Wednesday, April 22, 2009

changing my mind

For the last month or so I've taken a break from teaching yoga to the teens in the substance abuse treatment program in the juvenile jail where I also work as the school social worker. I was losing interest in teaching yoga where there was resistance and disruption, and there was a lot of resistance and disruption. Pretty much every class. I was spending more time trying to maintain a level of compliance with basic facility rules and keeping the insults and name calling at bay than I was teaching yoga. Compared to my home studio classes, which are positive and energizing, the classes at work were dread filling and demoralizing. It seemed to me that only a few of the kids really liked the classes, and the kids who didn't made it miserable for everyone else. I tried lots of different approaches and plans to increase engagement, but it wasn't improving. It just got too challenging, and, worse, it started to make me feel badly about yoga.

On a deep level I felt ashamed that I couldn't figure out how to engage the uninterested kids, so I did what I usually do when I am unwilling to explore something painful. I took an all-or-nothing approach and just avoided the issue by not teaching any yoga to any of the kids. Over the last month, a few of the kids have occasionally asked about yoga class, but I didn't have the energy (likely based on my unwillingness to look more closely at what was coming up for me) to discuss it much more than saying I was taking a break from teaching.

Then, yesterday, something interesting happened. I was subbing in math class with the kids in my yoga class, and a kid who had just returned to our facility after a few months away asked me if we were still doing yoga. Half the class chimed in with a chorus of, "yeah, we want yoga back", and "why aren't we doing yoga anymore?" Suddenly the time seemed right for me to get honest, and tell the kids that I loved teaching yoga too much to associate it with dread and unhappiness. After some conversation about how they felt, and what they wanted, I asked the group if I offered class again, how many would be interested if it was an option. All but one said they would.

A few things have changed in the last month. A couple of really negative kids left, and a few new kids have come in to our program. The energy of the group feels more positive and functional than it has in the past. More importantly though, something in the discussion yesterday allowed me to delve into my feelings, share them with the group, and make a new plan. I gave myself permission to change my mind, and trust that it could be ok.

This morning I taught yoga class to the group for the first time in over a month. It was a good class. Nothing spectacular--no amazing transformations, blissed out prana energy, or deep meditation. But it was good enough! Plenty good enough for me.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

remembering audrey simon

Following is a letter I sent out to some friends and loved ones who all had their lives touched by the power and love of my beloved friend Audrey Simon, who passed away two years ago today:

I woke up this morning thinking of Audrey, seeing her face in front of me. It's hard for me to believe it has been two years since her death. I think about her nearly everyday, as I know many of you do. I still miss her tons, but what used to feel like a raw wound has healed to become a bittersweet longing for her company.

I missed Audrey's birthday celebration this year-- my daughter Zoe had emergency appendectomy surgery a few days before, and the timing didn't work out. So, today, I'm aiming some love in her direction.

There are many things I like to remember about Audrey. Her fierce loyalty and support, her strong and sometimes wacky ideas, her generousity in all things, her mindblowingly delicious meatloaf that I still make on a regular basis (her generousity included sharing her recipe with me), her healing words and touch, her empathy, her inclusiveness, and her deep care for others are just the beginning of my list.

There were a number of times over the few years before Audrey died when we talked about her, Zoe and I going to Paris together. She knew Zoe and I were saving frequent flyer miles for a trip, and we thought it would be great fun to all go together. I regret that we didn't make it happen.

About 8 months ago, Zoe and I booked our tickets, rented a little apartment in the heart of the Marais district, and last week we went to Paris. On nearly our last night there, Zoe and I decided we would dedicate our evening to the memory of Audrey, with our only firm plan a boat ride on the Siene, some red wine and a rich, gooey pastry. We walked out into the still warm evening, and as we crossed over the river on the Pont Sully towards the Ile St. Louis, we looked out to the east and saw a massive, deep orange, luciously full moon rising over the bumpy silhouette of the Paris skyline; the sky a rich blue hue behind it. We turned and looked to the west and saw the twinkling lights of the Tour Eiffel off in the distance, the sky still pink and lavender behind it. I felt a little shiver down my spine, and laughed with Zoe over the magic of the Parisian moment that was all about Aud.

On this anniversary of Audrey's passing, I'm sending out prayers of loving kindness to all, with the spirit, love and energy of Audrey shining through. It would be a real pleasure to hear from you sharing a memory, a thought, or an appreciation of Audrey on this day. I know I don't have everyone on my email list who might want to share this message, mostly out of a lack of organization than anything else, so please forward it if you like to anyone I haven't included that you feel would like it. Love and happiness, and a big smooch to Audrey, Lisa

Sometimes when I'm really missing Audrey's voice, I go to this little video from Carisa Walker:

Enjoy this wet spring day, L

paris & home

Still catching my breath and finding my feet after our week in Paris. Lots of photos and commentary soon. In the mean time, be well, be happy, be peaceful.

Friday, April 3, 2009

ok to go

Nearly a year ago my daughter and I began to make plans for a trip to Paris. We turned in our hundred thousand frequent flyer miles, booked an apartment from Craigslist Paris, and then moved into wait-for-April-in-Paris mode.

A lot can happen in a year.

In addition to the economy tanking, and my job suddenly vulnerable to County budget cuts, my daughter had an emergency appendectomy last week (previous post), and my mom has been struggling with health issues. I've been struggling daily with the yes or no of our trip.

Today, it looks like our Paris trip is on. We leave tomorrow night, and return Saturday next. For now, it's ok to go.

Suddenly, now that the adventure seems possible, I'm very excited! A week in Paris in April. Coffee and croissant in the morning, chocolate pastries twice a day, cafes and parks and museums and afternoons wandering around the Marais with no other plans but to enjoy each moment. Evenings watching the street lights come on around the neighborhood, boat rides on the Seine, red wine in a cozy bistro. And some daily sadhana to balance out the lovely richness of Parisian meals.

Have a wonderful, spring-y week, where ever you are. Hugs and Jai!