Barn Yoga

I don’t know when I started considering myself a yogi. If you’re not too precious about it, I supposed anyone who does yoga once and enjoys it can be considered a yogi. I think I always hesitated because I can’t do an unassisted head or handstand for very long before flopping sloppily to one side and most of my stretches end at other people’s starting positions. But I think I’ve finally accepted that, despite my shortcomings in the positions – or asanas, as they’re called – I can finally embrace the title of “yogi.” Also, I just called them asanas, did you catch that? I’m such a true yogi.

Vocabulary aside, I’m finally comfortable being considered a yogi mostly because I now seek out doing yoga with different people in different places, no matter where I am.

At least, that’s what led to me to my barn yoga experience.barn yoga 3.jpg

I was touring with three comedy fellows in upper Pennsylvania when we all drove by a tiny little storefront that said “Barefoot Yoga.” I was intrigued and we all googled it immediately. Actually, I probably didn’t because I was too busy staring out the window in awe of the greenery that surrounded me. And one of the fellas was driving. And the other fella I don’t think was interested. Come to think of it, I think only the one guy did the googling and reported the results to the car for the rest of us to feel like we had, also, found out the information.

Was this important to the story? Nah, probably not. But what is life if not frivolous?

Anyway, it became apparent to us (thanks to whichever google sleuth brought us the information) that there was a class available the next morning that wouldn’t conflict with our shows. I immediately wanted – nay needed – to go.

I should have said “neigh needed” since this is a post about barn yoga and horses live in barns. Alas and alack. Add it to the list of writing regrets I pile up every day.

The morning of the adventure, I took time to actually run for the first time in a long while. I went at an insanely fast pace according to the treadmill I was on. I also realized that the treadmill was absolutely broken and couldn’t go at a very fast pace, despite what the readings were saying. But you’d be surprised how much confidence you can gain even if you know you’re being lied to.

Though it maybe wasn’t a seven mile run at a 6 minute mile pace (as the treadmill suggested), I was sweaty and I was ready. In the end, only one of the fellas I was traveling with joined me for yoga. The others had their reasons. But, hey, it’s yoga. It’s honestly the only activity where it’s genuinely the thought that counts.

Boy oh boy was I glad that I had a buddy for this experience, too, because it was a total delight. We entered the studio (which was a small converted barn) and immediately took our shoes off because that’s what it looked like we should do and I like to follow the rules. I couldn’t help but let my overwhelming enthusiasm take over when Teresa, the teacher we saw online, walked up to us in the flesh. We were new to the class and new to her, so I of course made it a goal to become her new best friend. Within no time, I was wandering the studio, taking in the beauty of the space and all the crystals in it, and explained happily what we were doing there. After me berating…err, um, enthusiastically talking to her for a bit before class, Teresa became almost as excited about the start of class as I was.

barn yoga 2We set out our borrowed mats, blankets, and blocks in the locations Teresa set out for us (neither of us had any idea where to place ourselves because we didn’t know where she’d be sitting or anyone else would be sitting…it was a mild meltdown until we demanded she just tell us what to do). I got a spot under a hanging crystal, so I was as happy as can be. Soon, a few locals trickled in and we started up class.

The details of the class itself are likely only interesting to the nerdiest of yogis. It was definitely more traditional, slower, emotional based yoga that I do enjoy dabbling in on occasion (rather than my usual intense, sweaty, get down into it yoga). The most telling pose was when we all got into “Goddess” position with a small squat and our hands in specific mudras that reminded us to feel connected while letting anxiety, worry, and doubt fall by the wayside.

Yeah, your hands can provide that kind of confidence. Our bodies are pretty amazing.

The whole class was excellent for relaxation and Teresa definitely did something by choosing those positions that made me leave there feeling grounded and a little emotionally lighter. Teresa seemed to delight in having us in class as much as we enjoyed the class. We took pictures afterwards to commemorate the occasion.

mi tour 4

Later, when my partner and I were a little out of our comfort zone for a particular project we were working on, we put our hands in mudras, got in goddess pose, and let Teresa’s wise words of letting go of what you can’t control take over so we could do our best and let the experience be what it was.

I guess what I’m saying is, if you ever get the chance to do yoga in a converted barn, do it. And, hey, even if it’s not converted, it’d probably be pretty fun. Assuming, of course, you’re a dedicated yogi like me.

Advertisements

The Road

There’s an allure and a charm to being “on the road.” I had never experienced it before my recent fall tour. I had done shows on the road. I had traveled for shows that were outside of where I regularly travel. But I hadn’t yet set out on a trip saying “you’ll start here, finish elsewhere, go a bunch of places in between without stopping by home for a prolonged period of time.”

