career


yoga

yoga (Photo credit: GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS)

I don’t think much about getting paid to teach yoga. I should. One thing my teacher training instructor hammered home to us was that “People don’t value or stick with instruction that is given to them for free”, and she was correct.

In fact, I knew this from my time spent in the public school trenches – if it was free/it was a “gimme”. Anything you simply share is eventually taken for granted by the majority of people. Especially in our North American culture where so much emphasis is placed on price and the material.

But, I haven’t ever pushed to be paid at a certain rate. When asked, I throw out a few numbers based on what I know about the market and I accept what is offered. Money is fine but karma points are often much better.

This morning I got a call from the woman who hired me to teach at the community hall. She had been thinking about my rate of pay and wondered if I was happy with it.

At a minimum wage job, it would take me about half the day to make what I receive for teaching one hour of yoga. It’s not the worst part-time job ever. It’s barely a part-time job at all given that I work on average about three hours a week minus travel time, which is also pretty negligible.

“I hadn’t thought about that,” I told her.

“Well, I have been thinking that maybe we need to raise your rate,” she said. “The yoga program has been very successful here and we wouldn’t want to lose you.”

What prompted this, I think, was less the idea of losing me and more contact with fitness instructors.

The fitness program in our little hamlet has grown from yoga to include a program for senior citizens twice a week and two weekly Zumba classes.

I don’t know what the instructors of the classes charged for their services, but I can guess and it’s probably more than what I settled for initially.

However, they came from proven backgrounds and have additional communities that they serve. I was just starting out.

So, I got a raise and didn’t even have to ask for it. How awesome is my life?


Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tomorrow is the first of May. It will mark, or so I have read, the beginning of “occupy” season and the countdown to the end of the school year. The latter being a longer wind-down here than back in the States because – thanks to an interminable number of professional days – school won’t end until Canada Day is nearly upon us.

But, it’s like many things Canada. We have them but for shorter durations and after we’ve waited longer for them.

For me, tomorrow marks the beginning of the death march to freedom from the school year’s tyrannical focus on the child’s schedule. School. Girl Guides. Pottery. Indoor Soccer. Outdoor Soccer. Months where she seems to be on holiday more than she is in school.

Already the days are longer. The sun is up before I am. And I am up pretty damn early. It is only just setting when the child crawls into bed at 9 P.M. By some happy quirk of fate, this year marks an actual early spring, which is not early where I come from in Iowa but normal. Spring should arrive in April or even the tail end of March. Here it shows up in May, usually, and teases until June-ish, which is spring and not summer here.

Outdoor Soccer acts as my countdown calendar. Each game completed brings me closer to the day I don’t have to get up and make lunches, breakfasts and ensure the child catches the bus. Closer to summer.

Summer is an eye blink anymore. In my past, I enjoyed what seemed like endless summer, but here it’s over by mid-August and if we are exceptionally lucky it began in late June though typically it’s July-ish. All told? A month. Ish.

Fall, I will admit is lovely for the most part. Indian-ish.

So, in the season of Not-Yet-Summer, I endure. With more difficulty this year because it’s been hellish wet. Just enough rainy to trigger all manner of my non-allergies and non-asthma which aggravates my real migraines and keeps me trapped in my real indoors. Not enough sun and warmth to warm my imagination or spark my soul for the slog to actual summer.

Perhaps it has been too long since my last vacation?

It has been a while. And it’s been a long winter in spirit if not reality.

The stay-cation in March was not long enough. Our first real chance at a holiday is even longer away than summer thanks to a lot of conditions over which no control can be asserted.

But your life is just one long uninterrupted holiday, you say.

My life is a long serious of obligations and responsibilities, not all of which I find odious, but not all of which I would choose to do for just anyone. And because the setting is still a work in progress and some of the characters require more tending than others and particular characters have been a bit soul-sucking and even exasperating and I am forced to work in the evenings – when I work – I find myself more wearied today than I have been and waiting impatiently for summer.


Writing

A couple of wonderful women I know via my traveling Twitter are going through some tough times. They are both writers. One recently suffered a Lupus related TIA and the other has sadly suffered another setback with cancer. Despite the difficulties, they write on. The latter, a NASA physicist, has a book in progress. Her latest scans show more cancer. It’s in the bone now. I, unfortunately, know what that means for her, and she made the comment in her last blog entry that it was time for her to quit procrastinating and finish her book.

Procrastination and writing are almost synonyms. I know some folks who write to the exclusion of all but breathing, but I have never been blessed with such nose-grinding attributes. However, I have been thinking. A lot. About going back to book writing full-time.

