Category Archives: satire

Don’t Trust the Status Quo. Trust the Possibilities.

You’re tired. You stay up to catch up and tired turns to over tired. You close your eyes but can’t unwind. I have a way to trick my mind toward rainbows and kittens. So called sleep experts say stay away from screens when you wake up in the middle of the night but they obviously know nothing about the power of television programming on the unconscious. Deep breathing while thrashing in bed just pisses me off. I need Shark Tank where dreams come true.

 

Hello morning news that tells me fast food restaurants are going up in Nashville as fast as the food they make.  That’s how they put it. Look how progressive Nashville is. Slow people eating fast food. Let another day begin. We can fight about health care while we choke down cheap meats.

 

Dawn light’s silver beams stunningly sweep the steel surfaces of the massive structures that now line the city road linking plantation memories to town.  Steely towers replace wood poles for wires that cross the tangled sky. To hide them underground would cost money better spent on what I wonder?

Sleep drunk drivers clog the passing lane of Nashville’s pot hole neglected inner city speedway like sociopaths.  Swerving semis hold their ground ignorant or insolent to my flashing lights. Why are so many trucks on this road? They must be part of the construction boom turning an unplanned town into a short sighted city. It’s the middle of the day. A 15 minute ride will double like most days. I’m forced below the speed limit. I could change lanes but they are covered like packed pay parking lots that dot downtown. Comatose drivers are weapons against humanity. My radar is tuned for disaster. My car finds a hole and darts like a fugitive running from the law with nothing to lose. I thread through the exodus like Pacman.

This is the cost of progress.  Traffic and crime are not compensated by the understaffed overpriced overrated restaurants or crowded crappy cluster homes popping up on treeless ground to enclose the herds of newcomers who will not have room on the street to park their cars. Progress is for profiteers.

 

Nashville was number six in the country for rising heat index a few years ago. We hadn’t even gotten started shoveling humans into bird houses on treeless lots.  Replaced nature with cement. Made the cement mixer the state bird and sold the once peaceful state park as an attraction. Opportunists saw a good buy in. They don’t live here but they own here and what do they care about the quality of life that will be a renter’s headache?

 

We don’t bother with infrastructure. We don’t zone. We don’t regulate. If you’ve got the cash, we’ve got a lot you can mow down.   Let freedom ring.

 

I don’t recognize this two lane country road today that connects Franklin to Brentwood. It’s been clear cut since I was here two weeks ago. Oh screw trees anyway. They’re just a fire hazard. Look at the Redwoods in California! We don’t want problems like that here. We live in a basin that holds smog. A slow death from carbon monoxide is more subtle, more Southern.

Sleep drunk drivers sling swaying loads across the broken lines. I just like that line so I put it in. And also, I’m obsessed with zombie drivers on crowded streets. I don’t dare ride my bike anymore lest one of the undead raises a cell phone beside my narrow lane. Or maybe they’re on an Ambien ride.  Or maybe they’re just high. Do the opiate addicted masses drive cars around town? I have no idea but I’m not taking chances.

 

It’s good to stay put. The best nights are dinner parties with friends anyway.  You do need a place for friends to park. But your friends are less visible in the expanse now. Friendship is no longer a contact sport. It’s easy to lose track of people who aren’t in your immediate world. There are so many immediate worlds to navigate these days, some of them virtual but nonetheless exhausting. We are not our World War II parent’s generation who put a premium on civility and social skills maintaining relationships even when challenged. We don’t have to. No one expects it.

 

I’m from the last generation to know life before and after the internet and cell phones. Once our memories are gone there will be no others who know both. There will be no others who consciously crossed over. The impressions here are pressed into type to preserve the outrage that my generation made famous. 

We can’t trust that the existing state of affairs is acceptable. There are not as many legal limits to killing us as we expect from the keepers of a loving country. If it takes a village, it takes a village of individuals who have done due diligence. It takes a village willing to shift when the wind smells like sulfur.

 

 

 

 

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We are Salesmen

It’s a new day.  So I open e-mail even though I don’t want to because that’s what responsible people do. I’m being sold. I’m braced for the assault. Buy this, think this, try this, help this, read this. If I put this rant on my site I am selling. If I put it on social media, I am marketing. Anyone with a Facebook account is a salesman.

 

This export/import business of social media sucks a lot of time. That’s why I see some friends less unless I make the effort. Some are lost in the bazaar. They are exporting and importing, trading with friends and strangers from solitary seats. It’s a fluid life without scheduled time so these things tend to run all over the day and night. The nature of man is to ingest and eliminate and so maybe this is a natural extension but me, I have indigestion.

 

I worked for a couple of yoga studios after I left mine. The yoga scene had shifted to what would be known as modern yoga though that had happened about a hundred years ago.

 

I was told it was my responsibility to promote my classes on social media. The only reason I’d gone to a studio was to avoid self promotion. It didn’t work out. Though I am a gregarious hostess, I am more a recluse than a joiner when it comes to strangers. I am not comfortable with a disingenuous life. The act of reaching out to strangers through a black hole befuddles me. On the other hand, I have no problem presenting my work as a resume to the world. Websites seem a logical solution.

 

So What’s in a Name?