Would it be like On the Road or more like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? I haven’t read either, so I wouldn’t know even if it were at all like any part of them.

mi tour 8

I had plenty of adventures along the way that I may share individually. But overall, here’s what I learned: Every tour is as different as every day. And touring, just like life, is exactly what you make it. Because you’re out of your element, you can choose to be overwhelmed or you can choose to harness the newness and experience it fully.

You can stay in generic hotel rooms or you can check out haunted Air BnBs. You can wait for the hotel’s continental breakfast or you can grab some trail mix and swing by a waterfall before you hit the road. You can order takeout and watch Netflix in your room or you can go swimming in a pristine lake before a delicious home-cooked meal. You can work on your computer before or after your shows or you can seek out a bar that serves a local whiskey and ask the bartender, who loves to stretch his groin around while he talks, for ghost stories. You can hang in a coffee shop and scroll social media or you can see if a local nearby park is worth exploring. 

mi tour 2

You can get upset about a last minute cancelled show or you can take advantage of a free day and exhaust yourself at a unique imagination-fueled all-ages gymnasium-style museum. You can watch a movie or you can teach yourself a choreographed dance. You can get an extra hour of sleep or you can see the morning fog hover over Valley Forge.

You can get to the airport extra early or you can hike to a mountain top. You can listen to the radio or you can curate a badass playlist that will make you lose your voice from singing along or maybe even let yourself feel emotions freely because why not?

mi tour 6

At every opportunity, there’s a chance make the most of your life. Around every corner is a choice. And sometimes, sure, the healthier choice might be to relax, unwind, and be lazy. But much of the time, the easier choice isn’t the one that make your experience memorable – on tour and in life.

The choice to just chill and scroll your phone won’t ever create the kind of invigorating and inspiring memories that make you even more insatiable for everything life has to offer even when you return to your normal routine.

mi tour 9

By going out of your way to YOLO the crap out of every day as if it’ll be the last time you get to experience it, even if you know (or hope) that the same opportunities will present themselves the next day. You still do whatever work you need to and you do it well. But the in betweens, the respite, the moment before the inhale or exhale – that’s where the choices happen. And that’s where the magic lies.

It reminds you of the frequencies you can feel and experience and see when you don’t settle into the patterns your body and brain find the easiest. It reminds you that you can have enthusiasm for daily experiences, and that enthusiasm will translate to more exciting daily experiences. And maybe even manifesting double rainbows. 

mi tour 5

The road shook me up like a snow globe and reminded me that life is way more interesting when you get out of your comfort zone. And, like a snow globe, you’re living your full potential after shaking up your insides and letting the bits settle where they will.

This took a turn for the gory and I don’t think I like it.

Whatever, you get the point.

Find a reason to do something different, no matter what the circumstance. Find something to explore. Lose a little sleep to to gain a little adventure. Make a point to make the most of it.

My Year Of Jesus

I celebrated a birthday yesterday. Not just any birthday. My birthday. So I’m writing this for really two reasons:

  1. It seems as good of a time as any to hop back on ye olde familiar blogging wagon. Hello again, dear friend.
  2. I’d like you to please wish me happy birthday. Love me? VALIDATE ME?

Without giving away my age, it was a pretty exciting birthday because it makes me as old as Jesus was when he emerged on the miracle scene. If you really need to know my age, pull out a handy dandy Bible and you’ll quickly find your answer. Life Hack: You can also Google.

The last year of my life was a profound one. I married a kick ass dude. We added to our ever-growing dog family. I filmed a stand up special. I booked a lead in a pilot. I finally broke down and committed to a career I’ve wanted to do forever. In between, I yoga-ed my face off.

The truth is, I was looking forward to my last year for a long time. I was told years ago by a psychic I trust that that particular year would be a big one for me. I had high hopes for it. It lived up to them. Mostly.

But what I hadn’t thought about years ago when I got whispers that that particular year in my life would be a big one was what would happen after it. I supposed in my head I thought, well after that year, my life will be perfect and everything I ever hoped for will fall into place and I’ll finally be satisfied.

Yesterday was my birthday. (You: Happy birthday! Me: OMG Thank you for FINALLY saying something!) Well, I’m now in no-man’s land of prophecies. No psychic told me what would happen in this year. And, though my last year was a major success on many fronts, I’m not yet where I figured I would be by now.

