The Hallmark Effect

With Thanksgiving just past (I hope yours was wonderful), we are now officially in the hell that is supposed to be the best time of the year.  Yes, the Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa/whatever holidays are here.

Holidays are hard.  Just a few possibles…I can think of dozens!:  you may or may not be with your family (and you may or may not want to be); you may be missing those who passed, especially if it’s the first holidays without them; those you are with are not inclusive, or actively disapprove of your choices; you may be unable to meet the expectations of HAPPY that we are told we should feel (yes, that’s the Hallmark effect)…

And it’s the last one that gets me, every.damn.time.  I’ve written before about New Year’s Eve, and Valentine’s Day, and in general, I think you can probably tell how I feel about high expectation holidays, even manufactured ones.

Don’t get me wrong…I love my family and my friends.  I was pleased and lucky to be invited to several “Friendsgiving” feasts, and was made welcome at the one I attended.  I’m looking forward to spending Christmas with my sisters and other relatives, and seeing a few friends.grinch

But even if that were not true, it’s near impossible to say so without accusations of Grinchiness (Dr. Suess has a lot to answer for on that one).  But know that if you are feeling that way, you’re not alone.  In fact, I sometimes want to spend the weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s under my bed, only emerging for (of course) my birthday.

So take some time for yourself, and understand that the holidays don’t have to meet some Hallmark standard of perfection.  Enjoy the time the way YOU want to, even if that is embracing your inner Grinch  – and to hell with expectations.




MY “Hollaback”

Someone just repeated to me the old line that the greatest compliment a man can pay a woman is an erection.

No, really, they did.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I was still speechless.  I mean, erections are nice.  Fun, even.  And sure, complimentary.  In context.

Lately, there’s been a lot of chatter and a lot of articles about the video created of a woman walking down the street, recording (they said) all the catcalls.  It’s since come out that the video was edited, and whether intentionally or not, edited in a way that is offensive to many.  {I’m not going to link to the video, or the responses.  Search “catcall video” and you’ll see them all.}

I get catcalled my “fair” share.  And followed.  And groped.  I won’t even get on a subway that’s too crowded – not because I don’t want to stand, but because the alertness required is just.too.much.  But I also get compliments.  And one of the many things I hated about that video was the assumption that every time a man says something to a strange woman on the street, that can be classified as inappropriate, or even threatening.  Living in a big city, I believe you have to take the time to tell the difference.  can-stock-photo_csp4784026I walk down the street with my head up.  I meet people’s eyes – yes (gasp) even men.  And whether I smile or not (and frankly, the telling me to smile thing is ALWAYS annoying), I find that I get more than my “fair” share of positive responses.

Before you say it, it is NEVER okay for a person to behave in a way that makes another person uncomfortable, or makes them feel threatened.  And you cannot be sure what someone else’s threshold is just by looking at them.  But, folks, it is okay to smile at someone, or say something nice in a pleasant way, and then…move on.  (Note that I said person.  While the problem the video addresses (badly) is almost always gender-linked, “almost’ is the key word.)

And here is what is probably the most controversial statement I will make here (though I expect some of my other points might get a few negative reactions):  I think that women should take their share of the responsibility for what happens to them – which is not excusing or condoning bad behavior against women, but I am saying that we have more control than we are often led to believe.  So grab it with both hands and walk on, head held high.  But only smile if you want to.


P.S.  And to go back to the comment that started this…what do YOU think are the best compliments?




Five Things I Want To Share With My Yoga Teachers

Let me start by saying that I love you all.  Each and every one of you, past and present, both those I see regularly and those I see rarely, or even meet only once.  I am in awe of the commitment that took you to Teacher Training, and the work you put in daily to be the best teacher you can be.  In every class,  I learn something new, and I am always more ready to face the day after spending ninety minutes in the hot room with you.envelope+yoga

That said, I can’t help but want to share a few thoughts…and do feel free to respond and tell me how wrong (or even right?) I am.  (In fact, feel free to give me some comments to help me be a better student.)   None of you do all of these, but many of you do some of these, at least some of the time.  And yes, my mind does sometimes wander in class, leading to posts like this!

1.  Notice me.  Not just me, but notice each of us.  When I go through an entire class and I hear comments and corrections flying, but none are aimed at me, it makes me feel invisible.  And yes, that may be my problem, not yours, but I believe you are committed to all of us, and sometimes, maybe, it’s just that you get distracted.  And yes, I do understand that new students, or those that are particularly struggling, may need you more that day.  But know that I’m there, and that I’m counting on you to notice that.

2.  Don’t assume.  If I see you regularly, and I keep making the same mistake, don’t assume it’s because I’m not trying.  Don’t assume I even remember that correction from last week in the heat (teehee) of the moment.  Each class is a new day, right?, so maybe I actually do need that repetition without an “I told you so” tone of voice (or comment).

3.  Know that I will assume.  I assume you want to be there.  I assume that you love this practice.  I assume you recognize the difference between slacking off and taking a needed break, and won’t shame me for it – at least not out loud, in front of the whole class.  And mostly, I assume that you care about each one of us, even if it’s only for the ninety minutes we are in class.

4.  The dialogue tells me to have a happy smiling face, and in fact, I agree that smiling (even when it feels more like a grimace) helps me in class.  Might it help you too?  I know it helps me when the teacher seems happy to be there.

5.  Trust me.  I trust you with my practice, and I need you to trust me with it too.   Trust that even when it looks like I’m not doing much, I’m working my hardest.  Maybe that day, working my hardest is in my own head, and doesn’t show as much to you.  But I’m feeling it, every class, and  I want you to trust that I do.

Thanks for listening…and know that as I wrote this, I realized that each one of these five points comes to mind because so many of my teachers do the opposite almost all the time, allowing me the luxury of knowing the difference.  Maybe I’m just spoiled with the wealth of wonderful teachers who are part of my practice and my life…thank you all.



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