Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Friends, The Flowers

Fun fact Number 1: I have a dear friend who immediately thought of me when Whitney Houston died. She thought of me not so much because I was a devoted Whitney fan, although death does do its fan-making-magic on me from time to time, but because I tell a particularly good story about a particular man who staged a marriage proposal to my mom which climaxed to Whitney's ode, "I Will Always Love You." Amidst the excitement my mom did accept the proposal, but things ultimately did not work out between her and this proposer. Whitney's got it right though; he will always love her.

Recently this gentleman found his way back into our lives by offering my mom a competitive price on a car. He wanted her to give to it me upon my arrival back out West. She took the bait, and I am super grateful. I love my car. I love right now.

When the keys were first handed to me, my mom was still working out the kinks of a complicated payment structure he had set up. He took this opportunity to call the two of us on a regular basis. He called to ask after the car, but any fool could see he just wanted to talk. I struggled in those first several weeks, from my station on a road-trip, to appease him. I felt by fielding calls from him myself, I could un-complicate things for my mom. I am so deeply touched by her generosity.

Ever been to Sedona, Arizona? It's a beautiful town and bills itself intensely as magic. I get a little turned off by its fanfare, but I do believe in magic and in Sedona’s magic specifically. Vividly I remember the last time I was there. I had just gotten off the phone with the lonely car seller, overwhelmed as usual by him, when I walked into a new age book store. "Thank God!" I thought as soon as I saw they sold flower essences. Immediately, I bought two: one to help me deal with feelings of trying to take care of my mom and the other to help me make decisions, a process that has always confounded me. I began to take each of these potions each time I felt faced by one of said conundrums.

Fun fact Number 2: Less than a month later I made the last-minute-and-totally-unexpected DECISION to move to Taos, aka and not move in with MY MOM as I had promised. I KNOW with all I've got that my friends, the flowers, Milkweed and Cerato, helped me through the whole thing.

And did I mention I love right now?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Trampolines in my Throat

Some of my biggest struggles in this life are in regards to communicating difficult truths. Because these conversations can be hard for me, sometimes I put them off until, well, until I can't put them off anymore. When I can't put them off anymore, it feels like words are bouncing on trampolines in my throat and might jump out, willy-nilly-any-minute style. The result of this physical sensation is, me, getting pretty anxious.

Once, on my favorite podcasts, On Being, I learned about this lady named Katy Payne. Katy is an acoustic biologist who has spent years studying elephants and whales. Turns out, elephants are GREAT at listening. According to Katy, on a fairly regular basis, the whole herd, sometimes up to 50 of them, will suddenly be still, for up to a minute. Katy and I are on the same page about a minute: it's a long time! Especially for everybody to be still! She says when they freeze, they tighten and lift and spread their ears. Great lady Katy goes on to talk about how stillness is an important part of her life, too. She says, "I see my responsibility, if I have one, as being to listen." I feel you, Katy, and I believe the other (at least) half of talking is listening.

Yesterday, I had some stuff to say. A few full-on sentences stepped up to the trampoline, ready to be heard. Eeeeeeeeeeeeks. But, somehow, I managed to allow the noises that were coming in through my ears to be louder than the noises booming between my throat and my brain. That practice helped me to stay present, even calm and ultimately, it offered to me the right time to speak. Although I was still nervous, I felt more like I was answering a question instead of screeching a piece. I like questions. And I find often, from listening, there's answers.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Wanna know what I keep learning? When I feel like someone I'm close to is distant, it's actually just me, and I HAVE become distant, FROM MYSELF.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Love Apple

I have a severely emotional memory. Some days, I'll be sad for what seems like no reason until I realize it's the anniversary of a death. The same goes for being happy on an almost forgotten birthday. Late last night, I returned from a 9 day vacay. I went on the same trip last year, and it's bonkers-mobile how much today is reminding me of my first day back to reality one year ago.

This morning at the grocery store, I went overboard buying my favorite variety of apples. At home, I took a big bite out of one and I was transported back to this day last year when I was so hungry I couldn't make it through therapy without asking my therapist if she had any snacks. She brought out a Ziploc bag of sliced Galas and told me she had thought of me that morning when she packed them in her purse, having no idea they were my favorite kind or that I would be hungry. She said she normally never has that kind of apple at home, much less munch-ready at work. Thrilled to have the nosh, I took the whole incident as a reminder to listen to impulses, as she had, no matter how far out they seem.

