I saw this band a few months ago when I was still living in San Francisco. Sometimes I listen to this song on repeat in the mornings when I’m doing nerdy things like pinning images of the desert and pink buildings and the ocean.
Then I usually follow up with this one:
Small notions of comfort on mornings that need a little extra encouragement.
Yesterday was Blumesday. The day before that was Blooomsday. The latter is the annual celebration of James Joyce’s Ulysses. June 16th, every year, Joyce lovers around the world, especially in Dublin, get together and read excerpts and talk all things Leopold Bloom and Ulyssean.
The former is much more my speed. Two women in Oregon decided that the day after Bloomsday should be Blumesday… Judy, not Joyce. When I heard this on the radio yesterday, I strongly considered turning that bright shiny Crown Vic of mine around in order to go home and collect my copy of Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself. Surely, the demography of Downtown LA would be on board for a stirring rendition of all things Blume. Since I was already in the Fastrak lane on the 110N, I opted to commemorate the event by writing this here post… though a reading in my best Sally J. voice in front of the fountain at the Public Library would have been a much better suited gift to the transient population of Flower and Fifth Streets.
In all seriousness, Judy Blume was a pillar in my adolescence. She spoke to me in a language that made me feel human. From Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great to Deenie and Summer Sisters, a novel for adults, Blume had a knack for writing characters that I could relate to or learn from.
Sally J. was a friend. And in my mind, a real friend. As an only child with an imagination that far outweighed any voice of reason, books were solace. I could create worlds to live in through books – imagining myself as another character in the stories I read fueled my play endlessly. I read and re-read may favorites as often as possible, tearing through the pages more voraciously each time, hoping to discover just one new line of understanding or reasoning for why I was feeling lost or un-categorically woozy every time I was near Jeff Chenier.
I was naive as a girl, but Blume never made me feel apologetic for it. In fact, she celebrated it. Blume’s characters had the questions that I did, the same struggles to feel validated by peers, the silent desire to stay safe and comforted by our best friends – our parents. And what’s remarkable is that I’m not the only one she spoke to. Even the popular girls loved Blume. No matter where we lived in the social hierarchy of the fifth grade, Judy Blume wove us all into her books. She told stories from perspectives that were uniquely our own and allegorically relevant to encourage us to be empathetic and sensitive young people.
Even years after reading Blume’s tales, I find myself wondering where the characters are now? Did Sally J. ever see Peter Hornstein again? Where did she go to college? Did Blubber find long-lasting peace in her body image or did she continue to battle it like I did? Did Sheila learn to filter her naturally judgmental opinions? Maybe she found yoga too.
I started practicing yoga when I was a little girl. My mother used to watchRaquel Welch’s Total Beauty and Fitness video in her bedroom each morning. There was just enough room for each of us to have a mat-shaped path of carpet to practice the Bikram series she taught. At age five, I was definitely more intrigued by Raquel, with her hourglass-shaped body and zebra print bathing suit, and the alone time with my mother than becoming a mini-yogi.
Twenty-six years later, I’m still at it. And so is she.
My mom recounts memories of walking into the living room as a child to find her dad standing on his head. He was stationed in India for a period of time during the Second World War and discovered yoga there. As we both grew up, we had an honest belief that yoga existed daily… As much as paying $20+ to take a class from a photoshoot-ready instructor is a practice today, my mom and I grew up understanding that yoga happened everywhere. While we brushed our teeth, waited in line at the grocery store and fell asleep each night balancing our chakras, or “the colors,” as I called them.
Growing up, it was rare to find studios offering 60 yoga classes per week. Yoga was often taught by flexible athletes or aerobics instructors who, probably, had also learned from Raquel. There was no internet to research a person’s credentials. There was no Yoga Alliance setting standards. There were no yoga Pinterest boards idolizing yoginis in bikinis – there was just Raquel (idolized for her non-yoga pursuits, mostly).
In the early 1980′s my mom did some research on The White Lotus Foundation, at the library, of course, and considered a stay there. The White Lotus Foundation is a mountain retreat center in Santa Barbara dedicated to the development of the total human being. Though the timing wasn’t right for my mom in the 80′s, it’s perfect for me in the 10′s.
