Sunday, January 26, 2014

KAUA'I AGAIN

Aloha!

Back here for our annual Kaua'i respite.  This is my early morning view from the terrace, becoming more and more busy with folks coming down to the coffee bar for caffeine and pastries.   Groups of elder folk (this means anyone obviously older than me) and youngers with little kids (kids younger than school age).  This time of year travel is for those who don't have as many responsibilities and commitments tying them to the mainland, I guess.

We got in on Thursday after a 6 hour flight that was informative regarding the various euphemisms the flight crew employed to describe frequent turbulence… "a few bumps"; " 'chop' over the Pacific; "a little shake".  Hmmmm….. I must have had just the right amount of meds on board because my flight anxiety stayed fairly under control with a little deep breathing; a little visualizing a peaceful scene.  God, I hate flying.

The problem up there was the massive low pressure front still creating 120 MPH winds pushing at our little 737.  That system had created huge swells of Pacific Ocean rushing onto the Islands' north shores creating 40-50 foot waves the day before we flew in.  Yowza!  That's a lot of water hitting the beach!  We saw photos, saw signs at the airport when we landed warning tourists heading north of flooding and closed roads.  We stay on the east side, on a protected bay, that has been calm as a lake.  Just like I like it.

We've been coming here for 15 years.  Flying in just before landing felt like coming home, as we cruised alongside the island landscape that has become so familiar to us.  I love familiarity and a sense of belonging.  Yet….this time I'm feeling antsy.  I'm a little impatient.  I realize I'm feeling like I'd like to see and experience something new.  Hub is a little startled by this admission.  He is usually the one pushing me to move out of my comfort zone and here I am fussing about wanting to branch out in my "adventuring". (This might mean a Marriott on a different island…I haven't completely lost my mind!)

The other thing that seems to be nudging at my consciousness is (as is frequently true), thoughts of my mother.  There was a time when she was about my age I suppose, when she used to say she had always wanted to visit Hawaii.  She said it wistfully, as if this was a dream far beyond her ability to realize, and I suppose for her it must have felt that way.  A northern Illinois farm girl of the Depression years, living a subsistence existence, had thought she had realized the pinnacle of success for having been able to marry, raise a family, build a new home in the suburbs, and come to own her own small beautician business.  Travel that didn't happen in the car on a highway was not in the cards -- or at least in her mind's ability to fathom for herself.

Later, when we started coming here, I suggested she might want to come along.  But she was older then, and not interested in travel anymore, and she turned me down.  She said she just didn't have the same desire to go anymore; just wasn't interested.  I think now I should have ignored her and made her come; should have pushed her a bit.  I wish I had been able to give her the gift of a morning like this…the warm air hugging my skin, the gentle breeze like a loving caress, the soft glow of sunrise over the Pacific promising a day where the visual landscape is a riot of tropical color, where birdcall delights the ear.

I don't know if there is a heaven or anything like it.  The more I think about mortality the more I want to believe there is something pleasant "out there"…I hope for my mom she is in a warm sunny place that is far more beautiful than any Hawaiian Island.

I hope for me, that whatever I find after this mortal life has ended, I can get to that new adventure with a minimum of "chop".

At least, that's the view from here… ©

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

ANGRY YOUNG MEN

Last post I revealed that I am a football fan.  I realize not all my friends share this passion.  Some detest it.  Most on the basis of the waste of time, money, and energy spent on a sport that is so physical that there is almost never a game when one or more players doesn't sustain an injury.  There are, thankfully!, new and stricter rules for tackling and protocols in place about evaluating concussion-related injuries and ensuring adequate recovery time before returning to the field (not on the same day, for heaven's sake!)  Still, I know it is a rough game.   It is a game that I was so afraid of when Son-One wanted to play in 8th grade, that I refused to sign the permission slip.  So Hub did.  Hub, who played in high school and college until a knee injury sidelined him.

