Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Master of the Chair

So when I moved to Arizona almost 10 years ago, I brought with me lots of hand-me-down furniture from my parents. Included in the mix was this rust corduroy-covered short chair, with wood legs. My dad had the chair when he first moved to Oberlin, 40-plus years ago, so this thing has some history... apparently several re-upholsterings, many houses, much use.  My dog, Wilson, quickly made it his, though people still sat in the chair from time to time. Somewhere along the way, the chair lost its legs, and it completely became a glorified dog bed. Over the years, I've had many roommates, and Wilson has had many canine and feline roommates. What's been interesting is the politics around this chair over the years. The dog who's on the top of the pecking order gets the chair. Apparently, poor Wilson has let himself get pecked right out of his chair, time and time again.

With roomie Brian and his dogs Iris and Odin, Iris was alpha. She is a 'mother hen' type of dog, and that chair was almost immediately hers once they all moved in. During the two years Brian lived here, it was rare to see Wilson or Odin curling up in the chair. Rather, Iris stayed planted in the chair, a fuzzy queen in her corduroy throne. After Brian, came JC with her dog Kayla, who slid right in to owning that chair. Again, Wilson rarely slept in the chair, but was always on a teeny round carpet or on the floor. I briefly considered getting rid of the chair when JC and Kayla moved out; that damn thing has certainly seen better days. Within 24 hours of their departure, however, Wilson was back in the chair, every day, enjoying his cushy dog sofa. While I know he misses his dog friends, I'm sure he's grateful to have that chair back again… at least for the moment. The politics over the chair aren't done just yet.
About a year ago, Minou, a terrible and quite lovable kitten, came into my life. She and Wilson became fast friends, but it's really only been in this era post-roommates that the power struggles between the two of them have really become clear. Wilson puts up with quite a bit from Minou, including allowing her to chase him away from his own food bowl, allowing her to use his tail as chasing toy, and putting up with this last bit. Here's how the game goes:
  1. Wilson sleeps peacefully in his chair. His nose gently rests on the edge of the chair.
  2. Minou, always the troublemaker, quietly sneaks into the room, and up to the edge of the chair, close to unsuspecting Wilson.
  3. Minou swats Wilson across the nose (no claws).
  4. Wilson stirs, grumbles, and goes back to sleep.
  5. Minou swats again, this time, with claws.
  6. Wilson sits up, barks at the cat, scaring her away. Wilson lays back down and goes to sleep.
  7. Minou makes her approach again. She swats, claws out, and stands her ground.
  8. Wilson wakes again, bothered, and chases the Minou around the room.
  9. By one lap around the room, Minou climbs in the chair, curls up, and goes to sleep.
  10. Wilson sheepishly moves to the couch, or his round little rug.

While it leaves poor Wilson at the bottom of the pecking order yet again, it's terribly entertaining. This happens at least once a day, often more. While neither Minou nor I have grown tired of the game, I have a feeling Wilson is…

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


This morning I went to yoga class. Laura, my teacher, has had a very positive influence on me, and especially in this past year. She inspires me every day to stretch, grow (myself and my garden), and love life. Part of what makes Laura so awesome is that each one of her classes- private or group- starts with a philosophical theme that always seems to be just what I need to hear. On a day when I was "in a bunch" and taking everything way too seriously, Laura's theme was about embracing our inner child. We spent the class finding the joy in those postures we detest, and we spent 90 minutes giggling like little kids, having such a blast. I snapped right out of my sour mood, of course.
Today's theme was fearlessness. And yet again, Laura's message hit close to home. To be fearless, we aren't without fear. Rather, the fearless acknowledge their fears, and continue moving forward. Sometimes those fears are reasonable and justified- when we haven't built the strength or flexibility to attempt a difficult posture, for example. In those cases, we need to pay attention to the fears, allow them to protect us. However, for most, and certainly for me, in my life and my yoga practice, fear creates limits beyond that which is reasonable and justified. Today's class was filled with postures and sequences which are ones I *should* practice every day (because I often dislike doing them, because they're hard to do). So the practice in fearlessness for me today was in staying put and breathing no matter how bad I wanted to come out of the posture, in taking that steadying foot off the wall in headstand, and in general, just staying with the discomfort, be it from a shaking hamstring or from a fearful mind.
And of course the message carries over to life off the mat, too. My practice of fearlessness in the studio today was in allowing a little bit of play on difficult projects. Rather than focusing on tangible additions to my inventory, I'm working on experiments. I'm tuning in to the technical issues and challenges with some of these ideas I have for new beads, and making myself work on them, even though the first attempts aren't what I imagined, even though its frustrating, even though part of me just wants to go back to making what I've been making for years. It's always harder than I thought, putting ideas into motion… It's also really fun.
So I'm going to pay Laura's wisdom forward: here's wishing you fearlessness!