Namaste and many other thoughts.
Namaste and many other thoughts.
Namaste and many other thoughts.
Have you ever tried to pee during an earthquake?
I haven’t but was very successful while peeing in turbulence on an airplane.
Reroute: I digress.
Soaring through the sky encountering patches of turbulent air, my mind wanders. My eyes shift, focusing briefly on each person within the capacity of my vision. All of them individuals making up this cohesive, encompassing “thing”… My mind is turbulent, thoughts of judgement bouncing, thundering, engaging and wandering.
Has judgement dominated human thoughts since before humans were humans?
Were prehistoric women judging the mortar/pestoling technique of the other cave women? I can only imagine what it would have been like waiting to take down a bison on the plains. A robust gaggle of barefoot women in leather chattering idly about that one woman whose bison chasing technique is just not quite right…
Obviously I can only imagine. Maui to Oakland, as the prehistoric crow flies…
What am I even talking about?
In yoga we are taught to not judge and to love. Sitting on a plane next to my mother I realize it’s too easy to quickly, unfairly and rudely judge strangers.
We’ve all done it. I admittedly do it most often while traveling. You survey the crowd in the airport waiting area, observing each person’s obscure fashion choices, their bizarre luggage, their unusual cologne and think, “I hope I don’t get seated next to that person.” Again after you’ve taken your seat, you watch the unfamiliar faces scanning the numbers above your head, hoping to have the row to yourself so you can “stretch out.”
Well, folks. We are breeding judgement and isolating ourselves. We are preoccupied with our own comfort in an environment that is not intended to be comfortable! Uh, duh. Whoever said it’s ENJOYABLE to curl up in an upright position and be launched and thrusted and propelled and unnaturally forced into orbit, all while continuing to smell weird colognes and vacay-food fueled farts, was just mistaken.
You didn’t honestly get on a plane to STRETCH OUT, did you?
Instead of busying our minds with the trivial details of our uncomfortable travels (I obviously do not fly first class, just FYI), why not enjoy the comradry?? We should share magazines, snacks and sing songs. Maybe we procure a rogue game of high altitude dominos? The possibilities are endless. Instead, we all just stare. Averting our eyes appropriately so as not to inspire sexual predatory-ing or worse, idle conversation. Honestly, lady in seat 28C, I am DYING to know WHO impregnanted Miley and WHY she is all alone. I KNOW that Bruce Jenner becoming a woman was the cover story last month but MAYBE that issue could offer a little insight?? Said lady was not impressed by my philosophy. She was unwilling to share.
But. Goofball next to me just spilled her water into my lap, mentioned a hot flash and most recently turned to me and said, “You can’t be texting. I always assumed you could though since the people in 911 called home before they crashed.”
Heartwarming. Maybe I should have requested a seat next to an actual stranger??
No, Mom*. I assured her I was not texting. I’m writing a blog post about non-judgement and patience. I need to practice actual patience now that I’m in this frigid capsule of an airplane with wet pants trying not to laugh at you for hoarding Shutterfly coupons (this part is LITERALLY NOT A JOKE). At least she is small and smells good. She wishes I would swear less.
All in good fun.
Each time I board an airplane, this lesson in non-judgement attacks me. A proverbial kick in the pants, if you will. The most challenging part is to actually put this lesson into practice in daily life.
So now, I challenge you to practice open mindedness, non-judgement and to learn how to pee in an earthquake, just for practicality’s sake.
*name has NOT been changed.
She’s the best.
Sometimes I think I should call my blog “The People You See at the Laundromat.” I would, you know, describe the people I see at the laundromat.
No one becomes a different person at midnight in December 31. We don’t wake up changed, shiny and bright on January 1. None of us are Cinderella.
Wait, how does that story go? She turns into a pumpkin at midnight? She has magical powers because of her special slippers? No. Her carriage turns into a pumpkin and she returns to her mundane, average life? Something about an apple? A prince? Something like that. With each passing year I’m getting too old to remember fairytale details, obviously. My childhood friends would be disappointed.
My point here though… Right after Christmas our hearts awaken with dreams of grandeur. We set impossibly high stakes and lofty goals for the upcoming year. My observation, we all forget that January 1 is the exact same as the day before. An equal opportunity. We do not wake up in better shape, outrageously motivated to work out and eat well. We don’t wake up instantly feeling more compassionate or patient. Resolutions abound. No matter how many times we failed, we continue to set unrealistic standards for ourselves and our future selves. Isn’t that the definition of insanity?
