Ask me anything

My observations of life through the lens of art and yoga.

The cyclical nature of things

For the past few days, I’ve been feeling worried, and somewhat anxious and fearful. Holidays have always been loaded for me, what with family difficulties of every stripe, and my longings for “perfection.” Mother’s Day is no exception. 

My first Mother’s Day, my daughter was about a month and a half old, having made her first appearance on April Fool’s Day. She was born on Stephen Gaskin’s farm in Tennessee, in Summertown, near Lawrenceburg, outside Nashville. The previous summer, there was one night I will never forget.

"Come on! Come out here! It’s fantastic! It’s pouring like crazy!"

It was a hot night in July, and we were in love. Marc was tall, with a sweet, handsome face, and a long, blond ponytail, and at the moment, dripping wet. We stood in our big backyard outside our rental house in North Carolina, and there was a sudden summer thunderstorm thundering right, and I mean right, over our heads. We were on windowpane, and being outside directly below the forked lightning felt like the perfect thing to do. The whole place kept lighting up completely and you could see the lightning like the filaments inside a bulb, magnified many times, so that they looked like mercurial rivers, pulsing and unpredictable above us. There was that sense of suspension and anticipation in the pause after one of the forks would snake across the blackness, and then the thunder would pound on our eardrums, shake the ground, and rattle our whole beings. And the rain just cavalcaded over us, all the while, like it does in the south.

We jokingly referred to ourselves as “the white trash on the corner” with our old house that had porches on 3 sides, and a slightly overgrown yard, and the need for a new paint job. In the lightning, it looked like an early 20th century work of art.

Marc had grabbed another beer and stashed it in the side pocket of his overalls, and we stood in the rain, drinking Stroh’s out of cans. We’d just learned, for sure, that we were pregnant. He was thrilled, and I was terrified. But standing out in the rain was so good. All that fear and worry about the future was melted away in the much larger drama of the storm. 

Marc took ahold of my hand, and said, “We can either swim upstream like crazy, or climb in the boat and just take the ride.” I trusted him and the rest is history, as they say.

Many years later, I was betrayed on Mother’s Day. Not by Marc. And that’s a whole other story…. but what I meant to touch on is the way our bodies— and this seems true to me, even in light of the fact that our cells are continuously regenerating to the extent that we find ourselves entirely physically new every 7 years or whatever it is — store our memories for as long as we live. That is, unless we determine to let these things go, and make the conscious effort to do so, take the necessary steps, and cleanse our minds and hearts and all the rest of it. 

The year cycles around, as do all the smaller increments of time that comprise it. And our energy courses through the prana vayus of our beings from the moment of our conception to the moment when we leave our form, whenever it may be. In between, the heart beats, the glands secrete, the systems hum along together. To me, the most crucial element of this cycling is the breath. And it’s also the primary tool for moving the energy through and out when we need to dislodge an experience that it’s time to let go of.  

I found myself caught up in various emotional states surrounding this Mother’s Day, because of having been a mother for 30 years now, so much time and experience, so many memories, good and bad, so much life gone by and still going on. And what I discovered is that I have NOT been breathing, for the past few days, anyway. Not fully, not well. I’ve been scared of what life holds for me now that I’ve changed everything, and worried about what I’ve left behind, or in the case of Tessa, who has left me— in a good way! But she’s grown and flown and happy as anything.

And what is there for me to be afraid of, really? Nothing! It’s all just one breath at a time, no matter what happens. My only choice in any given moment is to honor the depth and the rhythm of the God-given breath, and just let it come to me, come… and then go just as easily… over and over again, kindof like the memories do, free to visit my mind and float away again, kindof like the emotions can if you don’t hang on to them.  

I had a GREAT Mother’s Day yesterday, from the early long, luxurious phone call from Tessa, to brunch at the 94th Aero Squadron, to a glorious sunshiny hike in Fryman Canyon, to a performance of Terra Nova at the Academy, with my friends and surrogate family. 

And this beautiful Monday morning, I am breathing soundly once again.

2 years ago
0 notes

A map in my head

There’s a kind of restlessness that not knowing engenders in me. And I start pushing back against things when I feel blocked, because I’ve been determined to be productive, and it gets kinda crazy-feeling when I’m not, at least according to my standards.  

My friend Tom asked me if I was chronicling how it feels to be bumping up against obstacles the way I have been the past couple of days. He wondered if I was grappling with it here, in what he terms “The Spaghetti Papers.”

At the moment, I’m learning where things are, and how far, and how how far may not be the measure of how long it takes to get there. And there’s the wonderful acquisition of devices to help, but then there’s the hooking up of these and the learning how to operate them, etc. It takes time.

I wake up and I have all these grand plans. I have stacks of books that beckon, and my thoughts about yoga and theatre and relationship pinging around in my mind. I need to write them down, but the cats want to go out, and I’m having to go with them as yet, because I don’t want them to get hurt, either by a mundane something like a car, or the more exotic, like getting carried off by a bird of prey. You laugh? There was a hawk sitting in the tree right outside my window, and they circle around over the wash out back. So, I’m taking time to protect them and sometimes I don’t do something else I’d rather— like get to the gym earlier, or work on a script adaptation, or line up the head shot photographer, or whatever it may be.

And then there’s the effort it takes to really settle into a home. Strange not to “own” my domicile… as much as I ever did, I think the bank was always more in charge there, but at least they weren’t actually around, determining whether or not I was allowed to install a water filter. There’s things I need— bookshelves to replace the ones I left, for example. And even though I sold or gave away easily half of my books, I still have tons of them currently stacked up behind the couch and in piles here and there. I want to put them away! Funny how putting them away will make them more accessible.

And there’s a beautiful bed frame I want to buy, and I find I really want it, never having had a decent one, this last, that I’ve been using for God only knows how long, I found on the street in Ballard, paid someone $90. for it. The one I’ve got my eye on is considerably more, and how can I justify that, when I don’t know for sure what the income will be, because I don’t know at All where it’s coming from? I promised myself I wouldn’t buy it until I had a job, but God, it’s tempting to break that vow. 

Gambling at this point in life seems foolhardy and wreckless. I know there’s a tacit judgement, however kind, on the part of certain friends and family members, about the way I’ve gone about things. My very organized daughter has some strong feelings about planning and security and so forth, that I would probably do well to heed about now.

But there’s still this belief I have about energy and how it moves in the world. I feel that if I can keep moving in the way that feels authentic to me, that things will turn out fine. It’s when I get off track that it becomes jumbled and confusing. It’s when I get scared and lose sight of what it is that I’m creating and the more that I want to create, that things get messed up and pretty soon, I’m on the phone for 2 and a half hours trying to get refunded for services I cancelled, or I’m back in a store needing side tables and flummoxed about the appropriate color.

Tom says that you’ve go to remain clear here, feet on the ground, humble and focused. He reminded me that this city is filled with people from all over the world who’ve come here to realize their dreams. The best of the best have made it here, and more are coming every day. If you don’t know what you want, and if you allow yourself to be intimidated, you start to lose sight of your vision, and then there’s this sense of being stifled and restless and stuck. Or even worse, defeated.

He says there are certain givens to contend with and keeping your solutions at hand is wise. Traffic is one of them, of course, and it’s a metaphor, for sure, but it’s also just what is is. Sure, we have GPS these days, but part of what comes with experience and time, things I’m just now beginning to acquire, is an inner sense of direction, what Tom calls the “map in his head.” 

I remember first learning about this from Erich Schiffmann, in workshops with him and also in his divine book, “Yoga, the Art of Moving into Stillness.” He talks about our ability to “see.” We all have that intuition, that sense of what’s around us, both what’s obviously right there in solid form, and what’s unfolding beyond the limited parameters of our physical vision. He, too, describes being in traffic and making choices about how to proceed based on this inner listening. 

Tom says when he can feel that things are becoming congested, he goes to his map and chooses alternate routes. He says that what I need to do is to start developing my alternate routes, ways to go when the way I wanted to go isn’t going to work.

And there really isn’t any other way to do this then to practice. It’s always practice, practice, practice. So many things are tried and true. I know, for example, that if I go very long without reading, and without writing, I’ll feel crazy. I know that I can’t go without lots of water. I know that swimming is as essential to me as walking and lack of access to it renders me twitchy and irritable. And I know that I need a better way to find what direction I’m traveling in than looking at my clock, and then up at the sky, and trying to figure it out by where the sun is. It’s a little primitive.

The other day I was with my friend’s elderly parents. We traveled up to Santa Barbara, beautiful Santa Barbara. It was in interesting trip, because when you’re in your 90’s, you don’t take anything for granted. They are aware of their steps, and thier breathing, and there can be some fear associated with the pain of moving, of accomplishing everyday tasks. I paid attention. These are some wise old people, who’ve lived good lives, and they’re funny and maddening and lovable. 

One of the main things I noticed is the softening of edges. Both Bill and Stella were very attractive in their youth and still are today. But of course, the deterioration of the human body is inevitable, and is an individual process. I notice how total the changes are— everything changing from length to texture, to color, to weight, etc. And I got to thinking that, our exterior boundary, our body, really is just the container of our soul. It seems natural, when you stop and notice, that our separation from the whole, our distinct form, would begin to melt, sortof, to soften and drop, so as to be more easily shed to allow us to merge back into the universe. 

What a gift it would be to stay open and receptive before it’s time to go. My anger and impatience at not accomplishing my entire list in one day cannot be allowed to clench my good heart and mind that know that resistance will not work. Too much resistance and what you get is rigidity, that hardness that is just the opposite of flow, being with what is, and finding grace in the process.

When I was little, my family called me Annetti Spaghetti. Tom did not know this! So, where he got that, how he came up with “The Spaghetti Papers” I don’t know…  I guess he just intuited it. Just figured it out somehow. Must’ve just referred to the map in his head.

