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30 Days of “A Year of Living Your Yoga” — Day 30: Happiness Now & Driving with Thing 1


This is it! Today is the last day of my 30-day blog series based on Judith Hanson Lasater’s “A Year of Living Your Yoga.”

I will try to keep these posts to about 500 words.

Here is the quote:

June 17 — Only you can give yourself permission to be happy. We grow up when we realize that no one is going to tap us on the shoulder and say, “Now you have done enough so you can be happy.” Take a deep breath and make the decision that you will connect with your own happiness for the next five minutes. At the end of this time, make the commitment for the next five minutes and then the next. Know that your ability to be happy lies within you, only you, and is not dependent on your circumstances.


Sheesh. Let’s try for fifteen seconds. I don’t mean to sound crass, but let’s be honest.

how much do I love Roz Chast? Um ... a lot. (c) Roz Chast, The New Yorker

how much do I love Roz Chast? Um … a lot. (c) Roz Chast, The New Yorker, Conde Nast Publications.

The other day I let my oldest, who is now 16 and change, drive my massive SUV up the driveway. The only thing he’s ever driven has been his little red car when he was a toddler and then a go-kart every summer in Connecticut. So I pulled the car in front of the house and I said, “You take the wheel and pull it in the driveway.”

He doesn’t have his learner’s permit yet, but he was going to drive all of 30 feet and we live on a private street and it’s August and no one is in town and the squirrels are hiding and there was nothing alive within 400 feet of the car. I thought, “What’s the damage he can do?” (Hit the basketball hoop pole, run over his brother, use the wrong pedal, steer the wrong way, go too fast… they were all possibilities and he’s still teenage knees and elbows, but I surmised that the screw-up potential of this situation was pretty low.)

So before he inserted the key, we had a quick chat about the pedals and the steering wheel and the fact that my Toyota Sequoia is a 2.5-ton killing machine. He strapped in and turned the key. The engine roared. I showed him the tachometer and how its needle responded to the rev of the engine. He revved the engine and thought that was pretty cool because the vehicle raised a little in response. We went over the brake pedal and the turn of the steering wheel. I showed him the gears and that “P” does not mean “passing” and that “D” means “drive” not “down.”  He was ready.

“The gears won’t change until you put your foot on the brake, so remember that.” I said.

“Ok, Mom.”

“Put it in drive,” I said.

He did. Three gears shifted effortlessly.

“Let your foot gently lift from the brake pedal.” He lifted his LEFT FOOT OFF THE BRAKE.

“STOP! STOP! STOP!” I said. “Press the brake. Put it back in Park.”

“WHAT? Why?” he asked, almost in a squeak.

“It’s my fault. You only use one foot to drive, use your right foot, or you will forever drive like Grandma Mimi,” and he laughed. My mother drove so badly that it’s verbally indescribable. You need to ride in the car with me for my rendition.

“Right foot only? Got it.” He tucked his left foot below his right knee in the footwell. “Shift to Drive?”

“Yes. Go ahead. Shift to Drive and release the brake very slowly. The car will roll, you don’t have to TOUCH THE GASSSSSSS… Take your foot off the gas!!!”


“Honey, it’s a V8. I know this likely means nothing, but it’s a very powerful engine. When you first start this engine, it’s all about revving itself, so it’s high tuned at the start. When you shift into Drive, the engine goes down a bit, but it’s still ready to rock… Put it back into Park.”

He was ready to kill me. Matricide was not out of the question. He huffed and put the gearshift back into Park.

I sat and went through any possible scenarios… I repeated just about everything we’d already gone over and I felt at this point we were close.

“Shift it back into Drive.”

Clunk clunk clunk…

“What’s L2?” he asked.

“Never mind that. It’s for hills and snow.”

“Oh, so it’s for Pennsylvania,” he said, smiling at me as his dimples deepened. His eyes twinkled.

“Yes. Pennsylvania. Sorry. I’m tense. I’ll be fine. You’re great. Let’s try this again. Gentle pressure off the brake as you move your right foot to the gas pedal. Then when you feel the car is slowing down, gently press on the gas… you’ll get a sense of it.”

