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Nine or ten hours after Holden was born, a doctor came into my room and told me that he had to take Holden to the NICU because he wasn’t breathing properly. I told the doctor that he could do no such thing. And the doctor looked at me and said, I have to take him. When he lifted my baby out of my arms I cried and cried. The doctor seemed somewhat surprised. The nurse with him told me that she would be back at 8a to take my catheter out and walk me to the NICU.

I watched the clock for eight hours, like a tiger ready to pounce.

The nurse showed up after 9a. She remarked on the amount of pee. I almost tore her head off. She got me out of bed and walked me, maybe 10 feet to the bathroom. And then she chirped merrily, “Well there you go – you can make it to the bathroom! That is far enough for now!”  And with that, she basically shoved me back into bed.

I remember thinking: who the fuck decides to do this shit more than once? What is the point of loving someone so much, so stupidly, within just a few short hours of knowing them that you would be totally willing to put up with the most humiliating bullshit?

Well, I guess I forgot about all that, because guess what? We are having another one! I am 4 months. I’m feeling good after the first horrific three months.

Thoughts on a second pregnancy

1. People tell you after your first, when you get pregnant your body is used to being all stretched out. And when people tell you that, you secretly hope that it won’t apply to you because it sounds not so pleasant. But it is true. In the last two weeks I went from sandwich bloat to full-on belly button popping belly. I think I wore my jeans into my 6th month last time. This week I had to say goodbye to my pants. Last time around, this seemed sort of wonderful and miraculous. This time around, not so much.

2. Now that people know that I am growing a human, they usually ask, “How are you feeling?” And usually because my mind is on fifty different things, I don’t catch their drift and just say, “Oh fine, how are you?’ Sometimes people ask me how the baby is and I have to think for a moment about what baby they are talking about. “Oh, this baby? I eat, it grows itself. No laundry. Amazing.”

3. I am super excited to get some nice baby clothes and think about names. Holden wants to buy some toys for the baby. He has a few picked out already at the local toy store, and that is going to be the best ever. I am buying a crib this time around, and I am happy about that. And then I remember the other shit I need, like a change table. Gross! I can wipe the baby’s poopy ass on that change table and one day that same baby will fall off the change table and I will get to spend time in the emergency ward. Some baby stuff: incredible. Other baby stuff: complete crap. Now that I have had one baby, I know that my child will fall off some incredibly high surface he/she is perched upon. I also know there will be baby shit on the walls. These are facts. Facts, I thought my incredible mothering skills would prevent me from ever experiencing with my first child. I feel at once dismayed at my nonchalance, and also comforted in knowing that I am part of a large group of shitty fucking mothers who let their babies fall from high places.

All this to say, I feel really lucky that I get to have another baby. it is a crazy big honour being someone’s mom. I hope I am up to the challenge. I have a feeling this baby is going to be an incredible person.

On another note: Holden got a camera for Christmas from his Auntie Kim. We uploaded the pictures the other day to our computer. So great.

A lot of the photos of people are at this level.

Sigh, jeans….

He sets up weird photo shoots with his toy reptiles:

He took this awesome shot of me, and he added the emoji. Love!

Once in a while, he takes a really arty shot of something at crotch level:

Holden took this shot of us in Miami. Ashtanga Celebrity time! We are practicing in Kino Macgregor and Tim Feldmann’s backyard. I am on Kino’s mat. And I am practicing next to David Robson. And in that photo I am almost three months pregnant with his child. Ashtanga Celebrity!! Preschooler paparazzi!

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.

I often need parenting advice. Thankfully, I go to the studio everyday and there I can ask any number of sweet, sensible moms and dads for their two cents. Because we now live in little isolated family units, and since I can’t just go ask the village elder when I have a problem that I don’t want to email my sister about, I turn to the interweb to guide me. I am happy for the amazing resource that is the world wide web, but it does sort-of concern me for two reasons:

1. If I am raising my child through internet advice, that means other people are certainly doing the same and I’m not sure what that means for our kids because…

2. The interweb is full of crazies.

Recently, I googled “three year old won’t wash hair” because Holden screams and yells and generally freaks out whenever he gets his hair washed. We start out okay, until Holden gets worked up about a drop of water on his forehead. And then, without fail the whole thing ends in a big pile of shampoo, water, and tears. We reached a low point last month, when fed up after several months of the aforementioned screaming, I told him that his hair would have to be cut off if he couldn’t wash it without starting WWIII every week. That was a shitty thing to say, and it made him cry and freak out more. After I put him to bed that night I decided I had officially reached the end of my parenting skills on that particular issue. So I turned to the bastion of good parenting, Google.