If you remain unconvinced that resolution setting is a negative epidemic, endeavor to walk through the doors of the gym on January 2. Hangovers have passed and our animalistic beastmode engages; the fitness club becomes a zoo. Literally. Monkeys with limbs flailing on the ellipticals and top-heavy gorillas who forgot leg day swinging kettle bells to and fro. There are slender, golden eyed wolves stalking their prey: one of those squealing, young hyenas giggling by the drinking fountain. And of course, the parrots… Middle aged squawkers, flying around squawking, judging and gossiping. These creatures all claiming that they are there in the name of fitness and not to pursue a deeper desire or fill an emotional void. Whether what they want is an exciting new relationship, a yoga teachers ass, credibility or unlimited access to hot tub.
All joking aside, I truly admire the plight to better ourselves physically and emotionally. We need to be honest and accountable with ourselves. We do not wake up different on New Year’s Day. EVERY SINGLE DAY we awaken with the opportunity to grow, experience and plant seeds for a better future. The beginning of ANY day could be the day we choose to join a gym or develop a consistent yoga practice. We are told that we are gifted a new beginning when the calendar changes. But everyone of us has more to offer than a lazy attempt to fulfill a societal resolution. Because of this, I resolve to make no resolutions (haha, see what I did there?). I am going to focus on finding contentment and satisfaction in every day. Every single day.
It certainly helps that I began the new year on my yoga mat but why pressure myself? Why feel like a failure if I’m unable to practice yoga or work out or stick to a diet for the next 365 days? We are all imperfect and instead of exploiting our flaws and shortcomings we should grow compassion for ourselves. Let’s not set ourselves up for failure by attempting to jump to the pinnacle of our dreams. Each morning is an opportunity to succeed. My intention is simply to remember that. Here I sit, drinking lemon water and finding peace in the notion that each breath is a new beginning. I will take small steps to pursue my dreams and continue to grow into the woman I want to be. I’ll probably stay away from the gym until February.
Carpe diem, namaste, jaya jaya, we are free.
Where the bears and the buffalo range.
Where the deer and the antelope roam?
Where the Texan longhorn reign?
Bits and pieces of childhood songs race through my mind. What is it about Wyoming and buffalo??
The wild blue yonder?
Is that the national anthem?
I’ll admit, before this trip I was totally prejudice towards every state that was not California or Hawaii. I still am but with R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I am currently in the frigid zone they call “Wyoming.” Since leaving Lake Harmony, PA we have been through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa (states that start with vowels) and Nebraska. Let me tell you, I have frozen my ass off, equally, in each place. I have a lot of respect for people who lead a functional lives in such Siberian, arctic, chilly, bitter, glacial, numbing (do you understand?) temperatures.
Because of this I now know that I will never be a Midwestern corn farmer.
I will probably never go to Canada.
I will never learn to ice climb.
I will never summit Everest.
I may give up ice skating.
I love palm trees.
I may move to Maui.
I saw my first real life cowboy today.
I don’t even know where cowboys come from. Is it Texas? Montana? Tennessee? I’m from California. I know where the surfers come from, where the hipsters come from and where the weed comes from. Cowboys are kind of a novelty. I’ve always had a thing for cowboy boots.
Last night while driving along highway 80 in fifty mile per hour winds I started to visualize the beach. Since it was so dark it was easy to imagine that I was driving down the 1 through Huntington Beach, PBR in hand listening to Miley Cyrus shout about some party in the USA. These are the things that happen in Orange County.
Just kidding, I don’t drink beer. I prefer cider, as do most people who have the palate of a hummingbird.
But it helped.
I could feel heat radiating from the core of my body. Until, of course, we needed gas.
They tell me that body fat acts as insulation. Bullshit. Insulation is pink and subcutaneous fat is yellow. If I had $20.00 for every pound I’ve gained on this trip…
I’m not good at math.
But like around about FOUR HUNDRED FUCKING DOLLARS.
Or something like that.
Excuse my chins. We have driven nearly 8,000 miles, seen 26 different states and we aren’t even home yet!
