Thank you Emily. Watching the image emerge on the sliver of tin from the tiny handheld pool of chemicals was better than watching the bionic man get surgery on his special arm. Real old fashioned magic.
So, #BigHeadRVA wanted to attend a yoga class. I told him to choose any class. I’d be happy to tag along. In my wildest dreams, I never expected it to be a prenatal yoga class! I had major reservations, but not for any reason you might be thinking.
I was previously married to a doula/midwife/prenatal yoga instructor. During this time, I was frequently invited to events exclusively for pregnant women of which I was honored to attend. This included: Blessing Ways, naming ceremonies and more than my fair share of prenatal yoga classes.
No offense, but I’ve never found being in a room filled with pregnant women to be very relaxing. Besides, I usually do or say something stupid that ends up being offensive. Like, “Hello how are you?” We headed to pop-up class (no pun intended) at @projectyogarichmond where I was surprised to learn during our check-in that BigHeadRVA, whom I’ve been referring to as a “He,” is pregnant. Uhm, 18 weeks to be exact. The check in coordinator was unfazed which speaks volumes to the truly accepting environment they’ve created there.
Things are definitely getting more interesting. Since we’re contracted to work together for the next year, I guess we’ll have a little one living in the studio soon. Which is fine because I love kids.
For the record. I only got in trouble during class once when I told BigHeadRVA “shhh” because he was making strange sounds. Mr.Florence captured that moment in the photo. The instructor quickly reminded me that the class was a judgement-free zone.
So here’s what I know about #BigHeadRVA , my new roommate/writing partner.
- It’s going on 2 weeks and since I have yet to see him without his large head I assume he has a molten disfiguration similar to the one suffered by Darth Vader. - He hasn’t spoken anything sounding remotely like English. Not even late at night in the guest room with his manservant Mr. Florence. Rather he makes a strange squeaking sound between clicks like the sound of a fish called a Sea Robin.
- He never takes off his yellow suit nor does he bathe, but he also does not give off an odor. Overall, he generally smells like a cool mint chocolate Cliff bar.
- He has been laying down the melodies on the piano for the songs in our show and he is quite musically adept. I’m starting to think he may be the reincarnation of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI - I will write more in the coming days. This photo is one Mr. Florence took this morning. We were drinking carrot juice. .
A few weeks ago, I placed an ad on craigslist. (If you follow me on Facebook you probably saw the ad). It read “SEEKING MUSICAL FREAKS & WEIRDOS TO HELP WRITE STAGE SHOW.” The ideal candidates must be willing to relocate to #RVA for one year, be familiar with the work of Future Islands, Kiss, and Gwar. Includes: stipend, room & board. After weeding out four mallgoths, seven gore metalheads, and the CEO of Nordstrom’s (that’s what he said), I hired a guy who goes by the name #BigHeadRVA . He lives in a huge head (refer to photo), packed only one outfit, and travels with a photographer. The only things he brought with him were a rainbow beach bag filled with loose leaf notebook paper and a black bag of pens. I have no idea what he looks like. No idea how old he is. Nothing. Man? Woman? Alien? BigHeadRVA & his photographer will be living with me until I take our show on tour next spring. I’ll probably be posting a lot of pics of us. Since I don’t have kids, this is the closest thing I have to a baby. If you see us around town make sure to say hi. .
I like big mutts and I can not lie. ➲ People keep asking me if I do pet commissions and I do......but, I have to fall in love ♡ with your dog first. This means your dog needs to contact, court and woo me ❥ with a romantic proposal just like in the days of old. My apologies to those of you who thrive on instant gratification. My secret ingredient is (and always has been love) and I can only do a painting justice if I fall in love ♡ with your dog. For those of you who are still persistent, my contact info is online if you search around for it.
