My girl, Sophie, has more style at ten than I had the confidence to pull off at twenty.  Maybe even thirty.  For example, today she was rocking combat boots, over the knee socks, a tutu in black with petticoats, and a hoodie with a glow-in-the-dark skeletal bones, all beneath her bright red hair.  I mention all of this because her combat boots are a crucial part of her look and man, the last pair we got fell apart after only a month: the soles just dropped off.  I hate it when that happens.

We got them fixed by our local cobbler (we have one of those! his name is David and I’m pretty sure he could crush my skull with one hand if he wanted to, he’s a BIG dude; luckily he is also very sweet) but finally, I’d had enough with the bimonthly shoe repair, and we went shopping.  We fell upon a sale that netted boots for half-off but get this: they are black combat boots, yes, but they have POCKETS.

combat boots with pocketsWhen we saw them in the store, both Sophie and I zeroed in on them, me thinking “Sophie would love those!” and her thinking “THEY’VE GOT POCKETS.”  Sometimes purchases are so obvious.

Of course, the very next thing you think is, what goes in the pockets?

SuperCoolHusband took one look and said, “a knife.  A really cool, little, knife.”  And he immediately began googling miniature knives (“This one’s cute! Oh, dang, it’s out of stock….” while Sophie rolled her eyes, “Dad! I’m not carrying a knife!  Besides, I already have, like, two that you bought me.  Chill.”).

I said, “lip balm, a tissue, and a twenty.” This seems so obvious!  I can’t stand being caught without any of these items, amiright?  (“Mom, I don’t even wear lipbalm.  But you can give me a twenty if you want.”)

Luc rolled his eyes at all of us, “You put in CANDY. Duh.”  (Thoughtful look from the girl.  “Possibly.”)

And at this point it had become clear that boot pockets are some kind of rorschach for our inner needs.   A boot pocket is an emergency back-up location, too inconvenient for regular use, but out of the way enough for long term storage.  Small but crucial items only.  What fits the bill will be different for everyone.

It has become an informal survey, no one is safe; as soon as someone sees the boots, the conversation begins.  And we keep getting different answers: back-up phone batteries, thumb drives, condoms, drugs, cash, lighter (?), multi-tools, protein bars, dog treats, hand-i-wipes, ID, toothbrush and paste (I guess they have small ones?), tea bags (might there be unfortunate flavor transfer?), ipod charger, a picture of a one’s dead mother (that was intense), a tiny notebook and pencil, chewing gum.  It’s pretty interesting to find out what people pick.

At first Sophie chose hair ties, two ginger candies, a spare pencil eraser, and a ten dollar bill.  Very sensible.  Then, as a joke, I started handing her things and saying, “keep this in the your boot pocket.”  Fireworks, an amethyst, emergency chocolate.  It started being how weird an item can one carry in a boot pocket?  A bird wing.  A collection of teeth.  A pocket watch.  And moving beyond that into metaphorical things.  A sense of duty.  Fears.  My love.  She started writing little notes and carrying those, funny phrases she overhears—she used to write things like that on her legs with sharpie.  Now, they go into the boot pockets.  Every few days she cleans out the pockets, reading the phrases, context often forgotten, like funny poetry.

I wonder what will be next?

What do we want to carry, just a little of, but everywhere?  Somehow this seems linked to Christmas, where I have been thinking about what to give people, what do they want, what do they need, what can I afford, what would surprise and delight or at least not get throw out?  Or maybe keep it simple, the standard socks jocks and chocolates…. I dunno, there’s probably more to think about this, but I’m tired.  Time for bed.  Hmm, sleep might be a good thing to put in a boot pocket….


Wow, man, I haven’t gone this long without a post since I started this blog back in [goes to look it up] April of 2008.  APRIL 2008! Holy shit, that means this blog is six and a half years old!  How–when–

[hold on while my brain-system reboots]

Sooooo, why no recent posts?  Hmm, I dunno, am I too tired, is blogging O-VAH, it’s not you it’s me, am I done with blogging—or is it just a busy patch around around Christmas and I’ll find my stride in January?

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, in Mayaland News: I’m in the first stages of putting together a cover for the new book.  I’m so nervous about this one.  I guess I say that about all of them.  But this cover!  I have a GORGEOUS photo.  I’m thrilled.

