For a long time this blog has been a lie. When I started it back in 2009, its purpose, its founding intention, was to be a place where I’d report on inspiring people, places and ideas. I would live my life looking for such things and report my findings here, I said.
And for quite a while I chugged along happily with that intention. Then the fracking circus moved to town. And that completely and utterly derailed me.
I became terrified at what I was seeing. I became distraught to the point physical hand-wringing and heart palpitations.
I became frantic to get out of here and to find a place to live that was safe, because I no longer trusted that this would be, or could be, such a place.
And what was even worse, I felt like a paranoid lunatic because so few people shared my fears. Yeah, everybody bitched about the constant parade of residual waste trucks, water trucks, the flatbeds with their enormous piles of gargantuan machinery making it impossible to get anywhere on time anymore, but in the next breath they would say something about how good all this was for the local economy.
My inspiration sources began to dry up as quickly as open fields turned into wastewater ponds, old buildings were razed or repurposed for fracking-related businesses, and well pads sprouted where corn used to grow.
The idea of writing a blog called “Inspiration Location” seemed ludicrous, not to mention naïve and foolish in the face of this. I could no longer read my “About” page anymore because it sounded so Pollyanna-ish. “Oh good lord, I thought, “I said I was going to go on an inspiration hunt every day, and now look at me, my sole survival strategy is to just put on my blinders and try not to see.”
“Inspiration Location” felt like a lie. And I felt like a fraud whenever I approached the creation screen to write it. I thought seriously about killing it: taking it down, and starting over with a concept blog that I could write with more authenticity.
But in the end I didn’t kill it; I kept it and I still wrote on it, albeit sporadically. I made a conscious decision not to write about the fracking issue, though. If I couldn’t be inspiring, at the very least I would try not to make this my personal residual waste dump.
In my real life I spent a lot of time researching other places to live, cleaning out the basement, paring down for an eventual move, and occasionally writing here about oh, you know, stuff: sipping gimlets on the deck, practicing yoga, what I had for lunch—all that boring stuff the pundits advise not to write about if you want a blog that is read.
Fact was, I didn’t want to be read. “Inspiration Location” my ass.” I thought.
I clung to my daily rituals: writing in 750 words, and doing my home yoga practice to keep me grounded, stable, and operating with a certain level of unmedicated optimism.
Now the price of gas has gone down, and with it the truck traffic. Most of the white trucks are gone. The countryside is still staged for fracking, but the circus has moved to another town. It could all start up again tomorrow if the winds of profit shift, because everything is still in place and ready to go,
In this little reprieve, I have had a chance to catch my breath.
And to be able to breathe fully, deeply and easily is a blessed thing, believe me.
It takes away the panic. And with this drop in panic has come the desire to find myself again, to find the self I was when I started “Inspiration Location,” the self I was before the Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Play came to town.
Right now, I am sitting here, watching birds at the feeder. Right now, there is a normal flow of traffic on the road in front of the house. A new year has started and with it a new/old desire to notice the little things again, and to become brave enough to remove some of my filtering screens.
I want to focus again on delight: a long soak in a lavendar-scented bath, a glass of pinot in front of the fire, a fat novel on a freezing cold day in January, the shocking red of a cardinal flying into a brown flock of sparrows. And, of course, the daily miracle that is my life as a small town yoga teacher.
In a few days I will turn 60. I have just completed most of a memoir. I have also recently finished another 500 hour yoga teacher training. I have resussitated a dormant meditation practice and I am challenging myself to a difficult power yoga practice every day. I continue to grow, and I would even say, flourish.
I am still looking for that place to jump to in case the gas drilling circus decides to come back to town in a big way. I am a person who needs a “Plan B.” But for now I am practicing gratitude, and trying to notice, and then write down, what inspires me each day.
I recently found a little piece of software called Happy Rambles that I like. Each night before I unplug from the internet, I open my email and jot down in Happy Rambles the sweetest things I can remember from the day that is about to close.
I want to go over that list each week and pick something and write about it in more detail here. I want to make this my Inspiration Location again. I want to make this the place where I deposit the memories of my moments of wonder.
