Writing and editing

Ram Vakkalanka teaches philosophy, chanting and Sanskrit at our studio. Our practice and general studio philosophy is so intense and focused, I think we need to get a little spun out. Also, my home study habits are poor and inextricably linked to deadlines, reading lists and essays. That is to say, when I have a quiet moment, I don’t often curl up with the Yoga Sutras if I could check my email fifteen times in five minutes instead. Taking classes and talking with Ram when I can has added a great deal of depth to my practice and my teaching. Which is not to say that I am not still the same ignorant jerk – I am! But at least I feel like I am getting my toes wet, instead of standing on the beach complaining of the heat. Do you know what I mean?

The ocean metaphor is apt for Ram, because dude knows a whole bunch. Sometimes, David and I meet with him and we can ask him ANYTHING and he will, no joke, talk for an hour on the subject. Often by the end of the hour I feel like i have been tossed about in a strong wave. I am pretty sure I have asked him the SAME question and he has talked for an hour differently about it, trying to get me to catch a glimpse of the surface, or the bottom – I’m not sure which.

Our last “Chanting the Yoga Sutras” session with Ram, I asked him why my job as a parent made non-attachment or the idea of a dual world of Purusha (pure consciousness, soul or spirit) and Prakriti (our mind-body systems, the physical and not true manifestations of Purusha) seem so unappealing. I feel like I need to believe this reality because my son is in it. I feel confused as to why anyone would want to be enlightened because it might move you further from your children.  How could I want to be un- attached to my child?

He told me that my son didn’t actually belong to me. I don’t own him, the universe is just creating him through me. And somehow this made perfect sense. I see myself in him, and I see David – but Holden is also something entirely different. My three year old corrects me on the difference between jellyfish and siphonophores – and the importance of that difference is not either of us. Funny, how I can know this about myself as a child. That I am same but different from my mom and dad. And while they tried their best to help me learn how to be a good person –  I am my own person, good or bad. Separate from them, but connected to them. I know this, and maybe have always known this about who I am as a daughter, buI have trouble with the same idea as a mom.

Ram said, like a good babysitter. You can love the children in your care very much and make sure they are safe and protected. Teach them right from wrong and be present and engaged with them.  But at the end of the day, a good babysitter knows those children do not belong to her. Non-attachment parenting. I found this so beautiful.

Speaking of attachment parenting. I read a lot about it before I had my son. I tried to follow the tenets to the letter. because so much of it made sense to me like baby wearing. After Holden was born, my reaction to the books changed, and when I read the same books – I felt guilty and cruel. The books didn’t change, I suppose I just became much more tired. I became convinced about my own failings as an “attached” parent to my baby, Recently, I started reading book on attachment parenting and it brought me back to those same thoughts and feelings. Like a little cognitive loop in my head. The lesson here, for me, is that I can’t parent according to a certain set of rules. Most of the time, I just have to get up in the morning and try not to be an asshole. At the end of the day, I have to forgive myself if I was an asshole, apologize to my kid  and attempt to do better tomorrow. I recognize that is a sad parenting philosophy. I think I like the babysitter idea better.

Next week I am going to ask Ram to write a book on Non-Attachment Parenting.

He wasn’t so sure if skating was going to be his thing when he watched every kid go by and wipe out. But I told him he would have to hold my hand so I didn’t fall and that seemed to do the trick.

His favourite part was the “caution/danger” tape strung across the steps to the parking lot so that you wouldn’t be tempted to fling yourself off the rink into a car.

Sometimes you work and work and work really hard to make the right choices in life. You say no to a bunch of things like cigarettes and cheese burgers even though your brain tells you that you might really need cigarettes and cheese burgers to be happy. Eventually, you get to a place where your brain tells you to eat a vegetable instead of smoking a cigarette or eating a cheese burger and that is strange. And then, it happens all the time, and then you never want a cigarette or a cheese burger again. And that feels weird, but right. Your friends who like cigarettes and cheese burgers think you are a pretentious dummy, and you try not to judge but you feel superior.

And then you go to Whole Foods.

And you are wheeling a little shopping cart around the store after coming close to having a coronary in the parking lot, and all the choices have been made for you. You do the math in your head and realize that you are spending most of your pay cheque on crackers and sprouts. And you can buy fake cheese to put on your fake burger and you line up with basically nothing to eat in your cart. You have a strange sinking feeling that you hate everyone in the store, so much, because they are always in your way or they are rude or they are buying real burgers. And you realize: you are not any better. All that yoga and fake cheese, imagine what you would be like if you didn’t do all that? Frightening.

Ugh. Whole Foods.

I have been to the Whole Foods in Toronto and the one in the suburbs. And I am inured. Maybe the Toronto pushy is a pushy I am used to. Maybe it is because our country in so big, we tend to spread out a little. I’m not sure. But whenever we travel in the US, I look up the nearest Whole Foods expecting that I will be spending most of our vacation eating from the coconut yogurt aisles. And we do. But I often come away with such serious doubts about my life choices afterwards. For example:

1. Seriously, what is the deal with the Whole Foods parking lot? Three days ago I watched a man on a phone back his Porsche up into a police officer and then shrug when the cop yelled at him. AND the cop just kept walking because he was in a hurry to buy kale like the other 40 million people crammed in the store that day.

