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Quiet House

Dear Fanny,

Charles is gone for the weekend back to Austin, and I’m realizing how rarely I’m alone these days. Of course, Sebastian, newest furry member of our family, is here with me, awkwardly curled into a ball by the door where I might accidentally take him for another walk. But this (5 days, 4 nights) is the longest that Charles and I have been apart in over a year. Literally.

Most days, I hover around the intersection of introversion and extroversion, getting surprisingly more people-oriented the older I get, and I certainly have moments where I think I will have to punch someone in the face if I can’t be alone for awhile, but it’s weird to suddenly have the apartment to myself. It’s cool enough to have the windows wide open, and the trees are blustering around; the weird pinging noise that is a fixture of the Greenpoint industrial scene is all I hear above the leaves brushing violently against the windows.

I thought I’d immediately pull out my mat this morning, what with all this unlimited space to practice in, but instead, I’m sitting at the table as usual: drinking my tea and wondering just how silent I can be.

xo,

Caitlin

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Force of Habit

Dear Caitlin,

I have been thinking about habits lately.

constructive daydreaming

constructive daydreaming

I have morning habits–always have. The order and content have shifted over the years, but they have always been solidly anchored around two things: tea and writing.

pomegranate green

pomegranate green

::

These last few years yoga has been a wannabe morning habit. More often than not, though, my daily sadhana would be relegated so late into the order of things as to become uneffective: around 10am my mind gets antsy, I get all shifty, and going still and deep on the mat became an exercise in futility.

In recent weeks, I have been successful in shifting my yoga practice to the very first thing (after setting the tea to steep, of course.)  Each morning, I feel great to be acting on my priorities: first, I do a short practice; then, I write. No computer, no anything else before that happens.

all set and ready to om

all set and ready to om

::

Whenever I’ve needed to, I’ve usually been pretty good about shifting my morning habits (like earlier this year when I needed to kick the habit of picking up my knitting first thing, which led me to look up many, many rows later hungry, in pj’s, with no practice and no writing done.)

miles and miles of stockinette

miles and miles of stockinette

::

Now my thoughts turn to creative habits. Namely, blog habits. As in, why is it so hard to get this groove going? I read, and am incredibly inspired by, blogs every single day. Many times a day.

Print by jenniferramos on Etsy

print by jenniferramos on Etsy

What’s keeping me in the ranks of (almost) sole consumer of blog fabulousness, what’s holding me back from regularly putting something new out into the world?

(Yes, there is an intended High Fidelity subtext to that sentence.)

The professional appreciator puts something new out into the world.

the professional appreciator puts something new out into the world.

The camera habit is one I’ve done fairly well at integrating  into my days lately.

self-portrait

self-portrait

pitcher, morning after dinner party

pitcher, morning after dinner party

out to dry

out to dry

koi pond, san antonio sunken gardens

koi pond, san antonio sunken gardens

::

That’s something that I have wished for before, and seems well on its way to setting roots in my day-to-day routines. Maybe this blogging stuff isn’t too far off after all?

forecast calls for happy blogging

forecast calls for happy blogging

Love,

Fanny

Teach Me, Plz?

Dear Fanny,

I got an early start this morning with intentions of heading to this local studio, to check out a class there. I went to one before and wasn’t overwhelmed by it, but it’s cute and tiny and cozy, and it’s a 5 minute walk from my apartment. Yesterday I took an Open + Restorative class at this more energetic (that’s what we say instead of “busy” in salestalk) studio in bustling Union Square. In other words, I am exploring.

At the huge, slick studio that’s paying me better than I’ve ever been paid in my life, I still have yet to be blown away by a class, though I’ve found teachers whom I enjoy. I have yet to have any kind of aha moment or leave in that yoga haze that a Flow+Restorative class puts me in. I’ve gotten leaner, am learning chaturanga (read previous post…), and know a lot more about what makes a class popular in New York (fast, sweat, “workout”). But I don’t feel like my practice is evolving. I’m feeling vaguely lost without a teacher.

Is it absurd to think that my practice isn’t evolving? Is it always, whether I can see that clearly or not? And do I really need a teacher to send it in that direction? I was feeling lost without a yoga community in Berlin, and  now I’m feeling alone in the midst of a yoga community that doesn’t quite seem to feed my soul.

What’s a girl got to do to find another (one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable) Jenn Wooten?

Missing you and all the straight-up-Hatha-without-a-fancy-trademark-kind-of-Austin-girls,

Caitlin

Puppy Fever

Dear Fanny,

I so relate to the 11:30-time-to-ice-the-tea change of pace you mentioned. That’s pretty much my M.O. also. This morning, I’m still sipping my hot Earl Grey and wasting time on the internets. My current obsession: dog rescue sites. I go through phases of wanting to get a dog, and right now I’m in the thick of it. We live in a dog-friendly building, and I just can’t help but think about it…I can’t have a cat again, since Charles is violently allergic to them, but I feel the need for a warm, fuzzy somebody to cuddle with.

What is it, exactly, that makes us want and love our pets so much? This other creature who loves you and lets you rub on them and talk to them in dumb voices. I’m not lonely. I’m not bored. My life, in fact, is a little crazy (in a good way). But I can’t help but want…

I mean, how could I not love this guy (his name is Winky, btw):

Winky

Or her (Jeannie):

Jeannie

And then we could do doga together and play in the dog park and cuddle and go for walks…Sigh.

Charles is even worse than me: he can’t even look at the pictures without planning to go get one of them immediately, and after a few pages, he’s ready to go to the adoption van this weekend. I’ll let you know if we soon have a furry addition to the family. Snuggle all your babies for me!

xo

Caitlin

Dear Caitlin,

It is 11:30am, time to add ice to the cooled remains of this morning’s cup of tea, and call it iced. This for me is often  a hinge point of the day, when I move from quiet, solitary pursuits (knitting, journaling, practice) to more active, outward pursuits (emails, phone calls, errands.)

