Beer or Milk for Breakfast

School’s back in session and Jeb and I are finding our way into the routine. This means a drop at the bus stop before 7am and the chance for me to walk Moodah the dog before getting into my own work for the day.

Still dialing in our auto-pilot mode, yesterday was a bit of an oversleep. Jeb loaded in the car with one shoe on and one in hand. We were out of milk and I had not yet had my coffee.

Moodah paced inside the car between front seat and back, not sure where to go in the excitement generated by Jeb’s encouragement, “Just go Mom, we’ll miss the bus…just go.”

We made it to the bus stop just in time for loading. I breathed a sigh of relief and defiantly rearranged morning priorities. Choosing coffee over exercise, I pulled into the parking lot of our local convenience store, which happens to be across the street from the yoga studio where I stopped practicing about six months ago (I’ll spare you my reasoning here).

At 6:45am, the mini mart is full of early-bird shoppers and the yogis will soon begin sun salutations. I tell myself there is no need for non-yoga guilt, but can’t help but feel a slight impulse to slip quickly into the market, unseen.

A van towing sea kayaks pulls up next to the store, and I try to make it inside before the stream of sleepy-eyed tourists in day-glow rash guards stream inside. No such luck. I don’t beat the locals either. When I enter the mini-mart, there is already a line at the register of men buying styrofoam cups filled with coffee and packs of cigarettes.

They do sell organic milk, so I grab the last one on the shelf and take my place in line behind the guy in a t-shirt, jeans and scruffy work boots. The mini-mart is abuzz. People from town recognize each other and talk story between the chip aisles. The touring kayakers wander the shelves looking for anything familiar.

The line moves and the man in front of me puts down on the counter his Spam musubi (it’s kind of like a Spam sushi roll), cup of mini-mart coffee, Bud Light in an extra tall can, and asks for menthol cigarettes. It’s not yet 7am.

Non-yoga guilt is given new perspective.

photo courtesy of Mac Walsh
photo courtesy of Mac Walsh

If I’m completely honest, I would have to admit that when I see my fellow patron’s purchase, a judgment comes to mind. So quickly these thoughts pop into the head. But after I paid for my milk and went towards my car, I realized I was judging myself, as well.

And even if I know I shouldn’t care, I’m thinking that others may be judging me too.

Because, there I am, walking out of the convenience store, going home for coffee instead of doing my morning practice. And in my hand, a half-gallon of (gasp!) dairy product. No bonus points for organic when your yoga instructor’s vegan. I can see those flexible yogi necks shaking heads in disapproval, as they catch a glimpse of me through their steamy windows.

There she is, she used to practice…looks like she fell off the wagon.

Bud Light or milk for breakfast. We all get choices in life’s spectrum.

That morning, I had my reasons for my choosing. Life will have natural consequences for my actions, guaranteed. So, who’s to judge?

In the end, I got my coffee and Moodah and I took an abbreviated walk, where we both soaked in some Vitamin D and fully respirated.

One could say it’s all a yoga, really. Even the early morning mini-mart scene. All the humans doing their do. Actions, reactions. Choices made in every moment.

My greatest practice these days, is to notice.

photo courtesy of Fox Kiyo
photo courtesy of Fox Kiyo


With three days before the wedding, I’m faced with the choice of whether to spend this quiet 4:30am time finalizing the order of the dance music for the DJ, or coming here to the Archives.

I come here. Try to grab a few pieces of the swirl and thread them together.

“Yoga” comes to mind. The Sanskrit word meaning “yoke”, “to join”, “to unite”, or “to attach”.

It’s what this marriage business is all about, right?

These days, my physical yoga practice has dissipated just like my daily posts to the Archives. All things wedding have overtaken my life, as lists are written, then completed. I wade through ribbon and rose petals. House babies breath and mason jars. Ten-foot long tablecloths avoid wrinkles on the couch next to my grandmother’s bubble wrapped dishes.

This last week may not have seen me in shoulder stands but I’ve been practicing another kind of yoga, living the union of light and dark, hope and disappointment.

The Bohemian’s parents have arrived from Czech, open with smiles, though no shared language. We embrace each other often and hold to a few standards. They’ve got “ok”, “good” and “aloha.” I’ve got ano (yes), děkuji (thank you) and jak se máš (how are you?).

In the midst of meeting my new in-laws, I do a trial run on making my DIY (that’s “Do It Yourself”) bridal bouquet, wrapping flower stems with wire and floral tape. Run final errands on Black Friday weekend, inhaling a deep yoga breath, and aiming my cart through the throng of shoppers inside the big box store.

Trying to balance between the practicals and a little self-care (I am the bride, after all, right?) I treat myself to a facial for this once-in-a-lifetime occasion. I go to a trusted aesthetician. One who is well-aware that my wedding is in five days. But somewhere in the steam and exfoliant, she misjudges and my upper lip loses flesh. In this moment as I type, I feel the tingling sensation of the red scab which has formed just above the lip line. A nice half-inch wound that is everything but unnoticeable.

Case in point, when I see my mother-in-law-to-be for the first time after the incident, she looks at me, then the Bohemian, and gestures to her lip, asking in Czech, “what happened?”

