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Thursday
Jun102010

Start your engines: 5 weeks to Bali

Five weeks from today exactly, Joe and I fly to Bali.  Oh, what great pleasure it gave me last week to mark the days on my work calendar, blocking out two weeks plus, making it visual after so much planning and dreaming and scheming to make it happen.

There was a long stretch when I thought we wouldn't make it, wouldn't be able to go.  Joe's lymphoma really screwed things up for us in the fall; the economy didn't help, either.  There was so much uncertainty about where we'd be physically and financially that I had tearfully given up on it completely.  And at that precise moment of surrender, bam, everything lined up to make it possible.  After the year we had, all that we went through in 2009, my deep and joyful reaction to going, and going together, is Fuck Yeah, we so need this!

Cancer really changed things.  Before, I wouldn't have given it a second thought that of course I was leaving on retreat to an exotic location with my teacher Laura Christensen.  That's what happened in July of 08 when I heard about her retreat to Careyes, Mexico in April 09.  I sent in my deposit, got my plane ticket, and then told Joe.  It's nothing scandalous - it's just that since we have our own stuff that we're into, me yoga, him bikes, it's just how we roll.

How we rolled, I mean.  Since the cancer, I can't imagine being away from Joe for any length of time without asking permission first.  And permission is something I never asked for before. I just Did.  It's different, but it feels good, and I'm so happy that we'll be there together this time around.

It's going to be an amazing adventure.  I'm so glad to have been asked to assist with planning and logistics, two things which I adore about traveling, but mostly so excited to be there, to see it, taste it, smell it, all in the company of my beloved and my teacher and my friends.

Here's to not having to choose between.  Here's to Bali in 5 weeks.

Wednesday
Jun092010

Suck it, little voices!

I was awake for a couple of hours in the middle of the night, something that was a regular habit curse throughout most of Terrible 2009 but which I've mostly kicked this year.  Anyway, in that awake-time in the middle of the night, my mind got up to its old tricks of making lists of all the things I haven't done, all the commitments I've made on which I'm potentially falling short, cranking out its Grinchy kill-joy anxiety.  Eww, so don't want that.  I tried to shake it off, by turning on the bedside light (causing Joe a minor heart-attack) and reading for a while, but I think I still have a belly full of failure this morning.

It doesn't help matters (or actually, it probably really does!) that I keep signing myself up for stuff, creating rules that then I have to keep.  Such as:

- freecycling one thing for every day in June.  So far I'm keeping up, and I'm glad about that, but I made up that commitment and can't imagine not keeping it, so I better keep scouring the cabinets and nooks and crannies.  The garage, of course, is a freaking gold-mine of stuff to pass on to others, but I dread going out there a little.  Which means I really need to do it.

- practicing 5 days a week and producing 800 words of writing a day for 21 days, something I just signed on to at 6am yesterday.  Yes, I know that's a really good target for me since it represents some stretch, but it did come up in the middle of the night as another source of pressure, albeit self-imposed.  I meant to go to class last night but then got hit with a wave of homesickness so powerful at about 4:30 that I needed to head home, be with my kid and dog for those hours, see my house and garden by light of day.  So I definitely spent insomniac time plotting out when I was going to practice, and kind of kicking myself for not practicing enough.

- blogging for ElephantJournal.com, which is supposedly a weekly or so commitment, but which is also stressing me out a bit now since I'm having some difficulty with their general tone and discerning what is for my blog, what is suitable for theirs.  And resisting the changes I'd have to make for my stuff to work over there.  For example, the piece I wrote about my oiled-pelican fueled misery (What Are We Doing?), I think I'd have to re-title "Hot! Oil! Wrestling!" in order to get any click-throughs.  Which is not terrible, but also not my favorite.

- taking the bus to work twice a week.  Also something I really, really want to do, but hard to incorporate when there are errands and yoga, etc., to fold into the mix.

- not driving one day of every weekend.  This means riding bikes to the Fairfax Festival on Saturday (for which I will miss yoga, boo, but all in the interest of friendship and companionship, oh and it's our anniversary that day and it's what Joe really wants to do, so I'm more than game).

