Wednesday, June 02, 2010

God and Yoga

I want to blame my complete lack of posts for over a year on something but the truth is that I have been doing a whole lot of things and none of them happened to be writing my blog.
My recent accomplishment is getting my Yoga Teacher Certification. I cannot even explain to you how much this has changed my world. Not only do I have a great group of new friends and a new way to have fun while making a little cash but I have a changed perspective on a great many things. I feel so different but I do not feel changed. It is a though I have become more fundamentally aware of my self. More than ever, I feel completely comfortable being me. There are so many aspects of who I am that once seemed disparate. These unlikely partners are what make us unique. I believe that God gave me all these parts of myself for a reason. That reason may still be a mystery to me but it is one I am relishing uncovering. Very few people in the world are given the luxury of self discovery. My time is not taken up with the fulfillment of my most basic needs. I do get to ponder my true nature and the map of the universe and the grace of God’s work.
One of the best things I learned in Yoga Teacher Training was to be grateful that I have had the ability to change my mind and explore my world and find myself; all of those terribly cliché things that people ridicule when they are too afraid to do them for themselves.

I have not yet found a person whom I believe to by my spiritual teacher but I have found a few spiritual leaders I respect. As I often do, I have pieced together my own understanding of things from these various sources. Swami told me that we are only here to grow. He said that we are not separate from God, that we are each a part of the same whole and that whole is love. At Church, our junior pastor reminded me that God gave us both free will and second chances. Our Bishop reminded me that life is not about dropping the ball but about picking it back up. Our church tells me that I can search for God through reason; that I can find him in myself.
I believe all of these things. I believe that we are here to grow. I know that I grow by making mistakes and using my second chances to pick the ball up again. I believe we can only do this by the grace of God; that we have that grace because God is in us. We are only separated from God when we turn away from him; when we refuse to grow.

This is human nature.
We are here to struggle with God and our own humanity.
I intend to do that with intention and vigor.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


As my lifelong struggle with my relationship to the divine continues, I have realized another important fact about myself and alongside it, another significant piece of my conception of religious life.
It has been a well documented fact that I am a fan of tradition. I had always assumed that my affection for it was another manifestation of my desire for control. The predictability of events and the actions of others that traditions provide cannot often be found elsewhere in our lives. The comfort of this cannot really be put into words and I do not mean to diminish its importance but I realized that tradition is much more important to me for a much bigger reason than I had really given it credit for.
Over several conversations with my Mom, my husband’s Grandma and several new friends who are a little too evangelical for me to be comfortable with, I pieced together this new understanding and then all of the sudden it clicked; tradition is important to me because it allows me to be connected to humanity. It makes me into a living part of the creation of history.
My recent return to church has been a mystery to many of my closest friends, including myself. I have often felt that my experiences in church and in the yoga studio were similar in many ways. That may sound trifling to whichever of those traditions in which you place more stock, but hear me out. Each event is a gathering in which you receive some instruction but a great deal of familiarity with the routine is also required. Contact with your fellow gatherers is limited and follows a prescripted format. Yet somehow their presence is instrumental in your very personal experience.
I believe this is true because of the long traditions out of which each came. Beginning or ending a yoga practice with three heartfelt “Om”s or reciting the Nicene Creed from the Book of Common Prayer both offer me the opportunity to connect to the humanity that is around me and the humanity that came before me.
I said before that I was retuning to church because I knew that I believed in God. I was not sure about who God really is but Christianity and specifically the Episcopal church are my “first language” of the divine. If I wanted to discourse about God with others, I needed to do so in a language I could understand. All of this is still true for me but the experience has highlighted for me something I always knew; that religion is much more than a way to relate to God. Religion is about our social interactions and our personal lives and our relationship with God and really a whole lot else too. Religion is about all of the messy places where our lives do not match up and how we cope with that.
Religion must feed the needs of us as individuals. Some people need to be told, in very clear terms, what is right and what is wrong. I personally cannot stand that shit, but some people need that clarity to be handed to them. Personally, I need tradition. Many people find it stifling but I see the ways it enriches my life and the freedoms it offers to me as a person. I feel so lucky to have discovered these things about myself but I also know that people change. I know that as I change, the things I need from religion may change. I feel very strongly that the very best use of my time on this earth is to be found through self awareness. In my search for it so far, I have discovered that it leads me in turns to connect with others and the world and God.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Ten snippets

1. Not that you all would expect anything less from me by now, but I have been woefully neglectful of my blog AGAIN. I blame Texts From Last Night. This blog is so funny; I have no desire to write my own blog anymore. That might be exaggerating a bit but not a whole lot.