There are always three distinct parenting camps on those discussion boards. There are the Yahoo Answers type, that generally favour corporal punishment, the BabyCenter moms that have week-long cutesy project ideas, and then the far-out radical parenting sites.

The three pieces of advice I gleaned from the discussion boards:

1. Smack your child so he knows who is in charge. (Yahoo Answers)

2. Buy foamy stars and beautiful shapes and stick them to the ceiling above your sink. Buy an insert to wash your child’s hair beauty parlour style in the sink. Make up nice songs and a short musical about hair washing. Build the sets and cast your pets in the production. Perform on the street for change and then use that money to take a course on towel making. Make the most beautiful soft towel and present it to your child in a candlelit ceremony at his favourite toy store. (babycenter)

3. My child hasn’t taken a bath in over a year. I forced him to wash once a year ago, and he cried. That night I lay on the kitchen floor and sobbed in the darkness for hours because I knew I had broken his trust forever. I vowed then to never force him to wash his hair. I can see that it is dirty and he has crusty spots on his scalp. Sometimes I gently suggest a bath and he says “NO BATH” I am sure he will take a bath one day. I know yours will too! (radical unschooling site)

Okay, so I exaggerated a little with number 2, but 1 and 3 are almost word for word suggestions by ACTUAL PARENTS who posted their opinions because they think they are doing right by their kids. That night in bed, I told David what I had read. We both lay awake feeling worried for our future.

The next morning, I understood something – something I felt I had known all along but it took some creepy parents to make it clear: Parenting is about being the fucking adult. All the time. Even when you want to cry in the kitchen for hours or hit someone or whatever crazy thing you think might be okay at the time but actually totally isn’t. You have to take a step back and take a breath and say, “Ok, self. I am screwing this up. It is my job to fix it.” And that is a really hard thing to do. At least for me because I like to blame other people for my problems. But this parenting stuff, this is my problem, my joy, my heartache. I alone have to answer for my actions or inaction.

That day, I asked Holden if he didn’t like getting water in his eyes. He said he didn’t. So, David held a towel over his eyes tightly while I washed his hair. Then we chanted his name for five minutes because he didn’t freak out. When he got out of the bath, he said he wanted to cut his hair. Voila! Stanny and David, 1. Google Parenting, 0.

Just so you don’t think I waste all my time googling parenting questions, today I googled historical photos of Bowood and Lawrence, where the studio is located in Toronto. I found this on the Toronto Public Library’s site.

It is St. Leonard’s Anglican church, it was moved further south. But the picture, and the implicit tumbleweeds, it made me think that our funny small location might be a little point of focus. And I was really happy. Amazing, no?

I also recently googled “What Girls Character Are You?” And I completed three different quizes which all came up with the EXACT same answer. Which means it is Poll Time!

Stuck for gifts for the Ashtangi in your life? I compiled a short list for y’all

1. Toe skin: I remember seeing the tape around Sharath’s big toes in Goa and wondering if it was some sort of elaborate prop. Nope, I soon learned, your toe skin just peels off in large chunks and makes you bleed toe blood on your manduka when you jump back. You will wrap your toe in scotch tape, popsicle wrappers, anything, to stop the pain before going back in and jumping back on your bloody toe over and over again. And guess what? They don’t really ever heal. Or when they do , you get a short respite before you feel something one day catch on your sock and a shiver of pain goes up your leg and you realize your goddamn toe is splitting again. One day, David was teaching me the headstands in intermediate and I watched, as I slammed my feet down 7 fucking times, the trail of blood on my purple rug get thicker and thicker. Did I stop? No way! I was learning the end of intermediate – you wouldn’t stop either. Do you think this toe bleeding might be an alignment issue? Save it sister. Just get the Ashtangi on your list some baby soft lovely new toe skin to fuck up.

2. A night where everyone eats at 4.30 and then goes to bed at 8: Ahh, bliss! A big meal as the kids are getting out of school and then to bed while it is still light out. Perhaps a romantic night in a senior’s residence would fill the same criteria.

