Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday at the Farmer's Market

I love Farmer's Markets. Any market, any state, any city, any farmer. You meet the most interesting people!

I missed this summer's Farmer's Market season partly due to injured kids and partly due to working most Saturday mornings. Today was the final day of the local Memphis Farmer's Market and I had the morning off. So away to the Farmer's Market we went!

The kids most exciting find was real Philadelphia-style Italian water ice. The owner, Dee Moore, is originally from Baltimore and her husband is a Philly native. We shared our disappointment over the Phillies losing their chance at the World Series this year, our shame at the Eagles losing to the Titans last week, and of course, sampled her delicious Italian ice! You can find Ms. Moore on Facebook at Mama D's Italian Ice.

I enjoyed the time spent speaking with Farmer Ken,  the owner of Windermere Farms - one of the rare certified organic farms in my area. He explained the process for becoming certified organic, the struggle to keep farming organic and affordable at the same time, and he gave me some great tips on my own struggles with my little backyard garden.  I will definitely be taking a visit to his farm the end of April for pick-your-own strawberries! Check out all his other great fruits and vegetables at

I felt myself drawn to the woman selling fresh herbs. She convinced me it's not too late to plant some and they will certainly bloom again in the spring. I sure hope so because I bought this delightful pot of Peppermint. I'm going to plant it in the planter boxes on my backyard deck. Can you imagine the aroma as we flow together next Spring for Yoga on the Deck?
I wish this blog had Scratch and Sniff technology.
It smells like a Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookie!

Look at those colors!
The peppers just look hot don't they?

Walking the aisles of the produce vendors delights all my senses. I had to take pictures of it all.

Kid #5
Kid #6

Of course the kids enjoy a place they can explore, play and enjoy all the free samples.

Kid #4

This picture made me realize she is watching way too much of that horrid tv show "America's Next Top Model". 
She insisted on posing for all of her pictures.
We need to get out more and explore!

Next year we will not wait until the last day to visit the Farmer's Market at the Agri Center here in Memphis. Don't look for me to be teaching the last Saturday in April - we'll be spending the day with the farmers!

I have a thing for yellow mums. Two of
these will be added to my front yard garden.

Giant pumpkin for only $6!

Not as cute as the nice cowboy letting
the kids pet his horse.
This trip and this blog wouldn't be complete without pointing out that I am in fact living in the rural South. I have been to farmer's markets before and I've been to horse shows before, but I've never 
seen a sign like this!
Cowboy Church
How cute is that?

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Change Is Gonna Come

There’s something in the air, a sense that something is about to happen –a shift, a change in my reality. I don’t know what it is and that both scares and excites me at the same time.

Yes the seasons are changing. The weather has a chill, the leaves are falling and the plants are no longer blooming. But it’s more than that. And I think others are sensing it too.

The dogs are running around like they are on puppy crack and when they do settle down they sit at the windows with the their head hanging on the windowsill staring outside. Just looking. Like they too are waiting for something.

When I shared a dilemma with a trusted confidante I was told I need to either get on the bus or get off the bus. From the depths of my soul I was screaming let me off this bus. Yet no sound escaped me. Yet.

Quite a few people have asked me lately what’s wrong with me? I don’t know. I just feel – well I’m not even sure what I feel. Antsy. Anxious. Yet at the same time I feel calmer and more settled than I have in a long time.

It’s been a struggle for me lately to get my cardio workouts in. But my yoga home practice has become easier, more necessary and more comforting to me. My morning meditation – which used to be just a someday I’d like to do that idea – has become more of a reality.

Seal’s version of the song A Change is Gonna Come has always been a favorite of mine and it’s on one of my favorite yoga playlists. I haven’t played it in class in a long time though because every time I hear it now I get emotional.

There’s been times I thought I wouldn’t last for long
Now I think I’m able, able to carry on
It’s been a long, long time comin’
But I know a change’s gon’ come, oh yes it will

I don’t know what the universe has in store for me. I’ve been walking through a forest for a long time now, and I’m finally starting to see some light through the trees up ahead.  I may get sunburned, but I believe I need to take the chance that instead I will bask in the warmth and glory.