I want to amass a collection of those things that delight me and put them here, in one findable (and searchable!) place so that when/if I ever despair, I will know where my treasure box is, and go there and paw through it to locate my most authentic life. Because really, whenever I am noticing amazements it is then that I am who I really am. It is then that I am living my life with integrity.
When I never forget that my life is amazing, and that I have an infinite capacity to love and be loved, and that it is the little moments, the small things, the everyday miracles and goofinesses that make it such fun, and such a kick, to start yet another amazing trip around the sun? It is only then that I can claim that I am truly living this one wild and precious life.
Even though I get melancholy when the season changes from summer to fall, and even more so when it changes from fall to winter, I have to admit that I really do love the return to interiority.
I just read a piece in Elephant Journal by a woman who went to a retreat at Kripalu and decided that she didn’t want to be alone with her “Self” after all.
That’s not me. Not at all. Me? I need solitude, a strong daily dose of it. When I am too much the “social butterfly” I become lost and scattered and my “self” starts pixelating beyond recognition.
In the Stephen Cope book I am reading now, I underlined this: (he is talking about Robert Frost here.)
“He intuited that he needed a life set close to nature–nature, which had always been his muse. Frost was intuitively aware of an important principle: In the cultivation of dharma, there is nothing more important than understanding what conditions are needed, and relentlessly creating them.” (p.81-2)
This has made me think about what conditions I need, and to try to actively create them. Do you know what conditions make you feel like you are living like your True Self?
As a result of reading this, I have instituted a new morning routine. I now get up a little earlier and make myself a cup of decaf . But instead of sitting down at the computer and checking email and Facebook, which was my usual habit, I now take my cup up to my Space Chair, turn on the little heater, and settle in with my book for an hour.
I can’t tell you how cozy and delightful this is! It seems like I’ve been whining forever about how I need more time to read, and here it is. Now, instead of leaving my book to the end of the day, when I am toast, I am reading in the front part of the day, when I am rested, alert and receptive.
After an hour’s read, I go and make myself some amaranth cereal and bring it back up into my cozy lair and start alternately scribbling in my journal and shoveling cereal into my mouth.
When another hour has passed, I am good to go: ready to be physically active and socially engaged.
These may not be all my “conditions” but they are certainly key: solitude, reading, and writing.
Do you know what yours are? Care to share?
I actually put my Ipad in my bag this morning on my way to yoga thinking that I needed to keep it with me today to capture “the best part of my day” which is the Photo-A-Day theme for this glorious Tuesday.
Am I high?
Seriously? Sometimes I crack myself up. Really?? I really didn’t already know what the best part of my day would be?
The best part of every day is morning yoga. Period. There’s no wondering. And even if morning yoga sucked (which it doesn’t, and never has, and never will) but just say it did, for argument’s sake, it would be that rare and luminous kind of suck that would just make you smile and go, “God, it feels good to be alive!”
It would be the kind of suck that you wish would occur every morning, just so that everything else in your path that day would glow all pink and soft focus-y in comparison to the sucky morning yoga.
But enough of that. Here’s what really happened. A lot of my favorite people came. Then some new people came. Then some people who I only see in the summer when they come to town to visit relatives, came. So there was much happy reunioning time.
And my favorite people are so welcoming to my new people, and to the reunion people, that it totally makes my heart warm and mushy and I want to sing like a rose-breasted grosbeak from the tippy top of a locust tree.
And when they all left and I was alone with the sun and the plant I thought, “Shit! I should have had someone take a picture of that class, because THAT was the best part of my day. Dammit.”
So I brought out the Ipad and trained it on myself and smiled like the goon that I am and this is what the best part of my day looks like when it’s over and I’m in the afterglow.
This sign hangs in my dining room (right under the one that says: “Live well, Love much, Laugh often”)
I bought it for more for the word play on the homonym than because I resonated with the sentiment.
I love wine, and have grown to love it more and more over the years as I’ve trained my palate to taste more dimensions of it.
Mostly though, I love the language of wine. I love how some wines are “soft” and other are “metallic.” I have tasted flabby wines and flinty ones, musty ones and mellow ones. I don’t like “green” wine (young, unaged, high in acidity), but prefer the “chewy”ones with great body and a strong aftertaste.
