Category Archives: Uncategorized

Life at 5

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5-years-laterI almost fell over when I logged on tonight to post and realized it has been 2.5 years since I’ve posted.  Ummm  What?

Yeah.  Okay.  I get it.  The years, y’all.  The goddamn years!  They are both the tortoise and the hare.

I could sit here and give you a million and twelve reasons as to why I haven’t written.  It would be easy – I’ve had to give those reasons verbally several times a week for ages.  I used to think that it was because I was too busy.  Or because I was too tired.  Or because it was too hard.  Or because it felt too indulgent. All of that is 100% true.  It is also 100% bullshit.

I didn’t write because I didn’t want to.  I had shared much and gotten unbelievable support, but it didn’t make anything feel better.  So the more I talked or wrote about it, the more desperate it felt. The more attention seeking.  And it still didn’t ease the pain.  So there I was, a desperate attention seeking victim without answers.

If you know me at all, you know that there’s really not much worse I could be.  Desperate? gross.  Attention seeking? get over yourself ffs. Victim? Don’t even get me started.

But then people I loved started losing people they love. Over and over again I would get the call.  And then people I didn’t even know would lose someone and my inbox would blow up.

Keep writing, they said.

We need your words, they said.

Can you get me a discount on a Harley-Davidson, they asked.

Oh come on.  You didn’t honestly think I wouldn’t call out the assholes, did you?

Moving on…

In a couple of weeks, it will be 5 year since Brian died.  I look at my life often these days and realize that probably 90% of the amazing things I have in my life right now would never ever be a part of my life had Brian not died.  I also think about how stressful things are now. And how this stress is a million times more manageable than the stress of life as it was when he was alive.  I don’t know that I’ve ever been more proud of myself. Of my children. Of what we have created.  Of who we are. We wouldn’t have done any of this had he not died.

But how I miss him! The tears flow without warning.  So does the rage.

I don’t need Brian.

I don’t need Alfredo sauce, either.

But life is better with both.

These days I mix anger and pride and grief and joy and indifference into one large daily vitamin. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but it feeds me.  It teaches me.  And I grow.

I am 5.  And this is my life.

 

 

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Know It All

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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

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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.

Every Teacher is a Student, Every Student is a Teacher – Except When They Aren’t.

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Yeah. Not a teacher.

It happened again this morning.  I was drinking my coffee and browsing my Facebook and Twitter feeds and the news and blogs and all kinds of stuff and generally checking in with the online world and I came across someone saying that they are a “Yoga Teacher” now.

Of course they are.

A few minutes later, I was talking to a good friend of mine.  She mentioned that she had been invited to go to a yoga class in a nearby town.  When I asked if I knew the teacher, she said that nope, I didn’t and no one else did, either, because this person had had absolutely zero training.

Of course they didn’t.

I saw the newest lineup of “yoga” classes at a local gym.  I also looked at the lineup of “yoga teachers.”  Zero real yoga, zero real yoga teachers, and tons of blind yoga students being led by untrained teachers.

Of course.

Hear that? That is the sound of shoulders and knees going out, of hamstrings tearing, and of Ahimsa being ripped to shreds.

Now, look, I never once claimed that everything I write will be kind.  I also never claimed that I gave a hoot or a holler if anyone agrees with me.  What I have claimed is that I will write the truth as I see it, so put on your big girl yoga panties and get ready for a hearty slice of Satya.

Not every person claiming to be a “Yoga Teacher” is a Yoga Teacher.  I’m astounded and shocked at what people are accepting as adequate training before being allowed to teach yoga.  A weekend training does not a yoga teacher make.  A memorized DVD does not a yoga teacher make.  Not even years of practice does not a teacher make. And, if I’m going to be completely honest (why shouldn’t I?) not even all 200hr Yoga Teachers are Yoga Teachers.  I’ll wait here as you get on your soapbox and get defensive and start huffing and puffing.  Breathe, folks.  Hear me out.

Most of the gyms around here and even (mindbogglingly) a studio or two in this area require absurdly small amounts of training before “yoga teachers” are allowed to teach.  We’re talking maybe MAYBE 20 hours.  In these trainings, these students are told NOT TO TOUCH anyone.  They are told nothing about alignment, nothing about modifications, nothing about anything, really.  It’s insane.  It’s harmful.  It’s like sending your newborn to some dude in a garage for pediatric services because that dude once took a mandatory health class in Junior High School.  Know how I know this?  Because I did it.  I took that training.  I started teaching with that little amount of training and even then, even before I knew that I wanted this to be my life path, I knew it was a total joke.  Still, I taught with that small training and I nearly lost my job because I knew due to my own personal research and study that folks were busting their knees and shoulders and necks and so, in order to prevent injury, I touched them.  You BET I touched them.  I moved knees and heads and arms and feet.  I was willing to lose my job in order to keep others from losing their safety.  I regret nothing.  Clearly, I eventually left that location and into a real yoga studio and took the leap and got my 200hr certification and training.

Guess what I learned after 200 hours of training, 200 hours of teaching, over 30 books read, and more than 16 years of practice?  I learned that I barely know anything.  Far cry from those folks who have 20 or 30 hours of training, one book read, 3 dvds watched, and a spotless yoga mat and think they know it all!