It’s like that. Now, three days before my wedding.

I get together with my closest women friends for an intimate gathering. They bless me and my impending marriage with champagne, fresh-squeezed tangelo juice and chocolate. Very kindly, (as good girlfriends should) they each assure me that my lip is healing. It’ll be gone by Thursday they promise with all confidence. One, more realistic friend, affirms that my facial flaw is nothing Photoshop can’t handle.

I remind her that Photoshop doesn’t help in real life. And I’m haunted by the words of my no-nonsense friend from New York (herself, recently wed) who, prior to my lip wound, gave it to me straight.

Me: “I just don’t like people looking at me all that much. And at weddings, pretty much everyone is looking. Especially at the bride.”

No-Nonsense New Yorker: “Yes, everyone is looking at you on your wedding day. And no, they are not looking at the groom. They are looking at the bride. So prepare yourself now. All eyes will be on you.”

And now, all eyes will most likely notice my pre-Photoshop beauty mishap that looks like a large cold-sore break out.

Scabby lip and all, I find myself in the midst of a picturesque sunset with my girlfriends, sincerely giving thanks for all that has fallen into place around this wedding event. I am truly grateful for the friends and family that have gathered and the outpouring of love I have experienced with everyone so far.

I laugh and say, “Everything has gone so smoothly except for my dress and my face.”

(For those interested, you can read the post here about the seamstress who altered my wedding dress, forgetting to keep the back long. My train was cut and seven inches of fabric were permanently lost to her scrap bin.)

Yes, yoga. Union. Where duality meets to find oneness.

Life is full of shadows and light. And marriage, too, I hear.

So here’s to the real deal. Reality before Photoshop smooths the edges. Might as well embrace it now.


We are crossing the make-shift bridge over a dried stream bed, Jeb and I. He’s had weekend fun with his dad and is now returning back home with me.

In his eight and a half-year old fingers, he clutches the full-color booklet that came with his latest Wii game. This three-dimensional, virtual reality fun is something reserved for Dad’s house. We don’t own a television and the only video game I’ve considered purchasing was Deepak Chopra’s Leela, hoping to pique Jeb’s interest while teaching meditation practices (which was about as effective as trying to disguise Brussel sprouts in a palatable sauce).

courtesy of

I’m a purist, opting for games with zero violence, while Jeb’s Dad is OK with some fighting. I’ve made peace with this to an extent, but this time the limits are stretched.

Jeb knows how I feel about violence and he’s exploring the terrain with me as we walk, explaining the new game.

“Yeah, so there are these guns and you’re shooting…but there is only a little bit of blood.”

The air between us thickens. He’s baiting, awaiting my reaction.

He’s never had a ‘killing game’ before and certainly nothing that showed blood. I look at the booklet in his hand. On the cover of “Conduit 2” is some robot figure with huge arms and a gun. I see the square in the bottom corner with a rating of ‘T’ for ‘Teen’.

“Jeb, that says it’s rated for Teens. You’re eight and a half…not even close to double digits yet.”

I can feel him and all of the layers. The thrill of holding contraband in his hands. The fact that he possesses “T-rated” material makes him feel mature.

A few layers in, and I can also sense him quietly waiting. He’s counting on me to be the one with a conscience. It’s there, this sense within him, that he knows. He knows a violent video game is not the best choice. But he can’t help but have a little delight in the rebellion.


“It’s not that bad, Mom. Just some fighting…not too much blood. You’re just sensitive.”

In this moment, I make the choice not to explain what he has already heard. That for me, killing is not a game. And when people, especially children with developing bodies and minds, begin to ‘pretend’ to kill things in a virtual reality setting, the lines between real and pretend can be blurred.

Jeb’s looking down at the Conduit book in his hand, as the two of us walk up an incline, side by side. We’re quiet for a while and then approach his Dad’s pick up truck, where skateboards and helmets wait to be loaded into my car.

Jeb gathers the items in relaxed fashion, humming to himself.

Vande Gurunam charanaravinde…

It’s the ancient Sanskrit words we chant at the beginning of every yoga practice. Jeb’s heard it over the years, as whenever there’s a school holiday, he comes and sits in the back of the class while I practice.

He’s putting his backpack in the car, setting the Conduit booklet on the seat. “Sandarshita svatmasukavabodhe…

These lines translate:
“I pray to the lotus feet of the supreme guru
who teaches knowledge awakening of the great happiness of the Self revealed”

Jeb doesn’t get all of the words exact and he mumbles them only half-consciously. But I hear it. It’s in there and spilling forth from his mouth. The little sponge that he is, leaking all that he’s been soaking up.

I try to find solace in the irony. Like somehow the chant falling from his tongue is an antidote for the gun game in his hand.

There’s no way to wrap up this moment in any kind of neat, little package. It encapsulates the truth that life is a messy swirl of overlap. Black and white won’t stay in their respective boxes.

I surrender and do my best to escort Jeb through the grey zone. All the while knowing, he’s like all of this planet’s little ones. Living and growing their lives in a precious, oh-so-tender, state of super-absorbancy.