Post apple today, I glanced through Nature Speak: "Apples cannot always be grown in the Deep South because they do not get long enough periods of cold temperatures, which they need for a rest period each year in order to grow properly and produce fruit." Thanks for the love, apple, sometimes, even after vacation, what I really need is rest.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Start paying attention to what makes you feel good and secure, and do those things that make you feel good and secure."
--Cary Tennis

Thursday, March 8, 2012

On Shyness

I've been thinking about another thing I wrote in last Thursday's tipandtrick about feeling shy. And I did a little in that moment, talking to the lady who ended up looking to her phone. But ever since I read Yoga and Vegetarianism, one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS, the shyness thing melts away more often than not.

"I have observed over my years of teaching yoga that many students are quite shy when it comes to speaking in public, let alone singing or chanting mantras. Shyness could be seen as a form of vanity because it exists when we are thinking of ourselves and our feelings and not the feelings of the people in front of us. It lacks sympathy and comes from a deep self-consciousness and self absorption, which stems from feeling separate." You tell us, Sharon Gannon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"An Old Saying My Motha Told Me"

I said something in the last tipandtrick about how sometimes my friends ask me for my feedback. And sometimes, they do. And sometimes, they don't. Over the years I have given more than my fair share of unsolicited advice.

Lucky for me, in the not so distant past, I chirped an unwelcome opinion at a family member and things got DICE-Y. The time had come for girlfriend over here to do some learning. Since that fateful dicey day, I have done my best to take a breath in those moments that I think I have the best idea ever about so-and-so's conundrum. I like what my teacher Jen says when she wants to help, "Are you open?"

I LOVE the movie Moonstruck. There's a scene towards the end at everybody's favorite restaurant when John Mahoney gets a glass of water thrown in his face by his date as she storms out the door. Olympia Dukakis is there, dining alone, and she invites him to join her. He accepts and she learns that the woman who stomped out was one of his students. She starts, "An old saying my motha told me, wanna hear it?" He says yes. "Don't shit where you eat," she finishes. I think about if she had said the second part about 'shitting' without the first part about 'do you want to hear it'. In that hypothetical creation of what might have happened, in my imaginary scenario, things wouldn't have gone so well.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Teachers, Friends and Birthdays

Gosh my thinking cap has been screwed on so tightly lately. I've been thinking about the role of a teacher, and I've been thinking about the role of a friend. And sometimes, in my free time, I think about one of my favorite things to think about: birthdays! Today is tipsandtricks' six month birthday. Woot! Happy Birthday tipsandtricks!

I've been thinking about how tipsandtricks got started. There was a time when I used to teach a lot of yoga classes. One of the places where I taught wanted me to start each class with a "dharma talk". At first, that part of class was the hardest for me. It really made me feel like a teacher, and who was I to be a teacher? I felt shy. But then, thanks to lots of hours clocked meditating, the idea of what it means to be a teacher opened up. This opening first had me looking at how being a teacher can be like being a friend. Sometimes, I have friends who ask me for my feedback. Lots of times, the feedback I have for them is not so much about them but about me. They'll tell me about something that's going on with them and it will remind me of something that happened to me and I'll tell them how I dealt with it and what I learned. What a relief for that dharma thing I had to do! I no longer had to think up something important to say! Pheeew! Incidentally, this transformation in my being also helped me not get my heart broken when I found out that MY TEACHERS were, ACTUALLY, humans.

My heart goes out to some of my dear friends whose teacher is in a big old-fahioned-yoga-style scandal right now. More than ever, I deeply believe in the teacher within each one of us, while still believing in the importance of having a teacher outside of each one of us. It says something on my tipsandtricks bio about how I am grateful for the teacher in everything. That may sound kinda woo-woo but its true. The other day, I was telling a lady a story. The story was personal, and it meant something to me to be sharing it with her. While I was talking, she got out her phone and started looking at it. It seemed to me she was no longer paying attention to what I was saying, so I stopped talking. She figured out before too long I had stopped and said something about how rude she was being. There's that good old teacher in everything again! I chose in that moment to ward off my judgment. For this quick and painless example of how I will choose not to behave, I am grateful. Just as I am grateful to all of the people who I am surrounded by everyday who teach me more about how I do want to be.