Surrender

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This morning I woke up at 4AM again.

 

Didn’t I JUST blog about this? Didn’t I?

 

This is how it is right now. The waking up. Sometimes 4AM, sometimes 5AM.

Very rarely, close to 6AM.

This morning it is 4AM.

 

I open my eyes and check my phone to be sure I did not get a text from Doula Client who is now one day post date. I see no text. I roll back over and after five minutes it becomes clear sleeping time is over.

 

I do not fight this early morning time reader. I do not fight this waking with ideas calling to be executed. Instead, I have started going to bed earlier. This is what yoga has taught me.

 

Surrender.

 

So, it is last night and I am on the green couch, slowly schlumping down on the throw pillows next to Philly.

 

I tell him, “I am tired already.”

 

Ok, it is more like a WHINE than a SAY.

 

Philly says, “You are tired. You should go to bed.”

 

I know he is right. My wide-awake times have a way of creeping up and surprising me lately. But it is so early. It is only nine o’clock.

 

“Soon I will be going to bed at lunch time.” I say.

 

He looks at me.

 

“Oh OK!” I say. And I pad up the stairs and make the necessary preparations for sleeping.

 

And so, by 9:30PM, I AM sleeping. Because I have learned through the practice and the program how to actually put myself to bed.

 

It may sound simple. But I did not always know how to do this very simple thing: Pay attention to my body. Act accordingly. And surrender.

 

Surrender to what is.

And, remember to give thanks.

 

For these, the moments that make up the body of work that continue to lead us, and to give us opportunity, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, to live our yoga on and off the mat.

 

So for today, surrender again, to what is.

Pieces of the Heart

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The other day I went to the beach.

 

Or as they say in these parts, DOWN THE SHORE. Even though one is really not going DOWN anywhere from here in Philadelphia.

 

So it is morning and I am excited for THE BEACH. I am especially excited because I am meeting Friend 1. She and her husband are coming from Brooklyn to meet us at a beach in the middle of our two locations. I have not seen her in seven months.

 

I wake up and I do all the things: Go for a run. Have the coffee. Do the yoga. Have a meditation. And start the beach pack up, including turkey wraps for the whole family made by yours truly.

 

When it is 9AM it is time to go. I tell the house: “Time to go!”
But, the house is running a little late. First daughter comes down the stairs. Then Philly comes down the stairs. By the time we leave it is 9:20AM.

 

“We have to meet Friend 1!” I say. “Plus, I am losing valuable beach time!”

 

We drive.

 

Luckily, there is no traffic. There is no traffic since we are driving on Monday, right smack in the middle of the July 4th holiday stretch.

 

Yes, I planned it that way.

 

By 10:50AM we are at the beach! We get a spot right near the boardwalk. Quickly, we trot out to the boardwalk where we also quickly remember that in New Jersey they have a thing called BEACH TAGS. I do not understand the Beach Tag system reader. Where I come from in Brooklyn we do not have this system. You either just walk onto the FREE beach, or you pay a fee to park a car at the beach.

 

Inside me I feel it is just not right. This charging people to go on the beach. Plus, you have to pay cash. Do we have enough cash onhand? No, we do not.

 

“Oh my GOD!” I say to the boardwalk. Because now I have to wait to get on the beach while Philly kindly walks down to get cash and purchase the beach tags.

 

While I am waiting I text Friend 1. Turns out she is somehow at a different beach. Or we think it is a different beach. In the end it really is the same beach but with a little Friend 1 confusion, which is a thing that happens.

 

Finally, we get ON the beach. I see the waves. I see the watery horizon. And then I see Friend 1. I run right up to her and give her a big giant hug. “I miss you!” I say.

 

 

After he puts down the 20 pound cooler packed with all the food Friend 1 ALWAYS brings, Friend 1 Husband gives me a hug and goes into the water. He likes to swim. If they would allow him, he would swim along the shore for a long time. But they will not allow him.