©2012 Annette Romano

2 years ago
1 note

Annamaya kosha

The body. Hawaii is so much about the body.

Because of the light and the wind and the waves, although it is exquisite to behold, even more here I appreciate the senses of hearing and smell and most of all, of touch.

I hear birds I’ve never met except here and palm fronds clattering in high wind. I take in unfamiliar floral scents, and unidentifiable other ones- pineapple? dirt? that give new meaning to the word dizzying. But it’s the salt: in the cool water, and on the warm breeze, on my skin, and in my mouth, dripping out of my hair, swept out of my eyes. And it’s the sand - like sugar, everyone always says, but it’s true! Like sweet, light brown sugar, a little soft, a little damp, a little crunchy, on my skin, knees, elbows, and in between my toes, and in my towel, and my book, and on my apple.

The koshas are the 5 sheaths: annamaya, manomaya, pranamaya, vijnanamaya, and anandamaya. We are comprised of these layers and one or another of them may take precedence at any given time, but they exist and operate simultaneously.

My focus has been on the application of the spiritual practices of yoga. I have been determined to combine and include the various aspects so that I and the students get a complete experience.

But— and it could be said that, being raised Catholic I come by this naturally - like the priests of old, and some ascetics of today, there’s been a certain denial of the flesh, some worry about distraction, some concern about shallowness of experience, and most important, some guilt about pleasure. I didn’t even realize it.

The outer sheath is the one Hawaii brings to my attention. And although I’ve pretty much always taken care to maintain my health, I’ve done it more out of obligation than out of thanks and celebration. Here I keep being astounded by the constant pull into the present moment that the senses are providing, a connection here that I don’t feel in the cold, muffled by layers of clothing, and the contraction of muscles against it. And I feel in a way that I never did in Seattle, not even on the sunniest day. In my body, really there. Healthy.

Annamaya kosha.

In the material body, which is called the “sheath of food” (anna-maya kosha),reign the elements earth, water, and fire, which are those presiding in the lowest Chakra,the Muladhara, Svadhishthana,and mani-pura centres.

The two former produce food and drink, which is assimilated by the fire of digestion, and converted into the body of food. The indriya are both the faculty and organs of sense. There are in this body the material organs, as distinguished from the faculty of sense.

Annamaya kosha as the name suggests, is made of anna. The satwik meaning of anna is “the essence of earth”. Water, food grains, fruits and vegetables are all the products of earth; from this, milk, ghee and flesh is made and all of this is considered anna.

The human body is made up of anna and it grows and gets strengthened with anna and later after the death of physical body gets merged in the earth.

And this:

Anna means rasa of prithvi and this is the source of life on earth. Annamaya kosha is the controller, cause, producer and consumer (sanchalaka, kaarana, utpadaka, and upabhokta) of physical body but is still different than physical body.*

Of the physical body, but still different from the physical body. This is what I am learning about here in this very special place on Earth.

I am so accustomed to apologizing for what and who I am. Whenever Matt introduces me to anyone, he waxes on about what a fantastic teacher I am, and what a gifted director. And part of me shrinks against it, because I was trained from an early age not to brag, not to make much of myself, not to call attention, to be quiet. But it’s not about humility, that: it’s about being small, invisible, ashamed.

It has to do with shame. That ugly voice underneath whispering, Not Good Enough. Yesterday, our friend Mark Star called and got in on that conversation. This is the message he left us:

Shame is that lasting party visitor that just won’t leave.

Shame is that catalyst that devalues your net worth in unseen ways and leaves you penniless and poverty-stricken in mind.

Shame is that greasy, oily garbage that clogs your plumbing and causes everything to back up, and is most noticeably found after taking big craps (forgive the crass straightforwardness of this analogy) and having to resort to using a plunger.

Shame is realizing that the inescapable truth that you’re trying to run from is yourself, and you have to finally turn around and look in the mirror to face it and say: “Shame, that ‘s not my name.”

Got it. No more.

I find myself here in this sensual paradise, in a body. My body. My well-used and little-celebrated physical form that I rely upon and that’s given me so many gifts of experience, including that of bearing a child. So, I claim it now. And invite in the more that Hawaii (and my future) offers. It’s mine to use for good, for pleasure, and for love.

*from: http://nvraghuram.blogspot.com/2005/12/annamaya-kosha-and-suryanamaskara.html

©2011 Annette Romano

2 years ago
9 notes

The calm after the storm

There’s a bit of a letdown when you’ve accomplished something, ever notice?

I know how to get something done. I understand:

1. doggedness—literally, that sense of having the toy in my teeth and someone trying to pull it away, but no, me with my iron jaws will never let go, and

 2. determination- that steadfastness that comes from having sighted the goal and then relentlessly pursuing it.

There are 12 definitions of determination on Dictionary.com, but here are just a couple: 

Determination - noun

1. the act of coming to a decision or of fixing or setting a purpose

2. fixed purpose or intention

3. fixed direction or tendency toward some object or end.

Ah, so it would seem we need to investigate the word fixed which also has lots of definitions, so we’ll take about half. Here goes:

Fixed - adjective

1. set or intent upon something; steadily directed: a fixed stare.

2. definitely and permanently placed: a fixed buoy; a fixed line of defense.

3. not fluctuating or varying; definite: a fixed purpose.

4. supplied with or having enough of something necessary or wanted, as money.

5. put in order.

5. Chemistry .a. (of an element) taken into a compound from its free state. b. nonvolatile, or not easily volatilized: a fixed oil.

7. Mathematics . (of a point) mapped to itself by a given function. formal .

My fixed gazing point, or drishti, has been on LA for years. I remember wanting to go a very long time ago—and I did, for a couple of months. I worked, went back to Seattle, saved my money and a couple of years later, did it again. But I got hit by a car in a crosswalk, elected not to bake my child alive in a car with no air conditioning, sent her home, and doggedly made enough commercial money to move back myself less than a couple of years later.

What could’ve happened had I stayed? Who can say? It’s impossible to know, of course. And there was work in Seattle, more available and easier to get: on camera, radio, print and industrial, and before I knew it, regardless of where I wanted to be, there I was, because in the order of things, there are no obligatory relationships except those with our dependent children, and I am nothing if not responsible. There’s work? You work.

Can I just offer a commercial- ha -interruption? I happen to be observing a glorious sunrise, here at Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary, owned and run by my best friend’s family, where I’ve had the great good fortune of spending Thanksgiving. Here’s a photo of what’s going on right now:

It’s fantastic. I wanted to move myself down here to southern California, partly because of the people that I know. These are some of my closest friends, involved in saving the diminishing herds of wild mustangs that our government is intent on destroying. It’s one good reason to be here, to find a way to contribute.

The two other strongest drives underlying this fixed need to change locations, and my life, have to do with what many people consider the key components to a fulfilling, satisfying life. Work. And love. The need for more of each of those—the kind I’m meant to give/have. That means a return to the original dream of acting and directing. And it means authentic partnership, conscious and equal.

Time feels shorter than to me than it used to—there seems to be less of it, and it goes faster – so it’s important to make sure that I don’t lose sight of what I’m determined to create. The interesting thing is that somehow I’ve felt that all I have to do is get here, and the rest will follow. And that’s why I say, it’s a little bit of a let-down, only because there’s been such a long build-up to get to this point, and after months of effort, with its accompanying pride-of-accomplishment and boatloads of stress, I’m here, and I’m not exactly sure what happens next. (And I realize too that I’m used to spending a good deal more time by myself. When I’m here, I’m always with people. It’s just different.)

Again: set or intent upon something; steadily directed; definitely and permanently placed; not fluctuating or varying; definite

And the one I like best:

Mathematics: (of a point) mapped to itself by a given function.

Hmm. Speaking of a particular point

Mapped to itself

By a given function.

Function: the kind of action or activity proper to a person, thing, or institution; the purpose for which something is designed or exists.

I am mapped to myself by the function of my fixed purpose. 

I love that! I’m not sure what I expected would happen upon arrival but what has happened has been most satisfying – a gorgeous full-out laughing attack the very first night and more in this just-over-a-week period than I’ve had in the whole last year put together; not one but two inspired student performances, both of which encouraged me that there are people in schools doing my kind of work; the finding of the perfect apartment, close to my friends, a place that welcomes the feline members of the family, with a pool—why live in LA and not have a pool?? plus grass and trees, etc. etc. crazy perfect; and a holiday with some of the people I love best in one of the most beautiful places there is!

The “let-down”or denouement is just a shifting of energy. It’s not disappointment, that’s for sure. It was just a little fatigue, having a break after a long period of hard-core concentrated effort, and some uncertainty in the face of so much possibility. But I’ve got the same doggedness and determination that’s gotten me this far. So, with an ongoing desire to tell story, and a heart open to love, there’s a renewal of purpose. Who knows what may happen next?  

 

©2011 Annette Romano 

2 years ago
4 notes
Haunting image. ( Troy Ruffels - Bramble, from Bramble series  2011)
How to get beyond the brambly bushes to the water?
I woke up this morning realizing that a little future thinking is actually helpful. Yes, yoga is the practice of presence, and I thoroughly advocate it, but, for example, I can swoon while reveling in the experience of a  homemade chocolate chip pecan cookie hot out of the oven, and have not a care for my inevitable feeling of chubbiness that will follow. And so I eat 3 or 4 of them instead of 1!
And I’ve been eyeball-deep in all that prepping, selling, and moving involve, but where the heck am I really going to live, not just land, but live, and where’s the work coming from?
It’s exciting to think that I’ve finally slogged far enough through the tangly mess to arrive here. I’ve got the requisite scratches, the craziest one of which is a hummingbird-shaped burn on my boob from hugging a piece of hot flatbread up against me to squish the air out of the pocket. That one’s gonna scar. But hey, I won’t ever forget this time. I’ve earned my way to my new life, and despite the obstacles, the ups-and-downs, the surprises and disappointments, things are actually going swimmingly.
Fine thinking for the first of a new month, my birthday month no less, and so, time to plan. Manifestation toolbox coming up!