It was the late 1900’s and an entrepreneurial client had bought a website company for a hobby. He wanted to build a website and insisted it be mine and demanded I create a name for my company which was only me and gave me a computer to boot despite my protests. I didn’t give a crap about a name so I picked Active Yoga since I was teaching a physically powerful class and I figured it gave the right impression and of course it started with the letter A so that had to be a plus in the now defunct phone book. It seemed like a lame name but there were no other yoga sites as far as I knew. Yoga people didn’t have websites so it didn’t matter what I called it. Famous last clueless thoughts…

 

That website was a day-glow mess and now my “brand” was out on the new world wide net so I enlisted the young web designer husband of one of my ballerina students to give me a professional make-over. I wanted something that read like a book. He wanted flash and sizzle. We argued. I told him my students wouldn’t even know how to engage a technical site. He told me, “Your students are stupid!”

 

I told him I wanted it to be a resume of my experience. He told me, “No one gives a shit about content. You will be the only one who will ever read it!” I told him that was fine.

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In 2000 I added the domain name Rebel Yoga since that had become the unofficial title the students had given me but it was unusable in the South considering the Civil War and all. It was later the moniker of a couple of excellent yoga saleswomen from the East and fourteen years later I dumped it for a grand.

 

Active Yoga went through one more incarnation a few years ago so I could manage it myself. I leave it there for posterity though I’m told to add content every week to drive traffic. Driving traffic is a passionless activity for me so I don’t bother. Where a website was once marketing, it is now dead as a tome filed in the tombs of the library’s basement if you don’t sell it regularly.

 

Now we use our names for titles because we are our own brand. It makes perfect sense and why didn’t I think of this sooner? Every yoga teacher certainly alters the yoga they learned as it’s alchemized by individual perception. Of course my yoga is Hilary Lindsay Yoga. Why had I wished to presume anonymity when I was posting a website? I should have just shouted my name but then in those days before we became voyeurs, people valued privacy. Now I am HilaryLindsayYoga.com but it comes up as Active Yoga because like my husband’s last name, it has become me.

 

Look at the biggest salesman of all, Donald Trump! He has his name on everything and if it has his name you have an impression of it whether it’s clothes or meat or a tower or a golf course.

Trump

Despite the image of Trump, sales are not a bad thing.  How else would we know what is out there?  I’ve been sold so many things that improve my life and I’m grateful.

 

On the other hand, social media imitates a third world open market with hawkers trying to get each others attention. Like you, I am often bored, suspicious and exhausted by it. Like you, I am lucky when a good salesman catches my eye and fortunate when I recognize a fraud. What we ingest we must digest. That’s what I have to say about shopping and buying. We are all in sales unless we can live solitary lives not dependent on others. We pick what we can assimilate. No need to apologize unless you think you are the one who can change the nature of our economy to something better but don’t try.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Revolution 2016 is Not an Election but a Reckoning

It began with the presidential blow job that finished Bill Clinton at the hands of a mercenary court of jesters who didn’t realize they were hanging the image of America along with Clinton’s presidential dick.

 

In came boy George and old man Cheney. Time to change the guard. The Dems were dirty. We don’t condone that in Yankee Doodle.

 

People like to assign blame. Who did it is initially more important than why it got done or how it happened. We want to punish someone and give vent to our anger. Eastern psychopaths assigned blame to the U.S. infidels. We got attention with the sex scandal  topping up our other depravity like greediness, ungodliness and world domination. It was a good time to vent.

 

Cheney and the boy roused Yankee Doodle and we went to war with the guy we could quickly blame even though it was the wrong guy and the wrong blame and meanwhile wages forgot to get raised with the cost of living.  People starved for many things because things cost money and kids can be too much trouble to raise when you’re depressed with an empty pit in your belly and then those kids were angry and forget school because why bother and our decline grew.

 

What better time to elect a sort of Black president with a message of hope and change? So we did.

Euro street art in downtown Nashville

There was the onslaught of technology. No one could keep up. We weren’t prepared to know the work we needed to learn. We weren’t prepared for the onslaught of depression and divisiveness now come to the surface as we shouted in each others faces by one venue or another non-stop. No stop. Ever.

In the land of opportunity we were all that! Everybody strutting for the camera. Declarative sentences only.

 

But we can’t support ourselves and our infrastructure can’t support us either. Reality is shifting like the ice caps under polar bear paws. Blame the politicians. Blame the rich. Blame the other guys. It’s not our fault is our mantra and to some degree it is not.

 

There is a wormhole and Toy Story’s army of creepy toys crawls out of the slime and onto the stage to become the Republican hopefuls.

 

When Fiorina dropped off Cruz’s carni soapbox like a hung corpse cut loose and pulled down by a blood thirsty mob it was clear we had gone through the looking glass. Nothing could be more telling since Madame Defarge’s satisfied knitting at carnage’s front row even if it was only my imagination.

 

I’ve had my eye on Trump since The Apprentice which I watched with the same grim fascination I watch all corruption of humanity. He was no better than the guy running dog fights for profit. His M.O. was to turn members of the team against each other. You watch him now like I did then. Shock and horror. Better to see it coming than let it surprise you, I say.

 

And Hillary is a wonder to me. How she ever went out in public after the public shaming of her marriage is beyond me but then I guess that’s why she feels so comfortable with Anthony Weiner’s still wife. People say she’s power hungry and who isn’t? Don’t you want to feel powerful? She’s been dreaming of glory since she was a little girl who wanted to be an astronaut. That’s a bigger desire for power than I certainly have. I just want to control my own life which is never going to happen to me or anyone else. But I don’t fault her for it. If you ask me she has the largest measure of self control I’ve ever seen unless that’s just for the public.