What I'm reminding myself of this morning as I write this is that all of the above are things I WANT to do, things that matter to me, things with the potential to produce the shifts in my life that are ultimately the entire goal of this year.  In keeping those commitments, I know I am creating the groundwork for something major and delicious.  And every commitment I keep makes me stronger, makes me able to take on the next challenge with more courage and certainty of a successful outcome.

But sometimes I just feel tired.  Which is to be expected when I've spent the hours of 2 - 4am engaged in a pitched battle against my own resolve, all those nasty little defeatist voices having their say.  Enough, I say to you silly little bastard voices.  I'm on this and you can't stop me.

Making a great life is a lot of work.  But honestly, it's the only work that matters.

[And that's 700 words so Suck It, little voices!!]

Tuesday
Jun082010

Yoga Writers Posse

As it's June and we're nearing the midway point of the year, I have been reflecting back on the intentions I set for the year, all two pages of them, and considering my own progress on the path.  I am really happy with where I am, with what I've done so far, although there is definitely still lots to do, lots to keep me engaged for at least the next 6 months.

One thing I haven't been doing as much of lately is documenting my own studies of yogic discipline, which is really where I started the year -- diligently applying what we were learning in class outside of the studio, at work, where I need it most, where it most certainly matters most.

That's not to say that I haven't been working it. I made my way though two of Gurumayi's books, and am waiting for a third (Courage and Contentment) to appear courtesy of used sales on Amazon.com.  I have been blogging almost daily, but more generally lately about other subjects, especially lately the oil spill which is really rocking my entire universe.

I'm still going to class and pouring every bit of expression and meaning I can into every single pose.  Laura continues to amaze and dazzle in her teaching, and I feel stronger than ever on my mat, even though truth be told, I haven't practiced quite as much in the past month as in the 4 prior.  But that's OK.  I've been outside a lot, in the garden, reveling in growing lots of food this year and dreaming up the urban farm I want to start next spring.

At the almost-halfway point, I'm feeling good about the path and yet needing a little something.  I know my thyroid is low right now and I'm a bit mixed about giving up sugar, and I'm still under-slept, and I'm sad about The Fucking Oil Spill, so in general casting about a little sleepily.

And into my lap falls Bindu Wiles' 21.5.800 Project, thanks to elephantjournal.com and several friends who emailed me about it. For 21 days, making the commitment to write 800 words a day and practice 5 days out of 7, even if one of those days is a 40-minute savasana in my home studio.  SWEET! Just what I needed!  A little e-community to spur me on, how wonderful!

So, get ready: that's what I'm doing.  Not sure I can manage 800 words on the blog all in one go, in the mornings before work, so there may be two posts daily, we'll see.  And practicing 5 on 7 days: that I can do, starting tonight at 6:30 at YogaWorks SF with the brilliant LC.

Yay, so happy to have this organizing principle to guide the next little period.  Here we go!

Sunday
Jun062010

Adventures in Composting: 100% compostable chip bag? We'll see about that.

We've been composting a long time now, way back to when I was certified as a Master Composter in the early 90s.  As part of Marin's efforts to reduce the waste stream, the County created the program, patterned on the Master Gardeners, to train compost educators and activists.  For a couple of years I gave compost classes around Marin on the weekends, teaching people how, and how to love worms.

In terms of our own operation, we started small at our old house, two big yard-waste bins out back and a worm-box in the kitchen.  I know that might not sound small, especially to those who don't have a yard, but it felt small. And certainly part of what we looked for when we moved was both garden and compost space.  So at this house, we graduated to a three-bin active yard-waste system, a passive two-bin in the very back of the yard for woody stuff that needed to sit longer, and a worm bin for our food scraps.  We've been composting such a long time that it's just a normal part of our little suburban farmer routine.  But I do love it and can still get worked up about how cool it is (July 08, and more recently January 10).

