Tag Archives: freedom

30 Days of “A Year of Living Your Yoga” — Day 5: Choice and Freedom


Welcome to Day 5 of my still-new blog series. This series is based on Judith Hansen-Lasater’s “A Year of Living Your Yoga.” While the book has 365 quotes, I picked only 30.

I chose the dates in the waiting room of my kids’ dentist. I rolled dice and arbitrarily chose dates based on the numbers that showed up with each roll of the dice.

I also had the pleasure of sitting with a Turkish grandmother who didn’t speak any English. We managed to communicate in a female, maternal way that transcended any real words. I used a “bee buzz” sound to describe my middle son, a steady hand / ocean wave motion to describe my youngest and oldest sons and then we “spoke” effusively about the World Cup. “Keeek! Keeek ball! Futbol!”

I will try to keep these posts to less than 500 words. (These words don’t count — ha ha, nor does the quote.)

Here is the quote:

April 3 — Choice gives us freedom; freedom allows for choice. Thinking that there is only one way to solve any problem limits the outcome. Today, approach a difficult asana (pose) with an attitude of freedom; choose another way to try it.

First, let’s replace “asana” with “situation” because maybe not everyone reading this is into yoga, but we all have “situations.”

We all have situations that challenge us. Sometimes these situations are with people, sometimes they are with ourselves, in fact, if we take a step back, we can usually see that most “situations” can be addressed by looking inward at ourselves and any expectations or preferences / attachments we might have regarding the situation. Once we identify those expectations or attachments, we can gain better perspective on how to manage the situation. Maybe all we have to do is soften our tone? Maybe all we have to do is put the shoes on our feet? Maybe all we have to do is get our ego out of it. These are all choices and they provide freedom from the situation, don’t they? And once we have that freedom, we can choose what to do next.

But what about when we think we’ve chosen a way that gives freedom, but we find we’re still stuck? As though the choice simply revealed that we have no choice. Then we need to choose a different approach.

When it comes to asana (yoga poses) people like to do the ideal, right away. They don’t want to choose a simpler way. They don’t automatically choose a modification. I’ve been there. And ultimately, they get stuck. Their hips stick, the neck won’t move, the foot cramps up.

For many people new to yoga, sitting with legs crossed could be a challenge due to tight hips; these people are used to sitting at desk or driving a car or pushing a stroller. But as teachers, we learn open their minds to choices that will allow more freedom without feeling as though they’re not doing “the pose.” It’s all about helping people help themselves to choice. To accommodate and encourage our students to allow for limitations instead of pushing through that “newness” and pretending there’s no pain, we have props. We can roll up a blanket beneath each knee, or suggest a seat on a block.

me. about four years ago.

me doing uttitha trikonasana about four years ago. (photo: nicolle boswell)

When we propose uttitha trikonasana (extended triangle pose, above) many people at first can’t reach anywhere near the floor. To help them along, we use blocks near the ankle or verbally suggest the lower hand rest on the shin. If the upper shoulder hurts, leave the upper hand on the hip. My teacher often says that the high hand up is the “tah-dah!” or “the cherry on top” of the pose; she reminds us that a hand on the hip still conveys the benefits of the pose.

Trikonasana is really about balance, opening the forward leg’s hamstring, strengthening the back leg and lower shoulder, and twisting open the torso. So as long as the side body is opening up, that hand needn’t go up. More cherry on top? Looking at the upper hand. Sometimes our necks just aren’t in the mood. Sometimes we are afraid — the balance isn’t there, something’s bothering you internally, don’t push through it! The whole point of yoga (life) is self discovery and listening to our bodies and any internal messages. To this day, I can’t get myself to look up all the way in half-moon pose on the right side. I’m close, but I’m not there yet.

But some students are stubborn. They ignore the signals. They push through. They get hurt. A great yoga students is one who’s free to choosing anything — and that means using props: a chair, a block, a wall, a strap, a modification, or just saying, “I am not there — yet…” because then we have a baseline.

So choose another way through a situation or a pose, allow yourself the freedom to use a wall, a block or to simply walk away.

Thank you.

ps — are you enjoying this series? it’s been fun for me. tell me what you think!


30 Days of Jung — Day 25: #Love #Control #Domination #Submission #Abuse #Power #Corruption


This one.

