A few weeks ago, I hurried out of yoga class to get to work and stopped to say bye and thanks to my super-amazing yoga teacher David.

“My twists are terrible,” I told him as I slipped on my crocs.

“Awful!” He laughed.

“Terribly awful,” I insisted.

“How’s your diet?”

How’s my diet? At first I was excited that he asked because it meant that some good, motivating diet advice from my super-amazing health and spirituality guru was about to come. But, then I realized, gratefully, what an incredibly brave question that was for him to ask me. As my yoga buddy Jeff pointed out, it really shows the depths of a teacher’s compassion and investment in his students — that he’s willing to risk a slap in the face from overweight female straggler. Super amazing.

“It’s bad,” I told him. “Too many soy-chai lattes, sugar, bread, peanut butter. No time to cook for myself, blah blah blah.”

“That’s not good,” he told me. “You need to feed yourself.”

Feed yourself. My gosh. Once again, super-amazing yoga teacher has triggered epiphany. Feed myself. My gosh, I don’t feed myself. I eat, but I don’t feed myself. And I totally 100% eat to numb my emotions. I figured it out on my vacation over the last two weeks in cottage and farm country — i.e., miles away from STARBUCKS. A whole bunch of emotions (even happy ones!) surfaced as a result of not starting my days with a Starbucks sugar rush, and I had no idea what to do with them other than face them head-on or continue to stuff them down unsuccessfully with the sweetest cinnamony syrup I could find.

Practising yoga every day helped. Emotions arose and then vanished after a few poses. And I survived, incredibly.

I kayaked alone almost every day, and I noticed my emotions as I braved some big waves. Emotions ebbed and flowed. Seriously. It was meditation on water. And I survived, incredibly.

I tried to feed myself, as David advised. And I didn’t do that great. I ate chips (which I never eat), the kids’ vegan gummy bears, dark chocolate, peanut butter bagel sandwiches. I wasn’t feeding myself. I was eating.

And now that I’m back from vacation, I’m back on chai lattes.

So today’s the day, Gorgeouses. I’m going to start officially to feed myself. And I know it’s going to be tough, but I’m going to face my emotions head-on without food: anxieties about the kids, the stresses of feeding my family every day, responding to demands, tantrums, needs, wants (never mind my own needs and wants…). I can’t be a perfect parent because there’s just no such thing — I know that — but the stress of doing my best every day takes its toll. And sometimes at the end of the day I just want to veg — lay like broccoli, rather than eat it. I know this now.

Just breathe.

My body is supposed to be my temple. I believe that. And I want to move faster, feel lighter, look better.

I’ve been noticing lately that some women wear scarves around their necks to adorn their bodies. Others ink themselves with awesome tattoos. Others twist shiny strands into intricate ‘dos just to go to work.

I wear makeup — not to adorn my temple, ahem, but to cover up the results of not feeding myself: zits, dehydration, exhaustion, need I go on? As for my hair, I’ll always wash and go….

But I took the kids to the grocery store today. We stocked up on veggies, fruits, all good organic stuff. And when we got home, I took the time to wash and chop everything up instead of letting it all rot untouched in my fridge, as usual.

David suggested that I don’t do anything extreme to feed myself. No raw diets, low-carb diets. Definitely a vegan diet, of course. He likes the macrobiotic way of eating. But he said that if, for example, I can’t find time to make a macrobiotic breakfast (i.e., porridge and blanched greens, blergh…) after yoga practice, that I should have fruit and nuts — “just feed yourself!”

So I’m going back to basics, with the help of this book and this new book…. And then we’ll see about getting macro-fancy. I just need to feed myself, and not eat so much. Know what I mean?

By the way, David did say that I can allow myself my favourite drug drink on moon days — so, I’m looking forward to Sunday….

How about you? Do you feed yourself? How?

Love!

xo Haley-O

 

 


I’m trying to gather up enough energy and stamina to write a post here. Thoughts have been forming and merging and collapsing lately, but fingers repel keys like magnets with like poles because exhausted and empty.

But just like I now get on the yoga mat each morning (thanks to persistent, available, compassionately whip-cracking teacher), I’m getting on the keyboard and writing this evening.

Yoga for writers: Do your writing, and all is coming….

