IndiGlow - The Ordinary Illuminated

IndiGlow - The Ordinary Illuminated

Breadcrumbs and the Big Spinning Universe, Leading us to our Love

Monday, February 02, 2015


One Spring Monday, while teaching in New Hampshire, I asked my students what they had done over the break.  One student, a mop-haired kid with big, brown eyes and Muppet eye-brows, said he had gone home to Geneva.  


I didn't want to look stupid; teenagers already think their professors are stupid, but I thought he had gone to Switzerland.  That is how little I knew of Illinois, my current home state.


That mop-haired student was just one breadcrumb on the path that lead me to my husband.


I've been teaching (and dating) a long time.  I've seen many students go on dates.  I've seen them at faux study lessons.  I've seen same-gender couples embrace their identities and each others' hands.  I had a couple in my classroom get pregnant and subsequently confide in me their decision to terminate that pregnancy.  Not all dates end up the way you envision.   


Recently, a current student of mine told me about the Dating Rituals of the 21st Century Teenager, which includes following the Twitter account of the person you find attractive.  Not coffee, a movie, or a date at Lagomarcino's. (Ask me on a date and this is where we are going).  Nevertheless, apparently, if you find a person attractive, you go home and "like" the person's Twitter feed.  If they "like" your feed in return, then you move toward step two.  I can't say I get it. 


What I do get, what I do know is you have to get out there because the path has already been set.   


Breadcrumb 1:  My husband's first girlfriend was a petite red-head.  


Breadcrumb 2:  While I was growing up in Louisiana, and he was growing up in Illinois, we applied to the same colleges, and we didn't even have the same majors. 


Breadcrumb 3: While living in Atlanta I dated a guy from Minnesota, who grew up in Shaumberg, Illinois, and graduated from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.  


Breadcrumb 4:  Sometimes, on weekends, when my friends and I wanted to get out of Atlanta, we would drive up to Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was maybe a 90 minute drive.  Turns out my husband, whom I haven't met yet, is from Illinois, will know where Augustana is, and lives in Chattanooga.


I remember after he and I had been dating a while, I told him I would drive by his work on those weekend get-aways.  (He's practical and says to me it's a well-traveled thoroughfare), but really.....there's lots of well-traveled thoroughfares and I could have just as easily gone in any other direction for a get-away.  I drove past your work, dude.  I could have had a flat and needed to borrow your phone or your jack.  


It was already in the path.  We were traveling the same roads.


What I want you to believe, you of the Lonely Hearts Club, you that keeps trying and dating and changing your Facebook status, is that that person is out there traveling, living his or her life, creating experiences and leaving bread crumbs that will lead the two of you together.  Some of those breadcrumbs will be stale. Pigeons would be smart to kick them to the gutter.  That's okay.  You have to get out there.


The day before I met my husband, I did some extraordinary things.  I did them for myself.  I promise you those events, those experiences, which included a rock band's tour bus and a catwalk, created the person I was, the spirit I put forth on our first date.  


Do crazy things.  Not YOLO, but crazy things that make you uncomfortable, that make you a fuller human being, that create a grand spinning universe full of breadcrumbs, which sounds messy, but you get me.


I don't know about this 21st Century dating trend; I think you should go on dates, good dates, bad dates. I think you should talk in real time. I think you need to shake hands.  You need to ask about his mother and you need to ask about her father.  I asked my husband three questions on our first date.  I didn't need the answer.  I needed to hear the emotion behind the answer.


Ask questions.  Listen.  Look around.  The bread crumbs are there.  





 

Offerings

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Offerings


Private Davis is at the back

of the room, mostly


to mend his mother.  She wants him

free of rounds and shells and sand


on fire.  I watch him:  a boy, crew cut,

T-shirt, fatigues folded at the foot

of his childhood bed.


We practice our yoga, breathe and breath taken

for granted.


He is built for M16s,

blast and calm, dares to do it.


He could kill a man.  Has.

He could offer a cupped palm to a starving dog.


All I can do is offer him a few inches of space

on a rubber mat,


and breath and breathe.


Be Kind, Guest Editor Michelle Ladwig

Monday, June 02, 2014
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
                                               - Plato

I work in an environment where I see the same people at the same time every day.  It is the life of a teacher.  For 16 weeks at a time we, college professors and students alike, move like clockwork, quite consistent in our where and when.  All together we consist of about 2,000 worker bees with many queen bees holding down one ever-buzzing hive.  


Because of this time-aligned movement, I see people through seasons, through colds and sniffles, through accomplishments, mild injuries, really anything the average human can get themself into.  At the beginning of the year I ran into a young man as I was exchanging classrooms with a colleague. This young man is tall as a wildflower, thin as a rail, and has a soft and effeminate voice. 


During this 2 minute classroom exchange with limited dialogue, I watched and listened as my colleague (with more clout that I have) refer to this young man as a female.    