Hmm. And to think that yesterday I was complaining that Jung didn’t mention “love” in any of the 30 quotes that came up to write about because, well… he hadn’t. And I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this time he’s talking about LOVE in the sense of commitment, the bond, the relationship, the vulnerability of LOVE, but …

Welcome to Day 25 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.

If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.

Here is today’s:

“Where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.”

‘Shadow’?? What did this dude’s mother do to him?

End the count at 1300.

Ok. ‘Will to power.’ Meaning there is no drive, no deliberation as in “thy will be done” -will? Or … please, bear with me as I’m a word freak:
well? which will will it be?

well? which will will it be?

I’m going out on another limb here and I’m gonna say this: it doesn’t matter. I’m going to try to break this down in a way that I can handle:

“When love rules, no one needs to execute power over another. When power rules, love (as aforementioned) can not survive. They are mutually exclusive.”

And this applies to platonic love too.

Ok. I can move forward now.

This is very true. I’ve seen abusive relationships — they’re all about power and domination and control; it’s never about “love” or not having needs met or unreasonable demands.

Sometimes the control is not overt: sometimes it’s a matter of trust which becomes corroded over time. For example, say a couple is married, they have a couple kids. One spouse has serial affairs on the marriage (not just on the other spouse, because I believe these affairs are violations of the family). One of the spouses clearly thinks s/he has domination over the other, why else would s/he stray? The abused partner ends up wondering what s/he has done wrong to create this climate of infidelity? Surely it must be his/her fault because no reasonable person would stay faithful to such a cretin. And so now we introduce other germs into the petri dishfunction.

As a child, I couldn’t fix my mom. I felt it was my fault. She never asked me to fix her, but the directive was there and I failed miserably. I felt it was my fault or that I was the reason for her condition. It’s taken me oh… 37 years to figure out that I wasn’t the cause, or the cure, and another eight years to actually believe it without rage.

There are other “reasons” in an abuser’s mind, for sure. Those “reasons” don’t matter. The action is what matters here. Jung said it before, “you are what you do, not what you say you’ll do” (Day 5).

I couldn’t care less if someone is feeling “unloved” or “disconnected” from their marriage partner. Grow the hell up and learn to talk about it. Own your stuff. I have said this time and again: if you’re gonna stray, get a divorce first. But that’s too expensive. Then DON’T STRAY.

I digress. Love does this to me.

If you have love, you don’t want to hurt the other person because when they hurt, you hurt. And I don’t suggest not hurting because you’re pain averse about yourself, but because you’re pain averse for the other person. It’s not codependence, it’s maturity and compassion that suggests that “not hurting the other person” is the way to go.

You don’t need to control the other person with betrayal, control, lies or abuse. There is no need for those games because love and trust fill the voids and give voice and confidence to the wounded — we have to learn to talk to each other again.

Texting doesn’t count.

Facebook doesn’t count.

YouTube doesn’t count.

Email doesn’t count.

Voicemail doesn’t count.

A phone call is a start.

A face-to-face is the best.

There is no shame in feeling wounded. There is no shame in needing comfort or expressing vulnerability. There is no shame in saying, “I feel left out and I don’t know what to do…”

There is shame in taking off, cheating, lying, continuing, hurting and not stopping and acting as if everything is all hunky-dory. There is shame in blaming your inability to keep your relationship (friendship, brother/sister, cousin…) solvent on the other partner. As for the legal stuff: good lord, last time I checked two consenting adults make a marriage. Or a common law marriage, or a dedication to one another.


Jung is right. He is dead and he is right. This might be the easiest quote to have whateverized. I don’t feel like a lump of mush, I feel like shouting from the rooftops,

“Love is love: vulnerable, real, allowing, soft, kind, forgiving, bumbling, bashful, infinite and tender. Control is abuse, constriction, restriction, domination, fearful, paranoid, hurtful, finite and mean!”

The two simply can not ever be confused.

The moment you have to ask, “When she tells me I look like crap in that shirt and asks me why I always look like I ate out of a toilet” you know it’s not love she’s conveying to you.

The moment you have to wonder if, “When he tells me the house looks like crap and the food I make reminds him of a garbage can” it’s not love.