I can’t imagine what she laid on Bill back when. Yeah I can.

 

Bernie is an old hippie with vision. Or visions.  I am too.  Good food, the love of a family who can be present for you, financial stability, a life that has a place for all of us and a good education is the beginning of mine.

 

I’d like to hear him say we should have respect for everything living on this earth. I would like to hear him refute Trumps’ charges that America will be great again when we bring back dinosaurs. I mean non-technology jobs. I’d like him to say we can be the janitorial meek for the gilded palaces of the rich when we inherit the earth and maybe a factory job. He won’t say that though because he’s not jaded like me. Sarcasm is a weak man’s weapon. But he could say that Mexicans aren’t taking our jobs because we are eliminating our own jobs as society shifts. Robots will farm and do construction soon enough so we can have more time to abuse the prescription drugs that are the only things being handed out freely to everyone.

 

Now that shameless is on the table and no one feels the cringe like the first cringe when Mexicans were declared rapists, the G.O.P.  Zombies are climbing out of their shallow graves to form alliances hoping to stand again in the spotlight no matter that it’s meant for someone else. Even someone appalling. Even someone who trashed them and their loved ones. Unlike their vampire brethren, they live on the light.

 

Who will be the next leader of the free world?  It’s down to an indomitable woman, an old hippie or a celebrity businessman. We don’t agree on the answer but we are mostly at the end of one rope. Let’s hope we don’t use it to hang ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

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Success and the Price of Physical Beauty

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference ~ Serenity Prayer

Inspired by a news story on the premium on physical beauty in Seoul

Today’s news story on a pretty 26 year old South Korean girl points to the mindset behind an anxious society. She looks like a teenager. But she says she looks haggard and wants fat injected into her face so she won’t look so old and worn. The doctor accommodates her in what is a fairly benign surgery for her carefully saved $1800.00. The result is the plump ageless face of a newborn. She is happy. The doctor reports that in an over saturated, competitive work force, good looks are a necessity to ensure employment.

Americans are anxious as well. When it comes to a competition of beauty, income disparity creates an uneven playing field in this country. On one end are folks who don’t know how to care for themselves and at the other end are folks who can’t afford the cosmetic enhancement they desire. In between is the discontented general public that can’t beat its habit of wrong eating or lack of exercise.

Dressing for success is simplicity compared to the choices we have now. As modern science develops we are given choices to change our appearance beyond straightening teeth with braces and taking bumps from noses or removing moles. Those choices are adding to the complicated issue of self esteem and worth in the market place. There is an escalating pressure of vanity as we are offered a soaring amount of services. Looks reflect status. We represent a picture. A picture is open to judgment.

I was raised by folks who insisted there was no excuse for being less than your best though I did my best to disregard that. I hated the idea of struggle as far back as memory serves. I wanted to be acceptable without challenge. I suspect I really didn’t want to try much at anything. If they had let me slide and told me I was fine the way I was I might still be lying on the bed of my childhood home reading novels. Tough love kicked my ass in infuriating ways but I owe my inability to be comfortable with less than my best to the parents, mentors and teachers who didn’t accept anything from me as good enough. That was a show of confidence even though I just wanted to be left alone. It saved me. It also left me anxious.

Fifteen and Furious

Fifteen and Furious

I was raised by a mother who was raised by a father who did not believe in ugliness. I couldn’t tell you why except he was impatient with the concept of some things being beyond one’s control. I think he just hated quitters. Therefore his wife and three daughters did all that modern science could offer to never grow old or live with a feature they could not stand.

Long after my grandfather died a too early death, ignoring his own heart attack to finish operating on a patient, my grandmother, not to be leveled by pancreatic cancer had her hair coiffed, made herself up, donned a lovely bed coat, propped herself up on a freshly made bed in her striking red and purple bedroom and died sitting up. My family suspected she had made a call to her cousin the pharmacist for assistance to leave the planet on her own terms.

Now in their 80s my mother and her sisters like their parents are still unyielding beautiful skillful people who run their lives with precision. They keep their hands in their grown children’s lives as well. All of the offspring are highly accomplished financially successful professionals except for me. I was stubborn. While my multi-talented middle brother was shoved towards perfectionism and my little brother was sent to board at the Hyde School which aimed to make champions of reluctant students, I chose to be a loser in an attempt at a hassle free life.

Perhaps it’s no wonder that I eventually ended up in a job where the wardrobe was T-shirts and pajama bottoms and the beauty regimen was cleanliness. (Before the yoga standard had become one with mainstream). Yoga shaped my life as the practice of responsibility seasoned with compassion that’s come with some forty years enfolded in yoga and a yoga adjacent life. The key word is practice. I fail myself with regularity. I am irresponsible toward my future. I lack compassion for my failings. I unfailingly demand more of myself without proper regard to the balance of energy taken to energy replenished.  I watch all the stories of daily life that I can fit in a day and don’t know who I am in it or what to believe.

So I understand the desire to throw money at an issue that stands in the way of judgment and just let it be done. I don’t stand in judgment of the people who do whatever they need to do to feel good about themselves. It seems rather straightforward. But even if money grew on trees it would not be that trouble-free for some of us to keep pace with the life we were born to.