I’m planning to head to White Lotus this Summer for a 16-day retreat and Teacher Training. 16 days of soul-drinking, heart-rejuvenating, vegan-eating yoga bliss.
It’s still a few months away, so I’m taking the time to find my practice both on and off the mat. Reminding myself to stay generous with my spirit and shine bright in love, life and practice.
Also, if you haven’t watched this yoga video yet, please please please make some time. I cried so hard.
There is so much happening in this world. All day, everyday: people living, people dying, some are birthed, just existing, scraping by, living lavishly, every possible combination of livable applications. I read this article this week… It’s about the protests in Turkey. If you’ve been consumed with Edward Snowden, the IRS scandals, elections and sanctions in Iran, shootings in Santa Monica, Syria or even the daily intricacies of your own precious life, I hope you give yourself a second to read this one. So many of our daily and seemingly innate rights are not the norm in too many countries. And while I think we all acknowledge this difference as a generality, it’s important, for me at least, to check in on it in a tangible way.
You see, I worry about the children growing up in these communities that don’t know that they can even dream of big lives where governmental approval is not required to choose something as simple as an outfit let alone a passionate education. My therapist is really encouraging me to let go of the things I cannot control – and I totally get her point, however, this makes my heart ache in a way I cannot describe. I worry that the people who do have control are basking so deeply in that power, they do not see (as Mary Poppins would say), past the end of their noses. Maybe it’s power-hungry greed or just plain old fear – but the impossibility of giving citizens the opportunity to choose or find/discover their own paths in religion, sexuality and democracy can bring me to tears. How can I let all that go? How do simply live with the luck that I was born here, and someone else was born there?
Lately, my mom has asked me to re-enforce three positive ideas for every one negative or worrisome one – she heard a program on NPR about the brain’s reaction to negative information. Okay.
Calle filmed and photographed ten residents of Istanbul (Turkey), from behind, at their first sight of the sea. All ten Istanbulites, with unique reactions to the ocean, living on the economic and social margins of the city are portrayed respectfully and thoughtfully. For those of us that live near the ocean, or have seen it all our lives, it’s almost impossible to imagine a life without it. How would you describe the color blue to someone with no sight? The scent of a Stargazer lily to someone with no sense of smell? Or the melody of “Here Comes the Sun” to someone who cannot hear? Calle captures all that.
This video is narrated in French, though it shows some pretty beautiful images:
Jordan and I are going to San Diego this weekend, so that’s the second positive.
And finally, it’s Father’s Day weekend. I’ve got a pretty remarkable dad and we have a standing breakfast date once a week, so Father’s Day isn’t something that we feel the need to celebrate in an overwhelmingly Hallmark way. I found not one, but four glass butter dishes for him. He’s broken every one he’s ever had and has always taught me to buy in bulk when I find a good deal – so here’s to having a working butter dish for at least the next six months.
All photos sourced via my Pinterest board, Voir la Mer.
Thanks to Shoko at sho & tell for posting about Voir la mer.
Did you know that Calexico released another new album?! Spiritoso. Oh my, friends… let me tell you. With backings from two different orchestras in Europe, this album is possibly their best yet! I have a deep rooted love for Calexico, who along with Devotchka and Rodrigo y Gabriela (who are playing the Hollywood Bowl with Lord Huron this summer and this gal’s thoughtful gent bought tickets!), created the soundtrack to my grad school life at Sarah Lawrence. A subtle reminder of all things warm, West and Americana? Si!
I’ll be honest, along with hearing about Calexico’s new release on KPCC (my local public radio station), the crew on Take Two shared these two completely different artists, and I’m happily listening to what they’ve got on Spotify. They were on a roll yesterday!
Canadian Jazz artist, Alex Pangman’snew album, Have a Little Fun, features the guitar legend Bucky Pizzarelli. Her recreation of swing-era standards transports me to my grandfather’s living room in Panorama City – watching he and my mother bounce around to his old 78 records.
