Category Archives: catch-22

Check-Writing Angels & Growing Up


So a few days ago, I shared with you the amazing and transformative experience I had when I shared the gift of yoga and mindful meditation with Survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

What has happened to me in the four short days since that experience has resulted in only the most amazing gift, and thus explains my absence and lack of posts since. I’ve been a little overwhelmed.

. . . . . . . . . .

One of the participants asked me why I wasn’t certified yet. I hemmed and hawed and moaned about the expenses and how it all seems like a racket, that all the classes (there must’ve been some Steve Jobsian-edict from the Yoga Alliance) cost a minimum $3,000 for Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) 200-hour certification. I felt like there was a “system” in place; a mafia, so to speak and I considered the whole thing rather unyogic.

Truth be told, because yoga has become so “hot” lately, some people believe the practice has become diluted; that the essence of the discipline has been taken over, and focused more on “yoga bodies” and “long, lean muscles.” Gone are the covers on Yoga Journal of regular people sitting in meditation or in a traditional pose; now everyone is doing King of the Dancers (a very advanced pose) and has 14% body fat. I tend to agree with the concept that yoga has been somewhat corrupted by commerce. The whole point of yoga is not $135 transparent yoga pant recalls but rather: to build balance and flow in poses to prepare for sitting for long periods in meditation and to build a lasting relationship with equanimity.

So much for equanimity:

I teach sixth graders for 8 weeks every spring, free, at the school. When I first started 6 years ago, the focus from the kids, and it was a good ratio of boys to girls then, was all about relaxation, stress relief and becoming quiet. The kids knew this. They were into it. They were scared and nervous about the transition to middle school and they welcomed the opportunity to stretch their muscles, touch their toes and fall asleep for 10 minutes in the dark before dismissal.

The number one question then: “Can I do yoga anywhere?” The answer: Yes.

This year, the NUMBER ONE question was “will I get abs from this?” and “how do I get a six-pack?” My answers, respectively and invariably, have been: “If you didn’t have abs, you wouldn’t be able to walk,” and “You get a six-pack when you turn 21.”

They hate those answers. They want, at 12 years of age, “perfect” bodies. They’re so stressed out about getting “perfect” bodies, that they are completely obsessed with it.

I digress. Be it known, however, that I am working on changing those kids’ attitudes.

Where was I? Oh, yes: complaining about the price-fixing -esque nature of the yoga certification industry. I complained about that to my friend when she asked about my training.

She was not impressed with that answer. She has known me for quite some time. She and I have talked about this before. Apparently, whatever I did with her that day rocked her world because she took it upon herself to blow my mind the next day.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sunday morning, Mother’s Day, she dropped off a check. A check for $3,500. $3,500 which will cover my registration, lessons, travel and testing for becoming a “Registered Children & Family Yoga” instructor by my 46th birthday, this year.

I am floored.

My husband accepted the check, he thought it was for $35 for a Pampered Chef order. He thought it was for a pan, or spices or the crank ‘n’ maul (my brand) manual food processor. When she dropped it off, she said, “This is for Molly’s yoga certification,” and practically skipped away toward her car. He was in a haze; it was likely the cooking and cleaning and dealing with the children that he had to do for the previous few hours in preparation for my awesome breakfast in bed:


Upon further examination of the check, when he confirmed that it wasn’t for $35.00, he sort of lost it. He looked out the window and she was >poof!< goneski.

He came up to me and said, “Bipsy McFarlandberger just dropped this off, it’s for your ‘certification‘?”

My heart sank. It also swelled.

Then it sank again.

Then it leapt. Then it sat.

I squinched my face. “She did? Hrmmmm… I was afraid of that,” I took a sip from my Wonder Woman mug.

“You were ‘afraid of that‘? What’s up?”

“I forgot to tell you. She gave me a loving, but firm hard time yesterday for not being certified to teach yoga yet.”

“She did?”

“Yeah. And Helga VonFranklesmith, told me that Bipsy is a force of nature and that just because I said no earlier to her first proposal, it doesn’t mean I can really mean it.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because Bipsy is a force of nature. She’s tenacious. C’mon…. you know, she’s… BIPSY…”

And he nodded and said, “Yeah, I know Bipsy. So, what’re you gonna do?”