When I first realized this a few weeks ago, I got mopey. Maybe it was the July heat. Maybe it was the stars. Maybe it was what Steven Pressfield calls “The Dragon of Resistance” attacking slyly. Whatever it was, I was mopey and felt really sorry for myself. And, as a result, did very little to really sprint to the finish line of that year. Mostly, I ate ice cream, let my yoga practice fall by the wayside, and scrolled around social media wondering why certain people were getting breaks I wasn’t. All in all, an underwhelming finish to a spectacular marathon of a year.

Despite the fact that this past year was major and wonderful on so many fronts, I still got mopey and kicked myself for not being the most famous comedy superstar on the planet yet.

Then I got thinking about Jesus. And I thought, next year I’ll be as old as Jesus when he was being all Jesus’y. And I realized, “My god, I mean, Jesus Christ, Briana, Jesus was just a carpenter until he was your age. This is your chance to make miracles like him.”

Now let me pause…and denote that I’m pausing by inserting a paragraph…with multiple ellipses…

I’m not a religious person. I’m a big fan of Jesus. I’m also a fan of Krishna, Buddha, and Mother Nature, among other admirable icons. My point being, my choice to be inspired by Jesus doesn’t come from an intensely religious place. It comes from a genuine admiration for people who have positively changed the course of history by living their truth so fully they become almost larger than life.

To me, that’s what Jesus can represent if you want.

For me, Jesus’ age reminds me that in order to truly make miracles, you’ve got to take time to train yourself to get there. As much as my ego (and fear) may want me to believe that I’ve been at this for so long and I’ve been working so hard and yada yada yada, even the son of God needed a few decades to get his sh*t together.

So I’m dubbing this year my Jesus year. I’m going to share about it here, if you want to tune in. I want to make miracles. Ideally, most of them involving turning a lot of water into wine because, you know, it’s wine.

Also, yesterday was my birthday. Please tell me happy birthday and that I’m special.

Thanks.

Pilates

My body is pretty clear about what it likes and doesn’t like. I’ve talked before about how spinning, thoupilatesgh great for many, just is not my jam.

I’ve also talked about how I really love doing Yoga. I go through phases of enjoying running. And love to lift regularly.

But, truth be told, there is one type of exercise that I rarely do that my body looooooooooves. Have you guessed it yet from the title of this article and supplemental picture?

Well done, super sleuth. It’s Pilates.

I rarely do it because it can be pretty pricey. I learned that my body looooooooooved it when I lucked into finding a new instructor years ago in Chicago who needed teaching hours so was able to teach and use equipment for free. I just recently lucked into the same situation here and have reaped the benefits of a really kind, really great teacher giving me free one-on-one classes.

And I seriously come aliiiiiiive afterwards.

Briefly, here’s why I love it. I love efficiency, and Pilates is efficient as hell. Do this move four times and you’ll be sore for a week. The one-on-one attention allows the instructor to look at how your body is compensating for the weaker spots and you can adjust accordingly. I can see the subtle tendencies between the sides of my body and what areas tend to takeover and make up for the lazier and lacking ones. I’ve got really tight hip-flexors that try and do all the work for my lazy ass abs. But Pilates doesn’t let your hip flexors do that. It calls that shit out, gives your hip flexors a rest and makes your abs pull their own damn weight for once.

Not only that, but I find myself thinking about pilates maneuvers and moves long after my session is over. When I run, now, I tell my abs to step up so my hip flexors don’t have to do all the work in the run. I focus on subtlety in form and check in with all parts of my body to see if and where I’m over-compensating.

I’ve barely scratched the surface and I’m legitimately obsessed.

Soon my girl will cost a pretty penny to do one-on-one classes, and I’m glad she’ll be earning some money. But it means I’ll have to pull back on my regularity for lessons for now. Though, who knows, I could come into a lot of money soon and I have a feeling most of it will be going towards Pilates. That and adorable dog costumes for my friends with dogs. But also mostly Pilates.

Fantasy Football

I’m in a fantasy football league this year with my boyfriend and his family.

imgresMy brother has been doing fantasy football for years. I like watching football and understand how the sport is played. I know some of the best players names and enjoy following the sport.

At least a little.

This whole fantasy stuff has taken it all to the next level.

The draft itself was terrifying because I didn’t even understand how to draft people. I was picked last which means I always picked two in a row. Which means I got extra amounts of time in which I was unable to breathe because I was too busy screaming out of stress and crying that I didn’t understand what was happening or what to do and yelling at my boyfriend to come help me then accusing him of somehow cheating me out of a good team even though I have no way of showing he was doing anything other than helping me.

*WHEW*

In case you couldn’t tell by that run-on sentence during which I never took a breath while typing, you can imagine what the draft experience was like.