PLUS: I can’t believe I didn’t put out a single book this year.  Because I’m definitely not going to make it to publication in the next three weeks, and WOW where did 2014 go?  Fuuuuuck.

Actually, speaking of that, I have just written an epic sex scene for the new book that I had not intended to put in AT ALL and still might not—I reserve the right to chicken out, I’m going to see what my editor thinks—and it feels crazy to write that scene LAST like this, after the book is basically done.  Maybe I’ve been chicken all this time.  I have resisted, as in never considered adding it, up until just a few days ago when I suddenly got hit with the certainty that it needed to be written.  Such emotional DRA-MA.

I really love writing books, have I mentioned that?  Even with all my silliness.

But the book!  It is coming!  (I still don’t have a title.  Sheesh.)

Moving on.  I’m fine, kids are great, SuperCool Husband has a Man Cold, poor little bunny.  Right this minute Sophie is playing ukulele and I am—well, I WAS, before I started writing this—re-reading Dhalgren by Samuel Delany for probably the seventh time since I was 14.  I think it is probably my favorite book in the world.  At the very least it is in the top three.

Weird story: the photo I took  (in the post linked above) of my ancient copy of Dhalgren sitting beside my sparkly new copy of Dhalgren (although I’m currently reading neither, instead reading it on Oyster), IS ON MR. DELANY’S FACEBOOK PAGE.  How did this happen????  Omg omg did he read my post?  Or no, maybe it was just a google image search pull.  Christ, if we ever were to meet, I would have nothing to say, I would just clam up with nerves like an idiot.

(If I could say anything, I would try to say thanks.  Thank you very much for writing this book.)

Oh, and crap, Christmas is nine, ten days away, what?!   I do like watching the kids open presents, even if the two of them are super hard to buy for because they say they “don’t really need anything” and struggle to come up with even a couple of items they might be interested in.  “I have everything I want,” said Luc and Sophie agreed, shrugging.  “Maybe a Terraria t-shirt?”


Which makes me realize that while I could write many memoir-essay-type posts, and I do love writing those,  I’m starting to feel like the kids are old enough that they don’t want their lives sprayed over the internet.  When they were babies, I guess it sort of felt like their stories were my story in a way, maybe because they couldn’t tell their own (this is probably totally not true, not fair, and very greedy and self-centered of me).  But now…at some point they came to own their own stories.

This is a big loss to my blogging material, heh.  I’ve always blogged whatever I’m thinking about and…I’m still thinking about them—lots—but I don’t feel so free to write about them.  Plus I’ve never written much about my husband (another large slice of the “what Maya is thinking about” pie).  So what to write about instead?  What remains?

It’s a question.  Maybe that’s part of the slow down in blog posts, as well.

At any rate, I’ll let that be the Mayaland update.  Writing and publishing, yoga practice, unschooling, living in a yurt/building project, walking my dog in the woods, reading, playing with my family, learning Japanese (because everyone needs a weird hobby), long hot baths.  It’s my life.  (I really love my life.)

But wow, 2014.  You’re nearly gone already.  I’m not ready!


You’ve seen them, those classy cooking shows where the studio kitchen is gorgeous, the ingredients are pre-prepped in little bowls, ready for dumping into the pot, and there is not a dirty dish in sight.  They’re nice aren’t they?  But honestly now, who the hell has a cooking experience like that?  Maybe single, rich people or something?  Certainly not people with families who live in tiny houses *cough* and who struggle to find time to eat, much less cook.

Enter “Real Kitchen!” the cooking show for the rest of us!

Let’s see what we’ve got, shall we?  For starters, in those other cooking shows, when you need to mix something, a beautiful bowl is right there waiting for you.  In Real Kitchen, you can’t find one.  And when you do, it’s a little too small, but you think you can make it work if you can just stir slowly enough to keep the mound from overflowing.  But hey, so what if you do!  That’s what dogs are for.

How about ingredients?  In Real Kitchen, you know how it goes.  You have to forage through the crisper full of bags of rotten slimed stuff you can no longer identify.  Cleaning out the fridge, at least partially, is always the First Step to cooking in Real Kitchen.  But it isn’t just the fridge, the shelves are way too full, you have to search endlessly for stuff you know you bought, but now can’t locate.  There are piles on the piles.  You knock a few over.  There may be some swearing.  Real Kitchen may or may not be suitable for all ages.