“I can’t TAKE it…”

“Right. You don’t have to. But it’s Bipsy we’re talking about.”

“Yeah, and she kindly said that she’s tired of hearing my story and she knows this is a dream of mine and that she has this money and she wants to give it to me and I told her not to and well… you see how far that got me,” I said, as I began to chew on my inner lip. On one hand, it’s freakin’ awesome: I’ve NEVER had anyone I’m not related to or had exchanged a marriage vow with (that’s only one guy so far) believe in me that much; you know: just hand me cash. In fact, NO ONE has done that. On the other hand, would I be morally beholden, obligated, is this a transaction? I didn’t want to be “owned.”

Well, no one more than Bipsy knows that no one is ever “owned.”

So I called her Monday. We talked; she’s so funny. She said this, “I’m taking a very safe bet on you. You’re so good for this… ” she doesn’t want repayment. Of course she will get repayment. “This is a gift,” she said. She… who thinks she has the last word on this. But there is an air of yogic responsibility and universal (woo-woo alert) flow to this. She expertly argued that if I don’t take the gift, that I am stopping the chi, the prana, the flow of good energy back into the universe.

She had me there.

She told me that instead of repaying her, I will pay for someone else; pay it forward. Ok. It’s hard to argue with that logic.

I talked to my husband about it.

“A lot of men would feel emasculated by this,” he said. “I don’t. Here’s why: she’s right. I could give you $10,000 cash RIGHT now, and you wouldn’t do it. Why? Because you think I don’t mean it; that I support you because I’m supposed to; in sickness and in health, and all that. But she’s right: you’ve been giving yourself away for so long, it’s time you were certified so you can become ‘legit’, y’know, earn income and give back, which you always and already do, on so many fronts, so why not take this gift, as you’ve tirelessly and selflessly given to others, to this community and to the school, in return?”

So I shrugged my shoulders. I had no answer, no good point. She didn’t need the money. He wasn’t threatened by it. I had no reason to say no. No good reason. The bad reasons: I’m not worthy of it; I can never repay her; I think she’s a good kind of crazy; I’m not ready for the certification; I’m unable to do it; it’s logistically impossible I’m … I’m … I’m … all of it, every single reason was prohibitive or critical. That’s not good.

I’ve stopped people from giving me gifts. For our 10th anniversary I made my husband take back a pair of diamond stud earrings. They were princess cut, like my engagement ring; they were fantastic and happy and gorgeous. They were not prudent, so I made him take them back. I feel a pit in my stomach now at that memory and how I must’ve shot him down. When he presented them to me, he said the kindest things. That I make him smile. That he loves me like no one else ever; that I have given him miraculous children, that I am the reason he lives. Shit Stuff like that. I rejected them. It was an imprudent gift; we were in no position financially to do it; we’d just renovated our kitchen, literally, on our 10th anniversary; I was happy with that. But I shot it down angrily nonetheless; I had the temerity to blame him.

Another time, when Bruce Springsteen came to town, he wanted to surprise me. So he bought tickets. They were financially out of sight, in an outdoor stadium, in the middle, excellent seats. I made him sell them on Stub Hub. We made a nice profit, actually, but the point is that I rejected them again.

The other point is, that I have a problem, a serious problem, with accepting sincere and loving kindness and gifts. I am afraid to open my heart. I am shielding it.

If we want there to be peace in the world, we have to be brave enough to soften what is rigid in our hearts, to find the soft spot and stay with it. We have to have that kind of courage and take that kind of responsibility. That’s the true practice of peace.” – Pema Chodron

I have to grow up. I have to accept the fact that not all gifts are “loaded” that people like to give for the pleasure of giving and accepting the gift is not a sign of weakness. That graciously accepting the gift means that I see value in myself and that the giver is not an idiot for giving it. I also have to grow up and realize that “hand-outs” are nothing compared to a hand-up. My upcoming yogi, who apparently knows a lot more about energy exchanges than I thought I did, said that my continual hand-outs of my own talents and gifts for nothing in exchange sends two messages: 1) that I believe I have no value (which has been established) and 2) that my giving my talent away makes the recipient feel like charity.

“What if your current yoga teacher or offered you classes free but charged everyone else? What would you do? What what you think?” she asked.