Haunting image. ( Troy Ruffels Bramble, from Bramble series  2011)

How to get beyond the brambly bushes to the water?

I woke up this morning realizing that a little future thinking is actually helpful. Yes, yoga is the practice of presence, and I thoroughly advocate it, but, for example, I can swoon while reveling in the experience of a  homemade chocolate chip pecan cookie hot out of the oven, and have not a care for my inevitable feeling of chubbiness that will follow. And so I eat 3 or 4 of them instead of 1!

And I’ve been eyeball-deep in all that prepping, selling, and moving involve, but where the heck am I really going to live, not just land, but live, and where’s the work coming from?

It’s exciting to think that I’ve finally slogged far enough through the tangly mess to arrive here. I’ve got the requisite scratches, the craziest one of which is a hummingbird-shaped burn on my boob from hugging a piece of hot flatbread up against me to squish the air out of the pocket. That one’s gonna scar. But hey, I won’t ever forget this time. I’ve earned my way to my new life, and despite the obstacles, the ups-and-downs, the surprises and disappointments, things are actually going swimmingly.

Fine thinking for the first of a new month, my birthday month no less, and so, time to plan. Manifestation toolbox coming up!

2 years ago
5 notes

The second opposite of light

The Gayatri Mantra

Om bhur buvah suvah Om pervades earth, atmosphere, and heavens;

Tatsa vitur varenyam  - That self-luminous, brilliant Divinity, who is Supreme Source;

Bhargo devasya dhimahi On that we meditate.

Dhiyoyonah prachodayat May that sacred light illuminate our intellects.

Om apo jyaso amrtam brahma Om is the waters, the light essence, the immortal reality;

Bhur buvah suvarom Om pervades earth, atmosphere, and heavens.

Or: May that unlimited, divine energy, that cosmic power, inspire my intellect to lead me on a life of good actions, by purifying the inner heart.

I ask the students what this is about. They always volunteer interesting interpretations, always sincere, but some of which they think I want to hear. (!) What I really want is to distill it down to its essence, and in this case, that essence is light

Prana, which is measurable as light, is our life force, and it comes in on the breath, but in so many other ways: the tastes and smells, the vibrations of what we hear and feel, light shining on our eyes and on our skin. Its general energy is up, although it circulates all around and through us; its opposite is apana, or downward-moving energy, which we experience as anything falling or pulling towards Earth, including that basic force that has ahold of us all our lives, that’s just part of living here on Earth, and that’s gravity.

I ask them, What’s the opposite of light? And they always promptly answer, Darkness. Then I say, And what’s the other opposite? They look at me expectantly and wait, and I look back and wait too, until one of them eventually says, Heaviness. 

Why is this the less obvious opposite?

I think it’s because of our sensory dependence on the eyes.

We seem to have become less about how things feel, and more about how they look— or to put it another way, we key into our feelings, or try to find them, or create them, based on what we see. And what we’re seeing, many of us, but perhaps especially, young people, is what’s on a screen of some kind. We’re extremely visual people these days, but the sights we’re taking in are not always direct or multi-sensory, but rather removed from us to some degree. And while we have certainly expanded our knowledge, in some ways we’ve become smaller. Our knowing is largely what we might refer to as “hearsay”, not truly connected - or not enough anyway - to our deep internal knowing.

Darkness prevents us from seeing. When it’s dark, it’s hard to find our way. It’s more likely that we’ll bump into things and possibly get hurt. When someone’s actions obscure the light in their heart, we can’t see their true self, anymore than we can experience ourselves truly when our actions aren’t enlightened.

It isn’t that darkness is bad, per se, of course, it’s not. It’s just another manifestation of duality, really, and part of life here. We like having day and night. It seems natural to us to be awake during the day and asleep at night, again, because of our dependence on the sense of sight. But there’s another kind of “seeing” that occurs in the dark and it’s the engagement of all the other senses: they kick in and it makes for richer experience.

Heaviness isn’t bad either. We expect certain things from gravity. If we jump up, we won’t go floating off into space. When we drop something, it falls. We long to have the weight taken off our hearts, our burdens removed. Chanting the Gayatri mantra, we can ask for help with this, because sometimes we can’t see how to let them go, often dragging around old insults, grievances, losses, and disappointments long after we’ve experienced them, to the point that, sometimes, we can’t even remember what they are. We just feel low. The ones we can remember, we often hold up as badges from battle, “See! This is what he did to me! And I will never recover.” But of course, that’s foolish, because it’s never someone else’s fault, really, or up to another whether or not we learn how to rise above things or not. It’s up to us.

And so, we practice.

We close our eyes, effectively removing external visual stimuli, and tune into the vast panorama within. We close off the light outside ourselves simply by dropping our eyelids, and find that it’s within, that we, too, being part of all creation, are infused with divine light. It’s always there.

When we’re scattered, or overwhelmed, all we have to do is stop for a moment, take a breath and relax, and with that letting go, our joints soften, our muscles release, our bones become heavier.  There’s an empowering sense of choice, of being able to set things down, leave them behind us, and move on.

©2011 Annette Romano

2 years ago
23 notes

Call me crazy

I know.

Because it sounds like I am.

But I will tell you that, ever since I was young, I did what I knew to be right, and it has been.

The only things I’ve regretted in this lifetime are those that came from me overriding my innate wisdom.

What is it that causes us to stop listening? To suppress our intuition like one of those adults who can’t stand to see a child running around loose, who gets that uncomfortable, disconcerted look, who, if allowed, would suddenly turn vicious, and cruelly clamp a hard hand down on the head of that happy kid and stop its crazy running, threaten to wipe the smile off its face?

We contain so many selves. One of the tasks of yoga is to discern the true from the false among them.

One of the things I love about my – I hate to call him a therapist, because he’s so far superior to those nuts I tried talking to before and got nowhere - but, I guess that’s what he technically is—anyway, one of the things I love about him is that he doesn’t expect me to come in there and regurgitate stuff.

You know how there are those people who, if you’re not crying - actively suffering, producing bona fide tears, don’t believe you. They deny the “authenticity” of your experience. Not okay just to talk about it, no, you’ve got to get back there in the trenches and relive the whole, horrible ordeal again, whichever one you’re referring to. It’s not enough that you had a catharsis and lived to tell. No, you’ve got to manufacture a whole nother one for their benefit. These aren’t therapists. These are sadists.

I think I have a particular sensitivity to this kind of thing because when I was little, there was No Crying. If you wanted to act like that, you could march yourself to your room and have some fun indulging yourself there. So I have a sense of shame attached to that kind of expression, genuine though it may be. And in fact, as I believe I’ve mentioned previously, my inability to turn on the tears like a personal waterspout was one of my downfalls as an actress. I just felt too self-conscious to cry in front of people because of my strict “training”.  Now, laughing’s a different ball game, I can laugh for you no problem. Hahahahaha!! There are people who would kill to have my delightful laughter!! Ah, just teasing. But you know, there are those who sound fake when they’re having to “produce” laughter, for sure. You’ve heard them. It’s more like, Heh heh heh. A certain charm, but real? Nah. And you know it.

In any case, I’ve appreciated my being allowed to relay what I’ve gone through to this kind, wise person I speak to each week, and only when it’s necessary to get right down to wrestling with a serious demon does he make me relive something horrible. When it’s really, truly the thing to do, we’ve done that together and I’ve come out on the other side having actually shed some of the burdens I’ve been lugging around for years like old, smelly, dead fish. It’s a bloody relief. He doesn’t have any need to watch me suffer. He prefers that I find my breakthroughs for real, not for him.

So, because he trusts me when I tell him my experience, I’ve re-learned to trust myself. I’ve been practicing my deep listening diligently, and I now have sometimes painfully, but many times joyfully, gradually regained my ability to sift through the nonsense pouring through my mind from infinite sources, much of the time, and hear my sat guru. Not the voices of my parents in their less elegant moments criticizing the beJesus out of me, or the snotty assessments of former “friends”, or the misleading judgments of old agents or fellow actors, who may’ve meant well at the time, but did their damage nonetheless.

Most important to deny the validity of? The scathing comments of old “lovers” – lovers?? old Haters, who, in their shallow, narrow, self-serving way, branded my brain with their negative opinion of my – my everything—from looks to cooking, to my supposed inability to make anything, love or money.

And I still have to work to drown out some of this. I tend towards ice cream. There’s a kind of soothing, lulling quality to it that’s not so harmful as nicotine, say, or whiskey. But mostly? I listen. Even when I’m terribly disconcerted by events, I keep on preaching to my students and also walking the hard line of No Hypocrisy wherever possible, and Practicing what I Preach. They sit, and I continually counsel them to just be with themselves, difficult though I know it is, considering physical discomfort and sometimes even pain, but even more, mental distraction: the din of voices, voices, voices, some of whom have No Business being in our heads. Because it’s worth it.

I signed the papers last night, giving away my house. Ok, I am getting some money for it, but – well, let’s not even get into that. The point is that I, by hook and by crook, survived the process of prepping—months of it! You can testify! You were here!! (A sincere Thank You btw. :) ), and marketing, and inspecting, to arrive at the place where I can actually consider my future.Whew! Finally.

And here’s where I know people are like, What?? You haven’t really thought this through, have you? Especially my mother, who, God love her sweet soul, can barely congratulate me because the state of California is on the verge of bankruptcy and she is a Great Depression survivor, after all, and this does not seem like a Good Plan, to go to such a place.

No, I’ve been feeling my way through. It does freak me out now, to understand clearly the enormity of the task before me, that of the packing up, and organizing, the decision-making and all of it. Especially like, What to do with my piano? And beyond that, where am I going to live? Or even land? What about the cats? I don’t want them to get killed their first day in the City of the Angels (or any day after that, it sortof goes without saying.) And where am I working, again?? Oh yeah, don’t know. That job I have here with the incredible students and the health insurance? That Yoga teaching job with health insurance that I’m walking away from? What am I replacing that with? Right. Don’t know the answers. I don’t know.