The times when you might wonder where s/he’s been, why s/he doesn’t come home, why s/he doesn’t return a call (keeping in mind that you’re being reasonable in your needs), “will this ever get better?” it’s time to look at things and possibly yourself.

It’s OK to feel disappointment in a relationship, it’s OK to have needs and wonder what’s going on from time to time… but you also have to wonder if your needs are excessive, if your interests aren’t mutual, if your intensity isn’t matched. Could YOU be controlling? I dunno. I’ve caught myself a couple times being the wicked witch of the east, “and she’s worse than the other one…” and that’s on me. My husband is a very reasonable man. I have become reasonable. But I’ve never been possessive and that to me equates with control.

I’ve always had a sort of odd detachment in my relationships, taking it from the standpoint that autonomy is really the only thing I can always rely upon. That doesn’t mean that I’m not a good partner or a vested wife; I am absolutely. It’s just that my outlook has always been (likely due to my relationship with my mother) to not really count on other people too much. To not make a habit of it… sure it’s nice to have a buddy who can help you change a tire in the rain, but chances are… it’s best to learn how to do it yourself too.

There is no control in love. There is no forcing. There are no demands.

In love, there is freedom and security.

In love, there is delight and mirth.

In love, there is discovery and wonder.

In love there is GROWTH.

All this goes for “self love” too! Don’t think for a minute that it requires two people to have value in yourself — in self-love there is no control or domination or power. You have to let yourself, as you would a friend or a lover: fall down, make mistakes, act lost, act goofy, need more, need less, be unpredictable, be sad, be loud, be quiet, be creative, be dry, be happy … just be. Really… just BE.

I wrote a phrase on Facebook the other day, I woke up with it: “Those who belittle will always be little.”

Thank you.

ps – five more days to go. how fast it’s all gone by!!! thank you for sticking it out with me guys!!! what to do next? do you have any requests? i’m game!

On Memorial Day


I live in the Pentagon’s bedroom; surrounded by some of the world’s smartest senior military officers both active duty and retired.

Every Memorial Day weekend, my neighbors and I arrange a cookout. My neighborhood is Rockwellian. We’ve thought of moving, we almost did once, to a bigger house, one with a garage, but the fact of the matter is that the intangibles of living here: our neighbors and our way of life, simply can’t be replicated.

I am not married to a military officer, but my blood is American, and I support these extremely brave men and women; officers and their spouses, who have valiantly pledged their lives for my and your freedom.

We are blessed; all of our neighbors have been spared the ultimate cost of military service, but they have all proudly served in the Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia. Right now, one of our officers is serving in North Korea. In a month, when he returns, we will send off another officer who will serve in Afghanistan for a year as his wife and three young children wait patiently and faithfully for his return. I’ve seen this happen, oh, six or so times now. Each of these officers leave and come back; every day a moment of wonder and a silent prayer offered up, perhaps in vain, for their protection and safe return.

I was reluctant to write about today; I wrote last November about my great uncle Buddy, who served in World War 2 and never made it home from Normandy. That post is poetic, if I do say so myself; but it’s not poetic because I wrote it, it’s poetic because of the fantastic artifacts my family managed to hold on to while Buddy trained for war. Click >here< if you are interested in that post.

As I was saying, I was reluctant about writing about Memorial Day because to me it’s gotten bastardized, corrupted, patronized, commercialized and shapeless. Memorial Day, to me, is like a National Day of Obligation (akin to the Holy Days of Obligation I grew up waiting to avoid) in which we sit, for just one moment or maybe sixty, in quiet repose to think about all the men and women who have died to protect our freedom.

There are those among us who are bitter about war (I raise my hand at times about it); I don’t understand war. On Mother’s Day, my youngest son, Thing 3 who is nine, asked me in front of his dad and two older brothers, “Mom, what do you wish for today? You have three wishes.” I said to him, “It will sound cheesy, like I’m in a beauty pageant, but I want simple things: health for you and your brothers and all your friends; happiness for you and your brothers and all your friends; and I want world peace everlasting. Not just for a day, but for all eternity.” A lump formed in my throat when I uttered those wishes. I meant them all.

So that means I don’t want war. That means that although I don’t want war, and I don’t understand war, I am aware of the fact that there is evil in the world. Sometimes I wonder if my beloved country is actively evil. I know to other people halfway around the world, we are considered evil. What makes us right? What makes them wrong? It all depends on what side of the barrel you’re on I suppose.