Then, I found out, that I actually have to keep up with this stuff. I have to play certain players and there are trades and stuff. And I can do research on who’s playing who and what it all might mean and strategize how best to do the best and oh god I’m having another mild panic attack I’M DONE WITH THIS BLOG NOW I CAN’T THINK ABOUT IT ANYMORE. I’M GOING TO GO DO THE ONE THING I TRULY ENJOY ABOUT FOOTBALL SEASON… DRINK BEER.

Bush Cheer Squad

Fair warning: This is not a political post in any way.imgres

I’m literally talking about a bush that I pretend to be hoards of fans cheering me on while I run. And by run, I mean when I physically attempt to move my body at a faster rate than usual by putting one foot in front of the other.

I don’t like running all that much anymore. Getting back into shape sucks. And it’s all I can do to push myself to keep going on a very short and easy run that would take my former runner self absolutely no time and hardly work up a sweat doing.

Plus, I don’t listen to music, so I let my imagination run free.

And one of the things my imagination does is pretend that this unruly plant who’s branches stick out onto the sidewalk at one of the points in my run is actually a hoard of people cheering me on and holding out their hands to give hi-fives.

That’s all I really wanted to say.

It makes me feel both ridiculous and motivated. As all the best mind-tricks do.

So, yeah, no politics talk.

 

Gordon’s Coupon

I’d like to continue my recent theme of unreasonable love, if I may.IMG_0626 Nobody’s going to stop me because this is a personal blog and, as unreasonable as it may get, still remains significantly more reasonable than the majority of the hankypanky posted online? Cool.

I got this coupon on one of my first grocery excursions in my new apartment in Los Angeles. I kept it. I keep a lot of coupons but for some reason I was hell-bent on keeping this particular coupon around. It expired like 3+ years after I got it and I remember thinking to myself, “Of all the coupons I’ve ever gotten, I’m for sure going to use this one. I’ll keep it in a safe place. I’ve got over 3 years to do something with it. This one… this is the one.”

I think maybe there was a combination of my own independence and enjoyment of creating a new life in LA that I associated with this coupon. I felt like a real LA adult, living in my own place, buying groceries but saving money, planning potential taco nights (with myself). Whatever it was, I’ve had this coupon on the fridge for years and have looked at it off and on since moving in.

And wouldn’t you know it… June 2015 has come and gone. And I did nothing with it.

I didn’t use the dagnabbing coupon.

But I also didn’t throw it away. It remains on my fridge (with the hilarious animal butt magnet my Aunt got me). It’s some sort of weird reminder to me to… I dunno… save money or something?

Or maybe the bigger issue is I just don’t eat all the much fish. I guess I’ve got a lot to learn about myself.

I suggest you do the same.

Or don’t. I really have no way of knowing or following up with you. Unless you want to leave a comment and let me know how it goes. Or, again, don’t. It’s (clearly) not in my nature to be too bossy. At least not online…

$.98 cent shirt

Note: The shirt pictured is not the shirt discussed in this article. It’s a much cooler shirt that I’d be willing to pay a lot more than $1 for.
imagesYears ago, when I was living in Chicago, I used to frequent thrift stores. Not the trendy LA thrift store where you spend huge chunks of money on used clothes in the hopes of looking unique. I’m talking about cheap-o, you gotta dig deep to find something worthwhile, second-hand stores. I almost exclusively shopped at these types of places in high school and the habit continued throughout my college and post-college Chicago years.

My favorite find ever was a shirt that was .98 cents. A very plain, very basic, white T-shirt (with no pit stains… this is HUGE in a second-hand store when you’re choosing white). I have no explanation for why I loved it so much, but it was the only thing I bought on that shopping excursion that day. When I got up to check out, the shirt was 20% off. I got it for well under a dollar and paid ca$h money.

That was years ago. And to this day, I still very much, inexplicably love that white shirt. I wear it to workout and to hike in. Let me reemphasize- there is nothing particularly special about this shirt. I have no idea why I love it so much. If my stylist or my mother ever got near it, I know they’d throw it away in a second.

But I’m going to keep wearing it until it’s literally shreds.

To be fair, it’s also one of the few things that I can say without a doubt that I own and bought outright with cash. So… there’s that, too.

Death Sucks

But is a bittersweet, necessary, little dipshit.

Can you imagine what would happen if we never died? Actually, yeah, it’s probably pretty easy. Just watch any modern Wolverine movie. He’s a super happy beam of light, isn’t he?

Psych! Just a little joke us living folks like to make. Turns out, he’s pretty forlorn. No matter what he does or is done to him, he can’t seem to die. And that’s a heavy burden to carry.

Then again, so is the burden of knowing that by loving others, you run the risk of somehow losing them in the future. And then you’ll have to endure the sadness and the pain from that.

death cartoonSee what a little dipshit Death really is? It’s a lose/lose.

