Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tiburon means Shark

I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge this morning.  First time in more than six months.  I’ve seen a lot of these United States in that time, but with all due respect to the rest of the nation, there is NO PLACE more beautiful than San Francisco and the North Bay Area.  It just warms my heart to be here.  The hills are green, the sky is sparkly blue and the air is crisp and clean.   Even the freeways are beautiful – I forgot how amazing it is here.  Okay, the state is in a mess, there’s no doubt about that, but wow, it’s just absolutely breathtaking here. 

I got back to Sacramento late on the 10th.  Pulled up to Robyn and Cindi’s house and Higbee was so excited to get out of the car – she bolted right to the front door.  She was so excited to see her little buddies Zoey, Dexter and Emily.  Apparently she was so excited, she went into heat!!  I’ve been running errands since then, trading out summer clothes for winter ones, getting the car serviced, my teeth cleaned and so on.  Seems like being “home” means doing chores!! 

Friday night, though, was our traditional food and wine night – Cindi cooked an awesome dinner and we enjoyed it along with several bottles of wine.  After a relaxing and lovely repast, we sat to watch a movie, but everyone was so beat from a long week (and full bellies), we all crashed.  It was so great to hang with my girlfriends – Robyn referred to me as her sister, and it felt really good.   

Now I’m at Edith and Eckhard’s place in Tiburon.  Secured a wonderful cottage to enjoy with Bill for the month of December.  Also got to watch the opera last night – it was GREAT!!  Here’s the deal:  The Metropolitan Opera in NYC does a simulcast of their operas – and the Mill Valley movie theater shows them first as a live simulcast, and then later in the week, as a repeat.  The live show is on a Saturday afternoon, so last night was the repeat – but who cares?  It was marvelous!  Last night’s performance was Turandot, which was quite dramatic, and it was strange to see people dressed up as Chinese singing in Italian – but the highlight still puts shivers down my spine – “Nessun Dorma” is absolutely spectacular.  So this makes my third opera ever – the first was a long time ago, Hansel and Gretel, and just a few weeks ago I got to see The Elixir of Love with Liana in Houston and now this one – I have to say, I’m kind of getting hooked on opera – who knew? 

I’ve been so crazy with activities, I feel like I haven’t had much time to reflect on this trip and what I’ve learned.  Obviously, the highlight has been Bill – I can’t even begin to describe how blessed I feel to have met him – I am truly the luckiest woman in the world.  But in addition to that, I feel strongly that I’ve learned so much about Bikram Yoga.  I made the absolute right decision to go out and seek examples of the aspects I want to have in my studio – community, successful operations, excellent and efficient design and of course, further understanding of how to teach and how to use the dialogue to help people improve their health.  My studio, wherever it will be, will be spectacular – I know what I want and I know how to create it.  

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On My Last Leg

NOTE:  I'm home, but have to catch up on blogs.  I wrote this last week, but couldn't get internet access in Vegas.  So here it is......more later!!!  

I left Houston several days ago. I was sorry to go, and Higbee, who has become the South Boulevard mascot, was sad to leave all her friends too.  After teaching a total of 41 classes, I packed up my stuff, hugged everyone goodbye for now, and started the long ride home. 

First though, I got to enjoy Liana & Lucy Day!!! We had so much fun together! We started with an 8am class, then did a little tour of our favorite places – went to Anthropologie, Restoration Hardware, and then had an excellent sushi lunch. Our afternoon was even better!! Bought some new jeans at The Gap, then we bought each other “Holocaust Rings” (you have to have seen, “The Hangover” to get it). And then we went to the movies and saw, “Where the Wild Things Are” The only thing that was good about the movie was that it finally ended. HORRIBLE – do not waste your money. It’s dark and depressing and not at all happy in any way shape or form. But I got to sit next to Liana and we both wore our beautiful rings!!!

Then 3 long days of driving ---- 500 miles each day to finally arrive in Las Vegas. I’m here for the last stop on the trip – Fall ’09 teacher training! Strange, this adventure started with training and now it’s ending with training! Very apropos and not even planned, but it’s funny how that works out.

Bikram taught last night’s class and he was in classic form. It was a very energetic class and in his typical Bikram style, he gave us wonderful direction and threw in some irreverent comments about Emmy and Rajashree. He shocks on purpose, I think, but even so, no one can teach a class like Bikram.
This morning, though, we had an equally energetic class! Misha, whom I met in Minneapolis, was able to teach. She has taught make up classes, but this was her first time on the podium with all 300 students in attendance. Misha is a protégée of Diane Ducharme, and even in Minneapolis, she taught a strong class, but on this one, she hit the ball out of the park. She used almost straight dialogue, and she connected so well with the students. She encouraged us, she supported us, and she just rocked the podium. I was really impressed, not just with her ability, but with the power of the dialogue. When you use it, your class is almost guaranteed to be powerful. It’s amazing how you can focus, how you get the information you need in an efficient manner, how you can push beyond what you think you can do when the dialogue is provided properly. Misha did a great job, but she certainly had a leg up because she knew the dialogue inside and out.

I’ll be here for a few days, will help where I can, practice as much as I can, and then I’ll head back to Sacramento. Am ready to be home. Have to get ready!! Bill is coming in December, but before then, I’ll be taking a quick trip back to Houston to see him as soon as he gets back to the US. I am so very excited about the next adventure!!

Sending love to all!

Monday, October 26, 2009


First of all, thanks to everyone who has sent good wishes via email or Facebook and of course my five buddies below who are happy for me and for Bill.  He returned to Africa last week and it was hard to say goodbye, but the good news is that his month stint will be up soon enough and we will be together in November/December.  

So I haven't JUST been falling in love since I got back to Houston - although some would say that's enough.  But wait.....there's more!!  

