Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Review: Poser by Claire Dederer

Last night, I finished Poser by Claire Dederer.  Poser is a memoir with each chapter titled after a yoga pose.  Dederer tells her life stories as they relate to various insights she learned on her yoga mat, through different poses.

I wanted to like this book.  All the way through it, I wanted to like it.  I love memoirs.  I love yoga.  This seemed like it would be a perfect fit for me.  I heard the author talking about the book on NPR and she described the idea that we have a relationships with different poses.  That interview really stuck with me and inspired an essay I wrote for the Holy Yoga blog on crow pose.  I really wanted to like this book.

I finished the read, feeling indifferent about it. Or maybe a little sad.  Dederer has a weird story (most compelling memoir authors do), but to me, the lows weren't low enough and the highs weren't high enough.  The arc of the story fell a little flat, I guess.  But that wasn't my real struggle. 

My real struggle was with her relationship to yoga.  Yoga is fundamentally about not judging, so I'm not judging her expereience.  I will say that my experience with yoga is really, really different.  My impression, having read the book, is that the spiritual connection of yoga isn't really what it is all about for her.  It seems the physical aspect is important, but that isn't it entirely.  I just can't figure out, several hundred pages later, what her real draw to yoga is.  For me, yoga is about an integrated experience of worship of my God--receiving His breath and Spirit, meditating on His word, using my body with gratitude for how He's made me, and using silence and rest to listen to His voice.  I guess I just didn't "get" her story and why yoga was an integral part of it.  Not judging.  Just sayin.

I am glad I read the book because it made me think.  It made me think about my own life story, my parents and their divorce (a major theme of her book is her parents' divorce), motherhood, social expectations, my marriage and, obviously, yoga.  I still love the idea of looking at what relationships you have with poses.  And for me, that means figuring out what God is saying to me through that relationship.  For that, for me, it was worth the read.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Yoga Mat

(originally published at

Psalm 48:9  Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love.

My yoga mat is a traveling sacred space.  Sometimes it is placed on the hardwood floor of the YMCA, sometimes the striped carpet of my den, sometimes the Earth, beneath a canopy of leaves.  My yoga mat is the place I go to breathe deeply and remind myself,  “I’m still alive.”  It’s the place I connect with God.

On my mat, I push my body to do things I’m quite sure I’m not able to do.  It’s where I learn to accept that enough is simply enough.  My mat tells me about who I am, and who I am becoming.  On that mat, He reconciles the fragmented parts of me:
My mind that races,
and He says, “Be still.”  
My body that says, “I can’t.”  
He says, “Try--and know my strength.”  
My heart lies broken,
and He says, “Accept that you are loved.”

My yoga mat provides me with a space for healing--body, soul, and spirit--to wherever I carry it.  It becomes my temple, my church, my altar--the place where I lay bare all of myself, before my God who accepts me, just as I am.  
yet growing.
but being made whole.
but not yet in full bloom.  

On my mat, He teaches me His LOVE.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

dress, redeemed

Last summer, I found a cute LBD (little black dress) that was perfect to cover my growing baby bump, but was actually a regular, not maternity, dress.  I loved it because I could wear it while preggo, but knew it would be great for my non-pregnant self, too.  It became a regular part of my wardroble during the hot summer. 

On July 30th, the day for my big ultrasound, my husband and I would meet at the doctor's office and I thought we'd go grab lunch afterward.  I wanted to look cute.  I put on the LBD.  If you're a regular reader here, you know that day went horribly wrong.  Instead of going out to lunch to celebrate our healthy boy, we went to the hospital.  And our lives haven't looked the same since.

After we came home from the hospital, the LBD got shoved into the back of the closet.  Every time I saw it as I looked for some other item of clothing, it was like an arrow to the heart.  All I could think of was, "that's what I wore the day I found out Matthew was dead."  I was so angry at the LBD.  Like it had anything to do with it.

Last week, I looked at the LBD.  It's a really cute dress.  I don't have many dresses and I was in the mood to look cute.  I found myself wishing that I hadn't worn it to the doctor's office that day, so that it wouldn't be ruined.  And yet, I didn't want to get rid of it.

Part of my journey has been to learn to reframe my experience of Matthew.  I lost a lot, but I gained more.  I realized that the LBD was now an opportunity  I could continue to allow the dress to represent the fact that Matthew died.  I could continue to let it represent my hurt, anger, and disappointment. 

Or, I could shift my perspective.  I could allow the dress to remind me that Matthew was once alive.  I could embrace it as a symbol that he was here, if even for too short a time.

And so, I wore the dress.  It was a hard choice to make.  But, I found, as the day went on, my shift of perspective was working.  I looked at the dress and was reminded of how much I love my son.  I began to feel like the dress was a hug from Heaven, as though the softness of the cotton was love.

I'm keeping the dress.  I will wear it again to remind myself how much Matthew means to me and to proudly proclaim to the world that he is loved and not forgotten.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Visit the Farmer's Market

I love fresh, organically grown, local vegetables.  I'm afraid of Farmer's Markets.  Any one else see the incongruity here?  This is why I love my Absolute Organics box...I get the food I love without having to go to the Farmer's Market.

Why am I afraid of Farmer's Markets, you ask?  Because I don't know what I am doing.  I don't know what arugula is, really.  I don't know what to do with collards.  No, I don't want a sample of your homemade goat cheese with fennel.  Farmer's Markets overwhelm me, I get self-conscious, and usually run out not having purchased anything.

But, since this blog is about me growing, I have trips to the Farmer's Market on the list.  Wednesday, I picked up some early tomatoes (are they fruit?) and some spaceship-shaped zucchini that the farmer assured me are just like regular zucchini.  Next task...another gluten-free zucchini bread trial. :)

Levine Museum of the New South

I visited the Levine Museum of the New South this morning. I've lived in Charlotte for almost 16 years and never been before.  After one visit, I've decided that is a shame.  There is SO much information contained in one building.  I stayed for about an hour and a half...a little less time than I put into the parking meter and a little more than my heart could handle.