I have experienced some upheaval in my practice recently: I’d been experiencing some rather severe pains in my wrists and arms, and through working with PT and yoga teacher extraordinaire Mark Uridel, found out these were due to a pinched nerve in my neck. In order to accomodate and soothe this condition I have had to make significant changes to my practice, which have left me feeling a little lost when I get to the mat. I’ve felt adrift for a few weeks, and am slowly rebuilding a friendliness towards my practice.

Reading the Yoga Sutras (this excellent translation) this morning brought me a lot of comfort. I’ve been working with Sutra I.12 lately, and this phrase from the commentary really hit home:

One should detach oneself from the practice as something in itself, though all the while pursuing it.

So often we get attached to what our practice is, or what we thing it should be. It’s good to be reminded that it is not only okay to let go of our expectations and attachments, but that it is necessary that we do so. This can be a tricky balance to achieve–to pursue something even as we strive to detach ourselves from it–but then, balance is all about losing it, then finding it again, right?

Hugs & kisses,

Fanny

Dear Fanny,

Like I mentioned yesterday, I am currently facing down my fears of Chaturanga. I’ve spent so many months and years making myself come down with bent knees and being told that if I can’t keep my shoulders on my back, I should modify the pose; all of that was very wise and true, but it has occurred to me in these asana-heavy classes I’ve been taking that I am, in fact, strong enough to do Chaturanga properly. I just don’t do it.

I could go on an extremely long and poetic explanation of how this is basically a metaphor for my life: if I know I can’t do something perfectly, I usually just avoid doing it completely. Or maybe I do it in secret until I can do it perfectly, and then I bust it out in public for all to see (and that is, exactly, what I’m going to do with my soon-to-be safe and correct Chaturanga Dandasana, once I’ve spent weeks doing it at home). But what’s mostly interesting to me is how this new and seemingly contrary approach to asana is pushing all the right buttons in my own approach.

We’ve talked about it some: this focus on exacting and correct form but less on the safety of the sequencing, Surya Namaskar in level 1 classes without an intro to it, handstands at the wall without any demo…all of it makes me cringe, yes. But it’s also forcing me to see the gaping holes that I’ve just sort of breezed over in my practice: Chaturanga, Handstand, Hanumanasana…aka. Stuff That Is Hard For Me.

After spending months crying in hip openers, I realize that I’m now in my comfort zone there, even when it drags up the gunk. For ladies like us who are more soft and savasana-y than hard and handstand-y, hip openers are a good place to hang out, once they’re not so scary; I’m really, really comfortable (finally) modifying Surya Namaskar so that it’s got a little more of the Chandra and a little less of the rippling shoulders. I’m pretty sure I haven’t done full Chaturanga on a regular basis since before the Anusara Immersion (shoulders! on! back! or! do! not! do! it!).

But, as with all asana and as with life, now that I’m comfortable having to modify things and comfortable slowing and grounding down, it’s time to head somewhere else–up. Because it’s all about balance, right? And so who cares if I can get all juicy into the hips if I can’t also pick it up for an arm balance now and again?

Yesterday, without much intention to do so, I was suddenly teaching myself Chaturanga. Down-dog to plank and back. Over and over again. Hands and kneeds to plank. Melt the heart. Plug your shoulders in. Lower, lower, lower and whoops, there go the shoulders. Try it again. Try it at the wall. More shoulder openers. Try it again. Needless to say I am a sore lady this morning. But it’s that good kind of sore–sore from hours of practice, sore from aha! moments and figuring things out in the body–the sore that all yoginis love. The sore that doesn’t just make you groan when you move but makes you pause and think and write wordy blogs about how poses are changing things in your life.

And so I wonder, what’s making you sore these days? Not necessarily in the “omg I cannot move” kind of way, but in the “omg I just spent 3 hours working on this and am still thinking about it the next day” kind of way.

xo,

Caitlin

Yoga and Grossness

Dear Fanny,

Ok, first of all: so jealous of your central Texas resort vacay! Although NYC isn’t hitting triple digits like you guys, the humidity and the grime of the city make 93 feel like an actual, burning cement hell some days. Like today.

And today, for some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to not take a nice, cooling restorative class (oh, wait, we only do those a couple of times a week at my Strut-Your-Spandex Studio), but a Sculpting fusion class (I mean, I have to get into those spandex too…). And it kicked my butt. And made me sweaty and gross. And I will most definitely wake up sore tomorrow.

But sometimes, in spite of all the things I know about balancing Pitta when it’s hot and finding balance and working at my soft edge, I just need a good butt-kicking, you know? Sometimes I think of a time that Sadani said, quite wisely: “And sometimes you just take the walk, and that’s the yoga.” It struck me, however many months ago, and I find myself repeating it all the time. Sometimes, staying late at work for that level 2/3 vinyasa class is a hell of lot less balanced than getting on the bus and coming straight home to your sweetie (especially when said vinyasa class is lacking in a decent savasana); sometimes, sleeping a little later is more yogic than not getting enough sleep so that you can get up and force yourself to do some pranayama; and sometimes, even when the air is so thick you have to plunge through it on the way to the train, taking a class that will leave you exhausted and dripping sweat is the best thing you can do for your frazzled little vata brain.

And now, I will savor (like you, with your camera and your lovely poolside) the little details that a tired body can make you appreciate: the dinner that a sweet boy has already made for you when you get home, the shower that tends to run obnoxiously cold, the peach sorbet that’s been waiting for you in the fridge, the new AC that is like a third, noisy member of our home.

Much love to you on this sticky, gross night,

xo

Caitlin