Author Archives: mamakohl

Know It All

Standard

IMG_8608

I’m going to drop a little truth bomb on you: I love TV. I missed out on a lot of amazing things during all those years I was pretending to not watch TV because that’s what I was supposed to do.  Along with avoiding all things from China, not eating any grains, and folding the laundry the minute the dryer stops, this whole “I don’t watch tv” thing was short lived. While I am not of the generation that remembers getting their first television, I damn well remember the first time there was a remote control in my house and let me tell you, I’m certain that the person who was bartending at the happy hour show I attended today wasn’t even born yet.

So, yeah, 5 billion channels with the push of a button sort of blows my mind.

One of the great shows I missed out on the first time around is 6 Feet Under. Y’all. Seriously. This show is unbelievably amazing!  While I normally binge myself into a coma with shows I love, this one is taking me a loooooooooong time.  It’s intense. I don’t know if it’s like that for everyone or if it’s hitting me with a different force because of the whole dead husband thing, but it …. well, it’s something.

In one of the first few episodes, the matriarch of the family, a brand spanking, still shiny, newly minted widow, tells someone about the affair she had been having for 2 years when her husband died unexpectedly.  She never told him.  She continues to freak out because “Now he knows! NOW HE KNOWS! He knows everything!”

Yep. He’s a know it all, I thought.  And then I froze in my tracks. That’s pretty fucking heavy shit.

I don’t think anyone has ever lost a loved one (to death or distance or disassociation or disco) who didn’t have at least one thing they wish they had done with, said to, asked the person they lost. Here is the place where you are expecting me to get all philosophical and motivational poster-like and say something completely assholish like “Life is short – say it NOW before it’s too late.” Yeah, no.  I’m not going to do that.  I’m going to tell you to stop wasting your brain wrinkles on any of that garbage. Save your brain space for figuring out how to get that tiny line of dirt to get in the dust pan with the rest of the stuff you just swept up off the floor. Work on that because, while it won’t eventually figure it out on it’s own, the person you lost will. If that person isn’t dead, don’t stress about it – just tell them when you get around to it.  And if you don’t, don’t worry about it because everyone dies and, when that person dies, that person will know. Yes, of course it’s important to tell people you’re sorry and that you love them and that you want your slate clean.  Do those things if you can. Or not.  Either way, eventually we are all going to become know it alls.  (send hate mail to sorrynotsorry at myblog dot com)

My mind kept chewing on this. I hadn’t realized how much I had been lugging around the weight of what I should have could have would have said done and thought. I’d been dragging it, hauling it, schlepping it, everything but naming it for two years. The minute I realized that my lost person at last knew EVERYTHING, I also realized something else: he knew everything while he was still breathing and, if he didn’t, it’s not because I didn’t tell him / show him / give him. When suddenly he became a know it all, he didn’t know one single more thing about me than he did when he was drinking all the coffee in the morning. Well.  Maybe he learned that i like TV, but really? That’s small potatoes. And small potatoes are delicious.

Now wait. I’m not saying that I have now, nor had then, all my shit together. Not at all. What I am saying is that I was truly 100% authentic with him. He knew everything because we knew from day one that the rest of your life is a long time to hold in your farts when your loved one is in the room, so just start off ahead of the game and let ‘em fly.

Classy, huh?

Before he died, I only lived that way with him. Up until that point, I think a lot of people would have been pretty surprised at what they learned about me if they were to become know it alls. (aside: I hate phrases like “passed away,” “passed on,” “went on to his great reward.” He died. That’s it. That said, it would be kind of rad if we started saying, “became such a damn know it all” instead. You with me? Let’s do this!)

Moving on.

I think today, fewer and fewer people would be surprised. I think that I have been more of my true self out in the world since I became a widow than I ever was before. That started because for a very long time, I didn’t have a choice. Shock, immediate grief, and heavy sedation takes away your ability to give a shit. Then when that stage wanes and the next comes, a temporary bipolar phase hits where you are either incredibly alive and trying new things and doing new things and feeling awake or you are sincerely unable to do anything, even open your eyes, because you realize how terribly wrong you were, that no matter how hard you act happy and healed and hyper and powerful and motivated, it won’t bring your lost person back. During that time, you don’t give a shit because it doesn’t matter. Then there is a good long stage where it’s just numb. The depression stops having sharp edges and nothing can really shock you anymore, but nothing can really make you super happy anymore. You just have days that are different cuts of the same vegetable. Diced, sliced, julienned, doesn’t matter, it’s still just a carrot. All day. Every day. So you don’t give a shit then, either, because let’s face it: you’d be shitting carrots.

