Tag Archives: Brady Bunch

Soccer Mom — red card…


I am not sure how to start this. I debated whether titling this post “one for the eulogy” or “red card.” I dabbled over the former, not because I’m macabre and depressing, but because I’m quite aware of the fact that we all die one day.

Yesterday started out gloriously. I was sitting in the sun, awaiting one of my sons’ games. They lost soundly, it was a 5-0 defeat.  At halftime, my son was crushed and was asking for advice. I had none other than to say that when he’s off the field, watch the other team’s players and see what they do and then try to do it too.

This particular son is more of a hair-twirler and bouncy runner. He’s young, emotionally, still soft, without that “killer” instinct for the sport, but he LOVES being part of a team and putting on a uniform, cleats and shin guards, arriving on time and doing his best. When he’s focused, he’s a good little defender. My shouts from the sidelines to remind him to “win it, Thing 3! DEEEEEFENNNNNSSSE!” seem to perk him up. I don’t do it very often, so I think that’s why it tends to win out over his dedicated coach’s tips and directions which start to sound like a droning after a while. He woke up in the second half, being more of a gnat to the other team’s approach for our goal, thwarting a couple advances and that made him feel better. As we walked to the car, he said, “Did you see when I stopped that big kid from his drive? I was afraid, because he is huge, but I kicked the ball off track to one of our guys…” and he did. He cleared it a good 20 or 30 feet, with some help from the patch grass bumps in the field, from the goal.

My other son’s game was happening at the same time. I could not attend that one, for obvious reasons, but they lost as well, 8-2. I learned from my husband that our Thing 2 (who is now 14) played quite well and he made a gorgeous penalty kick which he fired with such ferocity that the goalie simply couldn’t stop it. Despite the loss, my son was proud that he had played his best. That’s all we can ask for, isn’t it? That they feel proud of their efforts that they did their best.

Several hours, a spin on the ergometer, a meditation session and 40 minutes in our hot tub later, was the first game of our oldest son’s team. These guys are what’s called “U19” and they comprise all ages from 16-19 in a defined window of available athletes who didn’t make or can’t afford the high school teams and are possibly attending college locally but don’t play on those teams either. These guys are competitive, aggressive and some of them are wildly talented and a pure pleasure to watch. You can see how they’ve acquired thunderous legs and powerful chests, fearlessly advancing the field with a passion you read about. They are not nincompoops. They know the sport, they try to get away with a little here and there, but by and large, these athletes have been playing since they could walk. I imagine some of them slept with a soccer ball as they were children, or young men. It’s as though the ball is an appendage of their form. They are thugs who play like gentlemen… (read on.)

My oldest used to be awkward, afraid, timid. He’s got a coach now who reminds me of the sheriff in “O Brother Where Art Thou?” (I wouldn’t be surprised to learn this coach intentionally plays up his image a little, creating a pastiche of the character for the amusement of the spectators and the team.)

credit: the owners of this image, a massive movie studio owned by a global conglomerate somewhere on our planet.

credit: the owners of this image, a massive movie studio owned by a global conglomerate somewhere on our planet.

He has those sunglasses. He wears a sport jacket to games after 6:00pm. Last season when “we” went to all-region, he wore a dark fedora and a long black wool coat to the games. He’s pretty quiet on the sidelines. He’s intense and he saves his commentary for when the players come off the field or for half-time pep talks. I recall him quoting a German philosopher or naval officer at the end of one of their early games last season in which they were simply outplayed in every possibly fashion and lost by a score of 11-2 or something. He started to play my son less and less as the season went on.

We don’t engage, as parents. My husband and I have a tacit understanding that interceding on our children’s behalf for their supposed betterment or advancement says more about us and simply hinders any growth in our kids. If it’s the kids’ coach, teacher, friend, parent of friend, mentor, counselor … we just don’t really get involved. They have to learn to navigate these waters. (I’m not saying it’s EASY… sometimes I have to literally bite my tongue, step away and close my eyes… read on…) So my son was understandably frustrated by the continual lessening of his play time. We encouraged him to talk to the coach. To be upfront, sincere, mature and above all diplomatic about his plight. He was and the response he got back was some of the best advice — the same thing his father and I have whispered to one another in the stands — he could have received, but he ASKED to hear it: “You’ve got to be fearless. Get physical. Play some rugby in the off season. Don’t take anyone out, but really, get in there. I’ve said many times, ‘It’s a gentlemen’s game played by thugs.’ Be a thug, but play like a gentleman.”