In those other cooking shows, you make what you want, how you want it.  It’s amazing!  In Real Kitchen, not a chance.  You have to negotiate with your family members for every ingredient.  “Please can I put garlic in?”  “No.”  “What if I chop it very tiny?” “NO.”  Also, probably someone already ate a crucial ingredient so you’ll have to improvise, making sometimes bizarre substitutions.  That’s the creativity of Real Kitchen!  No complaining, there’s no point!

In those other cooking shows, you magically know the recipe by heart.  In Real Kitchen, you are reading the recipe off your ipad, causing you to try to keep the screen lit, and scroll, with your elbow, because your hands are a mess.  Bet you didn’t know cooking doubles as a yoga pose!

I also bet you never saw the smoke alarm go off in one of those other cooking shows.  And how about how the dog feels it’s necessary to bark continuously at the smoke alarm until it shuts up, thereby tripling the noise and your corresponding sense of urgency to turn the damn thing off?  Oh, it was just something in the bottom of the toaster oven again.  What was I doing?  Did I already put the salt in?  Or not?

Let’s face it: in Real Kitchen, there is always a sense of danger.  For example, chopping onions—a simple thing already done for you by house elves in those other cooking shows—chopping onions in Real Kitchen becomes a source of pain and possible disfigurement.  Have you ever seen one of those other chefs sobbing over their cutting board?  Trying to chop with their eyes closed without losing a finger?  No.  Not to mention when your eyes water enough that your mascara runs, making you look like the Winter Soldier.  No make up artists waiting off-stage in Real Kitchen!  The burning pain of chopping onions is hugely underrepresented by most cooking shows, in my opinion.

In Real Kitchen, locating a pan that will work well enough for your purposes can involve spelunking and the threat of an avalanche.  And once you find it, it has to be cleaned, an awkward job since the sink in Real Kitchen is usually already full of dirty dishes.  Plus when you ask your ten year old assistant if it needs to be washed first, she is liable to say, “If I have to clean it, then it’s perfectly clean.”  Thanks, helpful assistant!  I couldn’t have done it without you.

Have you ever noticed how in Real Kitchen, things seem to get thrown at the chef, seemingly at random?  I do not know why.  You also have to deal with Strange Illogical Fears, like touching the aluminum foil box (“it will cut me!”), or refusals to eat out of certain bowls or with certain untensils (“I don’t like the noise it makes against the edge,” or “silver spoons taste funny.”)  It’s maddening, really.  That feeling is all part of the Real Kitchen experience!

The compost is too full, the trash needs to bagged and dumped to make room for the new trash you are making, the complaints are huge (“I told you not to put garlic in!”) and the fridge is already stuffed, so where to put the leftovers?

Yes, cooking in Real Kitchen isn’t just a sport, it’s an Extreme Sport!  It’s not just Real, it’s Dangerous!  To mind and body, believe me.  So, let’s have no more of those wimpy-ass, goody-goody, lets make it look all pretty, cooking shows.  Let’s get down to the battle that is REAL COOKING.

–brought to you by Dinner!  With special guest star, Thanksgiving!  Otherwise known as, “Thank god that’s over.”

And now, for your listening pleasure, Frank Zappa sings of when Real Kitchen has crossed over the line into Dangerous Kitchen.  You just don’t want to go there.

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So, we survived Thanksgiving.  Thank god that’s over.  A day devoted to gratitude is a fabulous idea, and I’m all for it, but really, it’s pretty hard to avoid the feeling that its a day set aside, not for giving thanks, but for gluttony.  And now the whole Black Friday thing has become even bigger than Thanksgiving itself, and what is Black Friday but just more gluttony.  It all grosses me out, really.

An acquaintance of mine cuts hair at a salon in a nearby mall and she told me they had decided to open the mall at 6pm on Thanksgiving itself this year (not wait until Friday morning as is typical).  She showed me a vid she made of the Unlocking of the Doors at 6pm and the flood of people rushing in to shop.  The people poured in, it went on and on, and everyone was in such a hurry, this mad dash to BUY.  I thought, it’s the same old mall that was there the day before, what’s the rush?  But these sales do a good job of creating a perceived scarcity/need that gets that brain-chemical-combo going, the one that makes it all seem so urgent and necessary.  It has the same gross feeling of watching people do ten minute shopping sprees where they just start grabbing shit and stuffing their cart, or when money gets dumped out of a window (only happens in movies) and people start shoving and scrambling for dollar bills.  Where’s the dignity people?  Where’s the generosity?