Bill and I went to New Orleans to scout out locations for a studio.  We found a few places on Magazine Street, which borders the Garden District (old money) and the Irish Canal (up and coming gentrification).  The first place, which had parking, was a former Hollywood Video and it would have been a perfect location, but the landlord/managing partner of the building was, to put it kindly, not so kind.  It wasn't too hard to determine that he would not be a person I would want to work with over a long period of time.  The second place also offered parking, but was entirely too big -- a pretty cool building though!  Formerly a funeral home, then the recording studio for Nine Inch Nails.  If those walls could talk!!!  
But there had already been a bid on the building, so that didn't work either.  The third opportunity was a PERFECT fit - a beautiful former warehouse for sale, it would be great to build out, but there was no parking included in the sale of the building.  And no parking is a show stopper.  
Perhaps another trip will be in the cards in the future.  We'll see.  By the way, that's Bill smiling in the warehouse-wonderful smile, huh!  In addition to studio scouting, we got to stay in a beautiful B&B, and for me the highlight of the trip was sitting with Bill on the porch of the 1900's structure watching it rain like crazy a few feet beyond our sanctuary, while the street cars splashed through giant puddles and we sipped on wine with Higbee sitting at our feet.  It was a beautiful afternoon.  

I also went to San Antonio to attend yet another seminar with Diane Ducharme - I'm starting to stalk this woman!!  I've seen her in Palm Desert, spent a lot of time with her in Massachusetts,  attended her seminar in San Antone -- and guess what?  I'm going to see her in Vegas on the way home!!!  In any event, I learned so very much from the event, and also got to see a bunch of friends from training - Jill, Carlos, Casey and Mani!  

I'm pretty sure I win the prize for seeing the most people from Fall 08 training over the last year. At some point, I'm going to go through the yearbook and make a list.  I'm guessing I've seen at least a third of the US students from training.  Another bonus from this adventure!

And of course, I've been teaching.  Since I arrived in Houston, I've taught 33 classes and yesterday, I taught 4.  That was an amazing experience.  Overall, I feel just great.  I have been able to put to use all the things that Diane has taught me, not just about my own teaching, but also about how to help people with physical problems - most importantly is how to encourage them to not be afraid of their bodies and do the best they can -- the right way.  Every time I come out of the studio, I can't help but feel I have the best job in the world.  I have the honor of helping people improve their lives.  What a wonderful profession.  

Have also been spending some time with my wonderful "little sister" Liana.  We bonded when I was here in June, and this time, we got even closer.  I got to go with her when she bought her new car, and last week, we went to the opera together - it was a dress rehearsal, and we were definitely in the nosebleed section, but "The Elixir of Love" was wonderful and very apropos for both of us!!  

So it's been a deluge, not just of the rain this season, but of love, laughter, learning and leaning (that's the best alliteration I could come up with that refers to the yoga).  

I'm the luckiest girl in the world.  

p.s. Bill, I'm still drenched and soggy from the rain - will post a pretty picture of me in new glasses tomorrow when I have a better chance of not looking like a wet rat.  xo

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

I have returned to Houston. Am teaching like a madwoman – putting to use all the things I’ve learned on my trip. It makes a difference – I am so much more confident and comfortable up on the podium. I’m able to give people with bad knees guidance so they won’t hurt themselves, I understand the poses better and I know the dialogue more and more and more. I just LOVE this path!!!!!

But here’s the real reason I’m back in Houston:

A few years ago, when I was in the total dumps feeling sorry for myself and rather hopeless about a future partner, I went to Safeway. As I was checking out with my single person's basket, the checker, a rastafarian guy with dreads, asked me if I had found everything I needed. I looked in the basket and told him, "well, all the food I need is in there, but there's no man in that basket!" He replied, "Don't worry, he's on his way." I looked up, a bit shocked and said, "Excuse me?" He again said, "He's on his way, custom made, just for you." I almost burst into tears and said, "I've waited so long!" And again he said, "Don't worry, he is coming, custom made, just for you." I held on to those words, and after a while, really started to believe it.

He's here.

His name is Bill. I was introduced to him in July when I was in Houston. Cheryl, a teacher at the Houston studio insisted that I meet him, but by the time I had agreed, he had already left for work. Bill does accounting for an oil company and works 30 days in Algeria , and then has 30 days off. I gave Cheryl my email address and my blog address, and Bill started to email. We kept up a correspondence, and then talked on the phone when he got back to Houston and I was in Massachusetts . He made a quick trip home last month to attend his mom's funeral in Kansas, and we spoke even more. And when I returned to Houston , we actually got to meet in person. And all I could say was WOW. He has a killer smile and eyes that light up a room. He is intelligent, articulate, interested in a variety of things, likes good wine and does the yoga. He's an adult.

I feel very different this time. I'm not jumping up and down excited, there aren't chills all over my body (well, most of the time) and I'm not super giddy. I just kind of know that this is the right one, so I'm going with the flow of it - not pushing one way or another. It feels so right.

So Bill is going to come to California after Thanksgiving. We are going to make a tour of Northern California. He'll fly into San Francisco , and then we'll head up to Marin and into the wine country (he's a big fan of french wine, and I'd like to introduce him to some good California reds), then on to Sacramento, up to Grass Valley to see one of his sons who lives there and then down hwy 49 to Yosemite . I wanted him to come to the Bracebridge dinner, but he'll have to return to Houston and get back to Africa before the dinners start. That will have to be something to look forward to.

