When Crows Attack

“Crow Pose. Mentally, the crow is a great yoga posture to incorporate regularly into your yoga practice as it improves concentration and calms your mind.”

Calms the mind. Oh really?

I know this woman – let’s call her Paula Pretzel for the sake of the blockhead’s anonymity – who has been taking yoga classes for maybe 5 minutes and can master the most intricate and challenging poses within seconds of having seen them.

“Hey look at me! I just contorted myself into upside-down arm-burning hell on earth pose and it felt so great! Namaste, you guys! It’s been fun!” And just like that, she’s out the door with yet another strong pose under her stupid belt.

“I TEACH YOGA!!” I holler, as I shake my fist in her direction and watch her peel out of the studio parking lot.

Sometimes – and I know this is very non-yoga of me, but – I really want to just tip her over while she’s doing all that fancy schmancy balancing on her head.

When I first started practicing yoga all those years ago, it was easy: a warrior pose here, a sun salutation there. No big deal. But once I started to gain the muscle and the will to try the more advanced poses, well that’s when yoga became a game changer. You learn a lot about your body and mind and how important it is for them to work together when you’re on this journey.

I had been working on crow pose for months. I would manage to get into the proper position to lift myself into it, and then just as it seemed as I would achieve the pose, I would come tumbling down instead.

It became a frustration. It became an obsession. I would work day in, day out trying to lift myself into crow. I would practice it in the strangest places or at the oddest moments: at my son’s music lessons, while I was on the phone, or unloading the groceries from my car into the house. I kept hoping that during one of those random moments, it would finally happen.

It was only when I found myself interrupting my daily yoga practice to attempt it that I realized if I continued in this manner, it would never happen. Not because I wasn’t capable. But because I was losing focus on what mattered.

Nothing in life ever just happens. We make it happen. We get out of our own way and we make it happen. And as I began to understand that I was getting in my own way, that’s when the real progress began.

After a ton of soul-searching and falling on my face, I realized it boiled down to fear of failing. I believed that I could not achieve the pose. I believed that it would never happen. I believed that I was too weak for it to happen. I believed I would continue to fall over and over and over on my face until I looked like I went more than a few rounds with Muhammad Ali. All of that self-doubt held me back and it would continue to do so until I figured out how to get my mind and body to work together instead of against each other:

Mind: Here she goes again. She thinks she’s going to finally get this pose done. As if.

Body: I can’t concentrate when you’re rambling on and on like that. Just shush, will you!

Mind: Oh sure, like that’ll help.

Body: Okay, here she goes. Heels up, lean forward, bear the weight in your hands and…DAMMIT.

Mind: Ha, you see! I told you! It’s never going to happen.

Body: Would you just keep your big yapper shut for a second? How can anyone get anything done with you yammering on and on and on–

Me: You know what? I’ve had enough of the two of you and you’re both going to pipe down and listen to me for a change. I am NOT going to quit. And I most certainly am not going to let the two of you morons take this away from me. So you either get it together and start working as a team or you’re outta here!

Mind:  Did she just call herself a moron?

Body: Just humor her. And here we go again….

The bottom line is…once I acknowledged that I was sabotaging myself, I was able to gain better focus on my practice and finally move forward with confidence. We do this to ourselves all the time: that voice of self-doubt creeps in and we give up because we convince ourselves that we won’t be able to rise to the challenge. Yoga reminds me every day that it is my responsibility to keep that voice down to a minimum. It reminds me to be proud of my failure because how I respond to it is what matters most.

MeCrow

So now when I see Paula Pretzel casually lift into a headstand or float on her pinky, I smile. Because I have something she doesn’t: a true sense of accomplishment and appreciation for what this long journey through the practice of yoga has meant to me.

And I love myself for it.

Even though I still, kind of, sort of… want to tip her over.

I can outDuranDuran your One Directioness

Teenage yoga. I have come to realize that these two words, when used in combination, are the ultimate oxymoron. And a surefire recipe for evil.

No one warned me that while I’m working hard to de-stress these future adults of society (god help us) that they are working hard to uber-stress me.

My teen yoga classes always begin with breathing exercises and eye rolls. And I’m not talking about yoga eye rolls. I mean those all too frequent glances of cynicism and condescension teenagers expertly use to belittle the rest of us. Because, hey, what the hell do we know that they don’t? I mean we’re just the dumb grown-ups and they know everything about life, right?