And off we went. A full fifty feet from the front of our house up our driveway. He did alright, until it came to the brakes.

We lurched forward when he pressed the first time.

“AGH! Why did it DO THAT?!” he moaned, mad at himself.

“Because you pressed really hard. You saw the bushes getting closer and you stood on the brake. If you weren’t wearing your seat belt, you’d probably bump into the steering wheel a bit…” I said.

“So this car, this giant thing is like the ultimate training tool for life… ” he said.

I wasn’t sure where this was going.

“It’s like a pound-for-pound reflection of everything I do. If I steer the wrong way, the car goes the wrong way. If I press too hard on the gas, the car goes too fast. If I slam on the brakes, the car knocks my face into the windshield…”

“Yeah, something like that. It’s the ultimate truth-teller: it does everything you tell it to do. It’s trying out a new babysitter. The house might be quiet and tidy, and the kids might be in bed when you get home, but you’ll hear all about how the babysitter was when everyone wakes up and talks about it at breakfast,” I said.

I didn’t go into the fact that some cars, most notably Toyotas and GMs (and the old Audi 5000s and the ironical and aptly named Pontiac Fieros of my teenage years) accelerate on their own or catch fire all by themselves, but he seemed to get the point, that if something goes wrong when you’re driving, it’s very likely your fault.

“It’s frustrating. You can’t lie to a car. There is no easy way… It’s not very easy to do. No wonder they don’t want us texting and playing with the radio. I could barely get it into Reverse without wanting to scream.” (He had lots of frustration trying to just shift one tick from Park to Reverse. I won’t even go into manual transmissions with him yet…)

“No. You can’t lie to a car. They are like small children: they will do whatever you tell them to do and so you have to be really smart about what you tell them to do,” I said.

What does this story have to do with the quote?

Not a damned thing. I just felt like telling that story. It’s hard to share my life in 500 words or less. There’s lots going on these days.

Relative to the quote: Yeah. It’s totally liberating when we realize that:

1) we are not responsible for anyone else’s emotions or reactions — EVER! EVER! EVER! (please, if you read just this post, please please get that into your head),

2) stuff doesn’t make you happy.

3) you make you happy.

4) five minutes of happy really builds on itself and when that happens, you get very protective of your happy; you don’t want to be around people who bring you down… that’s another great sign that you’re in alignment with your happiness (I prefer “contentment”).

Thank you. Thank you for following this series or reading this post or subscribing to my blog or taking a momentary interest in what I have to say. I don’t do giveaways because I’m not that clever, but I do appreciate your being here. I like to think that my giveaway to you is perhaps a loving scrap of insight into your better Self.

30 Days of “A Year of Living Your Yoga” — Day 29: Practice Makes Better


Welcome to Day 29 of my 30-day blog series based on Judith Hanson-Lasater’s “A Year of Living Your Yoga.”

I will try to keep these posts to about 500 words.

Here is the quote:

August 27 — A yoga class is a support group for people who can’t do yoga. Do you shrink from doing something because you judge yourself as not good enough? If so, remember that your yoga class is not full of experts; it is made up of practitioners of yoga. Go to class today, and practice from your heart.

This is possibly one of my favoritest quotes of hers. I say this all the time, “yoga practice.” We are practicing yoga we are not perfecting it or finalizing it.

Monday’s triangle pose will definitely feel different than Tuesday’s triangle pose. Does it matter that they feel different from one another? No, because YOU are different on Tuesday than you were on Monday.

This quote of course has virtually nothing to do with yoga. It’s all about life and not getting hung up in the minutiae.

I don’t care if you sing the same song the same way every day of your life. Each day you sing it, you will be a different person, a full 24-hours different (older) and that’s a fact. There is no perfection ever because we are constantly changing. So any hopes, dreams, aspirations you might’ve had about being fantastically perfect are … um … toast. The definition of perfection when you declared it has changed by even one second. Can’t catch it! Perfection and stasis are like the Gingerbread Man of life.

