December 31, 2009

2009 Wrap-up

New Year's Eve finds me baby-sitting my little bud Andrew as his parent's go do 108 Sun Salutations - which would be a bit much for my body (specifically, my left elbow) right now. I'll settle for two hours on the mat with Barb tomorrow....

So I have the opportunity to go over my blog and review the past year.

Some highlights:

* Got a Roku Player
* Said farewell to Peter Anthony, headed home to Australia
* Balloon safety seminar
* Lost a balloon friend. RIP, Mike.
* Got an iPod Touch. Lost an iPod Touch.\
* Taught an Intro to Yoga Series. Taught a Core-Ab Power Series.
* Won a Hello Kitty diary at Wince, an Open Mic at real Art Ways
* Enlightenment Intensive #5
* My GPS took me off-road and I wrecked my tranny en route to the EI. Doh!
* Got a little mention in the Courant (mid life yoga instructors)
* Lots of ballooning
* Lots of hiking
* Got a new little buddy, Andrew James
* House hunted, found a condo, purchased it, and moved in
* Gave up my office and moved into a home office in the basement
* Staffed an EI in December
* Started rehearsing (bass) with the Guinea Pigs

Movies
Frost Nixon
Revolution Road
Slumdog Millionaire
Training Rules (Dee Mosbacher / Penn State)
Trinidad (Dr. Marci Bowers / Morning Glow)
Enlighten Up (Yoga)
Departures
Glastonbury Kids
Up in the Air
(not counting Roku/Netflix)

Concerts
Abi Tapia (House Concert)
Krishna Das
Hartford Symphony Orchestra "Conenctions"
Kenny White / Cheryl Wheeler
Rhode Island Sustainable Living Festival
Falcon Ridge Folk Fest
Jack Hardy (House Concert)
Krishna Das (again)

Yoga Events
Back Bay Yoga in Boston
Jill Miller Workshops
Guerilla Yoga with Nykki
Shiva Rae / Mandala of Asanas @ Kripalu
Yoga on the Beach (Mashpee MA)
Tias Little Workshop
Heather Tiddens Workshop

Not a bad year, all in all....

December 25, 2009

Worst Yoga Class Ever - Dream Edition

Xmas morning here. Up at my mom's in MA, and I awoke from a very vivid and remembered dream. Need to get it down and out of my system.

In the dream, I am subbing a yoga class for my teacher and mentor Barb, who owns my studio. The class is up in Boston (for some reason, she does not teach in Boston in real life) at a place I've never been to. And the class is oddly spread across 3 very large spaces on two levels (almost like a high loft, so its all open) - so to teach the class, I am constantly walking back and forth between studios as well as up and down stairs.

I have no headset or sound system so I am trying to be heard across all the spaces (not very successfully). Each studio has it's own sound system / stereo, and students have turned these on to a different CD in each space. So I am fighting that as well. And finally, the students in each space are set up in a large circle (not mat to mat as in a normal class).

So I teach the class(es), and it's going really poorly - I teach one room and as I walk to the next room they are doing something different. For some reason, something I am saying (not exactly sure what) is interpreted by the students to mean some completely unexpected (and unknown to me) dance that they all seem to know and do in sync, and I cannot figure out what posture or sanskrit word is triggering this. At one point, the students are complaining about the heat (Barb historically works with a very hot room), and we stop the class and get everyone who wants it cooler to go to the lower level (where it's cooler) and the rest to stay on the upper level; I also am running around closing windows (it's an old building, lot of those horizontal tilt out windows) which the students have opened when I am not in eyeshot.

Well, I look up and it's close to 8 pm (class started at 6) and I've barely gotten through a sun salutation, never got to savasana, so the class just ends. I call the students over and they are all surrounding me and I announce that they've just experienced "the worst yoga class I've ever taught, in fact the worst yoga class I've every witnessed" and they all break out into applause (presumably for me being honest and facing it). I kind of go through the circumstances with them (about the multi levels, the sound systems, the lack of a PA, etc.) but pretty much cop to being unprepared and unable to hold the space. I tell them they've earned karma points (payable by me) for sticking it out. A few of them stick around to brainstorm ways to make things better (like having a headset that plays on all the stereo's, and having one CD playing in all the studios).

As the dream ends, I am walking through the streets of Boston, calling Barb up on my cell phone to tell her how badly I messed up and asking advice regarding if / how I should talk to the owners of the studio in Boston.

So what does it mean?

