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Showing posts from 2013

An Open Letter to Greg Gopman

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Dear Greg, I've been thinking about what you said all day, as I watch the equally caustic responses to your words stream through my news feed. Personally, I found your words more disturbing than offensive because I'm afraid that they reflect the uninformed views of so many more. I am curious about you. I wonder how long you've been in San Francisco, how long you've been watching the city evolve, and how wide your understanding is of homelessness. I'm a teacher by nature, and I would like to help you understand this issue a bit more so that you can help educate others.
During college, I did volunteer work as a Crisis Counselor with San Francisco Suicide Prevention. Part of our thorough training was a history of mental health care in California. Did you know that California used to have a vast, comprehensive public mental healthcare system? During his tenure as governor, Ronald Reagan gutted the system, leaving very little behind. People end up in public mental heal…

Being Pretty isn't IT

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We were hanging out awhile back and you asked, all full of frustration, "Well, what do you want then?" I had been talking about how uninteresting I find perfectly sculpted physiques to be due to a longtime exposure to beautiful, built gay men. My answer at the time was, "I don't know," which was a lie. I do know what I want, but explaining it in that moment was beyond me. We were in a bar and I think I had just done a shot of tequila.

The truth is, I want MORE. Feeling a physical attraction to your potential partner is important, I appreciate nice looking things, but I have also become concerned with sustainability. The condition of our physical bodies is highly unsustainable. What is of lasting value is what's between your ears and in your heart, because that's who and what you really are. Being beautiful will take you far, but then what? That is not a train that will help you travel the entirety of your lifetime, should you be lucky enough to age to …

The Wild, Rebel Heart

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As I descended the stairs into a sea of crisp black blazers and pencil skirts, fresh blowouts and french tips, it immediately became apparent that I was out of place. You know when it feels like everyone is watching you enter a room? In this case, everyone was. It was something like America's Next Top Model, a sorority rush and free diving with great whites...all at once. However, I smiled wide and laughed in my head at all the beautiful, scowling, full faces of makeup. I reasoned that amid all the black, it would be to my advantage to be in blue and cream stripes. Heck, I barely remembered to shave my legs! I'm a stylish individual and I will stand out!

When we entered the conference room, I realized how flawed my logic had been. The woman leading the open call was in the same uniform as all the other contestants. I naturally immediately suspected a conspiracy, then realized a simple truth: I've been wearing yoga pants to work for a very long time. Even when I worked in …

What Women Want From Men

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A couple of weeks ago, Magic Mike some how came up over drinks with my token, straight guy friends. I explained two things:
1) That sorry excuse for a movie pandered far more to the fulfillment of male fantasies than women's. It's a movie about men getting what they want, written and directed by men.
2) When you're raised into adulthood in the gay community in San Francisco, ├╝ber attractive, muscular, naked guys are a dime a dozen.

...but countless women (and gay men) loved it! And that's fine. Maybe I'm a grumpy feminist with no interest in a film based loosely on Channing Tatum's time as a teenage stripper in Tampa. Maybe I've just seen too many perfectly chiseled bare derrieres in person to be moved by seeing them on screen. There's no lack of appreciation for the male form here. Men's bodies possess a strength, grace and power that I adore. The sentiment underlying this is: "You're hot. So what? What else do you have to offer?"

Ph…

To Be Mastered

"You surrender to a lot of things which are not worthy of you. I wish you would surrender to your radiance...your integrity...your beautiful human grace."
-Yogi Bhajan
Being in the healing business makes one the recipient of a lot of stories and secrets. They vary in tone and content from heartbreaking to heartwarming, triumphant to shame-filled, sacred to irreverent. My favorite stories are those of the healing journey, hearing about and sometimes having the privilege to watch people transforming. I had the joy of bearing witness in such a manner recently, after Donna Quesada's ever gorgeous class at Yoga West. An older gentleman approached me to ask some questions about my practice and tell me his story of a decades long battle with alcoholism. He had been in and out of many types of programs over the years, but shared, with tears in his eyes, that after three days in yoga he had finally found something that made him feel different, that he felt would actually help hi…

Love Story.

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Baz Luhrmann ruined my love life. Or rather, Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet did. This fabulously flashy spectacle came out when I was a very impressionable adolescent with a preexisting drama condition. I had already read the play and loved the story, but dreamy LeoDiCap and sweet, lovely Claire Danes sealed the deal: If it's not tragic, intense and consuming, it's not real love. (Don't even get me started on Titanic...)

We harbor all kinds of ideas about love and life from stories but none of these are derived more powerfully or importantly than from the way we were raised and our experiences along the way. The way we are loved and the quality of love we witness as we grow up teach what to view and accept as love. This writes our story of love and informs our ability to live openhearted, be intimate, and desire and maintain healthy relationships.