Here’s the magic, though. During all those phases of not giving a shit, you are still going about your daily life. You are still working and talking and interacting with people and socializing and paying bills and arguing with your neighbors and meeting new people and raising your kids or your dogs or your expectations. It happens without even knowing it, but suddenly you don’t give a shit about trying to impress people or be someone or something you are not because somehow it becomes to new norm to just be you.

Let that sink in.

People think that I have changed a lot in the last two years. I haven’t it. The me that I am right now is the me that I was every day for all these years after the doors closed. The only difference is that now I let more people see the real me because I don’t care about trying to be better than I am. I have changed my hair a million times, I have a HUGE chest tattoo now and a half sleeve. I always have had them in my mind, in my image of myself. The only difference is that now other people can see them, too. My circle of friends has grown and expanded and now includes so many more colors and flavors and textures and languages and I am so grateful because holy shit, even pizza gets boring when that is all you allow yourself to eat.

I know that some people think I’ve lost the plot. The grapevine is a rampant thing that spreads far and wide. I know that there are people who just love to ask others how I am doing, to tell people what they have heard, to gossip and speculate and whatever. And yes, I’m probably talking about you. If you want to know, ASK ME.  if you don’t want to ask me but want to ask others, then go right ahead because that means you don’t really give a shit. You’re just pretending. That’s cool. I dig it. We all pretend. I know I did for years and still sometimes do. It’s shitty, but it is okay because it’s a human thing. You’ll find out everything when you become a know it all.

I also know that there are people who don’t quite understand why I am still writing about this sort of stuff. What I’m writing now is vastly different than The Brian Series. That was about him. That was about grief. That was about mourning.This is about me. This is about where I am, where my feet are, the way I see things now. I cannot possibly begin to write about things without occasionally bringing up the dead husband / widow thing because it shaped me just as much as your love, your losses, life has shaped you. To try to do it without would be like trying to define and describe the ocean without using the word “water.” Try it. You can’t do it nor can i write without this experiencing influencing me because the ocean IS water and this experience IS me. Just keep nugget in your back pocket and whip it out if you need to.

I have to say, it is a lot less exhausting to be me now than it was when I was wearing the masks and costumes and was consumed with who I was “supposed” to be, who I thought I “should” be. We’re all going to find out eventually. I’m trying to make it easier for folks to know now. It probably is more accurate to say that I am trying to not hide anything anymore. I’m super private about most things now (very odd, seeing as how this is a very honest blog,) but I’m doing my very best to make what I do share with the world completely real. It’s just easier, more fun, less stressful. Plus, it frees up brain power to figure out what to about that dirt line problem.

Maybe there’s an informercial about it on TV.

In Which She Emerges

Standard

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Last night, as I lay in bed listening to my sons giggling in the next room, my phone pinged notifying me that I had gotten a direct message from someone on FaceBook.  I very nearly ignored it as I was wildly enjoying 50 minutes of what the actual fuck known as “Florida Man,” but I paused and looked at it. I read 3 paragraphs written to me by a woman I have never met, telling me how much this blog meant to her, how empowering she found it, etc., and even though she hasn’t read it in a long time, she often thinks of it, of me, and is grateful for what I have put out into the world.

Shit.

I have been thinking about returning to writing for quite some time.  I think about it, I know I need to do it for myself, I say I’m going to do it, I intend to do it, I sit down to do it and then that voice started in:

  • That old blog?  REALLY?
  • No one will remember it or want to read anymore.
  • Do you really have anything to say?
  • SO much has gone on. Where would you even start?
  • Is Bob’s Burgers on?

It occurred to me that none of those things really matter (except Bob’s Burgers.)  I have always written for myself.  I would write on this blog, on another blog, on paper, on toilet paper if I felt the need to write.  I always have something to say.  Where would I even start?  Where I have always started everything: wherever the hell I want.