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Stories From the Tunnel or the Rise of the Yoga Professional

A coffee cup in my waking hand, I invite newscasters into the kitchen. Some stories bear repeating if you’re a person, with a mind, on the planet. Stories of the life are a teacher’s palette. Modern life is a tunnel that provides quick passage. These are news stories from the tunnel. Inherent in the problems are glimpses of light. Those are reflections from your own story.

One is on sleep. One is on noise. One is on work.

Sleep

is a precious and finite commodity. Without it you are functionally disabled. Since your sleep debt is a nation’s decreased productivity, it is a national crisis. Someone has written an interactive book for parents to read to their children to help them both relax. It is a form of yoga nidra. It is not too early to teach a human to unwind.

Makes sense when you put a cell phone and video pad in hands as soon as eyes can see and hands can hold.

Noise

comforts the lonesome. Henceforth, a restaurateur in Manhattan has construed that the perfect dining experience is also a financial win when the restaurant is stripped to bare floors, walls and ceilings. He turns up the music. You must scream to be heard. Now it’s a big party. Lonely souls wander in. Everyone is a party guest. The playing field is level.

I went to such a restaurant in Manhattan this week. The noise was an assault. STUPID is the only way to describe it. The waitress screamed the menu. I held my hands to my ears to stave off anxiety. There was no digesting that food. It was a pricey battlefield.

Though I was in bed at an unusually late hour I had to read that night to unwind. It was not a book to hypnotize me to sleep but it did the trick nevertheless. But the problem isn’t falling asleep when you’re tired; it’s staying asleep when your mind is just dimmed like the lights. Then noise is no memory but patterned in a brain that cannot decipher day from night.

Dress Code

at a Silicon Valley tech company is non-existent. Millennials ride scooters around artsy work modules surrounded by community play areas with ping pong tables and random games. They wear play clothes. It looks like kindergarten for grown-ups. Adultgarten. It looks like fun and it has to be because the CEO says work never ends even when they go home. This is wholly accepted.

Do they prowl the hip stripped dining scene to feel connected when they leave that office? Is it weird to be free? Is there always one eye wandering to the cell for messages? I wonder how they sleep at night. Maybe they nap like wild creatures when the need hits. Maybe they can sleep with the full light of day on their faces, ear buds piping music to the brain, fully clothed in jammy clothes.

Yoga is medicine for man mad illness. We require more waking hours to undo ourselves. We need more hours to take the cure for sleep, social pressures or work. Yoga class is purposeful rest, music/dance ritual and work as play. Maybe that explains the rise of the yoga teaching profession. Is it a panacea for the disenfranchised? Perhaps I have buried the lead: Explaining the Rise of the Yoga Professional.

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Hitler Made Fine Roads

 A Yoga Teacher’s Notes from Berlin

I’ve never been to Germany. It was high on my list of places I never needed to see until Jack moved there. My oldest son, Jack, is a research scientist at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Berlin. He’ll have an ACL replacement and I’m off to Berlin as chief medical officer. My understanding of Germany is based on World War II films. German is the sound of the Third Reich barking orders to kill Jews. Rob tells me if anyone says to get on the train, run.

I’m in the airport lounge on the first leg of the trip. I play the game what would I do with her or him if I only had time for one yoga pose. I observe the crowd for postural issues. I imagine their lives and habits. I am absorbed by a large woman with an enormous roll of fat between her skull and shoulders. She is drinking a keg sized Starbucks Frappacino. She has manicured navy blue nails adorned with gold flecks. She crosses her ankles but barely. Her silent husband is covered in ominous moles and black freckles. He slumps in a way that matches the weariness on his face.

I don’t sit well. I have a funky hip and a tendency to claustrophobia. I’m afraid I’ll have to throw a blanket over my head like a caged parakeet to keep madness at bay for the eight trapped hours of the longest of three flights out. The plane is fully booked four across and me on the inside. I have poorly chosen not to see a chiropractor for the pain in my shoulder blade and neck as I’m sure this unfamiliar annoyance will abate. It has not.

God shines on us all. The cabin doors close and the seat beside me is still empty. Neither of my fellow row-mates is interested in utilizing the extra leg room and so I am at once unencumbered at my feet and free to curl my legs under me this way and that. I stick a small Fiji water bottle between my shoulder blades and put pressure where needed. Eureka. In the first hour I am unstuck and pain free.

I watch the movie” Still Alice” starring Julianne Moore even though I didn’t want to see it in the theater as it sounded depressing as Hell. But I’m locked in a chunk of steel hurtling through space and I don’t know the outcome so I break my rule of not seeking sorrow. I definitely have the symptoms of memory loss that Alice had. Now I can ruminate to pass the time.

The last leg of the trip is out of Amsterdam. It is 6:00 A.M… I am handed a recycled paper box with natural dyes that describes the organic spelt bread and egg salad from happy chickens raised on organic food on a family farm. Have I landed in an enlightened universe? Who here is worried about digestion or the mental state of chickens?

Berlin is an extraordinary culture of then and now Wow. It’s easy to move about though the place is immense. It’s a feast of world cuisine where I expected piles of grey shnoodle and gravy. It is elegance and art and grit. It is both sophisticated and safe and a nod to the forward thrust of civilization though I’m told it’s endangered by a steadily growing influx of commercialism. Still, I have yet to see a soul walking with a cell phone which is my version of the demise of civilization. In fact I don’t even see a phone exposed anywhere. Au courante is the fashion of smoking. Everyone is smoking. Everyone is coughing.