Explanation to follow.
After repairing the Saabrarri’s front bumper with duct tape that explicitly proclaims our love for bacon, I attempted to take the dogs for a walk around the parking lot.
I was approached (assaulted, nearly) by a severely obese woman attempting to eat a cheeseburger but failing. Seriously, there were pieces of beef and bun everywhere. In her raspy voice she explained that she was looking for a white chihuahua; he escaped while she was trying to feed him.
We watched her park her car as we headed out looking for her chihuahua. Not three minutes later we spotted him. He was terrified! But I had a goal.
I WAS GOING TO WRANGLE THE CHIHUAHUA.
Two hours later, I was angry at myself for setting this goal. We aren’t sure where he came from but somewhere along the line we were joined by Kansas Bob. Bob is from Kansas. I never confirmed WHY he was in the Walmart parking lot but he was and he was really a pivotal part of our deranged undertaking.
We cornered the dog under a car and didn’t let him out of our sight. I knelt down to try to befriend the little guy. Nope. He growled, snarled and charged me multiple times. Fear developed. Chris lapped the parking lot looking for the Hamburgler, thinking we had found her pet. She wasn’t in her car.
What??? Crazy lady LOST her dog, delegated detective work to us and went SHOPPING? WHAT??
Chris and I switched positions and I frantically raced into Walmart to find the owner of this unpredictable creature. I wasn’t exactly donning my best camouflage Cabela’s wear at this moment. My arsenal consisted of a neon pink beanie, a different shade of neon pink as a fleece sweater, Cal State Fullerton sweatpants and soaking wet Uggs (because we just left the flooded canyon, remember?). I was making a scene at the Walmart in fucking Amarillo, Texas. I was proud, smiling and so hungry.
I made an announcement over the speakers in the store for the LADY WHO LOST HER CHIHUAHUA TO STOP BEING SO IRRESPONSIBLE AND MEET ME AT HER CAR! I was hardly done making my announcement when when she crept around the corner riding a motorized scooter. “Oh no,” she says. “You lost your dog too?”
“NO! I found yours. Three hours ago!”
“That’s not my dog,” she says in the most relaxed way. As if I hadn’t just spent three hours in an undesirable location chasing a creature that I refuse to accept as “canine.”
Oh my god.
I jogged back to Chris, Kansas Bob and the chihuahua because I was, of course, trying to get a little exercise. I explained how we had just cornered a homeless, potentially rabid chihuahua and we needed a plan of attack. We repeatedly called Animal Control to no avail.
Determined, I retrieved my infinity scarf from the Saabrarri and charged the chihuahua. Frightened, he ran from beneath the 1987 Mercury. I threw my scarf on him to slow him down while Chris lassoed him with Brady’s leash.
WE CAUGHT A CHIHUAHUA!
Chris cuddled him in a blanket and they became friends.
Finally, Kansas Bob offered to buy a small kennel if we took the pup with us, either to find him a good home or keep him. KB and I returned to Walmart (yeah, they recognized me) to buy a few supplies. Turns out the kennel was a bit beyond KB’s budget. I bought a leash, a kennel and some treats. He gave me ten dollars and left.
Chris and I stood in the parking lot, holding a chihuahua, unsure of what to do next. So we took a selfie.
This is how we ended up with our new dog, Amarillo Bill Russell.
Let me tell you of my latest, greatest, Roman woes…
Yet another instance of my all-encompassing intelligence not so subtly being MIA.
This is the stuff that Mary-Kate and Ashley movies are made of.
I arrived in Rome on a beautiful, sunny October day, filled with an enthusiasm for travel and an open heart. My first day traveling alone in Italy was going great! I’d figured out how to read the train schedule, take the train, check into my hostel and buy peanut M&M’s from the foreign vending machines all in one day. Grinning from stretched earlobe to stretched earlobe, I dropped my pack at the hostel and skipped out onto the streets of Rome. I had a map, walking shoes and a full bottle of water.
Ready. For. Action.
I was overjoyed to finally behold the ancient beauty that is the coliseum. I circled it twice, took a few pictures and decided that the Pantheon was my next destination. En route I realized that I did not know what the Pantheon was. I knew there would be a sign.
Lo. And. Behold.