Lately I’ve found myself thinking a lot about who on earth I am. I’ve had so much going on: my first TV appearance, celebrity interviews, and more and more celebrity interviews and two trips to New York in just over a month and trips to the cottage and work and…and…and…and family.

And my family, though last on that list of “so much going on,” is at the forefront of my thoughts all the time. When I pick up the phone to Jessica Alba’s very sweet voice, it occurs to me how close in age the Rascal is to her daughter. Does she want to know how much my son will love Spy Kids? Or how the Monkey loves the Little Mermaid, too? She has a Little Mermaid “babing suit”….

She turned six last week. SIX.


Gosh, and I’ve been blogging here since she was 8 months old….

We threw her a fairy birthday party. Tinker Bell flew in and blew the Monkey away. She stayed much longer than she was supposed to (thankfully), went up to the Monkey’s room with all the girls, ate cake with us, took pictures. The Monkey hugged Tink for dear life when it was time to say goodbye. She really believed….

With so much going on, when I hang up the phone with Jessica Alba, when I leave work for the day, when the TV camera switches off and I’m wondering how I did, when I’m standing on my head at the yoga studio, when I crawl into a foreign hotel bed, I am all about my kids.


“Ooo, look at the upside down rainbow!” — my brother and his wife taunt me when I practice yoga at the cottage….

From the moment I crawl out from under the Rascal in the morning, to the time I pick them up from camp, they’re in my thoughts — emerging and retreating as my focus on other things waxes and wanes. How are they doing at camp? Is the Monkey wearing her hat? Is the Rascal asking his counselor for “Mama”? Is he eating his snack? What will we do together after camp? Hair cuts? The “fairy store”? The park?

I’m thinking about my family. That’s who I am. And I’m thinking about career and life and what I’ll make for tomorrow’s lunch when I finish writing this post. I’m thinking about my dharma.

Last night I dreamed of a cave and a guru. Another guru dream. There were no answers, nothing full or finite. Just open arms and a smile.

Love….

xo Haley-O


Watch for old patterns.
Consistent effort is the path to transformation.
See you tomorrow! David Robson, email, July 10, 2011

I don’t think I’ve said enough about my yoga teacher David Robson lately. *Cough.*

The thing is in the midst of all the crazy stuff I’ve had going on lately, he’s actually managing to help me get grounded (which is really hard to do for me whose feet are perpetually, though extremely wide, hovering floaty above the ground, laaaaa). Well, so far. I DID show up to yoga this morning.

At first he didn’t say too much when I stopped showing up to daily early-morning Mysore practice — except that if I had to let anything go in my life, it shouldn’t be my yoga practice. “You’ve worked so hard,” he said. I didn’t know how badly I needed to hear that. See? Brillers teacher.

After he said that to me, I went back a few times, and then I stopped showing up again. So I emailed David at the shala . I wanted to let him know that my intention to practice was still there and that I just had a lot going on. I guess he realized that what I was really doing was asking for an extra push from him, and that’s when he emailed me that little GEM quoted above.

“Watch for old patterns.” Hmm…, let’s see….

Old pattern #1: Not only have I not been waking up early to go to yoga, but I’ve also been going to bed late. Really LATE.

Old pattern #2: I’ve been starting my days not with yoga but with Starbucks soy no-water tazo chai. Grrrrr…..

Actually, I start every day with a heavy, blond, very round head on my lower back, and a white, fluffy, furry head on my feet. PINNED. And then my CAT couldn’t be more excited when I finally do wake up. It’s like Dino and Fred Flinstone. Wiiiiiiiiiilmaaaaaaaa!

Old pattern #3: I’ve been eating and drinking NOTHING after my chai — until the evening…. Eeeeeek, I know! And apparently I have hypoglycemia, to make matters even awesomer.

Old pattern #4: I’m a nervous stress case.

Old pattern #5: I stopped cooking for myself. Good thing it’sgrandma makes a mean salad at the cottage….

Old pattern #6: Let’s just say my house has seen tidier days….

So I don’t know what happened. Or, well I have a theory: school ended for the kids; they started camp; I took on a few too many assignments at work; I went to New York, ran around a lot…; and then I slipped — like Cinderella did, but all the way down the stairs, only not as graceful, and like I said, wide feet, phoom phoom phoom. I slipped off the wagon (many wagons) and just stopped taking care of myself. Yoga wasn’t the first to go. But, as David wisely, and possibly psychically, pointed out in that email, my skipping yoga was a signal that I was falling back into old patterns.

