Archive for the 'family' Category

who’s your number one?

This past weekend in the Enrichment Program we were talking about how hard it is to put ourselves first. To say I’m important.

How hard it is to say This is what I need. This is what I want.

there are things I have to do

Yes, there are. And people who rely on you. Most likely a job, maybe parents, maybe kids, maybe pets, probably a house plant.

I’m not suggesting that we all go around in our own bubbles taking care of only ourselves.

I am suggesting that every day we could aim to make at least one decision that is ours alone.

No to a lunch date.
Yes to a lunch date.
Go to bed 30 minutes early.
Take 15 minutes of alone time.
Take a walk.
Take a bath.
Let someone else make dinner.
Or clean up after dinner.
Put the headphones on and listen to your favorite song.
Or a meditation.

Do the thing you love that you’ve put off because there is no time.


I have a friend who has really good boundaries. She says No kindly, but without skipping a beat. She is one of the most loving and supportive people I know, yet she rarely compromises what works for her to accommodate someone else.

It’s also about priorities. My friend is very clear that her health and sanity come first. If she isn’t healthy and sane, how can she be there for her family or friends?

Now, in certain circles you might call my friend selfish. You might wonder how her loved ones feel about her taking care of her own needs, sometimes first.

I can tell you that I feel a great sense of permission to be honest with my friend, and I make commitments to her that feel realistic for me. She has taught me not to over-promise or over-pack my day.

what you think of me is none of my business

Of course, some of our decisions are made from a wholeheartedly selfless place. We want to be of service. For many of us though, my guess is that our motivation is often based on what someone else might think.

How will it look if the house is a wreck?
What will people think if I don’t go to this party?
Everyone will think I’m weak and lazy if I take a lot of breaks in yoga class.

Friends, dare to disappoint. I know we’ve been trained to care about what others think of us (maybe more than how we think of ourselves). But we learned this and we can unlearn it.

The mantra

I am increasing my tolerance for other
people’s disappointment

has been incredibly helpful for me.

I love the idea of taking it a step further and proclaiming that

What you think of me is none of my business.

I just don’t need to know. It doesn’t need to matter.


So what is it that you’ve been longing for? What thing do keep saying I wish I could just… ?

Call a sitter. Call a house cleaner. Tell the people you live with you’re going on a walk. They’ll be there when you get back.

And you’ll feel great for having done something for yourself.

photo credit

are you not listening?

We’ve had some teenage drama going on in the house with my 15 year old stepdaughter. As a “bonus” mom (my early spin on my role in the hopes of avoiding the whole stepmonster thing) I may have the slight advantage of being the tiniest bit objective. It’s just a little, but in this case a little goes a long way.

In preparation for some of the difficult conversations that have come up, Bubby and I have practiced what he might say. Which has included a whole lot of not saying anything. Understandably, this is hard for him.

It reminds me how important and rare good listening skills are. Creating the space for feelings to be there, not trying to fix, belittle, or bring the focus back to us.

If you haven’t read How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk, it’s a must. It’s not just about talking to kids, but extra bonus if you have them.

If, like Bubby, you don’t have time to read a book, try the following during your next conversation:

1.  Do not respond. I mean, you can nod and make sounds that indicate that you’re paying attention, but don’t offer your opinion, your remedy, your side, your perspective. Get comfortable with silence.

Here’s what happens when I do this with my bonus daughter (BD) — she starts talking again, and then keeps talking, and tells me more than she planned on. I think she also feels less judged and more accepted.

2. Notice what you’re feeling in your body. Do your palms sweat? Is there a knot in your stomach? Do you feel scared, insecure, angry?

Any response we have comes through the lens of our own experience. When I listen to my BD talk about her challenges with her dad, the girls at school or drama with boys, my response is at least in some way colored by my own experiences with my parents, my high school days, my friends and heart breaks.

Once I remember that and feel the reaction in my body, I can offer a more appropriate comment when necessary. But it’s rarely necessary.

