Storytelling with Drake Students

Martha and I bundled up on a very snowy morning in early January, and drove to the Hotel Pattee in Perry Iowa. Lopso, the resident dog greeted us warmly at the back door. His name complements the fact that he had three legs, making him lopsided. He became a caring presence to us and the students. Lopso wandered in and out of our session, and paused only for his hotdog lunch.

Carol Spaulding-Kruse had asked us to facilitate three hours of yoga with Drake students during a J-Term class, focusing on the intersection of yoga and writing. We focused our session on Hanuman, the monkey-faced god of the Hindu myths. Even though Hanuman’s story is centuries old, its lessons are still relevant today. The Ramayana is one of India’s most popular myths. In it Ram asks Hanuman to complete several difficult and challenging tasks, that he believes are impossible. Each and every time, Hanuman tells himself that he cannot accomplish such enormous tasks, and yet, he always does. He’s been telling himself a story that simply wasn’t true.

Lopso the three-legged dog at Hotel Pattee
Sweet Lopso approved our message, however he stood firm that he could not skip his hotdog lunch.

As we told Hanuman’s story, we asked the students to consider the stories they tell themselves. Martha and I urged them to note which stories are true, and which are not. Sometimes in our minds, we tell ourselves stories like, “I’m not funny” or, “I’m too shy.” Because the stories aren’t always true, necessary, or helpful, they limit our capacity to experience our full humanity. We told the Drake students some stories we’ve told ourselves, and how they’ve not always been helpful, true, or necessary.

Yoga asks us to occupy space, to relish in the full capacity of our humanity. Hanuman reminds us we can do hard–even impossible–things, even when we’ve been telling ourselves we can’t.

Settle, Create & Play. Then Grow

Americans, including Europeans, fled violence, plague and starvation. They were willing to leave the only world they knew and make the arduous journey to a place they could barely imagine. Think about moving to Mars!

Be the Change–Voting Rights

Join us for our “Zoom Workshops” to support the belief that Black Lives Matter. We’ll study the issues, as well as routes to action. We’re starting with voting rights because we want to make sure we make our votes count in this critical election.

New Year, New Intention

So I’m driving home from yoga class listening to an interview of Sue Grafton, the great detective writer and thinking I need to just write a little bit every day this year. Well, is it too late since yesterday was the first?

And then I realize I’m hungry, and I see that the garbage can is tipped over blocking the driveway, and it’s the first day it’s gotten out of the negatives since last year. So maybe I should actually take a walk. And check to see if the little free library needs to be restocked.

And also the Energy Audit guy is coming in ten minutes. And I have at least two text messages that came when I was in Downward Facing Dog, and no telling how many phone calls. Oh, and I still have a yoga class to plan. But here I am, at my computer, putting my intention of writing each day out into the world.

And feeling excited about it!

Resolutions. Intentions. Whatever. If we take them too seriously, they can set us up for failure, discouragement and self flagellation. But no change comes without action. No goals are met unless we do the work. And chunking down the work is key to progress. At least for me.

So, here’s my first chunk of writing for 2018. Inspired by Sue Grafton who was working on W in her series of 26 detective novels, one for each letter of the alphabet. Talking about how she’d keep writing about Kinsey Milhone after Z is for Zero. But that didn’t happen. She left a missing piece, and an inspiration for me.

Make Space

While I was in Akumal I dreamed I gave birth. Don’t worry; someone whisked the baby off before I could do any damage. But dreams of giving birth are really about transformation and creation.

Vacations are for getting away from routines, exploring places that are a little uncomfortable. This trip especially gave me a chance to question my “way of life,” to reflect on my addiction to “busyness,” my hesitation to have down time.

So I came home and changed my calendar.

Changing your calendar doesn’t seem like a very big deal. But you haven’t seen my calendar! Seriously, every journey starts with a single step. I changed my calendar  to give myself space for reflection, mindfulness and a new routine.

Over the last year, I’ve begun teaching art classes for the Des Moines Art Center Outreach Program, and I’ve become a certified yoga teacher. Teaching five or six classes a week wrought havoc with my old routine where I usually spent mornings working at my desk or in art class.

Now most of my mornings I’m out and about so when I got home I set aside three afternoons a week for “office time.” Sometimes that will include a power nap, reading, yoga or time in the garden and art work.

The real thing I’m transforming isn’t my calendar. I’m creating space in my life for reflection, planning, playing art, moving my body, making a home and other adventures.

Remember! Having an adventure means you don’t know how things will turn out.