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T.V. Yoga

You haven't heard of T.V. Yoga?

That's probably because I've just created it. Yes, I'm now the kind of person who creates new types of yoga.

This statement could be misleading, however, as it's not an actual yoga series -- but it's something I'm doing that's working for me at the moment, so thought I would share.

I am clearly not a yoga teacher, professional or anything of the sort. But I am a student of yoga, and here is the potted history of my yoga experience:

  • I practiced Bikram yoga (the really hot kind, and the controversial kind) for over 10 years before I gave it up, mainly due the heat and all the sweating, which I don't think was good for some specific health issues I have. But I did really love it and wish there was a studio in London that taught it without the heat. I also wish I was able to exercise regularly at home (I'm not), because I have the CDs and have occasionally done the series without the heat. 
  • I've been to numerous yoga classes at various gyms. And some at studios. I've had one personal yoga class with my friend's sister who is a yoga teacher. That same friend brought me to a yin yoga class in San Francisco. And I even did yoga on the beach last summer (which was amazing). 
  • I've read a few books on yoga. I've edited a book on yoga. 
  • I meditate (most) days (even if it is for very short periods of time!). This is the original yoga, by the way. 

Over the past few years, I have struggled to find a new yoga routine that fits into my life. The yoga studio near our house doesn't have any times that work in my schedule. My gym has so few classes that none of them work for me either. And there's even a free class at my office -- a free class! -- once a week, and although I have been a few times and really liked it, it's just scheduled at a really bad time work-wise for me.

And until I can find my own personal yoga teacher who will come to my house and teach me (this is a dream of mine) and also convince the Hub that this is a good use of our "funds", I am making due with what I like to call T.V. Yoga.

At the end of a long day, after sitting at the office, while the Hub and I watch one of the many gripping T.V. shows we have to choose from in the evening, I roll out my yoga mat and do some postures. I am not saying this is technically exercise, but it is movement, and instead of feeling like a brain in a lump watching the boob tube (as my Dad lovingly refers to it), I do start to feel like I am living in my actual physical body again. Which is after all, the point of yoga (it does technically means "union").

I'm not saying this is a substitute for a real yoga class. Or something a beginner should try (it's not like I'm a yoga expert, but I do know many postures and how to do them safely). But for now, I am making due and I think some yoga is better than no yoga.

While we're on the subject, if you're interested in learning more about yoga, I highly recommend a recent book I've read by Cinnamon Kennedy (an actual yoga teacher), called Why Yoga Works.

On a more hopeful note, there is a new yoga studio in my neighborhood that has opened up, so let's see if that could work better for me. Or maybe someone will read this and offer to come to my house to teach me? Although, chances are, they probably won't let me watch T.V. during class.

Photo credit: wuestenigel Lotus Pose (Padmasana) via photopin (license)

In The Dark

As I march toward finishing the first draft of my first novel, I feel like I am going through a dark tunnel. I can see the light, but I have no way of knowing what will be there when I get out on the other side. Will I have a decent first draft? Can I actually write a novel? 

I suppose I could say that I've been a writer my whole professional life. Or at least that writing has been a big part of what I get paid for. There's of course a lot more to being a journalist (the first part of my career) and a research analyst (the second part), than just writing. You have to be able to write, but you have to be able to do analysis, to figure out what's important and tell a story.

And so has my professional work helped prepare me to write books?

Yes, in many ways it has. I know the important of writing a first draft. Any sort of first draft, even a very bad one. Because you can't edit a blank page. I've received a lot of criticism and editing throughout my career. And I know that any work has become better because of it, never worse.

My work life has also prepared me to know the importance of telling a story and having something to say. Whether or not the stories I have to tell or what I have to say -- through the art of fiction -- is interesting to anyone else remains to be seen. But it's interesting to me, so I feel compelled to at least try.

I'm nearly on the last chapter, guys. I've written 2,591 words of Chapter 17, then there's just Chapter 18 to wrap the whole thing up. And then I'm going to have to read it to see if it even makes any sense.

That's the thing about writing a book. After you reach a certain number of words, you just can't stop and go back to see if it's working. I have no idea if the pacing is right, if the point of view works, if the characters are developed enough or if it's even interesting at all. I'm in a dark tunnel, blind to the result and just having to focus on the process. It's not so bad, but it's a little maddening for someone who is used to being able to re-read something I've written to see if it's not working. Because then I can fix it.

Speaking of which, in other news, I've finally been brave enough to get someone to edit my memoir (the one I wrote back in 2015). And she did a great job of coming up with some suggestions to fix that. Because it certainty doesn't work as is. So while the novel (book #2) rests and I get some distance from it, I will start edits on book #1, with the hope of getting it into a sort of shape to actually be published. So all of you dear readers can read it.