I'm in the middle of a yoga teaching lull - I've been teaching 3 classes down at the studio but one has been cancelled (only getting a few students), and my Friday noon class is gone for 12/25 and 1/1. Meanwhile my Bristol Adult Ed class is off until the 2nd week in Jan. So I am down to one class a week for a few weeks. Am I recognizing some teaching burnout? Am I questioning my commitment to teaching? Or perhaps my qualifications to teach? Am I getting sloppy or unprepared for classes?

I am, at the same time, struggling to put together all the paperwork for my yoga teacher certification - due by year end. It's not really all that hard - a bunch of book reports (all but one already written) and class critiques (already completed) and some photocopying of class sequences and hunting down of some class sign-ins / rosters from my free teaching. Get it all assembled into a binder or booklet. Not exactly an insurmountable project, yet I have been procrastinating about it.

And I am also looking at a new endeavour - playing bass with an up til now folk/rock duo. Am I concerned about spreading myself too thin?

Lots to chew on. Just wanted to get it all down before I dropped back into sleep and forgot it all!

December 22, 2009

Saab Stories

This morning on Where We Live.

I always thought the passenger side mirror was developed due to Saabs (joke). Because back in the day (late 70s / early 80s) it seemed like if someone came screaming up and passed in the right lane, s/he was driving a Saab. Or sat on your bumper and flashed the headlights if one was not doing 20 mph over the limit. I've never quite shaken the stereotype of the Saab driver as being a bit of a speed demon / hothead, although certainly other cars have filled that wanna-be race car driver niche in ensuing years.

December 19, 2009

Random List of Snowstorm Chores

[ ] Clean yoga room
[ ] Clean bed room
[ ] Take upstairs and put away yoga mats, blocks, straps, boombox
[ ] Put away and organize musical instruments from kirtan
[ ] Do a couple of loads of laundry
[ ] Fold and put away a couple of loads of clean laundry
[ ] Clean bathrooms
[ ] Vacuum room
[ ] Hang up some art / photos
[ ] Get client holiday letters and calendars ready to mail
[ ] Put away random piles in the living room from the old house
[ ] Assemble yoga teacher paperwork for certification

Already got the kitchen cleaned, floor swept and mopped, and the coat closet reorganized.

Glastonbury Kids

Popped over to Cinestudio this afternoon for the premiere of a local film, glastonburykids, by Justin Donais.

Was not really planning to go, but I heard a small piece on Colin McEnroe's show, and drove up that way to check my PO Box and get out of the house before the snow came. When all my likely places to hang out for a few hours came up empty, I remembered the film, and headed over to the Trinity campus.

Pretty interesting and resonant on a few counts.

First, I too was one of those kids who got into trouble young. Not quite so egregious or destructive, but my posse went out on what we called "maneuvers" which was typically some form of minor vandalism with a social, political, or arts purpose. So we (for example) drove in to Boston to spray paint rolling stones lips on a Kiss 108 billboard (the local disco station back in the late 70's) with the words CARS REVENGE, ostensibly a protest of Taste of Honey winning the Best new Artist Grammy over our beloved Cars. That the billboard was three stories up, clearly visible from the Mass Pike, and we needed to scale the building on the outside (through various sub roofs and levels) added to the charm / mystique. For the record, I think I got about two floors up my friend Jim and Kevin did the dirty work.

Another "maneuver" involved breaking in to the local state college gym, stealing the plywood sign that hung over the student section "The Pit" and placing it on the roof of the outside smoking area (also called The Pit) of our high school.

Our final maneuver came the summer following senior year. After a night of sign stealing (mostly road signs with our names) we took a "Now Entering Framingham" sign. En route back from that little escapade we noticed an A-frame sign outside a local (as opposed to national) fast food place; since several of us worked at McD's, we decided it would be funny to grab the sign and put it in front of our restaurant. Unfortunately the police were staking out an adjacent bank watched us (What the heck are those kids doing?) and we were busted.

We spent a night in jail, got booked (the booking officer was all excited I was going to WPI and told me to look up his brother if I needed help there), bailed ourselves out. One of our number that night had a lawyer dad who got the case Nolo'd and closed - we ended up with a few months probation and a fine. Somewhere in the bowels of Framingham Police files there is a mug shot of me with a red "I survived three mile island" tee-shirt. It was written up in the paper - "Burger Prank Foiled" was the headline - and we were damned lucky the cops did not search the car and find the beer or other signs we had pilfered that evening. Stupid kids.