With the yoga studio closing at the end of June and my growing disaffection for cause and current event blogging making it difficult for me to muster interest in my paying gig, thoughts turned back toward the memoir and writing “that book”. Or rather, finishing it.

I am still stymied by theme. You don’t just write a book about a section of your life for no reason even if it seems like that is precisely what memoirists do. As more than one literary agent, author and indie publisher has pointed out – an author should have a point.

What’s my point?

A happy ending is not good enough.

Well, okay, it’s pretty darn good from the personal perspective but why should anyone other than my children or Rob really care about what got he and I from A to B?

More than once, it’s been observed that ours is a compelling story and that I have, on occasion, represented it well in words.

That I can write isn’t at issue, nor is the fact that people love a good happily ever after love story. What I am still searching for is an angle. The hook. What’s my hook?

Widowers, let’s face it, are hot these days. Can’t throw a stone without hitting one in film, books, or television. There is something more compelling about a man who’s lost his spouse than there is about a woman in the same predicament. Probably because  a single woman/mom is considered so dime a dozen in North America that they practically wallpaper daily life.

And men make tragic figures whereas women are just victims. Who loves a victim?

No one.

But, getting back to my pondering. I have been. I even have the makings of a plan. The universe knows I have a book.

I don’t want to look back and wonder what it would have been like had I just gone ahead and done it. Published. I don’t want to regret it from a standpoint of having run out of time. The image of poor old Ulysses S. Grant banging out his memories in the last cancer ravaged months of his life to save his family from poverty has always struck me as the saddest way to leave life, desperate and down-trodden and in despair.

I’ve spent the last four years learning to write. Well. It’s time to do something with all the free words I’ve given away in the pursuit of my voice.


Example of the idyllic impression of a snowed-...

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It snowed. I am sanguine to near total zen about it. Rob reminded me that last year’s final snow dump occurred on May 4th, which I don’t recall, but I do remember the walloping we took in early April after the ground was all but clear. Spring ditch rivers run close to the road and given the decided lack of shoulder on the rural roads, slipping off is not a preferred option.

No progress beyond cabinet installation as far as the reno goes. The man took measurements for the counter top, but it won’t be ready for another week at least, so there goes my dreams of Easter in semi-complete house. If we are even close to complete by May Long, I will be surprised. I am beyond ready to be done and Rob is so far past that point that he idly toyed with the idea of checking out a house that is for sale in Ardrossan – nearer to a rail track than the house we live in now. The trains run only early morning and late night in J’berg but Ardrossan is a main track with long rumbling parades of cars rolling through continually. If you ever watched my husband’s slow burn reaction to a train – anywhere it impedes his progress or makes noise – you would recognize that his level of reno fatigue is off the charts.

Mick has been full of news of late. We took her mother’s piano into the city for her last weekend and discovered, not to my surprise at all, that she was dating. And yesterday she let Rob know that she will finally be able to escape the kitchen work that has been steadily threatening to leave her fingerless. Through the machinations of one of her dubious friends, she is now employed as the IT girl for a company in the city. We are worlds of pleased for her because the digit injuries were concerning and it’s always nice when one’s child finds gainful employment that has meaning.

And I have an opportunity to submit a small piece to a dating book that will be published soon. The author writes a weekly advice column for the wives and girlfriends of widowers. I have written about it  before,  but he planned to take the blog stuff and turn it into a self-published e-book.  However, he is under contract to a publisher and they claimed dibs.  He was  surprised.  I wasn’t.  Self-help sells and niche dating stuff, especially written by a man for women, sells bigger.

Rob was puzzled, “Who would read a book about dating widowers?”

If I wasn’t so versed in the dating advice/self-help genre, I would wonder that myself, but I also know my fellow females and we, sadly, are prone to trying to coax pig’s ears into silk status. Therefore, we will read anything that we think might help us save loser relationships.

Harsh? By the time one gets to the point where an advice book is one’s only hope, one should have walked away long ago.

The truth is that men are not so complicated where dating and marriage are concerned, and they are like women in that they will change only when they see clear benefit that doing so is advantageous for them. You can’t change anyone or analyze a bad relationship into a good one.

But, Abel’s advice is common sense. He doesn’t pull punches or blow sunshine up bums.