Watch this space.

Photo credit: OregonDOT Mosier Twin Tunnels via photopin (license)

How Do They Do It?

I really don't know how they do it.

I have always wondered how people who have jobs where their clients are going through something that is either very emotional, life-changing, or something they may just do once and therefore have very little experience of, cope. On this widely varying list I include professions like funeral directors, anyone involved in the wedding industry, headhunters, doctors, nurses, vets, paramedics, divorce lawyers, psychologists, police offers (including one detective I know) and social workers.

I know it's not exactly of the same magnitude, but now I will add to the list kitchen designers, builders and even Ray from the tile shop. (It's at least equivalent to anyone in the wedding industry.)

The thing is, in any of these professions, you have to deal with people who may be generally pretty sane, but who are clearly not their normal selves because they are really inexperienced in dealing with whatever it is they are dealing with right now. And can also be very emotional.

In my job, I deal with people who have typically been in the same industry for years. And for everyone in that industry, it's a job. It's not life or death (I don't think?), or even that personal. In many ways I like the fact that my day job is an escape for whatever else is going on in my life. Even though I truly love the functionality of spreadsheets, I can't get that emotional about them.

So hats off to people who do these kinds of jobs. Especially my kitchen designer who had to deal with the Hub hitting reply all and including her on an email to me that read: "Can't take this anymore..."

It could have been worse. At least he was replying to a comment I had made in the great debate over drawer handles, and not something coming from them.

Our extension work started June 19th and I've been determined not to complain about it, as I am lucky and grateful we can improve our house. And for the fact that we have a house at all. But I am well aware that I am acting temporarily insane at times. I've written a few tersely worded emails about ovens, said some tiles looked "cheap" in disgust, and didn't cope well with working from home this week when I had to make coffee and eat lunch in the bedroom.

I've been thinking about these professionals with awe a lot recently as I continue to exhibit unusual behavior. I really don't know how they do it. (If you do one of these jobs, maybe you can comment and let me know how you cope.)

Photo credit: Leonard J Matthews high voltage via photopin (license)

Serves You Right

For some time now the Hub has been telling me that I am becoming more and more English culturally. But it's hard to know. These changes happen so slowly sometimes. When you grow up somewhere you often really identify strongly with the beliefs and attitudes of that culture. And I think (and hope) that the American tenaciousness and optimism will never leave me.

But the other day I had a moment when I thought: I cannot believe I just did that. I cannot believe that I have done such an about face.

To understand what happened you need to know the background.

During my first year here (in 2002), the World Cup was on. And it was happening in Japan and South Korea so there were matches on during the day U.K. time. My editor and I were out in the City at meetings, discussing derivatives, because that was the very fun subject I covered at the time. And after one meeting we popped into a pub to watch some football and eat lunch.

We ordered our lunch and waited. And waited. I guess it was really busy. It was the World Cup after all.

There were two women sitting near us, who had come in after us, and I noticed that they surprisingly got served their food before us. As I watched them -- because I was very hungry -- I noticed they were looking at their plates in a sort of puzzled manner. But they picked up their forks and started eating anyway.

I waved the waiter over, because of course I had an inkling that they had been served our food. After all, it was what we had ordered. There was a kerfuffle and the waiter realized his mistake. I cannot actually remember how it all got sorted out, but it did, and eventually we got our lunch.

But I was enraged. I ranted and raved at my editor. How could someone just eat food that wasn't theirs? How would you not say anything if you had been served something you hadn't ordered?

Well. The other day I was having lunch with an old friend. I ordered a tartine with parma ham and mozarella. And then I changed my mind. I told the waitress, hang on, actually I wanted the smoked chicken one instead. She wrote it down and off she went, as we went back to catching up and having a great chat.

When our food arrived the waitress served me a tartine with parma ham and mozarella. I looked at it and shrugged. It looked good anyway. And I didn't feel like it was nice to point out her mistake. It was certainly not going to make any real difference to me what I ate that day.

When we had finished our meal, the waitress came over and started apologizing profusely. She had realized her mistake and was very worried. I told her it was not a big deal, that my lunch was delicious and joked that maybe that was what I really wanted all along anyway. And then when she was gone I told my friend the story I have just told you.

English people eat what they are served. Happily. It's a good way to live, I think. I guess if you have a food allergy it's a different case. Or if the mistake had involved seafood it would have been a different story (I hate fish & seafood). But it didn't. She gave us a 10% discount, which was nice, but really I didn't care. I was just happy I didn't ruin her day by getting her in trouble in some way for a mistake that anyone could have made.

It's just funny how much people really can change.

Photo credit: frederic.gombert Holidays ambiance via photopin (license)
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