Manja and Frederic invited Jack into their AirBnB and asked him to stay on as a roommate. Frederic has dreadlocks to his waist. Manja would look like Nicole Kidman if Nicole Kidman didn’t give a shit. They are a couple in their mid 30’s, partners in a film production company that makes public service films which rail at the pitfalls of capitalism. They say that travel to the U.S. would not be possible as they are probably being watched. I have been here for 7 days now and I have seen no evidence that either housemate has a phone though they must. They have no televisions. I saw no radio. There is a stack of reference books by the kitchen table that they refer to when I ask questions they can’t answer. They rarely leave the apartment. Informative and enchanting hosts, their conversation has me glued to the kitchen table into the wee hours most nights.

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The apartment is on the East side, built in 1896. It’s a railroad flat. The ceilings are probably 20 feet high. The windows are massive and both the doors to the balconies and the bedroom windows are doubled like our hurricane doors in the South. The door handles come up to my collarbones. Manja and Frederick are over 6 feet as well. I feel strangely diminished by the hugeness of this place and people.

I view the ancient cupboards in the kitchen with suspicion. I am reminded of a disturbing novel about a little Jewish boy dying in a cupboard that might be like the low one on the back kitchen wall under the window where they store perishables as the walls are so insulated. I ask Frederic if this building was likely swept by the Nazis looking for Jews and he says yes. He shows me the secret places that now house a refrigerator in one and a washing machine and dishwasher in the other and says that they would have been a poor hiding place as the Nazis would go outside and check the windows to know if a hidden room existed within. Though this place is homey in a rundown farmhouse way it also feels like a retreat for ghosts.

The city is tinged with anarchy and solid in architecture that ranges from mid 17th century to Bauhaus which often resembles stacked bunkers. There are huge blocks of apartments built under Stalin called Stalinhauses. Many of the buildings are marked with gorgeous or political graffiti and the powers that be allow this vandalism. Frederic tells me that many of these were occupied buildings and by that he means occupied by squatters. There was a time that occupation was akin to possession. The city is changing though and even his neighborhood which is one of the last alternative neighborhoods is quickly falling to gentrification. Frederic defines this as a place that had shops that had useful things being replaced by new stores that have nothing anyone needs.

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There are few of the massive fascist structures left though there is evidence of Hitler’s demand for tank worthy streets. The ghosts of invasion, occupation and oppression are everywhere. The people are sensitive about that. Here they are taught of their part in the Holocaust from early youth. I am told they are told that no one is innocent.

In the ten days I’ve been here there were two religious holidays celebrated with three day weekends and drunken joyfulness in a city that is 70% atheist. My roommate’s response to my question about the meaning of the holidays was that Jesus was ascending or something. Didn’t he ascend on Easter, I asked and they said that he was always ascending or descending but it seems that whenever Jesus is on the move, people will be drinking.

This alternate universe is hazardous for me. I’ve gone from Dandelion tea or a cup of half caff at home to a double or triple espresso every morning. I have forgone sleep for days. Despite the double windows in my bedroom there are streams of anarchists noisily roaming the street all night. I am in danger of returning home insane which is working for me in this nihilistic place but won’t fly in Nashville. Today I think I took my thyroid support twice by accident. I did the same thing yesterday and I am thinking of Alice in the movie who had to write a note to herself to be sure her future confused self would know how many pills to take.

WitIMG_1578h practically free health insurance my son had knee surgery in a state of the art clinic that was as elegant as an upscale modern hotel. The doctor must have done his job well because two months later Jack has almost full range of motion and if he was in any pain, he didn’t seem to notice though he never bothered with the heavy pain meds. Granted, the staff was like the cast of Woody Allen’s “Stardust Memories” where Woody takes his signature pot shots at the Felliniesque New Jersey Italians. Despite a general gross negligence once the doctor left the premises, a couple of thoughtful nurses and support folks came to the rescue. And I was there. Had all gone perfectly I might not have felt so necessary.

 

IMG_1569Every floor of the five story building was dedicated to orthopedics. A brightly lit space beside the therapy rooms resembled a Benetton ad for crutches. Crutches in primary colors were displayed on the singular circular pedestal in the center of a beautifully appointed haute couture shop. On the eve of Jack’s surgery when the physical therapist failed to show up, the fellow who seemed in charge of the shop went beyond his hours and job description to fill in the blanks. There was immense concern over the color crutches Jack would like which I thought was a riot until it became clear that Jack would find the ordeal more palatable once I had returned the royal blue crutches I had thought fun for the Berlin black ones.

 

 

I note that I have not been abroad or to much of anywhere in the same time frame I’ve been teaching yoga. I question my choices with distance to spare now. I wonder at my decision to remain in Nashville when I had the opportunity to build on early success to become a traveling yoga professional. Then again for most of our 21 years I was contentedly raising kids, enjoying a successful career and surrounded by good friends. Beyond that the strangeness of Southern culture satisfied my taste for the unusual and interesting. Southern culture is quickly disappearing in Nashville now. Maybe it’s timing that makes this distant world so appealing.