His publisher wanted more stories about some specific post widow dating stuff, but I couldn’t find Rob and I in any of them. We just really didn’t have issues that harkened back to dead spouses in a grief-related way. Unsurprisingly, given current grief cultures Ayn Randian emphasis on “I am grieving so my needs always come first” advice that widowed folk are spoon fed by the various books and online self-help aimed at them, dating a widowed person has probably never been more confusing for those who haven’t been widowed themselves. They like to compare a widowed past to a divorced one but it’s too apples to oranges for analogies to match up really, but I am in total agreement with the non-widowed’s view that “your dead wife does not get top billing in our relationship and your grief issues are not a trump card to play whenever you want to get your way”. I also am behind the idea that children and in-laws should be kept out of relationships just as they were previously*.

Abel though thought I could just offer an overview of how Rob and I “made it work”. In 500 words or less. You laughed? So did I. Brevity is not my middle name

I don’t know that Rob and I “made” anything work. Relationships are work of a kind, and anyone who doesn’t think so is a fool, but you can’t make love be if both people aren’t on the same page and willing to throw absolutely everything on the table and make it all about the other person. I doubt that most people who are already having issues would be willing to follow the road map that worked for Rob and I, and indeed was quite similar to the one Will and I traversed.

And that’s about it. Employment continues to vex me. I am marginally invested in the blogging gig but covering current events wearies me and I fear for my karma. I listen to others talking about new jobs or watch as they pursue business ventures and am a bit jealous. Every vacant storefront begs me to speculate. A neighbor recently opened her own saloon across the street from the yoga studio. Edie and Silver are making plans to start an industrial plastic recycling venture. Jade, at the studio, is talking expansion. I have no ideas. She suggested volunteering at the schools and getting back into the classroom, but it’s not an idea that sparks anything inside me.

I think a lot about asking the domain owner if I can try reviving Moms Speak Up. Or even starting a site of my own so I can blog events rather than go the journalist approach which chafes and isn’t my best or favored writing style. I just don’t know.

But it’s time to get to Yin class. Yin is good for snowy Fridays when one has a cold (again) and is standing at the crossroads wishing it was really spring.

*But I realize that some people have always allowed children top billing and put up with meddling in-laws and often death simply magnifies this bad training. People should run away from those who allow any of this, imo.


This is a photo of a model from 1975 wearing a...

Image via Wikipedia

A recent Dear Prudie at The Slate tackled the all important fashion dilemma that keeps me up at night  – how to make my breasts appear more Barbie like. And not pointy impossible triple D rocket shaped Barbie breasts, but disturbingly smooth in a neutered way because, in case you’ve never noticed, Barbie doesn’t have nipples.

She doesn’t have a vaginal area either but that’s less horrific than her counterpart Ken’s lack of any genitalia.

Ken, by the way? Nipple-less too.

But getting back to Prudie’s dear reader, the woman had just discovered that the outline of her nipples might be considered a fashion don’t in the workplace. What should she do? Provided that it really was a no-no and that something short of a burqa was involved.

Prudie’s advice? Well, a quiet polling of her female co-workers was all over the map, so she did the most Solomon like thing she could, though I doubt really that his majesty objected to a bit of nippage in his harem,

So I will anoint myself the nipple arbiter and say, particularly at the office, keep your nipples under wraps. This does not mean wearing a Kevlar bra; it means finding one with enough lining or tensile strength to make sure that if you’re cold, or if you’re thinking about Mark Ruffalo, the rest of the office won’t know.

I shared this with Rob, who needlessly pointed out that I am in violation of nipple etiquette every day of my life due to my near RainMan inability to tolerate underwear.

Indeed, I have only recently discovered the almost perfect sports bra, which falls short on the all important strap issue but is so sheerly awesome that I barely know it’s on.

Okay, I know it’s on, but it doesn’t threaten to break ribs or realign my spine.

Bras have been my bane since I sprouted boobs – which have always had nipples on top just like a Sundae has whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. There is something slightly off about the way women are expected to disguise the fact that, like men, we have nipples.

Men do not wear padded undershirts. Their nippage is not considered provocative – by them anyway. Really, men are silly creatures. Oblivious to the fact, it seems, that women ogle them as much – probably more – than they ogle us. We are just better at it.

But we are not kind. Know that and live in a bit of fear, gentlemen.

Getting back to nippage though. Is it really that big of a deal if mine show?

When I was forced from my comfy undershirts to the utterly useless for comfort or warmth training bra (an interesting concept but one that makes sense because little girls must train for the chest bondage to come), nipples were not camouflaged as much as they were just smashed flat.

Padded bras and then padded with underwire followed. And they were both of equal awfulness. What is the point of keeping just the breast area warm?

The padding didn’t help with straps that rubbed or underwire that dug into the cartilage, and it was damp by the end of the day.

As a young adult, I found sheer bras that didn’t really help with shape because I am small – cup wise – and, of course, promoted nipple outline.

