Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Morning Practice

"Be grateful for what you want as if you already have it."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Little ALTERS Everywhere

Lucky duck me, I get to go to Long Beach today and do some more of that B.E.S.T. training stuff. I'm big time digging the timing. I haven't been studying and practicing what I learned at the last seminar as much as I had hoped. I hereby promise myself this one's gonna light a fire under my tooshy.

Funny thing about me is I get really complacent with the way things are and TOTALLY forget about goals and plans. I like doing a good job at everyday. AND I get overwhelmed by being 100% present for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday WHILE ALSO planning for the the long term. When my folks ask me if I'm coming to visit for Thanksgiving in July, I freak out.

I like Kathleen Turner's character in Romancing the Stone. She's cute, she has a cold and she's shuffling around her apartment blowing her nose and reading little reminders everywhere about buying cat food and stuff. I'm gonna copy her, but about the future.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ash Ram

Couple things about me:

1. I live across the street from an ashram.
2. I have more than one friend who worries about the end of the world.
3. Sometimes, people call me Ash.
4. I miss my friend Emily. Occasionally, she'll text me or email me to say, "I love Ram."
5. The other day, someone told me they wanted to write a book and I asked them why. I assured them it was a good idea but insisted they have a reason why.
6. Yesterday, somebody asked me why I write this blog. In that moment, I couldn't remember. Snap.

Ram is a nickname for the seventh incarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu, Rama. Rama is beloved by many around the world because of his perfect adherence to dharma, despite all of his life's challenges. He played fair even when everyone else around him was breaking the rules. I've never been good at talking about Hindu deities because I feel like there's so much to say and I never know where to start, or, mostly, where to end. I think my friend Emily might love him because he is a human and not a god but a very virtuous human, which can be hard to find. My The Little Book of Hindu Deities says, "Rama's legacy as the ideal man, husband, and king is an inspiration to millions of Indians everyday."

I go to the ashram across the street when I can. They have a quote up on the wall I like to read from the Ramayana, the epic tale of Ram: "In the first age of the world men crossed the ocean of existence by their spirit alone. In the second age, sacrifice and ritual began and then Rama lived, and by giving their every act to him, men lived well their ways. Now in our age, what is there but to worship Rama's feet? But my friend, the last age of this world, the Kali Yuga, shall be the best. For then, no act has any worth, all is useless...except only to say Rama. The future will read this. Therefore I tell them, when all is ruin around you, just say Rama." Many experts on this sort of thing say that we're in the Kali Yuga now. It comforts me for my friends who worry about the end of the world to know that practice is the one thing that can comfort "when all is ruin around you." The Ramayana is saying, "say Rama," when the shit hits the fan, or see God in everyone and everything.

It has been my practice for years now to remember my spirit when its easier to just remember my ego. I am grateful to my friend who asked me yesterday why with the tipsandtricks. Now I remember. The commitment I've made to tipsandtricks keeps me honest with that practice. As my main man Rumi says, "there are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground." This is my way on Tuesday and Thursday.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Somehow the hardest part is still: loving something but not holding on to expectations of how it's going to be.

Thank you to my young and talented friend Natalya Kailani for giving me this drawing. I love Friday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Butterfly Medicine

Yesterday circa 7 am, when I like to leave for class, it was snowy. The day was cold, fresh sparkly, and still sleeping. School's were on a two hour delay, everything was quiet, even my footsteps on the road. Almost to work, I heard the scraping of a shovel. I walked up Ledoux, minding my ps and qs, and the shovel scraping stopped. The shoveler shouted from the other side of the parking lot: "I didn't know butterflies flew this early in the morning!" "Haha, good morning," I said, no idea what to say, my first words spoken, was it a compliment? Yeah, I'm totally awkward about total stranger compliments, "Thanks!"

I can't help but notice, though, when a stranger does go out of their way to say something. Over the years, I have received strong and powerful messages from this listening. Once, in an extremely fast paced environment and in New York, someone told me to "Slow the fuck down." This message prompted me to start my still-going-strong practice of not rushing.