Imagine yourself with big, soft ears. Catch all of the dreams and fears and truths of the person sharing and hold them there — perhaps vulnerable or incomplete, perhaps joyful and trembling.

photo credit


the sunglasses are on the table (and other stories I tell myself)

A couple of weekends ago my husband and I returned from the movies, and I took his sunglasses out of my purse and put them on the dining table.

I put them on the dining table.

Later that afternoon he asked where his glasses were.

They’re on the table, right where I put them.

Except… they weren’t.


It may or may not be important to note that we were in an argument when I put the glasses on the table, and when he asked me where they were, and when I told him where they were, and when he couldn’t find them.

It may be important because when we argue, his favorite thing to do is straighten up the house; specifically, clean off the dining table.

Which led me to believe that he, in a mad straightening frenzy, moved the glasses that I had put on the table.


A week went by (thank goodness the argument lasted only the afternoon) and he still could not find his glasses.

We questioned one another:

Are you sure you put the glasses on the table?

To which I answered emphatically, Yes!

And I remembered it so clearly in part because of the argument (I’m going to put these mother-lovin glasses on the table so you don’t have to ask me for them).

Are you sure you didn’t move them off the table when you were straightening?

He said No and I didn’t believe him because I was right.


Here’s the point of the story:

The glasses were in the car.


Not on the table.


Now, I am not up in arms about being wrong. Truly, I’m often wrong and, contrary to how it might seem here, totally fine with it.

What I can’t get past is how clearly in my mind I remember taking the glasses out of my purse and putting them on the table. I would have bet money I don’t have. It wasn’t a maybe or I think I did — no, I can see it as distinctly as these words on the page.

And it strikes me… how have convinced myself? What stories do I believe? What other things do I think happened one way or at all that… didn’t?

Just because you have a thought doesn’t make it true.



the house of belonging

This past winter I was at my dad’s place picking up tack (horse riding goods). He was tossing around halters and ropes and headstalls when he threw an old pair of spurs aside. I asked him where they were from and he said they were his dad’s.

My grandfather died when I was two. I know very little about him.

I picked up one of the spurs as my dad continued to rifle through boxes. Underneath layers of dirt and grime, it was beautiful. The metal was etched with a floral design and the leather had carved flowers, my grandfather’s initials, ranch brand and the town where he lived.

My dad picked up the other spur and threw it in the old oil bin he was using as a storage container and motioned for me to do the same.

As I walked away with my horse riding loot, I felt sad that such a beautiful piece of history was decaying in an old oil bin.

Later that night I snuck back out into the shop and stole the spurs.

After some TLC (and secret communication with my stepmom), the newly polished spurs, along with a photo of my grandfather and a badge from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Posse he was in during the early 40s are displayed in a shadow box, which I gave to my dad for his birthday this past weekend.

Kitty sent a little extra love on the corner.


One thing I related to early on as a small business owner is people really want to belong. We want to belong to a cause, to a group, to ourselves.

That feeling of recognition, of being known, of acceptance and belonging starts in our families.

In this internet age of things we can’t touch, distance between each other and emoticons in place of face to face expression, this feeling of belonging has been redefined by time and geography (in many positive ways) but lacks pulse and texture.

I long for a sense of history, to know the stories the weave the roots of my ancestry together. The feeling of belonging.

To this end, I plan to do a family history, a modern “family tree” of sorts, for my dad for his next birthday. If you have ideas or tips on resources, let me know!

p.s. Even though my dad’s favorite birthday gift was probably the huge bag of taffy, I think he was really moved by the shadow box. :)


In honor of belonging… one of my favorite poems from David Whyte. Take another moment of pause and read the poem slowly, as if enjoying your favorite beverage.


I awoke
this morning
in the gold light
turning this way
and that

thinking for
a moment
it was one
like any other.

the veil had gone
from my
darkened heart
I thought

it must have been the quiet
that filled my room,

it must have been
the first
easy rhythm
with which I breathed
myself to sleep,

it must have been
the prayer I said
speaking to the otherness
of the night.