In that 90 minutes, I read about slavery, sharecropping, cotton farming, mill work, child labor, Jim Crow, disenfranchisement, the KKK, lynchings, civil rights, segregation, lunch counter sit-ins, the role of the church in the New South, busing, the loss of farm land, and the rise of NASCAR and multi-national corporate headquarters in the region.  And I didn't even look at/listen to everything.  As I walked out the door, I felt like I needed to have a big cry.

I didn't grow up in the South, but when I moved to the South at age 21, I felt like I was "home" for the first in my life.  I love the South.  I love the weather, I love the accent, I love the good parts of the culture.  I'm also woefully ignorant of the full history of the place I live in.  Part of that is intentional...I tend to avoid sad things.  But, part of it is unintentional, just by virtue of not living here my whole life.  I'm part of the "new migration," of the hundreds of thousands of people who have relocated here over the past two decades.

As I looked at pictures of people, I tried to look deeply at their faces.  I talked to God about them...acknowledging that they were each one of His beloved children.  I thought about how difficult their lives were.  People, this region was poor...P.O.O.R.  I can't imagine asking my kids to be out in the cotton field with me or in the mill...because we needed them to work so we could eat.  I saw pictures of Mamas with babies strapped to them, followed by little children picking cotton.  I saw stories recalling children not knowing where their next meal would come from.  I saw pictures of children whose fathers were targeted for assassination because their Daddies wanted them to be able to go to school or ride a bus instead of having to walk 9 miles to and from school.  Oh, my heart.  I stood and looked at the stats from the 1999 court ruling that ended busing based on race in CMS and reflected on my own daughter's school...predominately white and upper middle class.  I love her school, but as I stood there, I wondered, is this right?

I will have to go back to this museum many more times.  I will have to go often so I can digest it in small chunks.  There is so much to this place that I love, the place I call home.  So much hurt, so much to be redeemed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New Recipe: Southern Pimento Cheese

Recently, I've been trying to expand my food "vocabulary," so to speak. I have been called, on more than one occasion, by people who otherwise like me, a picky eater. And, they may be right.

I'm (mostly) vegetarian by choice, gluten-free by necessity. That makes what I eat different than what a lot of people eat already. My last post explained my issues with fruit. And my food issues don't end with fruit. I'm pretty particular with the tastes I like and have unnecessary fear about unfamiliar foods. This never really bothered me all that much until I gave birth to the three pickiest eaters in the state of North Carolina. I've become determined for all of us to get over our fears of unfamiliar foods. This is quite a challenge with my children. But me, I can have some control over myself.

A couple weeks ago, we were visiting a friend in Charleston, who happens to be the owner/chef of a delightful restaurant called Five Loaves. He made us some pimento cheese as an appetizer. I thought to myself, "I don't like pimento cheese, but I need to be polite." So, I took a bite. Then another one. And another one. :)

Evidently, I just didn't like nasty pimento cheese, the kind you get at the supermarket deli or the kind somebody made out of velveeta for the office covered dish. As it turns out, if it is good pimento cheese, I like it a lot.

So, this isn't my friend's pimento cheese recipe (but if you want to try that, go to Charleston and eat at Five Loaves. You won't regret it). This I found on I made it without the jalapeno and I added another cup of cheddar. We loved it, even the 2 year-old. I will be making it again. Check it out here.


One of the items on my "list" is to eat two servings of fruit each day for a month. While I've tried to complete this item a couple times before, I've failed. I've determined that June is the month for fruit.

I'm sure some of you are wondering why this would even need to be on one's list. I know many people love fruit and find themselves in the position of trying to limit their intake. I am not one of those people.

I am a (mostly) vegetarian and I love, love, love veggies. Love them. Carrots, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, squash...even a newly acquired taste for sweet potatoes...spinach, red and yellow peppers, broccoli--oh, how i love broccoli! Veggies I can do. Fruit, on the other hand, is a different matter.

I really like apples (if they are fujis or pink ladies or good granny smiths. And if they are organic. Only organic apples, please). I eat a lot of apples.

But other fruit? Clementines are great in season. Oranges can be good, but there is always a risk you'll get a sour one and I'm just a teeny bit OCD about getting all the "white stuff" off. Grapes...have to be organic and fresh. Bananas are great when they are just right...not too green, just getting a few brown spots. Blueberries? In muffins, sure! Strawberries...maybe, but I don't like any squishy bits. Same with cherries, and ugh...the pits. Fruits I don't care for even a little bit: peaches, nectarines, plums, grapefruit, papaya, mango, melon of any kind. And kiwis are furry, then slimy. Ew. (But I'll eat them if you put them in a fruit salad, I'll be honest). I do ok with dried fruit...raisins, cranberries, apricots, dates or figs if they are in something. But please, no dried plums, the fruit formerly known as prunes. To me, fruit feels like

See, I have fruit issues. I trust I've sufficiently explained this item landing on my list...

So, I'm 15 days in to June and I've done pretty well. I've missed a few servings here and there, and a few times allowed the dried cranberries in my gluten-free granola bars to "count," but otherwise, I'm doing pretty well on my quest. I've been making everyone summer smoothies, and if I can drink the fruit, it goes down a lot better.

I have yet to count a tomato as one of my daily fruits. :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Unashamed Bragging

My sweet JL is finishing her Kindergarten year. After I did my hair donation in January, she started talking about participating in the drive her school does for Locks of Love. Today, I took her to make her donation. She was so brave and proud of herself for doing something to help others. I am pretty proud of her, too.