I have a memory of playing with play dough as a kid. That exciting moment when you get a new batch of brand new colors, all vibrant and new. then you make your amazing creation, maybe it is a race car or a forest of evergreens. you get swept up in the creation of it all and it feels great. Than comes time to clean up and you realize that the colors cannot be separated. there is a moment of sadness that you cannot put put things pack as they were, but then you realize you have now created a whole new one of a kind mix that is very special in its own right.
Time does this. It changes things. You might not realize it as it is happening, but sometimes we end up with something that is more amazing and creative and surprising than we could have ever planned. It can be helpful from time to time to re-evaluate what is happening in our life and check in to see if there is anything we would want to do differently. Recently I had the opportunity to join a blogging community and one of the tasks was to write or re-write our bio. This seemed like a great time to check in and see. Here is the bio I had posted a few years ago on my wordpress site:
Frances Taylor-Brown is a Movement Professional/Educator and Mother of two amazing wonderful children. She is co-owner of Zenyasa Yoga and Wellness Studio, where she and her husband Jason Brown continue to explore the wonders of the human body through Yoga, Anatomy workshops and classes.
Interestingly enough, I am pretty happy with my description and would like to continue on the path that is laid out for me. Yes, I might add a few things, Pilates, a Wisdom series for kids based on my own experience working with children, but for the most part, I am very content with my description. Although the day to day dealings of my life can be very chaotic and mixed up at times, I am grateful for those experiences and wouldn’t change a thing, as they shape my character day by day into a unique mix of all the things that make me who I am today.
The New Year is a great time to re-evaluate what is happening in your life. You may realize you would really like a change or you may find that you are liking the course you are on.
Now is the time to take another look at what we are doing, who we are, and what we want for our life. Ready? Set. Go!
By Frances Taylor Brown
|a small boy, a good dog and a scoote|
Walking home to the train the other day I saw something so cute, I had to double back to see it again. A mom with two boys, each on their scooters, the eldest right near mom, and the youngest being pulled by his good old dog Charlie. What a sight! I was mesmerized to see exactly how this worked. The dog happened to be pretty old and a VERY good listener. For every few steps, the boy was pulled in a gleeful swoosh of movement, the leash came out of the boys hand and good old Charlie would wait patiently for the boy to pick up the leash again. The mom would give directions… ” Wait Charlie … good dog … okay go … Wait Charlie … goooood dog … okay go now.”. This happened several times, and every time good old Charlie would wait patiently for his chariot driver to again pick up the reins. I can only imagine if things were a little different how this scenario could look. I’ve seen a few adults walking pretty big excited dogs and really struggling to avoid lurching forward even on foot. And somehow a spry excited chihuahua puppy trying to pull a six foot four businessman on a skateboard wouldn’t have been so sweet and perfect as this. Ahhh amazing what the perfect combination of a small boy, a good dog and a scooter can allow. This is a situation that had to have those exact conditions all in line in order for it to work. And let’s not forget a lot of patience to allow for it to happen on the mom’s part. Sometimes things just fall into line and work out amazingly like this. Other times we can create the conditions for things to happen and then patiently wait to see the results. If we never try, then it shouldn’t be a surprise to see no results. If there is something you are longing for in your heart of hearts, learning another language, or how to play the guitar, or or getting your desktop organized so you can think straight, notice if you are taking action to make it happen. Imagine longing to be on the other side of a river and choosing to stand on one side praying for the other shore to come to you. This won’t get you to the other side! You have to get in a boat and row! As Georg Fuerstein says, “There is a difference between thinking about rowing a boat and actually rowing it.” Create the conditions for what you want in your life and patiently wait to see what unfolds.
By Frances Taylor Brown
|On the 10 o’clock train home from the Ashley Davis concert|
Walking in to Joe’s Pub late for the show after a long train ride and some searching for the number of the unfamiliar building … 460, 417, ahh…425, I follow the waitress to a small table just to the right of the stage. The show is in progress. I smile apologetically to the woman singing on stage … sorry I am late, but so grateful to be there for the event. She smiles back.
