Category Archives: Writing

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Baltimore: Month 1 OR (What I was Going to Do Vs. What I Actually Did)

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Tomorrow will mark the 4 week mark for my move to Baltimore. It’s been 4 weeks since I taught my last Pittsburgh yoga class, packed my belongings, and said goodbye to my friends and family. Here’s what I’ve actually done for the last 4 weeks in writing with no glossy filters.

baltimore_greatest_city

What I Was Going To Do: I thought I was going to write. Every day. In a great local coffee shop populated with artists and local eccentrics that quickly warmed to me and welcomed me into their group.

What I Actually Did: I wrote. Scrawled every few days into a journal. One morning I got a coffee at a local coffee shop while I sadly attempted to make the barista my friend.  One morning I bought a man who was home from deployment breakfast while he told me about his family in California. Most mornings I run over to Dunkin Donuts and quickly bring a large coffee home to drink while I call my Mom.

WIWGTD: Decorate our new place! We were going to have a space so clean and warm that we could have friends over at a moment’s notice.  Our adult loft was going to finally reflect the successful and sophisticated adults we are!

WIAD: Decorate our new place! But barely. I sit on the floor. I love that our place is filled with great light and hardwood floors so I bought 2 great area rugs, some stools for our counter, and a few pieces of art for the walls and then just stopped. After seeing a photo, my friend texted me that it looks like a yoga studio. It does. I like it that way. It’s very clean and when you visit we may not have furniture. Deal with it.

flowers_apartment

By the way, when are you coming to visit? And if you do visit, please do not expect me to actually know where you are. I’ve been here 4 weeks and I don’t get out much yet… That brings me to my next point.

WIWGTD: I was going to explore! Every nook and cranny of this new city was just waiting for me to find it. I was going to wake early every morning and after I finished canoodling with all of my new artist friends, I was going to trek around this city and learn it!

WIAD: It’s cold here. Like some days it’s wear a pair of jeans over my yoga pants cold. If I see myself in the same grey slouchy winter hat one more time…  I have done a little exploring, mostly with my husband or solo on the rare warm day. I’ve done some of the touristy things… the National Aquarium, the Visionary Museum, been to Federal Hill, a couple of Poe locations, and ate crab cakes all over the place. I have almost daily visited the Harris Teeter (grocery store) and the Target across the street. I’m no adopted local yet. I almost cried when I had to surrender my PA license for my MD one. (It has a crab on it.)

city_of_champyinz

WIWGTD: I was NOT going to be a workaholic. This was a big one for me. I have kept myself incredibly busy teaching yoga for the past 6 years and I loved every minute of it. Especially the part where I get to tell you how busy I am! That was maybe my favorite deliciously-make-myself-feel-important part!

WIAD: I am NOT a workaholic. I have NOT earned one dime this month. I am zero okay with that. I miss the days of being scheduled within an inch of my life. I miss planning coffee dates months in advance. I miss telling you how busy I am and feeling so important for being that busy!

What I am going to do next:  I miss my friends and my family and my city. But more than anything, I miss teaching yoga. I don’t plan on squandering my time. I gave myself February to get adjusted, to land, to wallow and March brings a new start. In fact, right after I post this, I’ve got a new start.

I swallowed my pride and auditioned to teach yoga in a new studio. I will be starting a weekly teaching schedule very soon. I’m planning more retreats (some solo), and more workshops. Not because my identity hinges on being a yoga teacher. I’ve grown to realize that it doesn’t. (I wasn’t sure for a while.)

Learn my city. Hopefully March will bring warmer temperatures and either way I’ll actually force myself to learn more (not just the Instagram-mable pretty parts).

If I snubbed you for coffee over the last 6 years, I’m sorry. Hopefully putting that open apology out there will bring coffee date friends my way.

*OF NOTE:
Thank you to lululemon Harbor East for asking me to teach for your staff meeting. It may have been a small kindness for you but the fact that you extended it to me meant so much and I hope I didn’t come off too strong when after we said Namaste – I asked you all to find me on social media, or let me buy you a coffee or tea sometime. But seriously, you need a caffeine fix and I need new friends so how about it?