If you haven't heard Seal's version of this old Sam Cooke song, you've got to take a listen. The man's voice is amazing, and well, he's not hard to look at either!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another Post About The New Yoga Mat

As I was writing this tonight kid #2 came in and asked what I was doing.

Me: Writing a blog post.
Kid #2: About what?
Me: My new yoga mat.
Kid #2: Again? Seriously mom no one cares that much about your yoga mat.

And he’s probably right. I realized today that I am putting way too much thought into this new mat and way too much pressure on myself to feel worthy of a designer mat.

It all started earlier today when I saw a Hummer limousine driving down the streets of my small town. (Stay with me, this is related to yoga mats.) My first thought was, ‘Now who possibly is so self-indulgent to want to ride in a Hummer limo?’ It’s showy, pretentious and over the top.

Today was also the season finale of a Free Yoga in the Park class I offer in the summer. I had with me my usual supplies of extra yoga mats, towels and water. I also had my old and falling apart Walmart yoga mat that I was using. (If you simply must read more about my old purple mat and my new orange mat, you can read it here:

A few of the class members asked where my new mat was. Well, it’s home rolled up in my closet. They asked why I wasn’t using it. Well, it’s big and I feel kind of ostentatious carrying it around. And I might return it and if I do I sure don’t want to be using it on the ground at the park.

So the obvious question then was why did I even buy it in the first place? I needed a new one, I liked the way this was made, and I do like how big it is. I’m 5’9” and my heels often hang off the back in a downdog and other poses.

But it’s so big. And heavy. At close to 10 pounds I’m picturing carrying it on an airplane and lugging it to classes. And I’m really picturing rolling it out in a class. What will others think? Will they think I’m self-indulgent and over the top?

Finally, the voice of reason came from a very unlikely source -  a new man to yoga class today. He was a very big guy, athletic, muscular. Not at all the kind of guy you’d look at and think oh he does yoga.

“Honey, that mat has no feelings. It’s just a piece of rubber. Quit putting your issues on that mat.”

Oh wow, his first ever yoga class and he’s already got what yoga is really all about. Letting go of what is holding us back and keeping us tied down.  Letting go of not only physical pain but also our own emotional and mental pain that we often inflict upon ourselves.

I often end my yoga classes by saying that yoga isn’t about tying yourself up in knots, but rather it’s about untying the knots inside you. Freeing the physical blockages inside to allow a personal freedom to flow.

So, once again, I’m reminded to take my own advice.  Tomorrow the new, very big, very orange mat will be pulled out of the closet and will be christened with downdog, virabhadrasana and definitely a “letting go of what others think of me” meditation.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Yoga Mats: Out With The Old And In With The New

I finally splurged and bought myself a new yoga mat. Not just any mat. I went all out and bought the prAna Revolution yoga mat. I should be happy and excited right? Actually I’m having second thoughts.

What’s so special about a prAna Revolution yoga mat? Well, first it’s environmental friendly. It has three layers of biodegradable rubber that are heat laminated without the use of glue. I’m not real sure what all that means or how it works– except the marketing info said it’s good for the environment. The company that developed and sells it, prAna, has a strong commitment to the environment such as supporting wind energy projects and purchasing renewable energy certificates.

Now, that’s my liberal, tree-hugger reasons for buying the mat.

The real reason I bought the mat is because it was developed in collaboration with Anusara Yoga founder John Friend, and well, I’m lucky enough to be attending one of his trainings next month. So, I want to be one of the cool kids!

Actually I’d heard about this mat for a while now and had talked to people that had one. The price alone kept me from even considering it. It cost way more than my $10 Walmart yoga mat that I’ve been using for the past 5 years.

(Side note to anyone who is reading this that I happen to share a checking account with: I was able to buy the mat at a special 1/3 discounted price since I’m attending the training. And it’s a tax write off).