“I would insist on paying her. I would feel that she didn’t value herself,” I answered, as I kicked a rock and shoved my hands into my pockets. “I would feel like she felt sorry for me.”

The fact that Bipsy is a friend, but not a super-lifetime, known-me-since-I-was-in-diapers friend helps. There is that level of detachment, that level of our knowing each other only as adults, and that she knows me as an active community member and trusted friend and as a healer (or attempting healer) and so it was with great gratitude and cheer that I accepted her gift. Monday I inquired. Tuesday, I applied. Yesterday I was interviewed and accepted into the program and today I registered for the program.

So, for 16 days, I will be on an intensive, yoga certification retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia to learn how to teach Kundalini yoga to children, children with autism, anxiety, differing abilities and all the other kaleidoscopic ways that makes them unique and also to men and women and seniors. Meditations will start at 6am and lessons will go until 6pm ever day. I will learn how to cook vegan-ally (is that a word?) and I am so excited. It will be the first time I’ve ever been away from my team for more than five days. I’m ready.

Mind officially blown.

Thank you, Bipsy. I don’t know if I will have ability to send dispatches from retreat, I hope not… I’ll just bring a pen and paper. Remember those?


Update UnGifting.

Re – ject – shun



The word “rejection” was first used in 1415[1]. The original meaning was “to throw” or “to throw back.”

I’m thinking a lot about rejection lately and the roles I’ve played in it both as survivor and as executor. This fascination comes on the heels of a conversation I had a few days ago with a dear friend about why feelings from years-old, scarred-over rejections still sting as if just cut. And I can’t help but think to myself and to my friend, that well, it sucks to be rejected. These are deep, primal emotions. Fear of rejection exists in wolf packs, lion prides, fish schools, modern organizations, tribal societies and more. People and organisms, all of us have ancient need to fit in, to be liked, and to be included. Abraham Maslow, father of “humanistic psychology” which looks at the whole person rather than a “bag of symptoms” devoted his life’s work to the study of our need for inclusion.  What is harder still to understand is the self-destructive behaviors some people engage in after rejection.

Why do we hurt so much after rejection? Well, I think that it’s because at one time or another with these people or entities, we were on the same team, the same page; and we’d developed a sense of kinship, simpatico and most importantly, trust.

If you’re rejected from something that doesn’t matter to you, it’s not really a rejection emotionally. It’s more like an inconvenient curiosity; you can brush it off – “it just didn’t work out.”  So in order to allow true rejection, we have to allow a true relationship because you can’t have feelings of unlove without love. It’s almost impossible to not feel sadness about being rejected from someone we respected and felt safe with. We can’t be rejected by someone we consider an “un-friendly,” someone who made us feel excluded.

I started to look at the online dictionary of “rejection” and that led to a “rejection emotion” report on Wikipedia at which was easy to read (because I could relate to it, and honestly, who can’t?) and totally fascinating from a practical and psychological point of view. (Especially a part about how people with crushing self-esteem consider being asked to wait a form of rejection.)

As I have matured, I have been both the rejected and the rejector and I have to say, that regardless of the perspective, being in those situations is really, really hard. I can’t help but be reminded of what Carl Jung said about the truth of needing to look in the mirror, so to speak, when we have decided to be vexed by traits in others because we often possess those traits ourselves. That’s terrifically humbling.

The looking in the mirror always makes me think of a great line between Phoebe and Rachael on “Friends” when they were screaming at each other over a mutual inconvenience: “How could you be SO selfish?!”  It was brilliantly played and the audience got it immediately. It doesn’t matter who says it; both people are selfish.

Other times, while Jung’s point applies, the fates are already set. One person doesn’t bother to have all the facts. The judgment had already been made and there ain’t nothin’ you can do about it ‘cept put on your jacket and walk away.

In those situations, I recall (when considering a bad date, or other social situation where it just wasn’t going to work out) sometimes the offending act is simply a convenient ruse to (still) play the blame card and pull the (r)eject handle. I remember one date in particular: “No Sale” showed up on my eyes like in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons. I was out of order. And that was that. On the receiving end of that – ouch: when I encountered similar moments and have been the rejected one, no matter how hard I say, “aaaaah, da hellwid’em…” it’s next to impossible to ignore the sting that somehow, in a very specific way (that they will likely never stoop to dignify me with a reason), I have dissatisfied. I have made that person’s ability to dislike me apparent. If I’m a stone I will move on with nary a thought but because I am not a stone, I sit and ruminate and get pissed.