So Thing 1 came away grateful, a little intimidated, but very clear about what the coach wanted. You can count on Thing 1 for that: he will absolutely follow direction, and he’s a reliable self-starter, but this U19 team was all new to him, he’d never played against and alongside MEN. I knew this coach was going to help turn my son into a man. He’s tough though… and regardless of our scrap-up yesterday (read on…), I still respect the hell out of him.

So this third game was at scheduled for 6pm on a turf field at a park. The center ref is an old man. He reminded me of the “old timer” in the Brady Bunch’s Jesse James episode:

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 11.01.38 AM

credit: the Brady Bunch. I shit you not – they are twins. All that’s missing is the black ref’s cap.

I’m not an ageist. I saw this ref and I thought, They might be really lucky, they’ve got a guy who really knows his game.

No. (read on.)

This ref wanted to start the game early, shorten the halves to 40 minutes each and gave up without any pressure his utter lack of knowledge of the rules. He’s usually a linesman, my husband tells me.

My husband, who is a very patient man (you really don’t know how patient he is…) sighed when our coach shared this information. Apparently we agreed to start five minutes early at 5:55 but keep the halves at 45 minutes (which is the COACH’s discretion).

My son’s team was playing beautifully. They were winning, elegantly. My son scored a nice shot, his first of the season, in the first game, in the first half. He was really proud of himself. I was excited for him. The other team was good, but they seem disorganized and loose. They were out-skilled, but not by much. Due to the low number of available teams in the area, I’m certain we will play them again later on and it will be good to see how they’ve improved. At the half it was 2-1, we were in the lead.

But it was the ref. His calls were inconsistent and beginning to favor the other team, blindly. Clearly legal plays, a slide tackle where the ball was touched first (something I recently understood as the linchpin for that maneuver) was ruled “dangerous” and one of our guys got a yellow card. Even the opposing coach was beginning to be surprised by his team’s inexplicable good fortune.

In the midst, my son’s team managed to get a nice shot in, making it 3-1. My son’s team has increased its chatter on the field and it’s paying off. The other team seemed again to be a little demoralized by “our” fluidity.

Nonetheless, everyone trudges on. Keep playing keep playing keep playing. The un-choreographed dance of 20 or so young athletes was hard for me to keep track of. Plus it was cold, about 55˚ now and the sun was going down. I began to feel sorry for the ref. The spectator heckling was apparent. He likely couldn’t hear it. A couple times, he got hit by the ball with such intensity many of us in the stands were impressed he was still standing. I think those hits started to do something to his brain… he made calls from one end of the field about actions happening 40 yards away. His line refs were exasperated by the randomness of it all. Our team made another shot on their goal, 4-1, which everyone agreed was legal, but from the other end of the field, this ref must’ve used his bionic vision and Big Blue processing chips to recall the goal.

No matter, we were still ahead. Back to 3-1. Then somehow the whistle. No one understood. The other team made a successful penalty kick on our goal, 3-2. We were still ahead though, so … you know, just keep on…

Then the other team made a gorgeous goal during the second half, tying the game. It was hard to ignore the majesty in the drive which began all the way at the opposite end of the field. The ball was passed without much interruption from one player to another in an advance to the goal and then one player just went for it. Without hesitation, and he nailed it. It was a pleasure to witness even though it was now 3-3.

Somewhere in the next few moments, we made an answering goal, 4-3. We were all running out of time, it was close to 7:25. The game, by all rights, due to the -5 minute start time should have been over. Competitive players that they are, our team started to hog the ball, take its time retrieving it, kick it off the field. That got a corner kick which was unsuccessful.