So that got me thinking, about war. Yesterday, when Thing 3 was watching Looney Tunes on the couch, there were the fantastic epic battles: Bugs v. Daffy in “Rabbit Seasoning” and Bugs v. The bull in “Bully for Bugs”; Elmer v. Bugs, Road Runner v. Coyote (for once I wish that bird would get his); Tweety v. Sylvester. Then there was one between Bugs and Yosemite Sam. The feud had escalated to a point from slingshot v. pellet gun to revolver v. shotgun to machine gun v. bazooka to canon v. Sherman tank v. atomic bomb and it dawned on me, again unfortunately, as it does every time I think about war, that this has been going on — the “who’s got bigger gun to hurt the other guy first” phenomenon for millennia and what it all boils down to for me anyhow is vulnerability.

I also saw a heartbreaking yet incredible example of that sort of horrifying detachment when I saw an episode of “Nature” when a zebra stallion encountered a foal that was birthed by his mare, but that it was not his foal, and this zebra went after this foal until it was dead. The stallion instinctually slaughtered the young foal because it was not his, and thus instinctually deemed to be inferior. So while I want to chalk it up to vulnerability; I want to believe that we are also part instinctual, that it’s fear (duh, but seriously deep fear that resides in the places we don’t like to talk about at cocktail parties) that foments war, and that fear is born of vulnerability.

But we are humans, we can reason. Right? Sometimes not so much. I catch myself wishing, perhaps foolishly, for people to a grip and not be so reactive, then maybe we’d have a chance at this everlasting peace thing. It takes awareness and humility and sacrifice, on all our parts. We all just want to live, right?

So I ask these senior officers what they think about it all and of course they want peace; they all have children, some have kids who are on active duty right now or whom have graduated from the service academies and will be serving soon. Others have grandchildren. A couple kids I know want to go into the service academies or enlist when they’re old enough. But these senior officers aren’t the ones making the calls; as high as they are in their rank, they still don’t have much of a say in terms of the massive global industrial war complex. We can’t solve these problems. After all, these men and women have children to feed and that happens to be closely tied to their military service. They’re no different from me and you.

So I bring it back down to the street-level view for them. “Given that this is Memorial Day, how do you feel about the way it’s commemorated?”

Lots of them grew up in little towns that dot the country. Many of those towns had parades honoring their fallen heroes. The whole town would shut down so everyone could go to the parade and watch the floats and banners and bands go by.

That doesn’t happen anymore. I suspect it does in some small towns, but when you live in the Pentagon’s bedroom, it’s not really possible. Just under 50,000 people live in my zip code alone.

So they think, these military officers. They don’t judge, but they don’t really answer. People have mouths to feed and people need work and if a half-off sale means they get use the saved money to feed their kids a little better for awhile, then who are we to say no? This is a free country after all; how do we take that right away from them? It’s complicated now. It didn’t used to be so complicated. Or maybe it’s always been complicated and I am finally catching on.

My street is the best street in the world. We work together and we talk to one another and we all truly enjoy each other’s company. I think we’re all in that place in life where we’re figuring it out — what’s important in life: the peace you can create in your own head. My husband and I made a cornhole game set; it was all the rage yesterday, once people loosened up a bit. He won against everyone he played. I couldn’t believe it. Even our current colonel lost to him. I thought that was madness. But I was still thinking about how we commemorate it; are we doing the intention of the holiday justice, just sitting here on our butts and playing as the sun sets?

Finally, one of them spoke up. “I like this. I like the way we’re commemorating it now: with a barbecue, and kids playing street soccer, and others playing hop scotch, and tag. And how we’re here grilling, with a beer in one hand and a spatula in the other, sharing our stories and being together. This is what we fight for; this way of life. I know of no greater country in the world than America.” He wasn’t just saying that. I instantly remembered a friend of my family’s who had served in WW2 saying about Memorial Day, “This is what I fought for; for you and me, thank God, to be able to do this: celebrate. This is who we are. If I died serving in the war, and you didn’t celebrate your freedom on Memorial Day, I’dve thought, ‘why’d I bother?'”

Thank you.