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Utkatasana - Chair or Fierce PoseAfter at least five years of hearing the call to teach yoga, five years of making excuses and allowing other things to cull my time, five years of resisting what I craved, I started yoga teacher training with Shiva Rea at Exhale in Venice, CA.  Saying I chose to make this the time to engage this stage of growth would be to snare unlawful credit to myself – the Universe gave me an almighty push.  After being laid off and debating my next steps, Shiva’s impending training modules came before me…and I leapt.  I made the financial implications matter very little in comparison to the creativity and energy that choice brought to me – even before the first class began.  The credit card is rather unhappy, but it cannot account for the waves of joy and excitement that proffer fuel to this process.

The surge of energy within this very beginning stage of engaging with these guides and myself has been truly remarkable.  More responses and reflections to follow as I plummet with a massive grin flapping comically in the wind…

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On the Fence

photo by Austin Zahn of AZahn Photography and Videography

photo by Austin Zahn of AZahn Photography and Videography

As I engage the start of my yoga teacher certification, I strive to recall the need for balance within my space, my work, my attention, and mayhap most demanding: myself.

May this balance resonate and permutate through the next two weeks and one day; may I be engaged in this performance of physical, social, mental, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual even-standing.

When I start to dwell on the not perfect falling short of ninety degree bend in my knee, may I balance that with joy that I can bend at all – atop a fence!

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Plant Friends 7-19-09 (4)

As I eagerly sow and wait for my newest plant friends to pullulate, I meet a sense of peaceful repose gazing through the lens of my camera at their new abode – a coconut fiber-lined wire basket that jauntily dangles from my balcony railing.  Embedded in compost and worm poop, soaked and then drizzled over lovingly with water daily, I entertain visions of a bequeathal of salad green goodness from this basket as these mesclun lettuces burgeon forth.  And yes, I thrill that their main fertilizer is the excrement of wriggling creatures.  You can visit Vermiculture Northwest to see why.

Besides calling up a surge of potent metaphors, archetypes, and mythological referents, these seeds also represent something of my independence.  I failed to understand that I hadn’t really found it yet.  I have been removed from the surety and safety of the nest (albeit with a temporary revisit recently) for some time, and yet I have discovered that this new space allows for an exploration and effusion of creativity that I have not felt the like of before.  Part of this is why I was not writing devotionally while in the midst of moving – I was so profoundly affected by the energy that was building within and around me that I could not focus enough to bring thought to keypad.

I know there is many layers of soil to explore with these new roots of mine.  Forgive me while I descend, like the questing roots of my new mesclun lettuce plants, into the clichéd space of seeds and rooting, but the relation to my living space is unavoidable and utterly joyful.  Like these seeds, I feel like I have been waiting for some convergence of factors.  Within this new space, I hope to find the necessary ingredients to germinate, as I now hope the mesclun seeds are doing in their elevated container.  I shall have to find my own form of worm poop to feed my growth…

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Today found me breaking out of my home-building isolation (truly, how often can I stare at my assorted pictures and shelving waiting to be hung before I start seeing amorphous blobs of black and varied color?  Blasted feng shui sense that will not allow me to toss art up higgledy-piggledy on the wall!).  I was working with Gay For Good, a group I found in one of those random Facebook meanderings that sometimes lead to intriguing people or sites.  Gay For Good selects a charity or non-profit once a month to assist in their efforts.  The combined force of 50+ gay men and lesbians should never be doubted!

I’ve missed the two events in previous months after finding the group, the one garnering some attention was the Great LA River Clean Up in which 80 volunteers from Gay For Good participated.  This type of volunteer activity was something I always wanted to do in the past, but through odd work hours and exhaustion, I never managed to work it into my life. 

After pursuing my LAPD application with a service mindset as a core impetus, one would think I should naturally gravitate toward volunteer-based efforts.  One would be right in that I am drawn to them, but my inherent shyness and frustrating inability to surmount the barriers of not knowing people have barred me in the past.

I didn’t let it this time.  For July, Gay For Good was going local, helping the West Hollywood Community Housing Project start the clean up of a long-abandoned apartment complex.  The WHCHP recently purchased the buildings that they will convert into accessible and affordable housing for seniors, differently abled, and those with HIV/AIDS as soon as more funding clears.  It truly is local for me, as the buildings reside about two minutes up my street.  I walk by them on my way to the Internet cafe.  How could I not volunteer?

1234 N. Hayworth Gay 4 Good Volunteer Project 7-18-09 (4)

I showed up (late – so shoot me, I have to live up to the occasional gay stereotype), looked helplessly around, thought about retreating in defeat, haltingly asked where I could help, grabbed gloves, and with gravity and apology set about yanking and shearing entrenched ivy out of some seriously shaky brick planters clinging hesitantly to the front of the buildings.1234 N. Hayworth Gay 4 Good Volunteer Project 7-18-09  After the detritus was cleared, lots of sage and banana palms and the orange flower in the photo were given new homes in the barren front yard, and then we wheel-barrowed mulch in to spread over the lot of it.  It sounds like drastically lighter work than it really was – there were probably about fifty of us helping out (and so many beautifully formed shirtless men than I likely could have watered the new plants from my drool alone, not to mention the sweat from all the labor) and we worked for two and a half hours straight. 