For Thanksgiving itself, we went to see my frail and nearly-gone Grandma, which was sweet and sad.  Too much driving, a nice meal with people I love, some crying.  I kind of hate it, it’s awful even though it is also good.  What can I say, life is confusing.  Then we had a second stay-at-home Thanksgiving the next day, with a big bowl of stuffing and all of us on the couch watching Winter Soldier and talking Marvel-Mythology theories.  Nothing like a nice geek-out over a bowl of carbs for family bonding.

I DID buy a present for SuperCoolHubby on sale on amazon on Black Friday.  So there, I guess I did my Duty as an American.  I hope he likes it.

Meanwhile, I have rewritten (again) the ending of my current novel and it is out (again) to my beta readers.  Who are awesome.  AWESOME.

Not much yoga this week, no fist bump for me.  I forgot about the whole holiday thing when I said I would practice lots.  One full primary and a primary-to-navasana and that was it.  LAME.  I’ll do better this week or DIE TRYING.

How was your yoga week?  I’d love to hear.


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I started studying Japanese almost two years ago (January).  That is shocking.  I am simultaneously impressed that I stayed with it this long, dismayed at how much time I have put into this essentially useless-to-me hobby, and shocked that I’m not further along by now because wow, Japanese is really hard.

But yeah, I’m still at it.  I love it, this interesting puzzle-solving hobby that has zero stress because it has zero connection to anything else in my life.  I think its like people who do the daily cross-word puzzle in the morning, or play a few round of solitaire to help them get to sleep.  Wani Kani, iKnow, Genki, Imabi, Tae Kim, Textfugu, and Japanese the Manga Way are my Japanese drugs of choice.  (Not all at once!  WaniKani is daily, the rest is in a complex rotation system that not even I fully comprehend.)

Plus this new one:  Ehon Navi.  First, if you click that link, you’re going to get a page full of Japanese except for one little English phrase, “Picture books for happiness!” which I love.  Yes!  A good picture book definitely is a happiness-inducer, isn’t it?  Second, Ehon is Japanese for children’s picture book and Navi I think is connected to navigation.  Basically the site has over a thousand Japanese pictures books scanned in that you can read for free—one time each (no going back!).  You have to register but it isn’t hard, and the reader-app they have is quite usable.  It’s basically having a Japanese children’s library on your laptop.  How cool is that?  And wow, Japanese artists KNOW THEIR CUTE.

I found Ehon Navi via Liana’s Extensive Reading blog.  Extensive Reading is the language learning strategy of, basically, reading a ton in your target language, at or below your fluency level, just gobs and gobs of stuff, casting aside anything you don’t enjoy (and don’t use a dictionary!).  It’s how I learned English so well, so it makes sense to me.  Plus, it’s super fun.  Ehon Navi gives someone who wants to try some Extensive Reading in Japanese, but has a low reading level (raises hand), a chance to level up through access to so many easy books.  Bonuses: gorgeous, funny art and charming stories.  It’s a win-win-win-win, really, with some win on top.

Liana has a walkthrough on how to register, and some clues about how to use the site if you can’t read Japanese well enough to navigate it.  Thanks so much for putting that together, Liana!  I have been enjoying this so much.  It’s been a shot in the arm of my Japanese, studies, really.  I can get lost in the slog sometimes and forget why I’m doing it.  Oh yeah, I like reading Japanese!

Plus, I used to read so many children’s books when the kids were little, and loved it, but I haven’t read picture books in years.  It’s surprisingly delightful to get back to it, even (especially?) in Japanese.  Simple stories, cute pictures, funny jokes.  Highly recommended.  If you’re studying Japanese and can’t read manga yet, maybe get over the fear of all that Japanese by jumping in to picture books.