There are more notes from Berlin but I’m not inclined to write a travel blog. And there are stories better left to memory. There are characters that made a lasting impression on me but they are profiles for another time. I had the good fortune to travel to a loved one and fall in love with a place I was horrified by for most of my life.

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Keep Your Chum Away From Me. Om Varunam Namah

 The_MG_1953Hil_new year's 2011_cropped_websize Chopra Center set camp on the grounds of my parent’s home by Encinitas at the La Costa Spa. I dropped in for a yoga class. I figured it would be Svaroopa style as that’s the last thing I knew about the practice Chopra had aligned himself with pre Tara Stiles. But I wasn’t there for the content as much as for curiosity so I took the class which, like all the classes there, was called the Seven Spiritual Laws. Chopra’s same named book was displayed for purchase at the room’s entrance.

There were only three people in the generous space including me and the teacher announced that she was a sub but would follow the general form. This is not a review of the class or teacher.

What forces my hand here is a mantra repeated toward the end of the class.  Though the class began with a different mantra set to a pattern of repetitive postures, I don’t remember much about that except for the awkwardness of asking three scattered spa people in an oversized room to repeat mantra without much discussion or connection or background.

It was the repetition of Om Varunam Namah which she repeatedly translated as; I am aligned with the universe that got stuck in my craw.

I am a patient person. However, this was nonsense and as we rose and fell again and again in a sun salute prompted by the mantra, I wondered what universe she was talking about and what I’m supposed to be aligned with.

Don’t throw your chum into the expanse of my ocean sister! You cannot bait me with a hook! If you want to say something about a universe or alignment you’d better bring your best game. This is just new age jargon that you forgot to pack up with the 70s and now you’re baiting an overactive mind.

I’m deep into the solid, no chance of subtle as I catalogue every question I’ve ever had about why I am here and what I am doing and what is this thing; this universe!

Whose universe, what universe!

Am I aligned with reality? Whose reality would that be! Am I aligned with the politics of the day, the business of the day, the social network? Am I aligned with you there in the universe or you there because you and you are not the same!  Am I aligned with the planets? Are saying go with the flow because lately the flow seems to be circling the drain. I’m starting to get bored with all my machinations.

Aum Varunam Namah, not.

 I am aligned with the universe:

Are we talking a shared vibration because I’m being shaken senseless by every blip beep bump crack crash shift slide and shimmy of the shit and I’m not looking to ride that out through the sun salute today. I need a break. Every hurricane, death, birth, shadow and sunray is using my ghostly sheath to shortcut through the next soul. Everything feels like my complicity in not fixing what is broken here, allowing myself to be as defenseless as an ice flow to stop the changing tides.

Aligned implies alliance. I don’t think that way. I am not aligned with the universe. I am inside the universe. The universe is in me.

JeffFarsaiPhotography.com

JeffFarsaiPhotography.com

Maybe she would have done well to offer a suggestion from the poet Rumi instead:

    “Stop acting so small,

    You are the universe in ecstatic motion”

On this day of December 9, 2012 I am claustrophobic with humidity lodged in my pores, frizzing my hair, closing my sinuses. Thunderous rain shook the house clammy with 70 degrees in what respectably should be freezing temperatures and a snow storm. There is a mosquito hovering in the corner and I was guaranteed a break from the miserable beasts by pitching my tent in a town that winters over.

Whether aligned or one with, the vibration is not comfortable these days.

There is a vibration of poverty of despair and yes the vibration too of love and birdsong and tree sway but if this vibration is what I’m to conjure up in my yoga practice I will devolve into a puddle of huddled masses  powerlessness cowering in the corner until the vibration levels, until the rainbows stay without rain and the earth’s fissures softly close to hold a humanity fed natural food, dancing to native song, holding itself and each of its people close but not too close; just close enough to find an infant’s new legs. This is not an alignment but a coming into oneself which is not just self but everything everywhere from all the times. And this is too huge to be tossed out like a Hallmark greeting in an un-tethered yoga experience.

 

Oh Chopra. You who gather so much useful information to share with others should realize how sensitive we have become and give your teachers careful invocations. But thank you for the class. You brought cautionary advice to me! Words have power. The powerful should remember to choose them carefully. I am careless too at times. Thank you for the slap on the wrist. But also, thank you for the yoga offering; it’s my opinion that any yoga is a good thing as there is always a pay off.

This was re-posted on elephantjournal as Om Varunam Namah. You Are Aligned With the Universe, Yes?

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Excerpt from the Book: I’m O.K., You’re an Asshole.

_MG_1953Hil_new year's 2011_cropped_websize

I’ve got a wild hair. It’s the n’th hour of a Sunday morning here in December as 2012 fades away. I began a book eight years ago and had to put it away for awhile. I was advised it was negative and I sorrowfully lack the fire to ignore advice.

I have a class to teach in half an hour. I feel like crap after careening down a small ravine a few days ago. I haven’t slept in nights. And so full of poor judgement and inflammation that burns like fire, I’m releasing the opening of the book. Hope you like it.

My first book

a compilation of observations

I’m O.K., You’re An Asshole. Observations and Discriminations from a Rebel Yogi

I started this book in 2004 or maybe it was 2005. Who keeps track of dates? My time is recorded in events and this was the time I met my first yoga opportunist. It was the time I had my first competitor, my first enemy who walked into my class backed by a chunk of family money and a mission to put me out and step into my shoes. And then Hot Yoga walked into town with a mission for money. Yoga was over as I knew it. Innocence was lost.