Addiction. Comfortable there.

It was a good thing he sent me that email. The timing was impeccable. Because it was that same day that I actually convinced myself I was going to DIE from the chai I chugged that morning. My anxiety was at a record high….

So I’m just about to do my “drop backs” this morning. David takes his usual place in front of me, looks me in the eye so there’s no looking away, even though (for me) it’s obscenely early in the morning to be socializing in any capacity, and reminds me that I “need a practice.” Because it’s the one thing that will keep me grounded and going, that will “push me through” all the changes so I don’t get lost in them and all overwhelmed.

Like an empty water bottle lost at sea, toxic and carried by endless waves of change.

Today I didn’t have a chai latte. This might explain any incoherence, rambling, typos or bizarre, out-of-nowhere metaphors in this blog post. Instead I made a simple green smoothie. And, as my team (nay, family) at Today’s Parent reminded me to do, I brought my lunch to work — some simple miso brown rice and vegetables and hummus. I’m building new patterns.

I’ll never forget what my teacher Monica Voss said years ago when we were discussing a yoga pose: sometimes you have to “collapse the structure so we can gradually rebuild.”  And it looks like that’s what happening here.

So, huge thanks to David Robson for nudging me so perfectly to rebuild. As he himself said, “It won’t be the last time.” Ha! But at least I know I have him and my friends at the shala to catch me when I slip or, better yet, to pick this toxic water bottle out of the ocean and plant some flowers in her. Yikes?

So, Gorgeouses, what are some old patterns you slip into when life gets overwhelming? And do you have some kind of “practice” or hobby to keep you steady and grounded?

Love!
xo Haley-O


Gorgeouses, I come bearing gifts today! I’ll give you the best one first. Here. TAKE HER!:

BW

This dog, Betty White, is a mud magnet! She loves to get down and dirty. So we bathe her, as the Rascal would say, “a lot a lot of.” It’s obviously great having an entire lake at our disposal for just such a purpose….

BW-lake

The second gift is actually a poem I heard when I got in the car the other day and spontaneously turned on a Deepak Chopra radio show. I guess it was poetry night, but I’m not sure. I was in the car for 5 minutes, just long enough to hear this poem start-to-finish — kismet. The poem’s a little extremely intense, but it speaks to me, so I thought I’d share it with you….

The grapes of my body can only become wine
After the winemaker tramples me.
I surrender my spirit like grapes to his trampling
So my inmost heart can blaze and dance with joy.
Although the grapes go on weeping blood and sobbing,
“I cannot bear any more anguish, any more cruelty,”
The trampler stuffs cotton in his ears: “I am not working in
ignorance.
You can deny me if you want, you have every excuse,
But it is I who am the Master of this Work.
And when through my Passion you reach Perfection,
You will never be done praising my name.”

— Rumi (1207-1273).

I know. Woahhh. Still, it’s hard to get through entire novels these days. So there’s kind of nothing like a good poem from the dark ages to brighten your intellect, at least for a little while, right?

The third gift is a song and an idea mixed into one. I got this idea from the fabulous Kris Carr, and my kids and I are loving it (plus it’s great exercise)! Here goes: Dance to one song every single day. Inevitably, if you dance to one song, you’ll find you want to dance to two, three, etc.. Here’s what we’re dancing to today, one of our faves…. DANCE!

The fourth gift is just a gift I got today. I got to go to an ashtanga yoga conference. I brought the Monkey with me because I love the community so much, and I thought it’d be good for her to absorb some of the culture and positive energy.

While she drew pictures on my notebook, I listened intently to the wise David Robson explain why ON EARTH we do this extreme style of yoga 6 days a week, come hell or high water, children climbing on me or dog pawing my head, cats licking my mat or self-defeating thoughts plaguing my brain. And he talked about issues that really hit home for me — given my recent newsflash.

I think, to borrow his words, I’ve given my negative thoughts about myself and my body “a home” since I gained all this weight, to the point where I haven’t been able to even imagine myself slim again — which is problematic when your doctor gently suggests you better lose weight or else! By practising the very challenging Ashtanga yoga every day, I’m practising recognizing, and hence changing, such (negative) thought patterns.

