The baby is napping. With any luck, he’ll nap for at least an hour. With a lot of luck, he’ll nap for a full 90 minutes. There are dishes in the sink and laundry piling up and toys covering my living room floor, but all I want to do is document how great I feel!

I feel so fantastic!

This morning I had a lovely yoga practice with an inspiring, funny and down-to-earth teacher and a room full of wonderful yogis. My boy and I had a tasty lunch with an intelligent, thoughtful, talented yogini who I hadn’t seen in much too long. This week I taught my first private yoga class since JR was born and, even though I was nervous that I would fall miserably short of the mark, it was like riding a bicycle! My whole being remembered how to do it! It was fun and I was able to instruct them in just the manner they needed. It was hugely affirming for me.

This week I’ve been reminded not only of what I love to do but also what I’m good at doing, and it’s exactly the inspiration I’ve needed!

Ha! So much for posting everyday in November.

Life with an infant is unpredictable and exhausting. When he naps, you squeeze in as much (laundry, sweeping, showering, yoga-ing, emailing, whatever) as you can or you sit on the couch and stare blankly at the TV or you nap…sometimes you might write a blog.

And then there are the days when he doesn’t nap or he only naps for 30 minutes. You just never know. Some folks have it (child rearing, napping and sleep specifically) down to an exact science, and I respect that, but it’s just not me. In fact, while I enjoy ritual and thrive under a modest amount of structure, one of my greatest joys since JR was born has been living in greater harmony with natural rhythms. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve set an alarm clock this year!

I’m really fortunate to be in a place in life where I have both the resources and the support to maximize this time with my child. I wish every mother (or father) that wants to stay home or work part time were able to do so.

Here’s a picture of our cat and dog, because I’m tired and I don’t know where I’m going with this:

image

Gosh Darn You, Day Light Savings Time! The baby wakes up at 4:30am, the cat wants dinner at 4:30pm and everything in between is a blur. On the flip side, I got in my sun salutations and a shower before 8am. That’s huge, since there are days I don’t even brush my teeth ’til noon. Yikes.

A few years ago, I read the Jerry and Esther Hicks book The Law of Attraction. I’m not going to get into the specifics, mainly because I don’t remember the specifics and also, well, because I’m kind of a skeptic. It’s not that I want to be a skeptic. I don’t. I want to believe “that which is like unto itself is drawn,” and I guess on some level I do believe we are the creators of our own destinies. I just can’t get on board with what the Hicks are peddling. There’s something about it that doesn’t sit well with me.

Still, I must believe in it on some level, because I’m currently reading another book on the Law of Attraction – Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting. (Honestly, my life might be over before I finish reading this book.) I’m not a fan of the writing, but at least the author isn’t attributing her knowledge of the LoA to a “spirit.” She writes about LoA, so far anyway, from personal experience. The basic premise is the same – like with like, get into a place of feeling good and good things will come.

I can get down with that – I know a lot of people who are powerful creators, and I think the secret (ha!) is that they are really focused on what they want, obsessed practically. While I believe in the power of positivity, none of these people are what I would call optimism zealots. They’re just determined and they’re hard workers and when they get an idea in their heads, they don’t stop until they realize their goals. (Interestingly, all of these folks are Capricorns. Now, there’s a pseudo-science I can get on board with!) They’re like laser beams, focusing their attention and energy in a very narrow direction.

I’m more like a sparkler. I shoot out quick bursts of energy and attention in a lot of different directions. I’ve always juggled multiple interests and enjoyed doing so, but I haven’t gotten as far as I’d like with some of my interests and there are still so many things I’d like to try/do!!! So, I’m going to start a bucket list, and I’m going to use the tips from this book I’m reading to focus on a few items and see what I can accomplish.