So count on it that your Warrior 2 will be different than the day before; it just will. And that’s a good thing.

As a yoga “teacher,” I’m really just someone who comes up with a plan for how you are invited to spend your 90 minutes with me and others in the room. You can come in and do your own thing and while it might be distracting and make me wonder why you bothered to show up if you’re just going to blow off my class plan, if you pay me, I’m good.

Teachers are guides. We don’t have all the answers. We don’t have some sacred knowledge that you don’t possess. We all use the same tools you have at your disposal: intuition, brains, insight into a situation and a response. As far as experience goes, our only experience that is different than yours is that it’s ours; our training encourages that we go deeper into ourselves and look inwardly more than the average bear. Do I have that down? Only in the yoga class, it seems. But, if I have a lesson plan ready to go, but no one is seeming to get it, or for some reason it just doesn’t ever click with the class, I’ll scrap it halfway through and just wing it.

Do you want to know The Hardest Thing for me to “do right” during a yoga class?

Ringing the bell or chimes at the end of class. No joke.

this little bowl. who would ever suspect that it could render in me vast trepidation to the point where my class would end a minute late?

this little bowl. who would ever suspect that it could render in me vast trepidation and frustration to the point where my class would end late?


I love my yoga teachers. Before I became a teacher, one of them would sound her chimes so loud, I’d shudder during svasana.

So I went up to her after about two years and started meekly with “Maybe it’s me, and I have sensitive ears ….” and then asked her if she could use less energy to sound the chimes at the end of meditation. (I was once accused by someone of speaking obtusely … I wonder: is saying “use less energy” obtuse? I just try to get to the essence of things politely) “Sure!” she said, happy as a clam!

Since becoming a yoga teacher: my ability to confidently sound that chime at the end of class is at zero. It’s shattered. If you could see me, in the dark (during the evening class)… I get my little brass singing bowl and mallet and I carefully bring them to my mat as silently as possible. I take the mallet in my left hand and I prepare to ring the bowl. I miss every time.

I can tell you where to put your hands, and how to position your hips, and where your eyes “should” rest in the gaze in Warrior One, or I can verbally cue you to a camel pose but when it comes to that bowl… fuhgedaboudit.

I whiff the bowl or I barely stroke it so it sounds like a muted “tink.” So then I take a breath because my face is all squinched up like an exasperated Kermit the Frog and I’m all amped up. I want to let people out on time but I can’t get the stupid stick to strike the bowl just right … and then I hit it so hard I end up hissing to myself and apologizing. Then the two more times after that, I whiff again. I feel in my heart, that I’ve blown svasana for my practitioners and that all the good stuff we did in class is ruined. But then I remember: “practice” and it’s OK. There is no perfect.

Practice doesn’t really make perfect. Practice makes better.

During my upcoming vacation, I’m going to bring my bowl and my striker and I’m going practice until I get it to the point where I’m good with it. I came very close to it the other day: I struck it on the fattest point of the bowl, the sound was more rich and less panicky if I do say so myself. But I’m still bringing it along.

Thank you.

Health: Oil Pulling. I’m Swishing. It’s Bizarre.


I found this wonderful blog post last week about Oil Pulling written by the amazingly patient Erica Stolling.

What is oil pulling? In a nutshell it’s a multi-thousand-year cleansing ritual with Ayurvedic origins which combines the antibacterial properties of your own saliva and salivary glands with the antimicrobial, anti fungal and anti-inflammatory properties (and other benefits) of unrefined coconut oil to correct numerous health concerns.

Ayurvedic health is: – (ayurveda) (Sanskrit) an ancient medical treatise summarizing the Hindu art of healing and prolonging life; sometimes regarded as a 5th Veda.