3. Coconut water IV drip: Ashtangis have been loving coconut water since before Madge got her sinewy hands around a VitaCoco. Maybe even from before Madge played a yoga teacher in that movie and did poses from Advanced A. In Mysore, the residents give major side-eye to the yoga students who sit and flirt at the coconut water stand all day because they think there is something nefarious going on. I am not saying there isn’t, all I know for sure is that you sort of NEED a coconut after practice. Last week I had a stomach flu that went through me quickly for one day. The next day I was excited because it gave me an excuse to buy a very large container of coconut water and drink it all myself. If you could somehow figure out how to put coconut water into an iv drip, that would be the best yogi present ever.

4. A life: Sometimes when you hang out with a group of Ashtangis they start to wistfully reminisce about when they had a “life”. Which I guess means the time in your life when you could eat or drink whatever you wanted whenever you wanted it and you stayed up late and slept in until noon. I think that is also part of not being 17 anymore, but what do I know?  On the flip side of senior’s residence night, you could take the Ashtangi you love for an all out full moon bender! Chances are he or she will be in bed by 8, but it is exciting to try.

5. Anything from this man:

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He is wicked funny and is an awesome teacher. He is also hot and when you buy his shit it keeps Mama Stan in bling (or in a small house on the edge of Scarborough) so I can write more super informative posts about Ashtanga. Win/win baby!

Alright. Ho Ho Ho! Don’t say I never gave you nuttin.

One moon day, David, Vanessa and I had time so we went to a class downtown. It was a beautiful day and the studio was gorgeous and well-designed. The class was great and the teacher was wonderful and if years of Mysore style practice hadn’t turned me into a OCD crazed lunatic, then the whole experience would have been entirely unblog-worthy.

But, alas. I am a total nut job, and even though I am a yoga teacher I can’t just GO to a yoga class and be okay with it like a normal person. I need hours of shivering deconstruction after 75 minutes of asana. David and I went to a class four years ago called “Eye of the Tiger” and we STILL talk about it. But it was called “Eye of the Tiger”, so we are compelled. Part of the problem is the style I practice doesn’t change in very fundamental ways. So, I think I am a bit of a dinosaur in the yoga community. I didn’t know there was a whole playlist creation neurosis for yoga teachers. Because I don’t practice with music ever it threw me off so much that I spent the whole class thinking about how John Mayer dated Jessica Simpson.

Mostly,  I hate the thing where you have to show up at exactly the right time. Appointments are for dentists!  I know for most people when you practice in Mysore, India you have to show up at the exact time minus 15 minutes. But I will let you in on a little secret – if you give birth you can come any damn time you please in Mysore. I know! Reason enough!

Actually, another little secret: when I was pregnant, Sharath told me to come to an earlier led class. But I didn’t want to get up at 4a and waddle down a dark street. Fuck that! So, I just came at the time I wanted to come at. I am pretty sure I would have been yelled at if I wasn’t pregnant. I wagered a guess that he wouldn’t yell – “You! Masala Dosa! What is your time? Your time is 4.30” at the pregnant lady – and the wager paid off. Since then the timings part of my KPJAYI card is left blank.

Dads, just so you know, David gets a time. But he likes it like that.

This year because we are Canadian and Ashtangis and we like to follow rules exactly, we put in our applications too late to go to study with Sharath and it was full and we couldn’t go. We were suddenly looking at the month of November – wide open. And so , we decided to go to Florida.

Not going to Mysore has this funny feeling around it. Like weirdly disconnected and jangly. I am more then happy not to make the flight, or to try to figure out what to do with a tomato, rice and cucumbers every night for dinner. But the longer the time stretches out between trips to India the more out of touch I feel with the international Ashtanga family. I think it is worse for my husband who has already started locking me down for months to go in 2015.

When we go in 2015, what will have changed while were were here in our little cold corner of the world? Somehow, I doubt John Mayer will be played from the Sharath’s office.  If the practice doesn’t change, then why do we go year after year? Why wouldn’t we just go one year, get the jist of it and then save ourselves some money and go to Florida and sit on the beach instead?

