across the universe by vanessa

During practice today I set my intention towards the 10s of 1000s in SE Asia who've been struck by such great tragedy - that in some way I might be able to send light their way. I felt grace move through me, and as we om'd at the end and the instructor (Scott at Yoga Vida, quite good) asked us to send our prayers eastward I felt that they really were being sent.

I feel as though I take for granted so much the protection that I have by virtue of birthplace. Nearly 100,000 are dead in one fell swoop and I can't begin to understand the magnitude. We lose it when hurricanes strike Florida or the East Coast. Life is sacred and this is not to discount in any way those who've lost their life in American hurricanes, it's just to note that we have, I have -- no real concept of the massive destruction. I can watch CNN, I can repeat the numbers, but it all washes over me as if it didn't really happen because it didn't happen here.

I believe that we are all connected and that nothing affects that number of people w/out affecting all of us, and so I know that on a cellular level I understand the pain, but I am not really conscious of it. And for that, I am sad.

My heart, thoughts, and prayers go to those families in need. May they find solace.

Educated Karma by vanessa

I'm setting out to cover the following things:
1. Travis's experiment
2. Competition
3. Reiki/meditation

My friend Travis (www.travischow.com) and I finally caught up the other night on the phone after trading IMs, voicemail, etc. for some time. Travis is easily one of the most introspective people I know as well as one of the bravest. A few days ago he leaves me this message, "Vanessa I need to try something out w/ you". Over IM the next day he told me about his experiment: he was asking everyone that knows him to a fair degree to quickly, "without thinking" list his best 3 traits and his worst 3 traits. I found this both fun and challenging. It was easy to think of what I valued most about him, where do I stop? but those which I don't value -- wow, that's an assignment. It took me back to my L2 days in Montana. I delivered them -- did I hurt your feelings - I wanted to know? Of course not, he told me. Curious about his methodology, the other feedback he's received, and what he's gleaned so far from this experiment, I called him. He's getting similar responses, especially in the "worst" column. Much of it he identifies w/. What he's found is that "negative" feedback is primarily associated with earliest impressions while "positive" is more current (Travis, if you read this, keep me honest). For example, his mom's "bad" traits were from his childhood that no longer define him. I listed characteristics from my early experiences working w/ him. However, in truth, if I were to think about Travis as he is right-now-December-whatever-2004, those "negative" things wouldn't really apply - it's not as I know him right now. (Side note: I'm not a fan of quote/unquote either but how else am I supposed to repeatedly denote relativism? Suggestions welcome.) What I noticed as he was telling me the details of his exercise is that the feedback seemingly speaks equally about the giver as it does the recipient. I personally didn't agree with many of the traits characterized as negative b/c I don't see them as faults -- in fact often times I see them as his strengths. Similarly, I'm sure if he were to tell one of his other friends about the ones that I listed, they might not agree. So, I've verbally bungled a really eloquent examination by a friend I very much value. It feels a disservice of sorts, so for that I'm sorry as my intention was to illustrate how cool I think what he's doing is.

Next: spent the past weekend in Waco w/ Hav's family. This was the family's Christmas -- his brother and nieces and nephews all came in and we eat WAY TOO MUCH and play dominoes and poker and various sports. Though I 've always loved seeing the gang, early on in our relationship I resisted the tradition. I think in some ways I resented it, oddly, for not having it when I was growing up. That makes a lot of sense, I know. I've learned to really have fun w/ the reading of Jesus's birth and the geriatric Christmas hymns. This year I would have even gone to church on Sunday but forgot the clothes. Honest. In years past, I've tried his parents' church and found its fear-laden message offensive and insulting. Now however, my perspective is that it means something to his mom and it's not about the sermon.

As I mentioned earlier, we tend to play a lot of games when we all get together. It's no secret that most of my friends don't like playing games w/ me, and I suspect his family is just too polite to admit it as well. The truth is I'm not very fun. Yoga has been this haven for me where there are no winners and no losers and competition literally hurts you. This is what I love about yoga -- I know I've written about it before. It was the first time in my life where I was forced to drop expectation and know that any focus on what others could do around me was sure to bring injury. And, as yoga's magic is wont to do, this outlook has spilled over to my everyday life as well. Until I play sports or games, that is. Geez! In general I try to avoid 'em outright so I don't have to deal w/ it, but the truth is, it's all there under the surface. I become such a primal, shorttempered, umm, maniac when I play and I don't know what it is! I hate hate hate losing and every yoga bone in my body flies out the window. At best, it's embarrassing. My answer is usually to avoid playing games, but in the spirit of camaraderie and bonding I always play w/ the family. And unless I'm winning, which isn't that often, I become quite ugly. So I can remove the symptoms (games, sports, etc.) but there's still something underneath and I don't know what it's about.