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It’s surprising to me how motivating a tiny agreement—with someone I only know over the internet—to virtually fist-bump if we met our week’s yoga goals has been.  But yeah, I totally shooed myself on the mat because of that agreement.  Can’t get to week’s end and have to say, sorry, can’t fist bump, I was lame.  So woot.  Go me.  I practiced five times this week, two primary’s to supta konasana, two to navasana, one standing only.  FIST BUMP.

Practice was good, not too stiff.  I can feel that twinge in my hamstring attachment complaining—I think the cold is giving it trouble.  God, I sound like an old woman.  Anyway.

How was your week?


…and toast.  So, how was your practice this week?  What are you pondering, struggling with, trying out, avoiding?  Tell me all about it.


My daughter Sophie and I had quite a haul in the mailbox yesterday.  For me, my very-first-ever pair of prescription sunglasses, scored from Zenni Optical for $45 bucks, because I finally have had ENOUGH of wearing sunglasses perched precariously on top of my glasses when I go anywhere bright and actually want to see in focus (what a dork I am, I know, I know).

For Sophie, the mailbox contained her very-first-ever grown-up BRA.  As opposed to those cute, cotton bralettes they sell in the “junior” department (basically very short tank-tops), this bra sported adjustable straps, a back closure, and LO! actual cups.  So cute!!!!

So.  Cool Wayfarer stylin with polarized lenses for me, and injection molded foam for wire-free support with a simply gorgeous image of Space emblazoned on the cups for her.  It’s a wonder the mailbox didn’t pour out blinding golden light when we opened it up.

Online shopping is amazing, isn’t it?  On the Zenni site you enter in your prescription and your various desires (lens material, fancy coatings, etc), then you upload a picture of yourself upon which you can “try on” any of their frames. Sweet.  Click order and they send you your glasses in a week, and the prices are jawdroppingly low.  I uploaded a crap-tastic picture of myself, (because I don’t want to have to look good for my glasses, you know what I’m saying?  I want them to make ME look good, not the other way around) and a week later, here I was, mugging in the rear view mirror.

Sidebar: Seriously, I love my eye doctor (who is, I have to say, hot), but at $400+ for a pair of his glasses, I do not see how he can possibly compete with Zenni which gives me the same (or better, because they have a huge selection) glasses for 1/10th the price.  $40 vs $400, there really is no comparison.  Although I seriously pray this boon to me is not coming out of a sweatshop-for-glasses scenario.

Anyway.  Back in the car, Sophie is ripping open her package from, another online wonder, this time a knickers emporium with 100,000 bras to choose from. It even has a sizing page where you enter various measurements, hit calculate, and boom, it gives you your bra size.

What witchery is this?  No older woman “fitting” you for a bra while making veiled snarky comments about your back-fat and trying to sell you a bra that clearly does not fit?  How can local bra shops compete?  I was dubious that a web-applet could produce a proper size—but damn if the bra we purchased (for $9 bucks!) fit Sophie exactly.  Amazing.

$9 bucks!!  My stupid yoga bras are more like $40 and I pass out from sticker shock every time I go to buy one, resulting in me wearing them to tattered rags.  $9 bucks!  Maybe I need to rethink the yoga bras.

Sophie put her new bra on the car as we headed out to do errands.  I sang the Star Wars Theme because it is, after all, the Galaxy Bra.  Seriously! it’s a Maidenform “Softie Contour Bra,” and when we found it on the site, the color options were black, nude, white, or ‘Galaxy’.

“Which do you want?” I asked.

Sophie gave me a look. “Duh.  Galaxy.”

That’s my girl.

“How is it?” I asked, driving through the autumn colors.  Sophie peered down, stretching left and right.  “They both look the same size now.”

I laughed and sang Star Wars some more, the wind blowing my hair back from my new jaunty shades—which are excellent, by the way.  I’ve never been able to see in focus, and without glare, BOTH at the same time.  I can’t believe I waited this long to get these.  “Mom,” Sophie said, “Please.  My boobs do not need a soundtrack.”  Ha!