Let me stop right here and say this: EVERYONE HAS TO START SOMEWHERE.  I know this.  I started there, too, remember? But it’s a starting place.  Just a starting place.  If you think you’re going to get a decent yoga teacher training studying a program that is designed to be taught in a gym, well, please stay in the gym and think really hard about what you’re doing.  You’re teaching Asana.  Asana is the smallest part of yoga.  It’s actually the least significant part of yoga.  If you want to stay with that, fine.  But don’t tell me or anyone else you’re teaching yoga because you are not. If you want to teach yoga, use that training as a springboard to get you into classes with a highly trained and certified YOGA teacher.  Be an apprentice.  Shadow.  Learn.  Take notes.  And then, for goodness sake, get some real training at a highly qualified yoga school.

Even that can be tricky, though.  What is a good school?  Folks will point to Yoga Alliance and, while it’s something, it’s not foolproof.  YA is not certification.  It’s registration.  There’s a difference.  I am certified through White Lotus Foundation, but I didn’t pay the fee to register with Yoga Alliance because it really means next to nothing.  Yes, you have to be certified by a Yoga Alliance accredited Yoga Teacher Training school, but dear lord, look at who they accredit!  They accredit folks who really really don’t have much training in areas that matter themselves, much less have any business training other people to be teachers.  Perfect example: one of my dear friends and former / sometimes current students recently completed her 200hr YTT at a yoga school that I thought would be perfect.  It’s not too far from here, I have (limited) experience with the yoga teacher trainer, I thought it would be perfect for her.  Yes, it’s true she learned more than most do about the Yamas and Niyamas and the other limbs of yoga Patanjali mentioned, she learned next to nothing at all about:

  • Modifications
  • Adjustments
  • Alignment
  • Contraindications

She kind of left wondering what the hell she spent all that time and money on.  I wondered the same thing myself.  I mean, if you aren’t taught how to modify, how to adjust, even the very basics of alignment, you haven’t been taught to teach.  My friend is a very studious person, however, and she’s taken notes on every class she has taken, has read way more than what was required of her, and knows that she still has much to learn, so her training has served her well in that it taught her that there is so much more to learn! Reminds me a bit of me (and everyone else who truly wants to learn the path of yoga), that girl.

So what do you do?  Start with Yoga Alliance.  It’s a good place to start and will at least weed out schools you really don’t even

Vitarka Mudra: the mudra of the teacher. Every teacher is a student, every student is a teacher. Sort of.

want to look at.  You ask around.  You ask for references.  You check and double check credentials.  You look at syllabi.  You research.  If you want to be a teacher, get fully trained.  Do not settle for a place that doesn’t require 200hours before unleashing you to teach.  Do not settle for a place that doesn’t teach alignment, adjustments, assists, modifications, contraindications, anatomy, history, philosophy.  Look, I know that there are some excellent teachers out there who have been teaching long before Yoga Alliance and there are loads of folks out there who are excellent teachers out there who are not accredited.  I’m not here to say that you have to have all of that to be a good teacher, but those people have been teaching AND studying forever.  They know that you don’t stop learning. They know that you have to keep learning.  And I’ll tell you this – they know that the more they know the more they have to learn. I also know that, if you ask them, they’ll tell you to get a high quality education, that there are no shortcuts, that a mat in the front of the room doesn’t make you a teacher.

They’ll also tell you that if this is what you believe in, if this is what you love, if this is the path you feel has been chosen for you, then do not let anything stand in your way.  If you feel drawn to this, as though you were born for it, follow it.  Go after it.  Do what you need to do to be the very best at it you can be.  Do not stop.  Do not give up.  Do not see obstacles.  Dive in, swim deep, and be.  They will tell you that the world needs you.  They will tell you all of these things — and I couldn’t agree with them more.

Yoga is a sacred journey.  It is a path, a lifestyle, a way of being.  It is not something you do, it is someone you are.  Don’t cheat your students or yourself out of all the incredible gifts that a thorough, consistent, dedicated, all encompassing education can bring.  Don’t be in such a rush to call yourself a yoga teacher that you forget that you must first – and always – be a yoga student and all that entails.

Love and light from your ever-opinionated, constantly learning, 200hrCYT, highly flawed, rebel yogini.

Namaste

Open mouth, insert foot

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I occasionally say things or write things without fully understanding how they will be perceived.  If you subscribe to this blog (email or through wordpress) you might realize that earlier today I posted about new teachers.  Upon further reading (and an opinion voiced by my husband,) I have come to see that maybe it came off differently than I had intended.  As a result, I have kept the post, but have taken it down from the main blog.  I will revisit it another time and possibly repost it.

If you read it and were offended, please understand that was never my intention.  I am so grateful for all of you new teachers!  We all learn from each other.  Every teacher is a student, every student is a teacher! Thanks for all that you do.

Love and Light,

Mamakohl

Announcing my Half-Mala Workshop!

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I’m so excited to announce my Half-Mala workshop at Yoga Sol!

The practice of yoga gives us the opportunity to get in touch with our deepest, true self. We then take that knowledge, strength, and self-love and share it with the world by our thoughts, words, and deeds. This is how yoga can change the world. When we all practice together with a common intention, miracles happen!

Join me for a Yoga Half-Mala, a journey through 54 guided Sun Salutations dedicated to Peace and Healing. Feel a sense of community as you mix your Prana with the Prana of others all moving, breathing, and believing together under the same intention. It is a transformative event – you don’t want to miss it!

Save the NEW Date!
Half-Mala for Peace and Healing
*Saturday, APRIL 28, 2-4:30pm*
54 guided Sun Salutations leading to peace, hope, and health.
$35 in advance, $40 day of
Online registration open soon.

Yogasol.org