Two signs, in fact. Quick photo sesh and onto the Trevi Fountain. I overhand softball pitched a quarter towards the fountain. It did not actually land IN the fountain but it landed NEAR it. Oh well, just change the preposition and mission accomplished.
It was still mid-afternoon and insanely crowded so I chose to walk slowly and take in as much culture as I could. Humility is key; I am unashamed to admit that by this point I realized that I was seriously lacking certain historical information. I strolled along, unknowingly creating blisters that still haven’t healed. I scanned the crowds and looked in souvenir shops. And there he was…
A perfect specimen of all that is Rome… The most Italian-looking, doe-eyed (in a manly way) artist and I were suddenly stuck, locked gaze.
I. Almost. Shit.
I could not, for the life of me, understand why I’d been possessed to make eye contact with a stranger in a country where I did not know a single person. We continued to walk north, one of us speeding up then slowing down for the following ten minutes. In these ten minutes, I’d mentally composed notes to my mom and bosses explaining why it was necessary for me to live in Rome forever.
Oh no he didn’t! HE DID!!! We made small talk for about forty-five seconds before his English skills were completely exhausted. All of the Italian I know (minus the word for “cheese,” which I think it actually more important) was used within the first millisecond of our interaction. He was able to communicate that his train station was near “La Piazza Del Popollo,” would I like to see? As we walked, he pointed out different structures, old ones, that I’m sure are very historically monumental. I did not understand a single word of the tour. This small nugget of a conversation happened four times;
Me: “Wow. It’s so beautiful!”
Him: “You are very beautiful.”
Onward. To La Piazza Del Popollo. I would love to say that I used my deductive reasoning and critical thinking skills to figure out where we were headed. In reality though, I arrived at this very large building with a fluffy cloud of oblivion between my ears. It truly was beautiful. I turned my back on our destination and took an impressively well-balanced photo of a bench with people sitting on it and an unimportant looking statue. My new Italian friend guided me closer to the building, closer to the train station and closer to his chest. We became Facebook friends (He has since unfriended me, presumably because he cannot read any of my posts. Or he is just terrified of me.) before he kissed me.
I skip-walk-jogged back to my hostel. THAT WAS SO EASY! I CAN MAKE FRIENDS ANYWHERE!! I WAS AT A PIAZZA!! I exuberantly collapsed onto my hostel bed (climb-skip-jumped up rather, top bunk) and began to explain the events of my day to three bewildered-looking Australians who were fortunate enough to be my roommates for the night.
I said, verbatim, “We made out in front of La Piazza Del Popollo… I guess that’s the house of the Pope?” (Jesus. I don’t even know whether or not “POPE” should have a capital ‘P’ or not. “Jesus” probably was not the most appropriate expletive here either.)
The blank stares of my tres Australian amigos suddenly became almost vacant. In the most deadpan, dryly hysterical way they said in unison, “The Vatican?!”
The Vatican. The fucking Vatican.
“I majored in science!” I defended! I clearly did not exchange contact information with the Tres Amigos.
Even after outlining this tale in such excruciating detail, I’m not sure what the worst part of it is… I followed a stranger in a foreign country. I allowed a stranger to kiss me in a foreign country. Extreme embarrassment x a million. A sincere lack of historical knowledge. I know absolutely nothing about Catholicism. I literally stood in front of the Vatican and did not realize what it was.
To put a positive spin on it, what I lack in intelligence I clearly make up for in openmindedness.
The worst part though…
I. Didn’t. Even. Take. A. Picture.
Kung. Kung. Kung. Kung.
I am moving backwards.
Kung. Kung. Kung.
On a train leaving Paris.
I am sure the bright pink graffiti means something to someone. To me it is just part of another passing landscape. Another city I’m leaving behind. Another passing journey.
Something else I’ve learned but something too new to realize.
Kung. Kung fu. Chop suey.
My mind speeds right along with the train.
It is always a race.
One hundred random word associations later, I remember… Take a deep breath, look out the window. The scenery has become lush and green, too clean and organic to be plagued by spray paint.
Suddenly, I am freezing. The train rambles on. Someone sneezes. I just learned how to say the equivalent of “Bless you” in French. Why do I forget things so quickly??
