Non -stealing.

Deep down inside I’ve known I had a penchant for “stealing” from myself, but I’ve always ignored it or come up with lame reasons by which I could excuse it.

What am I stealing, you ask?  Mainly, and most importantly….time.

If you do the math, there are 8760 hours in a year.  I spend roughly 2080 hours of those at work (my 8 to 5 work, that is), another 150 (minimum) hours working through my lunches, and roughly 260 hours per year driving back and forth from my house to the office.  I also teach a minimum of three yoga classes per week (156 hours), roughly an hour (usually more) to plan each class (156 hours), and then there’s that driving back and forth thing again (104 hours).  If I factor in 8 hours per night of sleep (give or take), I spend around 2920 hours a year slumbering.

Add it all up, and I’m left with around 2934 hours per year of non-sleeping, non-working time to “live.”

33% of my life available.


Most of you are thinking to yourselves “What the heck is she complaining about?  I don’t see anything about getting kids ready for school, soccer practices, helping with homework, etc.”   No, no you don’t.  Not having kids was a conscious decision my husband and I made before we were married.  In all honesty….it’s because we want to spend more time being kids ourselves (and there’s no way we’d make it out alive if we had to raise a child who is a mixture of myself and my husband – smart and sneaky, silent but deadly).

But anyway….back to my original train of thought.  I only have 33% of my life (not counting all of those other un-fun adult things I didn’t list – showering, brushing my teeth, paying bills, doing laundry, picking up dog poop, grocery shopping, etc) to BE that kid I want to be.

So…..what am I currently doing with that last one third of my free time?  I’d have to say the majority of it has been spent watching TV.  Sure, I spend at least 4-5 hours a week running or doing yoga, and the hubs and I go out and do fun things here and there…..but the remainder of my time is mostly spent in front of the television.  Our dining room table feels neglected because I eat all of my home meals at the coffee table in the living room.  I’ve considered setting my laptop up on the dryer so I can watch while folding laundry.  If I sit in the hammock in my backyard, I most likely have television playing on my phone.

tv 2“It will scramble up your head, and drag your brain about. Sometimes you gotta do like Elvis did and shoot the damn thing out
Bob Dylan

I’m a television addict.  The TV, the telly, the boob tube, the vid, the small screen, the idiot box….that magical box of lights and sounds.

We dumped our cable service years ago, but since then I’ve subscribed to Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon.  We got rid of the coffee table, and all it’s done is make me a master at eating from my lap.

Housework was being put off, and in some cases, sleep was even being postponed.   I considered giving up teaching yoga so I’d have more time at home.  I mean, I must be spreading myself too thin if things around the house weren’t getting done.  Right?   I’d spend an entire weekend binge watching shows.  I called them “a-thon” days. (CSA-a-thon, Revenge-a-thon, Downton Abby-a-thon)

I was OBVIOUSLY stealing time from myself.

So….starting June 1st….I quit….cold turkey.

It’s been brutal at times, for different reasons.  First and foremost, the realization of how much time 33% actually is, of how much I can get done in one single hour.  In the last week (yep, it’s only been a week!), I picked up, then laid back down, the remote control no fewer than 4 times.  I found myself sitting on the couch, staring at the blank screen twice.  And, comically, I actually found myself wondering, “What does a normal person do while they eat breakfast at the dining room table by themselves?”    (I mean, besides eating of course.)

And, because we’re all friends here, I can also report that I failed this week.  Three times.

  • Saturday evening I laid with my mom in her hospital bed and watched TV.  One episode of Family Fued, then the end of the Stanley Cup hockey game 2.  (OK….probably not a failure….if she hadn’t been there, and I hadn’t been keeping her company, I wouldn’t have been watching TV)

So…..I failed twice this week.

  • Thursday evening I came home from visiting mom at the hospital and felt like crud.  My stomach was in knots and food wasn’t helping, so I rented a movie to take my mind off of it.  While not an actual television show, I still consider it at least a “detour” in the process.  I purposefully picked a sad movie, and cried for the full 2 hours.  Honestly, I think I just needed a good cry….afterwards my stomach felt perfectly fine, and I slept like a baby.
  • Monday morning, 1:30 am……our a/c unit isn’t working…it’s hot and humid inside and out…our lab and St. Bernard are pacing, claws ticking on the wood floors….and my brain won’t shut off.  I got up, went into the living room, and turned on the television.  I felt ashamed as I picked a show to watch.  After watching one single 30 minute show, the dogs were all asleep on the floor in front of the couch, and I was yawning.  Mission accomplished.

While many people would think “how could you fail 3 times, in 7 days?”….there are also those who might believe none of those are a true failure.

