Monday, March 31, 2008

Pose of the Day: Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

I'm a fan of fish, always have been, always will be. My days as a stringent vegetarian were numbered from the start; as the daughter of a restaurant family on Cape Cod, foregoing the fruits of the sea was like asking an orangutan to bypass bananas.

Oh, wait, we're not talking tuna tartar and salmon sashimi? Fish pose, you say? Ah, yes, I'm like that one too.

Matsyasana is a wonderful pose during any time of year; however, I recommend it right now for several reasons.

-First, for many people suffering from lingering colds of this past winter, the openness in the chest and throat that this movement creates will help soothe constricted muscles and ease tension in overworked areas of the body.

-Second, new seasons are opportune times to integrate positive changes into your life. Often, these changes are set in motion verbally. We make a commitment to others that we want to change; we ask for guidance from someone we trust; we make the phone call we've put off for too long out of fear or laziness or both. The throat is the seat of your expression. Fish pose helps free this area of your body from restriction and stress. When you are in fish pose, imagine letting your throat soften, dissolving any words, spoken or unspoken, that are trapped there, and healing any hurts that remain. Consider that when you feel emotional or sad, a "lump rises in your throat." Fish pose is the counter-movement to those tense moments. Heal your throat in order to speak your truth, clearly and unrestricted.

-Third, we recently exited the Pisces sign within the zodiac calendar, so it seemed fitting to pay homage to the water sign. For your own horoscope this month, check out my favorite astrology site. Be forewarned, however, this site is eerily accurate.

- Finally, fish is a heart-opening posture. It expands your chest and melts any chilliness that might be residing there. Some people feel strong waves of emotion while in fish. If you've been clinging to or suffering from heartache, now is your chance to let it go.

This is your antidote in the form of an asana.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama

In recent weeks, the eyes of the world have turned toward His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the increasingly strained conflict between his country of Tibet and its neighbor and occupier, China. The forthcoming Olympics this summer, in Beijing, present a complex situation, with the Chinese intent upon showing the world the depth and breadth of their potential and power as a leader of the 21st century and the Tibetans committed to their ongoing struggle for national independence and religious freedom and campaign for global support.

The yoga community has long demonstrated a collective reverence for the Dalai Lama (who is widely regarded as an incarnation of Buddha) and justifiably so; however, it's important to have a thorough understanding of our own sympathies, beliefs, and ideals. We should make certain that they are our own and that they are informed. The Buddha, himself, once implored his students not to follow blindly even the noblest of paths, by saying, "Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumored by many . . . But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it, and live up to it."

If you have an interest in learning more about the Dalai Lama, here are three of my favorite insightful and informative resources (listed in chronological order).*

The Dalai Lama, A Policy of Kindness: An Anthology of Writings By and About the Dalai Lama

Kundun (1997), a film directed by Martin Scorsese

A Monk's Struggle (TIME, March 31, 2008)

*There are plenty more out there, and I encourage you to share your own recommendations for resources on the topic of the Dalai Lama or any other topics that you find relevant to the themes addressed on this site.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Give New Kicks To Kids In Need

Buying shoes incites euphoria in lots of women. Whether clogs, Crocs, or Jimmy Choos, gals the world over acquire a hop in their step and glimmer in their eye when rocking a new pair. This familiar rush of excitement struck today upon purchasing a pair of casual kicks perfect for après-yoga, en route to Fenway, or strolling Newbury Street on a sunny spring day while window-shopping . . . for more shoes, perhaps.

Yet, the reason for my retail-induced glee was only marginally attributed to the actual design of my new footwear. Of course they're fashionable, in a beach bum sort of way, but what's infinitely cooler is that these shoes have "sole." Buy a pair for yourself or a friend (man, woman, or child), and the company who makes them will donate a pair to a child in need. Check out the website for Toms Shoes, where you can even watch a video of a recent "shoe drop" in Argentina. A purchase this sensible and stylish is sure to put a spring in your step!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Mountain Top Moment. Where Else? On A Mountain.

Snowboarding is a bit like love. Before working out the kinks and existing, peaceably, in a relationship- with the mountain or another person- you must first experience abject failure, humiliation, heartache, and frustration. I'm not sure why. I didn't make the rules. I'm just relaying experiences, and from what I can gather, the pain felt during day two of snowboarding (Hi, have you met your coccyx?) versus catastrophic break ups ends in a draw. Yet, in both cases, it's well documented that the wipe outs eventually lead to something better, a personal triumph over what was once impossible.