I’ve had an amazing, inspiring adventure through Europe and through myself. I am fascinated. This time, I want to be home. I’ve never felt so connected to a place before. The nearest future seems so much brighter with the shadow of comfort looming ahead. Is this what growing up feels like??
To. Me. All. Night.
If you know me or have read this blog you’ve likely noticed that I am verbose and long winded. I can spend entire days reading and am (painfully admitting that I am..) proud of my reading comprehension skillz (with a z. Always with a z).
That said, I suck at counting.
I will readily admit that math is not my strong suite. I usually say, “We all have our good qualities.. I’m a really fast runner.”
But I’m not talking about math. I’m talking about counting. There is a distinguishable difference. I’m ok with math… Did they leave me a 20% tip? Yes. No. See. Math.
Counting, on the other hand. Dollar bills ALWAYS stick together. People always move around in yoga, counting heads is tricky (what kind of class do I teach where people move around?).
I am a change collector. I also ROLL my change, by hand. The other day I took a bag of rolled change to the bank (to a teller, not an ATM. Job stealers) and was met by an inquisitive expression on the face of said teller. It seems that my nickels were rolled in quantities of fluctuating amounts. She was so patient as she asked me to please unroll and RECOUNT my nickels. As the line grew behind me, I counted nickels. To no ones surprise, I had miscounted.
Sue, bless her heart, is my favorite teller. The likelihood of her reading this are 2/never… Probability, next week’s topic. What a patient and compassionate lady she is.
Sigh. “Alison. There is a machine at Lakeside that counts the change for you. It’s free.”
Sigh backatcha, Sue. Free is good. But then I’d have to figure out whether it is better to cash in for free 6 miles away from my house or for a 2% charge .5 miles away. How much is gas? How efficient is my car?
Why am I exhausting so much effort on the topic of depositing $10 of nickels?
Truth is, I’m not.
I’m inability to count has led to a minor amount of insecurity. As you may know, I am an avid listener of Rihanna. So avid, in fact, that I noticed that she counts in a disproportionate amount of her songs. I believe that there are two possible reasons for this.
1.) Counting is hard for a growing number of people in our society. The pop culture princess is battling this epidemic by offering free (if you download illegally, is that still a thing? $1.29 on iTunes. WTF, iTunes?) tutoring. Is listening to Rihanna during a math test cheating? Because she can certainly count to four.
2.) Rihanna is endeavoring to prove to the world that she CAN count (not to mix theories, but to prove that she has risen above the epidemic?)! This particular theory gets under my skin a bit… Girl, you’re really pretty, have great hair and you can sing…
WHY DO YOU HAVE TO PROVE THAT YOU’RE BETTER THAN ME?!?
Affirmation to counteract grief and negativity: I am enough.
We all have our good qualities.
Now. If I was as a better counter, I would be counting sheep.
I would be AfuckingSLEEP.
(I’m good at rhyming too)
And life would make a lot more sense.
Ok and namaste.
Stumbling, cart wheeling, giggling, celebrating, loving, enjoying, running. Being. The bright sphere of orange neon gracefully dips beyond the tumultuous but soothing blue waters. I race the sinking sun to claim my spot in the sand, my spot on the earth, my spot in history. A flock of pelicans glide by, reiterating the fleeting beauty of each moment of life. In the impending dusk a full moon is illuminated above the mountains to the east. Beyond my back the fierce and sturdy mounds of land create an impossible silhouette. The palm trees all blowing south with the breeze, layers upon layers of hills and mountains reside just moments away, projecting a composition that I before would have deemed imaginary. Letting the earth hold my weight, I relax onto my back. An echo of vibrant oranges and pinks among the wispy clouds to the west, just beyond my left side. A full moon preparing to illuminate the dark night looms over the hills and crevasses to my right, to the east.
Crashing, twisting, tumbling, springing, hoping, loving, believing. Existing. The sand is still warm from the day’s heat as it caresses my feet, toughened from a whole month of walking on the beach. The waves tumble onto the rocks beyond my head, engulfing, encasing and enveloping the strength and stability that this structure has to offer. Wave after wave curls up onto the sand, coming in sets of three, retreating as one. A seemingly endless cycle washing away pain, anger, jealousy and uncertainty. Sea breeze tickles my whole body, ocean spray kisses my cheeks. Each hair on my body stands on end, awakened and revived. The mist from the sea mixes with my own salty tears, shamelessly flowing out of my eyes and coming to rest right where they belong… Near me, within reach, but no longer a part of me. Opening, rejoicing, inviting, liberating, relaxing, knowing. Feeling.
