Thursday, June 13, 2013

On Miracles and Yoga

No, this isn't Prat, it's my youngest, about 4 years ago.
Several months ago I had the opportunity to take on a private client - a 5 year old little girl with 
autism.

At our first lesson together we got to know one another a little bit and by that I mean her parents came in with her and I asked them questions while Prathigniya wandered around the room, flapping her arms and becoming entranced with the ceiling fans and mirrors.  Here is what I learned that first day:
  • The only way for Prat to stand still is to put her on a raised platform of some kind.  Her parents brought a low step stool.
  • While Prat can walk, she has little other muscle control.  Her parents physically manipulate her limbs and body into the poses.
  • Prat cannot speak but for a few MMMM and BBBB sounds, however she does understand some things.  She may not comply or respond but she understands.
That was a hard day.  I didn't know what I could do, beyond guiding and suggesting and providing space and as a die-hard world saver - that's a jagged little pill indeed.

We set up some parameters for our next class, like a time limit of 30 minutes but a willingness to stop sooner based on Prat's reactions to the situation, we moved a bench in so Prat could have a whole yoga mat to work on instead of 2 square feet of step stool, I brought in a small lamp and we kept all of the fans off to mitigate the possibility of sensory overload.  All of these things seemed to make a difference.  Prat was able to stay more in the moment and there was much less frustrated squawking.

During our 3rd session, as her mother held Prat's left arm forward and her father held her right hand to her foot, up behind her back - Prat grinned in Standing Bow.  You should have tears in your eyes right now.

Sometime around week 5 or 6, Prat let me touch her without protest.  I held her arm for her in a spine twist and then her knee.  Slowly, so very slowly, I am inserting myself into more of the physical manipulation. 

I won't give you a week by week but I'll tell you that we have eliminated the bench, Prat has been practicing on her mat across from me, between her parents.  We have kept the lights and fans off but added a towel to her mat and it doesn't seem to have caused any negative sensory stimulation. I've learned that if we count to 10 she will hold a pose but if we don't count she gets anxious and tries to escape her parents gentle hold. And just like most of us who are either back benders or forward benders by nature - Prat prefers backbends.  I've learned that I don't need a watch, because her sagging body tells me when 30 minutes are up.  I've learned that if you put her hands together in Namaskar at the end of practice and say Namaste, she replies with MMMM.

My new secret dream is to one day, be able to give Prat and her parents a 30 minute practice, and actually let her parents practice without having to assist her physically.  I would have never dreamed something like that was possible 4 months ago but as this little girl smiles her way through backbends and waits patiently through her dreaded, unassisted balasana for me to get up before she does (without counting!) I find that I believe in a whole lot more than I used to.  I believe that these little 30 minute increments are not insignificant and are maybe even an unfathomably huge investment in the life of a sweet little girl and the parents who exhaust themselves with her care.

I believe that if Yoga can make these kinds of changes in so short a time for someone who is practicing not entirely of their own volition, then we can't possibly name the miracles that are there for the taking - for all of us.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Right to Bear Arms - an emo story about a girl and her guns, and also a bit of legitimate information about the 2nd Amendment


Guns.  It's all anyone can talk about these days.  I have a few things to say about them myself.  If you're interested - keep reading.

Many, many of my friends are anti-gun.  I am, after all, a liberal yoga teacher from California.  I think I have more right than almost anyone I know to abhor guns.  The first time I remember seeing a gun was right around my 11th birthday, my best friend and I were laying in the grass at McCambridge Park and we watched a man murder his wife.  My relationship with guns only got worse, more violent and more personal over the next decade.

My husband has carried a gun as long as I've known him - 15+ years.  As a democrat, a victim of gun violence and a person truly dedicated to the ideals of peace, I've hated it (and sometimes him for it) for about a dozen of those. A few years ago my perspective began to slowly change.

When I moved to Texas in 2006 it was absolute culture shock.  I shamefully admit to thinking that there might be nothing scarier than a bunch of gun toting rednecks.  While I still think a world without guns and violence sounds exactly like my kind of place, I've come to a new understanding. 

Are you ready for this?  This is going to be hard for some of you to swallow.  You are going to think that what I'm about to say is an oxymoron.  You're going to think that I don't make sense or that I am not thinking clearly.  You're going to say to yourself that I'm entitled to my opinion even if it is absolutely wrong.  I'm ready for you to think those things, I thought them all myself at one time so I can't blame you.  Okay - here it is:

Guns do not equate to violent crime.

I'll wait while you run through everything I said you would and more.  Go ahead, I'll be here when you're done.....

Violence comes in all manner of packages and yes it does sometimes come in the shape of a pistol.  But just like all squares are rectangles - not all rectangles are squares.  Let me explain.

In the near 7 years that I have been in Texas I have been literally surrounded by men and women who carry guns all the time. Not everyone, but enough that it's significant and the stereotypes of Texans and their guns ring true.  Initially this was alarming to me (to say the least).  I was horrified - these people had CHILDREN.  There were children ON THEIR BLOCK!  What were they doing with WEAPONS?!  I came to know that even more people had guns in their homes, self defense guns, hunting guns, guns for shooting for fun - you name it.  For the love of Pete, WHY?!