It was 7:27 now… you know, the time in the universe when all in-progress U19 soccer games are supposed to go pear-shaped and the refs are programmed to go batshit crazy. People are starting to question how much time.

All along the course of the game, this ref never explained his calls. He never answered requests for the charges. I know there’s something in the US Constitution about the absolute requirement by an arresting officer to name the charge against a suspect… Doesn’t that commute to FIFA or US Soccer or whatever the governing body is of this sport? My husband says, “Sort of. The ref is supposed to explain each charge, especially if questioned…”

Well apparently we were now playing “kick the ball, run around, and blow the whistle just because” not soccer. This ref allowed player subs at all the wrong times, disallowing subs when they were legal… it was crazy. When you have a six-year-old player still in his uniform from another game putting his head in his hands and running his fingers through his dried, sweaty hair because the calls don’t make any sense, you’re witnessing a travesty of justice.

He gave the other team two inexplicable successive penalty kicks. This one was a free kick. He mumbled something to our players and they lined up, placing their hands in front of the family jewels and waiting for the shot, which went over everyone’s heads and was denied. Still 4-3.

The next penalty, which even I questioned (and that means a lot because I don’t understand this game at all, so I keep my trap shut) because the whistle was blown during a throw-in from the sidelines (on a ball my son had let go…) deep into our territory. While the ball was still airborne, heading toward the goal. Nothing had happened … the ball hadn’t even made contact on the ground. I thought, Did one of the feet come up during the throw? Was it the wrong KIND of throw, not evenly over the head? Was it slung from the hips? But I knew enough, after 11 years, that a bad throw necessitates a re-THROW. And that was not happening. This was a line up for a penalty kick — no interference from other players, just the kicker and the goalie. I questioned the validity by thrice shouting, CLEARLY, from the stands because he’s ancient, it’s windy and cold and the game should’ve been over by then anyway, “WHAT? IS? THE? CALL?” (which our own coach didn’t even demand the answer).

The ref heard me. He looked up at me and waved me off. I’m sure it was the old “he threw the ball too hard” call we hear so little about. Turns out when the throw-in was made, one of the other team’s taller players leaped up to head the ball (legal) but our player who was shorter, yet quite powerful, but right beneath / behind him (on the other player’s descent), crossed his arms upon his chest like a pharaoh in his sarcophagus and that was considered pushing when the other player inevitably, because gravity always wins, landed on him.

The other team’s coach was astonished. His own player ran up to him and said, “you know that’s not a penalty, right?” and the coach nodded and said, “Yeah! …”

Nonetheless, the whistle and ignorant, half-present octogenarians reign.

It was 7:33 now. Eight minutes PLUS the end of the game’s official time. The player placed the ball and took the shot. In the corner. Done. 4-4.


Not ten seconds later, not another play later, not even when the ball was … stopped from the thrust.

That’s when I lost my mind. I’m not proud of this. I am embarrassed and I immediately sent an apology to our coach when I got home. (read on…).

I stepped down from my seat in the stands and shouted, with my hands cupping either side of my mouth, directly aimed at the ref clearly, emphatically, passionately and intentionally:


.pause. is he looking at me? no.


.pause. has he followed the voice? can he see me? no.


.pause. can he find me yet? no.


.pause. is he looking at me? yes. one more for clarity…


I waited each time I said it, a nanosecond to some, but a lifetime to me, to see if he had made the connection. That he had disgusted a yoga teacher who usually just sits in the stands and cheers everyone — no matter how humiliating the loss — if I see a great play, I’m gonna clap.

My son’s coach, the Sheriff, whipped around like the snake in “Beetlejuice”:

credit Beetlejuice and a big fancy movie studio.

credit Beetlejuice and a big fancy movie studio.

He tried to shut me down. “THAT’S ENOUGH!” — to me, I was just getting started.

Woe, the little man who tries to shut me down.

“NO IT’S NOT!” I growled back. “THIS IS BULLSHIT. HE DIDN’T EXPLAIN EITHER OF THOSE CALLS….” and I hadn’t said, “The game was eight minutes over time! That call was for spite. He’s teaching these kids that rules, decorum and tradition don’t matter and personal pettiness does. AND YOU DIDN’T QUESTION ANY OF IT!”