I guess all in all, the lesson is balance.  Sometimes a little bit of a good thing is just what the body needs, and too much of a good thing is dangerous.

I still have 10 more weeks of this no-TV challenge ahead of me.  Although, after living through week one, I’m 100% more confident I can do it.  And besides, the point of the challenge isn’t perfection…’s realization, awareness, appreciation.

It’s about enjoying the 33% versus letting it pass me by.


Non-attachment, non-hoarding, non-possessiveness, non-greediness.

Right now, to me, aparigraha means overabundance, insane clutter, and overwhelming chaos.   I look around my house and see “stuff” everywhere.  It’s put away, picked up, and clean….but it’s still everywhere. There isn’t a closet, cubby, nook, or cranny that isn’t full.  Why do I hold on to these unused and unneeded things?

Shelves are covered with miscellaneous flotsam and jetsam I have to dust under (oh, let’s be honest, most of the time the dusting is “around” not under).   There is a stack of bath towels in the linen closet large enough for a house of 12 people to use one towel per day for a week without a load of laundry being done.  I have a closet exploding with clothes; 80% of which I never wear, 10% I wear only occasionally…leaving that last 10% – the stuff I actually wear.  I’ve tried cleaning out the space before.  “I used to fit into it, hopefully I will again…..I paid full price for it and only wore it a few times……it’s so pretty but looks silly on me.”  Why keep any of that around?

I ask you, how many crockpots, wine glasses, and mixing bowls does a house need???  I understand needing to have 2 or 3 spare pillows in the closet for when guests stay…..but I think 8 might be a bit excessive?  And, if I’m a person who NEVER re-reads fiction books….why would I have shelves of them collecting dust?

There are kitchen cabinets in our nearly 100 year old house that I can’t reach without a step ladder.  So why keep them full of things, merely because the cabinet is there TO occupy?

shelfIs there something wrong with having empty spaces and places in the home?

Is it strange to have a shelf with nothing on it?

To some our house is small….to others it is a palace.  I’d like it to be somewhere in the middle.  I’d like to fill my 1200 sq ft house with 500 sq ft worth of stuff.

You’ve heard how a goldfish will grow to fit the space it lives?  I feel like a goldfish right now.  Why keep things in case we’ll need them sometime, or in case someone would want to borrow it?  I love to try new and different things (hobbies, sports, etc)….but if it doesn’t “stick” why keep all of the gear?

Our dining room table is more of a storage space and landing zone.  If an object comes into the house, and doesn’t have a home, it stays there until a home for it is found.  Or worse, there IS a spot for it, but we’re too “busy” to put it away right then and there.

De-clutter the house, de-clutter the brain.  Organize the home, organize the life.  Imagine the spare time and money I’ll have!!!!

I don’t think I’m quite ready for a minimalist lifestyle.  But I’d like to move the needle a little further to that side of the dial.

There are quite a few strategies for reducing “stuff” in the home.

* Some will take a basket and walk from room to room, gathering those things they have no use for, things they have double of, or things that hold no emotional or nostalgic quality.  Then they’ll continue repeating the process, over weeks, over months, slowly weeding through closets and shelves.

* Some will pick a space…..a room, a closet, a shelf.  And one by one, reduce, donate, dispose.

* While others will pack things into boxes and bags, labeling them with dates.  If after 6 months they haven’t opened the container, the stuff is removed from the house.

I’m not sure which path I’ll take.  Most likely, knowing me, a combination of the three.

My “take” on aparigraha begins this weekend at my house.  Wish me luck!  🙂


No Boundaries



At some point in our teacher training, we were asked who we wanted to teach….our ultimate “target audience”…the  demographic that tickled our teaching fancy, so to speak.

There’s something to be learned from every class I teach, every new person I meet.  There’s a challenge and a reward waiting for me every time I walk through the studio door.

But I’m drawn to those who are just starting out, those who are nervous, hesitant, curious, embarrassed.  Those who want to try yoga but, for some reason, are bummed because they think they can’t.

You don’t take piano lessons when you already know how to play, do you?  Of course not.  So why do you have to be “yoga fit” to take a yoga class?

“I’m too old.”  No you’re not.

“I’m too stiff.”  Try again.

“I’m not strong enough.”  Wrong.

“I’m too big.”  (sigh)

I can’t count the number of times I hear all of these (especially the last one)….in one way or another.

“I need to get stronger first, then I’ll go.”  “I need to lose weight before I try it.”  “People are going to stare at me.”  I’ll be the oldest (or biggest) person there.”  “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

I know where they are coming from…I’ve been there.   The place in the brain where we store all of the images of young, tanned, thin, athletic yoga bodies.  You know the ones.  We see them on the covers of magazine, web pages, Instagram, Facebook, etc.