After the priest gave my mom last rites at the hospital before she died, I asked her to do me a favor. In her typical crusty New England style, she said, "WHAT." I asked her that when she was out of pain and floating around checking up on us, to help me find my man. The right guy. She looked at me in the eye and said, "Lucille, your father's already working on that." Very UNtypical response, and one that shook me to the core. Those were her lasts words to me. But I think together my mom and dad have come through and although I had to drive all over the friggin U.S. to find him, he's finally here, custom made, just for me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Land of 11,842 Lakes


Greetings from Minneapolis, Minnesota!  This place is a series of contrasts. On the day I arrived, Mark brought me to the classic Nye’s Polonaise room, which was, I’m certain, quite the fashionable place to be in its day. It’s still crowded and there’s karaoke, of a sort, at this place, you get to sing the classics with the piano player. That’s in the main room, the room next door has the famous 
“most dangerous polka band in the world.” I think the only danger they have now is of falling off their chair. Or maybe getting gummed to death by the accordion player. I’m pretty sure she forgot to put her teeth in before show time. But then right down the street there was the place where Prince became famous and the more modern places are packed too.
Donja know now that the people here sound a lot like that movie, “Fargo.” Prairie Home Companion is produced right down the street, and at the gas station the other day, the guy behind the counter said to Mark about me that, “that girl doesn’t talk English like we do.” But the Walker art museum has a beautiful collection, and the architecture and town design is fabulous. People here are very progressive, recyclers, and kind of granola-ey. It’s fascinating!
Went shopping at the Mall of America, but I also stopped at the jam packed Wedge food co-op for some supplements and free range chicken.  
We’ve been having a spectacular Indian summer. 
The days and even nights are warm, and the beauty of the place is certainly enticing, but when Mark mentioned that there are days in the winter that are 30 below ZERO, the decision is easy and I will certainly be gone before I experience that contrast! The city is truly a tease – Friday night we at outside at a really nice Cuban restaurant, but finally, tonight, I can feel the cold air just waiting to blow in.

Mark and I went to training together and are fast friends. We went camping for a few days on the bluffs by the Mississippi river. Strange that I’ve seen the last part of the river before it flows into the gulf, and now I’ve been to nearly the start of it! We just went for a quick trip and didn’t pack a lot of food, so for dinner we went into the nearest town for food. Had a hell of a time finding a suitable restaurant (meaning not fast food), and finally ended up finding a Mexican place that looked ok. Here’s the irony – it was called, “Chula Vista!” It was nearly a year ago to the date that we had our first meal at the Chula Vista in training. Gotta say, the Fairmont Acapulco restaurant was much better than the one in Minnesota. After a good night’s sleep and a great morning hike, we packed up the camper. Unfortunately, the campsite was on quite a slope, and when I tried to saddle up the camper to the trailer hitch, I bingled it and lost the camper – 
it started rolling down the hill and nearly went over a cliff – despite attempts by both me and Mark to slow it down and stop it! It ended up hitting a small barrier (probably designed just for that) and the treacherous drop was avoided. I laughed like crazy at the escapade, Mark was a little rattled.
I’ve taught twice here and practiced a lot more than that. It’s been wonderful to see Martha’s studio – she is very well known as a passionate and excellent senior teacher. I took her class once, and even though she is 8 months pregnant, she still kicked my ass. She has an amazing “you can do it” attitude, and an incredible ability to withstand the heat and humidity despite 
her condition. She is a great teacher.
So is Mark. He has great passion, and compassion. I love his energy, his humor, and his ability to get people to go beyond their expectations. His practice has improved considerably and he looks strong as well. I’m very impressed.

We went to see a movie made locally called, “Into Temptation.” Mark wanted to see it as there’s a woman in 
the movie who practices at the studio. I wasn’t exactly too thrilled with the idea of what I thought was a movie about prostitution and sex shops. But it wasn’t really about that at all – it was about redemption in a way and it was so well done, I was crying at one point. If they end up doing a
 nationwide release, go see it. Or rent it on Netflix. See? That’s what I’m talking about – contrasts. This place is full of them.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Michigan Sunsets

I betrayed the Motel 6 chain, but really, they betrayed me – the hotel I wanted to stay in was poorly run, smelly and dirty. So I’m at another number – Super 8. Good enough for a night in Wisconsin. It smells like cows here. But not so happy cows – Happy Cows come from California.
After a week at Eileen’s I’m exhausted. She lives a life that I would not have the energy to live. She’s a single mom with three kids, a business, a busy personal life and an extended family. She handles it all well, with grace and 95% of the time, with a great big smile.  Not so sure I could pull that off. But we do what we must at the end of the day, don’t we?I arrived on Thursday evening, tried to get here for the sunset, but wasn’t too heartbroken when I missed it – I’d been traveling west for two days and had been staring at the sun plenty long enough. Friday got my hair cut and highlighted. Everyone on Facebook has seen it and yes, it looks great! Thanks for the compliments! After we dropped the kids off at their dad’s, we took a bike ride around town and watched the sun set over the lake. Eileen lives in the western most part of the eastern time zone, and on the east coast of Lake Michigan, the sun sets over the water very, very late in the day. We enjoyed a couple of beers on the beach and then had an outstanding dinner in town.
Over the next few days we helped Eileen’s mom (she’s still Mrs. Dwyer to me) finish up and prepare to go. After something like 26 years, she is moving to Florida to get out of the northern winters. She’s amazing – she sold her house, gave away most of the contents and sold off the rest, and Eileen’s brother Edward is going to drive down only a carload of clothes and mementos. Pretty brave for a 79 year old!!! We helped pack up the last of the stuff, join her for church, and did other chores before Mrs. Dwyer went to the airport. I was so happy to get to see her and help out.

