yoga


English: North Saskatchewan River valley viewe...

North Saskatchewan River valley viewed from Glenora neighborhood in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Recently my horoscope asked me if I was ready for a reality check. It’s time, I was told, to assess how well I knew the “fundamental facts” of my current physical location. It was a grounding activity in the most literal sense. Being a literal girl, this appealed to me. Perhaps it will appeal to you too.

 

So to begin:

 

Do you know which direction north is?

 

North is directly out of my bedroom window. It’s where I see the green and white Northern Lights and where the smell of cigarette smoke from the neighbors drifts in.

 

Where does the water you drink come from?

 

The North Saskatchewan River is the source of our drinking water. Probably a better option than any ground water around here given the farming and chemical plants in the area. But not by much.

 

What phase of the moon is it today?

 

We just had a full moon not long ago, so the moon is in the early “new” stages. I didn’t see it last night or in the sky yesterday. When the moon is full, or close to it, you can see it during the day this time of year.

 

What was the indigenous culture that once lived where you live now?

 

Plains Cree

 

Where is the power plant that generates the electricity you use?

 

That I don’t know. We have power plants in the area, according to Rob, but which one feeds us, I couldn’t say. I can tell you that living rural you are more aware of the fragility of the power grid than you are in the city. Lights flicker when the wind howls and during summer storms. Last summer, we lost power quite often during those weeks when it seemed like we were living in the eye of a hurricane.

 

Can you name any constellations that are currently in the night sky?

 

Ursa Major and Minor. Orion. These are the ones that Rob points out most often to Dee. She is more interested in the configurations than I am. I just like the clearness of a night sky and the light of the moon. I am a moon girl.

 

What species of trees do you see every day?

 

Anything pine is decorative and a transplant. We live on the prairie. Too far from the mountains and the boreal forest for pine to be native. Poplar and Birch are the native trees. Anything else was trucked in.

 

These questions are meant to be a starting point for deepening the connection with one’s specific locale on the planet in an effort to be grounded, which is very yoga. You need to establish where you are before you can decide the best route to anywhere else.

Yoga is all about grounding – being present. Start in the physical and progress to the interior and eventually enlightenment shows up.

 

Not necessarily that simple but not the worst way to go about it either.

 

 


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?


A yoga class.

Image via Wikipedia

I teach yoga two evenings a week at the local community center. Class size varies from one session to the next but there is a small core who sign up every time. One of them is an older lady who lives down the street and for 76, having never done any yoga prior to starting classes with me a year ago, she is incredible spry and limber. It’s amazing to see her progress and to know how much she enjoys and values the instruction. Introducing people to yoga and watching them find themselves in the practice is even more joyful than teaching grammar was back in my public school teacher days of yore.

During the winter months, Rob usually walks me over to the hall where classes are held. It’s not even a two-minute jaunt. Just out the back door, down the drive, up the alley and across the street. But it’s dark, icy and made more precarious by the bags I schlep with me. He carries my equipment and I point the flashlight, and the process repeats in reverse an hour later when class in complete.

Last night, Rob ran into our sweet elderly neighbor as he was hustling up the alley to walk me home from class. Greetings were exchanged, but Rob stopped to chat because she had halted in her tracks and he had a feeling she wanted to tell him something.

“Your wife is so lucky,” she said.

He didn’t reply and she continued,

“You carry her things and walk her to class and then come back to help her get home. That’s just so nice.”

“Just doing my part,” he replied.

He told me the story later and I concurred,

“I am lucky and I know it,” I said. “I read so much about men who have no idea that it’s the little things day in and out that matter the most, and here I have you. I never have to ask you to pay attention, help out, or for much of anything really. You just do.”

Kind of reminds me of the lyrics to a song I shared not long ago,

There’s no way to describe what you do to me
You just do to me, what you do

Except it’s more than what’s done to me but what is done for me.

He would argue, correctly, that this is a mutual thing, which is as it should be.

But, I am very lucky. I don’t take that lightly or for granted.


2007

Image via Wikipedia

Because I was a teacher, I’ve never really gone off the school calendar. My year begins when school resumes in late August. I have longer weekends nearly every month and life is regularly interrupted by early out days, oddly placed vacations and the occasional night duty.

So when everyone else (and by that I mean normal adults with real jobs) were heading back to work after January 1st, I was still in “off” mode because Dee had another week of Christmas vacation to go.