The last time we addressed shredding powder while strapped to an unassuming-looking device of torture, also known as a snowboard, I recounted for you a complete and utter meltdown on the bunny slope at Mount Sunapee. Like a break-up, my mountain top meltdown was ugly, self-indulgent, and downright pitiful. Want to see any gifted athlete (surfers and skateboarders excluded) reduced to a pile of uncoordinated limbs and seething frustration? Stick 'em on a snowboard! Om Gal's S.O. had the experience of learning to snowboard alongside a four-time Olympic gold medalist (the sport and identity of this athlete will remain undisclosed to protect the innocent), and the guy was, by far, the worst in the group, proving that certain skills simply don't translate. Apparently, neither does sanity because I'm a relatively well-adjusted person, and day two on the slopes was enough to onset the previously documented panic attack.

Day three, however, brought renewed hope and possibility, which came in the form of a private lesson at Stowe, where my instructor's first direction was to "stand on the board, and be normal." I had to laugh at the simplicity of it but also immediately realized that this young, relaxed teacher with the straightforward approach was my perfect learning match. I simply wasn't going to become overwhelmed this time when I had an instructor who could distill the challenge into a manageable task like "standing." More importantly, I felt the fear of past wipe outs dissolve and the bruises to my battered ego mend. On a physical level, I just needed to reacquaint myself with standing in a relaxed, confident, and balanced manner, on a board, moving down a mountain, for which it was designed.

During the rest of the two-hour lesson, the clouds continued to part, and clarity ensued. I didn't master the sport in one morning, but something clicked in my brain, reducing the huge, mountain of an endeavor into a series of small, discernible tasks. We tackled each one with the same zenful approach, placing it in a context that I could envision. Getting off the chair lift? When you sit up, pretend you are sitting up out of a chair. The phone rang, and you're just going to stand up and go answer it. Piece of cake. Telling the board what to do? Move the board with your feet. Keep your arms relaxed and calm. If you use your arms to try to direct the board [rather than your feet], it gets confused. Brilliant!

By lunch, I was thoroughly enjoying myself on the slopes, with only minimal terror creeping in when colonies of five year-olds buzzed by in group lessons. Be aware of them, but don't look directly at them. Turns out, the yogic concept of "drishti" applies even here. If you gaze at something, your energy moves in that direction. Gaze at the unwieldy skier in your path, and it's lights out; keep your head up and focus your intention on your destination, and you'll arrive there, easily. By the afternoon, I was luxuriating on the chair lift, thoroughly enamored by my surroundings. I even grabbed my iPod for the ride up the mountain, which happened to be playing a new album by the artist Bon Iver, a play on the French words "bon hiver," meaning "good winter." Turns out, the album was written and recorded during a solitary winter spent in a Wisconsin cabin following break ups with both the artist's former band and girlfriend, creating an artful example of how even the most painful experiences can be productive and, ultimately, beautiful.

As I looked up at the big, blue sky, my legs dangling below with snowboard happily attached, breathing in the crisp, triumphant Vermont air, I thought to myself, 'A good winter. Why, yes, that's exactly what it is.'

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Cleaning For The Soul

Lots of people usher in spring by engaging in various chores. Some ferry loads of outdated or poor-fitting clothing to goodwill. Others pamper their vehicles with a thorough bath after a winter spent constantly doused with sleet and snow and exfoliated by salt and sand. Homebodies tackle renovation projects, while less ambitious types might scour through their cell phone's address books, shedding entries of people with whom they no longer communicate, no longer like, or no longer have the liberty of calling in light of a change in relationship status. Face the music, people, there's little to no justifiable reason to be harboring the digits of your old flames.

Yogis and other active types have plenty of spring cleaning options on and off the mat. Here are some of my favorite ways to cleanse your body, mind, and spirit in conjunction with the turn of the season.

Hit the steam room: Native American "sweat lodge" rituals equate a good sweat with clearing the body's physical and spiritual debris, and I tend to agree. Nothing kickstarts a cleansing period like a steam bath. Follow yours with LOTS of water and a healthy, clean, and uncomplicated meal.

Incorporate some twists: Twisting poses are known to rinse and relax the internal organs. They should be done on an empty stomach and only with the support of a long, straight spine. Try a few, each, of the supine, seated, and standing varieties. See which you like best.

Time for tea: Certain herbal and/or medicinal teas make effective detoxifying tonics. Drinking a cup, such as Yogi brand's peach detox, a couple hours before bed typically works best.