Case Studies released This is Another Life yesterday. Villain is one of those duets that makes so much beautiful and haunting sense. I’m working on listening to the whole album… so far I’ve been really happy.
I’ve also been working on some moody June Gloom playlists of my own over on the old Spotify. Give ‘em a listen, eh?
Have you ever seen one of those emotional Subaru commercials? The driver is narrating some heart-felt story about the number of trips the car has taken from Spring Break ’94 to the hospital on the eve of his first child’s birth? We watch the driver as he winds through beautiful mountainous terrain and finally reaches an old oak tree – the place where Subarus go to die. Fifteen or so old car frames gather dust and the driver says a few final words, in private, to his car before hopping in a brand new, shiny and glossy Subaru to create new memories in… tears ensue.
Well, I have a car like that. In fact, my whole family has a car like that. Cars that have been passed down from my dad, to my mom and finally to me. We’ve gone through various colors and generations of looks. I’ve known other families like ours – families who pass Subarus from parent to child and even a few Volvo families. It all seems reasonable. For us, the Guest Family of Long Beach, it’s Crown Victorias. Somehow the Crown Vic doesn’t seem quite as sexy or emotional, does it?
Tonight I sold my 1999 White Crown Victoria because my dad is gifting me the family’s 2006 Gold-ish/Bronze Crown Victoria. Last year, he sold the 2002 Blue one and yesterday he bought my mom a 2011 Silver version.
Here’s the thing, as ugly as old Whitey is – she has been reliable. And more importantly, she was the physical and symbolic vehicle for countless major events in my life.
Whitey and I have been across the entire country twice, back and forth from LA to San Francisco more times than I can count and bumped into a handful of walls, poles and maybe even a few other bumpers along the way. She carried me on long tearful drives up both coastlines when I needed to “get out,” and made more than her fair share of trips to IKEAs in Paramus, Brooklyn, Oakland and Carson. Whitey was a constant character in my life from the day I graduated from college through the birth and development of my current life and career.
I suppose the beauty of sentimental value is that the owner, the participant, the keeper is truly the only one who understands and honors the object’s value. The stains in the upholstery, the San Francisco parking sticker, the spilled paint in the trunk and the dents in the passenger door remind me of the journey I have made. The mistakes and the triumphs – they are all proven and remembered in that dear old hoopty car.
My Whitey, I loved you. Thank you for keeping me safe and always having ample room for more yoga mats, groceries, passengers and EXPEDIT bookshelves. You will always have seventeen and two-thirds foot shaped spot in my heart.
I read a lot of blogs this week by authors that mentioned what a difficult week this had been. Absolutely no good, very bad days – one right after another. That was my week last week. As my mom puts it, “honey, we have to learn more about the planets. You know, how they align. Because we need to know why people are acting the way that they are and why we feel the things we feel.”
This week did not start off the best. I was filled to the brim with anticipatory shittiness. You know, when you’re just waiting for something to go wrong, for someone to disappoint you, to forget to use your work-filter and say the wrong thing? Well right about Tuesday, when things were heading down the tube, I decided to take control. I put my plan b attitude on and headed into Wednesday with can-do! The don’t sweat the small stuff, is this really worth letting my blood boil, let it go attitude.
It totally worked. Jordan and I had one of the best weeks we’ve had in our entire relationship – filled with kind words, thoughtful glances, hugs for no reason and endless laughs. Work was the same. No copy paper for the printed schedule, who cares? Let’s see if we can recite it from memory for anyone who asks for it!
So, for levity and light – here are some of my favorite pins for the week! Visit my Pinterest page for all link-backs. Happy weekend, I’m off to shop for a vintage number to wear to a New Hampshire Summer wedding!
I'm Layla! I'm a dancer, writer, Yoga and Pilates teacher and red-head. I believe in sweat + sequins and have emphatic opinions about art, social normatives and appropriate human behavior! [Click here to read more...]
I have a full schedule of teaching Yoga, Pilates and dance-based modalities, Monday - Friday in Southern California. Click here for more details or for private instruction inquiry.