I might have even had a snotty tone in my voice when I asked those that had the mat does a Warrior II look different on a prAna mat than it does on a Walmart mat? No, it doesn’t.

But, my beloved old mat was falling apart. Literally, it is flaking and has thin spots in it.  I really did need a new one. So I went for it.

And now I’m having second thoughts. Not necessarily buyer’s remorse. More like I’m just a little sad to be retiring my old purple mat. It comes in only two colors and I chose tangerine. When it was delivered, my tell-it-like-it-is 9 year old asked why I picked “baby poop orange”? Not a good start so far.

Like most new mats it has that rubber smell and needs aired out first. So I’ve still been using my faithful yet falling apart mat. Each time I step on the old mat I’m reminded of where it’s/I’ve been and what it’s/I’ve been through.

My Walmart mat has been to the beach, the park, a fancy yoga studio in Los Angeles, Boston and the mountains. I’ve taken every teacher training with this old mat. I did my first headstand on this mat.

The lessons I’ve learned on the mat about when to take a chance and when to back off I’ve applied off the mat as well. I’ve grown as a yogi, a teacher and a person with the hours spent on my purple mat.

I’m a little sad to let the old mat go and a little nervous to step on the new mat. It’s been here for a week now and I haven’t tried it out yet. My excuse is I’m still airing it out.  My old mat is my comfort zone. Stepping on a new mat is symbolic of stepping out of my comfort zone.

I feel like I’m on the verge of a change both personally and professionally with my yoga. That’s a little scary. And exciting. I wonder what new pose I’ll be able to do on the Revolution mat? But really, I wonder what new lessons are awaiting me?

 Here's the new mat. It's huge!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Letter I Wish I Had Read A Long Time Ago

Dear Teen Girl –

Middle school sucks. High school pretty much sucks too.  Everyone is telling you have fun and this is the time of your life. For your sake, I hope to God 16 isn’t the best year of your life. 

Yes, go to the prom, hang out with your friends and meet cute boys.  But having a boyfriend isn’t the goal. Having a boyfriend is someone fun to hang out with on a Friday night.  But there are going to be nights where you are alone. Lying on the couch eating ice cream isn’t the only option to being by yourself. If you want to go out, go do it. Learn to walk into a room by yourself and be yourself.

Jerry McGuire got it all wrong. You don’t complete me. No boy will complete you. You will only be complete when you are happy with yourself inside and out.

Stop abusing your body and start respecting it. If you were 20 pounds lighter and three inches taller with curly red hair your life wouldn’t really change.  Someone would still be mean to you, a boy would still ignore you and you’d still have no idea what your college major should be.

Your body is going to gain weight, lose weight, get wider, get smaller and go through so many changes you’ll lose track. That’s supposed to happen. Find some form of exercise now you enjoy. Appreciate being able to move your body at any size. Remember how physically strong you are as you navigate the curves and shape changes that will happen.

If you aren’t born with a ballerina body, no amount of dieting or exercise is going to give you one.  If you were designed with strong legs, then become a runner. If you were built with strong arms be a swimmer. Focus on your strengths.

Don’t waste your time joining a club or doing something because you think its what is expected of you. What do you want to do?

Close your eyes, if you could pick only one thing for the rest of your life to do what would it be. One thing to practice at home, one thing to study, one passion to pursue what is it? If that one thing you found when you looked inside isn’t what you’re doing now, why not? Why are you working so hard to be something that you THINK you should be rather than working hard to be something you KNOW you are?

It’s ok to say I don’t know. I don’t know what I want to study. I don’t know what my job should be.  At 16 years old you can’t possibly know what you’ll want to still be doing at 45. Stay true to your interests and follow the path set before you.

Remember the power you have inside you. It’s yours and can’t be taken from you. Never give it away. Learn to harness it and when the time is right unleash it. And when that happens, watch out world. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cold Meds and 80's Movies

Last week most of my kids took turns with strep throat. The older kids mostly just wanted to be left alone in bed to sleep, while the younger ones still wanted mommy time.