It’s not like I can’t fit right in with a group of teens considering the majority of them stand at least a foot taller than I do. “I’m hip. I’m with it,” I say to them in my best Dr. Evil voice as they stare at one another, shrugging cluelessly. But that is beside the point. It simply astounds me how quickly a yoga session with a bunch of juvenile, team Edward loving ninnies can go from “Om” to “O-m-g”.

And I’m sorry, but Jacob was the way better choice for Bella. Sooo, whatevz peeps.

Alas, adults of the world, marvel at my loose grasp of grammar after only 30 minutes in their presence. But I digress.

“What song is that? Omg, that’s so last year.”

“But… it’s Katy Perry,” I respond meekly as though I’m back in my sophomore year and my Aqua Net hairdo just fell flat. “Isn’t she, like, super awesome, totally, like, and stuff?”

It is at this moment I realize that I clearly have no idea how to converse with the young adults of today which frustrates the hell out of me since I used to be one. What happens to us that we become so disconnected to those feelings of rebellion and angst that teens display on a daily basis? Maybe it’s because we realize they have nothing to complain about now that most of us are juggling families, jobs, and bills that never stop piling up. Teenage jerks.

Forgetting my momentary sympathy and becoming more annoyed by the second, I say, “Never mind the music. Just try and find your focus so we can begin our sun salutation with mountain pose.”

“Mountain pose isn’t even a pose. We’re just standing here.”

Never have I wanted to twist someone into a yoga pretzel more and then not tell them how to untangle themselves.

And then a memory came back to me: my bedroom literally wallpapered with pictures of Duran Duran, my father angrily coming in to take them down because there were “too many”, and how furious I was with him for days after that. In my eyes, he wasn’t just taking down images of this band that meant so much to me at the time. He was tearing a piece of me down with them. And just like that, my inner teen kicked in.

“Okay, let’s just sit for a moment and take some time to regroup. Music, boys, parents. Talk.”

I hadn’t even finished that sentence before they were all trying to babble their gripes at me all at once. And after about 15 minutes of this impromptu release of emotions, I think they started to see me in a different light as well.

Plus it helps that I taped this image to each of their mats:

oned

And this one on mine:

wildboys

And we all connected after that, momentarily bonded. Standing as tall as mountains.

Ah, Life.

No, not the real one. The important one. You know…the board game. Which, if you ask me, is truly the ideal way to live. Because at the end of the game, at least you get to give the kids back.

Amid our varied and often hectic schedules, my husband and I strive to find ways to ensure that we are spending quality time with our two boys. Board games are one of our favorite go-to options. But let’s face it: sitting at a table, facing one another in close proximity, and working together to bring something to a fun conclusion is quite the challenge when children are involved.

The first battle is trying to agree on a board game that is age-appropriate for everyone. How we wound up playing LIFE with a 4-year-old in the mix is beyond me. After the four of us scanned the closet shelf filled with everything from RISK to Pop the Pig, we let our youngest (I’ll be referring to him as Scamp from this point on) choose.

“WE CAN PLAY LIFE BECAUSE IT’S ABOUT A FAMILY!!!” And who can argue that logic?

My husband, myself and my oldest son (and we’ll just call him Moody from this point on) all agreed that we would just let Scamp “think” he was playing. Don’t feel too badly for him. He usually wins anyway and we have no idea how it even happens.

So we head to our family table with game in hand, consenting to hand him money, random playing cards, and insurance papers so he’ll feel super important. The game begins and we let him spin the spinner and drive his car around the board so we can proceed without fuss.

If you’re familiar with the game, you know that your first decision needs to be whether you’d like to start your career or head for college.  Naturally, my husband and I opted for the college route, while Moody leaned back in his chair and smirked, “You guys are soooo going to lose,” as he breezed past the college option without hesitation and immediately headed toward the career path.

Scamp is now filling his vehicle with little blue and pink pegs and heading for the hills of Millionaire Estates. His ‘vroom vroom’ sounds are just obnoxious enough that I’m already rethinking this.

The game progresses and halfway through it I hear myself saying through gritted teeth, “So help me God, I will take all your money and run you and your entire family off the road.”