So, what am I to make of this game I am enjoying so much?  Why do I suspend my usual non-violent tendencies in general to embrace this pastime?  Well, I think it goes back to childhood memories, as I noted in my last post, of sports being a fixture on TV in our home.  I think it goes back to teen years of watching my boyfriend, Hub, on various fields of play.  I think it goes to raising boys who were rambunctious and sports-crazed and sitting, again, at various sports venues to cheer them on. I think it is a vicarious projection of my own inner competitive nature, deeply buried, yet able to come out as a fan.  I think it is the sense of community in joining in the rally around the home team.

Yet…After the game on Sunday in which we won, at the last second, on a defensive play by our star cornerback, Richard Sherman, Sherman was the "go-to" guy for the first sideline interview.  He immediately launched into a rant about his offensive counterpart on the other team and a boast about his own prowess.  I cringed.

He is known for "trash talking", but those across the country don't also know the side of him we in the hometown know of his personal story: a straight A student taking AP classes in the gang-infested neighborhood of Compton CA,  graduating from Stanford,  and developing into the best player of his position in the NFL.  No easy feat.  They don't know how articulate, funny, and friendly he is when he's not 30 seconds from having made the play of his life against his arch-rival.   So, since Sunday, his ill-timed and wrongheaded "interview" has been in an echo chamber of media attention.  Our Quarterback, Russell Wilson, who is relentlessly upbeat, positive and articulately soft spoken has nearly disappeared from view.  He's usually the upfront guy.

Football is a testosterone-fueled game.  It is a game in which "playing with a chip on your shoulder" is used as motivation to do well.  Many players on the Seahawks were passed over or picked late in the draft by many teams before landing in Seattle.  Richard Sherman was drafted in the 5th round -- 23 players at his position picked in front of  him.  Russell Wilson was a 3rd round pick.  Doug Baldwin, the Hawks wide receiver, was an undrafted free agent and is also having a standout year.  All have said they are out to prove their worth…prove to those who overlooked them that they missed out on something special.

Is this "anger", this desire to prove themselves, something to deride or to celebrate?  And when they show their worth on the national stage, having just reached the game that is the pinnacle of every football player's career, the Super Bowl, do we begrudge them a bit of a boast?

Well, I do wish Richard had toned it down just because I knew the firestorm of judgement and controversy it would create.  I appreciate Russell and Doug for the their more soft-spoken joy of accomplishment.  But that's just me and my Scandinavian heritage.  If the underdogs wanna do a bit of howling and growling, I guess that is their due.

The lesson I have learned is that making a snap judgement about a person's "class" or "character" in the heat of an intense moment, without benefit of the fuller story of a person's life, is also ill-advised.  Let's all pause,  no matter the situation, and let the emotion pass.  Then, let's get on with the sport of life --  hard-fought, well-played, and full of celebration.

At least, that's the view from here…. ©

Saturday, January 18, 2014

GO HAWKS!

Just got home from lunch with a woman from my writing group.  She noticed the Seahawk button attached to my purse and said, "Are you a sports fan?  I wouldn't have pegged you for that."

Hmmm…well.   I am.  I love watching sports.  Playing not so much -- I'm not naturally athletic and usually it makes me tired, hot, sweaty, sore and frustrated to try to "do"sports.  It's not fun to do, but is great fun to watch.

I grew up in Chicagoland.  I grew up with the Cubs and Sox as part of the summer mosaic.  I grew up with the Bears as the fall and winter soundtrack to family gatherings.  I grew up to date and then marry the star high school pitching ace and game-winning quarterback  (well, those two games they won senior year -- one of them on a quarterback sneak!  Yay Tomcats!)

For the past 2-3 years I've decided to devote myself to watching as much professional football as possible.  I'm loving it!  And this year, our Seahawks are one game away from the Super Bowl.  Tomorrow is the NFC Championship game. This is a very big deal.  Our whole family is crazy-excited.  We have developed rituals and superstitions about what to eat and what to wear on game day.  If we can't catch the game in 'real time' we record it and insist on "media blackout" so we don't learn the score until we've watched the game.