My heart was broken.  My eyes went from my colleague to the kid and back again.  I tried to gently interject and correct.  His expression was one of dejection and sad acceptance, like a puppy accepting his corner of the den.  Everything about my colleague was bluster and position.          


I was angry.  I couldn't call out my colleague, and I really just wanted to hug that poor kid who didn't have to seem the voice to correct him.  I guess what really bugged me is that my colleague had so much ego he couldn't get out of his own way to recognize the delicacies of another human being.        


But really, are we any more superior?  Don’t we make judgments daily?  Think about our average grocery store. There’s the fat lady with a buggy filled with poor choices; the teenager with tattoos and gauges; the dad using his food-stamps, holding up the line.  


I do.  You know you do.

      

But, the more I think about it, my colleague didn't pass judgment.  That isn't the case.  He didn't think, I’m guessing, oh, what a homely girl or some such.  He made an assumption and that isn't the same as judgment. Right?  Please someone explain this to me.

     

He assumed that kid was one thing because he didn't look a certain way.  He didn't ask questions. He didn't take the time to know each singular person in the classroom.  He just barreled through them, focusing on his agenda.       


Speaking of the dad in the grocery line, this happened to me.  Dad was trying to pay for his groceries with his food stamps.  It was taking a while.  I leaned in and chatted with his toddler girl about colors and the shapes of balloons.  The clerk apologized for the wait.  The dad apologized for the wait, but really I felt he was apologizing for being poor.  I don’t care if you’re poor.  I don’t care if you are overweight and like Little Debbie’s.      


I certainly don’t care if you want to dress outside the social construct of your gender.   Our kid has now begun cross-dressing.   And it isn't dressing for attention.  He isn't dressing in drag.  I had a kid in my high school class who dressed in drag: all kinds of wrong gathered from Grandma’s and Goodwill.    

This kid is dressed like a stylish teenage girl.

      

If I didn't know him before, I would sincerely think she is the tallest girl I have ever seen. And the prettiest. Quite pretty.  Lovely mid-west, corn silk blonde hair, blue eyes, and thin lips like a pulled bow.

I don’t know what’s in her head.  I am not in a position to ask.  My only option is to open doors when we cross paths, which happens twice a week at 10:20, and smile.  I hope my smile is thing that keeps her alive and happy and healthy and positive.  I hope a smile walks her to her future.

I love that kid with no name.  She is everyone I ever walked past.

The Truth is in the Choice, Guest Editor Michelle Ladwig

Thursday, May 01, 2014

 

Sometimes I think it’s funny that both of my professions, both of my creative loves, involve precision, creativity, attempts and failures, and no-holds-barred shoot outs with my nemesis.  The difference is here:  In academia, the nemesis is the editor.  In yoga, the nemesis is the self.


When I go to school, I dress appropriately:  slacks or skirt, blouse (no cleavage), suitably heeled shoes (no toe cleavage), proper under garments; i.e. things are covered.  I carry a bag filled with books, red-inked papers, pencils, pens, and “Good Job Stickers.”  When I head out to the studio, I carry a bag filled with a mat, a towel, water, one MP3 player, hairbands, pose-driven choreography in my head, and ambition.  When I slack off the outer garments of propriety, I am in barely anything:  a sports bra and hot shorts.


I teach and practice in the tradition of hot yoga.  We keep the room at a lovely 105 degrees.  (If you were from the south like I am, you’d agree 105 degrees ain’t nothing).  The tradition beyond the temperature is in the wall-to-wall sheet of truth staring me down.  We like mirrors!


Truth: once in a while I look in the mirror and think I should cover up. I am too old to bare my belly; too old to wear hot pants. Too old.  And here, right here, is where I not only question my wardrobe, I question where did that come from!


Mother Nature and I have been at it for about a year now.  If you are unsure, let me tell you, shit happens and it happens at glacial speed.   My mother said that one day my skinny body and my metabolism would go to pot.  Well, I haven’t gone to pot.  I’m still doing worlds better than my high school peers, but man, things are a-changing.


Now, all kinds of chicks and dudes come to hot yoga.  All bodies, all ages.  Tall boys, full-figured gals, double sport bra ta-tas, shaved legs, unshaved legs, fitness fanatics and chill lotus flowers.  Here’s the thing:  I don’t care how you look or if you shave your legs.  That’s your body and it’s a beautiful thing.    I have never once noticed if you gained weight.  I do notice when your tricep heads start defining, or your delts get sculpted, or when you finally master THAT pose.


But, when I look at my body in the big ole’ horizon of mirror, I notice things.  And, here, I am tempted to create the laundry list of ughs and wtfs, but that would be counter-productive.
I don’t like it, but what am I going to do?  Diet?  I hate grapefruit.  Run til I drop?  Hurts my everything.  No, I am going to yoga.


I am going to look in the mirror and study the body I have earned.  Positive Laundry List: I like the shape of my lips and the color of my eyes, and my curly red, Moppet hair.  I have strong core muscles, arms and back muscles that allow me into hand stands and arm balance work.  I have two healthy breasts, a hale libido, toes that point, feet that flex, and a body willing to go where the heart goes.

