio - Inner Works Holistic Health Studio - and took a nice hot class (thanks, Renee, for the private!). I've gotten another client report out (all caught up is a nice feeling, and 40+ hours of billable work for October is another nice feeling). And I'm mucked around online.

I'm about to give up, pack my things, and head over to the facility. Maybe grab a bite en route. Just cause I am bored out of my head.

October 23, 2009

Running the numbers

Sat down to go over the numbers in terms of my new condo, as compared to my present living and working situation.

My mortgage, taxes, and condo fees combined add up to $140 less that what I presently pay for my office and to Zippy for rent & utilities. Picking up a Comcast bundle for the new place is about the same as whT I pay for office phones and internet, combined. The only new expense at that point is electricity. Which will be higher than present (since I'm heating with electrics) - but Zippy's bill is around $100 / month - I have to imagine I'll be around $150 a month, on average (lower in summer, higher in winter). So pretty much the new place will be a wash, financially.

Of course, this ignores two tax issues - my office expense and utilities are presently 100% deductible on Schedule C. The new place will be partially deductible (Schedule C, home office) and also partially deductible as homeowner mortgage interest and taxes. Might actually be a bit higher overall deduction, although pulling income out of Schedule C saves FICA and Medicare taxes....and I trade the already pretty decent standard deduction for the mortage deduction - so will have to look for other itemized deductions (health care, donations, etc.) to leverage.

Intangibles will be interesting to watch. I presently eat my lunch out a lot and grab coffee on the go - and I expect that to change significantly. Maybe $50 a week, $200 a month, let's say I cut that in half (probably more). Saves another $100. Groceries will probably be higher (at least until the larder is stocked). Gas a bit higher (further to drive to yoga).

Bottom line - I'm not looking for too much to change, financially, once I am in the new place. Which is a good thing.

October 22, 2009

Condo Update

Last update, with any luck, prior to closing. I got word this week that my mortgage had been approved and that we had been given the green light to close this week. But there was a catch - my broker found a better deal, with no points (vs. 1 point originally) and 1/2 percent lower rate. But I had to wait for fair lending disclosure (received today) so we set a closing date for next Wed.

It's not all that much - $1000 less at closing, and perhaps $25 or $30 less per month on the mortgage. But a better deal is a better deal.

With any luck, Wed I'll own a condo. And start moving in shortly thereafter. I'm hoping to have my first moving day on Nov 7, although I might end up teaching Free Intro to Yoga at 1 pm that day. Splitting up the moving between the houshold stuff (Nov 7) and the office (later in the month) to give me some time to get in and get situated, and to give my brother time to come fetch the resident pool table in the basement where my office is supposed to be.

October 19, 2009

Our Town - Iris Dement

After the cold, wet weekend, the morning blossoms with sunshine and promises of warmer winds.

Listening to WWUH this morning, this song suddenly brings some tears.



Started the moving process this weekend; moved some things from friends' home to ours as Zippy and I slowly start the task of detaching our households. A little sadness there, even as there is the excitement of a new adventure.

October 17, 2009

Open Studio

Busy day down at WHY. No ballooning today (wind) so I snuck in to Nykki's 9:00 am class (strong practice, awesome savasana). Then back home for a bit, and returned to the studio at 12:00 for Open Studio. I kept pretty busy - attended Peter's EI preview (I've been invited to Silent Monitor at the December EI, looking forward to that).

Afterwards, I stepped into the studio (completely unplanned) to assist for Shnakara (Intro to Yoga) and then Nykki (Hot Yoga). Laurie was my partner in crime and we tried to keep newcomers from getting to tied up in knots. Shankara's class is always tough to assist in, since he does a lot of rolling around on the mat and feeling the body, and not a lot of formal asana. Nykki's class, on the other hand - yoga boot camp. But by the end of the hour long class they looked like yogis. Nykki's good like that. I was tired out and after a few quick tweaks from my friendly neighborhood Chiropractor (Peter was doing free adjustments, he looked at my knee but then went for the back and neck, which always freaks me out) I headed home. Where I fell into bed and napped for two hours - exhausted from Kirtan and Yoga.

So I'm up late (because of the nap) - headed off to bed. Yoga tomorrow, hopefully, and maybe a hike. And maybe get caught up on some work.....