What's your Love Story?
Is it a tragedy? Is it a drama? Is it fraught with conflict? Does it hurt?
Is it a comedy? Do…

Just Right, Right Now

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"I approve. I approve. You can do what you do. I approve of you." -Charlie Getter

Sometimes I accuse myself of being lazy. Then I find myself deep into a project, without thought of eating or sleeping, and I realize that there's a difference between being lazy and being unmotivated. When it comes to the things that inspire my passionate focus, I am a tireless, dedicated perfectionist. My standards are exacting and occasionally unrealistic. There's some control neurosis wrapped up in that, but it's moreso due to a desire to make the world a perfectly, ideally beautiful place. Why settle for anything that's not exactly right? Work until your fingers bleed, until you fall over out of sheer exhaustion.
There's nowhere that these rigorous requirements are enforced more stringently than inside my own head and heart. For someone who works helping people to breathe, heal and feel good, I am not especially nice to myself. I know I'm not alone in this. The idea…

Deposits and Withdrawals

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In all our relationships, whether they be romantical, friendly or familial, there is a sort of common sense equation we can employ to maintain equilibrium. We make deposits towards the strength and health of the relationship with consistent kindness, integrity and presence. When our feeble humanness overtakes our angelic nature, we make withdrawals from the relationship with our bad behavior. If we have taken the time and effort to make deposits into our account with the other person, the relationship will not become overdrawn when we have those moments that everyone refers to when they say, "Well, everyone has their moments..." The greater and more regular the deposits, the stronger and healthier the connection, the more of your humanness it can withstand.

One of my special witchy gifts is the ability to accurately predict the long term potential of couples I know. It's only partially due to psychicness, and mostly the result of being good at math. If both halves of th…

The Gilded Cage of Magical Moments

Time stretches both languorously and lightening fast between that moment and this one. The more time that I feel there between us and our eyes and their first electric meeting, the more I begin to wonder about The Magic that I've spent the last three years steeping That Moment in. I gave the millionth retelling of The Story the other night before a new friend suggested that These Magical Moments could simply exist in their particular time and space without attempts to prolong them. Some story arcs span decades, some only a matter of hours or days, but the length matters little. Strangers can transform our lives in an instant with their love or hate, kindness or courage. Just because a moment doesn't last "forever" doesn't mean that it wasn't magical.

Por ejemplo: At the beginning of summer I took a spectacular, sweet, sweaty trip to New Orleans. One afternoon found me solo adventuring, as I'm apt to do, through the French Quarter on the way to a yoga clas…

Build the Bridge

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"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." -Ephesians 4:29

"You are communicating for a better tomorrow, not to spoil today." -Yogi Bhajan

Bridges carry cars and bikes and people from one side of something to the other. We're told not to burn them, but how many of us have been instructed in how to build them? Revenge is far more sexy and exciting than forgiveness, but ultimately it is cowardly. It takes far more courage to forgive or ask for forgiveness. We must be very brave to tactfully articulate our grievances or concerns to another, or to respectfully listen to this feedback.

Bridge building is an act of grace and love, making a way for peace in our relationships. It is also an act of great vulnerability, trusting that the recipient of our offer will be open minded and listen. To admit you were wrong or forgive a wrong requires a s…

Doing the Deepest, Fullest, Most Perfect Thing Today

We were coming in to Virabhadrasana II and we all knew what we were doing. After surveying the room at the start of class, he noted that we had all been there several times and said, "You already know how to do this. So instead of fidgeting, I want you to go right into the deepest, fullest, most perfect expression of the pose you can do today."

How often do we know what the right thing is and even how to do it, but choose to fidget instead? Because the deepest, fullest, most perfect expression of the moment is more difficult than fidgeting. Because our best effort has not become ingrained habit yet and the right thing is still a bit uncomfortable in its unfamiliarity. We know what it is, but do the easier thing.

This is not how your life changes. Maybe you're perfectly happy, no change necessary. If not, if you have even the slightest inkling that something is off, consider that this fruit was born of the seeds you planted. Plant new seeds, get new fruit. Make different …

Three Years Later

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"Even in the ever-changing flow of life there are moments in which we come to a point of completion. In these moments we are able to perceive the whole picture, the composite of all the small pieces that have occupied our attention for so long. In the finishing, we can either be in despair because we don't want the situation to come to an end, or we can be grateful and accepting of the fact that life is full of endings and new beginnings.