I think, every year I go, I have stood on my mat in that shala a different person. The first year I went, I didn’t have a daily practice. The second time I was pregnant and so brave. The third time, I had a little baby, I was sleep deprived and unhappy. The last time, I felt fulfilled and I wanted to teach. In 2015 – who am I going to be? How could the same technique taught by the same teacher have seen me through such dramatic shifts in my life? I often don’t want to go to India because I think it takes too much time. But that might why I should be going. I think practicing creates time and space in my life – at least some reaction time. The shala in India gives me time, whether I take it or not, to listen, breathe, reconnect with my teacher and my family.

Sometimes I think I am the constant, the steady the metronome. But, maybe I am actually very nebulous. And I am here to watch my breath so that I don’t waste it all in the time that it takes to listen to a pop song.

“The family weakens by the lengths we travel.”

Spring:

Spring happened in Toronto in the last couple of weeks. The leafless, grey and brown in between lasted all of April and I felt so lushy rewarded in May. I love the first mutable colours of spring. How can bright pink look green and yellow? I lay down on my porch and looked up at the tree in my back yard. The first reddish oak leaves have begun to bud. Often I look up at that tree and think, “This is MY tree.” And then I feel foolish. The oak is 100 years old and just happens to be within the made-up boundaries of my yard. The tree experts say it will live another 100.. It was there well before I was born, and inshallah, it will be there after I die. Like spring, I suppose I am just passing through.

Primary Series:

After my trip to Mysore in September, I stayed with my Mysore practice – primary up to kapotasana for a couple of months. I slowly added poses on and only just recently dropped primary. This week, David added Karandavasana – the pose I was on in August, my last pose. I didn’t have a big injury or anything, my shoulder hurt a bit. I did feel like I had no stability in my practice. I felt I couldn’t push myself anymore without breaking and I needed to ground. After a month in Mysore I felt so much better, that I decided to keep primary for a while.

Here is a little demo of Karandavasana by David:

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And one by Sharath:

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This is a picture of me doing it:

In August, I couldn’t lotus up legs without support. After a week of trying now, I can lotus them, and although I fall loudly and obnoxiously, I can feel my legs brush my upper arms as I come down. I feel like this is possible, but in August after months of practice it was not even remotely close. All this to say, I think primary series is amazing. It is restorative, and also strengthening. It is a game changer. I love you primary!

Ralph

My son is quite friendly. Friendly and very sensitive. He says “hello” and “Whacha doing?” to every child he meets. Most kids, because they are kids, just stare at him and continue doing what they were doing. And then Holden stands there for a good five minutes “Hello, whacha doing? whacha doing? whacha doing?” Often I start to feel a little embarrassed for him and so I answer for the kids. Which is a little like when people ask your dog a question.

The other day, David and I were talking about the upcoming changes to Holden’s daycare.

David: Does he have friends at daycare?

Stan: The kids seem to like him. He doesn’t hit and he doesn’t get in your face or anything. He is so friendly with everyone, but

David: Is it reciprocated?

Stan: Well, maybe not. But that might be the age.

David. Is he like that boy on the Simpsons?

Stan: “My cat’s breath smells like cat food”

David starts to type away at the computer.

David: Oh god, Stan. You have to see this.

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Oh god, my son might be Ralph Wiggum.

I am happy he is friendly, I would rather he was friendly than he just stared at people who greeted him. And I know enough kids that you often don’t get to choose whether your kid says Hi automatically or stares blankly – at least for the first little while. I worry in the future that he won’t have any friends. But then I worry that my anxiety and worry will crush him and he won’t have any friends because he is all twisted. So, I try not to worry and believe that he is strong enough to have bad days and pick himself back up. And then I worry that I am not worrying enough about this whole thing.

If you are thinking about having kids. don’t.

Christmas happened and it was pretty outstanding. Holden was all over the Santa thing and then I got all weird and into Santa too – I’d find myself blabbing on and on about Santa to Holden on the way home from school. We read the NIght Before Christmas about 50 times, (and I would catch myself muttering under my breath as I heaved my winter boots on every morning “The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave lustre of midday to objects below”) and David and I both found ourselves chirping out “Better be good for Santa!!”

Santa has to be up there on the top ten dirtiest, most lowdown crummy parenting tricks ever. Like srsly. You guilt trip your child for at least a month – possibly a year – over the amount of gifts some imaginary person will give them, except that it is really you giving the presents. And it is such a parenting fail because if your kid really is a shitty person all year, are you going to take it out on him or her by not buying a Ferbie at Christmas? Actually, maybe you would/should. Never mind.