 

Right away Friend 1 and I start the eating and the talking on many subjects. Friend 1 is the only person I have ever known who can also have five conversations at once. Plus, since I have known her almost 30 years, we practically read each other’s minds.

 

I tell her all about THE STUDIO. I tell her how busy everything has been and all the decisions and negotiations and general constant working. And how happy I am to be venturing out again. And how terrifying it is, of course.

 

Friend 1 is very happy for me. I tell her I have a lot of support, but still, I wish she were with me.

 

“Maybe someday you will move to Philadelphia.” I say.

Then I tell her, “You know we live next to a duck now.”

This is actually true. Every morning I hear it quacking away. Especially when it rains.

 

She laughs.

 

Friend 1 Husband returns. “Duck?” he says.

“Yep.” I say.

 

I look back onto the blanket and Philly is in full BEACH NAP mode. It does not take him long to fall asleep. Today he is lying on his back, ball cap on, hopefully not getting a sunburn.

 

“Should we go for a walk?” Friend 1 asks.

 

I look at her. I look at her because Friend 1 is famously known for asking this question back when we would go to The Rockaways in NYC. And I would say yes. And we would wind up walking at least a mile, maybe more. She would keep saying: Oh, just a little further, just to those rocks.

 

And then it would be to the next set of rocks. And so on.

You get the picture.

 

So I tell her, “I am only going if we do not have to walk like three miles.”

We go.

 

We walk down around the rocks and come to a little cove. You would not know the cove existed from where we had been sitting. But it is in fact like a little lagoon. There are scads of small children thrashing about and running back and forth. Really, it is like another world.

 

We talk about the Friend 1 new career. She is a Social Worker now. She went back to school after her two children left the nest. Even I was a little unsure about this particular career at this particular time. But she is doing it. She shows me pictures of all the crafts she makes with her client groups.

 

“Wow!” I say.

 

We keep walking and there is ANOTHER cove. This one with even more children than the first. Now it is almost impossible to continue walking it is so crowded with families.

 

“We have to go back.” I say.

“Ok.” she says.

 

When we get back to the blanket I decide to lay right on top of Philly who is now on his belly.

 

“Ugh!” he says.

Friend 1 takes a picture.

 

“Come on!” I tell him. You have to see THE COVE!

And I hold his hand as we go for our own little beach walk.

 

Somehow, I really do not know how exactly, Philly falls right into a wave which proceeds to knock him over.

 

Ok. I cannot help it. I laugh. But it is ok because he is laughing too, trying to gain his ground to stand. Walking along the shore with him, I feel like we are on vacation. And in my heart I still hope someday we get to take the honeymoon we never did manage to take.

 

Now daughter wants ice cream. “Ice cream?” I say. “You need food. You are going to get a big headache.”

 

It is decided we will go in search of food. And ice cream. As we are packing up Friend 1 is desperately looking for her watch. Friend 1 Husband is raking the sand.

 

“It is here somewhere.” I say. “You just had it.”

This is a common occurrence, this misplacement.

“I bet it is in a bag. We will look when we get to the boardwalk.” I say.

 

And…the lost watch IS in a bag. Buried deep in MY bag. Through the magic of Friend 1 placement.

 

“I need to use the beach shower.” I say, because I have so much sand in my bathing suit. Luckily both daughter and I have brought dry clothes with us and are quite skilled at the surfer girl towel drapery changing. We shower off and change right there on the boardwalk.

 

 

We head out to forage for food. We find food. And ice cream. And it is GOOOOD. Because we have been on the beach all day. And food and ice cream are always so good when you have been on the beach all day.

 

Afterwards we talk some more and stroll along and look at all the shops. I find a Ganesh shirt and a shawl.

Yes, I buy them.

 

And now it is time to go. As we head back to the car we see a bunch of geese and a few baby geese and one chicken-duck type bird. Standing on the corner I give Friend 1 a hug. I wish so much she lived closer. I wish she could be part of THE STUDIO. It is hard to be so far away from her now. She in Brooklyn and I in Philadelphia.

 

“I hope I will see you soon Friend 1. Sooner than seven months.”