I just remember standing beside my mom's bed that morning to let her know what happened as I headed off to court. My dad had passed away just a few months before and already her worst fears were coming true as her eldest (the smart one) was headed to court. Poor mom!

So, glastonburykids kind of resonated on that line. But in addition, I spent a long year ferrying my mentee back and forth to the same courthouse that the kids in the film went to - as she struggled with an arrest and probation related to a stupid answering machine threat (I believe the exact words were "I'll stab you with a fork in your throat, b*tch") she made to a drag queen from the Polo Club; the DQ's ex boyfriend (who lived in Glastonbury, coincidentally) was dating my mentee. This 19 year old called the cops on a 16 year old high school kid who lived 20 miles away and had no way to even get to Hartford, and the cops arrested her. What a joke.

So I trucked her back and forth to court - first for the initial charge, and later when they picked her up for violating parole (she assumed parole officers could be ignored the same way the school guidance counselors could - she assumed wrong). She spent a night in jail - and I went and bailed her out. So I get where these parents are coming from. I must have spent more than 20 hours in that courthouse over a year.

Back to glastonburykids - good documentary. Interesting to see how these kids of privilege (cell phones, cars, little supervision) were left to roam and get into trouble. Interesting to see how "jackass" style stunts went from stupid to dangerous to criminal. And the film-maker did a nice job of slowly revealing the scope (and criminal nature) of the kids stunts.

The film-maker and 4 of the subjects were there this afternoon. The kids (for the most part) seem like they've got their lives back on track, although interestingly one of the kids NOT busted at the time of the documentary sounded (from his statements after the film) to have gottne in trouble later. So perhaps it was just a matter of time for all of them.

December 14, 2009

Trying Something New

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." (Albert Einstein)

After the intensive last night; I was asked if I'd like go out to dinner with the staff. Now, part of my charm (?) is that I tend to come and go pretty quickly (almost mysteriously, like the wind); I immediately, and completely without thought, said "no thanks, I need to get home".

But really, did I need to get home? Really, I had no compelling reason to get home. So upon a little introspection, I asked if the invite was still open. It was, and I went. I had a delightful (in terms of food, and company) meal at Bizen, an incredible macro/sushi place in Great Barrington (very close to my Falcon Ridge weekend) and got home just fine.

As I pulled up in front of the restaurant, Dougie McLain's "Caledonia" came on the radio. Now this is the song that (as performed by Mad Agnes) dragged me into transformative tears back in 2003 as I faced major life changes and it would have been easy in my post-EI state (even staffing, I got pretty open) to sit in my car and let the waves of sadness and tears wash over me. But friends were arriving and instead of sitting alone in my sadness, I opened the car door and went to embrace warmth, food, humor, and love.

I have worn some pretty deep tracks in the pattern of my life the past many years. Just seems like a nice time to step back, see the way I do things, and make some changes.

December 13, 2009

Back from EI

Survived a rather nail-biting ride home from Kripalu this evening (icy roads, especially 44 in CT) - should have gone I-90 to I-91 but we went down to Great Barrington for dinner after and back roads seemed OK up there....wrong choice but I got home fine and with only a 10 minute or so longer trip due to the conditions.

Some quick observations about staffing an intensive (vs. taking an intensive)

* It's a completely different world - much easier to staff. Despite similarly long hours (perhaps even longer; I was up earlier, did not sack out during resting contemplation, and worked through most of my "off" shifts just because I was engaged), and similar levels of commitment (not like I was doing yoga, hanging out in the sauna, or in the cafe) as well as eating the same food and following similar proscriptions (i.e. - no caffeine, no sugar) - I suffered almost zero of the withdrawal symptoms I have had while taking intensives. Although really the last few intensives I've taken I was similarly unaffected. But I was just constantly aware of how hard the participants worked the process and the intensive itself.

* I must have folded up 1000 blankets (or perhaps, 20 blankets 50 times each) blankets over the weekend. Exaggeration, perhaps, but not much. I also (mostly (ran errands, set up the meals, fetched late participants, woke participants in the morning or from rest, and went out walking (in the bitter cold, and today, in the rain) with the participants.

* It was also ironic that I, who never wear a watch, had one strapped to my wrist all weekend. I mean, these are the weekends in which one hands over watch, cell phone, and car keys at the start on Thursday and get them back Sunday night....

* I really enjoyed being of service, witnessing the intensive, and holding space. I am honored to have shared in the weekend. Watching the participants slowly unfold or open over the three days - amazing ad beautiful.