Because many toxins posses oil-linking properties, they attach to the oil which is being swished in your mouth for just 20 minutes daily and are excreted when you spit out the oil. The claimed benefits associated with oil pulling are myriad:

  • whiter teeth
  • better sleep
  • healthier gums
  • healthier teeth
  • addresses hormonal imbalances
  • helps with pain
  • helps with psoriasis
  • reduces or eliminates pain from TMJ
  • helps with acne
  • reverses cavities
  • cures / aids a hangover (what?!)
  • aids with migraines
  • reduced allergies or better tolerance

Here’s another blog post about the benefits of oil pulling which does a better job of explaining the hows than I do. I can’t be bothered with details right now; I just want to try it:

What makes oil pulling effective? According to its advocates, swishing the oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes eventually gets bacteria to cling to the oil. When the oil is spit out, so too are the toxins that are harmful to your body.

The reason I did it is because I wanted whiter teeth and healthier gums and let’s face it: I’m beginning my womanly eventide and if this can help balance out the hormones… I am IN.

Erica has entertained numerous repeated questions on her own blog and so I’m going to distill them down to the common denominators:

  • The best time to oil pull is in the morning with a clean palette.
  • DO NOT SWALLOW THE OIL in your mouth. Spit it out.
  • Use between just about a teaspoon to a tablespoon. I’m using a teaspoon. What you put in will double in volume in your mouth because of your saliva.
  • You can use oils other than coconut due to allergies or taste preferences; suggested oils are sesame or almond and sunflower oils.
  • Unrefined coconut oil is the best to use; I bought mine at Costco months ago after my yoga retreat and have been using it for cooking and skin and hair care.
  • Coconut oil will melt to liquid when exposed to temperatures above 78˚f. If you have issues with texture, place it under your tongue and let it melt; I wouldn’t dare expose it to a microwave. You can also run the oil container under warm water to melt it; but I don’t know if that’s good for the oil that’s left over or if it would speed up its aging.
  • If you can’t do 20 minutes, try to do 10 minutes twice a day.
  • 20 minutes is the magic number.
  • RINSE!! Swish more with JUST plain water in your mouth for 10 seconds and spit. Three times, just to get all the residue out.  

Here is the tub of unrefined Coconut oil that I bought at Costco:

it's massive. i think it won't run out until 2020. but it expires in 2015. i better get a move on.

it’s massive. i think it won’t run out until 2020. but it expires in 2015. i better get a move on.

Remembering to swish is hard for me. Yesterday I worked harder to swish and my cheeks tired out; today was easier because I took it easier. Look, anything new and funky will throw you off a bit, so go into it all gradually.

I take a teaspoon. It’s all I can muster. The funny thing is, after the initial intake, it doesn’t feel oily; it’s rather fluid, almost watery.

I find myself fighting a gag reflex; I know I’m not swallowing the oil, but I have to calm myself down a little, center and count a smidge. I know it’s a matter of habituating the experience.

I do it after I have something to eat. Sorry. Maybe once I get more used to this I’ll do it first thing in the morning.

Today is day two. This is is a pic of my teeth today:

my teeth. look only at my teeth. ok... look at my bookshelf. it's like my intellectual medicine cabinet.

my teeth. look only at my teeth. ok… look at my bookshelf. it’s like my intellectual medicine cabinet.

I will also update this as I go along.

So far:

I slept beautifully last night.

My teeth were squeaky clean after I spat it out. I drink coffee or tea every day, so this is impressive already.

I spat it into a baggie. Then I trashed the baggie. To be more environmentally conscious, I will try to spit it directly into the trash next time… baby steps.

I didn’t have any yucky feeling or taste in my mouth afterward.

I hope it helps my teeth; my parents had teeth trouble, but a lot of that could be chalked up to lifestyle.

I’m in. I’ll update this every once in a while after the first week.

(Day 3: it’s getting less gross-seeming; it’s definitely a psychological hump to overcome.)

If you do this, tell me how you’re doing! Ask me any questions!

Thank you.

Ps — here’s a nice post about the benefits of coconut oil… on Dr. Oz’s website. 

