Archive for April, 2016

A piece of art only a mother could love

April 29th, 2016

Parenting, as you know, is so totally subjective. Everyone thinks their child is the best, smartest, funniest, most talented, etc, in the world. ...Well, Claus and I know Olivia's not a prodigy, but we do rank her #1 in many superlative categories.

From the start, every little artistic creation she has brought home from school meets with a shower of compliments. We love that she made it with her own two little hands, and that she gives it to us with all of her heart. She's the sweetest.

The other day, she brought home a glazed ceramic the art class had been working on for a few weeks. They molded the clay, designed their sculptures, painted it, and then brought it home after it was fired in the kiln.

"Here, Mommy," she said as she nonchalantly plopped a rat-unicorn hybrid ("a raticorn" I was informed) on the counter. She's eight now, so sometimes it's not such a big deal to give your parents gifts.

I turned around to receive it. "Oh! That's nice, Dear! What is it?"

She said what it was, which I think is weird- but I rationalized it within seconds that it's just her brilliant expression of creativity. It's actually odd looking but if Olivia made it, I love it.

And then she said she didn't make it! "It came from one of the other girls in class. She didn't want it. She gave it to me."

Duh, she didn't want it. It's ugly.

"Oh. Where is yours?" I asked. "You should give this back to that girl. Her parents probably want it."

"Mine's in the art show," Olivia explained. "And I like this. She gave it to me, she doesn't want it back, and I'm going to keep it. Let's put it here on the counter."

"Actually, no. Put it in your room if you insist on having it. A rat with a horn is kind of scary," I admitted.

Olivia stopped to put it together. "So... why'd you say you liked it when you thought it was mine?"

"Because it's special when it comes from you. You're my kid," I explained.

Later, Claus and I compared notes and apparently, he had a very similar conversation with her about the raticorn.

Funny, isn't it, that within seconds one's whole perspective on something can change based on a little piece of knowledge? It's still the same sculpture!

By the way, I lost that fight. Somehow the dang uni-mouse found its way to my bedroom nightstand where Olivia likes to play with it before she tucks me in.

Yoga training: Conclusion

April 27th, 2016

This was our last weekend in the teacher training course, and I've come to realize I'm not able right now to pursue a certification. I need to register a certain number of hours on the mat (alone and working with students) and I haven't the time or energy right now to do that.


Future yoga teachers!

"I loved training. It's been an amazing journey," reflects student Debbie Miranda. "I learned a lot about myself and how to be patient with myself. I've learned it's OK."

I loved it too,  but there are certain things I took to easily about the course, and other parts that I found very difficult. It gets harder to absorb new things when one is older, and also obligated to so many other responsibilities in daily life!

Me in crow pose.

Me in crow pose.

I like the intensity of study, learning about energy flow, breathing techniques, and the science behind yoga. I like the spiritual component, and opening my eyes to the larger lifestyle of yoga and Ayurveda. I like becoming part of a yoga community, making new friends who share a similar mindset with me.

I disliked the study of anatomy, which is extremely interesting but not easy for me. It matters, because I'd need to correct students' postures to avoid injury or to understand how a certain pose affects certain muscles.

I'm sure I could get into this in a different time of my life, but that time is not now, and I'm OK with that. I still really got value out of this course.

It empowered me to set up a home yoga practice which I can access at my leisure. It taught me about the power of intent, and that your thoughts become your actions and your actions become you. I'm more Zen, to borrow an American shorthand.


Most of the students will go on to get certified. Two have already completed their requirements!

Kazusa Flanagan is one of those two students who got certified on our last day of class and speaks to the transformative quality of the teachings. "Before teacher training, yoga was a hobby. Now, yoga is part of my life. I live for yoga."

Congratulations to the first in our group to get certified, Mitsue Sanami and Kazusa Flanagan!

Congratulations to the first in our group to get certified, Mitsue Sanami and Kazusa Flanagan!

Our teacher, Amanda Webster, was ever encouraging at my revelation. "You'll do it when you're ready," she pronounced. Yes, perhaps I will.

Amanda and me. Best teacher ever!

Amanda and me. Best teacher ever!

She still gave out the course completion certificates. When we finish the requirements, she'll sign it. It feels like semi-graduation! It was still exciting!

Now my challenge is to earn Amanda's signature...

Now my challenge is to earn Amanda's signature...

Until then, I appreciate having the tools to go forth and keep finding my balance. As Swami Satchidananda said, "We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves... We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil."



More about this yoga course at

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Yoga training: Metta meditation

April 25th, 2016

In yoga, we learned about channeling energy throughout the body to achieve certain responses. The poses you practice and the way it directs breath and energy through the body ignite that response. Certain chants and meditative practices after practice enhance that feeling.