Saturday afternoon we went to the catholic church; Sunday we went to Eileen’s alternative church – it’s spiritual but not religious – and it was an interesting study in contrasts. Saturday was full of mostly senior citizens and we did the usual “sit down, stand up, kneel down” routine, and I have to say, there were very few people smiling. The sermon was not so memorable, they talked about Ted Kennedy’s funeral, and that’s about all I can remember. At the second church, it was bless the pets day, and it was pandemonium – dogs barking, kids laughing, they even brought kids up to the altar for a little talk. I guess that’s typical. It was happy, funny and joyful – in my opinion, a wonderful alternative – but hey – different strokes.

We got to go sailing on the lake on Monday. So this summer, I’ve been boating in the Pacific, the gulf, the Atlantic and now on the Great Lakes – how cool is that?

Eileen’s kids are wonderful. They are sharp, independent and funny. They had their first day of school on Tuesday and I got to take their picture before they boarded the bus. Well, actually Joseph and Audrey boarded the bus – James goes to another school so he was driven.

A kid that James knows was killed in a boating accident over the weekend. It shook up the town and made everyone realize how precious their kids are – the sorrow could be felt for days – life is short – you just never know!!!

And on that note…..sending love to all.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I heart NY

Drove across New York to the tune of $25 for the toll road, but I got an “I heart NY” bumper sticker. I’m not 100% sure it’s true, but it does chronicle my short ride across the Empire State. Highlights included lots of hedgehogs on the side of the road sitting like sentinels, and a view of the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile – maybe the hogs were there to salute the giant hot dog!

Spent the night in the Niagara Falls/Buffalo area. Another Motel 6 – brand new and really nice! But it was strange being in that town. There were no young people there – most folks were 50+, I’m guessing the younger generations have left to find greener pastures. Stopped in Target to pick up something cheap so that I could get some cash back from the purchase, and three different women nearly bumped into me as I was shopping around the corners. “I’m Sorry,” “I’m Sorry,” “I’m so, so sorry.” Was the response I got for the near misses. I thought about that. What did they have to be sorry about? Why would they apologize for not bumping into me? “Excuse me,” or “Pardon me” might be a little more appropriate, but even that seemed a bit unnecessary. In addition, I just couldn’t imagine any man apologizing for nearly walking into me – they might expect an apology, but to give one? I just don’t think so! So it made me wonder about the women in the area and how much (or rather little) power they had in their lives. Wasn’t there long enough to give it a more thorough exploration, but still, I wondered.

Stopped at Niagara Falls. I went there when we lived in Erie. The first time was in the winter with a school group – I remember getting out of the bus, looking around impressed, and then getting back in the bus – it was too friggin cold to give it a good look. The second time was with my dad and grandmother. It was a warmer day, but still really overcast and wet. I remember getting one of those plastic rain jackets and going on the boat by the falls. I think I did it by myself while my dad stayed with his mom – I thought about that and how they let me explore on my own even as a young person. Probably one of the reasons I am such the adventurer now. But this time, WOW – it was a spectacular day – picture perfect!! Beautiful blue skies – amazing views and Higbee and I had a great walk around the state park and looking at the rivers, falls and the woods in the area. It was a fun morning, and I got yet another sticker for the camper.

Crossed into Canada to make the shortcut into Michigan. I was surprised at how easy it was – I fully expected a closer inspection – and thought for sure I’d have to raise the popup, have the dog x-rayed, but the guy just asked me a few questions (he didn’t even raise an eye when I told him I had been on the road since May to visit yoga studios), and we continued on to Canada. It looks a little more like Europe there. The architecture looks like Northern Europe, and the signage, well, that is exclusively Canadian. The re-crossing back to the US was just as easy except for the LONG lines as the border. The bridge that I took over the waterway showed spectacularly blue water though, wish I was able to capture an image of it.

Then another long drive to Eileen’s. Whew. I broke all the rules on that trip – stayed exclusively on the interstates, drove WAY longer than I was supposed to, ate crap from rest stations, and arrived absolutely spent.

But even though I can already detect a cold winter breeze here, it’s truly beautiful. I know why Eileen lives here. More on that later.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Massachusetts by the Numbers

1 Awesome experience with Diane
2 Sibling visits
3 Massages
4 Manninos
5 Teaching opportunities
6 Hundred miles
7 Lobsters
8 Really good friends

Tomorrow I leave Massachusetts and head for Michigan to see Eileen and her family. This has been such a special part of the trip, and not only for the opportunity to hone my teaching skills and learn from Diane. I have found a very dear friend in Sunny and I have been lucky enough to know Linda, Terri, Terri, Danielle, CJ, Jodi and Sam. Each has been really special in his or her own way.

I’ve got to spend a little time with siblings, and visit my mom’s old haunts, thus removing, some might say, some haunting of my own.

A very productive trip. Yesterday after leaving Terri Almquist’s house and heading west back to Sunny’s, I felt a little sad. The light in the sky was much lower, indicating the end of summer (and it’s been quite cold in the evening – summer here lasted about 2 weeks), and it was a literal turning point. I’ve finished going east, for the most part, and will head west again.

We’ll see what this next leg of the adventure brings. There’s LOTS of good things out there, tomorrow will bring more.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Well, the stars moved around the last few days and I was able to teach this morning for Diane.  Wow.  Just W.O.W.  The experience of teaching itself was so much fun and absolutely wonderful.  The feedback from Diane afterward was even better.  

So yesterday after I got word that I was going to be able to teach for Diane, I got in the car and ran a few errands.  Checked the navigation button on my iPhone to be sure I was heading in the right direction and when I looked at the photo on my home page, I realized it was time to change it and move on.  I said to myself, "I need to get rid of that."  Funny how you get what you ask for.  When I parked the car at the first destination, I grabbed the phone and it flew out of my hand and smashed face down onto the gravel.  It wasn't exactly how I had planned to do it, but I did get rid of that photo!!  Luckily the machine still worked, and I was able to see that there was an Apple store just a few miles away.  Plans changed and I high tailed it to get myself a new whiz-bang 3G device.  I has a much faster and a greatly improved navigation device.  I used the old machine exclusively to get from California to here, but heading west will be easier navigation wise.  