I thought
this is the good day
you could
meet your love,

this is the black day
someone close
to you could die.

This is the day
you realize
how easily the thread
is broken
between this world
and the next

and I found myself
sitting up
in the quiet pathway
of light,

the tawny
close grained cedar
burning round
me like fire
and all the angels of this housely
heaven ascending
through the first
roof of light
the sun has made.

This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
I ask
my friends
to come,
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.

This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.


This weekend I went on my husband’s version of a horse ride.

We went down the Sacramento Delta — river-lined agricultural land south of the city. Feels like another world far away from traffic and stop lights.

We stopped at a roadside fruit stand, went to a biker bar and swung over to see Cowboy and his buddies.



Even though motorcycles aren’t my thing, I’m starting to understand why my hubby likes to ride.




Actually, what he enjoys about his time on the motorcycle is similar to what I enjoy about being with Cowboy: he must be present and mindful, at the same time he can slip into another realm of awareness, and it gets him out of the house and into the gorgeous world.



The last few times I’ve gone with him, I’ve found myself in an almost hypnotic state. I think it’s the fear factor and knowledge that 1) I’m not in control; and 2) I could die any second. Of course, those two things are always true, I’m just much more aware of that reality on the back of a motorcycle.

In this semi-hypnotic, hyper-aware place, I begin to wonder what the heck I’m doing with my life.

It could be over so quickly… Have I told the people in my life how much I love them? Have I given myself as fully as I can to causes and moments and making a difference? Why am I waiting for someday to do the things that matter — my dreams and life list items — and to let go of the piddly things?

I can almost imagine the moment one’s life might “flash before their eyes.” It reminds me that it’s good to do things that scare me. It’s good to check in with my priorities. It’s good to love, forgive… and go for a ride with my husband.

Now if I could just get him to take a ride with me and this sweet, beautiful beast.


be magpie’s guest

It’s easy to let people have ideas about who I am. As a yoga teacher, the assumptions about me are usually that I’m nice, kind, warm and generous. And, I am!

Of course, I can also be mean, petty, jealous and selfish. If you hang around Blogasana, you’ve read about the sassy tangos between these two sides.

Stepping more fully into this duality and exposing my darker side has been scary. And strangely freeing.

My guest post at Magpie Girl is no exception. When Rachelle asked me to write for her Relig-ish series about living a spiritual hybrid, the only answer that came was about my marriage.

This was the hardest and most honest post I’ve written and I thank Rachelle for the opportunity. Reflecting on my past, my beliefs and the path that has led me to this Right Now has been a lovely gesture of self-acceptance, integration and wholeness.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the Magpie post.

Happy weekend!


Practicing yoga every day in June has proved thus far to be a wonderfully sustaining and challenging experiment.

My body feels more balanced and clearly grateful for the care. Additionally, there’s an incredible sense of spaciousness in the day… whether I do a two hour practice or a ten minute Pillowrita Karani.

Where is this open time coming from? What was I doing prior to June 1st? Or, perhaps more directly, what am I not doing now?

It’s all about priorities, right?

Making time for practice (i.e. making the statement that my health and well-being are important) sometimes means…

No, I can’t go to lunch with you today.
I’m going to go do some yoga while you watch the movie.
I need a couple hours of alone time.

This often leads to someone being… disappointed.


Welcome to Disappointment Avoiders Anonymous.

I’ve never thought of myself as a people pleaser. It’s not the pleasing I get caught up in — it’s more about avoiding the discomfort of potential disappointment. Different end, same stick.

To help grow in this area I have begun to use the following affirmation:

I am increasing my tolerance for other people’s disappointment.

Say it with me…

I am increasing my tolerance for other people’s disappointment.

Oooo, makes me feel a little queasy. How about you?