When the kids are sick they want me to make them sick eggs – soft boiled eggs with white bread toast mushed together.  They want their own pillow to lay on the couch and they want mommy to hold them.

Now tonight it’s my turn to want some TLC. My throat hurts, my ears hurt, my nose is stuffy and my eyes are burning. Mom’s don’t usually have time to get sick, but it’s Friday night and I’m letting myself just rest. Everyone else in the house is on their own as I huddle back in my bedroom with my special comfort items.

1 – Starbucks Venti Calm & Refresh Mix Hot Green Tea. I don’t know what is so special about this tea, but I crave it when I’m sick. And it really does make me feel better.  Order a Venti hot green tea, one Calm tea bag and one Refresh tea bag. If you’re in Millington just tell them you want the Jennifer tea. They’ll know what you mean.

2 – Home-made chicken noodle soup. I had some in the freezer from a few months ago. Really, is there anything better?

3 – A two-sizes too big ugly orange sweatshirt. I’m not even sure where this sweatshirt came from. It’s too big, too old and too ugly. But I put it on and it keeps me warm.

4 – A red fleece YMCA blanket. I keep this blanket on the top shelf of my closet so no one else can use it. It’s my blankie.

5 – Any late 1980’s teen movie that I saw in high school. Tonight it’s Pretty in Pink. Here’s the YouTube link to my favorite part:

6 – And once the movie is over, I’ll take a shot of Nyquil and be off to slumber land. It makes my husband nuts that I don’t measure out the proper dose, I just chug what I think will do the trick.

My tried and true remedies for a mom’s cold - hot tea, warm soup, an ugly sweatshirt, a good movie, a comfy blanket and a little too much cold medicine. Really, is there anything better?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yoga Egos and Injuries

 “God damn it I’m going to get this!”

When that thought enters your head you’re done. Drop to child’s pose, lay on your mat, just chill.  Do whatever you need to do but do not do the pose.

When that thought enters your head, you’re no longer doing yoga. You are doing some version of gymnastics where no pain no gain becomes your mantra. That is not yoga.

A few observant people in class this week have noticed I’m not raising my right arm overhead or doing chaturangas.  They know something is up and they know I’m not talking about it.

Ok, I’m admitting it here. I lost my intention and forced the pose. And I’m paying for it now with a strained rotator cuff.

Before beginning practice I’ll often ask my students to set their intention.  What do they hope to gain, learn or offer on their mat tonight?

Intentions are different from goals. A goal is something you measure and check off. An intention is a conscious gesture to align your body, mind and spirit to whatever action you are about to undertake. Everything we create begins with a thought.
Every day, every beginning, we ask ourselves what is my intention?

But sometimes our intentions waver or we lose our way. Perhaps someone plants seeds of doubt or more likely we question ourselves. 

Our ego creeps in and tells us to go deeper, push harder, do more. The ego reminds us that the girl in the front row can do that pose so why can’t you?  Listening to our ego makes us forget the power of grace in the pose. The ability to say I’m tired and must rest now. The knowledge that there is no perfect pose, but rather only a perfect balance between effort and surrender.  

When body, mind and spirit are aligned, we know that to drop to our knees and rest is staying true to our yoga. I now have a physical reminder that I forgot why I was on my mat in the first place and I let my ego take over.

Or as one of the teen girls in my yoga for dancers class put it, “Yo, Miss Jennifer needs to practice what she be preachin’!”

Monday, October 11, 2010

For Now and Forever

Think of all the people you know now. All the people you have known. And the people you have yet to know in the future. How do you know each person is an easy question to answer. Why do you know each person may not be as obvious. But each and every person comes in to our life for a reason.

Perhaps it’s someone who offers you a job opportunity. Or helps you through a crisis. Or even an old lover who taught us about love and loss. The universe delivers to us exactly what we need, when we need. The stranger you meet today may be the person who helps you tomorrow.

Sometimes a person will enter our life with such sudden ferocity, that we get bogged down in figuring out why this person is here. What do they want? What can I get from them?  Is this relationship going to last?