But I do know that when I first started looking for work, right out of high school, I suddenly decided that I was going to teach swimming lessons. Had I done it before? No, I hadn’t. But I’d been racing on a team since I was 9 and I knew a thing or 2 about how to do it. And there I was that summer, working full-time teaching everyone from the infants to the “drowners”, as we called them, to the physically challenged, to the swimmers. And I could do it.

Same with acting. Same with yoga. Same with having a child, for heaven’s sake, does anyone know how to do that before they do it?? No, of course not.

It’s a matter of trust. I’m going to move away from here because I can’t stand to be in a place where I’m used to being able to go lay eyes on my daughter in 15 minutes if I really need to. And while she’s not going to be where I’m going, I also don’t expect her there, so I won’t want what I never had. It will be easier. And I’m going to where there are some friends who do what I used to do and know that I’m meant to be doing again—everything to do with the theatre. I need to. And I’m going to find some sunshine!! Yay. And who knows what else? Love? One can only hope.

I don’t know how it’s going to work. But I can say that when I’ve gone into worry, I’ve had my trusted, wonderful friends here (thank you! I love you!) to remind me that it’s going to be ok, to just keep my chin up and stick to my guns. And that every time I’ve gotten stuck, my beloved colleague Kelli has been there to remind me to envision not what I see in front of me as impossible, impassable, but to go beyond and see what it is I’m striving to create. And last night, Diana, one my dearest, and one of the reasons I’m moving down to Los Angeles, said, “You know that fear is just excitement without breathing, right? So breathe!!! And get your butt down here, already!”

I know the traffic sucks down there. But it isn’t exactly a cakewalk around here either. As much as the fine citizens of Seattle love to diss LA, there’s actually much to recommend it. I don’t need to list all those things for you and get into some ridiculous comparative analysis- although I do have to mention that Seattle seems to have the best grocery stores anywhere in the country, if not the world – But. Where is the Rose Bowl? The Tournament of Roses Parade? Where does this long-time grower and aficionado, who some will even go so far as to call a Rosarian need to go? You’ve got it.

Can’t WAIT. :) 

©2011 Annette Romano

2 years ago
11 notes

Bound - Part 3

Obstacles to practice

Our personal obstacles. Consider just a few of the possibilities:

our fear of not knowing;

of looking foolish;

of losing our balance;

of not being strong enough, or not having the energy;

of confusion (our rights and lefts being the least of it, more might be wondering how something is supposed to feel);

the length of our limbs;

our girth, especially when it comes to bending and twisting;

our flexibility;

pain or discomfort;

our previous injuries and scar tissue—that includes mental and emotional as well as physical;

of being distracted (or worrying about being distracted, which is just as bad).

Or, on the other hand:

a big ego, showing off or drawing attention to ourselves;

acting falsely humble;

believing that accomplishing the physical pose is all there is to it.

These are just a few of the pitfalls when stepping onto the mat!  

Our personal demons.

Just as there’s debate in some spiritual circles as to the existence of God as personified in many religions, there’s some question as to the existence of Evil, as personified by The Devil. I don’t claim to have any answers here, but there does seem to be some wisdom in the yogic idea of duality, or opposites. You can work with this idea yourself, because as this is a personal practice, there needs to be personal application: hence, personal demons.

So, some would say, for example, that the opposite of love is hate. But others would say it’s fear. And still others would disagree and say, No, it’s indifference. But Krishnamacharya had it right. The practice needs to be tailored to the individual. And we, the individuals, are the ones doing the tailoring these days. (It makes as much sense as following any given teacher, at least after a certain point. Because the sat guru or true teacher, exists within.)

Consider the biggies: love vs…whatever!

Or just the smaller things- those obstacles listed above, or any of a myriad of doubts that plague our everyday.

It’s all good, all fair game, all worth examining and bringing to the work.   

We walk into the desert and we face whatever we face. 

We pour ourselves into the crucible and burn away the dross. There is this human struggle with the disunity of TRUTH and subjective outlook - our opinions about our history and our beliefs about what we do, or don’t, deserve, color our present and create our current experience.

Identifying our beliefs can lead to the releasing of them and to our freedom, but it takes practice and sometimes you have to do the same thing again and again to get it—hence, the repetitious sequences of yoga asana, and rounds of breath in pranayama, or the intoning of the mantra, or taking of a mudra. Again and again. This is what constitutes a practice.

Boundaries and rules are devised for lots of reasons.

We put fences at the edges of property to mark “ownership” although, technically, when you really look at it, owning land and animals, for just 2 examples, isn’t really possible. Where did they come from? These things and much more can be acquired for money, or handed down for generations in a family, but where did they originate?

The same goes with rules.

We devise guidelines so that we can play a game or participate in various relationships to one another, or govern ourselves. We make laws, see how they work and then amend them.

This figuring out how things should be done, or what we’re allowed to have, or how we’re supposed to be, is seen everywhere in our societies and cultures.

It’s meant to make it possible for us to experience things safely, as in the way we drive our cars, for example, or compete in sports.

It’s designed so that we can experience things more fully, as in a recipe, or a marriage.

There’s a kind of commitment involved in binding, because it defines: this is this and it is not that. This is “mine” and this is “yours.” Rarely are things actually that clear, but we make these determinations, because without them, life would become chaotic and confusing. Or, so we say in justifying the immense complexity of boundaries we’ve devised for ourselves.

I’m not sure that’s entirely true—and certainly, we’re always trying to find ways around these strictures – but I can see how the basic intention is helpful anyway. We take ideas and illustrate them.

We take raw materials and build something out of them.

From the unseen abstract world, we create all kinds of everything, bring all of this into a reality that we can see and touch, experience with our senses, know.

The bound poses bring us deeper into the asana practice. And so do the pranayamas—deliberate ways of working with the breath to affect our energy specifically, to benefit our health and well-being. As with all aspects of yoga, there is the immediate experience of whatever you’re doing, and there is the way it goes far beyond that, and applies to life.

The bound poses LOOK to be the most difficult, but maybe they just take more courage and consideration, more commitment – more willingness to set aside first impressions and immediate reactions and to just adopt an open, fearless, non-judgmental approach.

There are bound poses in every category, because you can always take things a step further—or so it seems. There must be the outer reaches of any posture (and you see photographs of some pretty crazy stuff—the kind of tying yourself into a pretzel that kept Americans from taking to yoga until relatively recently). Some I’ve experienced, and many I’ve not, and perhaps never will.

But this is the beauty of yoga as a life practice: you can do it every day, and still, when your dying day arrives, there would’ve been more.

©2011 Annette Romano 

3 years ago
6 notes

Dust thou art

Sit comfortably in a chair. This is so you can get a sense of rooting down through the soles of your feet. Close your eyes, and take a few moments noticing the ebb and flow of your breath. Don’t try to do anything with it. Just observe and relax into the reality that you don’t have to do anything, including breathe. You are being breathed.

Become aware of your skeletal structure. Just notice the way the bones are situated in this seat, the way they’re connected, and the natural muscle tone that, again, you don’t have to do anything about. Begin to experience your aliveness. Your mind can go where it will, and a myriad of thoughts will come and go, your heart may move with this emotion and that one, but your body is grounded.

Come into your spine. Do your best to rest there. This is a magical place. We are always working in yoga to free the flow of energy through the sushumna nadi, the central nerve channel, which moves through the spinal column. See how things feel, and relax into the lengthening, the simultaneous lifting and dropping of your spine.

Send your roots down now. From the soles of your feet, from the base of your seat, and even from the palms of your hands, if you want. Imagine these roots shooting down, down, down into the earth, tunneling their way through all the layers of dirt, and rock, and everything the earth is made of. Feel yourself connecting with your mother planet, joining yourself by choice, and surrendering yourself to the truth that you have no choice: you are made up of the same things as she.

When your roots arrive at the center of the earth, they wrap themselves around whatever they find there. What do you see? I envision myself attaching to an enormous, softly brilliant golden ball. But you may find there a boulder, strong and black, or a core rod of some kind, metal or stone, or some other element. Allow yourself to trust what you see and just join with it.

Once your roots are connected, or re-connected, then rest a moment and just float with the rhythm of the breath again. From where you sit, up top, begin to let go of whatever you need to. Remember when you were little, and you would always give your gum wrapper to your mother? Or whatever garbage you had? And she would just take it from you, to dispose of it properly, so you wouldn’t have to worry about it, so you could just run along and play? Give your garbage to mother earth and trust that she knows what to do with it. Let go of the thoughts that hurt you, plague you, run around and around, driving you crazy. Let your negativity drain away, down, down through the roots to the core, and keep on releasing as continuously as the ideas occur to you: Ah! this cramping opinion, that limiting judgment, this mean projection, that inaccurate perception. Let them go, let them run down and out of you, empty your mind and heart and spirit and body of what doesn’t serve, what isn’t serving, what never can.

And then rest again. Feel what it’s like to be light and easy, free. How lovely to be grounded and yet feel so weightless, unlimited! Experience a few moments of this ease and grace. Let yourself do nothing and just be. It’s so peaceful.

Now from this core where you are still rooted and connected begin to draw up what does serve, what will heal you, that which nourishes and replenishes your being on all levels, flooding through the channels up, up into your physical form, washing the mind and heart, cleansing the spirit, refreshing you in every possible way. Imagine that this wellspring from way down deep is bubbling up in your heart space. If it works for you, you can let this welling up occur in all the chakras, or any of them that especially can assist in healing you. Feel yourself renewing with this vital energy, any- and everywhere you require it. Feel it flowing easily and circulating throughout your entire being, until you are fully awash with life, aglow with light.