Guess it must be time to bust out Animal Speak again. Darn! "(Butterflies) remind us not to take things quite so seriously within our lives. When butterflies come into your life, look at how much or little joy is within your life. Lighten up. Look for change. Don't forget that all change is good. Butterfly medicine reminds us to make changes when the opportunities present themselves. Transformation is inevitable, but butterfly will help teach you that growth and change does not have to be traumatic. (Change) can occur as gently, as sweetly, and as joyfully as we wish." Wow, thanks for highlighting some of my negative belief systems about change, butterfly! "(I)f you can move, you can dance." Amen.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Worry About

Sometimes my dad and I worry about whether or not the other one is worrying.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

On Feeding That Feed

One time I had a boyfriend who wrote 365 songs in 365 days. Everyday, among other things, he would write a new song, perform it, record it, and upload it onto his website. He had a file on his desktop called "fodder." Every time he had an idea or a word or an image he wanted to explore, he'd type it into that file. I didn't even know what fodder meant before those days. Turns out, it has two definitions; the second defines it as "inferior material used to supply a heavy demand." The first definition is "coarse food for cattle, horses or sheep." "Geez," little vegan me squirms, this is EXACTLY the food that's really hard on the earth. I agree with my ex though, writing and recording a song a day is a heavy demand, albeit one he put on himself.

Fast forward to now: I write every Tuesday and Thursday. I'm no semi-famous musician, but you're reading this stuff. (Hi!) As it turns out, I have a little file of my own which I FEED with ideas for days when I wake up and have no clue.

On feeding that feed: I NEVER put anything in that file on days I'm running from one thing to the next. Nope. Doesn't happen on laundry day when I'm paying my credit card bill and taking the out the compost on my way to therapy. The fodder only gets fed on the days I do NOTHING, or maybe, just a few things to be nice to myself. Things like: going for a walk without a destination, checking out that old church, leaving the house just to get a decaf mocha, or stopping by my friend Charles' shop just to say, "Hey," no pun intended.

I was blessed to hear Ann Patchett speak at a friend's graduation once. She talked about what she does, being a novelist: NOTHING and lots of staring, "I waited eleven years before marrying my husband. I just couldn't imagine living in a house with another person when so much of my life was spent sprawled across the sofa, staring at the ceiling, saying nothing at all."

So this is what everybody's talking about when they say we are human beings, not human doings. And I thought I got it. But, wow, I never knew until now just how nourishing nothing could be.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Lightness I Know

So the other day I got a text from a friend asking me for a book recommendation. Oh my gosh, I just felt horrible, I had nothing to say, nothing to give. Ever since I moved to New Mexico, I haven't read anything. The only exception is the few times I was feeling super smartypants about time management, and I read The Taos News. This, from the girl who used to read one or two books a month, at least, AND stay on top of her New Yorkers. Basically, I feel really bad about myself, I ponder the distinct possibility that my mind is going to waste. My teacher Jen asks me to please be more compassionate with myself. She says it takes a lot of energy to set up a brand new life and I'm doing so many things that I've never done before, like trying to take good care of my car, answering questions about kayaks in Hawaii, and writing my freaking blog.

Enough is enough. When I woke up this morning, I read something I've always wanted to read: Book Three of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. For the record, girlfriend over here has been a total sacrilege. For years I've gone on and on about how much I love The Yoga Sutras, while all along, I'd only studied the first two books of them. Lots of people talk about how great The Yoga Sutras are with a disclaimer that goes something like, "But book three and four are whack, man, I'm not sure if I can dig it."

Dude. Book Three talks about flying, "By samyama on the relationship between the body and ether, lightness of cotton fiber is attained, and thus traveling through the ether becomes possible." Maybe I lost you. Maybe I lost me. But lightness is something I do like to explore. Paul Valéry says, "Light like a bird and not like a feather." And Gertud Hirschi asks you and me to imagine living our lives like a big bird of prey. She reminds us that, often, when birds of prey are high enough in the air, they don't even have to flap their wings, they just soar. My boyfriend Mike talks about being in a rush and passing the old guy on the two lane highway with love, instead of with his blood pressure pounding.

Today I'm going to the DMV, the perfect opportunity to sit and read, but, LUCKY ME, my mom is in town and she's coming with me. Instead of reading, we're going to make a list of the qualities of the man of her dreams and tell jokes. You know, keep it light, easy breezy, instead of giving ourselves to the potential stress that car titles, registration and eye tests can present.

Sometimes, when I'm in a horrible mood, I tell whoever ends up having to hang out with me that I'm being a crabapple. I say this because I think its funny, and I can't help but smile. This is the lightness I know. For now.