Think of the last time you disappointed someone. Like, really let them down. Didn’t live up, didn’t meet the expectation.

It probably comes with a story or two about your relationship with that person, or what the failure is sure to mean about you, or the imagined karmic repercussions.

For me, it’s a hollow feeling. Kind of achy. It makes me itchy and anxious. It’s incredibly uncomfortable.

This is the feeling I’m increasing my tolerance for.

It’s inevitable.

Because someone’s always disappointed, right? If it’s not the other person, then it’s you. And it turns into resentment. And it starts to feel not like your life.

So I apologize in advance if I practice on you. It just means I trust you with my stuff. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to increase your tolerance for disappointment!

You’re welcome…


Just when you think legs up the wall (in bed, which is the only place I do it)

in the middle of a Friday afternoon

couldn’t get any better

you realize

it can.

heavy machinary and vulnerability

photo credit

Stopped at a red light yesterday, I looked at a construction site across the street where a tower crane was hoisting a giant steel beam from one spot to another on top of a new building.

Looking at the tiny man in the cab some 75 feet up (and not knowing the first thing about the mechanics of a tower crane) I wondered about the degree of danger in this job. I’ve heard of tower crane accidents and it seems like a pretty delicate system of pulleys, weights, and counter balances.

My gut thought was How does he do it? Go out everyday knowing the risk? Risking himself.

Ordinary scenarios start running through my head: I’m driving a car, I ride a horse, I’m in relationship as a wife, a stepmom, daughter, friend. Which turned into the reflection that each of us risk ourselves every day. To share your thing, to raise your hand, to smile and say hello. We put ourselves out there. We make ourselves vulnerable.

Vulnerability and Shame

Brené Brown has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, authenticity, and wholeheartedness. She talks in her work about how shame is the biggest obstacle to living a life rich in these qualities.

Shame shows up in our fear of being laughed at, in thinking we can’t do enough, in feeling unworthy. So to protect ourselves, we stop making ourselves vulnerable.

The most compelling piece about vulnerability as Brown describes it is this: we don’t want to make ourselves vulnerable for fear of embarrassment, failure, discomfort, or judgment, but the other possible result of vulnerability is joy, fulfillment, gratitude, growth, and connection.

And here’s the thing — you can’t exclude just one set of emotions. If you block vulnerability because of the possibility of disappointment, you also block the possibility of joy. The outcome is not selective.

Out of my comfort zone

This perspective is coming at me through a megaphone.

Although Brown doesn’t address it in the work I’ve seen, I suspect the more one makes herself vulnerable, the easier and more comfortable it becomes. Likewise, once one shuts down vulnerability, the more impossible and frightening it seems.

Post-sabbatical, going back to teaching felt like a giant leap of vulnerability. For a month I hid behind the computer, in front of the TV, in the back of the class, and I didn’t have to put myself out there. The longer I went, the harder it was to think of going back.

Knowing yourself is not as important as loving yourself

This is my favorite piece out of Brown’s recent PBS special.

Yoga practice is arguably all about knowing yourself. But for whatever you find, none of it matters, none of it will change your life if you don’t love yourself. In spite of, because of, or anyway, you gotta love yourself.


How does this all settle for you? Thoughts? Reflections? Step out, make yourself vulnerable. The result might be a deepening of connection, intimacy, and friendship.


Reverb December 7Community.
Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)


Completely predictable and unoriginal — the yoga community and family at It’s All Yoga.

In particular, the feeling of sisterhood.

It may be predictable, but wow, how rare and amazing you people are.

Of course I’m talking about these phenomenal people, and also you if you’ve ever been to the studio. You have made my life sweeter in some way.


In 2011 I would like to connect more deeply with my immediate and extended family who are often at the short end of my insensitivity stick. Busy with the business, delighted in my yoga community, squeezing in time to care for me, I’ve been known to forget birthdays (not Bubby’s), postpone get togethers, or put those closest to me last.

Yet more motive to find the pause.


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