HappySpirit @ Home

I’ve decided to quit going to yoga.  That is, I’ve decided to stop paying to go to yoga classes. Instead of going to yoga, I’m starting to practice yoga. Maybe even starting to live yoga a little. It’s pretty awesome having a happy spirit with me in my own living room.

I’ve written about yoga before – it’s a practice that has been quite beneficial to me over the last two decades of my life, starting from the time I moved from LA to Oakland and had a 9-5 job in The City (that damn City that’s so pretentious, its residents just call it “The City”). (I love that place, goshdarnit.) There was a yoga studio in the neighborhood where I worked – it was sort-of-Potrero Hill-adjacent, probably a very groovy area now but in the late ’90’s, when the tech boom was just taking off, it felt more like potential than actualization. A yoga studio was an indisputable harbinger of the change that was a’ comin’ to this ‘hood.

Starting with Suzanna’s Tuesday night yoga class, I became a perpetual “beginner” at yoga. It was a level I became comfortable with staying at, even when I could see that, as the years went by, I actually did know a fair bit more than when I started.  After Suzanna taught me the basics, I went back to grad school and pretty much dropped everything outside of my school life, yoga included.

Some years later, I had a great teacher in Sedona who taught a small group of women during the day in her living room, and I received really useful hands-on instruction at the now-defunct City Yoga in West Hollywood (on the corner of Fairfax and Santa Monica), where the teachers were direct disciples of the “founder” of Anusara Yoga. It was there I learned that I was actually able to get myself into a headstand – I didn’t keep that practice up, so I just marvel at the thought today, and remember the high it brought. Turns out, the ol’ “use it or lose it” adage has some semblance of truth to it (go figure).

All of this leads me to today… the day I’ve decided to stop taking more yoga classes, at least for now, and to bring the practice home. I’m done feeling guilty about not using my monthly pass often enough to make it “worthwhile.”  It’s been quite worthwhile, notwithstanding the fact that the classes at my current studio are repetitive, not to mention redundant. It’s  actually this fact that has enabled me to essentially memorize all of the poses AND, to a large extent, the order in which they’re done by most of the teachers at this studio.

It’s okay that  I’m not actually ‘learning’ anything in these ‘classes’ – and haven’t for some time. I’ve just come to realize that I’ve learned what I’m going to learn, and now it’s time to take it home.

Bringing yoga into my home is just one part of bringing my spirit here, and it’s an important one. I’m all about hanging out with a happy spirit in my home. When I do yoga here, I can just sit and feel happy about being  in a spacious living room on a beautiful wood floor in a comfortable, light-filled apartment in a building full of neighbors with whom I’m creating new friendships. That makes me happy. I can listen to my favourite music – really drink in any music that I like, and there’s a whole lot that I like that I don’t often take the time to listen to any more. I make the play list; that makes me happy.

When I was young, I learned somewhere that it was a sign of immaturity to say that one’s greatest desire in life was to be happy.  The point of the lesson, I recall, was that happiness is impermanent, and instead, it was better (or preferable) to seek contentment (and be content with that, I suppose).

Listen, I get it. It’s hard to face life’s disappointments if you think you’re going to skate through to Judgment Day scotch free of ’em, ’cause Boom, someone could throw a stick under your skates and before you know it, you’re headed south.  Sure, some people can probably go a lot of years feeling up and never down. But that’s not my experience… and while there may be some truth to your thinking that it’s “kind of a Jewish thing” to look at the cup half empty, you also have to admit there are plenty of goyim who experience depression and anxiety too.

The pursuit of happiness needn’t be a distraction from the parts of life that are not all shiny and wonderful. Life’s a bit of everything, we need the rain to grow flowers, et cetera, et cetera. And I still think that happiness is something that is good to want. I like being happy, I want to be happy, it is good to be happy. So there.

Okay, off my soapbox now. In summary:

Yoga.

Home.

Music.

Happy.

Spirit.

Happy.

On the mat, off the mat. There’s no place like om.

 

Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing

I love these candles.