So, eureka. Gift. I hope that helps you too. Even if you don’t practice yoga, it’s helpful to recognize the thoughts that contribute to what ails us.

When I get on my mat every day, I do in a sense go to battle. Not only against (or alongside) some of the more challenging poses of this practice, but against anxious or self-conscious thoughts that get in the way, attachments, and against time — which might actually be the biggest, most telling battle of all.

Love!
xo Haley-O


I’m not sure if my brillers yoga teacher minds if I quote him (again), but I’m too shy to ask. And yesterday, in yoga class, a funny thing happened.

In Ashtanga yoga, which is the style of yoga I practise, you do the same sequence every day, 6 days a week. Once you’ve mastered the poses your teacher’s given you, you get to add on another pose (or more). So I’ve been “stuck” at Bhujapidasana for over 9 months now. UNTIL YESTERDAY!

David: How was your Bhujapidasana today?
Me: Umm, uh, good. I, erm, was a bit stiff in the neck, but I got my feet off the ground.
David: Okay, do Kurmasana.
Me: Umm.

DO KURMASANA. Just like that. After 9 months. NINE. NINE MONTHS.

SURE! No problem. Do Kurmasana. You want to see Kurmasana, Gorgeouses? Let me show you Kurmasana. Actually, let DAVID show you KurmasanaLOOK!

And here’s a woman named Maria Villella demonstrating Bhujapidasana and Kurmasana (aka Hell on Hamstrings) very fancy-like on video — because you have to see these Kurmasana poses in action….

Right!? RIGHT. Do Kurmasana, he tells me. Just like that. And would you believe it’s even harder than it looks? I promise to video it when I can finally do it, ohh, 9 years from now?!

Anyway, I’m still in shock that I got a new pose. So I had to tell you all about it — even if you don’t share this crazy passion of mine. But, you know, this is my blog. And this yoga is my life saver. It makes me a healthier, happier, less OCD-anxious person. And it makes me a better — stronger, more focused, present and less nervous — mother. It’s kind of basically me. In a nutshell. Or nutshell-shaped pose. Hmmm….

And now for farm pictures.

We went to the farm near Montreal to spend the first night of Passover with Josh’s side of the family. And it was beautiful as ever. Except for that one bitty thing Betty White did. My in laws aren’t dog people, but they graciously allowed the dogs to roam free in the house, and, well, Betty White thanked them for it….

We had crated her in some cheap thing when we went out to the sugar shack (below) for a couple of hours, and the crate collapsed on poor Betty White! From the evidence we gathered, she then freaked out and started running all over the house looking for us — pooping in the living room and and AND decorating the entire upstairs with diarrhea….

A-ny-way…. She’s a GREAT DOG! I love her — like crazy.

So here are the pics! (Click to enlarge….)

We started at the sugary-sweet Sand Road Maple Farm. I was in a really good mood the first day — a true Canadian!

The whole family enjoyed an “authentic Canadian maple meal,” as I watched (since they don’t serve anything green or remotely vegan there other than orange juice). And the kids tasted their first authentic taffy stick…

…in their own special way….

The Canoe Race was a hoot. I was still in a good mood for this…. I was really into it!

…Of course the view helped…!

Unfortunately, none of the rowers opted to go through those RAPIDS OF DOOM. They all portaged. Boooo. So we stood out there for an hour for nothing….

But it’s okay because I was in a good mood and Betty White was warm….

Other than that, I planted my butt on a country chair and transcribed a couple of interviews (for hours!), and I started to get moody after feasting at the Passover Seder. Maybe it’s the yoga finally sinking in — but if I don’t eat clean (no sugar or overeating), I feel awful. Kind of like how Betty White’s puppy-cousin Kugel felt in a kippah…..

But the yoga helped. Saved me. And it’s always a treat to be out of the city and immersed in nature….

Birds….

Betty….

Love!

xo Haley-O


I’m trying to write this blog post right now, but my husband’s going on and on about The Bachelor. He’s loves it (even if he won’t admit it). And he has more to say about it than I do. So I think he should start his own blog. In the meantime….

The Rascal thinks we own the cottage.

He refuses to accept that we’ve been going to my parents’ cottage all this time. But I guess it doesn’t matter. Especially since he’s been decorating….