Today, however, she is back to school and Rob is back to work and I am officially beginning 2012 with a schedule of my own, which includes 3 nights of teaching yoga, one night of soccer, one late afternoon running of the child to her own yoga class and two yoga classes of my own to attend. Monday thru Friday is beyond packed and the margin for error or the unexpected is slim to none.

But you still have the weekends, I hear you thinking. A long one at that. This is true. Aside from soccer practice on Saturday mornings, the weekends are blissfully free of obligation. Happy Year of the Dragon to me.

The only thing I have not settled on is my writing focus, but that’s hardly new. I am leaning towards going back to fiction and the memoir. I like Abel’s idea for a theme for the latter and my e-copy of Game of Thrones has made me nostalgic for fantasy. Some of the first good fiction I wrote was fantasy because that’s primarily what I was reading at the time.

I will say that I have lost the fire for freelance. The class I took in the fall was a good experience. I learned a lot. I discovered, however, that I still dislike journalism. Essays and opinion pieces suit me much better. And, I am still burnt out on activist political posting. The world has become such a sad, dirty place in terms of politics and issues that I think it’s bad for my soul and not all that good for karma to immerse myself in that kind of writing at this time. I don’t need the extra negativity. I have family for that.

I have a couple more things to say about widowhood, dating and remarriage though but I am still running them around the track in my mind’s eye.

Last thing on the agenda is organization. It’s past time for the next great purge and there are a few legal things that need to be taken care of in addition to the fact that the house is screaming for all things to find a place and just stay there – no more musical chairs.

Did I just make resolutions? Good gods!


I taught yoga one-footed today. An early morning renovation related accident rendered me lame with no time to find a sub for the noon drop-in class I had promised to sub.

Hatha Yoga Video Tree Pose - VrksasanaIt’s not difficult to teach an entire yoga class without leaving the floor, but as it was a strength class, I felt obligated to get them to their feet and few a string of standing postures. Ralph Macchio does a better crane than I do. Or at least he did. I have no idea what kind of shape the guy is in today though I seem to recall hearing he managed a decent showing on DWTS (Dancing with the Stars).

Between limping, a runny nose and hacking up the occasional piece of lung, the class was a great success. I am lucky in that I have my teaching instinct to fall back. Even if I am less than stellar, I have a way of pulling things off that has more to do with years in the classroom than my actual yogi skills and knowledge.

The week flew by, its usual crammed too full self. I’ve been enjoying NaBloPoMo and even my turtle slow approach to NaNoWritMo. Writing for myself is still fun and it is good to know this.

I’ve neglected my social media, which isn’t a bad thing. Twitter seems to function better when I don’t watch the pot too closely but Google+ is creeping me out because it feels like Match.com with all the questionable male followers my feed is attracting. I’ve blocked a lot of them, but still it would be nice if someone could design an app to screen and drop-kick based on a pre-set list of criteria:

  • not from a 3rd world country
  • at least a couple posts in English, so I see it’s not spam or porn
  • definitely no faceless people
  • and those looking for white Canadian women need not plus me

I am wearying of stumping for votes for the Top Canadian Mom blogs list, and I imagine you are too. Incredibly, there is another 13 days of voting to go. Sigh. Thanks to those who have voted, continue to vote and who have even convinced their family, friends and even their old high school friends on Facebook to vote as well. I cling to the top five, but there is a very determined Mommy reviewer nipping on my heels and periodically climbing up my back to sit on top of me. So, keep those votes coming because if every single one of you who reads this actually votes? I might gain enough of a lead to quit asking for votes. Just saying … along with my thanks.

Fall officially ended with an arctic blast today. The child wore a winter coat for the first time today. She’s thoroughly winterized, so it has to be winter if she is bundled. No snow as much as WeatherNet threatens us with it. With the chilled temps comes the one year anniversary of THE reno. Last year at this time, Rob began knocking down walls and gutting the front half of the main floor. Tonight he will nearly finish the kitchen as he lays the last of the tile in the new fabulous kitchen. He says we will have a more than just a functional living room by Christmas but I am sure we have some relatives who haven’t yet had a crisis they need us to drop everything to help them with – so I remain skeptical.

And that’s it. Aside from the lingering flu that I need about 11 hours of straight shut-eye to finish off and I won’t be getting it tonight. Soccer practice in the AM, you know. But next week is Fall Break. No alarms. No school buses being revved up beneath our bedroom window and no buses to catch. It’s the simple things.