But really.  Wow.  Where do I want to start?  I guess I’ll follow what I always used to tell my yoga students: Be where your feet are.

I’m currently barefoot on my bed in an Aerosmith shirt, Prince playing loud, and the sunset is casting golden light through my window.  My sons are away for the night and my plans for the evening just fell through and I trying to decide if I care.  Pretty sure I don’t.  My 14th wedding anniversary is Monday and Brian is still dead.  That sucks.  My little family of 3 is flourishing and fabulous. That doesn’t suck.  My sons aren’t little anymore – one is way taller than me and the other is eye to eye. That is just bananas.

I feel like Edward Scissorhands, coming down from the hill for the first time, all freaked out and awkward.  These stupid “hi, I’m back” posts always irritate me, yet I feel compelled to publish one.  So much has changed… So much.  I’m a big fan of bullet points, so check it out.

  • I have more tattoos
  • I have less tolerance for bullshit and artificiality
  • I don’t teach yoga in a studio anymore (much more on that in the future)
  • I still have a home practice.
  • I have an increased level of loathing for bureaucracy
  • I don’t even remember the last time I drank bourbon
  •  Chronic pain and mysterious health issues aren’t nearly as fun and exciting as they sound
  • My three dogs are still enormous
  • I still like them better than I like you
  • Solid Gold is still not back on the air.

There will be more.  Until then, thanks for letting me pop my head out to make sure that the sky is still up and the ground is still down.

Thanks for holding down the fort.

Playlists a Plenty, Playlists Galore!

Standard

1911898_636081213125348_2018003932_n

Well fuck.  It’s been ages and ages since I posted and last time I posted I said it wasn’t going to be ages and ages until I posted again.  Guess I lost that battle.

I’m not going to waste my time or your time pontificating on the goings on of my existence, however, I know that the 3 of you who read this have been following my story and I owe you something of an update.  Here it is: Yes.  No.  Yes. Yes. Hell Yes.  No. I don’t think so. Yes.  FUCK NO!!  A THOUSAND TIMES NO!  Maybe. Yes.  Okay. Whatever. Coffee.  Black.  Whiskey straight up.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, here are the 3 most requested playlists of the last 3 months.  Take what you like and leave the rest.  I think most, if not all, are available via iTunes.

LUCY JORDAN

The Ballad of Lucy Jordan – Marianne Faithful

When the Train Came Along – Molly Gene One Whoaman Band

A Fire Burns for Freedom – Ziggy Marley

Reach Out of the Darkness – Friend & Lover

Happy – Pharrell

Songs We Used to Sing – Possessed by Paul James

Pocket Full of Misery – Uncle Lucious

Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon – Urge Overkill

Little Red Shoes – Loretta Lynn

Sweet But Bitter Life – Possessed by Paul James

Slow & Easy – Scott H Biram

If I Were A Carpenter – Johnny Cash and June Carter

The Whippoorwill – Blackeberry Smoke

Back Down Here on Earth – Possessed by Paul James

Own Side – Caitlin Rose

BURN IT UP

Down & Out – Boozoo Bajou

Set Fire to the Rain – Adele

Feels Like Fire – Santana

I’m on Fire – Bruce Springsteen

Peter Gunn Theme

Mahna, Mahna – Cake

Little Fire – Taj Weekes

Yell Fire! – Michael Franti

Burnin’ Nashville Down – Fifth on the Floor

Hard to Handle – Black Crowes

Slow, Hot & Sweaty – JJ Grey & MoFro

This Wheel’s on Fire – Guster

Fire on the Mountain – Grateful Dead

Hard Sun – Eddie Vedder

Slow Like Honey – Fiona Apple

We Belong

We Belong – Pat Benatar

Life in a Northern Town – The Dream Academy

All We’ve Got is Now – Uncle Lucius

Come Together – The Beatles

Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses – U2

A Little Bit of Riddim – Michael Franti

Holiday – Green Day

Revolution – Grandaddy

Sweet Dreams – Eurythmics

Invincible – Pat Benatar

Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds

Let My Love Open the Door – Pete Townshend

Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

Kodachrome – Paul Simon

Honky Tonk Women – The Rolling Stones

Drive – The Cars

Time of Your Life – Green Day

Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) – Sly & The Family Stone

Boogie on!

