Some of the best mothers I have ever known never gave birth. One is an artist who plays with legos and crayons on the floor at dinner parties with the host’s children. Another is a teacher who has raised thousands of children over her long career and now goes to her former student’s weddings.
There are some mothers who have many children but like the old women who lived in a shoe, these moms are totally overwhelmed. And there are the super organized mothers (they wouldn’t dare raise their children inside a boot!) who make it look easy, but that doesn’t mean it is.
Most of us, myself included, fall somewhere in between. No shoe. No every-project-my-child-does-in-school-is-stored-in-a-filing-cabinet either. I’m super proud of my two kids who are well into college and almost out into the world, but don’t take one day or even one minute for granted. Being a mother taught me how fast, scary, crazy, unpredictable, and wonderful life can be.
While standing on a line to a midtown diner in New York City (don't ask), I overheard a visitor from the South say, “Imagine if this was always your view of the sky?” She looked up, tried to find the horizon, but without it, she felt lost. And I felt like I had been missing something my entire life.
Maybe this is the reason we seek rooftops. That extra bit of sky, horizon, and light makes us feel a little less bemused.
A rooftop view is powerful. You are above it all. The worries are down below.
A rooftop is an ending. It is completion. It is the furthest a human can go in any one particular space of land before meeting the stars.
When was the last time you climbed up to the roof? Were you a teenager sitting on the shingles of a friend’s house? Did you race to the top of an abandoned building? Were you drinking a martini at a swanky rooftop bar?
How does it feel to be on top of the world? What discoveries can be made when it’s just you and the...
A horse rides through the streets of Dallas. Soon he will be back on the range, dusting dirt off his jeans, but for now, he’s suspended in a painting on the 12th floor hotel wall.
I passed this cowboy on my way to the rooftop pool. He tipped his hat. At least I could have sworn he did.
The man pushing a pickle cart definitely tipped his hat. We were on Houston in New York’s lower east side. He was wheeling past, heading to Delancey and I was in 1899.
Every city has history and imaginary ghosts. What stories do the ghosts of your city tell?
I stood in front of the cowboy at the hotel. He would never have met the pickle man in New York City. I relate better to tenements than ranches, but both are far away from my life today. When we write about the past through the lens of a modern visitor, interesting things can happen in the mind and on the page.
Find a park bench in any town or city and visit it with your notebook. Notice the people...
One morning, I set an intention to go to the Yoga Journal Conference and just like that, a ticket somehow manifested for me on Facebook. No joke. Cindy Mussman Valentine and Michele DeNocola of Yoga Shack in Bethpage had made an offer to donate a ticket and I was the lucky recipient.
The next day, I got a sub for my own class and arrived 30 minutes early for Colleen Saidman Yee and Rodney Yee's 8:30 am sequencing workshop. Question: Do I prop up against one of the pillars in the middle of the room, hide on the side, hide in back, or just go for it and put the mat right up front?
The workshop was like one long dance. I've taken many of their classes, online workshops, and yes, Rodney Yee's videos dating back to the VHS days over 20 years ago! Those two are a powerful, lovely team and when they alternate voices as one gives cues as the other adjusts students, it sounds like music and poetry.
Next up, a spring reset class with Jillain Pransky and live music by Scott...
You have a better chance of visiting the Statue of Liberty if you DON’T live in New York than if you do. This post goes out to all the New Yorkers who can’t find time to visit and for rest of the world who is fascinated by the green lady with a very tired arm.
Zoom in to the fire. It’s copper, and covered with 24K gold that reflects the rays of the sun, but can’t you see it flicker? Can’t you smell it burn?Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
Thank you, Emma Lazarus. Now, it’s your turn to explore:
* What’s your torch?
* What do you carry around and wave for others to follow?
* Can you hold still and let the light find you?
* Who looks up to you?
* What responsibility does it hold?
Maybe you want to tell Lady...