“Yes.” she says.

 

We separate. I feel a little part of my heart go walking away with her.

That is how it is when you have a very good friend for a long, long time.

A tiny piece of your heart always resides with them, with all the things you have shared, and now with all the stories you have to tell.

 

I love you Friend 1.

So much.

I miss you. I miss when I used to see you all the time. All the Saturday morning runs we went on. Everything.

 

Until we meet again.

Four AM wide awakes

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Today I woke up at 4AM.

 

I woke up at 4AM because I have ideas in my head, leftover from yesterday. I have ideas in my head because each day I am getting closer to opening what will be business number three for me in this lifetime.

 

First it was a Design Studio. Then it was a Doula business. And now, a Yoga Studio.

 

Which is very exciting. And also terrifying.

And there is a lot to do.

And I am not as young as I used to be.

 

Yesterday I am at the computer with my face in the keyboard.

Philly says, “What are you doing?”

I say, “You know. STUDIO.”

 

Philly knows. Because he is a part of this thing. Philly is bringing all his experience and his time at the Tibetan Buddhist Center to the studio. He will lead the meditation and mindfulness piece. So, it is not just me reader. Philly is also living and breathing THE STUDIO.

 

“Ok.” I say. “Tomorrow we have to do this. And this. And these other three things.”

“Ok.” he says, his face now glued to laptop screen.

 

Thankfully, it is not just us. We have a partner, who was not going to be a partner. But now is going to be a partner. I am very grateful for this collaboration. She is very, very good at certain things not in my particular wheelhouse and vice-versa.

 

But still it is a lot to do. Everyday I pray: Please give me guidance and clarity.

And I say: Thank you.

 

And so it is early morning and I am awake, again. I do things on THE LIST. Electronic things. Merchant things. Supply things. Space things. Even as I write this blog, I know soon I will be writing another blog just for the studio.

 

Because writing another blog is on THE LIST.

 

And so a new day begins. Here in Philadelphia. I don’t know if you have entrepreneurial leanings reader, but if you do, I am here to say: Follow your Dharma. Find mentors. Ask questions. Hit roadblocks. Pause.

 

And then…Trust. Pray hard for guidance and clarity. Wish for the best for all beings.

And clarity will come reader.

Yes.

It will.

Misundertexting

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The other day I had a chat on the phone with son.

 

These chats are much cherished moments for me, THE MOM, who gets to see the son face on the FACETIME. Which is much better than texting. This extra visual layer of human contact is very important when you are dealing with an austere type like son, with a less than large range of emotions. And, a NO RESPONSE tendency on the texting.

 

So it is Monday FACETIME night.

Son texts: Give me five minutes. I am wrapping up making dinner.

I text: Ok.

Even though I think: Why can he not be ready on time when we only talk once a week?

But ok. I let it go.

 

A few minutes and I get the OK text.

I call.

Son picks up. He looks very handsome. Every time I see him now I think he looks like more and more of a real MAN, you know, not just like the beginnings of a man.

 

I tell him, “You look good. Bigger.”

Son says, “Bigger? Well, I am getting older.”

 

Mr. Logic has spoken.

 

We talk. We discuss politics. I say something I cannot repeat here. Mr. Logic passes a little logic judgment on me for saying it.

 

“Mom.” he says. “No one is going to do that. You have said this before. It is not right.”

I wish I could tell you what it was I said. But I cannot.

I let this go too.

 

We discuss the daughter and her pointed disposition. Son reminds me of the daughter strong personality. Sometimes I think he is glad he does not live with the two of us anymore really.

 

Next, we discuss sending THE LEASE. And, we discuss not sending it at the last minute. I work hard to get a commitment on the SEND date from son. I wrangle out from him: I will send it by Wednesday.

 

Lastly, I go off on a little poor me tangent about things I wish I had. Son reminds me, “Don’t compare mom. Remember, you taught me that.”

 

Thank you.