The why isn’t always for us to know right away. The why is really just our own ego getting in the way of the universe at work. And when we get in our own way, we lose sight of enjoying just being with the person. We get too lost looking in to the future that we forget to experience the time we have now with this person.

When the time is right, when we need to know and when we are ready to accept the answer, the universe will make clear to us how this person affected our life. Even if they are no longer a part of our life, they touched us in a way that forever impacted us.

And for that, we can be grateful now.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Yoga and Christianity

If you are even somewhat interested in yoga, and you have computer access, you’ve surely by now heard of Southern Baptist seminary president Albert Mohler who is making waves by his assertion that Christians shouldn’t do yoga.

First of all this is nothing new. He is but the latest Christian leader to come out against yoga. Actually he’s just the latest in a long line of Christian leaders to come out against many activities in modern society from yoga to martial arts to Pokemon cards to Harry Potter books.  There is a lot of potential temptation in the world and always someone willing to speak out against it.

My first instinct when I heard this is he should just be ignored. Give him his 15 minutes of fame and soon enough this will be a non-story.  But so many of my fellow yogi’s and friends are asking me about it I feel like I have to try and make sense of it myself.  I’m not a theology master, I’m not a yoga master, and honestly I’m not even a regular church goer. But I believe in God, and I’ve been fortunate to have been mentored by wonderful Christian women and yoga leaders.

Mohler says that stretching and meditation are not a Christian pathway to God.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 1 Corinthians 6:19

If our physical body is a temple only on loan to us, than we are responsible for caring for our bodies in a way that would please the Lord.  The asanas, the physical poses of yoga, are but one way to do that. Keeping our physical body flexible, strong and free of injury should be our duty and our desire. Most yogis I know are very aware of eating a healthy diet and don’t abuse their bodies with alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

And David danced before the Lord with all his might. 2 Samuel 6:14

Keeping our bodies healthy, and moving them in an aesthetically pleasing way can be a tribute and a show of gratitude for the form we’ve been given.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night Joshua 1:8

The physical poses of yoga, from down dog to warrior, are the best known part of yoga here in America, but they are actually not the most important. The ancient yogi’s knew that physical activity was first necessary to get rid of excess energy and to loosen the muscles and make the body more flexible so that sitting for extended periods in meditation would be possible.

And if you don’t believe that, try taking a toddler to church. There is a reason moms let their little ones run around the vestibule or climb under the pews before service starts. A little physical movement first leads to a quieter, calmer time later.

The purpose of meditation in yoga is to quiet the mind of the daily clutter and confusion of the outside world. Only when the mind is quiet can we truly find peace.

Mohler’s biggest complaint against yoga is  "the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine."

Love the  Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength Mark 12:30

I’m not a religious person. I admit to having some issues with organized religion. But I am a spiritual person. If yoga and meditation lead me to a deeper spiritual place, isn’t that deepening my relationship with God?

I was a little hesitant in writing this and quoting scripture. Anyone can use scripture to promote their agenda.  Wars have been started and lives have been killed in the name of God. And really, that’s what bothers me most about Mohler’s teachings.  He is using the word of God to put fear in his followers. Fear that honoring their body is somehow against God. Fear that quieting their mind will lead to sinful temptation rather than divine inspiration.

I don’t believe in Albert Mohler or any human who claims to speak for God. The God I believe in would weep over someone burning a Koran. The God I believe in would be ashamed of someone being told they aren’t a “real” Christian. The God I believe in doesn’t deem one group good and one group bad based on geography or history.

The God I believe in would open his arms and take joy in any activity that helps a person drown out the noise and move away from negative worldly distractions. The God I believe in would dance with me through a vinyasa and sit quietly with me in meditation.  The God I believe in would show me love and light when I was ready, no matter what path I took to get there.

There are many paths to one truth. I respect Mohler for the path he’s chosen. I ask that he not condemn mine.

Friday, October 8, 2010

What If...?