Here’s another great post: http://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/

Just in case you’re stuck in carpool and want to read 333 reasons why coconut oil is beneficial: http://www.endalldisease.com/333-uses-for-coconut-oil/

Here’s another post, The Edible Beauty Routine” written by the lovely and dazzling Lillian Connelly: http://www.makesfunofstuff.com/2012/10/coconut-oil-the-edible-beauty-routine/

30 Days of Brené Brown — Day 17: #narcissism #shame #purpose #exhausting


Welcome to day 17 of “30 Days of Brené Brown.”  Yesterday was awesome, wasn’t it? I can’t wait to get my cowl. I heart Alma.

Let’s get to it.

When I look at narcissism through the vulnerability lens, I see the shame-based fear of being ordinary. I see the fear of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.
― Brené BrownDaring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead


My first impression of this quote is the one I’m going to go with and here it is: we’ve all been there. The problem is if we stay there.

I don’t think very fondly on those who manifest narcissism as their sole objective of life as it’s just utterly, completely and totally exhausting.

Get attention, any attention, just attention, doesn’t matter how, just do it: cause drama, stir up shit, get in peoples’ faces, get out of peoples’ faces, stomp into the room, stomp out of the room, be idealistic, be nihilistic, bite your tongue, wag your tongue, blame others, take credit, pout, fuss, muss, smile more than anyone else, cry more than anyone else, start a fire, (to) put out a fire, wear small hats, wear big hats, wear bad clothes, wear fantastic clothes, hide, expose, take lots of selfies, endlessly photo bomb, be defensive, be offensive, be pious, be craven, be silent, be loud, point at others, point at self, ignore the work, become a martyr, manipulate, triangulate, lie constantly, tell the truth constantly, wear honor like a badge, piss on honor like a bum… it goes on and on and on.

Just get seen.

Narcissists. You know I loathe ’em.

and if no one else sees you, then maybe you can just see yourself all the time.

and if no one else sees you, then maybe you can just see yourself all the time. but you don’t need to open your eyes, lest you y’know … turn to alabaster

Just exist enough out of the norm to get noticed.

Sadly, I know lots about narcissism and yet, I remain fascinated by it. Narcissism: 1, Molly: 0.

It’s all a big social disconnect anyway. I mean, if narcissists thought they’d ever fit in they’d die. They don’t WANT to fit in. But oh… they do…. they so dearly do want to fit in.

No they don’t.

Irony: here’s Ben Stiller (who’s not a narcissist pretending to play a male model who is a narcissist. I’m sure it was a far reach for Stiller):

derek zoolander doing  his "Magnum"  face.

derek zoolander doing his “Magnum” face.

Brown talks too much about this. She just needed to stop after “ordinary.”

What’s wrong with being ordinary?

Apparently everything.

I want to be extraordinary, but I don’t want to be a dick about it. I want to succeed, but not at the risk of assholicry. I know people who do this. I know people who cut themselves SO MUCH above the rest of us that I get a neck cramp.

You know what I dig? Silent success. Not bragging. Not wearing bullet bras and boasting scary arms.

uhhhhhhh.  mommy.


She’s incapable.

Anyway, I agree with Brown, it’s a fear of being considered ordinary. Fitting in is bad. Back to my concept about a narcissist’s ambition to really fit in: I’m full of crap. I really have no clue.

What I do know is that there’s a huge empathy deficit. Like dig all the way to China (remember that?) deficit.

But what I think Brown is trying to get at via her labyrinthine logorrhea is that narcissism is largely motivated by self-loathing.

I was doing a little research on this last night because I didn’t just want to bloviate all the time. In this series and on this blog I am guilty of this: I try to share my experiences to help you identify somewhere with feeling weird like I do sometimes. I am also guilty of taking steps to show you who I am.

That said, when I’m at a loss or I’m totally biased, an external source or data always helps.

The good news is that I’m glad I didn’t need a medical doctorate to figure this out; the bad news is that someone else did. Of spotlight seekers (which my mother was good at), cites celebrity doctor (yikes) “Dr. Drew” Pinsky, MD (whose moniker celebré is his first name, double yikes) says:

 … celebrities are in fact significantly more narcissistic than the general population.