 

Soon it is time to get off the FACETIME. We say good night. After we hang up I text: I can tell when I see you that you really love me. ❤

 

In between this conversation and right this very minute there are 5 exchanges, details below:

  1. Me finding out about and texting about my misguided yoga pants sent to Brooklyn. No response. Retexted. Kind of weird son did not mention the pants arrival in Brooklyn during our conversation last night, but I do eventually find out they are in fact, at the Brooklyn Apartment.
  2. Adjusting the son and GF visit date based on my work and birthing schedule. No response. Follow up text sent. Response and dialogue follows.
  3. Question of DID YOU SEND THE LEASE as promised on Wednesday. No response. Retexted. Apparently not yet sent. But will be sent at night.
  4. More texting regarding LEASE. Too long for here. I still do not have said lease, BTW.
  5. Saying Hi and finding out it is DATE NIGHT with GF. See below.

 

Now that GF is with son, I am getting some juicy text responses. While I am asking questions about THE METS, son sends me a cute little text with a SHRUG made up out of quotation marks and parenthesis and dashes!

 

“OMG! That is sooo cute!” I say.

And then I text: OMG! That is so cute. I must have it.

And since GF is there, GF gives directions on how I can get this cute little SHRUG into my phone.

 

I text: Take a picture of you both for mom!

And you know what? I actually get a picture of son and GF!

I almost cannot believe it.

 

In the meantime I am trying to program in the SHRUG according to the GF directions but SHRUG will not copy and paste.

I text: It is not working!

Son and GF text more explicit directions. With screen shots!

 

I try like three more times before SHRUG finally goes into the settings box.

 

I text: I did it!!

Son texts: Congrats! GF gave all the instructions.

I text: Thank you! Thank you!

 

See ? Son is really much better at this communication thing when GF helps him out.

I have my hopes reader.

Yes I do.

Ice Cream Night

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The other night I drove daughter to get ice cream.

 

It is Sunday at 9:10PM. It also happens to be Father’s Day. Daughter says, “Ice cream place?”

 

“Now?” I say. “It is 9:10PM. They close at 9:30.”

 

“We can make it.” she says.

 

Somewhere inside the me that is me, I just know this is not a good idea. The ice cream place is the ONLY hard ice cream place nearby and is notoriously crowded at night AND it is Father’s Day. Plus it is HOT outside.

 

Sigh.

 

“Ok.” I say.

And we jump in the KIA.

 

We drive.

 

We get to the traffic light on the corner of the hill before the ICE CREAM PLACE. From my perch in the car I can see the line of people wrapping around in front of the building, amusement park style. On the side of the building I can see the cars lining up all the way down the street, completely blocking traffic, to get to the drive through ice cream window.

 

I look at daughter and I say, “I am not doing this.”

Then I say, “No. No. No. I KNEW this was a bad idea! Now I cannot even get back down the street because of the stupid traffic line!”

 

“Mom. Calm down.” she says.

 

GOD! Do not tell me to calm down!

 

“No.” I say. “I cannot calm down. Because now I have to drive into the neighborhood. And this neighborhood is full of messed up one way streets that lead nowhere, making it near impossible to get back up the hill without going around in circles!”

 

“Well, let’s just stop at the WATER ICE place then.” she says.

 

Have you heard of this reader? WATER ICE? This is what people in Philadelphia call Italian Ices. I do not understand it. This redundant term. It is an Italian Ice. ICE. Made of water. In a frozen state.

 

We get the water ice. We get back in the KIA. We have no choice but to go into THE NEIGHBORHOOD. I push harder on gas pedal. Some jerky driver tries to make a left right in front of me as I am making a left, but then just sits there, blocking me.

 

For f#*k’s sake. “Move!” I say to the car.

 

I turn to daughter. “I am never doing this again.” I say.

 

“Don’t be so dramatic.” she says.

 

“Ever.” I say. “Especially not on a SUNDAY that is a HOT HOLIDAY right before CLOSING time.”

 

Now we are driving way out of our way in this stupid neighborhood JUST to get back to the original street we were on in the first place.