But I got here - I was able to accomplish my goal of teaching for Diane.  I can't tell  you how good it felt.  Well, that's not true, I AM telling you how good it felt.  

First of all, the people at Diane's studio are wonderful.  They are happy, supportive and most of them have a serious medical condition that is improving as a result of the yoga.  Hugh is about 70 years or or so, and is bent over like a willow in a heavy storm.  I think Diane said he has rods in his back - you can't see his face if you are more than 5'5" as he is so bent over.  But he is kind and alive and enjoying the yoga.  He's amazing.  There's another woman who had most of her liver removed - it's grown back (which is not unusual) but is has grown back in perfect shape (which IS unusual).  It's got to be the yoga.  There are other people in there who are fixing all kinds of ailments.  It is very much like a hospital ward.  

But you'd be surprised to see everyone, regardless of their condition, doing the yoga THE RIGHT WAY.  They are wonderful.

I introduced myself and laughed immediately at how lucky I was to be on that podium.  I told everyone they were really lucky to have Diane and her teachers and they all agreed.  Then the class started.  I was very much in my head, trying to remember all the things I've been working on, but laughing through it all and enjoying the class immensely.  At one point I said, "lock your toes" and just started to laugh and everyone laughed along with me.  I wasn't very nervous, mostly excited.  Of course, I also couldn't see Diane in the back - a few tall people were in front of her so I could not see her furiously taking notes between postures.  Which was good.

When class finished, everyone applauded and I was just jumping up and down on the podium - glad I didn't break it!!  It was SO MUCH FUN!!!!!  Then of course, everyone had their final Savasana, and I left the room.   

After class, Hugh came out and said how much he enjoyed it and he paid me a wonderful compliment.  He said that it was obvious I am a happy person, "and that's what we're really looking for, happy people."  I'm so glad that Hugh was pleased.  That just makes me smile from ear to ear.

Then after everyone left (and they were ALL supportive and kind), Diane and I went up to have breakfast and talk about how I did.  

I love Diane Ducharme.  

Let me say this -- if you are a Bikram Yoga Instructor and you have a chance to get feedback from her, DO IT!!!  It will inspire you, it will help you, it will make you a better teacher by a millionfold.  

Diane's feedback was so awesome.  The recommendations she made were not just in the corrections, but in the way she explained WHY I needed to say it as it is in the dialogue - "move your knees to the right, upper body to the left" (as opposed to legs to the right - you can't move your entire legs).  That's just a small example.  Her method, her way of saying it, her explanation helped me to fall in love with the dialogue even more.  

And for those who worked with me during training, yes sirree, I do love the dialogue.  You can pick your jaw up off the floor now.

The more I use this thing, the more I love it.  The more I understand the beauty of each word and the order of things.  There is a reason for each and every word, and anyone who thinks they can teach this yoga without the dialogue hasn't taken the time to really understand it.  

I am humbled by the beauty of it and I aspire to understand it as Diane does, just as I aspire to look at (not for) the floor behind me.  
I got to take a photo of the photo of Diane and Emmy at the Advanced demonstration during our training - it's in the bathroom at Diane's studio (obviously a little dark in there).  I took the photo to send to my friend Mark who is evident as one in the crowd just above Diane's head and to the left behind the podium -- he wanted to see what the picture looked like.  So here you go my friend -- this photo has a new meaning - it's a reminder of the day I got to teach for Diane!!

Sending love to all  

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

On Being a Traveler

I've been on the road now for four months.  And as many yogis in the Bikram world know, we are in a fascinating stage of evolution (note the correct spelling - I hesitate to even use the word, desiring to avoid any association with someone starting a rogue process of yoga with a derivation of that name - those in the know will know what I'm talking about) in the formation of a stronger, better, greater Bikram community.  

I am at the edge of it all.

It's such a strange feeling to be an observer in all of these things.  As a journeyer, I am not directly involved in anything going on around me.  I get to watch, I have no desire to engage in the drama of day to day life around me- part of that is because it simply doesn't belong to me, but also because I am getting more and more comfortable in simply not attaching to those things that used to draw me in - I'd have to offer my opinion, I'd have to get my nose in other peoples' business.  But now, as a result of the yoga, of my years, of my experience, of my desire to live a little lighter, it just doesn't concern me.  

I am watching this Bikram franchise / co-op evolve with lots of excitement.  I don't have a great deal on the line financially YET - so it's the existing studio owners who are doing the initial heavy lifting on how this will play out.  I am fascinated at how quickly the people in the community have gone from fear based reactions to excitement, positive perspectives and hope for an awesome organization.  Of course, there are a few flies in the ointment, but overall, it's pretty fun to watch.  I am invested in the outcome, of course, as I will open a studio soon, but still, at this stage, I'm in the periphery.   

I'm planning to start heading west in a week or so.  It will be interesting to go in a different direction.  May have the chance to work with Diane, may not.  It's another strange thing - working with her and getting feedback was one of the major reasons I took this trip, but a lot of the major reasons for this journey have fallen to the way side.  That's not to say I don't want Diane's feedback - I have already learned so much from here via the workshop she held in Auburn, via the feedback she gave to Jodi and just by hanging around her.  If I can teach for her, it will be icing on the top of the cake - if not, that's just something I get to come back for (or have her come to my new studio for!). far west will I go??  

This trip is taking on a life of its own.  I am just an observer and a learner.  I do wonder - when I finally stop the vehicle and plant some tomatoes, to what extent will I continue to just observe?  How will that feel?  

I'll find out soon enough.  For now,  I just live the day.  