 

Baltimore Pittsburgh Yoga

Goodbye Pittsburgh

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2015 is the year that I’m going to be great at goodbyes. You see, I have to be great at goodbyes. After nearly 36 years of calling Pittsburgh home, I’m following my husband to Baltimore at the end of the month.

I’ve lived here all of my life (except for 9 months when I lived in Philly but my friend, Catherine, says it doesn’t count unless it’s at least a year and she’s really wise so I’m inclined to believe her).

Packing has not been easy. We’ve been on the cusp of the move for months and have had to keep it quiet (not my strong suit). In the meantime, I’ve been donating and gifting my possessions as quietly as I could. We’ve downsized in major ways. Our goal is to head to Baltimore at the end of the month in one used red Ford Focus, with a few bags, our rescued cat, and us. (Technically, Paul will go early to start his new job and I will follow after teaching all of my yoga classes this month and we’ll get our cat from my parents after we’ve found a place to live. Details.)

I’m so lucky that I have been able to call Pittsburgh home. I’m inspired by people who are passionate, real, and hard working – this city is full of those people. My parents still live here in West Mifflin and Pittsburgh will truly always be home.

We’re really excited to explore a city we don’t know! I can’t wait to check out the yoga and art scene in Baltimore. I’ll finally write that book that I’ve been talking about for years. Crabs and beer for dinner? Don’t mind if we do!

I’ll be back to visit though! I’m co-leading yoga retreats and workshops out of Pittsburgh that are already scheduled for this Spring. Like I said, Pittsburgh will always be home.

So I have a month to get great at goodbyes. I’ll be teaching the rest of the month while we continue to pack and visit with as many friends as possible. Come and get great at goodbyes with me. No promises though. I’m going to cry. I’m a crier. I might make you cry. It’s fine.

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The Rise of the Ariels

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I keep seeing the meandering, doe-eyed, ethereally lovely boho yoga goddess. She’s lithe and seems unfazed by most things. She Pinterests vacation trips to see fluorescent fish and she doesn’t even appear to own a comb. She seems to maybe run the occasionally errant vintage fork through her amazing waist-length Ariel in the Little Mermaid style hair.

She appears to have an all-access pass to everything Free People stocks. What she hasn’t found there, she has gleaned from some vintage store I’ve never seen. Oh and she makes her own organic vegetable dyes for some hand-sewn clothes as well! The sun naturally highlights her hair while she’s outside practicing yoga or surfing. She’s pro-everything light and love. She doesn’t share an opinion that’s controversial.

The modern boho Ariel is so busy being lovely and magical that she doesn’t take anything on. She is a princess. She won’t challenge the status quo because that’d be icky. She lives in a fairy tale and when shit gets real – she doesn’t engage.

She’s on the side of love. We know. We get that. She’s on the side of animals. She’s on the side of the environment. That is where we all stood when we were five.

I want to know where she stands on Ferguson. I want to know what she thinks about police brutality. How does she suggest we transform that?

How do we find out what the boho Ariel actually thinks? Do we even care?

If the modern bohos won’t engage then their opinions won’t actually be heard. We cannot just share our recipes for smoothies, links for fair-trade yoga pants, and snapshots of yoga photos.

Can we stop embracing this pseudo-new stereotype of a woman whose focus is again on her looks, her softness, her ability to not make waves? How can we encourage all of the bad-asses to stand up off of their yoga mats and be heard and trust that they are still yogis? I want to encourage us to go further than snapping and sharing photos of quotes about peace. I’m all for peace and furthermore I’m all for opinions and solutions created by strong thinkers who practice compassion and empathy.

Stand up ladies and use that thing-a-ma-bob: your voice.

la_finfinger_bikram

An Open Letter of Apology to Bikram Yoga

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An Open Letter of Apology to Bikram Yoga

Dear Bikram Yoga,

For years I have written you off. As a power yoga teacher I have put you on the receiving end of lame jokes where I basically say that I have no interest in being “the best at yoga”. I have assumed that some of you are trying to “win yoga” (because of the competitions) and have used it to justify allowing my own asana practice to become lazy.