>oh. time to stop.<

“NO! I DON’T! BUT THIS IS CRAZY, FUCKED UP…” and I grabbed my bag, told my other son who was ashen and enraged (NO ONE YELLS AT MY MOM LIKE THAT!) that I was leaving and he needed to ride home with his dad, and I stomped away. I’m sure I left a haze of brown smoke behind me.

I didn’t look back. I’m sure all the grandparents were just … “Well, I never” -ing, patting off their sweat with their doilies and reaching for their smelling salts.

I was still seeing red. I put even more of an ugly face on my face intentionally. The face that said, “If you think you’re going to make an impact on me, if you think you’re going to change my attitude, think twice because while I’m unhinged and disgusted, I’m about to get into an SUV and I need to calm my shit down and I don’t need a lecture from you… ” because the shame was starting to sink in. The embarrassment… and oh… the gut-churning shame.

A proud woman in a crimson WISCONSIN hoodie looked at me. She stood up in the space between her open driver’s door of her blue Prius as I was advancing toward my gas guzzling Earth destroyer.

“I agree with you,” she said.

I cooled to a simmer.

“Thanks.” I said and started to continue my retreat.

I stopped and turned back. She was almost in her car. I was defeated and exasperated and so ashamed.

“I’m just so sad.” I said. “That ref didn’t know what he was doing. He started the game early. He wanted to shorten the halves. He knew he was ignorant of the rules, he told both the coaches. He ruined a really good experience and he showed everyone, not just the spectators, but the players and the other refs, that bad calls and not adhering to the rules is just fine and that playing hard and honestly doesn’t count…”

She nodded as she said “He tore apart the integrity of the game right there…”

I thanked her for her kindness. I apologized for my rant. She said, “Nope. You were right. You just said what a lot of us are afraid to say…”

I rage for the many, I thought to myself, sighing and walking to my car, feeling the benefits of my earlier meditation, hot tub soak, writing, and grueling 6k workout on our rowing machine sift through my consciousness. I had negated all that good.

I got home. Didn’t kill anyone on the road, I checked the front of my car later to make sure.

My oldest son called me from his father’s car. I answered. I wanted to hide.

“Hey honey…” I said, faking cheerfulness.

“You ok? I am calling to check on you. I know that took a lot out of you,” he said.

“I’m as good as can be expected. This isn’t your job to fix me, hon…” I said. “I’m so sorry… It’s not at all like me…”

“I’m not trying to fix you, Mom. I apologized to everyone for you. They told me not to bother. They think you rock, Mom. They said they were amazed by you. You said everything they couldn’t say. That our coaches couldn’t say. You let it all rip. No one thinks you suck, Mom.”

My heart softened, toward myself, a little. I brightened. My ego stepped in… “They did? What did they say?” I cringed.

“Just that. That you were the voice for us all.”

I shared with him my points of my argument; that my rage was not personal, and that I was afraid of my rapture. But I also maintained that my reaction is about the principle and the integrity of the game and that no matter HOW HARD ONE WORKS TO TOE THE LINE, there’s always gonna be some asshole who thinks it should be the other way around. I told him that the blowing of the whistle, eight minutes over, as the ball slammed into the net, before it even hit the tensile apex of the net, smacked to me of self-righteousness. That he got to have the last word.

Well, I wasn’t about to let that happen. When it comes to kids, we need to be on our best, most sterling behavior. That includes the ref. I blew it. I sank to his level of stupidity.

I am not a horrible person. I am not a mean-spirited person. But I am a passionate person. I sent an apology immediately to the coaches when I got home:

Coaches Sheriff and Deputy,

I want to express my sincere apology for my outburst on the referee at the end of today’s game versus Saturn. It was a pleasure to see everyone play so well.

I am a passionate person, yes, but one not normally driven to such excess. I exhibited poor behavior and I regret that. I was not a good role model for spectatorship. Next time I’ll spare everyone the drama, leave the game in disbelief, and offer up a silent prayer for my own tolerance.

