A different third grader

She’s walking home from school, taking the short cut behind the firehouse through the field of tall grass that is consumed with purple thistle flowers and Queen Anne’s lace.  Her grandmother had told her the legend of Queen Anne’s lace and she is forever checking for signs of Anne’s blood in their centers.  She wonders why the blood has turned from red to black.  She figures Anne lived a long time ago and that things darken with age.  Then she stops to carefully squeeze the sides of the snap dragons until their soft lower jaws gently hinge open.  It gives her delight to know the happy yellow flower’s secret.  That sometimes things are not what they seem.  How a golden flower can transform into a ferocious dragon in a snap when pinched ever so slightly.

She recalls how her mother had pointed out the faces hidden in pansies, the way the tiniest drop of sweet nectar can be extracted from the honeysuckle with a nip, and how if you look carefully, you’ll see wild raspberries among the overgrown sticker bushes by the side of the road.  She plucks a thick blade of tall grass and wedges it between the sides of her thumb like a reed and blows swiftly to sound a call.  If she were a different third grader, she might not have known.

A different third grader would have walked home with a friend along well-planned sidewalks to play games in flat back yards like kick the can and ring-o-leavio.  Or maybe she would learn the words to that song the girls all sang on the playground – what was it – Harrington?  H-A-double-R….spells Harrington.  She didn’t know these games.  Instead, she was invited to Helen Kroetz’s house, the girl with the perpetual booger coming out her right nostril.  A different third grader might be knocking on the door of the girl next door’s house to see if she wants to play dolls or ride bikes.  She would stick with girl scouts or ice skating or rollerskating or dance or gymnastics or swimming or horseback riding so that when she grew up she would have knowledge of one thing and not regret quitting everything.

She continues walking, with a quickened pace as her heart races when she thinks of the bees following her scent and the snakes that might lurk in the grass.  Tomorrow, she won’t walk this path. Instead, her mother will pick her up from school, give her a big squeeze and say, “tell me about your day” with a smile.   Her mom won’t be preoccupied with thoughts of a life that requires so much strength.   It will just be mom and her different third grader.   A different third grader who doesn’t have to worry if her brother will be okay.  Or wonder if her dad will be coming home for dinner tonight, so her mother doesn’t have to sit staring at the empty space while the minutes tick away in silence.  A different third grader might help her mother paint every dark corner of the gypsy house white.  Or help her sew curtains to hang on every window to keep the spirits away.  Or help plant scarlet begonias to brighten the path to the front door.  Maybe then she would know how to paint or sew or garden or dispel silence.

Instead, she swings on the swing that her dad hung for her from the large tree atop the hill that drops prickly balls all over the front lawn.  She swings so high she thinks she might swing right over the edge of the dirt cliffs below her and the world will fall away as she soars like a bird over the field of Queen Anne’s lace beyond.

My moccasins

They’re gone.  My beloved moccasins that took me to many a Dead show.  Gone.  I’ve held onto them for years and finally decided the space they were holding was greater than they themselves at this point in my life.  So I tossed them.  I didn’t think to take a picture of them first, now I wish I had so I could share them here.  All I have are my words to share of them.  How many hours they waited on line with me to get the tickets, how many hours they faithfully held the pedal to the metal to make it to the show on time, how many steps they took to get me to my seat, how many thousands of beats they came down on when they made contact with the floor in step with the dance.  The dance of my soul.

I loved those moccasins.  Fur lined fringed ankle boots that are actually in style now.  They weren’t in style then, in 1983.  Far from it.  That’s precisely why I loved them.  Unique.  Different.  Fun.  The only other person I knew who owned them too was my BFF.  That was before everyone had BFF’s too.  Before moccasins and BFF’s became trendy.  We were moccasin wearing BFF’s long before anyone.  She loved hers also.  Those moccasins took us to Terrapin and back one-thousand times, through a thousand notes of a thousand songs.

Now “it’s all a dream we dreamed one afternoon, long ago.”  The moccasins can’t take me back.  Only my words can.  To the days when we would “walk into splintered sunlight, inch our way through dead dreams to another land.”