Sending love to all.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mom, John, Mom, John

I’m really falling behind on this blog. So I’m going to skip forward and maybe, hopefully go back to the awesome yoga weekend.
My brother looks like my mother. That’s new. I drove up to New Hampshire yesterday to see my brother John. I hadn’t seen him since my mom’s funeral. He has always looked like my dad – strong face, square shoulders, I have photos of him on his boat in the Caribbean after my dad died, and he looked like the spittin image of my dad in his prime. But yesterday, all I could see was my mom and it was the strangest feeling. Comfort, loss, uncertainty, and mostly love.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve come to peace with my mom. She and I had our moments, well, years actually, when we battled like demons. In my opinion, she lived from a position of fear and every piece of advice, every command, every statement that she uttered came from fear. I totally resented that. In retrospect, my perspective was not entirely true, but it was to some extent, and I’m okay with that now. Seeing her childhood home, spending time with the (general) type of people she grew up with, and just a little distance since she died has allowed me to understand her a little better, and I guess, to forgive her and me as well.
So my brother looks like her. It was strange to see a part of her in him. Out of the corner of my eye I could see her mouth, her smile, and her love.

I went to the body worker again this week and as he did another little reiki session on me, I got a huge surge of love from my mom – it was really wonderful. Turned out it was her birthday – I realized it later, so maybe that time I got the birthday gift.

People used to tell me all the time that I looked like my mom. I didn’t see it, but they said I had her high cheekbones. I’ll take that, but I won’t take her fear. John said I looked better than I had in years (thank you Bikram yoga!) and that I had a wonderful sense of comfort and peace about me. (again, than you Bikram yoga!). I have been working hard over the last year to evolve, and I guess it’s showing. He also liked my general plan to relocate and open a studio.
John looks good, he seems happy and he has a lovely life in Portsmouth. He is planning to sell his condo and boat and buy a bigger boat (I always think of “Jaws” when the words, “bigger” and “boat” are combined) in order to live on it. A 50 footer I guess. That should be nice. His former wife Barbara joined us for a bit – she also looks great, and then John and his son Sam took me for a sail. Haven’t been on his boat since my dad and dog died. It was like visiting an old friend. The tide was super low – perhaps from the incoming hurricane that’s supposed to hit this weekend – John said that it might be pulling the water out to sea. But it was fair sailing yesterday! Saw a ton of buoys holding lobster traps. Got my mouth a waterin’ and after we tied the boat off, we went to a fish hut and I got a lobster quesadilla! D-Licious!!

It was good to see family. I’ve been pretty distant from my siblings and it was good to reconnect.

Sending love to all.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yummy Yoga Week, part 1

Sunday, August 16 10:40pm

Whew! I am exhausted. Here’s a quick rundown of the last week:

Tuesday, August 11: Class at the Auburn studio and then an hour drive into West Roxbury to do advanced with Diane. Great group lunch and then return to Spencer with Sunny to get the B.E.S.T. body work I’ve ever had. Jim straightened out my neck. For years my head did not sit on my body right and he was able to get it straight. I seem to have better balance now and maybe some clearer thoughts….but time will tell. He also did some reiki on me and that was even better. His hands were at least six inches away from me but I could feel the heat coming off of them and I saw colors – LOTS of colors – peacock greens and blues mostly, but also warm summer yellow and robin’s egg blues. Wonder-full. He said all my charkas are wide open and I have lots of happy energy. That made me feel happy – big surprise there!

Wednesday, I taught a class for Sunny, but I had to pick up the popup from the RV repair shop first – got the tires replaced and the tail light repaired. Got lost on the way to the Auburn studio from the shop and was late – I HATE being late – so I taught a fairly good class, but it could have been better, if I wasn’t so rattled. Then I took Sam’s class and he was funny and energetic. Nice.

Thursday, had a meeting with my finance guys in Boston. I am with a fund that has an office in SF (in my dad’s old building) but is located here (in my mom’s city) and I wanted to meet with them to learn more and see what was going on with everything. Turns out American Idol was doing try outs in the building, so there were guys in black suits and ear pieces and freaked out kids all over the place. It was fairly surreal. Didn’t see Simon or any other judges, but they were there. It was a good meeting, once I got through all the melodramatic singers, but I was pissed when I had to pay $40 for parking. But on the other hand, my fund doesn’t pay any other visitors’ parking, so I guess that’s a good thing. Then I went to the airport and picked up Jodi Chmelwowski. That’s not how you spell her last name, but it’s close enough.  Jodi was one of the first people I met at training. She was with me in the youth hostel and she knew about as much of the dialogue as I did when we started. She is a rock star now though, and I was so happy to see her! We drove through Boston and got a really great tour of the city, but not on purpose. Despite the GPS function on the iPhone, we got completely lost and took about 3 hours to get to Diane’s place in West Roxbury. The iPhone said it would take 17 minutes. When we finally found our way, we got to stay in the “yoga house” that Diane has by her studio. It’s really cool. While Jodi took a class at the studio, Diane and I talked about everything – how training could be one day, the magical healing powers of the yoga, the evolution of the business (it’s all good), and life in general. Then Jodi returned and we had dinner and talked more about… guessed it….yoga.

Friday, got up early and went to the studio. Jodi taught the 7:30, which Diane and I took (along with a bunch of other “mature” folks), and then Diane taught the 9:30 and I took that one too. I’ve done plenty of doubles since training, but this was the first back-to-back double I’ve done since the infamous triple day with the afternoon double that landed me in the clinic at training. I gave that a few thoughts, but quickly brushed it out of my head and just did the class. Was pretty good I must say – didn’t sit out any poses except for one set of locust (I am no Melissa Sebastianelli). Then we got to sit in on a private that Diane taught and THEN I got to sit in on the feedback that Diane had for Jodi. It was so comprehensive, compassionately delivered, and is going to make a strong teacher a total rock star. I asked Jodi to send me her notes on what Diane said because I need to get all of those corrections. Diane has somewhere a list of common errors fairly new teachers make and she should publish them. Or at least share them with me. I’m fairly confident I make most of those mistakes.