Kirtan Post Mortem

Friday night Kirtan. As usual, a very busy Friday, with work in the morning, then teaching two yoga classes. A quick lunch and then back to the studio to set up for Kirtan. Back to work until 5, home for a dinner and a bit of relaxing, then back to the studio for 7:30 pm. Kirtan went pretty well - good crowd, and a bunch of new numbers that worked pretty well. But we seemed a little off - lots of little issues:

1) We really miss Molly our flautist, gone on to a job out of state
2) I personally need to practice more. If only to keep my callouses and be able to vamp more, especially on bass.
3) I think we also need to practice as a group more. We spent a lot of time on new pieces but not a lot of time working on old stuff.
4) To that end, I think we need to limit new numbers to 1-2 per performance (we brought 4 new pieces out this month). Just to permit some time to rehearse old stuff. We also need to do a better job of learning new pieces. Having the music and words available would help, I was working of fhastily scribble notes this month, and we were all trying to remember the new pieces since none of us had the CD or MP3, and I think that contributed to a longer than usual between song dead time.
5) I personally think we need to mix in a few more classic kirtan chants (Krishna Das kind of stuff) which the audience likes and can chant along with. Some of the newer stuff is less participatory.

All in all, a learning experience. Sounds like we're on track to tighten up for December.

Neko Case on Public Radio

She must have a new album out; hitting the circuit. Last week she was on A Prairie Home Companion.

And this morning, she was on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me in the "Not My Job" segment. Her questions were all about Necco Wafers, and the segment was hilarious. The first question had to do with the civil war (Necco wafers were apparently distributed to the union troops) and she's seen Ken Burns' series enough to vamp amusingly on it with the professional funny folks.

Sad or Scary Things About My New Condo

For the record, we're still not closed yet. I've gotten a verbal "good to go" from the mortgage broker and a projected closing date of early next week. So I'm confident enough to start picking furniture up on Craigs List, but holding off on the celebration. In the meantime, some projections into the future...

1. Isolating. I have this tendency to pull back, to withdraw. I'm afraid that being on my own, a few more miles away from my social center (the yoga studio and Hartford), will drag me down into isolating. I'm conscious of that, and plan to proactively stay connected, but it's a fear.

2. Zippy. Much as our intersecting lives ad cohabitation produces friction and frustration for both of us, I will miss the dude. I'm hoping to maintain a friendship and stay connected but it's still nice to have another body in the house, someone to watch TV with or just talk about the day, the world, etc.

3. Dogs. I've had dogs all my adult life, since my ex and I got a little Springer Spaniel pup back in 1990 or thereabouts. And right now Elo the Beagle / Cattle Dog mix is my little buddy - sleeping on the bed, begging for food, an occasional companion on walks or hikes. We've decided to keep the dogs together, with Zippy. I can have a pet at my new place, but these dogs might be a bit large, neither of them is particularly good on the leash (if I get a pet, I will need to walk it, right now we have a fenced in yard for the dogs to go run in), and I think the dogs will do better together than they will alone. So I'll be dogless (for a while, anyways) at the new place. Sad.

4. Electric Heat. Wonder how much that's going to cost me :(

5. Not Hartford. I've come to love being this close to the city. I eat at fun restaurants, I go to Real Art Ways and Cinestudio and Cinema City. I can pop in to local music and arts events without a lot of planning or travel. And I have a small circle of friends that I will perhaps see a little less often. So even though New Britain is not all that far away, it's still a few miles more to travel.

6. New Britain. Just new stomping grounds. Having spent many years in Waterbury, I imagine New Britain is somewhat similar. A lot of unknowns in terms of neighbors, the neighborhood, the local environment. And New Britain does have a certain reputation as a tough city. Then again, so does Hartford and I like that just fine....

7. Cost of Living. It's true, two can live cheaper than one. I'm kind of nervous about the budget and cost of living in my own place. On paper, it's a wash. My mortgage + taxes + condo fees are $150 less than what I'm paying today on rent to Zippy and the office. My office phones and internet are about the same price as a Comcast bundle. The electricity will be an unknown, probably a bit more than the $150 savings in rent. Perhaps I'll make it up in fewer lunches on the go. We'll find out. But I'm going to try to consciously cut back these first few months.

Hopeful Things About My New Condo

For the record, we're still not closed yet. I've gotten a verbal "good to go" from the mortgage broker and a projected closing date of early next week. So I'm confident enough to start picking furniture up on Craigs List, but holding off on the celebration. In the meantime, some projections into the future...