Whatever has been absorbing your time and energy is now coming to an end. In completing it, you will be clearing the space for something new to begin. Use this interval to celebrate both - the end of the old and the coming of the new." -Osho

We met the day my movie began.
It was almost three years ago. We made eye contact through the window and I recognized you immediately. Your eyes are the eyes I saw years before in a (possibly) prophetic vision that I'd forgotten about until, my goodness, there they were! I get this feeling in my …

Jesus is My Guru

Years ago I spent Easter with my boyfriend's family. The day began with a ridiculously fun, all-adult egg hunt, and was rounded out with brunch and Easter service at the new age Christian church that his family attended. The church was housed in a large, almost industrial space in a strip mall, and immediately offended my sense of reverence. My faith was formed in beautiful, old, columned and marble shrines to God where everything was taken quite seriously; Catholicism may be stuffy and archaic, but it sure has produced some impeccable architecture. This church, on the other hand, looked like it could easily be converted into a Best Buy. Surely this is not a place where God dwells, I thought. The service included Christian rock music, the lyrics of which were projected on the wall and an impassioned sermon from a cool young guy in jeans. Naturally, I thought the whole show was bizarre, and my boyfriend and I laughed about it later.

Time passes, as it does. I get really deep in to …

On The Hook/Off The Hook

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." -Galatians 5:1

Freedom is a funny thing. Like oxygen, its intangibility makes it easy to take for granted until it's gone and suddenly you cannot breathe. Although slavery has become passe, there are people in this world who still toil in bondage, forced to work in a mine or factory or brothel against their will. For those of us lucky enough not to live under such circumstances, we might feel as though we are quite free, and relatively speaking, we are. However, all but the most enlightened of us are bound in other ways that limit our choices, creativity, honest expression and vision. Some of these binds are innocuous or necessary, but others are unhelpful at best, deadly destructive at worst. How are you bound? Where do you give away your freedom?

Step 4: Make a searching and fearless inventory

If we are to be free, we must first determine h…

Between My Maker and I

Suddenly this thought occurred to me: that where he is in his development is none of my business. It is solely between he and his God. I can expend a whole lot of time lamenting the unmet potential I see, but hiding behind the guise of me championing for his highest good is judgement. There is a time, a place and a way to hold people accountable for their greatness that is respectful and uplifting, but the way I am approaching this is neither of those things.

We could consider yoga in the same way. You're on the mat, holding Trikonasana and breathing, a gentle smile on the lips, the eyes gazing softly upwards, past your fingertips... Unless you're checking out the alignment of the people around you, mentally adjusting their posture. It's become like a tic. You can't help but want to see everyone perfectly aligned in the full expression of the pose. You know what's possible now and are practically demanding that everyone meet your ideal vision. Ahem. How unyogic is …

Waiting

Each season of the year brings about a bit of nostalgia. In fall, it's for apple picking and subsequent pie baking. In summer, it's for falling in love for the first time. Charlie and I were introduced through mutual friends and experienced an immediate intimacy. We poured our stories and secrets out with the sort of intense urgency that only teenagers can muster, and came to know each other completely within a matter of weeks. Yet although we were deeply connected emotionally and wildly hormonal, we never slept together (which I credit for the existence of our friendship all these years later). It was summer and there were plenty of opportunities, but we weren't ready. So we held hands and kissed endlessly, sweetly, in front of the mall, at the movies and everywhere else. And that was plenty.

Recently, I was rewatching an episode of Sex In The City in which the sassier of the token gays tells Charlotte that she better get laid soon or it would "grow over." Once …

Dealbreakers for My Beloved

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There comes a time in every person's life (hopefully!) when settling for anything less than perfect becomes intolerable. That time has come for me. The following is a list of commandments for anyone who would seek out an intimate relationship with me. As I am a Rich and Royal Queen, I deserve to have all these needs met. Good luck!

The Commandments, in some sort of order

1) Thou shalt be Real
Because there's nothing less attractive than a liar. Tell the truth of who you are and do it now.

2) Thou shalt be Present
I'm looking for a partner, yo. You best strive to fully occupy the space of now.

3) Thou shalt love and serve God
My primary relationship is with the Divine. If yours is not, we won't have a whole lot to talk about.

4) Thou shalt enjoy time alone
Do you like the company you keep when you're solo? No? Ruhoh!

5) Thou shalt have an active spiritual life and practice
You should probably do some yoga and meditate. You should definitely not be a scientologist.

6)…

A Light Unto Yourself

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"O my friends, What can you tell me of Love, Whose pathways are filled with strangeness? When you offer the Great One your love, At the first step your body is crushed. Next be ready to offer your head as his seat. Be ready to orbit his lamp like a moth giving in to the light, To live in the deer as she runs toward the hunter's call, In the partridge that swallows hot coals for love of the moon, In the fish that, kept from the sea, happily dies. Like a bee trapped for life in the closing of the sweet flower, Mira has offered herself to her Lord. She says, the single Lotus will swallow you whole." -Mirabai
Mirabai was an Indian princess turned deeply reverent and pious Krishna devotee who flouted severely strict tradition and familial expectation to worship her Lord. Her independence and the strength of her vision and devotion have been a great inspiration to me over the last five years as I melt and merge ever more with the deep and endless ocean that is my own experience …