“Of course they do!  And you know you’re a woman when you discover what yours is.”  We were both cracking up.

galaxy braAnd let me just say, it isn’t just bra-selling technology that blows me away, it’s the bras themselves.  Holy cow, I’ve been wearing my cotton yoga bras forever, and, I have to admit, nursing bras before that, I am WAY behind the times on the high-tech, molded foam, wireless possibilities out there.  The Galaxy Bra is soft, comfortable and according to Sophie, very supportive.  Amazing.  The dang thing is just shy of a levitation device for breasts. On top of all that, it’s dramatically pretty.  My first terrible, horrible, no good, very bad bra was a no-size-fits-anyone disaster that I had to jerk down in the front every time I moved because it rode up constantly—for a year.

In comparison, the Galaxy Bra is a work of art, both engineering and aesthetic.  It’s goddamn beautiful.  (And my little girl!  In a real grown up bra!  I can’t even tell you have astonishing that is.  My life, it’s passing before my very eyes.)

Anyway, what with the sunglasses and the bra, we felt so celebratory (celeBRAtory, heh heh, cough, sorry) we ended up at a coffee shop.  It just happened, I swear.  But online shopping had yielded us life changing treasures!  Clearly we needed sugar to commemorate the moment.

Staring at the bakery case I said, “Should we get a chocolate chip cookie, a cannoli, or tiramisu?”

Sophie gave me a look. “Duh.  Tiramisu.”

That’s my girl.tiramisu

We sat outside in the sparkling fall weather, beneath a juniper tree and a red maple the color of fire, and shared the tiramisu, me with the sun on my face and NOT in my eyes, and her in her secret, fancy underwear.

“This is awesome,” she said, through a mouthful of espresso soaked cake and mascarpone.

“Yep,” I said.

It was.

Later, in the yurt, Luc, 9, said, “So, what the heck IS a Galaxy bra?”

“It’s a bra emblazoned with Hubble deep space photography,” I said.  “It’s lovely.  I want one.”

“But why would you even want a bra with stuff on it?” he said.  “No one is going to see it.”

“Dude.  Fancy underwear can change your whole day.  It makes you feel like a million bucks.  It’s an instant boost.”

“You need therapy.”

“A bra is cheaper.”

Sophie started to lift her shirt. “Want to see it?  It’s really comfortable.”

“NO.  Definitely not.”

how to be a womanWhich brings me to the painfully, wonderfully funny memoir of Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman, in which she says, “The bra is, perhaps, the rudest item of women’s clothing. If you do not doubt this, try this simple test: throw a bra at a nine-year-old boy. He will react as if he has had a live rat winged at his head. He will run, screaming, away from you – like that Vietnamese kid covered in napalm. He cannot handle the rudeness of bras.”

Too true!  And listen, there is so much truth in the chapter on bras alone that I was laughing so hard reading it I fell off my chair at the kid’s aikido class.  Very embarrassing.  Basically I was trying so hard NOT to laugh (aikido being a rather serious endeavor) that my butt just…slipped…and I ended up half-wedged between seats, hanging onto the appalled parent next to me, concerned that Sensei was going to need to bring in a crane to get me out.  Imagine a hilariously funny British stand-up comedian giving you the feminist 101 download on an array of topics from clothes to childbirth to wedding receptions to journalism, all while telling her own life story and making you pee your pants.  I highly, highly recommend.

I also highly recommend Zenni Optical and Herroom.  And bra shopping with your daughter in a way that makes you both laugh.  And tiramisu.  Lots of tiramisu.

Bonus Level!

Overheard just now as I was typing this out:

Sophie: “I’m going into the man cave.”

Luc: “Says the person wearing a Galaxy Bra.”

Sophie, thoughtful: “Maybe you can’t go into a Man Cave in a Galaxy Bra.  Maybe it would cause them both to combust, like matter and anti-matter.”

Luc: “Which one is which?”

Good freaking question.  I have no idea.

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Yep.  I feel like a big dummy.  Went down while walking the dog and now I’m on crutches.  This happened to me once before and I wrote about it one of my favorite posts here on mayaland.  Anyway, I’m propped up on the couch feeling pitiful and delicate—unless I take ibuprophen and then everything is fine fine fine.

Yoga this week: three full primary’s and one half before I lost the ankle.  Really nice practices this week, too, not so stiff, pleasurable.  I wonder if I’ll be able to practice this coming week?  How long will this ankle thing last???  I can’t remember from last time.