Please know that the last thing I would want to do is injure the team by causing your absence on the sidelines. The boys are lucky to have you.



PS — you’d never know from today that I’m a yoga teacher…

My husband said it was the perfect apology. I owned my side and I didn’t blame it on anyone else. My son told me his friends on Twitter said I was awesome. (I still don’t know how to feel about that…)

Later that night, after I started to calm down, I turned on my Kindle and started reading Steven Pressfield again. He wrote about “our last days” or the attitude changes which occur (for good or for bad) in patients diagnosed with terminal illness. He said many of them shed the trivialities, and turn toward their passions, fearlessly. They discern, within minutes of the pronouncement of their illness, what matters most and they act upon it. Some people do crazy stuff, others do good.

Earlier in the day, I had picked up random pieces of an episode of The Simpsons my son was watching. It was the one when Homer was told he had 22 hours to live; it would have been 24, but the having to sit in the waiting room took up two hours… Homer did lots of things to make amends for his behavior to his kids, father and others in his life.

Earlier this week, I had read Oliver Sacks’ powerful op-ed in the NY Times disclosing his final days of his life due to terminal brain cancer. He wrote that he was going to stop watching and reading the news; that he was not going to worry about the Middle East as much as he had (he clarified that he was going still care, but that worry served him no purpose) and a change a few other things in his life to bring more meaning to it. The comments on that pre-obit were extraordinary. Treat yourself to them and read them. Not coincidentally, I’ve begun listening to his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat while I “row” on our ergometer. It’s a great book. Sacks has a way of deeply humanizing the misfortunes of his patients and reminding us that our right hemisphere, the one so often discounted by Freud et al., is really the one which gives our lives meaning; the one which matters most.

I reflected on all that data I’d consumed — those pieces of reminders that our days are limited here. I reflected on lots of things, and I determined last night, before I ended my day, that I was not going to feel ashamed for my outburst: I had apologized to the coaches, to my sons, and to the brave and compassionate woman who spoke with me and I asked for forgiveness from God. My shame was pointless, what good did it serve me to hang on to it?

If it were my last day on this earth, and I did know it, I wouldn’t have done anything less. I would have gone to his game, I would have been as passionate about the travesties and I would have had no regrets. I may have been shot out of a canon last night, but I cried out most of all for the all kids. To me, their coach had let too much slide.

Carl Jung writes famously something along the lines of what irritates us about others gives us a better understanding of ourselves. I used to take this to mean that what irks us about Bipsy means we suck too. Well, that can be the case, but I’ve decided to really lean into the words, “a better understanding” — it doesn’t mean we suck; it’s an insight into ourselves. Sometimes it sucks, sometimes it shows us what matters to us … sometimes it shows us we need to change, or that we have a set of principles about things that we weren’t quite sure were really there, and that thanks to the engagement of another person or series of events with other people, we come to see what matters to us. Kids matter to me. Ethics matter to me. If that game were played by adults, I really wouldn’t have freaked out. I might’ve been incredulous, it would’ve ended there. But it was about kids. 

So I say this to you, if you’re still here… Live passionately and fully, and own it when you screw up because we all make mistakes. It’s ok.

Thank you.

When Angels Hear Your Call


I have to set this up before I get into it.

I paid to attend a “communicate with your angels” workshop last Saturday, 4/5. A like-minded friend came along (I drove, she bought Starbucks and lunch — I definitely got the best end of the deal).

I had high hopes; that was my first mistake. We are all mortal. Even Archangels (which these event organizers don’t recognize, and had I known that at first [I should’ve asked, my second mistake] I likely wouldn’t have gone) were mortal first.