Over the past five years, we've taken to throwing into our compost items which we're told are biodegradable: the corn-starch ice cream spoons from the Scoop in Fairfax, potato-starch spoons from Three Twins.  The spoons have been re-surfacing regularly for five years, no change at all.  And our compost cooks.  I haven't stuck a thermometer in there lately, but judging from how quickly we go from a three-foot pile of clippings, coffee grounds and mown grass to a 1 foot pile of glorious, sweet-smelling compost, it's hot in there.  Transformation, of all but spoons, is happening.

So, naturally, when I saw this 100% compostable Sun Chips bag, I had to buy it.  I admit to a weakness for Sun Chips so that was a no-brainer.  And now that I've finished the entire bag of chips, we get to test the veracity of their claim.  Which is that in a hot home compost pile this bag will go from how it appears at left to nothing in 13 weeks.

  Really, who could resist the opportunity to green the world one bag of chips at a time?

I placed the empty bag in the middle of a pile of compost, then set about methodically layering that cake: dry stuff, green nitrogen-rich clippings, water, partially decomposed stuff from the next bin over, until that bag was buried good. My plan is to look for it whenever we turn the compost over the next 13 weeks, and take pictures of it every time, to see whether it really does break down as they say it will.

Here's where the Sun Chips bag is living for the moment, three-feet of organic matter.

Fingers crossed that this works. If it really does, great and then perhaps they'll use that plant-based material for other applications.  Yay.  But it doesn't work, then I suppose the bag can keep those bomb-proof ice cream spoons company.

Sunday
Jun062010

What are we doing? The damn oil spill...

There have been so many natural disasters recently, the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile and the volcano in Iceland. I cared deeply about the people affected in all of those places, but honestly I am so much more devastated by the man-made Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf.

This problem that we caused ourselves is genuinely making me sick, making me re-consider everything, making me so sad and so angry at the same time.  I really can't look at more images of oil-covered pelicans or dead dolphins on beaches as much as I know it's necessary for them to keep re-circulating, for as many people as possible to see them, get enraged, do something about it.  [If you need pictures, check these out.]

I am bouncing between despair and anger, feeling helpless.  I want to never drive my car again.

What if all the manatees are wiped out?

At the precise moment that question crosses my mind, I realize that I'm sliding from EcoWarrior to EcoWorrier.  And worrying doesn't accomplish a god damn thing.

So since last night when I hit a low point of despair and worry about the oil spill, I've been reading, connecting, looking for resources on what to do with this Angry.  Really what I wish I could do is go help clean oil-soaked birds, but since I lack the know-how, that's out.  Instead here's what I'm doing to try and channel my rage:

- Spreading the word about National Wildlife Federation's efforts to help wildlife affected by the spill by sharing their website, joining their Cause on Facebook, posting their graphic upper right and texting them my $10.

- Following efforts by Wildcare, local awesome wildlife rehabilitation facility, to support efforts in the Gulf, standing by to help with supplies, cash, volunteer hours if they ask for them.

- Reading about a local group, Post Peak Living, mentioned in Imagining Life Without Oil in today's New York Times.  Their whole point appears to be that yeah, we need to be prepared for a world without this availability of oil we've grown accustomed to -- meaning that we need to develop the skills to be more self-sustaining.  It's def a bit Y2K for me, but still, I'm reading and pondering.  Of course this is in Marin!

- Checking out MoveOn.org's Oil Spill Vigil taking place on Election Night.

- And I really am going to drive less.  I'm not driving to the studio today for class, for example.  Instead I'm going to go spend two hours in the woods with Jasper before it gets too hot, replacing despair and rage with the sight of trees and my dog's prancing 13-year-old form.  And then stay home, practice some handstands, work in the garden, plant more food.

Yes, our stupid reliance on oil has got to change.  The good thing about those oil-soaked images that live on in my mind is that I will see them whenever I climb in my car now, so I can ask myself, "Is it worth it? Would I trade dolphins, turtles, manatees, birds, coral and fish for this?"

Don't worry.  Be active!