Detox your diet: There's a lot of hype in the yoga community about "cleanses." I do not recommend them. Too often, they are extreme diets dressed up in holistic garb. If you want to lose weight, cultivate a glow beneath your skin, and increase your energy level- you need a deliberate and healthful lifestyle, not a few days or weeks of deprivation and malnutrition.

Instead, I recommend eating nothing but (or, mostly) whole foods for 1-2 weeks (or longer, like the rest of your life, if you feel inclined). Stock up on veggies and fruit, and enjoy as much as you want. Eat carbs too- just make sure they contain whole grains. Think about any processes that your food underwent before arriving on your plate. If there's more than one perceivable pit stop (e.g. it was picked from a tree or laid by a chicken), then opt for something else with less of a sordid past. Steer clear of alcohol and refined sugars for a significant amount of time (or forever, if you're inclined). Ditch soda. Do not eat anything out of vending machine, served from a street cart, or originating from a package with an expiration date ending in a year that sounds like it could be the title of a science fiction thriller (ironically, that includes 2010, if you ask me).

Hydrate: I'll cop to the occasional diet soda, post-workout fruit smoothie, or glass of wine when the mood strikes, but, in general, water and tea are my beverages of choice. Take this approach to thirst-quenching for 2 weeks or more. Your body and brain will thank you.

Karma yoga: This term refers to the yoga of serving others. Most of us could do more of it. In your own neighborhood and far beyond, there are plenty of children who need tutors, food pantries that need donations, and senior centers that need an infusion of energy and good cheer. Pick one. Volunteer. Feel the healing all around.

Meditate: I cannot stress this one enough. Sit down on a pillow or yoga block. Straighten your spine. Close your eyes. Breath steadily. Can't focus? Count your breaths, one by one. Still can't focus? Try again. This skill is unmatched in its ability to improve your life from the inside out. Be sure to set an alarm clock or egg timer in advance; nothing undermines a meditation session like peeking at the clock every 4 seconds. Start with 5 minutes. Do this morning and night, every day, for 2 weeks weeks.

Boycott frienemies & phonies: Ideally, you would only interact with positive influences who create joy and laughter in your life. In reality, you have relatives, in-laws, roommates, coworkers, etc. The point, here, is that you need to methodically carve out time to spend with people who recharge your energy stores, and steer clear of those who sap you. Abide by this rule for a suitable amount of time (a week or weekend, perhaps)- no obligatory coffee dates with Debbie Downer; skip brunch with your friend who talks shit about everyone, all the time, and definitely pass on drinks with your on-again-off-again romance.

Feed your mind: Pick up a book. Read it. Until the end. Repeat this step until you feel as though you've built up enough intellectual antibodies to face celebrity magazines and reality TV again.

Get outside: Thoreau famously said, "I went to the woods to live deliberately." I'm not suggesting you need to move into a log cabin, but you do need to deliberately connect to the Earth. Go for a hike. Sit on a jetty. Run along a river, through a park, or down a wooded trail. Even in cold temperatures and on rainy days, the brain and body thrive when disconnected from TV, the Internet, and a cell phone and connected to other living creatures, natural light, and fresh air.

Seek a sage: Spend time with someone who engages and excites you in a meaningful way- an elderly relative who soothes your weary soul, a friend who always makes you feel better after leaving his/her company, or, perhaps, a mentor who teaches you a skill such as chess or squash; talent, like playing the guitar; or way of life, like not gossiping or seeing the best in others. Self-improvement is something that serves us well in all seasons.

Happy spring!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

This Weekend: Yoga For Runners

A student of mine who competes in marathons at a very high level once said the following, "I find that my yoga helps my running but not the other way around!" And, in many ways this is an accurate statement. Of course, running is a healthful, invigorating activity, but it does tend to counteract things like flexibility and suppleness in muscles, which yoga provides in spades.

This weekend, local runners have a chance to top off their Saturday afternoon training sessions with a yoga workshop with Karen Fabian, a talented, former colleague of mine at the Baptiste Power Yoga Institute, who now teaches at Charlestown Yoga, among other locales. The heart-happy event begins at 1 p.m.; participants meet at the yoga studio and depart on a group run (pace and distance are self-determined) and convene back at the same location 1 hour later for a practice led by Fabian, which will aim to unwind tight hamstrings and hips. Pre-race warm up and mental focus (meditation) will also be addressed at the workshop. Runners and yogis of all levels are welcome. Registration is $40.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Zenful To-Do List

Speak the truth.

Surround yourself with people who make you smile. A lot.