After several years I realized that I had been around more guns than I ever had in my life (and my life pre-Texas was not short on guns) and I had never felt less threatened.  I had never felt less afraid.  I had never felt less anxious about the possibility of violence.  Perhaps that has more to do with a change in venue - Los Angeles to suburban Texas, but if that is the case then I refer you to said venues.

Here in Texas I came to know men and women who were shooting guns before they learned cursive writing or multiplication.  People who were raised in homes where guns, hunting and shooting were a part of life.  They understood guns.  They could handle them appropriately and confidently.  They respected guns.  Most importantly those who carried them acknowledged and honored what that privilege entailed.  These "gun toting rednecks" were the most likely to walk away from a volatile situation.  The most likely to engage in conflict resolution over conflict.  Culture shock indeed.

I came to realize that defending myself and my family was important to me and it's my right and my responsibility to enable myself to do so.  I've spent the last few years working through all of my gun trauma.  In the last 6 months I've begun to handle guns and ammunition.  In the last 4 months I've been shooting - I cried the first time, sometimes my hands are too slick and my stomach rolls too much and I need to pause.  But I do it.

I do it because I can.  I do it because I should.  I do it because I want my children to be comfortable and confident taking care of themselves if they need to. I do it for other reasons to - political ones, but that's a story for another time.

So there's that, that's where my personal story lands on the right to bear arms.  If you want some additional information that isn't all emo,  check out the following:

The Militia Act of 1792, adopted the year after the Second Amendment was ratified, declared that the Militia of the United States (members of the militia who had to serve if called upon by the government) included all able-bodied adult males. The National Guard was not established until 1903. In 1920 it was designated one part of the "Militia of the United States." The other part included other able-bodied adult men, plus some other men and women.
However, in 1990, the Supreme Court held that the federal government possesses complete power over the National Guard. The Guard is the third part of the United States Army, along with the regular Army and Army Reserve. The Framers` independent "well regulated militia" remains as they intended, America`s armed citizenry.

The Supreme Court, the final arbiter of the 'meaning' and 'intent' of the law, particularly of the Constitution, has determined that the right to bear arms is an 'individual' right and that involvement with militias is not a prerequisite to act on this right.  The first amendment protects your right to be informed, have your own beliefs and have open discussion of those beliefs, the second protects your right to physically defend yourself against tyranny... the first things all successful tyrants do when coming into power is to control the knowledge of the people, strip the people of their ability to openly discuss their beliefs or have contrary beliefs and the ability to defend themselves against oppression. (Thank you Jeremy Hopf)


Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 In Review

2012 is leaving me unsettled.  I usually jump right in with my paragraph synopsis of the year, ticking things off as if there were a checklist and I had accomplished all of the tasks.

Not so this year. It's not that the year was bad or particularly unaccomplished.  At least I don't think so.  You see, I can't really put my finger on what "it" is.  Most likely it's just me :)

I think part of what has left me so confounded is how damn fast the year went by!  I mean I don't think I ever got my feet firmly planted anywhere in this year and it's already sliding behind me.

WAIT!  I think that is it.  2012 is the first year I can ever remember that I just coasted along and didn't really set and accomplish goals.  That is why I feel so unsettled, nothing got settled because nothing really got started.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Just a Poem

What's inside me is not reckless, only starved and negelcted.  Feral.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Middle School and Life After Death

Last night we had girls night.  I took my 11yo to her favorite place to get some dinner, to a book store and to Target to spend her gift cards.  I tried to ask questions that would get her critical thinking churning.  What are you most looking forward to on the first day of school?  What are you least looking forward to? What do you think will be the best thing about middle school? What do you think will be the least best thing?  What is your biggest excitement?  What is your biggest worry?

I got some really interesting answers and we explored further the why's and what can we do about it scenarios.  It was great!

On the way home she started to ask ME questions.  Questions about god and heaven and whether I think we'll be together after we die.  Now *OUR* conversation went a little differently than yours might have.  I said I don't know.  That I dont' really believe in heaven in the christian way, that I might believe in some kind of reincarnation.  She said she hopes heaven is real and that we'll be together after we die.

I siezed this opportunity.  I said "But what if this is all we get?"  We talked about being the best we can be RIGHT NOW and living our lives like it's all we've got because it probably is and even if it isn't, why waste it?  We talked about sibling bickering and the big picture and what really, truly matters in the end.

I laid in bed last night wondering where all of this came from.  I think it's fear associated with growing up, even if she can't name it yet.  She realizes she's getting older, more independent and suddenly there's this need to know that some how, in the end even if it has to be the "next life" it will all be ok - she'll still be my little girl and I'll still be her mommy - you know?

For a while now I've been wondering "Where are all the blogs and forums for parents of middle-ish kids?"