2. I like running. I like it a lot. I ran 8 miles last Sunday and still liked it. I was thinking that it is amazing that something this great is free and then I added up all the money I have spent on running. It is not free.

3. Apparently riding your bike while drunk is illegal now. This will have a significant impact on my social life.

4. We have finished our office and it is now a functional room. It is even pretty cute for a page right out of an IKEA catalogue. I am working on giving it some personality. I’ll post pictures and let you all tell me what you think.

5. I am publicly admitting that I don’t understand Twitter. I am trying but seriously? What is it? What is it for? When did I become so old and out of it?

6. I want to convince my husband that I need to buy the Lady Gaga album to enhance my running abilities but I am afraid this request will finally convince him that he has married an idiot and that is a secret I am not yet ready to share with him.

7. For Cinco de Mayo I had some enchiladas and a migraine. Yummy!

8. So how lame is this? I have not lost any weight since starting this running thing yet my dog (and running partner) started to look so skinny, I decided to increase his daily food and I might have to do it again. Is weight loss like love in that you won’t find it until you stop seeking it?

9. Skiing season is over. We have taken the ski racks off the car. I went to the mountain like 2 times. I don’t know whether to blame my house for taking all my time and money, or my newfound love of running for being so much easier and cheaper than skiing. Skiing is still way more fun though.

10. Fun activity for this weekend – Craigslist dump all the random crap laying around my house in order to finance a bathroom refresh (a “refresh” is like a remodel done on the cheep) I figure I can do all the “need to” items for $200.00 but If I could get $500.00 I could pull off a HUGE cosmetic improvement. Wish me luck!

Monday, April 20, 2009

10k down, 1/2 marathon coming up!

I have now completed my first organized run as an adult. It was fun! A lot of fun and I am worried that I may have to sign up for more. The nice thing about running is that you are working consistently. Even if it is raining, I do not get cold while running. I love that! Plus the friend who talked me into this crazy thing in the first place, runs at the same pace I do. It’s really a pretty sweet set up.
Now for the dilemma; I need new running shoes. I went to a running store and had them take a quick look at my shoes and they told me about how many miles I had left on them and they also told me a bit about my running style. I figured I would just use up the miles left on my current shoes (which they said were not a bad fit for me) and then I would go back to the store, pay them for the service of fitting some shoes to me, and then go buy them with my discount at REI.
Then I called them to ask how much they would charge for a fitting. Apparently there is no possible way to charge for just a fitting. I assumed that the running store would be like my dad’s bike shop in this respect. Offering complementary fittings for those who buy from the store or charging a fee for those who wish to buy elsewhere for some reason. This is not the case in the running industry, not in Portland anyway.
So now I am really torn between two things I love dearly: saving money and supporting local, small businesses who are great at what they do. This is all complicated by a few things.
1. I have already gotten some good advice from them for which they have in no way been compensated.
2. I am extremely broke right now and that is not going to change for some time to come, like maybe a year or more.
3. My body is full of weirdness because of my back and having broken my leg a few years ago so I really do need professional advice.
4. The guy at the store told me that since I was honest about my intent to buy elsewhere, he would run through a fitting with me for free if I came in on a weekday when the store is empty.
For the record, that fourth item does nothing to alleviate my conscience. I know what it is like to be in an independent shop. The guy is being nice because he really loves running and he wants me and everyone else to love running too. He is speaking as a runner not as a business man. I don’t feel comfortable taking advantage of that. I also don’t feel comfortable spending over 100 bucks on shoes. What is a girl to do? Seriously, I could use some advice (or some money)here because those old shoes are on their last legs.

