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!!!