Call upon your mother. Ask her to help you. Feeling deeply what it is that you want, allow that to move into the sense of fulfillment of those desires. What does it feel like to be in a perfect sense of connection with all of creation? How does it feel to know that you’re in the flow, moving with higher intent, living in the ways that you’re meant, serving your true purpose, the reason you came? Bask in that. Truly luxuriate in your wholeness and perfection.

When you feel complete, just let the roots gently unwrap themselves from the center of the earth and feel them raveling back up, or simply dissolving in the substance they traveled through. Find yourself aware of their presence, even when they’re gone. Know that they are there for you, at your disposal, that you can call upon them to come to work again when you need, to ground you into the elements of which you are made, to connect you once again with your earth.

©2012 Annette Romano

2 years ago
6 notes

Eeny, meeny, miny, mo

As asana is always a metaphor for life, the practice of it and all that it entails, constantly brings me to examine my circumstances, environment, relationships, all of these, as choices I’m making about how I want to live.

Sometimes we don’t feel as if we have choice. And in some situations, we don’t. Natural disasters are usually a hot topic in discussions of this kind because we obviously don’t control those events. Another area that’s difficult to decipher is that of helpless children or animals, who, due to no actions of their own, find themselves suffering and sometimes even dying.

The yogic approach would be to see it from the soul standpoint, and to understand that there’s always free will, and we – all of us - do have much to say about the lives we choose—from our parents to where and when and even how we’re born. There are plenty of people who think that’s just a bunch of hooey and in any case, as humans, it can be disconcerting and even annoying, but also a cause for grief (especially when, as in the case of children, the one that’s suffering is our own.)

I don’t have a solid answer here, just a practice. I keep on espousing the viewpoint that life is a gift even when—and maybe even especially when- it doesn’t look like it. We just have to keep meeting it each day, look at it for what’s being offered, and choose to really live.   

As far as relationships go, it can be said that there are no obligatory relationships except for those we have with our dependent children. Everything else is a matter of choice.

With choice comes difficulty: so many things to consider, so much decision-making, often feeling that we don’t have all the information, etc. (who ever does?) and so many other people to deal with, we bumble ahead, doing, hopefully, our best, sometimes feeling that we must choose randomly, cross our fingers and surrender the unfolding outcome.

Sometimes we may stay bound: to circumstances that have played themselves out, to those we’ve left or who’ve left us, long after they’re gone. We can even be bound to the dying or dead and sometimes need to give them permission to go and be free. And it’s, to say the very least, somewhat confusing when, after years of responsibility and deep connectedness, it comes time to let our children go. That’s one binding most of us don’t want to break, because it can hurt.

Oh, you know the adult thing to do is to be proud and happy and all of that. But who likes to willingly relinquish the nearness of someone they adore? I can only say this in hindsight, because no matter what anyone else says, there’s simply no adequate preparation for it. It’s like having a child in the first place—there is no perfect time, and you can never be ready enough, because it simply isn’t like that. It’s TRUE LIFE—you’ve got to surrender plans and expectations and control and just be there.

I find myself free.

I’ve been to the city and I’ve reveled in the first-hand experience of my child - my adult child, no longer a dependent, not an obligatory relationship anymore but one we both lovingly choose - flourishing in her new environment. Who cannot love New York? In one week, we walked and subwayed ourselves (with a rare cab ride thrown in) all over town. She showed me her adopted home with pride, sending me our itinerary by way of iPhone invites prior to my arrival, planning it all out, with lots of room for improvisation, with details and funny comments, sent for my acceptance. It was a grand time. It sets my heart at ease to know that the one I love most is safe and happy, cared for and working hard, loving her life.

I wake up these days awed by the light. This is winter? I am surrounded by soft melon light, pure bright skies, becoming intensely blue as the temperature moves gradually up past anything I can recall happening in Seattle in January.

I am AWAKE and there’s so much for me here - the sense of vastness this imparts is hard to describe. There are the things I must do and all those I want to do, I sometimes don’t know where to begin. But I want to jump in both feet (and certainly haven’t felt like sitting around writing!)

And yet there is some fear as well. I have my past—what I consider to be successes (not as many as I’d like) and my failures (many more than I really even care to admit.) What about all the times I’ve pursued my dreams before? What happened? What was I able to bring into realization, into form, and what remained just a dream?

Mostly, I think of people. Isn’t it amazing, really, just how many encounters we have in a lifetime? I’m only halfway through, and already I find it pretty overwhelming. There’s a sense of journey, and an acquired understanding of the practice—not just the concept but the practice- of letting go. I look back and recall all my mistakes- so many times I didn’t know what I was doing, but did it anyway - and I am sorry for them. I know things now I didn’t before. There are those I walked away from and those that walked away from me, and from this vantage point, I can see that in the midst of circumstances, sometimes we don’t know why things happen the way they do. But it comes down to all of us stepping along our paths, negotiating the intersections, choosing, and moving on.

The conscious cutting of cords that helps to set us free is something we can practice in asana, willingly taking on the confinement of the pose, applying our effort to create it, being in it peacefully, and then, when the time is right, electing to unravel it, dissolve it, release it and set ourselves free.

©2012 Annette Romano

2 years ago
3 notes

Of wind and water

There’s a bird whose name I don’t know singing outside my window. You can’t exactly call it singing, I guess- he’s more like a mockingbird in that his conversation is quite various. It sounds like he’s imitating things he’s heard, and I wish I could put it into words, but that’s impossible, you’d just have to hear it for yourself. :)

I’m not sure, but this could be him.

I slept last night with the wind roaring through the Manoa Valley. It rained a lot yesterday and it was dark when Matt picked me up from the airport, the roads all slick and shiny. He said everyone was complaining about how cold it was. 70 degrees!  NOT cold in my book. But hey, everything’s relative, right?

Communication/connection has changed so much. Distances are a matter of mind anymore. The glory of free long-distance means that you can talk to someone all the time, so it seems like you’re with them. The actual being in their presence and viewing them with your own eyes, and being able to hug, and to see each other laughing, rather than just hearing it (or seeing a crazy weird version of it on skype) is so satisfying.

Matt gave me a little talisman to work with, that someone gave him when he first got here. It’s a small golden representation of a symbol worn by royal chiefs of Hawaii. It’s called a Lei Niho Palaoa, and traditionally, it’s a hook hung on cords of human hair, said to resemble fishing hooks. You wear it around your neck and it sits at the throat.

It’s so perfect for the work we’re going to do, because the vissudha chakra is all about communication, and it’s interesting as well, that the island of Oahu is considered to be the island of vissudha.

Here’s how it goes:

Hawaii, the Big Island – Muladhara, or root chakra - earth

MauiSvadhistana, the navel center - water

LanaiManipura -  solar plexus (just below) – fire

MolokaiAnahata – heart chakra – air

Oahu -  Vissudha – throat chakra – ether

Kauai – Ajna – brow point, or third eye, seat of divine mind

Ni’ihau – Sahasrara - crown chakra – connection with the unseen

I lay in bed this morning with the Lei Niho Palaoa resting in the hollow of my throat and my hands in Varuna mudra. The mudra is made by taking the  right baby finger across the right palm and covering it with your thumb,  and then placing the right hand in the palm of the left hand and the left thumb across the right. Varuna is the God of water (and of death) and the mudra is practiced to relieve congestion.

There are many descriptions of Varuna, but I like this one—kindof quaint and weird maybe, but cool. (from harekrsna.com)

The demigod Varuna (or Praceta) is said to be the predominating deity of the waters, and his capital, which is known as Vibhavari, is within the watery kingdom. In the midst of the ocean of milk, in the valley of Trikuta, Varuna constructed a garden named Rtumat.

Varuna presides over the water, the night, the western sky, and the western portion of the universe. Varuna is omniscient, and since he punishes sins, he is prayed to for forgiveness. He is also the sender of disease and is often associated with Mitra and Indra.

Varuna is the controlling deity for all relishable juices. Therefore the mouth becomes the resting place for the tongue, which tastes all the different juices, of which the controlling deity is Varuna.

And this: 
Varuna is the keeper of the celestial waters, those which flow from the openings in the sky in the form of rain. He was worshiped with veneration and a healthy amount of fear, for as an asura Varuna did have his sinister aspects and was known to punish mortals who did not keep their word. He was the cosmic hangman and his usual method of punishment was to capture the offender with his noose. He was also a lord of the dead, a position he shared with Yama, and could confer immortality if he so chose. (Encyclopedia Mythica) 

My mind has been as packed as my possessions in their truck on their way to me. My days leading up to driving away were full of so much—friends, and boxes, packing tape, wine. There were meals and celebrations all the way down, that continued when I got here. I feel warmly welcomed by the angels I love in Los Angeles. More busyness still, navigating crowded streets to discover my oasis of a new home, tucked back into a cul-de-sac, with much that I hoped for—room, a place to swim, welcome for the kitties – but so much more—light, trees, mountain views, and an orange grove. And then, all kinds of preparations and collaborations for Thanksgiving, up at Return to Freedom, surrounded by the benevolent hills north of Santa Barbara, where wild horses roam together in their native bands.

But it’s also just the transitions in air quality that caused me to call upon this god and to practice this mudra. Seattle is cold and wet and dark much of the time, it’s true, but as cities go, it’s CLEAN. The air is constantly being washed, if you will. So, the first week in LA has been a bit challenging, as my lungs (and ears and nose, and eyes, for that matter) adjust. The time up at the ranch provided some relief, and being here in the island kingdom of Hawaii, I will find healing.

There’s one aspect of moving that is still haunting me some, and whenever I think of it, I feel so much unexpressed anger. It’s the way that real estate has become such a racket, everyone taking their cut, gouging you for whatever they can get. The price exacted for owning a home here in our country is extracted practically in blood when you try to get out of it.