1. Yoga Space. I don't have a place to lay down a mat where I live now, and even a temporary space is marred by dog interference. So I just do not have much of a self practice right now. I'm planning to have a mat down 24/7 in the spare bedroom at the new place.

2. Music Space. Similarly, it's difficult to make space and time for music here - I have to bring the instruments out from the back porch and then deal with Zippy's "rama lama ding dong" comments when it comes to kirtan music. This last kirtan I really felt the lack of practice. I'm hoping to pick up the guitar and bass more often at the new place.....

3. Healthy Eating. Working out of the home, I tend to grab lunch on the go (invariably, Subway or some other fast food). I'm hoping to be able to eat a healthier lunch once I move back into a home office, and have my own kitchen / fridge / larder / etc.

4. Decor and Art. When I moved in with Zippy, I marveled at the walls filled with art (some of it quite large and vibrant). He's quite the collector. But the downside is that there has really not been a lot of space for my taste and preferences. So I'm hoping to find art and decor that nourish my spirit. I already have an eye on some artist friends who I would love to support.....and love to have their work in my home.

5. Radio. I'm a big fan of public radio and listen pretty much no-stop at my office. Zippy is not a big fan of talk radio. So I mostly defer to his tastes (college radio music shows or no radio) around the house. I suspect I'll be a bit more of a radio listener around the house once I move....

6. Organization. I'll admit it, I'm a messy person. I'm looking forward to the cleansing / detox (already well underway) as I declutter in order to move, and hope to retain a less cluttered, less filled with stuff lifestyle going forward. It's a goal anyway.....

7. Friends. I have this whole circle of friends who have never been to my house, never seen my space, because Zippy has been pretty negative on the whole yoga thing. So I am looking forward to having friends come by, having a home I can welcome others to. Tangential to this, occasionally we get wandering yogis at the studio (for trainings or workshops) who are on a tight budget (one dude was sleeping in his truck!), and I'm hoping to have my second room (with an air mattress perhaps) be a space I can open up to these folks who might not have the money for a hotel.

8. Productivity. As a self-employed person with way too many hobbies, interests and side projects - I need to fit the work in when I can. And I remember (from my previous days of working out the home) that I was able to grab long hours of work in unconventional times (early mornings, late evenings, weekends) as the spirit and my schedule permitted. Working outside the home these past few years, I've fallen into a more conventional 8 to 5 workday, with the caveat that I'm often not available for work (yoga, ballooning, etc.) from 8 to 5. So I'm simply not putting the hours in. It's hard to get over to the office at odd times - but I think if "the office" is down a flight of stairs, I'll be more likely to pop in for a few hours of work.

9. Bed. A few years back I was gifted with a beautiful hand-made four poster bed (well, it was payment for a website project). When Zippy and I stopped sharing a bed, I moved onto a futon (which has a certain monastic charm). But it will be nice to have my big comfy bed back.

10. Relationship. Zippy and I have been out of relationship for a few years now. But still, living together makes anew relationship awkward, and there is a certain companionship or at least domestic connection that remains. Yet I do desire a relationship and a connection to another. I'm hoping getting out on my own creates the space for that to happen.

October 12, 2009

Kirtan - Friday, October 16

The West Hartford Yoga Kirtan group returns this Friday starting at 8:15. Join Shankara (harmonium / vocals), Mare (vocals), Tom (percussion and vocals), Craig (percussion), Virginia (percussion), and myself (guitar and bass) for an evening of Bahkti Yoga. Come to listen, to chant, to sing, to move, to dance. Give yourself over to the music, the spirit, the rhythms, the melody.



More info here

Hartford Party Starter's Union

Follower's may recall a somewhat testy exchange between this blogger and the principals of the Hartford Party Starter's Union, here and here. At the time I was cranky about a "We're on the internet" catch phrase despite them being fairly hard to find on the internet.

Well, since then (Feb & Apr of this year), they have set up an easily findable and clearly named blog - hartfordpartystartersunion.blogspot.com/. (Slightly more enticing than "Central CT Foam Parties", from my perspective) And they are updating it regularly with events, photos, etc. Also pretty active on Facebook.

Nice job....

October 11, 2009

Note to Self: You Are an Engineer

I wandered down to Cables and Connectors this afternoon looking for a battery tester. I had several dozen assorted batteries (mostly AA and 9V) hanging around. Between a difital camera, computer muse, guitar and bass pickups, wireless mic, flashlights - well, lots of places for batteries.