The morning of my thirteenth birthday, a Winnie-the-Pooh-sized wasp nest fell on my head during a fishing trip. It would be the first time that I would laugh through immense pain. ⁖ My first glimpse in understanding how I would always have a choice in how to respond to the events of my life. ⁛ When I think back on that day I remember both the unique dance I did with the wasps before leaping out of the boat and my own laughter - which continued even many hours later as I blew the candles out on my birthday cake, my eyes nearly swollen shut and my body inflated as if by an air compressor.
Years later, I began to have dreams and then visions about my birth. ⍜ I remembered seeing wasps in the womb. In my twenties, wasps began to visit me and land on me. It was rare to go more than a few days without seeing a wasp. Eventually, I would begin to hold out my hand and invite them to land on me.
These days I see wasps as messengers, angels dressed in yellow & black outfits. Whenever a wasp is nearby it's a clear affirmation. I know I am right where I need to be and everything is going according to God's plan.
Last year, I had a wasp landing pad tattooed on my left forearm. ⿴ The idea was to create an obvious and permanent stage for my wasp friends. I think it took a year for them to get the memo. ➹
Yesterday, as I was getting out of my truck one finally decided to try it out. ⸁ I was holding my phone. The timing perfect. She landed on my bracelet and we talked for a while. ▓ Well, she mostly talked and I listened. "The world needs to hear more “I love you” today," she said and "Love keeps no record of wrongs," and a bunch of other stuff that would probably bore you. Before she flew off she called me "Sugar" just like my favorite waitress and for a little while longer the divine right order of our mixed up world seemed absolutely perfect.
I spent the past half hour talking to a meteorologist on the beach. We were the only ones out. The beach barren for hours. Ominous clouds. Heavy surf. He kept cleaning his thick glasses on his shirt. The sea mist blown in from Hurricane Maria covering us. His head was clean, bald, shiny. He looked strange when I approached him the way people act who are afraid of people, keeping clear exit routes within view. Perhaps, I seemed strange to him with my beard separated by the heavy wind. My long hair orbiting my head. Wearing sadness on my sleeve. He said he'd never seen anything like it. "Maria was coming straight for us, but she's decided to leave. At the last minute. Like she forgot something important at home." I noticed then that the sea had changed a little. She was leaving. I wondered what she forgot that was so important.
I walked back to my cottage and thought back to one year ago today. I stood in the same place I had with this strange man. I was single then and I'd walk back to my cottage and send an email to a quirky, creative, kind-hearted left-handed librarian I'd just met. I thought she was the one. We thought we were each other's one. A year of love, a trip to Paris, exchanging apartment keys, fishing, talk of marriage, kids. But love is never as predictable as I want it to be. Like Maria, our love had come close and then turned suddenly away as if she'd forgotten something important at home. In one year, from beginning to end. A birth and death cycle of a relationship. now. in a familiar place. Letting these sand blasts of wind push me. Alone. I'm left wondering what was so important that love had to turn away. Grace. Love. Take care of us please.
There used to be a guy that surfed the local spot beside the pier when I was a kid. We called him King Neptune God of the Sea ᙌ and he had a beard like the one I have now. He rode a longboard and always sat way outside. In his black wetsuit he seemed impermeable, larger than life, a superhero. ༼He only rode the biggest waves, ones that were as tall as skyscrapers, ones that were way too big for us then. ཽWhen he dropped in, a wake of wind would sometimes push his beard onto his shoulder where it would ride like a tiny animal. He was always the first one out. I never remember a dawn patrol without seeing him in the lineup - even on the coldest winter days. I remember wanting to be like him, impermeable, strong, superhero-like. ⁂
When I left to build my life away from the sea, I thought loving someone deeply would make me strong like him. It didn't. Later, I thought loving places or things would make me strong. They didn't. ོ
I eventually found it, though only for short periods of time. It came when I allowed myself to be loved. That takes real courage. Real strength. In those months, years, days when I allowed it, I always felt like King Neptune God of the Sea ᙌ descending down the face of my own wave, impermeable, strong, superhero-like. There's nothing quite like the feeling. ❀
As I paddle out this morning for the first time in almost three years I find myself being open to love in a way that only comes with age. That only comes when I allow myself to be vulnerable. I've exhausted all means of protecting myself at this point. The desire to remain open. The salt water on my lips. To being loved. ♡ I paddle out. I know now. I sit alone on my board while skyscrapers explode beyond me on the inside. Vulnerable. On the outside. That's the only way we ever become strong.
