Warrior

“Yang, the masculine principle: light, active, outward and upward moving, hot, extrospective                                 (http://yogafortoday.ca).”

 

It’s not surprising that my first experiences with yoga were “yang”. Most of the classes that I took at the recreation center were yoga-aerobic. Remember the days of high impact aerobics? Step aerobics? Weight aerobics? Yoga was just another expected evolution in the aerobics trend of that small town in Northwestern Ontario. This was, of course, in the nineties when women, a la Jane Fonda, were supposed to attend aerobics class in high cut leotards and shiny tights. We were to be the “rock stars” of physical fitness. Of course, in reality, most of us shuffled into that first class in overlarge t-shirts and baggy sweats while the more self-confident participants actually wore shorts and tank tops.

 

Yoga, at that time and in that place, was introduced as a great way to warm up or cool down. The hook to get us there was the assurance, “Don’t worry, we don’t meditate or do that touchy-feely stuff.” Except for the one woman or lone man at the back of the room who actually wanted to do that stuff, we were all fine with attaining a modicum of grace while stretching into downward facing dog, cobra, and warrior.

 

For me, the challenge was to get the pose exactly right: stance, breath, and the transitional footwork from one pose to the next. When I stayed focused in yoga, I was lean and strong. I was a warrior.

 

I was “yang”.

Advertisements

Yang

feet firmly plant

mountain pose

while hands drop loosely

shoulders straight and eyes trained

 

breathe through nose

forearms cross (block)

right foot slides forward

knee bends to 45

while left foot roots into terra firma

weight balances equally

arms strongly hold at shoulder height

hands like blades

eyes focus over right hand

 

warrior two

 

– prepare to transition –

 

shift forward, weight on right foot

left front kick then

fall back

settle on left foot, over your shoulder

look

back kick with right foot

then side step,

block

Namaste

I had studied karate at a local dojo in North Western Ontario for three years, but because of a bad bout of mononucleosis and an injured hip decided that I needed to retire my gi for stretchier pants. Also, I will admit, I had reached the point in martial arts where I either needed to develop a more competitive attitude or get out. With a blue belt, there could be no more avoidance of sparring, breaking blocks of wood with a bare hand, or training for longer hours than I had time. Thus began my inner questioning. What exactly did I love about martial arts? Where could I get the same fulfillment without the stress of competition?

Continue reading

Am I Preaching to the Choir?

When I was taking my ESL Part One course this fall, one of the questions we were asked to consider was, “Are students who may be reluctant to talk in class in front of others more comfortable engaging in electronic “conversations”?”

As the Technical Resource Teacher in our school, my answer is a resounding, “Yes”. Computers do assist with learning on many levels, from delivering a variety of content, to practicing skills, to enabling communication, to teaching responsibility. Computers do not teach, nor do they solve all problems, but they can help us to look at curriculum in a different way; they also encourage us to create a layered way of thinking.

Computers, on a very basic and practical level, force us to think sequentially. Just think about all of the steps you go through to find that file you need to upload to your blog. For ELL’s and every other learner, using a computer requires that you can follow written, oral or visual instructions. Often, the path to creating a document, editing a photo, or finding something online is not always as straightforward as you would assume if you knew nothing about computers. Simply creating a document in Word is a good way to test students’ comprehension. Either they do it, or they ask for help.

While on vacation this Christmas, I’ve had ample opportunity to consider how computers can also assist with the creative process. The question came up when my sister asked me what on earth I was doing on my laptop, iPad and iPod for so many hours in a day. (Honestly, I didn’t realize that I was glued to my devices for that long. I have gone skiing, attended 2 bonfires, a book making workshop, made 5 wreaths and several other gifts, watched a couple of movies, indulged in many interesting conversations with real people, and even gave my dog a haircut.) However, in comparison to a sibling who spends relatively little time on computers, I guess the question is valid.

As a writer, I can honestly say that I would not want to go back to the pen and paper method of recording my thoughts. Yes, I do jot notes and sketch diagrams of ideas but when it comes to the nitty gritty of painting an image or developing an idea it’s the computer and nothing else for me. I love the swiftness of recording my thoughts, the satisfying click of the keys and (a little anal here) the cleanliness of the white screen. Unless I choose to use mark-up in Word’s review pane, I experience the absolute joy of an untouched document. Visual perfection.

Another added benefit to working on a computer is, of course, the value of saving multiple drafts. Of course, with that privilege comes great responsibility. Experienced drafters will shake their heads when I admit that I committed the ultimate sin when I first started work on my novel last year. Yes, I created more than one draft but if took a while for me to remember to number and date my work. It didn’t seem like such a big deal until I took a 6 month break from the work, and then tried to pick up where I left off yesterday. Needless to say, I spent a fair bit of time sorting my files into folders. I know. Computer Survival School 101. What can I say except that I was so caught up in the creative process that my usual neat-freak went on vacation.

Lately, I’ve been sampling and following a lot of blogs. Also, to my pleasant surprise, I have found that people have been following me. In spite of my sporadic posting it would appear that I have something to say that other people want to hear. Although I do enjoy a great dystopic novel, I must admit that I am a fan of a computer driven society. Where else would I be able to meet, carry out a conversation, share ideas, and learn from others with the click of a button?

Essentially a logical/sequential platform, computers teach layered strategies of thinking, creating, communicating which can add to our understanding of being.  I would even go so far as to say that my imagination has grown because of the interactive nature of computers and the internet.

Being

In silence we travel;

through the lava beds we wind

wrapped in thought and acid

sweet melody.

Notes play upon my solar plexus,

ripple upward from groin to throat, subtle

waves of energy

keyed to my body like a lover’s hand.

It is my birthday, but we don’t speak of it

yet.

My attention drifts through fog,

seeks threads of blue between stone.

Momentarily I consider breaking

the solitude though it’s not heavy.

It’s the passenger’s obligation to fill the air, isn’t it,

With words?

Amidst the lava a shadow stirs,

shifts into Other shape –

Owl – Woman – Grandmother.

I should not gaze into those dark eyes, or

so I’m told. I cannot fear her still serenity,

or the gathering of life shadows beneath her wings.

Pinioned by love, forgiven for my life’s transgressions

of deeds undone, I

can only hope she will last a lifetime

even as she returns to stone

and mist.

The Medium and The Message

I’m pretty sure that when Marshall McLuhan said that the medium was the message, he was thinking more about social media than about poetry. However …

Marshall McLuhan

I’ve been playing around with my  ode, and observing how this is so true of writing. While experimenting with free verse structure and language, I’m noticing how much more approachable the subject appears to be. The changes really aren’t that drastic, yet they make a significant difference in the way you read the poem. In this case, the formal elements of classical poetry distances both the writer and the reader from the subject. My students also noticed this. Some were stumped by the challenge of writing within a specific framework; some found the task an inspiring challenge; and some chose to ignore the structure completely in favor of simply “getting the poem out”. While I prefer the simplicity of free verse, I enjoy the mental challenge of implementing classical structure. It teaches me more about language; keeps my vocabulary fresh; and surprises me with complex thoughts that may never have surfaced if I had written in a freer medium.

Continue reading