THEN….we got cleaned up and left Diane to do her own thing. Jodi and I had lunch in an Italian restaurant around the corner from the studio and enjoyed a Mess of a meal. “The Mess” is a combination of lasagna, penne pasta and eggplant along with an added ingredient of your choice – Jodi had sausage, I had shrimp. DE-LICIOUS (but not as good as the lobster). Then after a tiramisu desert, we went in search of my mother’s childhood home in West Roxbury. Wasn’t too hard to find, considering how often we got lost. We went to the door and knocked and rang the bell, but even though the main door was open (and just the screen was closed) no one answered. So we took photos and looked at the back yard. It was a pretty house and I’m glad I got to see it. It is on a hill and the back yard slopes down quite a bit – which explains why we almost always lived in a house with a friggin hill.

Long drive home to Auburn with lots of Friday afternoon traffic. Then began the awesome yoga weekend. More on that later.

Sending love to all.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cape Cod Memories

When we lived in Loveland, Ohio, my parents made the decision for us to spend one particular summer (the WHOLE summer) in cape cod at the “compound” at Maushop.  The only relation it had to the Kennedy compound was that they are both located on Cape Cod. Other than that – no similarities whatsoever. 
While the American Royalty enjoyed lush and lovely accommodations, we were in rustic cabins with outdoor showers, one toilet and barely a kitchen. But we loved it. We absolutely loved it. It was one of my best summers ever – spent mostly on the beach reading, swimming and getting entirely too much sun (for which my skin is now angry). I didn’t get in nearly the trouble that other siblings managed to find (and those stories will go untold), but it was excellent nonetheless. After that summer, we returned often as my namesake, my mom’s sister Lucille, lived there, and although the whole summer was not
 an option, several weeks during the warm months were always enjoyed.Whenever I go to the cape, I remember those days. Carol King’s “Tapestry” was the definitive soundtrack for that first summer, but other songs like “keep on rocking me baby,” anything by James Taylor, and that song by Wings that had uncle Ernie in it was a big one (as Aunt Lucille was married to Uncle Ernie). Smiley faces, bell bottom jeans, floppy hats and those glass/poly clackers were huge. You could hear those clackers all over the community – “clack…..clack……..clack……clack clack clack clack OWWWWW”. Oh and “Jaws” came out around the time. 
Not too many people in the water that summer.

Got to return this weekend to visit my cousin John and his family. John married Melissa several years ago, and her mother still lives on the cape. They have two kids who are BEAUTIFUL in so many ways. Arrived on Saturday and met them at the beach club. It was a little more fancy than our days on the cape.   You had to dress in the locker rooms before you could go onto the beach, and they provided towels and chairs. Oh – and from the beach, we could actually spot the Kennedy Compound. We’re moving up in the world! But honestly, it was pretty comfortable and mostly it was great to hang with John, Melissa and kids. 
Then that evening we returned to the place J&M had been married for a clam bake. Now this wasn’t the traditional clam bake when you dig a hole in the sand and put a big fire in it and cook shellfish over it. This was a dress up clam bake, one that helps out the local dry cleaner because you are nearly guaranteed to spill butter on your fancy clothes. But surprisingly (and with several well-placed napkins and bibs), I remained butter unstained. And that was a Big Surprise. I ate two
 huge --- and I mean HUGE lobsters (that is a dinner plate the lobster is sitting on -- not a salad plate, and not a paper plate - and that corn is HALF an ear!)
and as many long neck clams as I could stuff into my belly. It was awesome!!! I also met some lovely friends of Mary (melissa’s mom) who is a kick in the pants herself. She is like the everready battery – she never stops – and she has a wonderful sense of humor.Sunday while J &M, and Mary and a nephew played golf, I got to hang out with young John and Nick. They are going to be six and seven I think, or at least they will be in first and second grade. We did some driving around trying to find a dog beach for Higbee, but alas no luck. No dogs allowed during summer months. Unfortunate and frankly, rather stupid in my opinion. So Higbee returned to the house unsandy and unsalty and we then returned to the Oyster Bays club for some beach time. Watched the boys create what John called a “Herman Crab” habitat, wrestled quite a bit with them, 
and then we visited the Four Seas Ice Cream place.
 It’s famous – Jackie O loved the fresh peach – I tried that the first time we went, but the second time, I thought the Pecan Penache was much better.
We did a little switcheroo and I convinced the boys to sleep in the camper while I got a comfy bed
We were all happy. Then on Monday, I spent the whole day with John on memory lane. We returned to Popponesset beach and the former “compound,” which, to my ultimate dismay, has become entirely too gentrified. They have paved the roads with clam shells, which is pretty, but the kids now can’t walk barefoot because they’ll cut their feet. They’ve surrounded the “cabins” (which have been updated and now cost for 4 days what we paid for the whole summer) with other houses and I swear you couldn’t have either a good fight or hearty sex without having it heard by at least six abodes. It was pretty, but it was also pretty foo foo. 
I am just grateful for our days there back when it was a little simpler and there was a lot more room to park.
At the dinner table, John and Melissa ask the boys what their highlight and their lowlight was for the day. The boys notified us that playing with me and Higbee was their favorite part of the day (which was an honor) and when I asked young Nick what he thought my highlight was, he said with all seriousness, “seeing me”. It’s nice to see he’s self confident!!!
I love my cousin, and I was so happy to see what a beautiful life he has created. What a great guy and oh – Melissa ain’t no chopped liver either – I am happy to call her a good friend.
Sending love to all.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Advanced.....advanshmanced - hahahahaha!!!