Sometimes, it's heat and energy. Sometimes, it's restorative and calm.


Amanda taught us something called the Metta meditation, which focuses on finding unconditional love for self and others. I think it's beautiful.

Unconditional love is at the root of all major religions, so it's got to be the answer to move humanity forward. All those religions can't be wrong!

Here's how it works:

Take a few deep breaths to get centered. You picture five beings in your mind: yourself, someone you like, someone you are neutral about, someone you dislike, and all sentient beings.

Picturing one entity at a time, you repeat this phrase in your mind: May I be happy. May I be safe. May I be peaceful. May I be enlightened to my true nature. May I be free.

Obviously, alter the pronoun appropriately as you move through each person on the list.

It doesn't take long, and I've been doing it at least once a day. I've found myself calmer at the end of the process. Maybe it's because sitting quietly, breathing deeply, for five minutes calms me down.

Still, I like to think it's more than that. I like to think I'm having some kind of positive effect on a little corner of the world with my happy thoughts.

And anyway, didn't Gandhi advise you be the change you want to see in the world? So maybe it starts with me.

If you do this, how does it affect you?

Peace. Love. Have a great day.

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Yoga training: Emotion and the body

April 22nd, 2016

There's a belief that emotion is stored in the body. Pain that crops up is the body's way of manifesting physically what emotional issues you're dealing with.

Someone in class, for instance, is in perfect physical health with a vigorous exercise routine, but suddenly, when faced with an overwhelming life change, she says her knee would collapse, impeding her ability to walk.

She saw it as fear of going forward with life. In short order, she dealt with her life's changes, and the knee restored itself.

Disclaimer: we're not doctors, and please don't ignore your own pains in hopes it'll resolve itself the way my friend's did. I just like to mull the theory.

Yoga selfie! Hello!

Yoga selfie! Hello!

In yoga training, we focused one session on this idea and how yoga can resolve it, using hip opening exercises. The muscles in the hips help the knees flex, thus letting the body run or stand ground in traumatic situations, triggering the instinctual flight or fight reaction.

The idea is that instead of discharging this excess energy, humans often store it, which means we keep sadness in the hips. More than one yoga teacher I've talked to says it's not uncommon to see students crying on the mat during a class with many hip-openers.

I myself have experienced this. During times of stress, a series of poses focused on hip stretches seems to release unexpressed emotion - even those I already thought I dealt with. It's cathartic.

Some have postulated yoga is calming in and of itself, regardless of the pose practiced, because it's a chance for the mind to slow down and address the stressors without other distraction of daily life. My teacher, Amanda, says the hips in particular are our "attic" of emotional blockage, tucking away issues we don't want to deal with.

Whatever the reason, I find it a nice release. If you're so inclined, you might want to try a few hip stretches and see. Don't forget to coordinate your breath smoothly with the movements.

Did you try it and did it do anything for you? Do you believe emotion is stored in the body?
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Yoga training: Contemplating challenge

April 20th, 2016

One month, we studied what the yoga sutras have to say about challenge. Essentially, they're there to help you clarify your own desire.

"Many obstructions are purposely put in the way for us to pass through... We seem to need to be challenged and tested in order to understand our own capacities," writes Sri Swami Satchidananda.

The example that came to mind right away when we discussed this in class was of my career in news. I pursued it right out of college and lived it with burning enthusiasm for over a decade.

When KHNL had mass layoffs in 2009, I decided to try another career, and enjoyed pushing the boundaries wildly, contemplating cake decorator, lawyer, social worker, behavioral therapist. It's not that I disliked news anymore, but it's that I felt this might be a chance to try something different.

I made this purse-shaped cake.

I made this purse-shaped cake.

In the end, a fancy PR job meandered across my path, and I did that for several years, learning and enjoying what that had to offer, until family crisis called me away. (Mom, Alzheimer's.)

Me at my PR job.

Me at my PR job.

Mom and me.

Mom and me.

Soon after my mom's situation stabilized, the job at KHON2 came to fruition serendipitously. I hadn't thought about my next steps very hard, but returning to news became an attractive idea. I knew I had missed lots about it during the now-five years I was away.

Me at KHON.

Me at KHON.

I like the culture, the energy, the excitement, the type of people it attracts, the craft itself. I was grateful to return to a career I have always had passion for. Most people don't get to work their passion.

Considering this situation within the framework of the sutra, I see my love for my craft didn't diminish during the years spent away, and sharpened my realization that it's what I still like to do.

Which is nice to see in retrospect, because sometimes you go through challenges and wonder why such sucky things happen to you. So maybe there really are no coincidences in life?

15-3-17 4 shot Jai

Is there a time in your life when challenge helped you sharpen your focus? How did you handle it?
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