On the one hand, I had so many lovely, talented friends helping me in all kinds of ways, to transform the space and to leave it in as beautiful of shape as possible, and on the other hand, I had the greedy vultures who were just trying to de-value all of that and all the love I’d poured in over all the years, and get that price whittled down just as far as it could be, in every aspect that they could, right up to the very last second. It still makes me feel sick whenever I think of it, and I find that I dislike them very heartily and need to truly let it go somehow, because otherwise, it will make me sick.

Hawaii is most certainly the “watery kingdom.” Did you know that it’s as far as you can get away from another land mass?  Here are a couple of statistics - and there are many more fascinating things but for now - from “50states.com” – ha! :

Hawaii is the most isolated population center on the face of the earth. Hawaii is 2,390 miles from California; 3,850 miles from Japan; 4,900 miles from China; and 5,280 miles from the Philippines.

The Hawaiian Archipelago consists of over 130 scattered points of land stretching some 1,600 miles in length from the Kure Atoll in the north to the Island of Hawaii in the south.

From east to west Hawaii is the widest state in the United States.

Hawaii has its own time zone (Hawaiian Standard Time.) There is no daylight savings time.) The time runs two hours behind Pacific Standard Time and five hours behind Eastern Standard Time.

And it may be one of the United States of America, but thing is (and this despite the fact that our current president hails from here) it’s NOT. It doesn’t belong to our country any more than ANY of the other nations we invaded and tried to claim. When you are here, yeah, it’s nice to have decent roads, etc. but as far as pretty much everything goes, you might as well be in a foreign country, because, obviously, it’s nowhere near the mainland, and nothing like it!

The fish hook and the god of water, these are my first tools here in Honolulu. Mahalo. And Aloha.

©2011 Annette Romano

2 years ago
6 notes

And we are all together

photo by Ranjan Mohan Das

There’s this scene in this episode in Season 3 of Mad Men, where 2 of the supporting characters are speaking across a desk to one another and in the background, a black-and-white televised newscast is breaking the news of President John F. Kennedy’s death. One of the men is complaining bitterly about his competitor’s promotion while the other simultaneously continues to work and eat his lunch, and neither of them notices what’s happening, until other people burst into the office and interrupt them.

The camerawork in the scene made such a clear picture: the juxtaposition of our individual lives playing out while – whether we’re aware of it or not - the larger human drama continues in the background. It’s happening all the time. They’re intertwined, the parts and the whole, the parts equaling the whole, the whole being the sum of all the parts, and all part of an even greater whole, apparently one which we can barely conceive, much less capture in language.

But of course, those speakers of Sanscrit that came up with the ancient mantras tried! And so we have what’s known as the “Yajur Veda Peace Mantra” or what I call Purnapurnapurna, because that root, purna, meaning “wholeness, fullness, perfection” appears in the chant 7 times, causing my students to laugh, but making what looks like a difficult mantra with a lot of multi-syllabic words easy to learn, and of course, driving the point of the whole thing (!) home nicely.

Om purnamada purnamidam  - Om That is whole or perfect

Purnat Purnamudachyate – This is whole or perfect

Purnasya purnamadaya – From the whole, the whole becomes manifest

Purnamevavasishyate – When the whole is negated, what remains is again whole.

When we chant, it’s keeping in mind that, even if we don’t realize it, there’s no escaping our wholeness and connection—to all other beings.

It’s especially interesting to pay attention to those relationships with animals and plants or other parts of nature, because they would seem to be operating on different premises, and in some ways, not like us at all. But appearances, as we know from our practice, never can tell the entire story. There’s always the unseen to consider. And when we take the time and invite into our lives those that are wouldn’t seem to be like us, we learn. This must be why we seek the companionship of pets, or care about the animals that we’ve bound to serve us, or those that have been endangered by our actions. This is behind the drive to put seeds in the ground, to put things where they will most likely flourish, taking care to ensure that they’re in the right kind of soil, and receive proper amounts of sunlight and shade and water.

The same applies to other people. Sometimes it seems like we could accomplish exactly what we’re setting out to do, except for that pesky little problem! Other People. Because they’ve got needs and desires too, and in every relationship, we encounter that, whether it’s with those we’re close to and intimate with, or with people we’ve never met and never will. We live on a planet that is teeming with LIFE! and pretending that others don’t matter is worse than folly, it’s impossible. In the end, we live together, on all kinds of levels, and we must practice increasing our awareness of this to find peace, for ourselves and everyone else.

In terms of our actions, we are spirits in the material world, and we’re always parts of a whole, no matter how disconnected or fragmented things may seem. What I’ve discovered is that, at some point they usually come together, if the will, plan, organization, and execution are working right. That requires both effort and surrender and daily, daily, daily commitment. Clarity about what I’m devoted to creating helps manifest the good outcome.

I’m remembering a prayer I was once taught, and it’s always been helpful. Sometimes I’m just coming from this place naturally, but when things aren’t going very well, I might realize that I’ve become too narrow-minded or self-involved and forgotten the importance of this. Coming back to the truth that it’s not all about me is both humbling and helpful. Here it is:

May this, or something better, now manifest for me, to the highest good of all concerned.

Try it. It works.

What about moving? So many, many details when it comes to change like this, from the idea to the actual event. So many inspirations, from start to finish -  choosing paint colors, making long-needed repairs, having the vision to get rid of unnecessary clutter… really digging in and tending to a garden that I won’t experience or benefit from once I drive away – except that I will, because I invested my love into it, and I will never forget it. I will always be able to smell those roses.

I asked for help and received it in abundance from recognized, well-appreciated sources, the ones I know well and love. It also came from people I never expected anything from: neighbors, acquaintances, friends of friends. They presented themselves, and offered what they had to give, willingly and generously. I am very, very fortunate, and deeply grateful.

I’m doing my best to give away lots of things in these last few days. It’s not just to lighten my load, it’s fun! I consider which person might enjoy what thing. I actually need very little, but have so much, and it’s nice to be able to give a little material acknowledgement sometimes.

It’s kindof funny, that, in the end, all of this—6 of the longest, hardest-workingest months I’ve ever known - will be able to be simply summed up in a short little question with a short little answer:

“Oh, Annette? She moved to LA.”

As if a handful of words could ever come anywhere near to describing what it took to make that happen.  

©2011 Annette Romano

2 years ago
12 notes

The gesture of unshakeable trust

I had to tell my students that I’m leaving, that I won’t be staying to finish the quarter.

I never imagined it like this—I never really got that far in my thinking at all.  Mostly, it was like, “I can’t take another long, depressing Seattle winter.” And I have had many visions, assisted by tumblr, and every kind of public media, of traveling. Not just traveling, but with a new Canon 7D in hand. It’s a big world! And there’s so much I haven’t really seen yet, not in person anyway. But that’s a whole nother story. More on that as I move into it.

In any case, I was under the impression that it would take months for my house to sell.  Not that I felt that way about it, I thought it would be much quicker than it was, and hoped it would be, too, because keeping a house unnaturally clean, as if you don’t actually live in it, is really uncomfortable, and also just plain weird - but I was listening to people who are supposed to know about these things, and, as is often the case, they didn’t know. I was right.

But of course, I’d been trying to operate on the idea that it would be a long time, and so I planned to finish Fall quarter. I hadn’t prepared for having to tell my students I’d be leaving them before it was over, and it was really hard. I fall in love with them every time. So, it’s always bittersweet when we come to our last class together, but in this case, it won’t just be theirs. It will be mine.

Time. I used to get so impatient, and I don’t so much anymore. And in this process of letting go of my daughter, my home, now my students, and soon my friends, I’ve surrendered. I’ve really had to.

And I’m going to have to keep doing it.

2 parts of our practice this week:

Vajrapradama mudra and this mantra, which I’ve mentioned previously, but didn’t discuss at length:

Om asato ma sat gamaya  - Om Lead me from untruth to truth

Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya   Lead me from darkness to light

Mrityor ma’amrtam gamaya  - Lead me from death to immortality.

I touched on the vajrapradama mudra before as well, but mostly how we make it with our hands. It’s called “The gesture of unshakable trust.” I use it when teaching inversions, but it’s useful for so much more, especially now.

I need to trust myself in so many ways. Mostly it’s really having my intuition in full operation now, as much as possible, because this kind of seeing and listening and feeling will keep me on track as far as what’s got to happen. I am timing relinquishing various possessions, such as my beloved piano, and keeping some of what I need out and available- to cook with, for example – but putting what’s not needed right now- like the ice cream maker – away until it is. And yes, sometimes an ice cream maker is exactly what’s needed!! 

I’m keeping my eyes and ears open for the right place to live, which involves considering many, many factors from who and what will be nearby to the safety of Little Huck and Coco.

I’m making timing decisions regarding the holidays: Return to Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary with my dearest friend’s family (they own and run it) for Thanksgiving, a couple weeks after that to spend with Matt in Honolulu, writing as fast and furiously as our little fingers will allow while we have some precious time together in the same place, and Manhattan for Christmas, with Tessa.

I’m balancing my daily expenditure of energy between having to organize and do for the future, all the while finding ways to maintain the necessary energy to be present and available for my students, and this I’m doing by watching what goes into my mouth and by swimming and taking Pure Barre classes consistently. I’m also taking very satisfying walks, with my beloved cohorts who do that, in this fantastic Indian summer we’ve been having here in Seattle. Winter is not yet here, although the temperature is slowly creeping down – just in time to freeze the little Halloweeners soon to be running around in their costumes that are all about artistic fantasy and not much about warmth!

I just keep coming back to this trust I’ve nurtured within myself. No, it’s not easy, when I look at all the past “mistakes” and their aftermath, that have kept me partnerless and overly responsible for so long. But I can either freak out on a daily basis here, with all the arrangements, OR I can relax and keep some perspective, get a little accomplished each day, and know that it will all fall into place just as it should, as long as I stay awake and aware. And Keep Trusting.