WTF, TCB, IKR, TSAFP, and ILY: the Alphabet Soup of My Life

Standard

I have been thinking about writing here for a while, but just haven’t been able to make myself do it since November.  It’s been an interesting couple of months.  Life is surprising and wonderful things pop up where you least expect them that can turn your life around most profoundly, but regardless of how wonderful these things might be, change takes time to process and there’s a whole lot of “what the fuck” that goes along with it.  Life moves forward and you gotta roll with it.  You have to take care of business.  Sometimes it’s exciting, sometimes it’s frustrating, and sometimes it’s just so mind-numbingly stupid all you can do is look around and the closest equally bewildered person and say, “I know, right?”  It gets overwhelming, this thing called life.  It’s not always easy.  Sometimes it’s ice-pick through your pupil painful.  It can be wildly unfair.  It can hurt.  It can be depressing as often as it’s wonderful.  Here’s the thing: this shit ain’t for pussies.  Figuring it out can be the hardest thing until you realize that there really is nothing to figure out at all because the minute you figure it out, things change.  Everything is in constant flux.  Just when you think that you’ve found your solid footing, guess what?  That damn rug gets pulled out from under you again.  Better to just learn to float.  And that is when the only real thing that matters are 3 words: I love you.  Saying them to someone.  Hearing them from someone.  Saying them to yourself.  Whatever. I love you is the same as Thank you, but kind of squishier and fuzzier and, well, you know.

My life has fallen into these 5 categories.  I know it’s been a long long time since I’ve been here, so here’s a run down of some of what has been filling the categories of my days.

WTF

When we bought this house 11 years ago and started packing up our stuff to move, I came across a box of my hold high school stuff. I was ready to throw the whole thing out unopened, but Brian insisted we go through it.  Inside I found programs from operettas, old notes, pictures, the publications that had my poetry in them, senior pictures of my friends, my diploma, a high school memory book and assorted other flotsam and jetsam.  The memory book was barely filled out – even then I wasn’t the type of person to get too sentimental about that kind of stuff – but there were a few things written in it from friends.  I found it funny that probably 60% of the people mentioned my “funky style.”  I thought back.  While I certainly didn’t think it as particularly odd at the time, I suppose I did have my own flair.  I was almost always in jeans, white v-neck tshirt, flannel, and combat boots like most of my friends.  The only difference is that I would wear that outfit with pearls and with my long hair in a french twist.  Or I would wear a fancy dress with an army jacket, little black dresses with neon tights, flowered shorts with actual bowling shoes I stole from the local bowling alley.  Okay, my boyfriend stole them, but whatever.  I was also one of the first people in my crowd to have a tattoo.  In 1993, kids didn’t have tattoos.  I felt very comfortable in my skin and my clothes, but I got lots of “what the fuck” back then and now, 21 years later, I’m getting it again.  While my youngest son now wears my Doc Marten boots and I no longer wear an army jacket, I am still expressing myself visually.  I got my tongue pierced.  I got my septum pierced.  I got a full chest piece tattoo.  (You can see all this stuff on my Instagram.) They all mean something very important to me and I love each one of these new pieces, but it seems that folks wonder WTF has happened to me.  The answer is simple: Everything and nothing.  I am still the same person I always was.  And I change every day.  It makes me do my own version of wtf: what the fuck does it matter to you?  Maybe I’m a little sensitive.

I wrote not too long ago about an event that shook my little family of three to the core.  While that event got squared away, it spawned some other WTF moments.  One of the people who perpetrated the original awfulness decided to sue me.  It was the most outlandish, egregious, poorly thought out decisions I have ever experienced first hand.  There are a few people who know the details, which I will not expound upon here, and all of us collectively shouted to the world, “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK???”  This time, my sweet kiddos got in on the act and actually contacted and shook some sense into this person and the lawsuit was dropped rather quickly, but let this be a lesson to you all: crazy is as crazy does.

My girl dog, Audrey, has decided that she gets to get on the furniture now.  We’ve had her 2.5 years and she never got on the furniture before, but now she does.  WTF?