We don’t all look like that.  We’re all individuals….separate, unique people.

Going to yoga isn’t like going to an amusement park, where there’s a sign at the front of the line saying “you must be this tall to ride this ride.”  It’s not so black and white.

Short, tall, young, old, big, small…..we all have our limitations.   There are things one person can do like a rock star, but another may never be able to do.  Muscles might stretch, but they aren’t jello.  Tendons and ligaments hold us together, but they aren’t infinitely strong.  Muscle, fascia, skin, fat……everything about us can present an obstacle.

If you can’t support all of your weight on your wrists…..then don’t do it.  Your nose doesn’t touch your knee…..don’t worry about it!  Need to take a break during class, take one!  It’s your hour, it’s your time, it’s your yoga practice.

To those who think they aren’t right for yoga I say “pish-shaw!!!”

The question isn’t whether you’re right for yoga, it’s whether yoga is right for YOU.  And only you can make that call.

Forget about the size of your body, and take a look at the size of your heart and your soul.  Those are the sizes that matter most.

The Unexpected Yoga Teacher


Life is funny.  The unexpected twists and turns along the way keep us on our toes and keep us guessing.

My yoga “journey” has started, and stopped, multiple times in my life.  I’ve always wanted to take classes, always wanted to learn, always wanted to have a yoga practice….but it never quite happened.  The few gym classes I tried just weren’t what I was looking for.  But, as I think back, maybe I didn’t know WHAT I was actually looking for.

I remember taking one class and being told I had to take off my shoes.  “It’s a gym class, why can’t I wear my gym shoes? My balance stinks with my shoes off!!”

Another class (at a different gym) left me with similar doubts.  “What do you mean I have to do a push up with my elbows against my ribs.  Everyone knows that’s not how you do a push up!  And what is with our instructor doing handstands every time she tells us to go to the top of our mats?  Show off!”

Eventually, I gave up.  “Maybe I should try Tai Chi?”

While I did not take up Tai Chi, I did start running.  The link between yoga and running probably seems thin at best, to most…but to me, it makes perfect sense.  Meditation is a very important part of rounded yoga practice.  You don’t have to sit cross legged, on the floor, in a corner, with incense burning, staring at a statue of Buddha to do it.  For me, running was my meditation.  It was the hour of so of my day when my “monkey mind” shut the heck up.  When I could be present in the moment, and not worry about what I’d done or what I needed to do.  After running hundreds and hundreds of miles and filling my closet with 5K, 10K, and half marathon tshirts, I ended up with a stress fracture in my knee.  Crutches were awarded instead of a finisher’s medal… lieu of celebration and a sense of accomplishment, I ended up with weight gain and depression.

And here is where yoga entered my life….for real.  It started out as nothing more than a last-ditch effort to get myself back into running.  I’d heard that yoga helps keep runners from getting injured, and it just so happened that a local yoga studio owner was speaking at the weekly runner’s group that very Wednesday night.  I signed up for her 6 week Yoga for Runners workshop on Thursday, and the rest, they say, is history.

I’d been taking dance lessons since I was 3 years old….so the movement part of yoga appealed to me.  I hadn’t been able to run, so the “meditation” part of it was also welcomed.  And, (most importantly) she explained why my elbows needed to be kept close to my ribs while doing a “push up”, rather than just barking the order.  🙂

I found I wanted to know more, do more, practice more.

At first, I mostly looked for physical improvements.  Better forward folds, more open hips and hamstrings….and I was getting those things, so no complaints.  But, the other positives that came along with the physical were what really impressed me.  Self confidence, better self image and acceptance, stress relief, clearer skin (I kid you not!!) and a community of people I enjoyed being around.

I’d spent many hours assisting at the dance studio where I studied….many hours tutoring classmates through difficult lesson plans….and loved my time assistant teaching the special needs classes in junior high and high school.  I originally was going to go to college for music education.   (bring on those squawking clarinets, and honking trumpets!)  So, when I was asked if I would be interested in enrolling in the yoga teacher training program, it instantly fascinated and excited me.

And that, folks, takes us to the year 2013.  I’m now a registered yoga instructor with a 200 hour certification under my belt.

There are quite a few people out there who practice and teach yoga; those with their own thoughts and opinions on how and why we do what we do.  In the end, no matter how different our individual our journeys may be, we’re all trying to get to the same place.  Questions or comments about something I say or post on this blog are welcomed.  (Especially if they are delivered in the same spirit in which they were posted. Conversations and debates are great, arguments and hatred are exhausting.)

Namaste yogis,