There are tons of immensely helpful blogs and forums for every stage of baby life, every style of parenting, every little aspect of parenting...when your kids are very young. I used to actively participate on forums for Attachment Parenting, Cloth Diapering, Breastfeeding and even forums by birth month and year.

You can find some decent support up through kindergarten or so but certainly by 2nd grade the wells run pretty dry.

As I transition my second child into middle school, I find myself in this no mans land again. Speak up, parents of middle-ish kids!  We've a long road ahead, yet!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lessons From an Extended Vacation

I had the good fortune to be able to take an extended vacation this month.  I was off work for 21 days and traveling for 18 of those.  So that you're not overcome with jealousy, you should know that I took my first vacation EVER (other than a couple of childhood trips) less than 18 months ago.

Perhaps the cosmopolitan,  well traveled lot already knows these things or perhaps not, most people max out at 10-14 days.

Here are the lessons I learned about life, love, myself and more.  In no particular order:

People Need People
We're transplants. We live in Texas but we're not from here. None of our people are here. We have people here,  that are our people, but they're not OUR people.  Though we love them greatly and want them to always be part of our lives, it's not the same.  We don't descend from common ancestors and we don't share a collective life experience.
There is something about being with people who come from where you come from, that is deeply nourishing to ones soul. I was most interested to see this manifested in my two youngest children who were but wee babes when we moved. The instant connection, the true kinship of cousins, seems to have spanned the great divide of the American West and is not lost after all. I cried tears of joy for all of this.

No Stuff Needed
I packed light, considering it was 3 weeks in 3 different climates.
1 large duffel and a backpack for me, the same for Mr. Man.  A small duffel and backpack for each kid.  Even in 3 weeks we only wore about half the clothes we brought (we had access to laundry facilities). 
The plethora of sunscreens, lotions, medicine-cabinet-schtuff, bug spray, etc?  Hardly touched it.
Make up?  HA!  Twice I think. I didn't bother with hair schtuff - I dont' even use that nonsense at home.
My Nook is a different story.  I packed this whirlwind adventure chock full of experiences and people so I actually only read one chapter the entire 3 weeks.  I wish I'd had more time to read.  I'll keep packing the Nook!

A Person CAN Live Without WiFi for 2 Weeks
It got easier as time went on.  And I *did* have my iPhone.  I was certain that all of my friends were Facebooking and Tweeting all of the most critical, brilliant, innovative, life altering, things while I was hobbling around on the Sprint 3G network (which never let me down by the way).  I got back and found that you all were posting the same boring bullshit as usual.  Funny memes and what not (I'm not knocking it, just saying).

My Husband is a Different Man
I know my husband works 60+ hours per week and that he has a demanding, stressful job, but it's never been any other way.  I had not idea he could be relaxed and funny.  Truly.  Of course this wasn't until week 2 when he decided that dieting on vacation wasn't a good idea.  He was a cranky mofo until then!

Homesick Threshold
Being new to vacations I never understood people who "couldn't wait to get home"  WHAT?! I think it hit me about day 12.  If I didn't have more family to see I would have happily gone home early.  By day 18 I was going home come hell or high water!  I actually couldn't even THINK about another trip.  I love my people, I love vacation mode, I love traveling but you know what?  I love being home too.

Well.  That's what I learned.  I hope to have many, many, more extended learning opportunities!  Oh, one more thing: Give your kids Dramamine before flying and car rides.  Even if they dont' get motion sickness.  They'll go to sleep instead of whining. (just dont' get the non-drowsy formula!)

Friday, July 27, 2012

1st Amendment, Dixie Chicks and Chick-Fil-A and TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE:

I saw a meme floating around on Facebook that I chose not to pass along. Here's what it said:

"In 2006, the Dixie Chicks were PRAISED by ABC for expressing their "1st Amendment" rights by TRASHING President Bush.
  In 2012, ABC runs a HIT PIECE on Chick-fil-A, for expressing THEIR 1st Amendment rights and SUPPORTING traditional marriage. http://bit.ly/P3Vrvo
  'LIKE' if you agree --> The liberal media are a bunch of 1st Amendment HYPOCRITES."
 

I'd like to start with this:

Unless you are white male and female of the exact same denomination of christianity, you are NOT in a traditional marriage - even by "modern American" standards, I won't even get into "biblical" marriages.

Here's the difference between DC and CFA exercising the rights to free speech:

One group spoke out against a government that they didn't believe was in the right.  They have the right to do that.  *I* think they have the OBLIGATION to do that, so many have died for that right!

The other group spoke out in discrimination against a group of human beings.  Don't believe me?  Try this sentence on for size "I believe in traditional marriage - I do not support interracial marriage" - see how swapping out homosexual for interracial worked?  Try it with religions:  "I don't want my son or daughter marrying a Jew/Muslim/Buddhist/Catholic/Mormon!"

Not allowing gay couples to marry is discrimination.  It's bigotry.  It may be a form of bigotry that some Americans still accept but it is bigotry nonetheless.