I have developed a bad habit of pulling them out of my camera (during balloon chasing, for example, or at kirtan), putting the dead ones in my pocket, and then dumping them out (on my bureau at night into one of my car cupholders, into my purse, or my cable tub). Of course, I also put a few fresh ones in my pocket, never use 'em, and dump them out into the same places. So I had piles of batteries and no idea which ones were fresh, which ones were dead and which ones were in between.

Cables and Connectors is closed on Sunday (make a note) but as I pulled out of the lot I though "dummy, you're an engineer...." - I own multimeters, and have boxes of parts, resistors, etc. So it took me about 2 minutes to cobble together a tester - with an 8 ohm resistor to load down the battery, and a meter. Quick work to check the batteries and sort them into categories: "new", "used but still good", and "dead". When I get some time I'll jot down the voltage levels that I found.

Dead ones in the recycle bag (take 'em to Whole Foods every so often) and fresh ones into various places - my music kit, opened battery packages, the camera case, and my laptop stand.

Mission accomplished.

October 10, 2009

Open Mic at La Salle Market & Deli

Got a text last night from my friend Cheryl "We're at this great open mike up in Collinsville....come". Was just finishing up a meal with Zippy and his dad (Bombay Olive, I opted out of my usual 6 pm Friday yoga) so I decided to trek northwest. Collinsville is a mere 12.2 miles away (so says Agatha the GPS) but I seem to have this "it's way off in the northwest corner" attitude about it. Wrong....

So glad I went. Turns out that the LaSalle Market & Deli has a regular Friday Open Mike, and that many of the folks I ran with back in the day (10-15 years back) when I was on the Open Mic circuit are still at it. Kent Aldrich and Gil Dube in particular, but probably a few more (I got there late so some may have come and gone) - it was nice to see them. My friend Kate Callahan was also there - as wonderful as ever. She asked if there was a particular song I wanted to hear but I'm not that familiar with her new stuff - so it's all good. She and Gil actually traded songs (years back he had asked her to "write a short song" because all her songs were long and she did with the condition that he write one about himself and his time on the earth.) It was a beautiful and tears welling up kind of moment.

In the course of organizing and purging for my move; I came across some old photos from Open Mics (yes, photos, predating digital cameras) and there are pictures from the Chunky Tomato in Bristol - Jon Lewis, Gil Dube, Jersey Steve, Kent Aldrich, Gary the Crazy Flautist. I ought to scan 'em in and post em up on Facebook.....

So a lovely evening, thanks Cheryl for the invite. Not sure if my life has time for a regular visit to Collinsville, and not sure if I'll ever brave the open mike circuit again, but it felt like familar and welcoming ground. And I was listening to Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer en route home singing along, and thinking "I could maybe sing and play this....."

October 04, 2009

Can You Make a Living Teaching Yoga?

Over on the Yoga with Nikki Chau blog, here. Really good thoughts for anyone contemplating a career teaching yoga or embarking on their own teaching career. It's pretty tough to imagine anyone getting rich teaching yoga unless one is nationally renowned. Linda's Yoga Journey has also blogged about it Price We Pay and How Much is a Yoga Teacher Worth. Some of my own thoughts:

Product Mix
I've been self-employed for 15 years now. I do a variety of jobs - ranging from engineering, production support for corporate meetings, production support for entertainment, websites, powerpoint design. And for the last year or so, teaching yoga. And I have come to look at every project, every gig as being part of a product mix. Stuff I relly love to do that I might not be able to bill all that much for. Stuff that is perhaps more lucrative but less fulfilling or interesting. And work that lies somewhere in the middle. And I am constantly tweaking that product mix, depending on my finances, my time and energy, the available work, and where my spirit leads me.

Even something as fulfilling as teaching yoga has its "product mix" aspects. Nikki says "An average class at a studio can get anywhere between 1-8 people..." and well, I teach some big classes (15 - 25, sometimes higher) but they are often the $5 Gentle classes, which do not pay so well. But pretty awesome experience to teach to that large a class. On the other hand, some of my smaller full price classes pay better - rewarding in different ways. So even within a yoga teaching career there is a spectrum of "feed your spirit or feed your checking account" choices.

In her post, Nikki writes:

Do I want more students in a class? Not necessarily (workshops are different). First, I don’t teach yoga to make money. It’s not my primary motivation. If it were, I’d need a lot of math help. Secondly, the small class size lets me pay more attention to each individual person and adapt to their specific body, and that’s important to me.