I get that my writing friend was surprised.  In most other aspects of my life one would not guess that Sunday afternoon football brings out the competitor in me, especially the hard-hitting, gut-busting, head-banging kind of competition that professional football inherently just is.

For goodness sakes, I meditate, practice Yoga, chant Kirtan, lead Ecstatic Dance, facilitate women's groups, write poetry and song lyrics and this blog, crochet, and watch Downton Abby faithfully!  I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs.  I eat healthy foods.  I go to church a lot, serve on a ton of committees, only swear a little.   How can it be that I am football crazy?

I don't know.  I just am.  I love the sound of football on TV.  I love trying to learn the game (lots of rules!)  I'm intrigued by the personalities of the players and coaches.  I understand the sense of community and camaradarie of coming together as fans to cheer our team on -- there  is a sense of tribe, a sense of shared mission, a sense of belonging.

Is it big business?  Yep.  Is it violent?  Yep.  Does it glorify athletes far beyond their due?  Yep.  Is it universal and does it serve some deep psychological and/or sociological need?  Yep, yep, yep.  But let's not get too technical here.  It's also fun and entertaining and a nice distraction from the woes of the world.   Enuff said.  GO HAWKS!

At least, that's the view from here… ©

Thursday, January 2, 2014

HALF MOON FALLING

Isn't this beautiful?  This is Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose).  It looks deceptively easy.  To do it this beautifully, however, requires strength, balance and perfect alignment…. as well as a flattish rock and a lovely moonrise ocean view.

I always say a silent mantra/prayer before stepping on my mat, asking for my Higher Power (haha…my finger just slipped and I typed "Higher Poser"!!!) to be with me, to let go of Ego, to be Present with only my own practice in that moment of that day.   It works.  I am always present, or can get back to presence fairly easily.  That doesn't mean I don't smile and laugh during class -- for laughter is certainly part of my practice.

So, maybe it was the setting that interfered with my pulling this asana off to perfection in Yoga class last week.  After all, it was mid-morning, no moon in sight and miles from the shoreline.  Actually, I've done this pose before -- at the wall, with props, without.  It's always a challenge, but usually doable.  So, maybe it was because last Friday's class was rather emotionally-laden, since it was the last session with us for one of our sweet regular teachers before her year-long sabbatical; we were all sort of weepy and happy and sad.  Maybe I got distracted by trying to "please" her. Half Moon Pose is a favorite of hers.

Whatever was going on, I moved into the pose on one side, with a bit of help on my alignment, and felt pretty awesome!  Then I switched to the other side, and, and, and…..

Came crashing down.  I fell out of the pose, tried to catch myself, and realized I was on the floor sort of rolling in a ball of protruding limbs toward a classmate.  It all happened so fast…

This was my mind not remaining calm:

"Oh shit!"
"I'm gonna knock Sue over!"
 (Flash to image of a domino-effect knock down of every Yogi on my side of the room.)
"I'm not hurt."
"For toppling, I'm pretty graceful."
"That sucked."
"That was hilarious."

I looked sort of like this,  maybe, just before the tumble.  Note contrast in alignment from photo above:

Our teacher asked if I was OK.  I answered that I was.  She wondered aloud what it felt like to fall out of my pose.  (Teaching moment!)

I replied, that I was immediately aware that I was not going to get hurt and hoped I wouldn't hurt anyone else.  And then I said the very next thing that popped into my mind:

"It reminded me of how hard it is to find balance in my everyday life.  It reminded me again that Yoga is just like life."

And that's why I love my practice.  Boom!  Yoga is JUST LIKE LIFE!  It's a place to be just as I am; a place to push just a bit to the edge of my limit; to try and sometimes not succeed; to try and then to back off; to try again and again, or not.  Sometimes it's a place to rest and bask in ease.  It's a place of support and encouragement and sometimes a celebration of euphoric accomplishment.  It's also a place of practicing gentle forgiveness and acceptance when I strive and cling, rather than just "be".

Yoga is the teacher.  The student just needs to show up.

At least, that's the view from here…. ©

(Ready to try?)  http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/2327