I was in a castle. The castle was in the clouds. I stood under the giant’s table listening to the song of the harp and the sound of golden eggs dropping from a hen.
When was the last time you suspended belief and stepped into a fairy tale?
At The Broad art museum in Los Angeles last week, I walked under a table and all I could think about was Jack and the Beanstalk. I remember being a kid and sitting under the dining room table pretending it was a gingerbread house in the woods or a castle in the sky.
The artist, Robert Therrien, seems to want us to remember having that experience of living in the possibilities of the imagination. It worked.
Write about a setting from the point of view of a child. Pick a piece of furniture or object from your childhood. Crawl into a space that you would be too large for now. What does the world look like from there? How does it feel to be so small?
Check out “Under the Table” by Robert Therrien here: ...
Nothing like a bee sting to interrupt your Zen.
I raise my hand in the lawn for a seated twisted yoga pose. My waist is wrung out like a wet rag. I think I’m so graceful, my fingers reaching for sky. My arm moves in slow motion toward the grass. I’m fully in the moment, describing the pose to my students step-by-step. The gaze comes last and with my head and neck aligned with the spine there is no reason to look down.
When my hand reaches the earth, it meets a bee. I’m stung. My yogi mind observes. It says, “You have been stung by a bee.” Yes, I have been stung, it hurts, and the class remains centered in the pose while I look down at my swollen finger and continue to cue.
It’s near the end of class and my non-yogi mind says, “Run! Get ice. Get Benadryl. Your throat will close. You will go into shock. You will die.”
We finish class. I ice my hand. I’m calm and surprised to be alive.
Have you ever been stung? I have...
It wasn’t the golden trimmings or the opulence of the mansion that struck me. It was the child strapped between roots, light hitting just the right way to reveal what nature had tried to hide.
The Banyan tree took over, growth by growth. A statue of a child is hidden inside it, on an estate that was made to look like Venice, Italy in Southwest Florida. Such is America.
Ringling (aka Ringling Bros. Circus) was a walking circus. His home has that clown-like feeling, creepy and disturbing, but mesmerizing.
What is the creepiest thing you ever saw? Did you ever visit a place and not even care what the brochure had to say? Did you ever find your own circus? This week’s prompt is dedicated to all the creepy things found in unlikely places. Write about what that means to you in the past, present or future. Or you can tell the story of this child who has been stuck in a tree for decades.
Nothing great can happen in life without imagination and intention. Yogis know this. We set an intention for the hour or so that we clear our minds and move our bodies. Do writers do the same thing? Do you?
I’m just returning from a wonderfully overwhelming trip to Los Angeles that ended with the AWP conference. It was an incredible opportunity to see some of my favorite teachers, writers, poets and friends. Yoga was offered each morning by Melissa Carroll, a writer, yoga teacher and author of the anthology, Going Om. Just by showing up to class, all the writers in the room had set an intention to remain calm, healthy, open, and strong in the middle of sharing space with 10,000 other writers.
You can set an intention for anything you do. Before leaving New York, I set an intention and dreamed it into being.
So the truth is that writers do write and meditate on their intentions. Take this page from Octavia Butler’s notebook. (...
Running late! I decide at the last minute that the black pumps might not be so comfortable for walking around the city. I change shoes and head out the door. I pick up my friends for our last minute plan to see my musician husband play a private concert in the Gramercy Park area of Manhattan. It will be a major event. I feel dressed up (even though I need to put a little make-up on when I get on the train) and am looking forward to music and an elegant dinner.
We get to the train station just in time. I’m putting money in the muni-meter and my friend says, “Stefanie, you’re wearing two different boots!”
What? I look down. Yep, I’m wearing two different boots! If I go home, I’ll be late. If I stop at a store to quickly buy a pair of shoes, I’ll be late. So here’s what I do: I give up all my perfectionist instincts and pose for a picture.
Clearly I need to 1) be more mindful 2) organize my closet and 3) change my...