My main tv remote no longer controls the volume nor the power.  WTF?

I bought a new vacuum and love it more than any other appliance.  WTF?  (okay, maybe I have changed.  A little.)

TCB

I have been feeling the need to make some professional changes in my life for a few years.  Yes, it’s been a long long long time coming, but today I took the final step.  I am no longer involved in any of the managerial or secretarial duties at Yoga Sol.  I just teach and I have to say that, while it was a wonderful run and I’m grateful for the experience, I’m relieved to have scaled back.  The person who replaced me is doing a much better job than I did. It’s better for the studio, and it’s most assuredly better for me, as well.  Teaching will always feed my soul and I couldn’t function without it.  I’m grateful to be able to focus on that fully.

While I haven’t been writing here, I have been writing.  I am spending quite a bit of time on my other love: live music.  I’ve been blessed to fall into ranks with a community that supports, creates, and promotes real musicians doing genius stuff independently from huge labels.  I have been attending shows, interviewing artists, laughing and dancing and writing and living and … wow, it’s so much fun!  You can find interviews I’ve done over at MoonRunners Country and I look forward to more experiences coming up.  These people I have met have become my family and I couldn’t be happier nor prouder of my association with them.

IKR

It’s fucking cold and I fear Spring will never arrive. I could go on about other things, but that particular item has me so depressed that everything else doesn’t matter.

TSAFP (in which I violate the TSAFP code.)

A few years ago, two of my best girlfriends and I sat down at a coffee shop to discuss a rather unpleasant happening in one of their lives.  “Rather unpleasant” is putting it mildly, but discretion being the better part of valor and all, I’ll leave it at that.  While there wasn’t a solution then (and there isn’t a solution now,) we pretty much summed up the whole experience by saying This Shit Ain’t For Pussies.  Sorry ladies, I just released the code out into the world.

While I have learned over the years to not take on the troubles of others, I am a very compassionate and empathetic person.  Some of the people I feel closest to in the whole world are dealing with some serious stuff right now: addiction, domestic abuse, mental illness, divorce, declining health of elderly parents, poverty, serious physical injury, abandonment… it’s all really heavy stuff.  There isn’t much I can do but care, and oh, how I care!  Having been to the bottom and having pulled myself part of the way up, I relate to how hard things can be.  This Shit Ain’t For Pussies, but I’m with you.  I care.  I’m here.

ILY

Every single morning, when I walk out of my bedroom, I am greeted before I even make it to the bathroom by love.  Zeus, the puppy, stands up on his hind legs, puts his paws on my shoulders, and hugs me.  That’s 89 lbs of puppy love.  At least he has learned to jump higher than my bladder.  A few minutes later (after I’ve taken care of pressing matters,) my oldest child puts a cup of coffee into my hand (coffee that he doesn’t drink, but makes for me every single day,)  and kisses my forehead.  He’s taller than me now, and it’s funny how the role has been reversed.  “Good morning, Mom!  How were your sleeps? (a throwback to our conversations when he was a tiny one.) Did you have good dreams?”  I ask him what he has been reading that morning and tell him what our plan for the day is.  A little while later, the youngest comes out.  He sleeps a lot these days – growing so fast is tiring work.  Some days I’m lucky – some days he will still curl on my lap for a snuggle.  Other days, he kisses my cheek and stumbles, bleary eyed, into the kitchen to get his own breakfast.  He’ll usually bring me a glass of juice.  We talk a bit as they eat and eat and eat (teenagers!) About the time I pour my 2nd or 3rd cup of coffee, I either send or receive a “Good Morning” text to or from a person who fills many of my thoughts.  The last text of the day and the first text of the morning is usually interacting with this person and it’s a heartwarming feeling.

I go about my day, working on the kids homeschooling projects, making meals, making plans, making the most out of every minute.  I look at the calendar and see who is coming into town, which concert is next, what article is due.  Emails, Facebook, Instagram, each one filled with something that makes me smile.  Dog kisses, fresh warm laundry, the perfect cup of chai tea, lunch with a friend, memories flashing like shooting stars, music so raw and so pure it makes me have to remember to breathe.  Old friends and new friends texting, calling, checking in or asking me if I want or need to check out for awhile with them.  Asking “how are you?” and really meaning it and knowing that the people who ask me the same really mean it, too.  Impromptu dance parties with my littles who are far from little anymore.