I remember when we were pregnant, Marc and I, back in North Carolina, as students at the School of the Arts there in Winston-Salem. He had always wanted to leave school, never had been, brilliant as he truly was, into formal education and all its requirements. I loved school and never wanted to leave it.

In any case, there we were, pregnant, and having to make a choice. We dropped acid and went out into our backyard in a torrential downpour to watch the fork lighting dancing in the sky right over our heads. And he said, “We’re in the river. We can swim like crazy against the current if we want. Or… we can just jump in the boat and take the ride.” The rest is history, and although there’ve been many, many rough patches along the way, I don’t regret that decision we made together. How could I? No. We were given the biggest gift of our lives, and with as much grace as we could muster in our early 20’s, we gathered up our courage and set out on a great adventure.

Now my very wise, very brave daughter has made her leap to the big city in the east, and it’s been just the perfect impetus to get me moving out of patterns that I wasn’t even fully aware I was repeating. Time to go! Well, almost time.

My students are young, for the most part. College age and some high schoolers from the Running Start program. Plus plenty of others who’ve returned to college a little later to learn something new. But regardless of their age, our discussions are between people who are largely just discovering yoga, and many of them, for the first time. When they come to class, they’re expecting a 2-credit PE class. And what they get is something entirely else.

So, Tuesday afternoons are illuminating for everyone. We talk about our reading assignment for the week, and in doing so, the students realize that, no matter how different they may all seem, they have a lot in common. They talk about the concepts and ideas presented in the book, and my instruction is to apply it to themselves, in terms of what we’re learning in the classroom, and how it might extend beyond that, into their daily lives.

I have the students form a circle with their mats, and we talk about what constitutes an actual discussion. There is presenting your thoughts, but not really listening to, or taking in, or connecting to what someone else may be offering. Our classes are large and not everyone can speak, so it’s important that we not try to just get what we have to say said, but that we relate.

They have such lovely faces. It isn’t just youth and it isn’t just the amazing variety, because they come from everywhere you can think of. It’s their expressions. I’ve always been fascinated with people, their bodies and particularly their faces, and I notice and remember details that many people do not. Part of this is just from having trained and worked as an actor for as long as I did, part of it is from having been an extremely vigilant child, and mostly it stems from my deep love of beauty, in all its shapes, colors, forms, manifestations. I can’t ever get enough of the infinite variability of the human visage, the mind-blowing genetic possibilities and what people do with what they’re given- embellishment, decoration: all the colors of eyes, the shapes of brows and noses and lips, all the different ways that hair can sprout out of the male face! :) etc. etc. I’ve had the gift of being able to gaze upon hundreds of these exquisitely expressive faces throughout my years at the college and I remember them. I remember them.

We talked about the mantra at length and the primary focus was on the first line:

Om Lead me from untruth to truth.

Questions: What does this mean? Who are we asking to be lead by? What’s true and what’s not? How do we know that? If we’re not being honest, how? And with whom? When we’re not truthful with ourselves, what is it we’re believing about ourselves? Where do these beliefs come from?

What we discussed was how so much of what we’re driven by is sub- and even unconscious beliefs that came to us sometime in the past, or still, in present time, from a variety of sources. The loving, kind, supportive messages help us grow in a good way. The other ones create a kind of negative conditioning that has us uneasy, critical, dissatisfied, and more - angry, competitive, judgmental. Who told us we were ugly, fat, stupid, that we’d never amount to anything, never get anywhere? Sometimes we can remember and sometimes we can’t, and in the end, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we identify these as untruths and learn to replace them with thoughts and beliefs that bring us the experiences to know that we are all good and beautiful and talented in our own, unique ways.

That we’re worthy.

It can take time, even with people who are young, because if we carry around false ideas of ourselves long enough, they seem to be true. How do we come to a different understanding of who we are? Practice. And yoga is perfect! It is a practice, because that’s exactly what it takes.

Several of the students have spoken to me. One of them I’ve had for a number of quarters and she’s very special and lovely. She had asked me for a copy of the mantra sheet we use, and I’d thought she just wanted it for herself, for reference. But it turns out that she was making extra copies for me. Just the kind of sweet, thoughtful thing she would do. Another, explaining to me how trying to balance full-time work and full-time school is almost more than she can handle, just about broke my heart, because her earnest, vulnerable face spoke volumes, and because I understand that so many of them are struggling with the same thing. And another came to say that my passionate words about how all of them are wonderful just the way they are were ones she would always remember.

We take vajrapradama mudra and sit together. The world is in turmoil, and we all feel it. All I can do is provide a space where they can practice their yoga, their union, their perfection, their oneness.

And I have to trust that that’s enough.

©2011 Annette Romano

2 years ago
5 notes

Durga

       

In Hinduism, Durga (Sanskrit: दुर्गा); meaning “the inaccessible” or “the invincible”; Bengalidurga or Maa Durga meaning “Mother Durga”) “one who can redeem in situations of utmost distress” is a form of Devi, the supremely radiant goddess, depicted as having eighteen arms, riding a lion or a tiger, carrying weapons and a lotus flower, maintaining a meditative smile, and practicing mudras, or symbolic hand gestures. The name is made of Sanskrit dur- = “with difficulty” (compare Greek δυσ- (dys-)) and (“come”, “go”).

An embodiment of creative feminine force (Shakti), Durga exists in a state of svātantrya (independence from the universe and anything/anybody else, i.e., self-sufficiency) and fierce compassion. Kali is considered by Hindus to be an aspect of Durga. She is thus considered the fiercer, demon-fighting form of Shiva's wife, goddess Parvati. Durga manifests fearlessness and patience, and never loses her sense of humor, even during spiritual battles of epic proportion.

(from Wikipedia.)

The path of the warrior.

Durga is about passion. Check it out. She’s got a smile on her face but she’s fighting, her mount a big cat, the epitome of feminine energy. Some depict her on a lion and some on a tiger. Interestingly, the lion shown is the male of the species. She is “riding” him. With the tiger, it’s like being atop, and looking like an extension of, her strongest female self. She wields weapons in her 18 arms and there’s a man she’s beating in battle. It’s a one-on-one.

It’s so fitting for our times. How did we get here? Watching Mad Men, which is brilliant- this “battle of the sexes” is so painful to witness: the conscription of roles, and the limits, the striving to prove oneself worthy, the confining strictures they were all pushing against. And I just saw the uncut, re-mastered, complete with intermission, Lawrence of Arabia yesterday, having forgotten it almost entirely since last viewing. It’s such an excruciating portrayal of how the noble spirit is perverted by power, how the drive to champion and preserve life gets corrupted by destructive forces that are larger than the individual.

The duality of being vs. doing/having.

The drive to achieve, to accomplish, to have material gain that we can hold in our hands, this is the doing-ness part of it. There’s true value in in it, we wouldn’t be here if not. The actions we choose rejuvenate us, literally keep us young, as in the moving of the body causes blood to flow and all the systems to stay flowing and healthy and connected. We aren’t sedentary creatures by nature - I’ve always pointed out to the new students that it’s far easier to stand - and sitting actually hurts us when we do it for too long. No, movement, in its ability to cause creation, is necessary to life.  

But so is stillness. Particularly with age, it facilitates appreciation. The tendency to stop, to still, to observe, to see things I haven’t been paying close attention to more clearly. I’ve always seen/heard/smelled them, and I voice my observations and opinions, and but this slowing is allowing me to feel them again. And with that depth of feeling, there comes gratitude. Really being so grateful just to have seen or heard or smelled or touched something beautiful—the sound of the hummingbird whizzing right up to my head and sending his trembling life force directly into my ear, the thrill of diving into lake water that’s shockingly chilly upon entrance but becomes like a warm second skin that my whole first one can slip through, it sliding like… what? like liguid velvet? The sensation cannot be captured any more than can a Voo Doo rose, that melding of orange and red in those watercolored petals and a fragrance that’s next to impossible to describe in words.

The question has always been put 2 ways:  “What do you want to do/be when you grow up?” They are – not inextricably, but undoubtedly- intertwined.

The third component of that trio, having, isn’t really part of the equation at all, unless I suppose we try to put it together like:

              Having-ness + doing-ness+ equals being-ness.

This isn’t just simply true however, because the infinite variation within that equation makes it impossible to measure.

We long for love and look to “own “ it.  We say we love our homes and animals and our devices, from our cars to our phones. (A recent Harvard study showed that the part of the brain that responds to images of the iPhone isn’t that of addiction, it’s that of love.)

We even phrase the wording of marriage- the joining of 2 hearts and bodies—we “take” our chosen partner to be ours. But this isn’t real. We cannot possess anything really, and certainly not anyone. It’s all transitory. We long to own something, to have it, because we need the experience. But love just is. And so are we in the end.

The idea being: to find ourselves as this, in form, as LOVE incarnate, before we leave our human bodies and minds and return to spirit, and perfect love. It’s seems that we come here to know something we already know? But to know it more truly and deeply—or rather the having-ness and doing-ness that make true being-ness possible.

©2011 Annette Romano

    (Krishna and Radha.)

2 years ago
27 notes

Aparigraha

There’s an innocence with which I started this endeavor of selling my house. And I realize that’s just one way to put it—it could also be construed as naivete. The one word suggests a child-like quality, and the other—although defined as “artless simplicity” (Dictionary.com) -  a connotation of childish: foolishness, the sense that one should know better.

How can we learn but by experience?

The standing poses come at the top of practice. We sit and do transitional stretching to come from there to our feet, but then it’s standing work, often in the form of sun salutations. We take time to explore individual poses, including components of the salute, which involves, among other things, warriors and their variations.