A dear friend shared with me today that she was hesitant to go to her college homecoming this weekend.  All her old college friends went on to get masters and doctorate degrees, while my friend got married and had a baby.  She didn’t feel she was good enough anymore or had lived up to her potential.

It’s not that my friend isn’t happy with her husband and baby, it’s that she feels like she should have done more. Or more so that society looks at her as if she should have done more.

I totally understand what she’s feeling. I too feel like sometimes I need to remind people that just because I’m a mom – and in my case a mom to many – that I still have a brain. Some people have been surprised to hear that I do indeed have a college degree, yet I still choose to work only hours that are compatible with my kids.

It is extremely frustrating in the workplace when other less qualified people get promoted or get hired for a job I could do with my eyes closed, yet I choose not to apply because it would take away from my job of raising future decent human beings.

Working hard now to raise responsible adults isn’t as prized as working hard now to bring in more revenue for your company or selling the newest must have product.

And I’ll even admit to sometimes wondering what if… What if I hadn’t taken so many years to be a stay at home mom? What if I had put a masters or doctoral program before having babies? What if, what if, what if?

The problem, though, is that the What If game can be a dangerous game to play.  It usually begins in moments of self doubt.  And it quickly leads to a place of low self esteem where the “oh I’m just a mom” mentality sinks in deeper and deeper and even you forget that you can do more than change a diaper or cook another meal no one wants to eat.

Playing What If is insidious. It lets depression creep in and self -assurance run out.  The lower you go with What If, the harder it is to climb back up to confidence and conviction.

The whole world can be on your side. But if you’re not, well it doesn’t even matter.

What if I hadn’t had six kids? I don’t know. Except I wouldn’t have met my dear friend and her beautiful baby. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Mom's Report Card

Being a mom is tough. I don’t care if you have one child or six children. The minute that little stick turns pink, you begin to question everything you’ve ever believed and wonder how you’ll ever know all the right answers.

When the kids are babies, a mom’s life revolves around keeping them away from germs, potty training, ensuring their safety and praying for a full nights sleep.  You often think you have no idea what you are doing and if you are doing it right.

As the kids get older, a mom’s life revolves around homework, sports, teacher conferences and praying for a full nights sleep. You often think you have no idea what you are doing and if you are doing it right.

Then the teen years hit and a mom’s life revolves around drivers licenses, girlfriends, ensuring their safety from drugs/alcohol/sex and praying for a full nights sleep. You are often told you have no idea what you are doing and you are definitely not doing it right.

But sometimes, once in awhile, when you least expect it, a mom gets a sign that she is doing something right.

This has been a rough summer for our family. The summer began with kid number 3 falling and breaking three bones in his leg and requiring surgery and traction.  I sat at the hospital with him the night of the accident for almost 18 hours. At 4am I was getting texts from his two older brothers asking if he was ok.  When we got home, each of the kids went out of their way to help their brother in any way he needed. Their concern was genuine.

But alas, all good things come to an end. Eventually the sibling rivalry and bickering returned and things were back to normal. What kind of mother am I that my kids can’t walk into a room without picking on each other?

The summer ended with kid number 5 falling and breaking his arm. Again, another all night hospital stay and text messages from concerned siblings. The next morning as the other kids got up for school, they each tip toed into the bedroom to take a peek at their brother, see how big his cast was, and make sure for themselves he was ok.

Again, the novelty wore off and his sling became a weapon and jumping on the trampoline became a way to tease him knowing he wasn’t allowed up there.  What kind of a mother am I that my kids think it’s funny to write “get better butt head” on their brother’s cast?

And then, on a a typical night when I was over tired, over stressed and had reached my limit with everyone, I got it. I got my sign that I was doing something right and I was raising decent human beings.

I picked up a piece of paper and almost didn’t look at it before I threw it away. I’m so glad I did. What I had found was a letter my 9-year old had written to her broken-armed brother. It was written in different colored ink and decorated with peace signs.

I’m keeping the letter and I plan to pull it out any time I need a reminder that even though I don’t always know what I’m doing or if I’m doing it right, well, sometimes I am.