Stand by people who would do the same for you.

Share because it makes you happy, not because it's virtuous.

Make something by hand.

Breath deeply. Everyday.

Stop living the life that happened to you; live the life you want.

Treat yourself and others with respect.

Eradicate jealousy from your life; it's poisonous and thoroughly unproductive.

Have faith.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Friday Night Rocks

When I signed up for "ninja class," which meets at a local rock gym on Friday nights, I knew it would require a huge social sacrifice. Wild parties, late nights, and velvet-rope soirees would have to be put on hold, while I learned how to cling to walls and scale makeshift caves. Okay, so that's a slight exaggeration. The only sacrifice I really made involved my favorite Friday evening indulgence of spending time on the couch, belly full of Thai fresh rolls, eyes fluttering shut with exhaustion by 10 p.m. In other words, I'm a bit of recluse (some say "dork") on the weekends, and the rock gym would surely be more rocking than any other plans to which I might otherwise commit.

Turns out, the rock gym on a Friday night is a damn cool place to be, complete with loud music, hipsters adorned with tattoos and sporting faux-hawks, and- the ultimate barometer of cool- teenagers. Yup, the kind that might otherwise be at a mall or the movies or god knows where on a Friday night.

I had to smile when I saw two teenage girls helping each other climb a difficult route, while I imagine their peers were likely helping one another pick out micro minis at Forever 21 or uploading photos to their MySpace pages. It wasn't the first time that I thought Thank god, girls have sports, but it was the first time in a while. It made me recall countless moments from my youth during which my confidence, happiness, joy, and drive were stoked by athletic endeavors.

And, believe it or not, it made me recall a compelling ad that Nike released in the mid 90s, right around the time that sports were acting as my own internal compass, keeping the requisite adolescent angst in check and channeling my energy down a navigable path toward being the person I am now. Check out the video, which highlights some of the reasons why it's important for girls to have the opportunity to play sports.

Never underestimate the power of PLAY.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tweaked Out By Tax Time?

Unless Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and abundance, is your accountant, there's a chance that tax time (and the slowing of the economy to boot) makes you feel a little anxious. In fact, for many of us, anxiety surrounding money isn't relegated to tax time only. Ideally, yogis should rise above such earthly travails, right? Notice I said ideally.

In the meantime- as in, while you cultivate said ability to rise above material limitations- here are a few everyday indulgences that won't break the bank, and in the event that April 15 results in a refund (or you feel obliged to stimulate the economy on your own), some fabulous ways to splurge. Remember, the Buddha (a former prince) espoused the concept of the Middle Way, neither luxuriating in abundance nor bearing the burden of poverty. All of us need to make peace with our perceptions of wealth in a way that suits us best. I'm not suggesting that the products below will bring you happiness, but they just might take some of the sting out of tax time, shake off a financial funk, or celebrate forthcoming "quan."

Chocolate treat: SPLURGE- Sonsie’s chocolate bread pudding. SAVE- Ritter chocolate.

Red wine: SPLURGE- Caymus. SAVE- Even the cheapest bottles at Best Cellars have never disappointed.

Fragrance: SPLURGE- Dolce & Gabbana The One. SAVE- Pacifica Tahitian Garden (available at Whole Foods).

Dinner Out: SPLURGE- Om restaurant (I know, shocker). SAVE- Meyers + Chang or Duc Boa.

Hot jeans: SPLURGE- Gretta Luxe. SAVE- TJ Max (I recently lucked out by finding a great pair of Hudsons there).

Boho chic apparel: SPLURGE- Envi (a new eco-chic boutique on Newbury Street). SAVE- Urban Outfitters (The sale racks can be a gold mine).

Tea: SPLURGE- Yogi tea (Insightful fortunes on labels but puts you back $5 bucks a pop). SAVE- Tetley (My fav British- inspired, morning cup).

Skincare: SPLURGE- Kiehl’s Lypocene Facial Mosturizing Cream ($60 for 1.4 oz.). SAVE- Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer*

*Makeup artists who have worked on me (including the one on the shoot for the adjacent Reebok ad) tend to be a fans of this product too, and I trust the experts. Also, I share the attached photo with you along with today's post because the caption reads: I am the girl who cannot balance her checkbook, which I find very fitting and funny.

Music: SPLURGE- iTunes (How did we live without it?). SAVE- 88.9 WERS Radio: Music for the Independent Mind. It's one of the best college radio stations in the country, and you'll wonder why you didn't tune in sooner.