Shoulder issues, and retirement from teaching, eventually freed me from bras altogether, but I consider my most pressing breast issue to be not falling out when I teach a yoga class.

To that end, I generally wear a wrap sweater of some type though to practice, or if I am teaching a class where I have to do a lot of modeling poses, I man up and don a sports bra.

Still, sports bras mean smashed nipples not invisible ones.

At issue is, once again, the tender male brain. Men, apparently, have the self-control of toddlers and can’t rescue themselves from their sexual impulses. This explains our second class status and the need of religions to swaddle and enslave us. Men can’t rule the world after all when their kryptonite wanders free, equal and showing off nipple.

We could wish that Prudie had taken a more Moses like stand, “Let our nipples show! So let it be written; so let it be done.” But productivity in the office place is paramount. Work suffers when the staff spends more time pondering the reasons behind nippage (is the a/c set too low or is she thinking about doing me?) than attending to their jobs.

Alas, discretion and coverage are the better part of valor for the working woman.

I remain defiantly bra-free and not particularly repentant. After all, I stood on God’s altar this last weekend as witness to my mother-in-law’s wedding completely nude under my lovely formal wear. Comfort above all should be etched in my coat of arms somewhere, methinks.


kosmic blogging in samsara

Image by ~C4Chaos via Flickr

I should be writing today. I told someone – okay, my editor – that I would. But I am not. I am dorking around while I have three stories waiting on me for the paid gig, but inspiration and desire to write eludes me.

So what do I do when I should be writing but I find it task-like and unappealing?

I spam my own Facebook feed with nonsense.

This is not productive and only serves to remind me that other people are more clever than I am … and have more work ethic. And are more mentally disturbed.

What happened to my work ethic?

Oh, right, I never really had any personally. It was just pragmatism disguised as productiveness.The curse of those born in the shadow of the Valley of the Boomers. We work hard when necessary but we prefer coasting. Just look at President Obama if you don’t believe me.

I was talking about my contribution to the household finances the other day with Jade, the owner of the yoga studio where I teach, I mentioned that Rob smiles fondly at me when I talk about my paycheck. That smile reserved for cute children and pets.

“Awwww … she’s so sweet when she thinks she’s contributing.”

Because monetarily, I am not so much.

My heavy lifting is kind of just that as I make the trains run like the house’s wife should – efficiently and looking quite fetching as I do so.

And it’s not as if my husband doesn’t give due credit or is anything other than appreciative. He just thinks my fixation on my money-making endeavors – the blog stuff in particular – is not worth my worry.

If I write and get paid – awesome, and if I slack, well, then I do. It’s not like the compensation is commensurate with the effort. And that’s the problem. I put in time for a token and though I am not creating a Huffpo empire for someone exactly, I am not creating much for myself either. I am an Internet content serf.

So, I vacillate. One month, I pour it on and the next? Meh.

I was asked recently when I was going to open my own yoga studio.

“No plans for that,” I said. I’d just spent a week holding down the fort for Jade while she was on her yoga cruise, and there is no glamour in running a studio – though the studio itself is glamorous  and I always get a little thrill when I open and close up. It has, frankly, a feeling of purpose that regurgitating news sans personal commentary doesn’t.

But I am not sure I am up to run a business on my own though it would be sort of awesome.

Or I could just go back to fiction writing and pretend that people read my blog.

Poised. I am in a constant state of poised. Where is the tipping point? Poised seems frozen and first runner-up.

If only patience was one of my virtues but then I would probably be a famous blogger if that were the case.


I found this on a yoga blog.

What I have now, probably for the first time ever in my life, is enough.

I am not complacent about it.

I recognize that relationships are active and therefore require tending. I know that nothing about the strata of society I occupy is immune to disaster.

But in societal terms I have come to recognize as my norm, what I have is plenty. There isn’t a single thing or experience I lack. My emotional well brims and is replenished continually.

Perhaps this is what has been nagging at me of late.

My conscious mind – conditioned as it has been by years of North America consumer driven life-style and middle-class faux career ambition – feels I am not working hard enough to be … what? I don’t know. My inner-self has been quite weepy about it in a pushed around little girl sort of way.

She knows we have enough. Time to acknowledge it and let a few things go.

I have dreams. Modest and unassuming. But they are not deal-breakers for me and really never were.

I have enough. It’s almost verboten to say that out loud as many people fear it invites the active mocking of the fates. That’s flatly ridiculous. Nothing is permanent and fate has nothing to do with that anyway.

If you ever had enough, could you recognize it?

A fair question.