(Spelling and grammar are exactly the precious way it was written)

Dear Danny,

When I heard you scream I started to run over to the playground where you were. At first I thought it was a bee sting but when I saw your arm I just new it was broken and I got really scared cause they had to call the ambulance and trust me I think they are scarey especially with a IV, WOW.
When I saw you the next morning with a broken arm I was sad. I told your friend Kimo and I wish you didn’t break your arm when we were on a walk I was bored cause you wernt there.
So I hope you get better soon as possible. GET WELL.
PS I hope you like the colors.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Real Life Zen

The subtitle of this blog is very intentional: A Yogi’s Journey Through Diapers, Detentions and Downdogs.  It’s my real life journey in search of yoga bliss. Notice the real life part.

Yes I’m a yoga teacher/yoga student/yoga therapist and my “job” is to help others find both inner and outer peace with themselves. I think sometimes though people look at me and think just because I’m a yoga teacher I’ve got it all together and live a life of nirvana.  Excuse me while I laugh out loud!

This summer I led the pre-race stretch at two local 5k’s. Not only is it a lot of fun, but  the races are always family events that my kids get to participate in as well. And I get to meet all kinds of interesting people who wouldn’t normally try yoga.  After the most recent race, a guy came up to me and said “Hey, it’s pretty funny that the yoga teacher’s kid is wearing a Tap Out shirt”. (For those of you who don’t have teen boys, Tap Out is a clothing line based on UFC wrestling.)

At first I was a little confused. Why wouldn’t my son wear a typical teen t-shirt just because I’m a yoga teacher? Ohh, right, because I’m so darned enlightened that I must be raising six little Buddhas!  I wonder if when the Buddha was a teen he got suspended for earning six dress code violations? Or if a pre-teen Ghandi chased his brother through the house trying to hit him with a shoe?

Another night I was doing a late night grocery shopping trip before a busy weekend of work and trainings. My kids were going to be responsible for themselves most of the weekend, so I was stocking up on easy, convenient (and yes junky) food for them to fix themselves.

Of course, I ran into one of my class regulars who immediately looked in my cart, “Cool, the yoga teacher’s buying donuts and Lunchables!”

Yep, busted. I let my kids eat junk food. Kick me out of the yoga teacher club. While we’re at it, kick me out of the good mom club too!

Just because I place my mat in front of the room, I’m no more enlightened than you are. I don’t have all the answers and sometimes I’m not even sure what the question is!

For those of you wondering how to find your zen, I found this making its way across the internet earlier this year:

If you can live without caffeine or nicotine;
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains;
If you can resist complaining;
If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you any time;
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment;
If you can ignore friends’ limited educations and never correct them;
If you can treat the rich and poor alike;
If you can face the world without lies or deceit;
If you can conquer tension without medical help;
If you can relax without liquor;
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs;
If you can have no prejudice against creed, color, religion, gender, sexual preference or politics –
- then you have almost reached the same level of spiritual development as your dog.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Catfish and Cotton Fields

In my heart I will forever be a Northern city girl. I love the hustle and bustle, I love the ethnic diversity and I love the feel of walking big city streets. But after living here in Tennessee for five years there are a few things I have learned to love about the South. Although some of the items on the list I love because they still after five years make me crazy nuts and miss my Philadelphia home!

1 – Southern skies. During a sunny day the sky is a blue that you can’t find in a Crayola box and the clouds are so fluffy and close it feels like you can reach out and touch them. And the summer sunsets, well, they can be just breathtaking.

2 – I have a plum tree in my front yard. Not like the purple plums you buy in the store, but smaller sweeter ones. Truthfully I didn’t even know what they were the first year we lived here and I let them all fall to the ground and rot. Once I found out what they were, and tasted my first front-yard plum, I was hooked. The kids love the homemade plum jam we make, and it’s an evening of good fun when we let  the neighborhood kids take turns climbing the ladder to reach the ripened plums at the very top of the tree.