I love smelling them and figuring out if it’s licorice, tobacco, chocolate, or cherries I’m smelling.
I love the word “terroir” and thinking about how different soils within the very same vineyard can produce such different tasting grapes.
I have very rarely drowned my sorrows in a bottle of wine. (Mostly because I very rarely have “sorrows.”) A glass of wine, for me, is a treat and a delight, not a way to numb out or medicate.
That’s why I can hang this sign in my house. It’s just a funny play on words.
This is my favorite scene in the movie Sideways. It makes me swoon.
In case you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, I have de-camped over to Virtual Yogarians for the month of April.
(Virtual Yogarians is a multi-user blog I set up for people to blog about how the April Yoga Challenge is going. I post there every day (from the seat of the teacher) but so do a whole lot of other people who are practicing in April, but not in the studio.)
Please feel free to check it out if you like yoga talk.
I thought I could keep these 2 blogs spinning on sticks while I taught 3 classes a day but I really could not, so when The Inspiration Location plate fell and smashed, I stepped over the shards and concentrated full time on Virtual Yogarians. But I will get Inspiration Location up and spinning again once the Challenge is over in May.
Out of the blue the other day, I got a note in my inbox from a new blogger I just found and have been enjoying immensely. Her blog is called The Bliss Project and she has made a personal goal for herself to try 100 new things and write about them. (Hey Tim! If you are reading this post, this girl could be the poster child for Try Chips!!)
Her latest Bliss Project is yoga and she’s doing a yoga challenge (not mine) now and writing about it. She is my people, for sure. She is adorable, takes pics of herself and her buddies doing stuff, and I just love her.
She passed on this award to me the other day:
What is this, you ask?
This is the Liebster Award, and from what I understand, it’s kind of a way for bloggers who are new on the scene, or like me, old on the scene but have less than 200 followers, to let each other know about one another. It’s a way of finding new blogs, new voices you may not have found otherwise.
It works like a chain letter. If you get one, you can then “pay it forward” by giving it to 5 bloggers who you like, who then can pay it forward, and by so doing, more of us can know about each other.
When I tried to think of who I would nominate, so many blogs came to mind. Most of the ones on my blog roll are pretty famous and have a bizillion followers. What I always wish is that more of the people who I know IN REAL LIFE would write blogs.
Blogs are like a peek into someone’s diary, or a daily/weekly/monthly letter you get from a friend. Blogs let people know about your life: what you are caring about, obsessing over, even cooking for dinner. I really want to know these things about certain people in my life, so I am always encouraging them to blog.
Very few do, but I do know some who are, and these are the ones I have chosen to nominate. Some of them have just started and are trying to get their blogging legs under them. If they got a comment, some acknowledgment that they are being heard in the blogosphere, they would freak. Others have some followers but really deserve more.
So here they are, my nominees–in no particular order.
Liberez Vous This is a new blog written by a young woman I first met when she began practicing at my studio. She writes about her yoga practice, and her life, and her cats, and food, and whatever is currently buzzing on her radar screen. She reminds me of my daughter a lot, so I have kind of adopted her. She posts about once a week. This is a fun read. Oh, and she’s a good photographer, too!
Goodbye Ordinary- This is a brand new blog also, by another of my students who has had other blogs in the past, but started this one to talk about her new yoga practice. She is the young mother of 2 little kids and is trying to do the life/work balance dance and is extremely good at it. She’s a really good writer and deserves more readers. Check her out.
Em Likes Food - This is my daughter. She started this blog when she had an ailing computer and so had to do most of her posting from her Iphone! (I think). Recently, she has acquired a new Mac, plus an Ipad which should make posting lots easier. She manages a Starbucks in Portland, OR., works ridiculous (and many) hours, and likes to cook. She also likes good wine, and good coffee, and is very picky about her gimlets. She has a husband and a chihuahua. Her life is kooky. I want her to post more. I miss her. (encourage her, k?)