And there is a balancing act there as well. Most studios pay a minimum per class with a percentage or per student amount above the minimum. And the amount that students are willing to pay for yoga is all over the map - locally $17 walk-in, $10 or $12 with a class card, or $5 for some classes. So limiting to 8-10 students is really going to cut back on earnings potential.

As much as it's hard to focus on individual bodies and practices in a larger class, there is something pretty amazing about a large class (speaking both as a student and as a teacher) - resonating with the energy, working flow, conscious of the bodies and spirits in the same postures and same-but-separate life journey. Some of my more memorable classes (as a student) have been with 40-50 students where the class energy just soared - I look across the row of mats with my friends and peers in Vira II or working through a dancing warrior sequence - and fill with love, respect, awe. Strong, brave, beautiful, and amazing. Perhaps not very yogic to step outside of my own body and my own practice like that - but I'm a yoga rebel and when the divine intervenes, who am I to not take a moment to watch and appreciate. So a mix of big classes (make some money, work with collective bodies and spirits) and small class (work with individual bodies and spirits) can work.

Something Else on the Side
Pretty much every yoga teacher down at the studio has something else going, workwise. Body worker (several). Counselor or therapist. Nutritionist. Engineer (guilty). Corporate drone. Stay-at-home parent (presumably with a working partner). So it's pretty realistic to look at who is teaching yoga, and perhaps decide to teach yoga as an adjunct to something else that can bring in some income. Oftentimes, the yoga teaching can be a good conduit / outreach for clients and business for the other work you do.

Paying Your Dues
I always thing of doctors doing their internships and residencies (Grey's Anatomy comes to mind) when I think of my first year of teaching. Even docs with years of education (and a far higher investment in education than a few thousand dollars in formal yoga training) spend a few years getting paid peanuts and working their tails off.

I came to look at my first years of teaching in that light - I'm a first-year, I'm paying my dues. Basically, I'd take any yoga teaching gig I could - to hone my teaching chops, to get experience, to build a reputation. Yeah, I've taught some classes for a few bucks. Yeah I've had some long days and long weeks. But more and more I am able to be selective in how and when I teach and am able to start to control my own teaching product mix.

So I think there is a certain level of "patience, grasshopper" here - teachers fresh out of training are probably not going to hit their stride, earnings wise, for a few years, regardless of how strong their personal practice or inspired their teaching. So be prepared to spend some time in the trenches.

As a sidelight, it's interesting to take the long view of this stuff. I've been embedded down at my studio for years, and in that time I have watched a lot of really top-notch teachers come through. Oftentimes they promote themselves to the studio owner as great teachers, talk their way into a chance to sub in for one of the senior teachers in a prime-time slot, and get handed their collective head by the students who just don't deal well with change (and are plenty vocal with the studio management). I suspect if they had invested some time hanging out, coming to classes to get the studio vibe, becoming familiar to the students and perhaps starting a little lower on the roster (in terms of what classes they sub and how much they ask for) they could potentially build up a reputation and a following, and end up with one of the prime-time slots and large classes that they seek.

As Bill Morrissey writes in his song Birches:
Oak will burn as long and hot as a July afternoon,
And birch will burn itself out by the rising of the moon.

Neil Young might disagree, however. My my, hey hey.

Subsidizing Ones Addiction
Before I started teaching, I was spending a lot on yoga - for classes, for workshops, etc. Now that I'm teaching, I spend a lot less money on yoga (although I practice as much if not more). My studio policy lets teachers take classes for free; there is also work-study, trading hours staffing the studio for free classes or workshops. And since I make money teaching and file a Schedule C, a lot of my yoga expenses come right off the top line as business expenses.

So even though I'm not getting rich from teaching, I'd still be practicing and spending money even if I were not teaching, so the actual net benefit from teaching might be expressed as Income + Subsidized Practices and Workshops + Tax Benefit.

Become Management
As a self employed person, I'm keenly aware of my income limitations related to my time and energy. If every dollar I bring in is directly connected to my time, I have a limitation based on the hours in a day, week, month or year and the amount of money I can charge for any given activity. But if I start to subcontract work - hiring employees, having people "downstream" (in a coarse, multi-level marketing kind of way) then I can start to get some income based on other people's time.