Okay - I know I have to catch you all up on this adventure.  I got to tour the Biltmore Mansion in Asheville (for two days - wahoooo!) 
 and it was amazing -- I had a very intense two day drive up to Massachusetts full of tire blow-outs and road side adventures.  I'm now staying at my friend Sunny's place in Spencer, Mass with a view of a lake and on a road that looks entirely too much like Perkins Row in Topsfield where we used to live.  It's beautiful and deja-vu --ee.  

But today - oh today - I got to go to West Roxbury - where my mom grew up by the way - and practice at Diane Ducharme's studio.  
Diane is my heroine - she is my guru - although there are other people in the Bikram world that I love, respect and learn so much from, Diane is the one who inspires me, who has provided guidance that has helped so very very much, and who will continue to help me to grow to be a passionate and compassionate yogi.  

Today I got to practice at Diane's studio.  We did the 9:30 class, and then at 11:30 (or so) I got to do my very first advanced class, led by Diane.  It was fabulous.  First of all, it gave me a new perspective on the "beginning" series, and a newfound respect for Bikram's brilliance in choosing the postures and the order of the postures and the dialogue for describing them.  They truly, and for the most part, can be done (or at least the set up can be done) by nearly everyone, whereby the advanced postures can kill you if not done properly -- literally.  I'm not kidding.  If you don't have the strength to hold yourself up, you can fall on your head and break your neck.  You can tear tendons and muscles you didn't even know you had.  But if done properly and with respect (and with a lot of warmup - 
thus the "beginning" class beforehand), you can experience a deeper stretching, and a greater strengthening than ever before.  
You should have seen it - here are these amazing yogis beautifully, gracefully, with strength and agility, moving into one pose and then the next - and then there was me - with my tongue hanging on the side of my mouth in deep concentration, struggling and groaning, slipping, crooked and sideways trying my best, usually falling out and snorting at myself laughing so hard at my goofball attempts.  But it was fun, and it's my intention to hold on to that lightness and playfulness.  I've never been super bendy, but I am somewhat strong, so I'll do the best I can and just enjoy the process - because really, that's what it's all about, isn't it???

I have to say though - I am improving my regular practice.  Today, for example, I was able to hold the balancing postures (all of them!) for nearly the entire full minute on the first set.  This is a huge accomplishment for me - and I have to say, that I got my inspiration from Summer Bennet who said to me in Port Orange that one day she decided that she wasn't going to fall out any more and then she didn't.  So I took that attitude and guess what?  It worked!!!  I'm also getting deeper in many of the stretches and postures.  It may not seem like much to many, but I can tell, and it feels good.  I am grateful to every person who has provided feedback and inspiration, and believe me, there have been a lot on this journey.

I'm going to work with Diane for a few days.  We have to find a set of dates, but before I go there, I have to work off the rust I've accumulated on my teaching.  I've taught about 5 times since I started this journey in May and the last time I taught in Charleston for David Kiser, I was shocked, SHOCKED at how the dialogue did not flow from my lips.  And here, the dialogue better be flowing - these guys up here are purists.  I have to knock that rust off.

Every now and then I take a moment to acknowledge all I've learned on this trip.  I am so very amazed at what I am learning.  I will have a studio soon - and I know that what I've learned on this trip will absolutely, positively, help me to have a powerful, successful, amazing place, full of passion and compassion.

Thanks to everyone.  I love this ride.  

P.S. The photo of everyone in Sun Salutation is from my training last year when they did a demo of the advanced series -- that's Diane in the middle, Bikram on the left and 80+ year old Emmy on the right -- they are awesome -- and I mean that in every sense of the word.    The photo of me and Diane was also taken at training - I believe it was the day before graduation - but I was a zombie - and I look like I have a huge head, but really, it was just the camera angle.  I am not Sasquach.   Oh and the gargoyle is on the Biltmore mansion (more on that in a later post) and the lake is from tonight's sunset from Sunny's windows.  

Love to all!!!  

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I am Inman

I read “Cold Mountain” several years ago and I figured this guy Inman was a figment of the imagination. I mean, really, how could a fellow spend a year wandering around the Blue Ridge Mountains? How hard is it to get home? 

Well, I have to take all of that back. Here I am in Asheville, armed with a compass in the car, a more or less accurate GPS and mapping system in the form of my iPhone, and until now, a fairly reliable sense of direction. But none of that seems to be effective here. Every friggin turn I make is wrong, I have constantly had to turn around and back track, and a destination that should take 15 minutes has taken more than an hour – more than once in the day today.

Here’s part of the problem. Every friggin road has at least three names. Some regular name (that’s entirely too similar to the road that crosses it, like “Fairview” and “Fairmont”), a state road name (like 210) and some other numerical name (like 74). Secondary to that is the fact that there are no street numbers, so when you’re looking for 802 Fairview/240/74 for example, there’s no way to tell if you’ve gone past it or have even reached it yet. And even though the car compass is fairly accurate, because there’s no point of reference like an ocean or ONE mountain (there are about a million around here) and because the roads wind in every direction up and down and around, getting turned around is pretty much guaranteed.

Oh and did I mention that in this fairly small town of 74,000 people, there are about 5 highways that curve, wind, cross, circle and intersect?

So Inman, my apologies. The fact that you made it home even for a day to impregnate Nicole Kidman before getting shot by the home guard is amazing.

I wonder how the Yankees were able to capture this part of the state – how could they find their way? But then I’m guessing the rebs were equally as lost most of the time – as evidenced by Inman, who grew up in these hills.

As beautiful as it is here (and yes, it is amazingly beautiful) I could never live here – I’m not sure I’d make it home in time to get pregnant…..oh, never mind.