We went truckin in style along Sea Cliff Avenue with our moccasins looking for an estimated prophet and found a friend of the devil instead. He showed us a fire on the mountain so we went dancin in the streets towards the promised land, planting scarlet begonias and sugar magnolias among the ramblin rose bushes.  When the china cat sunflowers whispered “here comes sunshine,” we had a box of rain and we let it grow.  We had ourselves a high time in the morning dew and the music never stopped.  Often, she would take the wheel and I’d be the passenger.  Sometimes we were going down the road feeling bad, but we were sure we would always beat it on down the line, following the dark star till the morning comes, waiting for the bird song.

We were wharf rats sitting on top of the world, throwin stones in our cream puff war.  If I had the world to give, I’d lay me down in Franklin’s tower for one more saturday night that would not fade away at sunrise.

We walked along in the mission in the rain, needing a miracle, doing the mississippi half step on shakedown street.  We met Tennessee Jed, Black Peter, Jack Straw, Casey Jones, Stagger Lee, Mr. Charlie, Peggy-O, and finally St. Stephen on the golden road to devotion.

We got the cumberland blues, the mexicali blues, the viola lee blues, the new minglewood blues, dupree’s diamond blues, and the U.S. blues that were so hard to handle but we always knew there was help on the way.

We had sage and spirit when we encountered the saint of circumstance on the new speedway boogie.  Cosmic Charlie and the candyman were hanging around with their money, money waiting for that deal to go down.  We would always allow space for Stella blue, Loose Lucy, and Bertha to come around with the brown-eyed women.  They told me and my uncle stories about the big river alligator on an alabama getaway who found himself with a dire wolf and that C.C. Rider.  I know that rider; he’s a loser in uncle john’s band.  We learned of the other one playin in the band but quickly found out he’s gone on a west L.A. fadeaway, just like dear Mr. Fantasy.  Now they’re all making slipknots with the lost sailors on that ship of fools, singing aiko aiko all day.

Samson and Delilah told us about the eleven who came from the mountains of the moon and crossed the serengetti to bring King Solomon’s marbles to a lady with a fan in the south of france.  The drums played blues for allah in the weather report suite while the little red rooster said, “don’t ease me in some dark hollow on a good morning, little school girl.”

Mama tried to raise me better.  She said, “caution: do not stop on tracks in the cold rain and snow, for always there will be a touch of grey when it looks like rain.”  I found that whenever there’s a ripple in still water, you’ll find an easy wind if you reach for the gold ring down inside with your crazy fingers.

I told Althea there comes a time when you feel like a stranger in a brokedown palace.  Althea told me, “let me sing your blues away with some good lovin, and then get down and row, row, row, row, row.”

It must have been the roses in the attics of my life that caused that nine mile skid on a ten mile ride.  But it’s all over now baby blue and you know it hurts me too.   It was the greatest story ever told and you might as well turn on your lovelight and leave it on so you can wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world, china doll.

Shake it up now Sugaree, I’ll meet you at the jubilee.   Light the song in sense of color, hold away despair.  If you get confused, listen to the music play…..

His Cross To Bear

He kicked the misfortunes from their notes
with the sun over head 
dreams of a blue sky band 
wasting time and words
on a liquor friendship.
Hippies married to alcohol
drinking music on a sober stage
waiting for this to pass
written communication
enlightened religion
anchored by a piano.

Mindful Journal # 2

Here I am, still trying to catch up my writing with myself.  It’s a Tuesday.  Or a Wednesday. I have not practiced my writing for the past few days. I didn’t practice writing those days but I did live those days.  I remember the days.  So I will write now about the days.

I practiced yoga each day.  I practice each day. Practiced is in the past.  Practice is now.  (I’m catching up to myself you see.)  Every day, for each posture, I count five breaths while trying to hold onto my mula bandha.  My root chakra.  To help me keep track of my breaths and my roots, I envision each of the five breaths corresponding to each of my five roots that I have identified as being central to my core being.  Without these five sources, I would have no breath, without my breath, I would not have these five roots.

My roots, my breath, my life.

1.  Inhale Me.  Myself.  I am me.  I am here.  Inhale all that I am grateful for.  Inhale life.  I am alive.  Inhale strength, security, loving kindness, compassion for myself.  Exhale all my attachments to ideas, plans, thoughts, things, sounds, smells.  Exhale all the toxic thoughts that weigh me down, make me weak, make me insecure – let them all go.

2. Inhale My Marriage.  The beauty of love and endurance of the union of two that became one.  My living breathing marriage that roots me in joy and abundance and laughter.  My marriage of stability, security and strength.  Exhale all the past injustices, wrongs, hurts – let them all go.  They are of the past.  Exhale yesterday.