Anyway, we had a beautiful Christmas. Holden was so excited, he was not a shitty person at any point so we were spared the wrath of Santa and we are still enjoying the lights in the neighbourhood. The holiday was happy and warm and comfortable. Next year, as Santa is my witness, I will take Holden out of daycare for two weeks so that we can do more sledding and skating. Also, I think I am supposed to be sick of him and rejoicing his return to school yesterday but I was just sad.

Some More Stuff:

1. Holden got a bird clock from Santa. Actually, David brought it back from Calgary and then it showed up in the movie Bernie and then in a New Yorker cartoon as one of the Re-gifts of the Magi. Mercedes and I call it a car alarm clock. Every hour there is a different car alarm. It is supposed to be light sensitive, but it is really just louder when it is darker outside. But I kinda love it anyway. Thank you, Santa!

2. We enjoyed hot chocolate together. That is nice.

3. David made a cooking video!!!! He is so funny and we have been saying “Cookies!” In high pitched voices ever since.

http://www.vimeo.com/55893660

4. Speaking of the Night Before Christmas, did anyone have the edition that was illustrated by Arthur Rackham? I did and it made the whole story sinister and juicy. I long to see it again. LIke this illustration – there are supposed to be sugar plums dancing in their heads, not creepy death angels.

5. I hope your holidays were lovely dear blog readers.

p.s. See that list thing I ddi above. It makes me look all organized, like in a brain way. Plus, when you write for the interweb you are supposed to write in bullet points so that people can just read the first three words of every paragraph. But really it was just my lazy lazy way of getting around writing actual paragraphs and connecting lucid thoughts together or fleshing out an idea.

Hurray for lists! Hurray Christmas!

David is going to Russia, which is so exciting. Holden and I want to come, but we are too traumatized by airline travel. David and Holden made a little video for the Russian students. They made it after dinner one night. Holden still has a brown rice noodle stuck to his face.  He should be in every advertisement. For everything.

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Don’t you want to go to Moscow now in March?

categories: Ashtanga yoga, AYCT
tags: ,

My husband is becoming someone who gets quoted. People who like to justify drinking quote Oscar Wilde, and people who like to justify crazy Ashtanga practices quote David. Sadly, fewer people are interested in getting up at the crack of dawn to torture themselves, than people who are interested in getting up at noon after a night of binge drinking only to feel tortured. Although, having done both – I understand the appeal.

Here are a couple of good quotes that I stole from this article:

“Admire the work, not the practice”

“Integrating yoga into your life makes everything else all the more possible.”

Here is one that Indians like, “I am 40 years old. I’m from the West. What do I know about yoga?”

My recent favourite quote, upon walking into a polling station on election day:

“Stan, brace yourself. This room is filled with people who only work one day a year.”

The other day I saw a Facebook update with a David quote – but it wasn’t attributed to anyone. And I thought. holy shit. He is becoming the “they’ in “That’s what they say.”

I will leave you with another classic:

“Looking at the water and eating chocolate isn’t perverted.”

Its official, yo!

David is in CPH, but not me. And while I am happy to not be on a plane with the baby, it makes me a bit sad that I don’t get to spend time there and see all the great peeps we met last year.

We Skyped yesterday, and he told me about his day.

David: I ate a chocolate bar today.

Stan; Good for you.

D: Yeah, I went down to the water and walked around. And I ate a chocolate bar.

S: Well, there is only one of you.

D: I felt like a pervert. I mean, it isn’t perverted to look at the water and eat chocolate. But I felt like a pervert. Do you know what I mean?

It is a funny feeling when you are so used to being around other people and all of a sudden you are not. I felt like that a bit when I went out for the first time without the baby. I had gone to the hardware store, just a few blocks from my house. When I went in there, everyone treated me like a regular human being. No one held the door, or let me go ahead of them in line or helped me pick something up. After 9 months of pregnancy and then a month of caring around this little thing, I suddenly felt distinctly unspecial. I almost announced to the cashier, “I have a baby!”

Now I enjoy going out without the baby and being all regular again. I like helping moms who are struggling with their strollers or the door or whatever. I have also become that creepy person who asks strange moms a million questions about their kids, “How old is she? What size shoe does she wear? Oh yeah, is she walking yet? How does she sleep?” I am such a nightmare.

My shoulder feels better worse better. I am still blaming the baby, although I have a feeling I should blame my hunchback.