We didn't sign the pledge. The night before the 2011 Argus, the world's largest timed cycle race, they passed around a pledge sheet stating that everyone named below would ride the Argus in 2014 in honor of our friend, Charles Uncle John who turned 80 this year.
Uncle John, along with his sons and Charles's brothers and family have been riding the Argus, for years.
We didn't sign the pledge:
But we're here. . . We arrived yesterday afternoon. Registered. And tonight after lunch at Uncle John and his wife, Marie's house (along with the whole family and all the riders in the group). The family presented Uncle John with the pledge and photos framed. (Just in case I'd forgotten, I checked: we really didn't sign.) Uncle John had special team shirts made for us all. (Photo coming soon).
We didn't sign the pledge: Curtis and I were nervous as to whether, after not riding bikes for 7 years--I mean not even pedaling casually--we could finish a hilly 109 kilometer ride.
Especially as Capetown, South Africa is a far ways to go for a bike ride, we couldn't imagine we'd come back for it.
We didn't sign the pledge.
Now, 7 hours, 56 minutes, 8 seconds to race time, our riding gear is laid out. The bottles of energy water are filled and chilling. We're all in bed, to sleep....yeah right.
And I am older and less fit that I was then. . .
And my knee is wonky . . .
And the wind is howling . . .
We didn't sign the pledge, so then, why???
At six months, Baby Ben is a yoga savant!
Resting Baby pose is a cinch.
So is Cobra. And Corpse pose, too.
Upward Facing Dog-no prob!
YOGA BABY is tenacious! When he wants--really really wants--he goes after it!
Army Crawl works. But Yoga Baby wants "More!"
Yoga Baby wants to CRAWL!
I watch as Yoga Baby rises up out of Downward Facing Dog and flows into Standing Dog. He looks down, then forward, thinking so hard, you can almost see the gears turning. “If only I had one more hand to lean on, I could so do it.”
I know exactly how he feels.
The other week, my yoga instructor had us on all fours. Not in any dog position. Instead, we were on our bottoms with our knees bent, arms looped through our legs, to the outside of our feet working toward some Harry-Houdini-Got-Nothing-on-You pose. Erica was urging me to put my head down and lift my bottom up off the ground. And I was thinking about it.
I was thinking: Yeah, right. How exactly am I supposed to hoist my big ole self up onto my trembling arms. . . I was thinking about how stupid I looked. Thinking about how, any second I might pitch face forward.
Baby B does not think he knows. He is going to crawl.
He isn't worried he might fall on his face. He doesn't care how he’ll look tumbled forward. About how he’ll feel when he lands face down. Or what people might think of him. He doesn't have time for doubt.
He is working on HOW!
Any time now, he’s going to do it, too!
In yoga, in life, in our work, I'm thinking I need to reconnect with my inner Yoga Baby. Stop spending energy on all that other stuff and work on HOW!
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Disclaimer: Yoga Pose names are intended to be descriptive, not correct.
Be hopeful and/or be warned: Once something is posted on the Internet, it truly is never really lost. Here's Proof:
Post posting my blog post Do Overs, about having posted an earlier highly-illustrated version, then accidentally deleting said post, I received a note from my sis-in-law, Liz:
I'm not sure what "feedly" is, but it seems like something very handy to have! (I did google it hence the hyperlink.) And thanks to uber-clever and persistent Liz (I write that because while I may not have searched hard enough for the deleted post, Curtis, older also internet savvy, tenacious problem solver brother to Liz, tried to find it too. ) Oh, and while I'm on the subject of uber-clever. I googled it, too, to be sure I'd spelled it correctly and up popped an uberClever website. It's slogan is:
We think when you can’t. When you won’t. And when you just don’t wanna.
If I had had uberClever to help, perhaps I wouldn't have deleted the post in the first place... . . . hmmmmmmm
Here, resurected from the mysterious cyber rubbish bin are both Do Overs for your reading pleasure:
Oh yes, before i get off on some other tangent, a Cautionary Reminder:
So I just spent 3 hours on a Friday night writing a blog post--Hours I could have been liming (which in Trinidad speak means socializing with friends aka "partying");
hours I could have spent packing my suitcases for my upcoming trip; doing the ironing--which is piling up; eating; sipping; whining (Trini speak for dancing, what Miley calls "twerking"):
or languidly lounging on the balcony watching pelicans swoop into the glistening Gulf of Paria.
Even with all those things, and more, I could have been doing, I don't begrudge spending one moment writing that post. Because it was brilliant.
It was a post on Do OVERS and how, in the course of doing over our house, I've come to realize the clarity and freedom that comes from throwing in the town and starting over can bring. "I call Do Overs!" The post took me especially long to write because I included lots of photos illustrating problems my contractor George uncovered which led to us having to gut the whole first floor of our house, including maybe rat gnawed wires, leaks, shoddy workmanship, and hidden surprises. (Be glad, maybe, that you don't have to see that...)