First, the logistical screw-ups regarding the entire experience:

  • When we arrived at the sprawling suburban-D.C. church where the event was held, there were no signs indicating where the workshop was.
  • There was no “room 32” as designated on the reminder flyer (that was emailed to me) as I desperately looked for on my smartphone after traversing the open and expansive main level. The online info in the link above doesn’t even mention a room. One of the main organizers of this event still wants to hang on to the notion that room 32 and 35 were the same room (details numerologists and kindergarteners would take serious issue with), despite the physical fact that I could not ever find the numeral 32 outside any door.
  • When we arrived at “room 35” (we were the first to arrive) we weren’t sure it was where we were supposed to be because despite the fact that the people on the flyer and the website looked identical to the people in the room, they didn’t welcome us in, ever. They didn’t introduce themselves until the workshop began and that was a group welcome. In fact, our reception was quite frosty. My friend who is more sensitive than I am said she would’ve left the building if I weren’t with her. Let me clarify: I’m sensitive, I just wasn’t as easily intimidated in that situation. 
  • The organizers of the event never asked us our names, nor did they provide name tags (we were all openly referred to (and thus disregarded) as “her”, “not you, her” or “the woman in the pink sweater” or “you!” (this went on ALLLL six hours). Yecch.
  • Registration included a 35-page workbook but apparently not the availability of a pen. Those of us who didn’t bring one, weren’t offered one. Ever. Yet, we were encouraged to write lots of things on the blank lines in the workbook as well as content shared on a chalkboard. I guess, we were supposed to use  our finger styluses. My finger stylus works on my iPad but not actual paper. Luckily, I had a pen with me. And a notebook, into which I furiously wrote notes which were superfluous because the content I was scribbling was included in the workbook…. but no one told us that until about 90-minutes later. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t know, because had I not been taking notes, I’d have no proof of the reason why I am writing this post (later).
  • One of the “angel guidance coaches” was purportedly clairaudient. We had to move from room to room twice (so three different rooms total). The first time happened because he couldn’t hear his guidance. Admittedly, there was a symphonic concert underway right above our room and the tune-ups reminded me of “Rear Window” scenes, but once they got going, it was quite pleasurable, but I’m not a clairaudient, clairvoyant or clarinet. The second move happened because we weren’t granted permission to use that room were kicked out. The third room sucked. Just saying’… but I was out of gas by that point, really.
  • We broke for lunch, that wasn’t mentioned on the flyer, nor were any places to eat in the vicinity; so if you were totally new to Bethesda, MD, you were hosed unless you asked around or had some form of smartphone genie to help you out.
  • The event flyer states: 10-5pm. We folded at 4:15, but not before hearing about 20 minutes’ worth of content about other exciting ways to invest your money and irretrievable time in their … business and help to fund their recent trip to Puerto Rico. similar pursuits.

I think that’s it, from a logistical standpoint. I am certain that these issues can be overcome by the organizers for any events going forward and I am even more hopeful that people will be called by name and not be barked at.

Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.

I was literally running on fumes at 4:00. I couldn’t take anymore. From the transitions from room to room to room, to the continual stream of content from the more aggressive and assertive (my read: desperate) of personalities and the fact that my head needed to be put back on my neck, I was out.

Oh? You want to know about my head falling off? Ok. If you must…

It fell off somewhere around the first hour, when the following phrase by, an angel coach, to my astonishment was bespoken thus,

“When you pray for other people, you are building a bridge to their troubles.”

I have wrested with this concept for several days. It has brought me much consternation, regardless of the completely amateurish logistical treatment of this event. (You get what you pay for, I guess.)

That sentence has furrowed my brow, upset my stomach, distracted my mind, and had me questioning my faith. It had me floored.

Look, I think a lot. I know this about myself.

The other night, when I was dealing with this, I consulted my Archangel Oracle Cards (some people use tarot, I consult my faith’s Big Guns — they are comforting and lovely to look at), I pulled three cards: All is Well, Life Review and Creative Writing. I didn’t understand the second one so much until just now. I realize that I had looked into all this angel workshop stuff because I was sad about my mom’s death and was feeling lost without her and was also wondering how to move forward on a project. I figured why not try it? Angels are nice… 

When my head fell off, I couldn’t speak or ask anything because my head didn’t bring my voice box with it; it was just my head. My ears couldn’t hear any further bullshit content from the coaches because my ears were severed from my spinal cord. My brain could still process, but not send any sensations to my body.

In short, I was a mess.

I spoke to my friend, whom I brought to the event about her impressions. She was bothered by it as well.