Briana, you’re normally super upbeat and cheery and like to talk about rainbows and puppies. What’s going on?

I’m still plenty upbeat and cheery. I’ve just lately been reminded through losing loved ones of my own (all of our own) pending mortality. For a planner and achiever like myself, the anxiety of wanting to get everything done that needs to be done before leaving this earth combined with my desire to live in the moment while also making investments and planning for a better future is enough to make me go screaming face first onto my balcony.*

*Note, I live in a garden apartment. I mean I literally want to walk out screaming then stand there safely, with my usually quiet neighbors wondering what all the fuss is about then remembering we don’t know anything about each other and have a policy to leave each other, for the most part, alone so everything would go back to normal shortly thereafter.

So what’s my point in writing this? I don’t know. I don’t think there is a point except to say that death sucks. I attended two funerals of loved ones recently, both of whom had been struggling trapped in their own bodies for a long time. Death was a weirdly welcome visitor for these two folks. I know they’re no longer struggling. I know in many ways that we lost them years ago. But that doesn’t mean that as I stood there looking at what remains of their temporary earthly soul-housing, hi-fiving the crying people next to me while saying, “WHEW! What a relief, amiright?!” Au contraire, bittybear. It was freakin’ sad.

There’s a finality to saying goodbye. There’s finality to the funeral service- no matter how it’s done- that brings about the recognition that you’ll no longer have normal access to this person, no matter what they meant to you. There’s a finality to thinking that you, too, will pass and that everyone you’re here with at this moment will do the same. It’s overwhelming, to say the least. You start wondering if you’re living your life right. You start wishing you had spent more time with whoever passed. You start looking at the loved ones closest to you and holding on more tightly while recognizing it’s unreasonable to spend every waking moment together reminding them that you love them. That’s not what life is about and that’s not always the most accurate way of showing your love. Love is an action verb. It means more than simply saying it. It means showing those you love that you love them by living up to your own potential, beaming your light as brightly as you can, and being able to share that with others. It means bringing light to people- however you can, near or far. Sometimes you can bring light through your words and acknowledgement. Sometimes you bring it through staying true to who you are in a difficult situation. Sometimes is any number of possibilities in between those two things.

Because when you’re gone, your legacy continues through the amount of light you’ve imparted on others. They think about not only who you were and how you affected them, but who they’ve lost before and how they can learn to shine more brightly in remembrance of those who’ve passed and in reverence of the strange luck that has allowed them to continue to be alive.

When you’re younger, you have no sense of it really. Nor should you. Please, parents, do not start telling your kids at young ages that they’re going to die someday. That feels like it’d only end up being traumatic. But as you get older, every doctor’s appointment and strange test result, no matter how common it may be in others, can come as a shocking reminder of how frail health can be and how flippantly we seem to dance in and out of this existence. Combine that with the realization that you have and will continue to lose those you love, and there’s really no simpler way to say it than… Death sucks.

Then again, nothing worthwhile every came easily. Ships won’t get damaged if they stay in the port, but that’s not what ships are for. A smooth sea never made for a skillful sailor. Diamonds are as a result of years of intense pressure. And Wolverine’s life is depressing.

So as much as death sucks, it also weirdly gives us all inspiration to shine more brightly and live more fully. That little dipshit.

Just Asking

Sometimes I’m able to pull off cool stuff (with the help of friends, of course). Over the years, I’ve been consistently surprised at the number of people who are shocked by whatever shenanigans I’m able to put together. mother may i

But I live by a very simple policy that often allows me cool opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise be privy to. That policy is this: Just Ask.

Years ago, even though I had already implemented this policy in many different projects, I was working on something important to me. And I was nervous about inviting important people to see my important project. I felt like maybe they were out of my league and maybe I’d be overstepping boundaries by inviting them. I’m not big on “frontting” as the kiddos say, which sometimes means I don’t invite people to things they’d be more than happy to come to.

But a very close friend at the time put a very clear insight on why it’s important to “just ask.” He said, “The worst that could happen is that you ask and they say ‘No.’ But if you don’t ask, they’re already saying ‘No.’ And there’s a chance, when you do ask, that they might actually say ‘Yes.’ So you really can’t lose.”

Articulating this so specifically helped me solidify how important that policy really is in my life. Though I had an intuitive feeling for that idea, I can remind myself of that simple idea whenever I feel myself hesitating. By not asking, the answer is already “No.” So I might as well take a chance that I’ll hear a “Yes” and ask.

That’s probably why I hear more Yes-es than the average bear. I do a whole lot more asking.