What a wonderful gift, the etherial sound of her voice. Ashley Davis is debuting her new album (I am dating myself, but I still think of CD’s as albums) “Songs of the Celtic Winter”. Her mother has been one of my regular students for a long time and introduced me to her daughters music as it was similar to some music I had played regularly in class by a wonderful Yogi/Musician named Michael Hewitt. “I know why the audience is in the dark” I think to myself as she plays a beautiful song and tears run down my face. I don’t wipe them thinking it will be less obvious to those around me. I wonder how many other people in the audience are crying too. I imagine it could be many. That’s what we’re here for, isn’t it? Along side generally being entertained, we’re here to be moved … to feel our emotions. Once in a while singing the blues just makes us feel better. Knowing that someone else out there and has sung the same song in their heart gives us comfort. Music has a wonderful way of allowing us to process our feelings and letting us know we are not alone in the process. I heard a quote yesterday in yoga class by Maya Angelou that said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I want to share this with my kids. The picture above was taken at about 10 o’clock on my way home. I was surprised to see a mom and her boy at that hour on the train apparently doing homework. I thought about how the academic focus for our kids misses so much of what they need to know in life that will serve them in their process. How to process their own feelings, and how they treat people and how to hold their own if others don’t treat them with dignity and respect that all humans deserve, how to stand up to them, and when life throws you a curve ball, how to grieve and then move past the sadness to the other side. Most of all I want for my kids to know that they are not alone as they go through it all, that they have a community that has been through it before them, and they have the support of not having it all by themselves . Thank you, thank you, musicians of the world for helping us to connect to our feelings , and allowing the space and time to feel and move through them. And especially for letting us know that in times of trouble, we are not the only ones singing the blues.
By Frances Taylor Brown
|Phiippe Halsman Atomicus|
I was lucky enough to have in my class just the other day, a very special student with a very special story. Irene is Philippe Halsman’s daughter. We got into a conversation after class, and she happened to have some postcards of his photographs on hand. I have been intrigued by his images for years, and never knew much about his story. It was great to hear it first hand and also to get some of the intricate details about some of the goings on in the photographs. Philippe Halsman and Salvador Dali were great friends and you can see many pictures with Dali as one of the subjects. This photograph was inspired by one of Dali’s Paintings shown suspended on the right behind two of the cats in mid air. It was shot live before the time of digital and computer techno-tricks. The process of getting this REAL PHOTOGRAPH is said to have taken 28 attempts and over five hours. Halsman would count, & on “four”, Salvador Dali would leap in the air, three assistants would throw cats. one other assistant would chuck the bucket of water, and Halsman’s wife would hold the chair as Halsman took the picture. I love the illusion he has created here in “Atomicus” and admire the vision and “stick-to-it-ness” that it took to create such an amazing image. I’ll leave you with a quote from Salvador Dali, “One day it will have to be officially admitted that what we have christened reailty is an even greater illusion than the world of dreams.”
On the way to class the other day, I saw a man in front of a shop attempting to sweep leaves in the wind. However futile it might have seemed in the moment, you could tell that this was part of his daily routine, and he wasn’t going to let the wind stop him from his daily goings on. A man parked in a car in front of the shop watched for a while and with a smile said to the shop keeper, ” Hey… You can’t fight the wind!”. The shopkeeper smiled back and said, “I know, I know…. but, the more I Sweep, the less leaves there are!” and he kept sweeping with a smile on his face and a spring in his step. Here’s to keeping up your daily practices and not letting a little wind get in your way.
At certain times in life it can feel like we are fighting an impossible battle. Weather the circumstances are physical injury, life change, or emotional stresses, we can get wrapped up in our frustration and feel like all is lost and resistance is futile. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras encourage us to not lose hope, and give us guidance on how we can help still or calm our mind’s “vacillating waves of perceptions.” To do so can be very peaceful and calming.
The following verses from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as interpreted by Mukunda Stiles address how our attitude and diligence can support us in the process:
(I,12) “The vacillating waves of perceptions are stilled through consistent earnest practice and dispassionate non-attachment.
(I,14) That practice is indeed firmly grounded when it is pursued incessantly, with reverence, for a long time.”
The first verse talks about persistent determined effort over a long period of time with detachment from results. This is like our leaf sweeper doing the effort even though he couldn’t see direct results in the moment. The second verse tells us that the results come over time, applying ourselves with consistent effort and energy in the desired direction. Its not about sweeping the leaves one day and then stopping satisfied that we have done it. Keeping our efforts consistent day after day is what makes the difference. Thank you Leaf Sweeper for being an example of persistence even when the odds seemed stacked against you and doing it with a smile on your face.