I brought it up to the organizer of the event; she didn’t touch it. She did however, go back and forth with me, like a volley, about how I was supposedly offended by the near-constant references to and treatment of  material I considered at times boastful, irrelevant and contradictory. To each her own. She understood and accepted my unsolicited litany of logistical concerns; I still can’t get over the names thing (more later). I didn’t bother mentioning the lack of writing utensils.

I don’t mean to poop on this event completely. There were some worthwhile and profound personal moments for me and I am grateful for them. That said, I won’t ever attend anything they do again. Its folksy tone and lack of warmth really got to me. After a while, it just felt like a string of buckshot appeals to “help [them] raise [their] income vibrational level.”


We all have them. In some esoteric and mystical religions, they are considered intimately tied to our essence, spirit or very existence on this planet. When we pray, we want to know the name, if possible, of the person we are praying for (bridge to their troubles or not).

About not bothering to ask names: the suburban mom in me says, “It was just an oversight. This event was planned months in advance; despite the fact they do this all the time, they just forgot the name tags…pass the salt, sweetie.”

The skeptical / conspiratorial writer in me says, “It was a clever way to create uniformity, to strip people down to a nameless / identity-less and hence, dilute-able existence to create need for attention and ‘face time’ in an effort to later control and influence them. Nothing starts a dominant / submissive relationship like ignoring people and diminishing them. It’s what all insecure leaders do who want to dominate their followers; just ask Bikram Choudoury.” That only the leaders went by their names and NOT ONCE was anyone publicly asked their name bugs the heck out of me. It reeeeeeally chaps my hide.

As a yoga teacher human being, the moment students anyone walks into my awareness, I greet them with a warm, sincere smile and say “Hello, ” followed by their name. If I don’t know their name, I introduce myself, that usually does the trick and starts what’s called a “conversation.”

Is all this cool and disconnection par for the course with these guys? Who knows. Do I care? Not at all. I’ll never go back.

Bridge to their troubles.

I … I am just utterly lost on this. Looking back on it, I laugh, out loud about it. I scoff it and I mock it. I pretend it’s a country song with my kids and I play my kazoo with it; I pretend it’s the title of a long-lost Clint Eastwood spy flick. As I said, I wrested with this for a few days.

The suburban mom in me says, “He didn’t mean it that way. He meant it as a way to be careful of confusing the energies, that certainly you can pray for someone, just be discerning about how much of your own energy you expend in it. Remember to include yourself in your efforts… wipe your face, dear.”

The skeptical / conspiratorial writer in me says, “Oh, screw that. He meant every syllable. It was meant as a way to be predatory. He’s looking to build a tribe. He was looking for, feeling out the group for the weak links. The ones who would wonder, or agree and ask later, ‘tell me more about that, how I should reserve my prayer and energy for myself, how I should mind my own business, get to know myself first and think of myself first, before I possibly waste my auric energy with the folly of benevolence, kindness, empathy and concern for others, you folksy, clever, wise, flip, charismatic and tall man…'” (bats eyelashes.)

After six days, I was still so vexed by this premise, the not praying / bridge thing, that I posted my concerns about it on my Facebook page. I asked about whether anyone had ever heard of the concept. I have atheist, agnostic, Jewish, Christian, devout, lapsed, faithful and still seeking, and faithful and rock solid friends.

Of those who replied, many joined me in my confusion. Many offered support for my challenge with it. Many likely recognized that I was caught in a not-so-little crisis. The overwhelming responses were that prayer for another is an act of the most pure detached love and encouragement one can offer another human being. We pray for people we don’t know. We pray for people we know well. We pray when there is nothing we can do about anything. When my mother died, I felt SUCH love and support, the power of the prayer was undeniable. What? When a public tragedy happens, do we just not pray for the people whose lives have been irreparably changed? Where is the love?! Where is the light?! Where is the “power of consciousness that made us all who we are as souls with bodies on this journey on earth” they endlessly spoke of? I sit befuddled.

So this angst sat with me almost all morning.

Sometimes the Best Cathedral is No Cathedral.