3. Inhale The Eldest.  The blessings of the first born child.  All his happiness, his insights, his curiosity, his wonder, his joy, his empathy, his wisdom, his love of learning.  Exhale all the divisions, the misunderstandings of nearly 18 years.  Let it go.  Let him go into the world to carry on his unique journey and bring all his blessings to those who encounter him.

4. Inhale The Second Son.  The one who transformed us from married with baby to a full fledged family.  A brother born to make a brother of the eldest. Inhale all his wild creativity and extra sensory perception.  His joyful smile, his unique style.  His in-the-middle-ness.  Exhale all the frustration, all the tears.  Let them go.  Let it be.  Let him be.  Let him bring his gifts.

5. Inhale The Daughter.  The beautiful baby girl with the long dark eyelashes.  The sweet sweet smile of the littlest one.  A little girl with pigtails, ponytails, barrettes, bows, and braids, who twirled pink and danced it into purple with her delightful song of kindness. Exhale all the slammed doors and shouts of hatred.  Slough them off like dead skin cells. Exhale the goddess into the world.

Each inhale reminds me of the millions of cells that inhabit my body, the millions of moments that inhabit my mind, and the countless revelations about my soul.  Blessings and misdeeds.  All stemming from Me, My Marriage, The Eldest, The Brother, The Daughter.  Inhale all the blessings, exhale what doesn’t serve today.  Breathe into your roots.  Start with yourself.  Inhale your infinite self.  Exhale your self into infinity.  The world is waiting.  Inhale your power, exhale your roots.  Deeper into earth, rooting your core.  Your being.  Your True Self.

Hooping

No longer hiding 

in a disciplined corner.

I hoop my core,

grip my circle,

roll into dance.

An optimistic challenge,

a courage to release,

a play with spiraling energy.

Connection with resolutions.

Communication with peace.

Mindful Journal #1

I am definitely still having trouble with mula bandha lock and breathing fully through it.  It feels once I lock it, I can’t expand fully.  My friend says, “it will come, keep practicing”.  So that’s what I’m doing.  Isn’t that what we all do with everything?  Practice whatever it is we do?  Do we ever DO what we do or are we always practicing what is we want to do?  When does one ever say they are a master of something?  I suppose one can feel proficient and confident at something, but then, even then, a master is always practicing whatever it is at the next level, in a finer, deeper, richer sort of way?  I always ask my kids to practice their instruments, not play their instruments.  When they are not practicing, we call it performing.  Will they ever just play their instruments?  Will I ever do yoga?  Or will I practice the rest of my life?  I just looked up the definition of a yogini: a woman who practices yoga.

I guess there’s my answer.  I’m a yogini.  I am a woman who practices yoga.  Have been on and off for 20 years. Even though my practice has gotten more serious over the past 5 years, I’m still a yogini.  I guess I always will be.  It’s only now through my training do I want to write about my practice, which is actually a requirement for the training, which I suppose will deepen my practice.  There again, I’m practicing writing.  Will I ever be a writer?  Or am I already one because I practice writing?

I want to journal/blog everyday because I always find I have so much to say and it clears my mind.  However, I don’t blog/journal everyday for the very same reason…. I have so much to say and it takes a long time to sort it all out.  I don’t sit down to start because I don’t have time to finish.  I won’t be able to get it all down.  If I practiced writing wrote everyday, perhaps it would come easier.  I wouldn’t have so much stored up and need to get so much out.  So here goes, my writing practice about my yoga practice.

Wednesday, I started with my Lenten promise to go to bed by 10 pm so I can get up at 5 am to practice.  That will give me the minimum of seven hours of sleep that my body requires.  I got to bed by 10:30 that night and vowed to do better tomorrow.

Thursday at 5 in the morning was difficult and I wanted SO BADLY to go back to bed.  That little monkey in my head had all the reasons why I should.  “You love sleep, why are you denying yourself?  Sleep is important, especially to your practice.  At least get another half hour of rest.  You are so tired you will feel better if you did.  You are a busy mom; you need your rest.  You need eight at the minimum – seven was bad enough, now you have less than seven hours!”  So with great resolve,  I thought of Horton who tells the little Whos, “I said what I meant and I meant what I said, an elephant is loyal one hundred percent” and I got out of bed at 5 am.