A couple times a week I volunteer at a not-for-profit yoga center in Richmond, VA called Project Yoga Richmond. In addition to providing pay-what-you-can outdoor classes at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on Saturdays from May thru October (pictured here) every ambassador who teaches in our studio also teaches a community class in an under-served area that may include: a juvenile detention center, senior center, women's shelter, 12 Step recovery program, an inner-city classroom for ESL students or teens with autism, etc. Volunteering my time here is an important part of my yoga practice. By giving to others I not only feel a great sense of belonging, but it also helps promote a deeper sense of gratitude within myself as I've come to recognize more of what's already a blessing in my life.
☆When he sees all beings as equal☆
in suffering or in joy☆
because they are like himself,☆
that man has grown perfect in yoga☆
࿐i can't learn jokes by heart. it's why i have trouble standing up. i don't trust. each word. a drop of fluoride in the water. to protect me from soft teeth and a life i find hard to digest.༼ seeking love. forgiveness. external validation. were supposed to make me impervious to the world's decay. though why you still find me hiding in the closet behind my father's coats on my better days. ོ showing up is the hardest part. to the mat, to the easel, to life. yet, when i roll it out i realize i'm fine. i may have forgotten how to draw a straight line. stand like a tree or fly. but never let me forget what this forgetting means to me. today. only beginning matters. ཽ
After this week, I'm beginning to agree with the former President of France who said, "The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.” And so, I find myself spending more time in the studio. This portrait of Wiley being the result, because he doesn't care who you are or where you come from as long as you have a bowl of food and a free hand to scratch his head.
࿐ A few years back, I wasn't in a good place. My life was a mess. Again. I was trying to outthink God. One of the few places I felt relief was on the yoga mat. ོWith a "post-yoga" high I found I could blissfully escape my life for up to six hours a day. ོWhich is why I decided to go to 90 yoga classes in 90 days. I mean if 1 lollipop tastes great doesn't it stand to reason that eating an entire box will taste greater?
For 80 days my escape plan worked perfectly. My practice was advancing. My body felt awesome. I had incredible dialogues in my head during class about how great my poses looked. (Never mind that I spent the rest of the day crying and feeling worthless). "I've discovered the secret to a good life," or so I thought.
I hit the mat on day 80 with a stiff neck. Had I not been intent on finishing my 90 in 90 I would've taken the day off. I didn't. By day 83, I couldn't turn my neck. Two days later the pain traveled into my shoulder. On day 87, I tapped out. ོIt seems yoga would give me the ultimate escape, after all.
After spending the next few weeks on my back in bed, I went from the yoga mat to the physical therapist's table. I was unable to practice yoga for a year. Two years later, I am unable to do downward dog or many of the poses that once comforted me. Two years later, though I remain humbled by yoga's power. I am back on the mat again, but I am a much different yogi than I was before. ཽ Yoga whispered to me. "I will not conform to your math. Nor be quantified or qualified. I am not a marathon to be run or a race to train for. You can try to use me like an addict uses sex, relationships, work, drugs, alcohol, religion, exercise, shopping, or gambling, but I'm not here to help you meet your escape quota or your man-made goals. There is a difference in hearing and listening. So hear this." ࿐
I temporarily borrowed this booth not to give advice, but to ask for it. I've screwed up things enough without encouraging others to do the same. BTW- I have a lot of nickels to give the right person.
Here's all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid." - George Carlin, When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?
"Showing up takes courage." - Yoga ོ
Every other Saturday through October, please join our creative @projectyogarichmond family as we roll out our mats and provide free yoga for our community high above the sculpture gardens at the @vmfamuseum