Zee Zahava This is my best friend. I have known her since her Smedley’s days in Ithaca when she owned that bookstore. I have been writing at her studio for a long, long time and she is the most inspiring writing teacher/encourager/praiser on the planet. Simply phenomenal. A treasure. If you live in Ithaca, you know Zee. Her writing is hilarious, her conversation, sparkling, her haiku, enlightened. She will most likely not keep this chain letter going because she is brand new to blogging and it kind of scares her and freaks her out. But hers is a blog to subscribe to.
A Measured Word I met Natalie at Zee’s. We were in the same writing circle for a few years and her writing used to blow me away. When I learned she was blogging I was so happy because then I could READ her and have her words to savor long after writing group was over. She loves language and gardening and taking pictures and cooking (she used to bring goodies from her kitchen to our writing groups occasionally–yum!). She’s in the middle of a move (from one house to another in Ithaca) and I can’t wait until she starts blogging again because this new house is going to inspire so much good stuff!! Hurry back, Natalie!!
So there are my five.
If you receive the award, you should:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Hope that the people you’ve sent the award to forward it to their five favourite bloggers and keep it going!
I had to see my accountant today for the dreaded doing of the taxes.
Hagar wears his hair in a gray crew cut, military-style, that, oddly enough, looks kinda cool on him. He does it stick-straight up like a newly sprouted lawn.
After the initial handshake and how-di-do’s he says, “How’s it going?”
Now, when your accountant asks you “How’s it going?” you have to assume he means fiscally. As in, are you making a profit? how’s your bottom line?” But not with Hagar. “How’s it going?” could mean, “Are you happy doing what you’re doing?”
So I answer that question. I say:
“Great. I’m happy. My students seem happy. Everybody’s doing well as far as I can tell: learning how to breathe, stay cool, vanquish the stress monster, like that.”
That’s what I say, because the Excel spreadsheet gives him the other side of that, which is: I showed a loss. But even showing a loss he said what I did this year was “remarkable, really great.” He said given where I am, the county I live in, where my business is located, what I am doing is “incredible.”
And this from a financial perspective.
Never has loss felt so nice.
One reason I could never be an elementary school teacher is bulletin boards. All teachers spend a lot of time making their rooms interesting and stimulating environments for their students, but elementary teachers go hog-wild, changing things around based on the curriculum and the seasons.
It’s nice. I approve. But I could never get into it, personally. I’m not “crafty.” I don’t sew or paint or quilt or macrame or cross-stich or, you name it. (I am also not “crafty” in the sly, devious sense either, just so you know.)
But I have to admit that I like it when I see seasonal changes in decor when I go places, and I especially like it in my own house.
G is into “changing things up” for the season in terms of little knick-knacky things around the house. These things make me smile when then just magically “appear.” Here’s a little glimpse of what showed up this week:
This is what greeted me in the mudroom:
And these spring towels hung from the stove:
And on the dining room table, daffys in a blue vase. (Love daffodils in a blue vase!)
On the sideboard:
And on the mantle, Kwan Yin sports bunny ears:
It made me smile. G could have done bulletin boards! She would have totally rocked them.
Maybe we should put one up?
This afternoon I walked Boomer to the studio to check the mail and to see if anyone had slid Yoga Challenge money underneath the door. It is still weirdly warm, but it was cloudy and there were a few sprinkles as we walked. I could smell the ground. It smell like dirt and roots and …life.
At the studio, sure enough, there were some envelopes under the door, as well as one in the mailbox. But curiously, most of the envelopes did NOT contain Yoga Challenge money, but rather a black and white copy of this picture, which was taken back in January.
This was taken on my birthday, after my Wednesday Drop-in class. After class Shelley, the one standing behind me in the white coat, organized a birthday “Om” which is the tradition at my studio whenever it is anyone’s birthday. These are the people who “Om-ed” me.
Afterward, Kestrel (the one kneeling next to me in the gray coat) set up Shelly’s camera for a timed shot, and took this picture.
And today a black and white copy of it showed up in multiple envelopes with notes from the people in the picture, wishing me a “Happy Spring” and saying all kinds of fun and great things, like “I hope samadhi smacks you upside the head! Happy Spring!”(that from Jim, the “guy” in the shot.)
(This little “Spring Meme” has Shelly’s fingerprints all over it.)
It totally tickled me.
Thank you, guys!