What did I notice?  How hard it was to get up at 5am.  I made my bed so perhaps that would dissuade me from crawling back in.  Not that THAT would ever stop me.  I grabbed the burgundy floral pillow my mother made to match the rocker she had reupholstered for me 20 years ago and I sat upon it.  I lit a candle, locked the mula, and started breathing.  As soon as I inhaled, the lock opened right up.  My mula can’t stand up to my prana.  My breath is more powerful than my roots.  Okay, I will practice that.  While I concentrated on my ujai breathing, I noticed the candle.  All at once I noticed that if I looked at the candle in just the right way, the candle wasn’t just a flame in the darkness.  I noticed the delicate tiny beams of light reaching out tenderly in a perfect straight line towards my heart.  It would venture and retreat, venture and retreat.  Like a small inquisitive child who wants to play but is not quite sure how she will be accepted by the other’s heart.  Inching closer, testing the water, testing the vibration, waiting for a smile, a gesture that says, “come on, let’s play!”  If I looked at the light in an ever so slightly different angle, the little rays of light would dart away in the opposite direction.  I could see that I would need to remain absolutely still to encourage the light to reach my heart.  I decided I would try everyday to encourage the light into my heart, even if it was at 5 am.

When Friday night came, it occurred to me that I wasn’t planning on going to bed at 10pm.  I was going to go on a date with my favorite valentine.  I also wasn’t planning on getting up at 5 am on a Saturday.  So I tweaked my commitment to one that involved going to bed at 10 pm on school nights, waking at 5 am on school mornings, with the most important component being an everyday practice when I first wake up.

That did not happen on Saturday.  The food and the the drinks I mindlessly consumed got the better of me.  I practiced my breathing and vowed to do better tomorrow.  On Sunday morning, I wanted to make french toast for the kids before we headed to their three year old cousin’s birthday party.  Again, I vowed to do better next time.  I looked forward to the next time that I would connect with the playful little light of mine in the darkness.

Monday.  I have nothing for Monday.  I have not journaled everyday like I am supposed to but I’m waiting for it to come.  As long as I’m mindful, the right thing will happen.  What is supposed to happen will happen.  I find myself waiting.  Waiting for the answers.  They come and the plan will fall into place.  It happens all the time with me.  Making a plan does not work for me.  Plans always change.  I am waiting for my plan to develop.

On Tuesday, I tried the Mysore practice.  I wanted to see what it was like.  It was great to have a place to practice with assistance if needed, but I missed my little candle.  I won’t be able to get there with any regularity anyway, so on Wednesday I went back to my routine.  I carried a deeper promise now, to practice harder, breathe deeper and let the the light in through the darkness everyday.  Hold onto my roots.

At 5 am today, Thursday, that little candle wanted to dance and play just like my little monkey mind.  I can’t even remember what I was thinking about at 5 am but I did notice that my breath wasn’t as deep.  I have noticed that when I am breathing fully, I envision my breath filling me up the way water would fill up a water jug.  As it receives, filling the bottom first, it has a deeper sound.  As the jug fills, the sound gets softer and softer until finally you might hear the ever so faint sound of a single drop of water.  The sound of one leaf blowing.  As soon as the jug is full, it is poured out again, coming from the top, gently at first and when the last bit of water or breath is emptied from the bottom, it sounds cavernous just like the bottom of a jug.  This is how I envision the process and the sound of my breath.

Tomorrow I will tell you about the five little prayers I say over and over again as I hold each pose for five breaths.  My mantras.  One – Me.  Two – Us.  Three – Eldest Son.  Four – Second Son.  Five – Baby Girl.  These are my roots.  My family.  Myself.  My Life.

The Trees are Broken

Broken.
The trees are broken, splintered and torn
Raw and naked like when we were born
Up against a dark bright sky
Forever asking and wondering why
Why are we cold?
Why are we old?
When will the light unfold?
Standing in Sandy’s wake
The children are now at stake
The little seeds won’t bend and break
Only later when its too late
Sandy had another Hook
Down at the school by the brook
Ravaged her way down the halls and took
The lives of children reading books
Do we run or do we stay
What will make the pain go away
Of lost children who never will play
Again in the sand
We must make this demand
Stretch out your hand
To the one who needs compassion
A simple task the only action
The smallest gesture the best traction
In a world that has gotten so big that we are small
It is us who is left holding the ball.