Tuesday, April 03, 2007


My mother died of cancer ten years ago today.

It's because of her that I do yoga.

Yoga was something I had always wanted to do but never had the time for; but after caring for her for seven months, I finally had the time.

Actually, it was a miserable time. As the executor of her will, I was trying to take care of her affairs and empty and sell her house -- all the while fighting with Dreyfus.

But I was able to enroll in a super-easy Wednesday night hatha yoga class at the Lincoln-Belmont YMCA. I was immediately hooked. Not only did I feel peaceful after class – but during class I did not think about my problems. It resonated like nothing else I have ever done.

I used to drive to class after working on my mother's house, which was 50 miles away. One day I arrived late. I cracked open the door and heard what sounded like a dozen people hyperventilating. I cracked it a bit more and saw their chests heaving. I slammed the door and ran.

The following week, everyone was complaining about the substitute teacher they'd had. "You were lucky you missed it," they said. The class had been too hard; she'd been "too aerobic."

I found out her name and immediately signed up for her class. She was a Sivananda teacher, and she was terrific.

Soon, I was taking class three times a week at the YMCA.

But it still wasn't enough.

I looked in the phone book and found my way to the N.U. Yoga Center and the ashtanga vinyasa yoga classes taught by Suddha Weixler and Eric Powell (who now teaches ashtanga in Istanbul). I bought a monthly pass and went to class every day – and sometimes twice a day. I felt like I had come home.

In 1998 Eric told me he was leaving Chicago. He suggested I enroll in Suddha’s teacher training and take over some of his classes. I was appalled. But both Eric and Suddha encouraged me to do it – so I followed their advice. By the end of 1998 I was teaching. Unlike, say, journalism, it was one of the easiest and most natural things I have ever done (well, until recently anyway).

And I have my mother to thank for it.

She's also responsible for getting me out of the small town where I grew up.

She got royally screwed in the divorce settlement (she didn't even get a piece of the business that had belonged to HER father), but she insisted that my father agree to pay for college educations for my brother and me.

I graduated from the instutition she had attended but left after two years because her father ran out of money.

She was popular at that college; she belonged to the best sorority and had all kinds of fun -- although she was also quite scared.

One day her father drove to campus, took her out of class, put her in the car, drove her downtown, got some pictures taken and took her to a modeling agency.

It was the end of her college career, and the beginning of her modeling career.

Because of that career, she met my father at the Railroad Fair, and got married, and had Dreyfus and me ....

Which was followed by nervous breakdowns (probably early menopause), my father's ditching her for the neighbor, having her daughter (me) taken away from her, her sister's suicide, losing her entire savings to con men, the drinking, her own suicide attempts, the 21 cats, being beaten and nearly killed by a man named Newt, etc.

She must have inflicted a lot of pain in a past life.

She suffered a lot in this one.

But she kept going.

She never knew her own strength.

Many people tried to take her house away from her over the years.

But she wouldn't let them have it.

It was all she had left, and she wanted to hold onto it for my brother and me -- so we'd have something when she passed away.

Because of her, I got to go to India.

Because of her, I learned compassion.

Because of her, I didn't end up with someone like my father.

I hope she's in a better place now.

She deserves it.

My mother who lived through a thousand Newts
Who never knew she was popular, only that she was scared.

City girl, stuck in a cowtown for so long,
Her face falling with her hopes.

The house falls down around her while the dog goes deaf
Still she goes off to work, smoke trailing behind her.


  1. Anonymous3:15 AM

    caca= beautiful woman + amazing writer + beautiful and graceful yogini + highly amusing individual + good loyal friend

    I think your mother would be/is very proud of you and I am certain she is in a better place

    ginger x

  2. Vanessa10:51 AM

    And now I'm crying. That was beautifully written.

  3. Anonymous11:30 AM


  4. how heartfelt.
    you look just like her. i love that picture

  5. caroline7:10 PM

    Your mom sounds like such an inspiring woman. Somewhere in the universe, her spirit must be nourished seeing her daughter's many talents flourish.

    And I second ginger about your amazing writing skills - This is one of the most honest and daring blogs that I know of, and it's the first place I visit whenever I go online.

  6. Beautifully written....

  7. Oh my! I just found this. SO beautiful....thank you....