Dear friends I know and friends I have yet to meet,

I write about life, of course; my particular flavors include Christianity from a contemplative perspective, meditation, yoga (Ashtanga!), family and occasionally books, writing or gardening. Now and then, political and current events will be tossed in to add a bit of spice.

I would love for you to visit my new blog site at http://www.gartenfische.com/ 

Let me know what you think!

The “unloading of the unconscious.” Sounds innocuous enough. Well it isn’t. It Damn Well Is Not. Thomas Keating uses this term to describe the healing process wherein, as a result of consistent meditation practice, all your carefully concealed garbage presents itself for the world to see. It’s like a coming-out party for the two-headed step children and the neighbors get to come gloat. Ooooh, not her, don’t invite her. Oh yes, she’s invited. Not only is she invited, but she gets to sit her pathetic butt on the seat of honor.

I’m switching over to my new site, so please read the rest of the post here:  http://www.gartenfische.com/ 

Please come visit!

if you come across me and I’ve skipped my morning meditation. So if you see me coming with a frown on my face, eyes drawn in and vacant, flee. On second thought, it’s hard to tell if fish eyes are drawn in and vacant. . . .

Honestly, I hardly ever skip, because I know . . .

The rest of this post is on my new site:  http://www.gartenfische.com/

Please come visit!  All are welcome. . . .

I was thinking of telling my husband I would write every day if he practiced yoga every day. It would be a big, big bribe. It would be a big, big bribe because, although I wanted him to practice and nothing else seemed to be motivating him, I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to go through the work of writing, even though I consider myself a writer. Go figure. (Gene Fowler famously commented about writing, “All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead”; nowadays, we sit staring at a blank screen, but the drops still form.)

I put the rest on my new site.  I would love for you to visit!  http://www.gartenfische.com/

My blog is now at:  http://www.gartenfische.com/

After MUCH gnashing of teeth and biting of nails and pulling of hair, I’ve managed to get my blog moved.  I lost the comments that went with my last post, though, in the process.  😦

This has taken more time than it should have, which is why I haven’t been writing much in the past few days.  Now that it’s up, hopefully I can get back to it!  Yoga has kept me sane through this insane process.  🙂

Thank you for your patience!  Please visit my new site and tell me what you think. Even though I complain about all the work, it is a labor of love.

I’m reading Anagrams (1986) by Lorrie Moore, who puts together words so beautifully and unpredictably that I keep finding myself chuckling while reading–gloating over her cleverness as if it were my own. She dances close to the line of out-clevering herself, but never quite crosses it. Mostly, I think, over and over, I wish I’d written that.

Here is an excerpt from a character’s description of meeting and marrying her husband:

People didn’t get married because they had found someone. It wasn’t a treasure hunt. It was more like musical chairs:  Wherever you were when the music of being single stopped, that’s where you sat. I was twenty-six when the notes started winding down and going minor. A dark loneliness, in a raincoat and fedora, scuffed in instead. Or maybe I was just tired of saying I was twenty-six years old and having it sound like ‘I am a transsexual.’ Also, two different people in the office had asked me if I was married. When I said no, they acted very surprised. To me it was a preposterous question, like grown-ups at a wedding, trying to be funny and asking the flower girl if her husband’s in town. But these people were serious. They asked me if I’d ever been married. I had, they said, some sort of married look. The thought burrowed in me like a fever tick:  a married look. When I met my husband, the old musical-chair music had already begun to skitter to a halt. I clutched and sat. He was new at the firm and liked me because I typed his briefs faster than anyone. (‘Yeah, I’ll bet you did,’ says Eleanor, still.) After work he and I would head out for drinks. He knew a lot about food, fish, planets–he was an information fetishist, and I was impressed. He knew that a pound of a certain smoked fish in Iceland was the equivalent in benzopyrene to four thousand cigarettes. He was the first person I’d ever heard pronounce Reykjavik out loud. He knew that human beings never dream smells. Later, of course, I discovered the dust bunnies under the bed of his soul:  He liked to do weird things with cameras; he could never say anything sweet or romantic; his heart was frozen as a winter pipe–it was no wonder he knew so much about Iceland.

It goes on, cleverly, oh so cleverly.  There is even an imaginary child who is so real, so well drawn, that you’d swear you’ve met that child. It’s worth reading for the child alone.