The studio owner gets a cut (I hope, although sometimes I know she takes a hit for small classes) everytime I step into the studio to teach (she also has to pay for rent and heat and all that stuff). So if I can get people downstream of me, I'll start getting an incremental benefit. Opening a studio is a huge risk, a lot of work, and perhaps might take a few years to grow, but it's a way to transition from teacher income (100% dependent upon being in the room) to a potential for higher income (some percentage of one's income derived from getting a piece of other's work). And I suspect there are other business models, heretofore unexplored, that can insert one into the yoga economy in ways others than direct teaching.

But yeah, mostly we do it for love. And every so often, we pick up a check.....

Tias Little - Deep Work

11 Hours in studio with Tias Little this weekend. A workshop called "My Body is My Temple", with four module: The Sacred Feet, Sacred Sacrum, Sacred Sacrum, and Sacred Skull. Although really, we worked the entire body - the feet worked the legs, the sacrum and psoas worked the core, sides, shoulders, and spine, and the skull worked the entire upper body.

As usual, Tias' workshop was highly informative (practically teacher training) with lots of prep work, lots of props, lots of assists, and plenty of "pull up a block and watch me talk through a posture" opportunities. A very nice mix of practice, of lecture (an extended philosophy talk this morning),of technical information (anatomy via slides), and of technique for teaching and assisting.

Also as usual, during what seemed to be an almost minimalist practice (we spent hours on our backs, working very subtle parts of the body, and many hours of watching a posture and moving back to the mat, with almost zero vinyasa or flow) I am both wiped out and feel like crap - evidence of some pretty deep work and deep detoxing. We're pretty hooked on flow at the studio - plenty of sun salutations, plenty of heat, plenty of sweat. I barely cracked a sweat and had no need for my usual headband and mat cover. yet I am as wiped out tonight as if I had spent a weekend detoxing with Sean Corne rr pwoering through an Ana Forrest workshop.

Lot of good ideas. I'm not the type to keep a notebook as I practice - preferring to be fully present for the work and let the work seep into my body. I'm making some notes afterwards, sure I will forget some thing, but I'm going to bring this stuff into some of my classes.

Adult-in-Charge

I've been the adult in charge down at the yoga studio this weekend. Let me tell you, it's exhausting.

Friday was an 11 hour day - I taught two classes, from 10:45 - 1:15 and then hung out getting ready for a national workshop. I snuck out for lunch, and I got to take the workshop but I was pretty much there until 9 pm.

Saturday, another long one - went in at 9 am to clean up some of the registration mess, workshops from 10:45 - 1:45 and again from 3:30 - 6:30. Then clean up while students packed up and made their way out the door; I hit the lights and set the alarm at 8:00 pm.

Today, more of the same - with the final workshop this morning, and the teacher training starting up this afternoon. I turn the reins back to the studio manager (with any luck) tomorrow.

And my big client who has been out of the country for a week or so, is back - I noticed 10 emails with site data came in last night. So it's shoulder to the wheel tomorrow (might try to sneak over to the office a bit today and get a jump start on things....)

Stick a fork in me; I'm done. I need a vacation!

October 02, 2009

Tias Little - My Body is My Temple

I'm hitting the mat all weekend with Tias Little, as he presents My Body is My Temple down at the studio. 11 Hours of detailed study.

I worked with Tias a bit back in July 2007, and completed a 24 hour teacher training with him in October 2008. And although I'm not the type to adopt gurus, he's as close as I get in terms of national teachers (but only because I have not had a lot of opportunity to work with Heather Tiddens, who I adore)

Off to bed. Six hours of Tias tomorrow - Sacrum and Psoas. Yum.

Spreading It Around

One of the young yogis at Tias' workshop this evening was asking around regarding a place to shower. He's sleeping in his vehicle. Devoted to his practice.

And yanno, if I were in my new place, I'd have happily offered him an air mattress in the yoga room and a place to shower and hang. I just don't think it would go over so well with Zippy here, but once I get the condo, I'm so there. That's just who I am and how I roll.

My friend Nykki turned me on to this quote. "When you learn, teach. When you get, give." -Maya Angelou

True, that.

October 01, 2009

Condo Update

No big news. Sept 30 was my commitment date; my lawyer filed for an extension. FHA / mortgage company are backed up due to the last minute shoppers taking advantage of the $8K tax credit.

Looks like the Oct 9 closing date might be pushed back a week. Hopefully no more than that - I want to take some time to clean and do some minor work around the place before I move, I have a bunch of truck-loads of small stuff to take over, and at least two big moving projects (house-to-condo and office-to-condo) along with arranging for the pool table to find its new home.

Will keep you posted.....