This writing was a way to blow off steam and I put it down not long after I began it. Eight years later and the blogosphere is awash in yoga bashing, yoga analysis on yoga culture with a subsequent awareness that when human beings with time and desire on their hands need a distraction they can turn even yoga into a mess. This book  is absolutely subjective  but what the Hell.  I’ve decided to set it free.

Put down this book. It is not for you.I know so many wonderful people; people I would never consider an asshole.  Just for the record.

This is a yoga book that points out flaws and freaky because we have enough information on how potentially good we are to fill up a Christian bookstore and that’s just encouraging us to be assholes.

Karma is often misunderstood. The way it works is, I say, “You’re an asshole”, and that makes you think that I’m the asshole because you don’t get what an asshole you are and that makes you act like an asshole to me.  It’s a loop. I don’t want to mess up anyone’s karma including my own so let’s not start that. O.K., I started it but I want to point something out. The yoga class buzz is as brief as a Sunday sermon. Benign expressions fade.

 We people are unpredictable. Memories lie waiting like soldiers in foxholes to gun us down when we least expect it. Unconscious thoughts arise at inappropriate times and do damage. I didn’t provoke you but your asshole memories are turning into your asshole reality and getting in my face.  I can pretend I don’t care but in fact everything matters to me and now I’m trying to rein in my feelings, you asshole. The karma wheel keeps turning.

 

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Yoga Home: A Fairy Tale

Untouched by time in the middle of the South lay a swathe of land called the Bible Belt and in the buckle of that belt, known to some as the heart center, was a province devoted to church and family and tradition.

H.Lindsay

Into that province came a stranger and she brought them yoga. It attracted a small group who became like an island in the sea of the province. One woman designated the back room of her modest home as a yoga studio and declared it The Yoga Center. Not long after and spitting distance away, another tiny home no bigger than a room became the property of her friends who called it The Yoga Room.

And a society was created to teach the others about yoga and the society declared that yoga was good. The people had differences and arguments despite the love of yoga but the society and the teaching of yoga kept them together in practice and perhaps it was the circle of community apart from the others that kept them a family.

And there was no need to declare yoga space Sacred, Sanctioned, Sourced or Shiva, Hot or Cold or Works or Plus. There was no yoga market so there were no yoga names and there were no yoga clothes and there were no yoga games. Well, there were games but they were games humans play in the unavoidable way of a species tasked to figure it out. They were small games compared to what would later transpire.

Yoga was the religion or an adjunct to beliefs already held dear. It was a physical and spiritual practice done with intention to follow the steps provided by its creators. It suited the devout.  It took itself seriously.

A decade later another stranger came to town. Though she did not know it, she would be the forerunner for something called Modern Yoga. She came from the East Coast and then the West Coast full of dance and fancy and hippy drenched yoga love and she wore flowing clothes to yoga.

The first stranger was gone on the dark wings of cancer. But her yogini daughter befriended the new stranger who was introduced by one who had just created something on the West coast called Power Yoga that would change the yoga world.

The island of yogis in the Bible Belt Sea were kinder than kind but some of them bristled at the stranger who muddied yoga with music and dance and merriment. They resented the intrusion, looked askance at the medium. They did not see the writing on the wall or maybe they did.

H.Lindsay

The stranger who came from the East Coast and then the West Coast had found a home amongst dancers. She had no dreams but to raise kids and share her passion but the island of yoga had successfully attracted the sea of the town and in a rare moment of synchronicity, it heard her music and her laughter and it stormed her doors.

Ten years later and yoga strangers would change towns all over the country. Yogis would be competitive and name their business and name themselves and open retail stores to create more wealth. They would add music and bands and videos. Keeping pace with consumption, yoga would become a bottomless pit.

The Bible Belt was no longer provincial. Business saw opportunity in a virgin ready, waiting to be delivered and devoured.  A steely entrepreneur from afar looked at a map and judged that place to be the ripest in all of the country for a moneymaker called Hot Yoga. I know because she told me. It was the first time yoga would be sold for cold cash.

The Yoga Room had become the first school of teacher training. Who knows if the owners, long gone, knew what that training program would herald. Perhaps they were the first to grow big pockets from the dreams of zealous pioneers who wanted to make yoga their lives. Soon every studio in town would have its own teaching program. Soon every teacher would be in competition with the next and studios would mark themselves in name and battle lines.

It was rumored that the stranger from the East Coast and then the West Coast’s students wild with jealousy and greed finally threw a hood over her head, tossed her in the back of an Audi and hauled her away. With her gone from the light, a new empty room with an empty name would surely fill with their own students. Money can buy so many things. Some say she was never heard from again and in truth it seemed that way.

The Yoga Center became a holdout and laboratory for a quiet and tenacious group of traditionalists who once a week continue to sit at the feet of its original owner, a now 80 something matriarch who could still kick the ass of every yogi in the region when it comes to physical prowess.  She carries the mantle of a thoughtful and truthful path.

The one who was harbinger of things to come appears in a ghostly transparency on Sunday mornings, harkening back to the place where yoga blossomed in her adopted town.  In a little one room house untouched by time in the neighborhood where yoga was begotten; in that place still simply named The Yoga Room she teaches yoga while others are in church. Her solidity manifests as the music rises.