I’m thinking of buying a copy, which says something.  I agree with a character in a movie we watched the other night (84 Charing Cross Road–I don’t recommend it), who said that buying books before you’ve read them is like buying a dress without trying it on.  It’s the one worthwhile moment of the movie (well, in addition to the reading of a poem by Keats). I used to think that books were worth owning simply because they were books. I’ve become much more picky. Taking a bunch of pages with words on them and sandwiching them between two pieces of cardboard does not a treasure make. I have to read a book first, and really like it, or I won’t buy it. I’ve even been disappointed sometimes by authors I’ve enjoyed in the past. For instance, I loved Jim Harrison’s True North (and bought it), but couldn’t quite get into his latest, Returning to Earth.  Good thing it was a library book.

Here’s another excerpt from Anagrams (I can’t help myself):

The teacher took a walk before her afternoon class. Near the campus were several old houses rented by some of FVCC’s full-time students and from them blared radio jabber and stereo music. That is the difference between the young and the not-so-young, she thought. The young keep their windows open so that the world can fly in and out. By the time you hit your thirties, you’re less hospitable; you start closing up the windows. You’ve had enough of the world; you have, you think, everything you need for the wintry rest of life. You can’t let anything else in, for you will never understand it. And the nightmare, of course, is that as you slowly start shuttering up your house, you turn and suddenly see, with a gasp, that you are the only thing in it.

And speaking of books–a beautiful subject–we were talking with neighbors this afternoon and someone mentioned A Confederacy of Dunces.  What a great book that is; if you haven’t read it, I suggest a trip to the library. Or even–gasp–the book store.

J. arrived yesterday afternoon laden with watermelon and cantaloupe, bless her fruit-loving heart. She was in an Everything I Do Is Mediocre mindset. Of course, everything she does is NOT mediocre–but I still had to stop myself from saying, What’s so terrible about being mediocre? The last thing a 21 year old wants to embrace is mediocrity. Now a 44 year old might be getting to the point where it makes sense to accept mediocrity, especially in certain domains–like house cleaning and, dare I say it?: yoga–but don’t tell Anthony Robbins. And of course, when I try to tell her how smart and talented she is (truly, at most everything she tries), she naturally says, You only say that because you have to. I reply, No, I don’t. And she replies, Yes, you do, you’re my mom. Do you sense we’ve had this conversation a few times? It’s frustrating being called a liar when you really, truly, in actuality do believe wonderful things about your kid and you’re not just saying it, because you have to. The problem is, she knows that if she were mediocre, I’d praise the heck out of her anyway, because I love her. I guess she needs to learn to get her confidence from herself, not her mother.

In spite of the grumpiness, I managed to talk her into a little yoga while dinner was cooking. We didn’t have much time, so I suggested we just do suryanamaskaras. So we got on our mats and did one. She looked at me and said, “Isn’t one enough?” (Gee, sounds like somebody I know.) I said, “No.” We did two more, and she said, “Wasn’t that five?” I said, “No.”

Things degenerated further. On the fourth suryanamaskara, I glanced at her in downward dog and her mouth was open. I said, “You’re supposed to be breathing through your nose.” She said, “My mouth flops open.” I said, “Well, flop it closed.”

We then practiced laughter yoga until the kitchen timer dinged. I told her to try smiling a little instead of grimacing and she said, “Like this?” and put a big goofy grin on her face. Yeah, just like that. Every time she went from chatturanga to up dog, she grunted like a sumo wrestler and I was left hanging in chatturanga in stitches (just try pulling yourself up in a laughing fit).

Turns out laughter yoga is good for you. It lightened up Miss I’m-Mediocre’s mood and we had a lovely stacked enchilada dinner and then peach cake for dessert.

Had an appointment with my homeopath today. She always manages one pithy comment that really catches me. I was saying, “I don’t know why I worry so much about my daughter; you’d think she was a drug addict or a homeless kid.” She said, “You worry about her because she’s like you.” I had to think about that. Why does it take somebody else pointing out something as obvious as a wart on my nose for me to see it? Uh, did you know there’s a humongous growth right in the middle of your nose? No! Really? But she’s right, I do worry about J. because she’s like me. I see her struggling with the same issues I’ve struggled with: not fitting in, worrying about what people think, doubting herself and her abilities.

I believe she has several compensating qualities, though, that I didn’t at her age: she has a stronger base–underneath the insecurity there is a floor of confidence; she can think for herself–I actively encouraged this, instead of discouraging it as my parents did; she is better educated–she did not avoid the hard classes (calculus, physics), like I did; and she loves to challenge herself. She’s a bit of a perfectionist and a little obsessive (okay, sometimes more than a little), like me, but perfectionistic obsessive people make the world go round. She knows she doesn’t quite fit in with most of her peers, but she also questions the value of even wanting to–she sees the self-centeredness, the shallowness. Me, at that age, I was oblivious; to fit in, I would’ve sold my right arm, and my left, and thrown in a leg or two.

