The object that moves the least gets itself drawn the most.
I heard there’s a show or a book out there called “$*#% my Dad says.” This phrase has never resonated with me. My father nor my family were ever the type to say “shit”. We never bought our dad ties for Father’s Day. We bought him iguanas instead. You never had to pull dad away from the television but from his guitar yes. He wasn’t into drinking beer and watching football but played soccer until his shin was kicked in and he broke his leg. My mother was never a member of the Lions Club. She cooked cows tongue in pressure cookers instead. She schooled my friends in phone etiquette every time they called so everyone knew to say, “Hello May I please speak to Patricia” instead of “Is Patricia there?” She did everything for us and I mean EVERYTHING. Until the day she rebelled and my laundry piled up for weeks. My friend Jamie had to teach me how to do it myself. Best lesson ever, by the way. My sister was the perfect one who always did what she was told (except when it came to the dishes) and never snuck out of the house (except that one time she did but was never caught). My brother was more rebellious and somehow always managed to get caught. You think he would’ve learned how to throw a secret, giant party while our parents were out of town. I was good until I wasn’t but never got caught, except for that one time I “fell asleep” at a party. It was summer and I was about to be a high school senior anyway. Sheesh.
I watched my brother and sister go through high school and saw my parents finish up their divorce. Suddenly I became the only child in a house where there was once three and that happened precisely at the time I just wanted to blend anonymously into the background and continue to observe. Because what I had observed to that point and still later on was advice and information that I continue to remember to this day. Some of it garnered from roaming the halls of the local high school, other bits of it handed down from my mother and father, both of them bottomless wells of South American insight that I still pass on, if anyone will listen. Some of the advice admittedly hidden under a few layers of other emotions but if you look a little harder, the wisdom is there for sure.
“Zapatos en la mesa, cien a~nos de pobresa.”
-Loosely translated, if you leave your shoes on a table, you will be poor the rest of your life.
“Tell her it’s because you take a shower and put on lotion every single day.”
-Upon my telling her a classmate told me I smell like roses.
“I am NOT buying you those shoes.”
-Spoken anytime she felt she needed to save me from myself.
“Use lemons for deodorant if you ever run out.”
-Just plain old-fashioned good advice.
“It’s always better to be honest.”
-True except when you want to talk on the phone past 9:15 at night, then you hide a phone under your bed.
“Good! You don’t have to do ANYTHING you don’t want to do.”
-Upon telling her of big, life-changing action that I didn’t want to take.
“See this word? THIS is the word you need to be when it comes to liking a boy.”
-Pointing to the word “subtle” in the dictionary
“You should darken that when you go out.”
-Referring to the tiny mole that rests on my left clavicle.
“If you don’t feel confident, just pretend you do. All of those people who act like they are confident, they’re just pretending too.”
“You can choose to be happy!”
-The first person who ever said this to me, thank GOD!
“Nice zit Pat.”
-Anytime he saw a monster growing on my face.
“I’m not touching you, I’m not touching you.”
-Moving both of his hands two inches in front of my face.
“This one is from Satan. Oh, I mean Santa.”
-Handing me a Christmas present.
“Oh THIS guy sounds like a reeeal winner.”
-Hearing a date I had pull up into the driveway with his stereo blaring.
“You’re my favorite.”
-Said to me, my sister and my brother at different times.
“I’m going to have your uncle make a sculpture of each of you. When I’m happy with you, I’ll pet it and when I’m mad at you, I’ll throw darts at it.”
-Randomly spoken, never forgotten.
“Don’t you go getting pregnant.”
-My sex talk right before I left for college.
“I don’t care what you want to be when you grow up. I just want you to be happy.”
-Not telling me what to do.
“In order to become an expert at something you have to do it every day for ten years.”
-Still letting this one sink in daily.
And there you have it. And since Tia Anita is in the picture above, here is her own personal gem of wisdom that needs to be known:
“Tia Alicia told us that when we laugh we should say ‘hoo, hoo, hoo’ instead of ‘ha, ha,ha’ so we don’t get any wrinkles.”
-Passed down from Tia Alicia who was once briefly married to Nicolai Hilton. Girlfriend knew her stuff, obviously.
There are a lot more things I’m afraid of as an adult that I don’t remember being afraid of when I was little. For example, as a 9 year old kid I remember paddling out far into the ocean, hopping on the boogie board with my friend Lindsay and riding the waves to shore with zero reservation. Not so much now. I asked Lindsay if she remembered this part of our friendship. “Yes but I wouldn’t do that now,” she said. Why does that happen, I wondered. Why exactly am I afraid of being taken down by a wave? Why can’t I do handstands or backbends or all those awesome things I used to do when I was little? What is holding me back? These are in fact, easy questions for me to answer. It’s my fear of falling, of getting hurt, of my head hitting the floor on whatever I’m being thrown into. And of course, looking like an idiot. In fact, lets go ahead and put “Looking like an Idiot” at the top of that list. I use the excuse, “I don’t have health insurance,” when I don’t want to do something I’m afraid of. So far, it’s worked.
I often tell my yoga students to pretend they are that seven year old kid they once were who wasn’t afraid to hang upside down from the monkey bars by one foot, who wasn’t afraid to swing as high as they could on the swings and leap off. Because some things we try in class are a little scary. You need to remember the inhibition and fearlessness you had as a child sometimes to allow yourself to really go for it. So here it is ladies and gentlemen. First you have to try. Then, you have to practice.
Because really, if we want to be good at all those amazing, flying asana’s, to learn how to stand on our hands, balance on our arms with our face hovering 5 inches off the hardwood floor we have to actually DO IT first and then we have to PRACTICE! Right? And lets face it, we’re going to fall so we might as well stop worrying about looking like an idiot and fall/face-plant anyway. How far down do we actually travel anyway? Not very.
And so, back in September 2010, 4 months after teacher training and not even knowing how to do a decent Bakasana, I went to my first Arm Balance/Inversion workshop at BluePoint Yoga. And it was awesome of course. All I needed to do was learn how to get into these crazy, pretzel-y forms by hearing a tad of instruction. It’s really that simple. And after you learn technique, practice. And fall. And fall again. And fall and get a bruise. And watch the back of your arms bruise up a bit too. And maybe fall on your face once or twice.
Want to see how I started out? Sam took these pictures a few hours after that very first workshop.
Remembering the technique. Is this right?
I”m up, I’m up, I’m up….!
Hey that wasn’t so bad! Let me try it again.
And if you keep practicing, you will amaze yourself. This is guaranteed. You will amaze yourself with your strength, with your grace and your perseverance to do something you really really REALLY want to learn how to do. I still can’t do a handstand without using the wall but I practice all the time and I know I will hit it soon. And as I get closer to my goal I can’t help but think to myself, “This is so fucking fun.”
Oh and that fear I had of being swallowed by a wave? Guess who learned how to body surf this month, thanks to one quick lesson from Sam, Cindy and Chris. And a special thanks to Chris who told me to put my hands in front of me to avoid getting hit in the head with anything. Thanks for putting that vision into my head!
So good luck, good practice and have fun 🙂
**To start practicing your Inversions and Arm Balances, come this Saturday to Nataraja Healing Arts where Dharma Richards will be leading a workshop titled, Advance your Backbends and Inversions from 2:30pm – 4:30 pm. $25 dollars.