I’ve quietly and “not-so-quietly” mused that there are others who are competitive about their yoga but not me. Insert halo here.

For about a month I have been practicing Bikram yoga. Let me be upfront. It’s not the only style I’ve practiced. I do not make it everyday (yet). I still wince at the tiny amount of clothing that I am wearing to class. I loathe looking at myself in the mirror while we practice. When the teacher says “Eyes on you” I usually have to peel my gaze away from someone in the room who has captured my attention with their envy-inducing backbend.

In the interest of being completely forthright, just as late as last week I was still defining Bikram yoga as “rigorous calisthenics”. I believe what I said to my friend was along the lines of “I mean it’s so tough and it’s so hot. I feel like a lunatic for putting myself in a room that hot on purpose but it’s like really deep stretching. It’s not my style of yoga but it’s fun for a change.”

I’m sorry.

I have noticed that every time I show up for class, there are often the same students and teachers practicing.

Dear Bikram Yogis, your discipline to your practice is inspiring.

You have at no point made me feel “less than” or unwelcome or competitive. In fact, you have never judged my poses and every piece of instruction you have given me has been useful and has helped me understand the poses and the practice. I also appreciate when you point out a student in class who has gone into a deeper version of a pose and comment that someday, one day we can get there as well, but only if that’s what we want.

(I hear this as “No pressure, LA! Really! But if you’re interested – keep coming back and we’ll show you how to get there!”)

You have at no point bad-mouthed any other style of yoga, which is (I’m ashamed to admit) more than I can say for myself.  You seem completely embracing of all styles of yoga.

You’re just in a committed relationship with yours. I get it.

Bikram Yogis – please accept my apologies. You are teaching me something invaluable. I never thought that I would comfortably (let alone – enjoyably) practice yoga in a public room full of mirrors in shorty-shorts and a sports bra. Yet, that’s exactly what I did this morning while a super-fit blonde badass said “I’d rather see you love who you see in the mirror staring back at you then nail standing bow.”

That’s my kind of freaking yoga.

See you tomorrow,
LA

la_gone_analog

Gone Analog

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I have a compulsion to check my iPhone. I find a reason to hit the button at the bottom of the phone in between my shower and getting dressed, during meals, after I turn the car off before I go into a store, right before I go to my yoga mat… constantly.

I check and respond to texts and email and Facebook comments and Instagram likes and tweets all damn daylong. Like it’s my job. Like it’s my passion. (It’s not.) If I’m away from my phone for too long (like during a movie) the first thing I do is find it, check it, and then relax again.

I’ve taken a month off from teaching yoga but I still feel stressed and like I “must” do things and what I’ve realized is that the thing that I feel like I have to do, I must do, I cannot relax until I do it: is check my phone and respond to people within 24 hours. I like to share. (Most of the people who know me best would call me someone who overshares.) What I have found is that for me – technology does not make me feel more connected. At least it has stopped allowing me to feel more connected for the time being.

I even made my best friend promise to like my Instagram posts because I feel like it’s part of my branding and just maybe this stuff will add up to yoga teaching and writing opportunities. (Big surprise – it hasn’t!) No more. (Mark, please feel free to ignore anything that I post on social media if you don’t truly like it!)

So for the next week, I’m going analog. I will check my email for thirty minutes on my laptop once a day in the morning after a cup of coffee. I will call my mother in the morning. I will use my phone only as an actual phone. I’ll put it in the glovebox while I’m driving (if I need it for Triple A) and I’ll keep it in the corner on a shelf when I’m at home (ringer on when I’m awake and ringer off when I’m asleep). I will not log in to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or even use my phone for Fandango or directions.

I’m going to carry a camera. I’m going to swim. I’m going to read tangible books. I’m going to shop in brick and mortar stores. (I’m also going to have to carry a map!) I’m going to cook without posting photos. I’m going to practice yoga (or not) without worrying about what the hell I’m wearing and wondering if someone does photograph it – will I look cute?

Call me if you know my number and I’ll answer if I’m not busy living.

 

Gone Analog,

Lee Anne (LA) Finfinger