And my heart wants to swing from aerial hoops and silks, fly in AcroYoga with my friends and my husband, go for bike rides above water puddles and below apple blossoms, and I want to paddle the Mississippi on a SUP board.  If the nemesis is the self, then the heart is the child with no caution, only wild abandon.  I am choosing to turn that voice off.  I am choosing this body.


Finding My Center After the Storm

Saturday, September 07, 2013

I'm watching Turkey Buzzards circling over my backyard as I sit and work in my office on this peaceful Saturday morning.  Through the other window I see an intricate spider web attached to the eaves of the roof swaying in the gentle breeze.  My 3 children have spent the morning playing, disagreeing, making-up, and playing some more.  There is such peace and fullness in my heart/mind at this moment.  I'm reminded of the word purnam, or "perfection," which, in this context, does not mean what we might think.  I am full...I am whole...I am perfectly content in my spirit as I observe the fluctuations of the world around me.   


After the longest Winter of my life (which bled into the Spring and even early Summer), I am refreshed to find the ground beneath my feet again.  It felt like a metaphorical hurricane swept through my life and left me completely demolished internally.  

After a month of testing in January, my son was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism.  While I had suspected this for the 5 years prior to his diagnosis, there was still a part of me wishing they would tell me I was wrong on that emotional day.  

The day before I drove to Chicago for this news, I learned that my father was diagnosed with another form of cancer (he had beat Prostate Cancer years before).  My relationship with my Dad has not been a close one, and so I was left with a mixture of feelings, including grief and fear.  

It was a hell-of-a week, and I took a few days to try to assimilate all of this news.  And then...that following Friday as I was waiting in the pick-up line at school I received a terrifying call from my mother.  She was having a stroke!  I spent the next week in and out of the hospital with her...trading shifts with my brother as we worried what would happen next.  Once released, she came to live with me for a few weeks so I could care for her, which included sorting out all of her new meds, helping her learn to give herself insulin shots 4 times a day (for her out of control diabetes), cooking heart-healthy meals, and more.  I was happy to do it, but I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.

By the grace of God, her stroke did not leave her completely handicapped.  While it certainly affected her, with time & rehab she regained most of her speech, balance, and abilities.  It was life-changing for her (and for all of us who love her), and she made incredible lifestyle changes in an effort to avoid another stroke.


Now, months later, we're all doing pretty damn well!  My father & I have become closer than we've been in years, and his cancer is under control at the moment.  My mother lives independently with a helper now who comes twice a week, and she continues to be stronger everyday.  My son, well...of course there is no cure for Autism, but we've been able to get him a 504 at school, which means he is protected for the rest of his educational days.  I've finally been able to talk to him about his diagnosis, and together we are learning how to navigate this unique path God has blessed us with. 


Everyday there are new challenges to face, but this is the nature of human existence for all of us.  For everyone of us life is going to be full of heartache, scary moments, and metaphorical hurricanes that make us feel defeated.  But, the beauty is that there are also moments of deep joy, moments to celebrate, and remarkable miracles which build us up again.  All moments pass, change, ebb & flow.  

I'm eternally grateful for the skills my yoga practice has given me.  Because of these tools I am able to find my center...remember to breathe...and accept that I am not in control of the world around me, but I can control how I react to it.  With a very glad and grateful heart, I am thankful for this moment.  


Namaste

<3 IndigoGrrl

Practice, and Surrender?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

We talk a lot about "surrender" in yoga.  Next time you're in class count how many times one of us instructs you to "let go."  (Just don't tell any of my instructors that I said so...ok?)
Does it ever feel more like the picture above (from a scene in the classic, "The Wizard of Oz") than the picture below when you really TRY to let go of something?  We're supposed to feel serenity...like being on the white sands near the ocean without any heavy thoughts holding us down.  Yet, living in our modern world with everyday demands and stressors can leave us feeling more like we should run and hide.  

I know.  I have those moments and those days too. 

But, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali give some direction in the principles of Kriya Yoga:

"Within this practice we orient our attitudes toward the discernment (swadhyaya) to distinguish the things we can change (tapah) from the things we cannot change (isvara pranidhana.)"  -excerpt from the Introduction of "Yoga Anatomy, 2nd Edition," written by Leslie Kaminoff & Amy Matthews.

Sounds a lot like The Serenity Prayer, doesn't it?  
That's something most of us are more familiar with, which makes it easier to relate to.  
The short version goes something like, "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."  In essence, we are to give it to God...that which we cannot change or control we can release ourselves from by simply giving it to the Universe (Creative Source, the Divine...however you relate to that energy, no matter what you call it...it's all the same.)

Still, the white beaches WOULD be nice...but January here in the Midwest can serve as a backdrop to my inner bliss.  It just takes practice.  (lots, and lots, and lots and LOTS of daily practice)
Hmm...now where is my broomstick? 


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