The post began like this (I know because I save this bit earlier.):
When I was a kid, playing a game with friends--hopscotch, marbles, putt-putt golf and the like. Whenever one of us made a really lousy play—marble shot, we called “do overs.”
So what the heck? Now that we’re adults…..professionals…DO OVERS aren’t permitted?
Is it because we are scared to chuck it all and go back to the beginning? Take another shot at it? Try another approach?
Or is it because we are too lazy, broke, cocky, afraid of what we'll be left with, of losing what we've got--regardless how flawed that might be?
I concluded with the realization that with houses, as with our lives, and our stories, often we allow, knowingly and not, frippery--paint and frills, holidays and laughs, flowery passages and pithy prose--to mask fundamental flaws. And how, if instead of messing around trying to make it look all right, we should call out "DO OVER," strip it down to the bare bones. Clear the Slate. Wind up and give it another go.
So, this amazing, brilliant, and I am sooooooo convinced, inspiring blog post was finished. I'd clicked to tags, add categories. I'd uploaded a cover picture and even pushed "publish."
I was half out of my seat, ready to get up, walk away, be done. But no, Ms. Clever-McSmarty Pants wouldn't let me quit there, so I decided the post would be even more brilliant if I added a photo of the Do Over game (Because it made me laugh and I was having such fun being clever.)
Oh, yeah, and a pithy little quote about "Rites and Rituals", too.
But then, the picture wasn't positioned quite right, so I decided to delete it and try again. Instead, I deleted the entire blog post.
And even after searching all over my blog site and the Internet for ways to recover it, I can't. So now as brilliant as it was, you will never ever get to read that post on the deepest truth of DO OVERS. Unless, of course, I get up the energy to redo it. And despite the convictions of my lost post, I'm not sure I can.
Not even Marilyn could convince me. (And I listened several times.) So, in closing, I'll let Marilyn speak for herself on the subject. Since you can't read it from me, LISTEN TO MARILYN.
One day it happens, you begin to make Valentine's and slide into a story, "Once, back when we had gas rationing..."
And then realize the people you are telling the story to weren't alive to remember gas rationing. Your memories--in this case mine--are now officially "HISTORICAL" (fiction or memoir depending).
It's Valentine's Day, one of my favorite holiday/workdays. So rather than clicking away as I ought, I'm playing. Last night I wrote out valentines, first thing this morning I sent them, and then made valentines using kindergarten scissors.
While valentine-ing, I let myself flaneur (sounds so much less aged than my mind wandered).
Remember back when you were in school? How exciting Valentine's Day was? During art, we'd make our Valentine holders.
This made me think of Ramona trying so hard to cut out her paperbag owl.
After-school sessions spent selecting the best valentine for each classmate.
Painstakingly deciding who would get which? Then signing them. . . Do I sign with love? Or your friend? Or just my name?
How, at the designated time we'd scurry around slipping our favors into each others bag or box.
Did you ever not get a valentine?
Or receive a surprise valentine?
The first gift my hubby, then boyfriend, ever gave me was earrings for Valentine's Day--a risky move considering we hadn't been dating very long. (They are still my favorites--just for that reason.)
Fittingly, this Valentine week our yoga intention is Kindness. Catherine passed around these Kindness Cards to commemorate it.
It's part of the ReThink Happiness Movement.
It was the KINDNESS CARD that started me down this road. I bought my first car during gas rationing. On one of my days to fill up (I was an even).
After idling my way to the gas pump, I filled up my car and joined the queue to pay up.
When I finally reached the payment window, the clerk said: "No Charge"
"What do you mean, No Charge?"
Seems some guy had paid for my gas. A Random Act of Kindness.
And even though, sometime later I discovered that "guy" had been my grandfather. That feeling of unexpected kindness stayed--a sparkle.
That sparkle flickered and popped during my Valentine making session. I stuffed my purse with valentines and willy-nilly passed them around. Made me as happy as Mr. Hatch.
If you don't, take 11.5 minutes, cozy up, click over to hear Hector Elizondo read this oh-how-I-wish-I-had-written-it picture book. If you do, give yourself a Valentine treat and listen again. Just click on the title
Treat someone--and yourself, too---kindly!
Happy Valentines Day!
She--Suzanne Santillan--the sweet, dulcet-toned author of Grandma's Pear Tree-- twisted my arm, held my fingers to the fire, threatened and cajoled and finally I cracked. . .
Truth time: I did not create any of the clever, brilliant, fun, educational Teaching Guides, Activities, Crafts, Puzzles, Story Hours Kits you'll find if you click on the Activities Tab.
Behind the curtain, I work with a dynamic talented team who deserve to be acknowledged and shared and receive heaps of thanks and praise for all their efforts.