Yoga gear: SPLURGE- Lululemon. SAVE- The sales rack at City Sports.

Books: SPLURGE- Borders. SAVE- Brookline Booksmith’s sale tables, filled with astute staff recommendations and usually under $10.

Magazines: SPLURGE- Magazines off the newsstand. SAVE- Magazine subscriptions.

Mood stabilizer: SPLURGE- A therapy session. SAVE- A walk in nature with a dog (Cell phone prohibited!).

Mood lifter: SPLURGE- A massage. SAVE- A yoga class.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What Should I Do With My Life?*

"I sometimes meet people who say, I'm going to be this and I'm going to be that. You feel kind of bad for them because they're limiting themselves. It's different from having an enthusiasm for something and seeing where life takes you. I feel lucky to never have planned to go into what I did. I always just said, 'All I want to do is make things, whether it's drawing or writing.' If I'd said, 'I'm going to be a director,' it probably wouldn't have happened."

-Excerpt from an interview with Tim Burton (Esquire, December 2007)

*What Should I Do With My Life? is also a great book by Po Bronson. It won't resolve your search for a raison d'être (in Sanskrit, it's called dharma, which translates to mean "sacred duty"), but it will help you sort through the career paths that inspire you.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Yoga vs. Pilates: A Lean, Mean Showdown

People often inquire about the difference between yoga and pilates, and implicit in this question is the curiosity over which is better. Until recently, I believed pilates to be- while an effective exercise regimen- a bastardized version of yoga, the younger and significantly diluted permutation of a more dignified and potent predecessor, somewhat akin to a recent photo spread in New York magazine featuring Lindsay Lohan aping Marilyn Monroe. The general consensus was that the Lohan reprisal of Monroe's famous "Last Sitting" fell flat because, put simply, Lindsay Lohan is no Marilyn Monroe. Pilates could preen and pose all it wanted, but, in my eyes, it wasn't going to hold a candle to yoga's stature. Pilates was the new found tabloid fodder to my unmatched yogic icon.

Then, I ate crow. May I have that with the dressing on the side, please? Thank you very much. This winter, I started dropping in on the occasional pilates class at my gym and found, to my surprise, that pilates indeed deserved its own spotlight. While yoga will always be my primary form of [physical and mental] exercise, pilates quickly became the perfect complement. Sure, the movements were similar to yoga, but, as a whole, the experience was very different. The exercises that form the "core" of the workout (a little pilates pun, there) were brand new to me, simple enough to pick up quickly, and, still, undoubtedly effective.

This weekend, I took my first private session with pilates coordinator at Equinox in Back Bay Shawn Giles, thereby punctuating my interest and approval for a workout that I previously considered to be a sub-standard remix of a preferred original. Think: Rhianna's rip off of Michael Jackson's catchy, cryptic chorus in "Please Don't Stop the Music." [Mama say, mama sa, mama, what?]. Fortunately, like any good convert, I'm willing to spread the good word. Here's my personal lowdown on the differences between yoga and pilates and the benefits of each.

Yoga: several thousands of years old, a holistic approach to overall fitness and mental clarity, great for seekers, invented in India circa 3300-1700 B.C., encompasses countless styles and disciplines, different styles resonate with different people of varying ability levels, fits into a spiritual framework (if you're doing it right), less standardized due to all the various styles, levels, and teachers, can stand alone as a complete wellness regimen for mind and body.

Pilates: less than one century old, a localized approach to the all-important core, great for strivers, invented in Europe by Joseph Pilates during World War I, comprised of one fundamental method, ideal for people who are injured or working with a limited range of motion, fits into a fitness framework, more standardized, a formidable complement to all other wellness regimens (including yoga, cross-training, cardiovascular activity, dance, etc.).

The edge still goes to yoga, but I'm looking forward to pilates class tonight.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How to Run the Boston Marathon (In Spirit!)

While you may not be game to run the race, you can still support a runner who's trucking the 26.2 miles for charity. They have little more than a month of training left to go and would love the boost. Check out the following video, which appeared on Channel 5 over the weekend and is sponsored by the Dunkin' Donuts "Local Heroes" campaign. It's a segment from the new Boston magazine TV show and features winner of the 1976 Boston Marathon Jack Fultz and members of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge Running Team. It's also hosted by yours truly.

To all the runners . . . GOOD LUCK and go get 'em!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ninja Class

You could call it a bout of acute weekend warrior syndrome or an attempt to redeem my bruised self-esteem in the athletic arena (after the snowboarding debacle last weekend) when I enrolled in a "ninja class" this week. No joke, the curriculum even includes scaling walls and defying gravity. Fortunately, there's zero potential for violence. Instead, it's a creative description for a relatively novice level rock-climbing course offered at Boston Rock Gym.