It’s the solar system. But I didn’t need to tell you that. He taped it onto my parents’ his fridge himself!

…Right after his sister climbed onto a stool and taped her own masterpiece to her grandparents’ fridge. And when I say masterpiece, I mean masterpiece. Gorgeouses, we have a real artist on our hands (click to enlarge)!

Which one is your favourite? For me it’s a tie between the 6th in from the left and the 2nd in from the right (with the, you know, the hair!).

And the fridge isn’t the only thing she’s been decorating. She decorates EVERYTHING. THE WORLD IS HER CANVAS. My little Picasso is always at work creating worlds and decorating, umm, my stuff….

And her little brother’s one of her biggest fans….

Yes, there’s a lot of cuteness around here. But also a lot of tiredness. My little artists’ young minds — brimming with so many ideas, art, GENIUS — continue to create through the night. HAVOC.

I’m exhausted.

But they’ve promised not to wake me up tonight. And they’ll never keep it.

I’m really run down, Gorgeouses. And I’m hoping that returning to yoga tomorrow — after a long, forbidden holiday — and committing to my daily practice again no matter how little sleep I’m on, no matter how much I’m working, and no matter how cute and cozy my kids look in the morning, will help rejuvenate me. Tired.

Yoga is another thing on the long list of things I SHOULD do every day. But it’s also something I can count on. Something consistent and predictable and unchanging (for the most part) and just for me.

No decorations.

Just me.

Sleep?

Love!

xo Haley-O

OH! And check out how I’m doing on my fitness journey HERE!


Depression’s a weird, complicated thing. There’s still a stigma attached to it. Everyone just wants it to go away. Everyone around you gets concerned and starts doing the Tom Selleck “sympathetic head tilt” from Friends. Remember that?

I probably shouldn’t blog about being depressed because my neck is a little stiff from all the “I’m okay head bobbing.” No. It’s actually stiff because the Rascal has been climbing into bed with me every night at 2am. I wake up as stiff as a board trying, in my sleep, not to fall off the bed.

Rascal. Who threw an EPIC TANTRUM at the giant bookstore today…. All I could do was laugh. He shrieked at the top of his lungs because I wouldn’t buy anything for him — this, of course, after 8 days of Hanukkah presents — red face, snot everywhere, and did I mention shrieking? “Shrieking.” Where are the dictionary people? I need to submit a PHOTO. You had to laugh. Everyone laughed. Poor thing is too cute for his own good.

Even though I’m still feeling depleted, I’ve come out of this depression I think. I still wake up with a subtle sense of dread every morning, but I dash out of the house to my beloved yoga “shala” and sweat out all the pain. And it is the best thing ever to start the day doing something awesome and magical and surprising.

I’m lucky I get to do that every day. It’s a little gift I’ve given myself — and everyone around me.

When you’re depressed, everyone gets concerned, and they tilt their heads and you bob your head. But the thing is depression is okay. As long as you can function and care for yourself and your family, it’s okay. It might even be a good thing.

Just like when you get a cold, people say it’s your body telling you to rest. I get sick in emotional ways because my nerves get so depleted from all the anxiety and worry and constant-doing and overwhelming responsibility and I-want-I-want-I-want and no-no-I-said-no that comes with motherhood. When I get depressed, it’s like my soul has a cold; it tells me I need to rest and nurture myself.

So I didn’t go to the basketball game with Josh and the kids, and I didn’t blog, and I slept in until 11am, and I walked my dog, and I called a friend, and I made a soup…. And I watched a Real Housewives marathon…. And I felt better. I feel better. I’m lucky.

And, Gorgeouses? Before you know it, I will be skiing for the first time in my life because I’m lucky….

And this is the landscape I’ll be gazing at for many weekends to come….

Because….

My parents bought a cottage….

And it’s hard to be down and out when you’re surrounded by family…and forest and lake…and when you’re skiing!?

They are lucky, my kids.

I’ll never discourage them when they’re feeling depressed. I’ll never insist that they be happy when they’re not. Because depression can be a gift if you use it wisely. Kind of like a winter lake. Dark and cold — but sparkly in the winter sun, and rife with reflection.

Love!

xo Haley-O

P.S.: Check out pp.64-65 of the January issue of Today’s Parent Magazine! My article “Resolutions for Real Parents” is there! Should be on stands later this week. Hope you like it!

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