So yes, she’s like me, but a more advanced version of me.  She’s like me in maybe a hundred years:  me evolved. Even though I do worry, I also have a lot of confidence in her.

At a recent neighborhood gathering, one friend, the mother of a seventeen year old, was talking about how she always imagines the worst when her daughter’s out. I said, yeah, I always did, too, maybe it’s because we’re mothers.  J. must’ve told me a million times, “Mom, I’ll be fine.” While I was imagining car accidents, drugs slipped into drinks, rapists and murderers, she was just living her life. Plus, I always felt like I had to make up for her father, who, being from another country (where apparently, bad things don’t happen), was incredibly naive about dangers.  I was worrying for two.

Some of the positive traits I’ve vainly decided she inherited from me are: she’s compassionate and kind, smart, funny, creative, interested, respectful, honest and aware. But she’s managed all this at an age at which my mind was mainly consumed with deciding which bars I would spend my evenings in and in which tube tops.

So she’s like me, but thank God she’s not like me.  I don’t think I’ll ever stop worrying, though.

Some days I want to smite yoga right off my list of Main Loves.  I never fully understood what people meant when they talked about love-hate relationships until my forays into meditation and Ashtanga yoga. I either like something or I don’t like it, and even though there might be neutral items/people/activities, it’s usually one or the other when it comes to activities I willingly participate in day after day. In relationships, it was always I love you till I hate you. How infantile I was (am, most likely).

During the first year of Ashtanga, I hated it about a third of the time. If I hadn’t hooked up with some people to practice with, I wouldn’t have made it through that period, I’m sure of it. I would’ve tried, I would’ve battled with myself, but in the end, I would’ve given up in frustration, like I gave up on meditation in the past when attempting it on my own. Now at least I can meditate by myself; why not yoga?

Ugh. Is this utter resistance to practice yet another of the traits that makes me special? Do others experience it?

What am I resisting? Change? This sounds too psychoanalysis-ish, but I sense some truth in it. Maybe that’s why I don’t want to be there, on that mat, in that room, by myself. Things could get ugly. . . .

I fight with these practices every step of the way. Thomas Keating says if you’ve been meditating for a while and find you’re struggling with your thoughts a lot, it’s a sign you’ve stopped letting go. Yeah!: because it’s the hardest damn thing in the world for me to do.

A few months ago I told my homeopath I felt like I was clutching onto something so tight, like my whole self was just holding on, refusing to let go.  Of what? she wanted to know.  I don’t know!  Everthing?

Letting go seems to be my task this year. Like a baby who’s reached into a jar of candy, grabbing a handful and curling them tightly into her little fist, I am very unhappy that Daddy is coming along and gently prying open my fingers. Give me this, and this, and this. Every step of the way I bawl, resist, squirm. What now? You want my perfectionism? Self-destructive tendencies? Impatience? All of it? Man, you’re greedy. Can’t I just hold on to this one little morsel called obstinance? No?

Who ever thought it was a good idea to tell God, Your will be done?  Aargh.  Still, I don’t take it back.

The truth is, I’m not a natural let-goer, I’m a resister–and I am not conscientious (or even conscious) about it. I resist everything I don’t like or don’t feel like doing. I look back to my first post and remind myself, “Doing what comes next without argument is devotion to God.” But, but, but. . . .

Okay, just to balance out the comments about hating yoga, and to be honest, sometimes it does happen while practicing that I am filled with the feeling, I love yoga, I love this practice. It just doesn’t upset me when it happens. Also, after a practice, I almost always think, I love yoga.

I will carry on, practicing with friends and doing my thing at home, even if it is very short–letting go of demanding too much, expecting too much (maybe that is the main lesson here, not whether I manage a full practice). I will not smite yoga off my list of Main Loves.  I will be grateful for it (uh-huh).

I’m afraid I’m not a very good example for somebody who might be thinking of taking up Ashtanga (or meditation, or anything else really good for you).

I’m new at this, so it’s inevitable I would make some mistakes.  Like not noticing the little checkmarked box on the Options page that says, “Users must be registered and logged in to comment.”

Ah well. Live and learn. I hope that anyone who might have been turned away will come again, as the box is now unchecked. I have had trouble adding comments to pages at Blogspot because my browser doesn’t show the letters that verify I’m not a spider or whatever you call those nasty web crawlies. I have found a clever way around that, though–I can use Safari instead of Opera or Firefox (took me days to think of that).

My daughter could’ve had all this up and running without any glitches when she was five years old. (She is now 21 and I am several light years behind; the scale appears to be logarithmic.)

God bless the children, who are techno-geniuses from birth. God bless their parents who, very nearly being of the cave-days, try desperately to keep their footing on the slippery slope of post pen-and-paper reality.