On the up side, I asked Luc, 9, what he wanted for Christmas—we were chatting on the sofa, and honestly, I think he was kind of enjoying that I couldn’t keep hopping up to do a million things—and he said, and I quote, “I don’t know.  I already have everything I want.  Except maybe infinite sushi.”  He kind of shrugged a little and went back to what he was doing.

WOW.  When I was nine, I was hungry for a million things, I was starring items in catalogs on the off chance someone somewhere would feel generous, I couldn’t have imagined saying such words.  It really took my breath away, especially the nonchalance he said it with.  Like it was no big deal to be happy.

Does this mean I’m doing something right?  That he feels so full and content?  Can I take any of the credit?  Because seriously, he’s such a cool little guy and he always has been.  Jeez, you know what?  I am definitely buying this kid a shit-ton of sushi.

Oh, wait.  Maybe that was his plan?

Hmmm.  While I ponder that, please feel free to check in with your week’s yoga thoughts, I love hearing them.

And here is Ruth Kobin, talking about doing Pilates at 100 years of age.

A year later Ruth was featured in Pilates Magazine.  She was 101.


There’s a reason I don’t currently practice Intermediate Series and it isn’t that I haven’t tried or don’t have a teacher (because when has that ever stopped me).  It’s because I’m freaked out by backbends.  It’s true.  I’m a backbending wuss.  I just…panic.  I can’t explain it.  I’ve talked about it before, I’ve used props and dvds to try to get over it, and I actually have practiced Intermediate at various times (for example, here)—David Swensen’s version from his book and David William’s version—but I always seem to give it up.  It’s all those backbends right out of the gate, hanging my big old heavy head back into space, the mild choking , the disorientation, my cement spine, the fear of falling or somehow…breaking.  I hate it.

Never the less, I have made some backbending progress over the five years of my conservative Ashtanga practice.  And although I have tried all the various things I just mentioned, I really think the main thing that has worked for me is Up Dog and it’s slightly easier cousin, Cobra.

Seriously.  Up Dog.  And lengthening the time I spend in Up Dog.  Three, four, five breaths in Up Dog (or putting the legs down on the floor in cobra) per vinyasa, for all those vinyasas, that adds up to a lot of backbending.

Plus, I like to press into the pose from different angles, try to find different vertebra and put more arch into different sections of my spine.  I play with it, a la Angela Farmer.  And I can’t explain why, but Up Dog and Cobra do not trigger my backbend panic.  So I love them.

Sidebar/ If you haven’t heard of Angela Farmer, she’s amazing.  She studied with Iyengar back before yoga was cool and then went on to do her own thing.  She’s one of the old timers in American yoga, for example, Angela invented the yoga mat!  The story goes that she was teaching a workshop on these slippery floors and just, spur of the moment, cut up some under-carpet-matting, that sticky, rubbery stuff they put under wall-to-wall carpet, and boom.  Yoga mats.  I haven’t seen all her offerings, just a few of the older ones, but she  had a huge impact on me as far as pleasure in the practice, joyful asana, moving in an asana, trusting your body’s sensations, etc.  Terrific stuff, highly recommended.  She is a MASTER and I do not say that lightly.

Here, just found this, one of her old ones, Feminine Unfolding (although, I don’t think it has anything to do with women/men, personally, that feels kind of dated in a way).  This video is a long one, but worth every minute. You will never do a stiff, stagnant asana again. Very inspiring!!  Rocked my yoga world when I first saw it.

Anyhoo, I was thinking today about how little love Up Dog gets, it’s barely mentioned as more than a transition asana sometimes, something that happens on the way to Down Dog.  But I’ve found lingering there, as well as working in plank/chaturunga, these are sometimes the most important parts of a given day’s Primary.  The asana inbetween become fun little side stretches to rest between the WORK of five breath planks, shaky arm chaturangas, and five breath up dogs/cobra (I switch to cobra when my wrists start hurting, another David William’s approach).  Up Dog is not as flashy as  kapotasana, FOR SURE, but still, if you do twenty+ of them in a practice, it adds up.

And they are panic free, at least for me.  WOOT.  I’m all about the Up Dog these days.

Bonus round!


Finally, Friday’s are yoga-chat open thread days! Please feel free to say hello, check-in, talk about your week’s practice, highs and lows, complain, crow, whatever. Past discussions have been great, aging and yoga, outside exercise and Ashtanga, etc. We’d love to hear from you!

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