Monday, March 30, 2009


As most of you know, I have decided to run a half marathon this June. I was initially very worried about this mostly because I hate running. I had agreed to run with a friend because my current fitness routine lacked any type of meaningful motivation. I reasoned that the thought of crawling my way through 13.1 miles would motivate me to actually get myself out of bed and onto the treadmill.
So I signed up and I checked out like 12 books from the library about training. There are books on marathon training for women, for lazy people, for slackers, for the clueless, and even for people who hate running. I think I fall into all of those categories.
Or at least I used to.
Something very strange has happened in my measly 2 weeks of training. I have come to like running. I am verging on loving running. It’s kinda sick. After completing my mileage for the day I often want to keep running. I have started to judge music by how motivating it would be during a run.
I really want a running skirt.
Now in the spirit of full disclosure, I am really more of a jogger than a runner. But when you say that you jog it conjures up images of leisurely making your way down a sunny park path. If you were to see me jogging around my neighborhood you would see a woman with her dog tied to her waist, stomping through mud puddles, mumbling the words to whatever song is playing on the iPod in a breathless, tone def, attempt to “sing.” See why I think it is crazy that I have come to enjoy this as a pastime? I have even decided that now that I like running, I will do a triathlon in August and If I still like running after all of this, I will just keep right on training and run the Portland Marathon in October.
My insanity is reaching new levels of stupidity.
I was discussing this running trend with Aarwenn. We have both noticed that, all of the sudden, everyone we know is a runner. The peer pressure to join this cult is enormous. I had come to terms with the fact that I would eventually have to give in a run a 5k just to prove to everyone that I do indeed hate running. Unfortunately, I have proven quite the opposite. Our conclusion? Running is the new crack. The peer pressure, the addiction, the weight loss . . . its all there. Its so sad to watch yourself become a statistic.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I was recently friended by a girl I knew in high school. High school and middle school actually. She was, in my mind at least, significantly more popular that I was. This would not have been hard. I was the parliamentarian of MESA club. The point is, I was surprised she remembered me and I was even more surprised that she wanted to be my facebook friend. But why not right? So now she and I find out little tidbits about each other.
Boy is that weird! Here is a person who to me was represented the entirety of my teen angst. Now I did not have a dramatically terrible time in high school. I rather enjoyed myself through some of it. But every time I started to be myself and have a good time with it, there was this girl (and maybe 12 others like her) jolting me back to the reality that I would never be good enough.
Even still, I see her picture and think that she must have at least a lingering sense of superiority the way I have and lingering sense of inferiority. But the really oddball thing is that she seems really nice. Nice in a really “the universe is full of threads of grace and kindness” kind of way.
She took a quiz the other day about her spirit animal.
In a way, I know so much more about her after being facebook friends for 3 days than I ever did when we were in classes together. And she doesn’t scare me anymore. In fact I am a bit concerned that I might offend her. I mean, right now she is “allowing possibility to guide her day.” While I informed my husband that “My love for you is like diarrhea; I just can’t hold it in.”
When did I become the scary one?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"A Sunday Rant" or "Pure B.S."

So yesterday we went to a vow renewal celebration. There was an amazing desert bar and some pretty touching moments but we really only know the husband and we have only known him very well for a short while so we knew very few people at the event. But I felt sort of strange about the whole thing when we got home and I actually stayed awake in bed thinking about it last night.
Since marrying my husband and especially since moving to Portland near some of his closest friends, I have been half forced, half inspired to explore my relationship with religion. This is mainly because, to be perfectly honest, a whole lot of things his friends say and do, really make me feel very uncomfortable. I have been attempting to delve into the causes for these feelings as they occur. Looking at the context and the concepts involved.
Many things about this event last night were triggers for feelings of discomfort within me but the thing that I got stuck on, the thing that kept me awake, was the concept of purity and is usage in their ceremony.
I have spent so much time and effort in my adult life seeking balance and forgiveness and compassion. Striving to make it possible in my life and in my actions for those things to be guiding principles. There are many other things I consider valuable such as goodness and understanding and gratitude . . . the list could go on. But balance and forgiveness and compassion are all things I find both valuable and difficult, personally.
I have to say that purity is not on either of those lists anywhere. I can see that purity as a concept has a place in religion but I FEEL that it can be so harmful the way it is applied in many mainstream American Christian contexts. Purity is a standard of judgment and it inspires people to search for flaws in themselves and in others. The concept of purity asks us to search for those flaws and find ways to eradicate them. Sorry, but I just don’t think that is a very healthy way to live or think.
Flaws are in intrinsic part of the human condition. God has made us flawed. God challenges us with the flaws in ourselves and the flaws in those we love. I see the beauty and value in that challenge being appreciated through acceptance and understanding and creativity.
Acceptance that as a human being you are not perfect but those flaws with which you struggle are opportunities for growth. Understanding that those around you have their own struggles and challenges. And creativity in coping with these imperfections or even seeing ways to turn them into advantages.
A pure thing is untouched, unspoiled; it is not marked by anything. I don’t see how that could describe an authentic person and I don’t see how an unauthentic life could honor God.