Rock-climbing is a sport in which I've dabbled for the past couple years; however, I haven't had much instruction and, by all accounts, have been "winging it." The first class was on Friday and turned out to be a great antidote for a long week flanked by a long winter. Our main directive was to develop an awareness of how we climb, specifically, are we making unnecessary noise (mostly with our feet) when we climb? Noise reflects wasted energy. It's clumsy, inefficient, and un-ninja-like. This simple philosophy holds true for lots of things, including yoga. It also affirms that silence is inherently preferable to noise in most circumstances (first dates and family dinners notwithstanding).

Consider an activity or portion of your day that needs more awareness and an increased amount of quiet. Perhaps you'd be better prepared for your day, if you turned off the TV and/or radio while getting ready in the morning. Do you tread heavily as you walk up the stairs of your apartment building? Is your speaking voice set to a higher level of volume than necessary? Could you prepare a meal with greater care and attention so as not to clang pans and dishes around in the process?

Would your athletic endeavors likely improve in quality if you were more cognizant of the movements you make and the sounds attributed to them? Consider how nice a golf ball sounds sailing off the tee when it is hit squarely and cleanly or the joy of practicing next to a yogi who deftly moves through class without a sound, save his/her steady breath.

"Less is [often] more," audibly and otherwise. Feel free to share your own favorite quiet or silent endeavors or finessed techniques in the realm of athletics, yoga, or life, in general.

Meltdown On The Mountain

I can't remember the last time I cried during, after, or as a result of an athletic endeavor. I've been injured, defeated, fatigued, and downtrodden while at various levels of play but, honestly, I can't remember cracking under the pressure to the point where I shed actual tears . . . until last weekend on the beginner trail at Mount Sunapee. Not one of my finest hours, you might say. Indeed, the bunny slope broke me. We're talking "cat. five" panic attack, in public, body strewn across the middle of the trail, complete with tear-filled goggles, bruised knee caps, and a meltdown rivaled only by Britney Spears. Mine lacked illicit substances, ripped fishnets, and a fedora, but it brimmed with just as much drama and heartache as the pop princess's weekly standoffs with the papparazzi, her parents, and anyone watching, which is, well, everyone.

Instead, my stand-off consisted of a grisly battle between me and my ego, and let's face it; that's a losing fight, every time, for any of us. With two snowboarding lessons under my belt (or, in this case, my bruised tailbone), I had high hopes of exhibiting some level of proficiency at my new recreational activity of choice. After all, I'm an athlete, a yogi, and a meticulous student. Surely I could pay attention to the teacher, and execute the lesson at hand, right? Not this time, friends. As my frustration level climbed, my patience plummeted. Good humor was nowhere in sight, likely forgotten at a Dunkin' Donuts rest stop somewhere along the New Hampshire boarder. I was angry and, even, forlorn. Here I was knocking on Snowboarding's door, asking if he wanted to come play, only to have the door slammed in my face. "Nope, sorry, sweetie. You're not my type," was the resounding response.

Admittedly, I was over-thinking the whole exercise, and I'm a perfectionist. Plus, I don't like to fall down (figuratively or literally). I'm competitive too . . . and excruciatingly self-critical . . . and, in case you've forgotten, susceptible to CRYING ON THE BUNNY SLOPE. Truth be told, I wouldn't have wanted to hang out with me either.

Okay, Snowboarding, I get it. "It's not you; it's me." Still, there's a lesson to be learned beneath all the layers of polar fleece and gortex.

Sometimes, life knocks you down on your knees. The unexpected hits you (or an 11 year old boy also strapped into a snowboard and equally as unskilled as you). At times, life hurts and humiliates; it doesn't follow a desired plan or any plan for that matter, and it teaches you that you need the help, direction, and suport of others.

I'm glad I took the chair lift up the mountain for the first time, that day, and even happier that I made it down. I wish I could report that after the meltdown, I had some sort of athletic or spiritual epiphany. I saw the light; the cogs in my brain clicked, and my muscles responded, allowing me to glide down the trail effortlessly. However, this wasn't the case. I did glide down the rest of the way- to a degree, mostly on my butt, yet, it wasn't my day to conquer the mountain. It was my day to learn, which means I'll have to go back some other time for the ephiphany (while wearing knee pads, perhaps).