 

And, I am in a headlight standoff. Since all the streets are ridiculously skinny and people park on both sides of the street, only one car can fit down the supposedly two-way street. AND a car is coming in the other direction. And so now we both just sit there. Headlights staring at one another.

 

I say one more time, “Never doing this again.”

 

Daughter is now ignoring me.

 

I look around. There is a teeny tiny little space either one of us can pull towards on the right so the other car can pass by.

 

Headlights is still not moving.

 

“Oh MY GOD!” I say. And I squeeze into the teeny tiny space, even though Headlights clearly has the smaller car.

 

After he passes by I peel out of there.

 

“I did not even get an ice cream out of this.” I say to the car.

 

No one is answering. I have noticed my family has begun this little teaching practice of PLANNED IGNORING with me.

 

I do not like it.

No, I do not.

 

When we get home we give Philly his sugar free water ice.

“How was it?” he asks, smirkily.

“Mom was totally overreacting.” daughter says.

 

Nice right?

 

I look at daughter. I look at Philly and I tell him, “Next time, YOU drive out for ice cream night.” I say.

 

“Because I will not be going again. Ever never, never ever.”

 

Ugh.

I got to go to bed.

While You Were Sleeping

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The other day I attended a birth.

 

It is Monday morning and I am out with the ear buds in for a sweaty trot. The playlist is interrupted by a ring ring of the iphone. It is my four-day-overdue Doula Client.

 

“Hello!” I say.

 

“Hello!” she says back.

 

“I am running.” I say, just so she does not think I am having an asthma attack.

 

“Well, don’t exhaust yourself” she says, “I have been having contractions. They started Sunday night.”

 

“Allright” I say. “Hydrate. Walk. Rest. Eat. And let’s see what happens.”

 

When I get home I lay down. Because I am a little sick and I have a feeling I am going to need my energy. Client decides to go for her acupuncture, even though things seem to be getting going on their own. Throughout the day we are in touch. Contractions speed up. Contractions slow down. “B” gets in the tub. She gets out of the tub. She gets back in the tub.

 

I know “B” is trying to stay home as long as possible. This is her second baby. Her first baby was an induction and ended with a c-section. She REALLY wants to birth vaginally. And so she has decided to labor at home as long as she can.

 

Somewhere in the evening “B” decides it is time.

 

I get a text from Husband: Come now. In Triage.

 

I have just lain down to try to sleep early, figuring this call would be coming, not quite yet.

 

“Oh well.” I say to Philly. “Guess not so much on the sleeping!”

 

As always, Philly fixes me up with the Doula fortifications: snack, sandwich, water.

And off I go.

 

When I get to the hospital Husband is administering quite intense counter pressure on the “B” back. “B” sounds like she is deep into her labor with strong contractions. But when the doctor checks her she is only dilated 1cm.

 

My heart sinks a little. Because I know this is how her first birth was, at least in part, with the dilation.

 

Nurse comes in to check in on “B”. Apparently, they are still trying to decide whether or not to admit her.

 

A few minutes later and her water breaks and there is meconium. Which is not a terrible thing. But it definitely answers the are-we-admitting-her question.

 

Not too much longer and “B” wants the epidural. I know she has labored all day. And her contractions are strong. I am hoping the epidural will help her make it to full dilation and vaginal birth.

 

Nurse comes back to move us from Triage to Labor and Delivery. Not too long and Anesthesia comes in. Anesthesia works faster than any other Anesthesia I have seen. In minutes “B” has an epidural. And very soon after that she is sleepy. In a while they come in to check her again.

 

“4cm.” Doctor says.

 

“Woo!” I say to the room.

 

I tell “B” and hubby, “Sleep. And I will too. Call me when we are close!”

And I catch some much needed slightly-sick sleep.

 

At 5AM the iphone rings. It is “B”. She says, “I am 10 cm!”

 

“WOW!” I say. And then I say, “Be right there!”

 

As I gather myself I tell Philly, “Get the coffee quick! I got to go!”

 

When I walk into the room “B” is sitting up happily on the bed, laboring down. Nice Labor Nurse says “B” is station +1.