Cartoon showing baby representing New Year 190...

Image via Wikipedia

I never really left school. I went from university to teaching, so the calendar year never altered for me. August kicks off the new year in a way that January just never did.

It’s funny really that the year officially rolls over in January yet many people mark the passage of time with the school calendar or the fiscal year, which is July or October usually, depending on your occupation. January 1st is just Christmas’s less interesting sibling.

Back in the day, I would have already been in my classroom and probably completely ready to go by now. I made it a habit to crack the seal on my “office” door the first week of August. I’d spend the mornings cleaning, organizing, decorating and finally planning. I typically outlined the entire year before breaking it down by semester and then grading periods and finally daily lesson plans. I rocked really.

August, therefore, feels like the time to plan. With Dee heading back to school, I have free hours during the day that need direction.

Direction that isn’t laundry or baking or cleaning.

Briefly I toyed with applying for a job at the museum in town. They are looking for a program assistant. It’ teacher work. Organizing and brainstorming. I would totally be in my element. Curriculum. History. Teaching. Some of my favorite things in life. The work is even part-time and mostly flexible, but the bulk is Tuesday and Thursday, and I am already committed to teaching yoga at the community hall in the evenings. The potential for the whole thing to turn into long days in the hellmouth is fair to good.

I’m gearing up to have myself added to the city’s yoga teacher sub list, and I’m going to take a couple of classes to get ready to e-publish a few short works that are a bit too niche for the bigger markets. That’s enough on top of home and family though I struggle still with the stay at home thing. Four years out of the workforce is a freakish feeling for someone who spent nearly 30 years of her life working. And with the economy in free-fall again, I get itchy.

But we don’t need me working part-time for peanuts, which screws us at tax time, and me going back to teaching adds unnecessary stress to our daily lives because the juggling of household chores and kid is no small thing. The pressure to work outside the home rears up though. Not as often as in the first years and usually driven by  something coming up that my working wouldn’t fix anyway.

It’s better that I stick to my original plan, which could pan out more profitably in the longer term with a bit of luck and nose to the keyboard.

Need to put my father’s daughter to bed once and for all and concentrate on the ball in play.


Bora Bora

Image via Wikipedia

Rob picked the movie last night. He’s a big Vince Vaughn fan but we’d ended up taking Couples Retreat out of the library because Rob had gone searching for Jon Favreau films because the guy is responsible for IronMan. We’d watched IronMan 2 the other night – and it was time sucked from life that we’ll never recover, nevermind that Robert Downey Jr. plays narcissism like a Stradivarius. But, Couple’s Retreat. I think Vaughn is one-dimensional on his best day of acting but I’ll watch Jason Bateman in anything.

The premise of the film is that a group of friends travel to an exotic island to a resort that combines holiday and couple’s counseling. Bateman’s character and his wife, played by Kristen Bell, are on the verge of divorce after a year of unsuccessfully trying to conceive and they need the others to come along on this last-ditch effort to save their marriage because the resort offers a reduced rate for groups.

Mostly, it’s not funny. All the couples are in various states of dysfunction or relationship neglect. How that is funny escapes me, but there was a tantric yoga scene that was hilarious.

Yoga can be … intimate. Even when it doesn’t mean to be.

Tantric yoga though – is trying hard to be … cozy.

Along with yoga, there is the prerequisite counseling sessions with a shady looking bunch of therapists, dubious skill building activities and painfully unfunny dialogue

Ultimately, however, there is a happy ending. All is well. Unsurprisingly it is when the couples simply talk to each other that they are able to work through the issues that threaten them. Talking? Who knew? Apparently, a lot of people or why would the idea of couple’s therapy be cliché enough to make a rom-com about it?

It’s progress that the most stereotypical unlucky in love single in the movie is a guy and not the proverbially desperate white female of a certain age (that age being shockingly young anymore). And again, the problem was a common one – not copping to what you want, need and just being who you are – because honestly, that should be good enough if someone really loves you.

And that’s where the happy ending was to be found in Couple’s Retreat. In being one’s self and not accepting another person’s crap for your personal layering. Lesson being this – it’s only when you understand who you are, what you need and that you will be okay if taking action to be and get causes upheaval in your life – it’s then that everything will be okay. And more likely, people will still love you.

Just saying.