I have another great friend who insists these rejections aren’t personal. They’re not about me. They’re about the shallowness of the other person (and this is meant as an objective observation, not trash-talking about the other person, because believe me, as much as I want to “go there,” by denigrating the person who rejects me, in the long run, if I ridicule that person, what the hell does that make me for feeling bad about being rejected? A person rejected by someone I consider a loser now. Nope, that doesn’t work… talk about a Catch-22).

Hashing things out, sitting, listening, hearing and exchanging requires depth, maturity, patience, empathy and a true interest in progress. Some people simply ain’t got that kind of energy. And to be honest, if it isn’t a good fit, it’s OK but do it with tact, not personal empty useless barbs and hiding behind excuses or technology (I wince from the facebook stuff – it has allowed an entire class of those who may have felt inferior in their high school days to display their cliqués and coolness in their now-40s, or, what’s worse: continue living in the faded Glory Days of their smaller waistlines, softer skin, fragile egos and better eyesight). I’m all for having a good time, but not at someone else’s expense, and certainly broadcasting it is, well, sorta pathetic. As one of my great friends said, “Ain’t we all got gray pubes by now? Aren’t we too old for this shit?!” Very true and she always makes me laugh when she says it because we’re both absolutely exasperated by it all, especially the facebook stuff, when she does say it.

But back to the Catch-22 because it fascinates me: if we pine for the person who punts, but also puke on the punter while still pining… what does that make us? A sap. A pukey-smelling, sticky sap (I did say “pine” and what do pines do when they’re cut? They leak sticky sap).  Mocking those who reject us is pretty human, I think. While it’s certainly not something Spock would do, it’s understandable but also completely reactive.

So where is the resolution? What do we do to wash away the feelings from rejection instead of skewering those who hurt us? I’m not sure, but I am thinking of another good friend I spoke to this week and I hope he’s reading: remember, as much as it burns and twists in our hearts, we do need to remember that the rejection is probably (99 and 44/100) completely incidental, that it reflects a core character flaw and true weakness in the other person’s ability to deal with some form of self-loathing. So rather than work on the problem and the pain of facing old truths, the person acts up and hands out the pink skip rather than be handed one.

Another interesting point is that often, the one who rejects has a posse. Ironically, rejectors have lots of friends. Or probably more like it, sycophants (probably because they are afraid of getting the boot so they kiss ass because statistically, someone will be next). I wonder if it’s because the rejector can’t bear to be alone – even in the midst of rejecting! I’m thinking back on my moments of rejecting others, people with whom I shared deep histories, and it usually happened when I was alone. Every time, it hurt like hell: admitting that something is harder to keep up than let run its course is another lesson in humility because we are admitting we’re not up for The Work.  But for others, they’re like mob bosses – it’s all superficial, fast, explosive and they can’t do it alone, so they either bring people with them or they have a posse waiting outside.

Like “Gaston” in “Beauty and the Beast,” these people could be so insecure  that they will persecute a person (who dares to disagree and who could also inspire self-reflection and growth) and have their entourage to affirm their obtuseness. The possibility of being alone with our feelings in the moment of rejecting is so repugnant to some that their lemmings must be on stand-by for high-fives. It’s a mystery.

Then there’s the whole argument about giving power, mental power and energy to the people who cut us to the quick, even years later. Jesus could turn the other cheek. It’s a nice model, but it’s not the easiest, although I try to live up to it.

As I also say occasionally, “I’d rather quit than be fired.”

But that’s just my leather jacket talking. The truth is: I’d rather work it out than destroy it. I’d rather agree to disagree than feel insecure every time I’m around those people and their posse, because I still remember what it was like to be the lonely girl on the playground.

Re-ject-SHUN. It hurts. If you’re on the other end of the barrel, try compromise and taking turns and if it simply can’t be fixed: take the high road and say your piece, be upfront, be decent, be mature and walk away with no one waiting. It’s best to be alone regardless of your position. It’s time to reflect and learn not high-five and grumble-grouse with the brown-nosers.

Thank you.