And so they say, watch me bleed.
Apparently I left my sense of humor on the left side of the country. Or maybe people on the east coast take life a little bit more seriously than I do. Whatever the circumstance, I was disappointed in my inability to find something funny and interesting to write about. Until yesterday, that is.
I was out for a run brainstorming ideas and listening to Rihanna but still coming up with nothing. I surveyed my (minuscule) breadth of running experience and kept coming back to one word.
I EXPECTED to run an easy six miles and was disappointed when my GPS only registered 5.50.
I EXPECTED to think of something interesting to write about.
I assume that everyone pressures themselves the same way I do. I am constantly reminding myself that these irrelevant EXPECTATIONS are what lead to disappointments. I set an intention to stop pressuring myself so aggressively while on my run.
After setting this intention, it was amazing how quickly the whole idea came full circle and slapped me in the face (punched really, this will be ironic later). I was confronted by the most inspiring story I’ve heard in years.
[Editor’s note; I cry every time I watch Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition or read an intense weight loss success story in SHAPE magazine. So… There’s that. Now you see where this is going].
While visiting my dad in Florida, an opportunity to attend a kickboxing class was presented with Jackie (who, for argument’s sake, is my long lost cousin (our grandmothers are sisters)). I eagerly accepted the invitation without asking a single question.
I can kickbox, sure.
At 5:30 on Tuesday, Jackie picked me up and I was driving along the gulf coast of Florida with someone I had virtually never heard of before. Superficially, she looks like a model… Tall, lean and young with dark hair and eyes. She briefly explained to me that she used to be fat. Kickboxing is her drug, she’s addicted and wants new gloves.
Watching Jackie in class, she looked like a pro! She’s tough, built and powerful but graceful at the same time. After class she opened up to me about her history and rocked my world.
Jackie used to weigh 217 pounds.
Jackie used to drink Mountain Dew everyday.
Jackie was addicted to prescription pain pills for eight years.
Jackie has had open heart surgery.
Jackie was given six weeks to live.
Her story is one of extreme courage and ZERO EXPECTATIONS. She had her surgery in New Jersey when she was 18 years old. Interestingly, Dr. Oz was her surgeon!
“What?” I said. “That guy is an actual DOCTOR?!” Apparently he is; Jackie raved about him and his bedside manner.
“He’s not full of shit,” she assured me.
Jackie is now 24 and has been completely sober for two years. In 2012 her mom gave her a Groupon for a martial arts studio in their neighborhood. A few days before the coupon expired, Jackie gathered her courage (screwed on her belly button, as my grandma would say. NOT the grandmother that Jackie is related to but whatever) and walked in to her FIRST EVER kickboxing class. She did not know a single person. She had no idea what to do. She had no expectations. She fell in love.
During the first three months of her training she lost 25 pounds without changing her diet. She then put herself on a high protein, calorie restricted diet and drastically changed her lifestyle. She stopped drinking, partying and started to learn about clean eating. She lost an additional 30 pounds.
She attributes much of her success to the trainers at the studio (shameless plug, Matt at MA Fitness in Seminole, EPIC class). She is now in the process of becoming an instructor herself.
It became so obvious that this was a reality check for me. Had Jackie had expectations when she walked into her first class, she would have been disappointed in her inability to keep up with the group. Because of her strong-willed determination and compassion for herself, she succeeded.
Hearing her story was multidimensional for me though. On one hand, I am inspired, amazed and hopeful for her future. On the other hand, I am learning MY lesson about having expectations. I am insanely grateful on both counts. I’ve long been considering taking a Power Kickboxing class with (shameless plug) Derrick at Escobar’s Training Grounds in South Lake. I was scared. I’ve been wanting to “practice” (in the two years I have been considering this, I have not practiced. I DID find some maybe ancient gloves to use though). I now know that if I had not been holding onto so many expectations, I would not have been intimidated to go in and TRY.
So, maybe I did leave my sense of humor in California but I’ll be returning with an even more valuable attribute. I’m bringing home a lack of expectations coupled with inspiration and determination.
Okay and namaste.