3 – The phrase “Bless your heart”. Sometimes this is said by a well-meaning person who is genuinely concerned and interested in what you’ve just told them. But my absolute favorite way to use it, or to overhear it used, is when someone says “well bless your heart” but what they are really saying is a giant’ F’ You’ to the person in front of them. I think maybe it’s something Southern mothers have passed down to their daughters: how to smile sweetly, say something nice, but mean something entirely different!

4 – Just like Ouiser Boudreaux in Steel Magnolias says “real southern women grow vegetables.” And they are usually very generous in sharing them! It’s very common to find a basket of tomatoes, zucchini, okra, or cantaloupe just sitting at the front desk of my YMCA free for anyone to take.

5 – The memory of being so happy when I realized one of our local restaurants offered a vegetable plate – and it wasn’t fried! Of course I also remember the day the waitress let it slip the grilled veggies that I loved so much were sprinkled with bacon fat – but still, they weren’t fried!

6 – Speaking of fried food, when we first moved here I asked a waiter if I could have my catfish not fried. He said no. I thought he was kidding and so I ordered it anyway. Nope, you really can’t order grilled catfish. I think it might be a law or something that catfish be fried in the South.

7 – And more fried favorites – gas stations in the south do more than pump gas and sell lottery tickets. They are a popular lunch spot! My local gas station has a counter of nothing but fried stuff. I don’t know what all of it is, and I’m actually a little afraid to ask!

8 – My three younger kids are really picking up the Southern accent. Although I don’t’ allow them to say “ain’t”, “fixin to” or ‘ya’all.” But the kids love when I get mad enough that the southern slang I’ve picked up comes flying out of my own mouth. Apparently it’s funny when as the mom I open the back door and scream “Little girl! Don’t you make me holler for you again. Ya’all better move faster than that!”

9 – And again with some of the phrases you hear down here: “We gotta kick rocks.” I admit when I first heard that one I had to stop and ask what it meant. Kicking rocks means you need to hurry up. Why kicking rocks makes someone move faster I still don’t understand.

10 – Finally, the cotton fields here in Memphis. I never knew that before cotton is the white fluffy stuff we all know, it’s actually a little purple flower. Sometime in September the cotton “pops” and the fields look like they are covered in snow. Then about the beginning of October, the local roads are covered with huge combines and farm equipment and the cotton is bailed up and gone until next year.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Does My Brain Look Fat In These Jeans?

There’s a scene in Gone With the Wind where Scarlett encourages her Mammy to  cinch up her corset tighter and tighter so she can be skinny for  the men who will be at that afternoon’s party.  The Mammy scolds Scarlett and her friends for even letting the men see them eat.

We modern women no longer wear corsets or pretend to not eat.  Instead we want to be valued and admired for our intellect, creativity and judgment.  Of course as long as we still look good while we’re being so smart!

A friend of mine today was told she was “not a big girl, just curvy.”  She texted me at 6:45am to ask me if that was a compliment or a put down.  I told her it was a compliment. Even if a backhanded one.

The same guy who told her she was curvy said “Like Jennifer, she’s a little thick. But I saw her in jeans one day, and wow those were some jeans.” Again, compliment or put down?

Now my friend and I both work in the fitness field. We’re both in the gym 5-6 days a week either working out or teaching.  We’re both healthy eaters who enjoy a vegetarian meal followed by a double chocolate brownie. We’re both highly educated women with multiple degrees and certifications.  We both stay up to date on the latest health and nutrition news.

And we both spent a good portion of our morning today discussing what those comments really meant, if we were too curvy or too thick, admitting to perhaps having gotten a little curvy and thick and encouraging each other that no we don’t look like we’ve put on weight.

We decided in the end it was just a stupid comment from an inappropriate old man. But the word “thick” has been running through my head all day. And I guarantee my friend hasn’t let go of “big, curvy girl.”

I can’t even begin to estimate the amount of money spent on our combined educations. Yet it all went out the window when a guy made a comment about our body type.

We’ve come a long way baby? I’m not so sure.