Granted, this work was entirely cosmetic, but the effect was dramatic: every time I passed this building previously, it exuded a slightly menacing vibe from its dilapidated frontage.  I wondered if that vibe would prevent us from really making a difference, but what I found as ivy gave way to mulch and five year-old decomposing wood and rusting cans met the garbage truck was that this building was only shielding itself.  Its apartments are remarkably well kept for being unused for more than four years; beautiful hardwood floors in amazing condition greeted me as I peeked into one unit.  There is a proud demeanor that came through once the front yard was looking more presentable.  Members of the WHCHP who were present expressed their feeling that this is a beautiful start giving them hope for the buildings’ eventual rejuvenation.  I think the sage was in particular agreement.

1234 N. Hayworth Gay 4 Good Volunteer Project 7-18-09 (5)

My inner turmoil eased considerably as friendly greetings were exchanged and one woman and I explored the insect jungle living amongst the ivy, discovering a pinkie-sized centipede replete with fuzzy covering and speedy maneuvering.  The ivy really did not want to give up its home, causing me grief as I tore and cut its roots, hence I’ll end with a photographic tribute in remembrance.

1234 N. Hayworth Gay 4 Good Volunteer Project 7-18-09

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So I’ve passed the time when a mere hiatus in writing due to moving is a justifiable excuse.  I probably passed it a week ago, but I’m going to blame it on not having an Internet connection at the apartment yet.  A consensus was reached that as fun as trucking a laptop and cord to Whole Foods and WiFi cafes can be (which it really can be, especially since these places have attractive people to watch in my neighborhood), actually having Internet access at 2 am when most things are accomplished would be much more fun than staring dejectedly or with recrimination at a computer screen.

This break (which probably won’t really be over until the wireless router is humming and sending DNA-altering waves into my apartment) has left me nicely released from the burden of checking my Facebook every twelve minutes and deterred my ear from listening for the little chirrup of Tweetdeck telling me I have a new tweet to read.  It gave me time to negate what would have easily become an addiction rather than a useful expenditure of time.  Because really, do I need to be playing a farming game on Facebook?

I would much rather actually be farming, and since my new balcony actually provides a space that I can grow things, I am spending my time doing so.  The joy and fun that already has and will continue to come from bringing new plant friends into my life will have to wait for a later post (with pictures, I promise).  I just saw an attractive Whole Foods shopper meander in and the store has tomato plants that are demanding my attention!  Plus they are playing 80’s music!  No time for typing!

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My Dad has an intense dislike for bananas ripened much beyond greenness. It’s almost as if their ripening decay is a betrayal of country to him: those radical bananas and their collective degradation from green to yellow to black.

When I think of all the slowly darkening bananas I have failed to save from the trash can’s maw, I’m rather bummed. 

No compost heap benefited from their presence, and no earthworms feasted on syrupy banana goo.  No smoothie or pudding was enriched and thickened by the inutile former seed disperser.  No rush of sugar to the blood and brain nor quick infusion of potassium spread through my body because so many fell to displeasure and discard, and I was not there to save them.

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Taking a breath, taking a panning, absorptive look at what is now my domicile, I feel giddy.  Anxious and with fluttering stomach, but ever-so giddy.

A moving day hiatus from blogging consisted of me pining for my Internet connection, cherishing the disavowal of ever giving in to joining Facebook, marveling at how obsessive and invasive Twitter usually is, and returning to my notebook and pen.  I noticed a major slippage in discipline, but a more free engagement.  Random strands sprung more freely to mind, but thematic links were less cohesive: a self-revelatory and unintended meta-examination of my writing style.

Like any involved home move, moving fifty-five decently sized boxes of my accumulated history put into perspective how much stuff I actually have.  A good three-quarters of those boxes are books.  The new apartment that has welcomed me enables, for the first time in its expanding history, my library to be free of the constraints of cardboard, hidden closet shelves, and stacks three deep.  My books can now quit fighting as hard for my attention. 

This has also resulted in my realization that I am a book addict.  Now, I’ve known this.  Accepted it, cherished and joked about it, tried to curb it and surrendered, but it was not until I spent a typical work day length of time unpacking and rediscovering and organizing books that I had not seen for a year or more that I truly understood how addicted I am.  I own more books that I have not read than those I have completed.  Ranging from my massive mythology collection to spirituality to gardening to astrology to the largest portion of unread fiction, this assemblage of gathered books will keep me in reading for at least a year.  But I’ll still buy and accept more.

Finding bargains adds to the weight on the bookshelf.  Getting advance reading copies to review curtails me from catching up on previously purchased texts.  Authors I follow insist on releasing new novels that must be purchased.  Thus my addiction continues unabated. 

Resisting is possible – the library is a wonderful place with knowledgeable people.  Friends are sources of intriguing recommendations.  Book swapping can garner interesting finds of text and individuals. 

The question hovers however: do I want to resist?  Not especially is my truthful answer.  Yes I want to declutter.  Yes I am trying to be a conscious consumer.  Yes I am on a restricted budget.  However, after opening boxes and amazing myself at how many books I bought and forgot, feeling the pangs of consumer frivolity, the next emotive response was one of joy.  Filling bookshelves thrilled me – my books are the best kind of interactive art and interior design.  The mountain of words sustaining the existence of the bookcases is satisfying.  I am comforted by my bookish associates.  They provide tangible truth to the naming of this blog.  My verbosity will be fueled, and I will be sated…at least until the next Jasper Fforde or Jacqueline Carey books release.

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