IMG_6482

These candles that are almost all burnt, off to the side of me on the kitchen table, on this first Friday night since we moved the clocks forward. It’s 7:47 and almost dark, three stars in the sky, if ya know what I mean. And the Sabbath lights are lit in my kitchen window.

I lit ‘em, yep, I did.

And I said a little prayer. And then it was Shabbat. The Sabbath. Or Shabbos if you prefer. As in Good Shabbos.

The two candles are sitting in ceramic holders I bought in Jerusalem during my junior year of college at Hebrew University over thirty years ago. (Geez, that’s crazy. OVER thirty years.) Candlestick holders were a relatively easy relic for a naïve American 19-year-old girl with limited Hebrew skills to purchase from vendors in the Old City. Continue reading

Gratitude 2015

Thanksgiving almost didn’t happen this year. Even though, since moving to Canada, I have two annual opportunities to celebrate, it felt like the holiday might pass me by entirely. Still, there’s always time to be thankful. And right now, I’m blasting with gratitude.

Alas, my honey and I were both sick in the days leading up to “Canadian Thanksgiving” weekend in mid-October. The week before, we had invited a small group of friends over for dinner that Sunday night. Even though we were still sneezing and coughing Saturday morning, we were optimistic that the tide would turn, so we  did a big grocery shop — a big chicken and all the fixings. [Gratitude blast: I’m thankful for Thanksgiving!] Continue reading

Oh Canada!

download February 23, 2015 felt like my birthday, and in a way it was. For on that day, my life began as a Canadian.

On that spectacularly sunny morning, as I opened my eyes, my sweetheart presented me with a gift of red socks with the word “Canada” across the top – how chic!IMG_0026 And in the kitchen, I found a gorgeous bouquet of a dozen red roses, red carnations, white daisies and a white mum, plus six pink roses (“for love”). The vase was sitting on a souvenir tea towel with a huge red maple leaf and the word “Canada” across the bottom. What a welcome to my new home country!photo 3 But wait, there’s more! Continue reading

Remembering Nana

Nana_RunawaysToday, I honor the grandmothers.

As I write, a yahrzeit candle burns on my desk. A yahrzeit (Yiddish for “a year’s time”) is the anniversary of the death of a loved one, in this case my Nana, who died 23 years ago today.

This morning, I found the words I shared at her funeral the next day. They ring as true today as they did then.

February 5, 1992

Dear Nana,

I guess the biggest thing on my mind right now is just how much I’m going to miss you. You have been such an incredibly big part of my life – for all of my life. I have such vivid memories of you as part of my childhood —  always with your delicious “Nana cookies” and your streudel (which I’m so glad you taught me how to bake — I think it’s about time I tried that recipe out again!). I remember what a treat it was to stay over at your house on weekend nights, and how you always made Matzo Meal pancakes for breakfast for Eric and me. Continue reading

Thanks again

IMG_4983It’s nearing the end of American Thanksgiving, as we call it here in Canada (at home, of course, it’s just Thanksgiving, but that day happened here over a month ago… let’s leave it at that). Rather than making my usual trek to Southern California, I’m in Vancouver this year for what’s decidedly a non-holiday day. I spent it as I might spend any other Thursday, with a bit of work, a couple of meetings, you know, the usual stuff of everyday life. And yet, at about 4:30 this afternoon, I felt compelled to stopped by Hamburger Mary’s on Davie Street with my American pal Leslie for a hot turkey dinner, complete with mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing and a double helping of cranberry sauce. It was an extraordinary feast. You can take the girl out of America… Continue reading

Checklists

checklistIn her regular column in this Saturday’s Globe and Mail, “Suddenly, I’m the oldest person in the room – and I love it”, Margaret Wente describes the process of aging in the workplace as “both thrilling and terrifying.” Until we’re in our 50’s, she writes, “we’ve had a checklist of things we were supposed to do (go to school, graduate, leave home, job-hop, find vocation, settle down, mate, buy property, reproduce, put the kids through school).” By the time we reach the status of elder statesperson at work, she concludes, “The checklist is done.”

Whose checklist are we talking about, though?  What’s on my checklist? Continue reading