… His findings dispel the notion that the entertainment industry somehow makes a person more narcissistic. Rather, already narcissistic individuals seek out the attention that celebrity status brings. Dr. Drew says this behavior has nothing to do with a person being completely full of themselves—a common misconception about narcissism.

It turns out narcissism is not about self love—it’s about self loathing, Dr. Drew says. “It’s a deep sense of emptiness and a deep disconnect between primary emotional experiences and second-order representations of those experiences, such that feelings don’t have much meaning and other people’s feelings don’t have much meaning. They have trouble with intimacy; they have trouble empathizing with other people, and the only way they feel good about themselves is sort of filling themselves up with the positive affects of other people,” he says.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/oprahradio/Dr-Drew#ixzz2nn4IIcKD

See?! I said “disconnect” and “empathy” first!!!

I’m cool.

To a narcissist, the purpose is quite clear: get seen. Pinsky (I will NOT play that “Dr. First Name” game) cites that actors and musicians with real, actual talent and investment in their work aren’t the most narcissistic (I still throw Madonna in that pile — she’s a Leo like Schwarzenneger). Guess who ARE considered the most narcissistic people in media?

I was looking for an image of all the talentless female reality-TV contestants (thanks, Pinsky, I almost said “stars”) but apparently there is no assemblage of all that botox, hair product, filler, spray tan, silicone, fake nails, stilettos, g-strings, saline, rejuvaderm, nor enough type-O blood to compensate for the likely poor results of such a reunion.  (Can you imagine?! I want front row seats!)

Pinsky said, “People on reality shows, they’re on TV because, ‘Hey, it’s me! I just need to be on TV!’ And that’s a narcissistic impulse.” <– (“like”? I didn’t write that copy. It’s awful; he sounds like an Olsen twin.) 

When you feel good about yourself, you just do and it shows. You don’t mow people down, or push little kids out of the way to the ice cream truck. You don’t need to show off, you don’t need to lie, you don’t need to do any of the things that I listed ad nauseum above. You don’t need to have a big house, you just need to welcome people into it. You don’t need to have the best car, you just need to obey the road laws. You don’t need botox you just — — hey…

My mother was a narcissist. I won’t go into details or shame her when she can’t defend herself, but she knew it and she used to make jokes about herself but they weren’t funny, they were just appeals to bait for compliments. The compliments she made of herself, they were just bait for disagreement. It all hinged on her unease with herself. I get it now and I got it then. She was never really at peace with herself (other than in a few pics I have of her, that one on the upper right is the best … or: maybe she was acting?! yes, it’s that tangled); that makes me sad. It’s a long story, but it’s likely founded in her relationship with her own mother. (What am I nuts?! Did I just say ‘likely’?! Of course it is…)

“I’m a narcissist with a self-esteem problem” she would quip of her dipsomania, waving it off as though it were just something to be tolerated and that came with the price of admission into her exclusive world which leaked all over the family. But believe it or not, I miss her voice. It’s the first one I heard. She is with God and He’s in charge up there.

(Hey man … we are ALL screwed up. Props to Mom for trying when she could.)

Narcissism is alive and well these days. Social media engenders its growth. I worry about my sons. I worry about their interest in “likes” on Minecraft or Instagram. I worry about their words in a text or iMessage being taken out of context and used to ridicule them. The world is a cruel place. There should be enough sunshine for all 7billion of us, but sometimes I think people aren’t so fair. The drive to fit in is so rampant, it can be its own undoing.

I think to be savvy to narcissism and its trappings (deceit, friends dropping like flies, people running from you) is what matters most; there is always time to repair damage. Another aspect that I believe can help stave narcissism is passion for what you do for OTHERS and not giving a whit about recognition. Living your purpose and sharing your gifts and sprinkling it all with a nice helping of humility helps too.

Ok. I think that went well. Chocolates may be sent to my agent.

Thank you.

ps: Merry Merry. This is where I’m cool with talent and the drive to share it. Carey enjoys this as much as I did. I hope you do too.  (And those kids… c’mon…)