Yoga Devis from Rebel Yoga Calendar 2001; A Celebration of Students. copyright Rob Lindsay

If you trust the storyteller, believe her that her evolution heralds another shift in the evolution of yoga. It is unfinished business becoming true right now.

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The Pants Seller’s Circus; A Fairy Tale

The Pants Seller’s Circus

  A Fairy Tale

written in 2010;  the author was inspired by Lululemon and  the fiefdom of ambassadors

Long ago and far away a small group of sages designed a system of actions (SOA) that might save people from themselves. They called it yoga but that name had since been forgotten.

SOA lasted throughout time in a quiet fashion amongst a small group of people and it was too small a group to change the world but then the SOA spread to the land of America. Like all things in America it took root and prospered.

In SOA this was written: Do no harm, do not steal, do not covet, do not lie and do not overextend yourself as to make yourself self righteous or make others weak.  They called this part the first Limb with five branches and it was the first step towards the beautiful universe. This step had to be built to gain access to the next step or the next step would crumple.

A group of hawkers got hold of the system.  They were part of a universal tribe of hawkers who made a living by selling goods all over the world.   The hawkers came to each village and sought out the most influential and successful entrepreneurs of the SOA and knighted them. Those who were knighted were given gifts of gold and promises of glory in return for advertising the hawker’s wares. They became corrupted and shills for the hawker industry.  And the hawkers sang the leaders praises while selling high ticket gear that appealed to the leader’s people.

SOA had eight limbs all together which were intertwined with one another. Step by step, limb by limb, the devout could move from the outer to the inner realm.  But if one step was missing, one had to go back because no one could stand on the next step without sinking if the one before was missing.  The steps were not just steps. They were actions that took one from the gross to the subtle. Like a wooden Russian doll with smaller and smaller dolls inside it, one had to uncover the surface to attain the doll beneath. The last limb, the last little Russian doll was called Bliss. Everyone wanted to get to it. Some were in a hurry.

There were some priests and priestesses among the leaders and their flocks who feigned knowledge of Bliss at the center of the system. They spoke quietly or in song cloaked in shawls and turbans. They did not have the patience to step limb by limb. They were desperate to have Bliss right away. They spoke knowingly of Bliss and the virtuous path to Bliss but they had bored a hole in the outer shells, in the outer limbs and crawled into the belly of Bliss like fruit flies and there hid out laying waste to all the outer layers that became porous as rotting wood.

The knighted leaders of SOA were lost souls.  Their attraction to it was fragile, born of a love of attention and an attraction to power.  They disseminated the SOA for their own means and they did not live by it. They fought amongst themselves and it was even whispered that a photograph was taken where they lined up with arms around each other striking a pose like hapless Rockettes but had knives to each other’s backs like Brutus to Caesar.

To get to the second Limb of five branches the people had to answer questions: Do I feel  pure of heart, do I have a desire to press on, do I have a desire to learn, am I ready to confront myself, am I capable of acceptance? It was easy to answer yes because they were delusional but it was the third Limb that kept the leaders’ purses full.

It was the third Limb that the hawkers could market to. It was the body. The body needed gear. The body had a mind and the mind could be manipulated. Though the human form might follow the thought of the first limb and the second limb it didn’t have to. All one could really see was the form itself. No one would know the difference.

SOA was in danger. Co-opted by the hawkers it would live on as an accessory to the high priced gear.  All the hawkers needed were its name and its form.

Seers and sages cloaked in the garb of modern folk started leaving the cities.  The planet was in danger. It was used up and angry. The cities were claustrophobic with frightened people who had lost their purpose. The seers went forth seeking space to focus on ways to sustain and replenish the earth and waters. They went to the mountains and plains to make peace with the planet. They carried SOA in their hearts. They carried the books and their notes and journals and they lived like Renunciates honing their skills of intuition tuning their minds to love.

Left behind were still hundreds of teachers who were also students of the SOA. The people didn’t notice them easily as their spirits were cloaked in such a way as to make them invisible except to those who sought them out.  Some say their vision was clearer in the shadows away from the glare of celebrity and fortune but I for one know that glare does not eclipse anything except in the eye of the beholder or judges. One can do both.

Life began to slowly change because jobs were scarce and money was more precious and the people began to appreciate that life could be good without so much stuff but the economy was predicated on buying stuff and it began to fail.  The leaders of the SOA were affected too and although they still had power and some fortune, it was dwindling. The leaders began to notice that the people were getting weary of the leader’s swagger and bored by the hawkers’ gear. The leaders began to fight amongst themselves. America’s success was predicated on selling systems and gear. There were the Great Marketing Wars. SOA was renamed and repackaged in hundreds of ways all over the country and much of the free market got involved to support that with gear and cheap labor and materials. There was no other way.  The people were distracted and anxious. They had so many choices and so much to buy.  Meanwhile the country was being decimated, torn to pieces by partisanship. SOA was just part of the chain of partisanship that was running through the desperate country.

The people supported the hawkers of every system whose advertising assured them of their inadequacies. They could benefit from the hawker’s wares.  They could benefit from the system of religion. They could benefit from SOA.  The people were insecure, broke, and emotionally bankrupt and the wars waged on exhausting their resources ever more.

Not the end: Just the beginning.

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