So at Suzanne's urging, I spilled the 4-1-1 on the how, who, and where's of my promotional material on Writing on the Sidewalk.
Back to Business! About those creative minds behind the Teaching Guides, Activities, Crafts, Puzzles and Story Hours Kit for my picture books: If you're wondering who they are? What they do? And if they'll do it for you? Click over and read for yourself: Writing on the Sidewalk: How to Create Great Promo Material- Tips and Tricks from Author Kelly Bennett (If the link doesn't work, cut and paste this: http://writingonthesidewalk.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/how-to-create-great-promo-material-tips-and-tricks-from-author-kelly-bennett/
Heaps of thanks!
One is not supposed to think during Yoga. You know the bumper sticker slogan "Go with the flow"? I'm thinking some yogi coined it. Yoga is about flowing. I know this because I got to thinking today, during yoga, and when I opened my eyes at the end of practice, I was facing the back wall, while everyone else was facing forward.
But first, before beginning the practice, we take time to focus our intention.
I’ve had loads of practice thinking, mulling, musing, pondering, "daydreaming" as my grandmother used to call it which sounded so pleasant, positive even, in contrast to other terms letting your mind wander is called: "Procrastinating", "Wasting Time", and when it goes on too long it morphs into "Resisting" as Steven Pressfield discusses in War of Art.
In an interview about her writing process (which I searched for but couldn’t find, as I didn't want to waste any more time looking) Isabel Allende said she "dreams" her stories. She watches the scene play out in her head, then writes it down. (And I seem to recall she actually lies down while "dreaming"--as in on a bed. Maybe with a pillow and blankie . . .
What's the difference? Focused Intention.
I have the same problem during yoga. At the end of each practice we lie in “corpse pose” (pretty self-explanatory: lay flat on your back on the ground like you’re dead.)
However, even with the instructor’s warning: “Tell yourself you are practicing deep meditation, you will not move, you will not fall asleep…” I’ll find myself jerking to attention or snorting awake. Maybe more than once, my friend Mimi had to give me a nudge.
When I think "yoga", Love-not-War, Flower Power and "Peace, Dude" comes to mind, not battle. Which makes flowing through a series of warrior poses seems oximoronic (if that’s even a word). Today, when Catherine said, as she does every yoga session “Stand strong in your warrior", this oximoronosity--which self-corrected to monstrosity--came to mind.
As I stood, with my back leg stretched, front knee bent, staring past my quivering fingertips, pushing down through my aching legs in one of my mightiest Warrior 2 ever, I pondered the purpose of these Yoga Warrior poses.
I must share how, in spite of my pondering--or maybe because of it--2 out of 3 of my Warrior Poses were Stellar.
It was not my best yoga day. (“Thinking, mulling, pondering” and “listen and follow directions” are mutually exclusive.) It was not my best work day, either. This question of why peaceful yogi-types would spend so much time and energy posing as warriors won. I couldn't let it so. So instead of sticking to the tasks I'd set for myself, I searched the internet for answers.
Validation came when I came across an article in Yoga Journal which also challenged warrior pose's role in yoga:
Rosen's conclusion is that the yogi is doing battle against her own ignorance. . . trying to "rise up out of your own limitations." Which is not easy! Battling oneself never is.
Is this why we resist? Why we avoid? Procrastinate? (Which, I'm compelled to restate for the record, is so not the same thing as daydreaming. . . )
Each Jan. 7th, Isabel Allende prepares--focuses her intention. Jan 8th, she begins each new book.
Why Jan. 8th? Allende explains: "My daughter, Paula, died on December 6, 1992. On January 7, 1993, my mother said, ‘Tomorrow is January eighth. If you don’t write, you’re going to die.’"Her mother went to Macy's and when she returned Allende had taken up the gauntlet.
What tool does Allende take with her to battle. What reminder to keep her focused. To help her stay strong in her warrior? A candle.
In an interview with Bill Moyer she shared how she lights a candle when she begins writing. "It's a real candle, but it's also a metaphysical candle," she told him.
Today has been a battle. A battle to stay the course in yoga. A battle to stop puttering and sit down to the work I had planned for the day (a battle I lost.) And most frustrating/time consuming of all, a battle to publish this posting. Three times I'd been clicking away and something went wrong. It would have been easy to quit and turn to those many things I had planned to accomplish today. Important things. But working through this notion of what Warrior meant, which had taken hold of me as I stared down the length of my outstretched arm. And so, I soldered.
How-to Focus Intention:
First: admit it. No matter what differences we are trying to make, what we are trying to create, to change, it is a war we are fighting. A war against taking the easy road, playing it safe.
Second: Arm yourself with whatever will help you focus your intention, be it yoga mat, walking desk, chocolate bar reward, candle. . .
If you're reading this, I won! And it feels darn good.
BE STRONG IN YOUR WARRIOR