I'm rambling so I'll sign off. I meant also to mention that I got a perspective on meditation (or lack of it) that I thought made sense to me so I've been refraining -- I don't need it -- and good god have I been wrought w/ the first noble truth! Not to mention that I miss it. So, it was a good experiment as I learned my lesson, but I prefer it in my life, thank you.

Birthday reflection by vanessa

So my birthday turned out fabulously. After indulging in a little self-pity for the better part of the day (Havis was out of town, I barely was able to squeeze in a lunch by myself to Whole Foods before getting back for a meeting, the week had been and promised to continue to be really busy w/ work stuff, waah waah waah...) my perspective changed upon returning from lunch and finding an email from Joslyn asking me to assist at Baron's PRW in Dallas the first week of February! It turns out that my earlier request -- to assist at the 5 day in March at the Crossings - required and is dependent upon previous assisting experience before the decision can be made. I am super excited -- I had planned on taking the PRW anyway, and now I have the honor of assisting!

I thought I had peaked at the email but it got better! Scott had said earlier that he would come to my class for my birthday. April, John, and my new manager Lisa, who was in town for the week from DC, also said they would come. So I was shocked, shocked! to see Lance signing in at the counter when I rolled up! As I turned around, Brenna, Heidi, and Lori were also there. Then Sonya came and it was just too much! The class was huge for a vinyasa class at Bodhi - about 26 or 27 people. It was beyond fun to teach to my friends. I felt so blessed. For dinner afterwards we all hit Miltos on the Drag where Inga, Francois, Rob, Steve, Terry (who'd wanted to come to class but was stuck in traffic), and Eric (my CIO also in town from DC for the week) joined us. Save for adding more friends who were out of town, I can't think of a better way to spend my birthday.

Yesterday Paula and I talked about the challenges we're facing w/ finishing the certification requirements -- that it's almost like a block to just finish it! We now have only 3 months left, and for me, w/ re-taping a certainty, that's not long. I am beginning to think that the cert process is much like one of the workshops or the 40 days -- that there will be good days and bad days, and the trick is just showing up. The thing is, (big revelation ensuing) life seems to have its peaks and valleys and during the valleys inspiration is the Loch Ness monster. And now teaching is good, meditation is back on track, and lo! wonders abound. On that note, I hear my mat calling.

the world at large by vanessa

It's officially my birthday! Boy am I one spring chicken. Kicked it off w/ a screening of Hard Day's Night which actually started on the day before but screw details. Hilarious film - if only food coma hadn't hypnotized me.

In honor of my birthday Hav says he's going to take my class tonight. Also, my two bosses are in town from DC and apparently they are taking it as well. Should be a fun class - at least two people who've never tried it before. I've set the expectation that it will be hard so that if it turns out easy for them then they will at least be prepared. In the end, the practice speaks for itself.

I suspect this will be the best year yet.

Maybe you're Mudface? by vanessa

Lo and I went to Spoon last night. Since my first in 1998 I've long since lost count of the number of their shows (including bd solos) I've seen. What's cool is how confident and developed their sound has become. 5 new songs last night. Excited for the new album. Oh and I'm still wondering why "Raoul Hernandez must go"??

I'm reading Dharma Bums right now. I didn't cotton to On the Road, so it took me a while to pick this one up since having received it on my last birthday. Only a couple of chapters in and already I'm swooning in fiction's alternate universe. It happens so infrequently for me (perhaps proportionate to my reading these days) but it's that magical phenomena where I find myself floating into wakened dream states in which the characters lives are my life, and I am not me (i.e. 2004/American/female/Austin,TX/Judeo-Christian-upbringing, etc.); instead this 37 yr old male vagabond on a search for nothing in particular circa 1955.

In other news, I'm declaring the ebb that I've been in since Thanksgiving to be, officially, over. For the life of me (haha) I couldn't escape this feeling of disconnect. No doubt the voracious food shovelling and shopping took its toll. Meditation felt labored and forced and boy did I avoid practicing. Funny that I had this spell since it came on the heels of the 40 Days in which I literally started to worry that I would never care about another world problem again since I realized that nothing is really permanent except change. Even now I wonder if I'm just addicted to the emotions of caring about strife and conflict and tragedy or if the events really do matter? So if my respite was reality or if now is?

Okay can't put off writing my last essay for BB certification. By not starting it I think I'm perpetuating my own insistence that "nothing's coming to me".