That same day, we tried to leave the parking lot, but realized the car line-up to leave was over 30 minutes long. I had a weird feeling like I might die in the Whole Foods parking lot. But I also felt better because we had purchased strawberry popsicles sweetened with brown rice syrup. So we ate them and  and we listened to the cars honking at one another. Just as an aside – if the driver of the first car in line isn’t busy backing up into a cop but waiting for a break in traffic – then why honk? I don’t really get it. I mean, if you own a Range Rover than you probably get a pay cheque and so you have to be smart enough to get to work and make someone pay you, so it follows that you should be smart enough to figure out that honking might not solve your problem in this instance. Anyway, we ate our popsicles on the stoop and waited until the parking lot had cleared. Later I read that the popsicles also contained white sugar and I felt stupid.

I found a video about the Whole Foods Parking Lot! I think I am late to the party. but it made me laugh.

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2. White sugar: Often when I go to Whole Foods, I think to myself, “Stanny, this is Whole Foods. Where EVERYTHING is healthy and a whole food. You can buy whatever you want!” But when I leave, I realize that I spent Holden’s college fund on every vegan product in the world that contains sugar. I know this, and yet I continue to make this choice over and over again. I dream of the day when I can walk into Whole Foods with my eyes truly open and my cerebral cortex functioning and say to myself, “Stanny, that vegan chocolate mousse is not a whole food. It is vegan and it has tofu and it is a million dollars, but that doesn’t make it good or healthy or worthwhile.” Sigh, dreams.

3. MindReading: There is something a little unsettling about the fact that while I often think I am a unique snowflake, Whole Foods all over North America has me figured out.  How do they know that I, a struggling yoga teacher, would pay a million dollars for vegan chocolate mousse? That means the store is filled with people just like me who can’t resist the temptation of vegan chocolate mousse. And that seems so sad and strange and depressing.  It also furthers my belief that in a zombie apocalypse I will be the first to go. My neighbours will come and eat me and I will spend the rest of my undead life chasing cats for supper and shuffling my ethically-sourced vegan boots around.

Thanks Whole Foods.

So, Miami. Do you really want to see? Are you living under a mountain of snow right now? Can you imagine that some people live in a place that is like this in February? I will be shovelling out my car soon enough, don’t worry.

We ate carbs on the beach. So good.

I wore this and wasn’t cold!

Holden wanted a Valentine’s balloon very badly from CVS. He took it everywhere.

Handsome dad!

When I was a teenager, we used to say to each other, “Mom, kids in France are drunk! They are forced to drink a WHOLE bottle of wine. Can I have some chips?”

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And then Gavin grew up, and totally wrote this book.

This is an interesting moment in parenting philosophy, where people who know nothing but heard something about some kids somewhere else, are informing parenting movements. There is even a step by step guide to raising your child like a French person. And the author isn’t French. And I think that is a bit weird.

I don’t have a problem with French people, but are there no annoying children in France? Are no French mothers looking at their gorgeous unpasturized-cheese eating children right now and saying to themselves, “These fuckers are crazy.”?  And when those French kids grow up – are they all  super successful and incredible because of their fantastic upbringing? Or are they just human: sweet, annoying, funny, smart, dumb, difficult – like the rest of us.

That is not to say that I don’t believe we could all learn a thing or two from the way people raise their children around the world. I am always in awe of how independent young children are in India. But I guess I would rather hear a South Asian, or French woman tell me how they work their magic. Today I saw a book called, How Eskimos keep Their Babies Warm…. First of all: Eskimos – really? Are you time travelling from the 1940s? And besides that, unless you are moving to Iqaluit, you probably don’t need to worry about that level of warmth.

Week in Review:

1. I think I might need to take back that thing about not worrying about your baby getting cold unless you are moving to Iqaluit. The weather here is deteriorating into the worst pile of crap. Right at this moment, I am looking out my window and watching powdery white snow falling on the oak trees and it sickens me. Boo winter!

2. This week Holden has been an angel. Sweet, compliant, and loving. He often says out of the blue, “Sorry Mommy!” Which I could think was a bit sad considering he hasn’t done a single thing wrong in a week. But I really love it and I am secretly hoping he stays this way FOREVER.

3. Sometimes, I remember that Rob Ford is actually the mayor of my city. I wonder, briefly, if I might have dreamt it. And then, I realize: no this isn’t a strange nightmare, and I start to feel panicky about what that means. Then I will myself to stop thinking about it because it is too terrifying. But before I do that, I reflect on how many people in Toronto are doing the exact same thing.

4. We started an Indiegogo campaign to renovate our studio. Next week, between Feb 3 – Feb 7, David and I will match any donation up to $5000. So, if you were thinking about giving – next week is a good time because your contribution will double. A big huge heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported us thus far.

5. In 36 hours I am going to Miami. David is teaching at Miami Life Center. I plan on enjoying the weather and the thongs immensely. I hope you, dear reader, enjoy your week too.