I cannot count the number of times a day I say or I hear “I love you.”

When it all boils down to it, those are the only letters of the alphabet that matter.

Featured Teacher

Standard

I am so honored to have been chosen as a Featured Teacher on the wonderful website Teacher Goes Back To School. (Click the link to read the interview.)  If you’ve ever wondered how this wild rebel got into the Yoga game, or what my classes are really like, this is the interview to read.  Thank you to Tami Hackbarth for giving me the forum to speak my truth.  Much love to you, sister and, if I may say so, word to YOUR mother!

Hangover

Standard

We’ve all been there at one point in time or another.  Waking up and peeling your eyelids open and wondering at what point during the previous night did you eat a cat.  The light hurts, your stomach spins, and you pray to whatever you believe in that, if you could just hold onto the bed long enough to keep the world from spinning, you’ll never ever have another night like the one before. Until you do.

We often think of hangovers just in terms of alcohol consumption, but the reality is that we more often that not have hangovers that have nothing at all to do with booze.  We have mental hangovers, emotional hangovers, anxiety hangovers, trauma hangovers.  Those hangovers, believe me, are just as much of a bitch as the happy juice kind, maybe even more so because alka seltzer, a nap, and a greasy cheeseburger don’t do a damn thing to help them.

They say “hair of the dog” is what will cure you when you’ve had too much booze.  You know, the whole concept of “what got you in will get you out.”  Not so with the other kinds of hangovers.  While we might do things that feel or sound good or appropriate at the time, eventually the moment of reckoning comes and all we’re left with is doubt, guilt, shame, anger, anxiety, fear, or any combination of those.  In those circumstances, doing what got you there most certainly will NOT get you out, it will only get you in deeper.  It can be a horrible cycle of trying to explain things and that only makes things worse.  Kind of like when someone doesn’t understand what you’re saying, it does no good to clear up the situation by simply repeating yourself over and over again or, my personal favorite, saying the same things LOUDER.

For years, I have taught “hangover yoga” the day after traditional days of celebration: New Year’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, Homecoming, Halloween, etc.  Those classes were centered around asana that would cleanse the body of toxins, lots of twists, pranayama, forward folds, gentle inversions.  About 6 weeks ago, I realized that we all need to detox from our emotional and mental hangovers as well.  We need to learn to stop beating ourselves up over and over again.  We need to let go of the shame or anger we feel for ourselves or for others.  We need to let go of the poison.  We need, in other words, to get the toxic shit out of us so that we can forgive and move on.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but forgiving myself is the hardest thing in the world to do.  I often do things in the heat of the moment that cause me to feel shame or regret the next day or next week or next whatever.  It sucks.  It REALLY sucks and I have long moments of absolutely hating myself for it, but you know what?  We all do that.  We all do that because we are human.

1378623_10153428801170192_1386442562_nOddly, it’s not the original act that hurts us the most, it’s the squirrel cage circular thinking that does the most damage. There is a basic tenet of yoga called Ahimsa which essential means Do No Harm.  Listen, like I said, we’re human.  We’re going to fuck up.  The sooner we accept that, the better we’ll all be.  BUT here’s the thing, we don’t have to keep harming ourselves over our fuck ups.  We don’t have to make the situation worse on ourselves by reliving our mistakes over and over again.  We don’t need to keep beating ourselves up.  If we keep ourselves filled with shame, there is no room for acceptance.  And if there is no room for acceptance, there is no room for love.  We have to learn to let it go.  We might never ever be able to remedy what we have done.  Somethings just can’t be fixed, sadly, but we can keep the experience from hurting more than it already does.  Sadly, there is no AA for emotional / mental hangovers.  They are going to happen.  We have no choice over that matter.  What we DO have control over, however, is how we deal with them.  Feel the pain.  Feel the shame.  Feel the embarrassment or anger or anxiety or whatever it is, because if you don’t feel it, it will come back to haunt you.  Feel it, and then step away.  Ahimsa – don’t pour salt on the wound. Salt is for margaritas.