Often I feel most centered and in tune with Nature and God when I’m outside. It was on my walk up to my youngest (10) son’s school where I volunteer weekly as a Socratic Seminar co-leader when the weight from this issue began to lighten. Just thinking about our project, it being the last day before spring break and the game I had in store for them all after the end of the project brought my mind to happier thoughts.

I am seldom disappointed by the energy and wisdom of these bright little beings who are so eager to try a new way to think of things. I looked at their sunny faces as they sat on the hill outside our school garden and listened to me talk about the second half of our class project, “Be Like Monet,” wherein we are proposing that the children design and draw their own plants, a bit of a play on the back story of Monet’s waterlilies series in Giverny. (For a long time, white was the only waterlily color; then a scientist made a frost-resistant version that had red, pink and white in it… hence the singular white lily and the grouping of colorful lilies in some of the paintings.) My co-leader and I were so inspired by that story, that we encouraged the children to “Be Like Monet.” The first week, they wrote down their plants’ qualities using only words. The second week, today, they had to draw those plants without words.

One of the kids wanted to know the Latin word for “healing.” I Googled it. “Sanitas” I told her. “Then that will be the name of my plant…” she said as she skipped back to her work.

“There is no such thing as a mistake! You are Mini Monets! Do this! You are geniuses!” I shouted and they were off. Then we worked with the Hoberman sphere I’m obsessed with in teaching children yoga, and then we played “Simon Says.” I was with children, the smartest and clearest souls on earth.

I walked around and looked at their work, encouraged them to take their papers to the asphalt walk to play with its texture and see how it created “pebbles” when they ran their crayons over it. Then we moved to some wooden benches, and the grain appeared. Then suddenly, the fog lifted. It was if my prayers were heard, or the appeals by my friends who opened themselves to the conversation and the real angels, the ones who use horns, the ones with huge wings, the ones I “met” when I went to Holy Angels Elementary School, heard me.

I thought, “Holy canoli. What he said was totally creeeepy and controlling! It felt eerily close to white-washing. If one of these little kiddies out here had troubles, heck yeah I’d pray! Think of myself first? Where’s the connection to spirit, to benevolence, to love?! What’s the point of not sharing a tear or a laugh or lightening a fear in order to *maybe* be of service to someone in need? Where is the HUMANITY? What’s with all the fear in this guy? Is his inadequacy so desperate that he has to spread fear instead of love??” He reminded me of Dick Cheney. Totally defensive. Building walls instead of bridges… These are the thoughts that came flooding at me. I felt renewed, grounded and sane again.

Methinks the man doth protest too much.

I realized, also, that if I followed this non-praying proposal, that I am following that man; that he becomes my spiritual leader and by virtue of doing such a silly thing, I am giving away my personal power.  If I did what he said, I am letting him think for me. I am turning over all my basic knowledge, and the stuff I came into this world with (and according to him): divine light, love, energy and spirit, to HIM. I am basically surrendering my spiritual management to them. For this man, someone who openly rejected the concept of “religion” it all sounds a little too close to it.

A secure spiritualist will never tell what you Should or Shouldn’t do — in fact these people insist that your angels will never tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. But he’s going to go ahead and advocate against praying for other people lest you eventually sully yourself. I wish these people could hear themselves. It’s like an irony stew. (It all reminds me of that Brady Bunch when Bobby got sooty rescuing a cat from an abandoned house’s chimney and then he tried to wash his suit and the washing machine overloaded with suds… I digress.)

Clarity came to me like a sonic boom in my head. The (sonic) boomerang effect occurred. Not only did I stop feeling lost but I emerged stronger in my faith than ever. I was found.

I want to thank that man, his partner, and their twisted logic, cosmic buffoonery and doublespeak for returning me to myself, to my center, to my base and to my faith. I was hanging on one of Saturn’s icy rings until I decided to stop suffering internally and reach out for help. Thanks to them, my friend and I are closer than ever. We have to catch our breath now from the deep, gut-busting, tear-shedding laughter we share when talking about the event and the character-rich opportunities the workshop provided. As a writer, I am very grateful.

“You will get to know the real you…” they promised in their literature. I did, and I am unshaken.

Thank you.