* I really think that monitoring this intensive has given me some wonderful insights into the process and the technique to help the next time I take an intensive.

* And due to some participant changes and illness, I got to step in for a handful of dyads. And (as is my wont) left my heart and a cup of tears on the intensive floor. Such powerful and life altering work, even stepping in cold like that.

Now, back to work, yoga, the rest of my life.

December 10, 2009

Making the Kool Aid

A couple of years ago, speaking to a yoga studio friend, I commented that I certainly seem to have "drunk the kool-aid" (a somewhat unfortunate reference, I know) in terms of commitment to my practice, and to personal growth and a spiritual path in general. "Not sure if you've noticed" she quipped "but you are making the kool-aid these days"

I'm headed out the afternoon to Kripalu for a 3 day Enlightenment Intensive. I've participated in 5 of these to date, but this time I have been invited onto the staff. I'll be a Silent Monitor - which means I (mostly) watch and learn, and hold space for the participants - listening if they need to talk but not engaging. I'm also the weekend "go-fer" and errand runner.

Pretty excited about this - I had a couple of pretty vivid dreams about the upcoming weekend. These weekends are incredible opportunities for self discovery - the Truth comes pretty close to the surface and many participants have direct experiences of the truth. I've struggled with the process of late, but its such deep, powerful, and sacred work that I am honored to be part of it. And I have no doubt that, even as staff and not doing the weekend directly, I will witness much and experience much.

I'm excited!

Productivity

So far, moving my office back into the house seems to be a win, with a higher level of productivity in all areas of my life. Mostly, this involves finding chunks of time to work that I might not otherwise - a few hours in the morning before yoga, or a few hours in the evening while watching TV. I've gotten a few proposals out (typically something I stall on), am all caught up on customer reports, and am focusing on new projects, new customers, etc.

But I'm also reducing my laptop time - with my desktop computer always on and accessible, I'm not sitting on my couch messing around with my laptop much. So when I am at my desk, I'm online. When I am not at my desk, I'm doing dishes, laundry, working around the house, etc.

The biggest concrete evidence of this newfound productivity is a piece of test equipment - a power and demand monitoring device that I have owned for a bunch of years. In early 2008, I dropped my XP laptop and the screen cracked. The laptop was quickly replaced, but the test equipment software was not Vista friendly. So I set the test equipment aside, intending to get around to dealing with the equipment "someday". Recently, I noticed that the manufacturer had released new software (Vista friendly) and although it took a few hours of messing around to get it working, I spent the time (admittedly, between 10 pm and midnight, when computer geekery seems to fit) and now the meter is back in operation.

I'm monitoring my house power for a few days (partly to see what my demand looks like, partly to exercise the software and test equipment) and I am planning to take it over to the yoga studio as well for a week of monitoring.

So far at least - moving into the house was a good move!

December 04, 2009

In Other News

My Pandora "Ferron" channel starts off incredibly strong - Ferron, Lucinda Williams, Tracy Chapman, Eliza Gilkyson, Cheryl Wheeler. Not a dud in the bunch. Now someone named Pieta Brown who I'm not familiar with, but right on track. And now Deb Talan whose voice and this particular song (Comfort) is very "Weepies"

In other, other news, walking through the back trails of the Farmington Reservoir today, we came across a bear. Somewhat nerve-racking and exciting. All parties were well behaved however (despite the lack of pepper spray) - I picked up a stick just in case the bear had friends....but we finished our hike without further incident.

His Name Was Anthony

Stopped by the old house this afternoon to say hi to Zippy, to find out that there had been a fire in the old neighborhood. Down at the far end of the street, a man in his 50s died of smoke inhalation. The fire was extinguished quickly, although it severely damaged the house; the first foor bedroom collapsed into the basement.

I never formally met Anthony Varjabedian; although we had a passing acquaintance. He was often sitting outside his home, or working outside as I drove past on my way to the office. In the summer, Zippy and I would walk the dogs past his house, or I'd ride my bike or scooter past, and he'd wave in the way that neighbors will. We never spoke, except for perhaps a quick hello. (Edit: and reading through some of the news reports, he was apparently disabled / mute. So of course we never spoke.....) It is only now that I know his name.

Not sure why but this unexpected death has hit me a little hard. One day here, one day gone. I wonder of the story of his life. Did he ever marry? Did he ever love? How did he come to live alone? And how did our lives come as close as to wave, but not close enough to intersect, to introduce ourselves?

Strange world we all live in.....