That is exactly what I told Moody after we had switched salaries for the second time. This is, I believe, a completely mature and rational reaction after one has been living in a log cabin with a leaky roof as a doctor with a measly 20,000 dollar pay check trying to feed four stupid kids in the backseat.

“I told you….you shouldn’t have gone to college,” Moody says smugly. Sure, kid. That’s easy for you to say since you’re living in my mansion with a 100,000 dollar salary as a musician and no kids in your car! Who plays LIFE and manages to skip over all the kid tiles? WHO?

“I’m sick of this game. I don’t want to play anymore,” Scamp whines, as he throws his car, family and all, into the middle of the board and proceeds to forcefully hand me all his money and cards. This transpires just as I’m rounding the corner to retirement and I can swear the little blue husband peg has just jumped out of my front passenger seat on purpose.

At this point I was tempted to flip the board and call it a day.

So thanks for nothing Hasbro. Because these happy smiling people on the cover of your game…

Life

Yeah, them. Well, they’re a bunch of liars.

If we play Monopoly next, there had better be Free Parking.

Hell no, we won’t go!

IMAG3121

You know when you wake up one sunny weekend in the Fall and think: Hey this will be a great day for apple picking with the kids!

Please. I am begging you. Just go back to bed. Save yourselves.

First you have to deal with the parents who make the rest of us look bad by having the otherworldly ability to actually do things in a timely fashion with their families. They go apple picking on September 1st and leave nothing for the rest of us slackers.

Then there’s the issue of what’s known as Indian Summer here in the lovely Northern Hemisphere. This morning you left the house in jeans and sweatshirts because it was 45 degrees, but it’s now close to noon and the sun is blazing like you just transported your entire brood to the Sahara instead.

Your sweatshirts are now wrapped around your waists, fathers are irritated, mothers are frustrated and children are whining that they want to go home. You trek miles through an empty orchard because you missed the wagon ride only to find one good apple left and it’s wayyyyyy up at the very top of the tree and completely not in the mood to fall into your stupid apple net.

The apple net which cost 33 dollars to rent, by the way.

You are now shouting at your loved ones to scour the ground under the tree hoping to find any apples that seem semi-decent because you refuse to leave until you have 33 dollars worth of apples, even if it kills all of you.

Did I mention the worms, the smell of the rotten apples, and the onslaught of bees?

And now your youngest refuses to walk one more step because the heat has him suddenly staring accusingly like you planned this whole fiasco of a day. (Well technically we did, but that’s beside the point)

Take it from me. You can soak up all those rich, leafy autumn colors by looking out any window in your home, head to the nearest bakery for a fresh baked pie, and get your apples at the nearest supermarket. And all for way less than 33 dollars.

I promise.

“Press to Click This.” Really?

I was going to start my very first blog with a nerdy introduction as to who I am and why I’ve decided to start up a blog in the first place. Then I slowly scrolled down my WordPress dashboard as I was setting up my account and read the four words I’ve enclosed in quotes up in my title.

Hmmm.

If you’re on your PC, laptop or iPad, pressing something will most likely always lead to clicking. Right? I feel like this is a trick question. Or maybe a cutesy way of hazing me as I start on this new venture. Which just led me to think: Well, clearly WordPress needs me to point these things out, so sign me up! 

Give me time, people. I’m new to this “pressing” business.

Now, how can I briefly describe what my blogs will contain? Let’s see…

This morning, as I was running here and there getting the family fed, dressed, and ready for our daily school/work routines, my husband “accidentally” locked me out of the house while I was walking our dog. When he finally stopped laughing and let me back in, I tripped right over the cat who, when hungry, has perfected the art of performing his “crazy-8” walk right under my feet. There is a “Crazy-8” agility skill certificate out there somewhere with his name on it, I can promise you.

Then my 10-year-old decides we can’t move the car until we relocate the frog who is sleeping in the middle of our driveway, while my 4-year-old announces that no one is going anywhere until we find his blue police car. All I could think was: Oh they’ll find a police car alright. In front of our house hauling me away after I dunk their little faces into their cereal bowls. 

So you don’t need an introduction, okay? And you’re not getting one. All I will add is that I practice and teach yoga and it is my passion. Otherwise these monsters I call a family would have needed to institutionalize me a long time ago.

On that note, thanks for reading my non-intro and I hope you’ll press to click this blog on a regular basis. Namaste!

Or whatever.