 

“Excellent!” I say.

And while we wait we prep for pushing.

 

Turns out “B” is a CHAMPION pusher. For REAL. It takes two hands and bracing against the bed to counter her curling up and bearing down. Husband and I take turns holding the leg as “B” calls for a mirror so she can see her baby being born.

 

She tells Husband, “I want a video!”

 

Now it is morning and it doesn’t take long reader. One hour. One hour and this baby is crowning.

With tears in his eyes Husband takes the video with his phone. And despite meconium, baby comes out perky and bright and gives a nice little cry!

 

Immediately I get a Husband hug and a big thank you.

This is often the case.

Very grateful partners.

 

I smile and I say, “You are so welcome!”

 

“B” is crying and holding her new baby to her chest, sweetly welcoming this child to the world. Baby is looking curiously at the face that will be her mother in this lifetime.

 

I step back, and yes, cry a little. I think about all the babies everywhere with their laboring mothers, while we sleep, making their way into the world.

 

This miracle never goes away.

This moment is always wordless and profound.

We were all babies once reader.

Yes, we were.

 

The Teacher Before Me

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This weekend I saw my teacher.

I suppose I should say I say ONE of my teachers because I seem to have a lot of them.

 

This is my Buddhist teacher. She is a Dzogchen Master. I see her once a year when she comes to Philadelphia from India and other places she travels to and from.

 

My teacher comes for a mini weekend retreat, which begins Friday evening and ends Sunday afternoon. I try to get as much time with her as I can, in between teaching yoga classes.

 

Even though I often do not understand even half of what she is saying, I know my heart understands. I tell her, “L”, I really don’t know what you are saying half the time, but I know it is getting in there.” And I point to my heart.

 

She laughs. Probably because she already knows this by the bewildered look on my face as I sit and listen to her talk about MIND.

 

Looking. Experiencing. Noticing. I am trying to pay attention. But the teachings are dense and as they swirl around me I become coiled in THE WORDLESS.

 

And this is exactly why “L” is my teacher. Right away when I met her I felt the wild-hearted gypsy joy radiating from her. And devotion. And discipline. And I knew she had something I wanted to be with. To be near.

 

And so I asked her, “I think you might be my teacher?”

And she bonked me on the head with the head bonker and said, “I just may be. I just may be.”

 

This year, I make it to two of the teaching sessions and catch the ending of the last session. I am excited because I know “L” will be showing me a special practice today that I have been trying to do for almost two years. Two years in that practice stuck place one can accidentally find themselves in.

 

When it is time, I go cozy right up to where she is sitting at her table. I have brought all the necessary items for me to learn how to make the Mandala, which is the next step in my Nundro practice.

 

I say to Philly, “Are you recording? I need you to record this!”

I need the recording because the Mandala is complicated and without a recording I completely forgot how to do it, even though I was already shown this practice.

 

“L” begins. She is singing in Tibetan and showing me how to do the Mandala. I am trying to follow the placements but it is not easy reader. Luckily, she stops because she KNOWS I am lost and starts to number each line for me.

 

“Thank you!” I say. Suddenly everything makes sense.

 

I ask her, “How many times do I have to do this?”

She tells me a number I cannot repeat here. Suffice to say it is A LOT.

 

Inside I think: Holy crap.

 

She says, “Some people never get there.”

Then she says, “Or you might just get done.”

 

Bless her. BLESS HER.

 

After we are finished I ask for a hug. Hugs from “L” are the best. It is like I have known her forever and ever.

 

Next, a few of us go to lunch together. I get to sit right next to “L”. Even though I have a thousand questions, I try to contain myself. Mostly, I listen. Program has taught me this: Listen for the solution. I know she is teaching me how to help people. “L” says things that might seem like nothing, but later, they are something.

 

We eat. We share. And soon it is time to go. On the way out “L” touches my shoulder.

I will not see her for another year.

It will take me this long to absorb all she has given to us this year.

 

Today, she is the teacher before me.

And I am so very, very grateful.