I’ve often taken issue with this idea of the “warrior.” It seems a crazy concept for a practice that’s supposed to be about peace. And yet, I understand it, too: there’s a kind of fight, just plain gumption, that’s required to be here on Earth. It’s not an easy place. This practice – that of yoga, that of being a realized human— takes guts—if you don’t put forth your effort, you can forget it, you won’t learn it. And if you don’t consistently apply your effort, then all that you learned will be forgotten, because you won’t be living it. Which is where it counts.

When I was little, we were taught not to be selfish. I remember being confused by this regularly, because as a child, there’s a kind of delight in discovering what you love; when you’re young and attracted to something, you want to embrace it, jump into it, and experience it, or have it, again and again. There’s a kind of wrecklessness we know as kids, when it comes to pure enjoyment, that gets shamed out of us (especially if you were raised Catholic) and we spend so much of our lives trying just to get it back.

There’s a certain value to learning to share, to be patient, to give someone else a chance. We obviously need to get along, and these kinds of behaviors are crucial to prevent mayhem in the classroom, for example, or on the playground. But one thing you learn early, if you’re “good” – and that’s that, while your mother may be committed to having you understand these concepts, clearly, there are other mothers with different ideas. Look at any kid situation and you’ll see the ones who have been schooled to cooperate, and the ones who operate out of a sense of entitlement. They just simply believe that they deserve the best and have no qualms about going after it, at anyone’s expense. I’ve never understood these people, these and the bullies – where did that cruelty come from?? When I look at it now, I can see that those 2 kinds of people aren’t all that far apart.

Perhaps the Warrior poses come so early in practice because we need to know them.

On the second day of class, we begin to learn asana. In order to be able to string a sequence together for a preliminary sun salutation, it’s good to get some mechanics under your belt.

We begin with Virabhadrasana 1: How to place the feet just so, for stability, the grounding through the ball of the big toe, the centering of the ankle, the depth we experiment with in the bend of the knee. I bring the students to the wall and we play with the base of the pose this way. Toes flexed up, exploring the distance between the planting of the front foot and the anchoring of the back one - a 45-degree slant so the heel will find its grounding – front knee pressing forward to kiss the wall just lightly. We gather up our core and lengthen down all the way through the tailbone, square the shoulders as well, and open up the chest. And we find the center of the pose: hands on hips, how to keep them square and not lose the strength of the straight back leg, spinning down and back out of the hip? It takes diligence, a continued attempt to balance, a commitment, and a persistent awareness of our tendencies to lose focus and with that, our center. No matter. We just try it again, and again, until there is a newborn familiarity, like making a new friend that we like. Ah, this is how it feels. When we truly square to the front, and allow ourselves to drop down into gravity, the pose takes care of itself, we find an ease within it. And then we lift the arms up, into free space, like YES! Victory! Touchdown. 

Being a warrior vs. walking in fear – maybe there’s a reason why there are so many variations of warrior poses. It really takes practice – this approach, that application, this version - to learn how to “fight” properly: the “art” of war. I wish I could’ve gotten into the Bhagavad Gita—all about Krishna and Arjuna and the big family battle- but I never really could. Maybe now’s the time.

I did a ritual the other day, with a learned man, a friend and teacher. He has a Ph.D from Harvard, and much experience in walking a medicine path. When I described my difficulty in selling the house, and how much I felt I needed to let go of to make the proper room for movement, he suggested that I create a ceremony around it. He asked me, What would it be about? And I knew just what: I wanted to let go of all my mistakes, all my regrets, anything negative I’d experienced during the past 15 years of living there. And he said it might be good to let go of everything, positive too, not the experiences themselves, of course, they’d always be in my memory, but the attachment to them. And I agreed.

I brought a lot of possibilities with me, in terms of objects and tools, to use in the ceremony, and what I ended up choosing perfectly represented all I needed to include: myself and my home, different aspects of my life there – family, loves, animals, money, etc. and the perfect potential buyer. At first, I thought we were focusing on the one whose offer was on the table. But Peter said it would be best to be open.

This was a crucial point, because I was feeling at the mercy of this person’s decision. In this “buyer’s market”, the seller is given the sense—by so much! the attitudes of all involved and what everyone says, repeatedly -  that there’s not a lot of choice. The whole business is currently skewed to favor the buyer, and a scarcity idea in play, so the pressure to concede is enormous: You’d better take what’s offered, because you’re lucky to get it, shoddy and stingy as it may be, and there may not be another one for a long time. If ever. I realized that I was buying into this, against my will.

It got me thinking. When it comes right down to it, what’s the yoga here? And it came to me: aparigraha. One of the 5 yamas, precepts for action, according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

Aparigraha – non-avarice, non-greed.

What’s the difference?

Greed: excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions.

Avarice: insatiable greed for riches; inordinate, miserly desire to gain and hoard wealth. (Dictionary.com)

Pretty much the same, just a matter of degrees, I think.

 I sat with my realtor on my borrowed leather couch in my staged living room the other night, and I was tired. We’d received an offer - well below the asking price - but an offer, nonetheless, and needed to respond. For me, it took a lot of surrender, because I have worked so hard on my house. I’ve wanted it to appeal to the right future occupant, of course, but as documented, I also wished to heal throughout the process, repairing my heart and psyche and recovering parts of my lost soul as I took care of long-overdue business. With all that investment, I’d been traveling under the mistaken notion that that would somehow pay off. Not necessarily so. But having never sold a home before, I haven’t really known what to expect. So, I’ve tried my best to listen to the advice of people with experience and still, keep tuning into my gut. With innocent optimism (or naivete) I’ve been fully committed, believing that it would be worth it.

We came up with what he deemed to be just the right compromise. We met them exactly in the middle. I didn’t like it because I didn’t think it was fair. Their offer was so ridiculous, meeting them in the middle meant coming way down, and it hurt to do it. I argued my case vehemently, but as I was doing it, I explained that I just needed to air my feelings, and that it would help me to do what had to be done. We drew up the paperwork, and he assured me, as much as you ever can in this kind of transaction, that this was the right thing to do and that he felt confident they’d accept it, and we’d have a deal. I didn’t feel this certainly at all, but I didn’t have any other ideas either.

And then the waiting. 24 hours later, we heard. The buyer came back with a demand for another drop of several thousand dollars. My understanding was that we had to be good sports, show a willingness to work together, and to be willing to give. And this was the response?

I was counseled by the realtor that, despite her reason for not accepting the counter-offer having nothing to do with the value of the house, if I didn’t want to risk losing the sale, I’d probably need to concede something. I checked in with a couple of friends who thought maybe that would be the best choice too.

That something was way more than I could stomach, and I started to feel rebellious. It made me want to fight.

The week before, when it seemed like progress was slow, and I didn’t have a buyer, my friend Vera suggested that I bury a statue of St. Joseph in my front yard. I was like, What? She said, Yeah, check it out, you bury the statue and your house will sell. All my friends have done it and they say it works. There was an article in the Wall Street Journal. I had to laugh, but it was true. I found the article, read it, and then called my mother to see if she’d ever heard about this, and she said, Sure. Everybody knows about that. I’m like, Not everyone, why didn’t you tell me?? And she said, Well, I didn’t think you’d be interested, you’re not really a Catholic anymore, are you?

I let the little guilt part go and headed off to Kaufer’s Religious Supplies. When I inquired about the St. Joseph statue, the cashier said brightly, Oh, are you looking for the home-selling kit? I couldn’t believe it. I settled for the 3-inch plastic statue for $1.59 and went home and buried it. You are supposed to put it in upside down, facing the house, 12 inches down out by the For Sale sign. I couldn’t quite bring myself to do the upside down part, I don’t know why, it just seemed kindof disrespectful, so I put him in right-side up.

When I got the bad news, I decided I needed more options, and I suddenly remembered the statue. I thought, What the heck, time to follow the protocol now, so I dug him up, and then plunged him back into the dirt, head down this time. I was restless, because they were waiting on me to make up my mind and I didn’t know what to do, so I went out walking by Shilshole Marina. And it worked: I got several phone calls almost immediately from realtors requesting showings for that night and the next day. I was encouraged because a bunch of new people came… and… went. Still, no new offers.  

Thank God for the return of the sun. With the cooler nights, the temperature of the lake has dropped considerably. I had my first wetsuit swim of the season after school the first day. After having sat and gone through the syllabus 3 times, it felt exhilarating to get out under a bright sky and navigate the choppy water. Yesterday, the air was about 10 degrees hotter and who knows about the lake itself, but I shed the suit, just used my drysuit vest, and was blessed with a smooth, unruffled surface. That kind of raw, natural, ever-present, ever-changing beauty pierces right to the heart.

I wondered if I was the one being greedy. How can the value of a home be measured anyway? It can only be valued by the quality of life you’ve known, and nothing else, the rest is all just random numbers, and we assign them, just like we assign meaning to everything. I had been talking to Matt at lunch and he said, it isn’t a matter of winning or losing, Annette. You win no matter what, because you’re setting yourself free.

I came home and I called the realtor. I still hadn’t made up my mind and it weighed on me, made me feel sad. But during the course of the conversation, I came to the realization that I was not going to give any more.

There’s so much power in choosing to open up, make space, and be generous. And yet, we must also stand up for ourselves, learn how to yield and be strong at the same time. To be a warrior. It takes focus and conviction and being steadfast, especially if you’re used to conceding, being “gracious” and unselfish, as I was taught, instead of defending myself, taking a stand, holding my ground, trusting my truth.

And they accepted it.

During this final phase of the endeavor, while I cross my fingers and hope that the inspection proves that my little house is as solid and whole as I think it is, this is my mantra:

Om saha na vavatu – May (Brahman) protect us both together

Saha nau bhunaktu - May (Brahman) use us together

Saha viryam karavavahai - May we work together powerfully

Tejasvi navadhi tamastu - May our study together be filled with light

Ma vid vishavahai - May we not oppose each other.

Om shantih, shantih, shantih – Om, peace,peace,peace….

 ©2011 Annette Romano

3 years ago
1 note