Granted some of the items will be more long term. Some of them I may try and decide I’m not a fan. Some I may never get to. But, at least they’ll all be in one place, so I can prioritize them, add to them, mark them off, etc. So, here goes, in no particular order:

1. 500 hr. YTT (I’ve got the ball rolling on this! Starting in 2015)
2. Take a creative writing class
3. Take an art class
4. Re-learn spanish
5. And then maybe French?
6. Learn to play an instrument
7. Visit all 7 continents…do people travel to Antarctica? Like regular people, not scientists. Can you go to Tierra del Fuego and then catch a ferry? How does that work?
8. Google Antarctic tourism…
9. Scuba Dive
10. Travel and teach yoga!
11. Homestead
12. More specifically, grow our food!
13. Raise chickens
14. Learn the constellations
15. Take horse back riding lessons
16. Read the great spiritual books…even if it’s just the cliff notes (er, the abridged versions)
17. Learn aromatherapy
18. And Ayurveda
19. And herbalism
20. Basically, become a witch
21. Become a lactation consultant
22. Archery
23. Write for a travel book/magazine
24. Live abroad
25. Write and teach yoga for a living

Ok, well…that already seems like a lifetime of items, so I think I’ll stop for now and try to knock out another chapter of that book.

It’s November 1. I had no intention of participating in NaBloPoMo, but as I was walking and bouncing the baby to sleep it occurred to me that today is the first day and I’ve decided to go for it. I’m going to post a blog everyday for the next 30 days. Granted, there will be a lot of bad writing, bad grammar and, most likely, many, many pictures. Hell, I may even fail to post every day – it doesn’t matter. I’m doing this for myself. Cheers to spontaneously committing to 30 days of writing!

Below are a few shots from our beach excursion to Arambol. Relaxing on the beach was the perfect way to  end our trip to India. There had been discussion of going to Kerala or even Sri Lanka for the final leg of our journey, but time didn’t allow us to travel so far south. We decided to land somewhere in the area of Goa, and we ended up in Arambol on the suggestion of a friend.

We found Residensea in a 2003 edition of Lonely Planet that was laying around Steven’s apartment. After reading several favorable reviews of it online and making a quick skype call to Sebastian the owner to inquire about prices and amenities, we decided to stay there.

We were all really happy with our experience as Residensea. It’s clean, comfortable and it has a nice shady commons area where you can order food or just get out of the sun. It’s right on the beach but a comfortable distance from the busier, touristy areas. The family that runs it is friendly and accommodating. They’ll even pick you up from or take you to the airport for less than any of the prepaid taxi services.

Be forewarned, however, our ride with Sebastian to the airport was by far one of the most exciting rides we took. At one point, Courtney even exclaimed, “Sebastian! You’re a crazy driver!” His response, “I know. You have to be.”

The beach side entrance to Residensea and Roxy the dog.

The hut Stacy and I stayed in at Residensea.

Dog and boat

Star

Paragliding looks like a lot of fun!

Loner

I spy!

Our final sunset in Arambol.

Sunset acroyoga with Stacy.

Swimming in the Arabian Sea reminded me a little of swimming in the Mediterranean near Valencia, Spain. The water is warm and fairly calm. There were a couple of days when the wind and water were rough, but mostly the Arabian sea was a welcoming hostess. The four of us had a lot of fun swimming and splashing in the water and walking and yoga-ing on the beaches.

Steven had decided that the grand finale of our stay in Arambol would be a Friday night poetry slam. We were each required to write two poems for the throw down. Throughout the week we worked on our poems sporadically. When Friday afternoon rolled around and we only had a few hours left to complete our masterpieces, everyone became a little quieter and more focused. It was like a creative writing workshop for beach bums – sunglasses, bathing suits, sandy feet, notebooks and wagging pens.

That evening we returned to the same restaurant we had eaten at our first night in Arambol when Steven pitched the idea for a poetry night. We took turns reading our poems. Though the poems shared a common travel theme, they were all different; some were epic retellings of our adventures, some were thoughtful analyses of culture, some were odes to friends or forces of nature, some were silly and some were serious. What they shared in common was the unique personal journeys they described.

Below is one of my poems. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed hearing the rhymes and runes of the Spatilloman clan!

Lady Arabian

This morning I awoke next to the Arabian Sea
I let her persistent call softly speak to me
Like the life that she churned from her viscous womb
I set my feet to the floor, my day beginning to bloom

Today I swam like a fish in the Arabian Sea
I let her pulsing water wash over me
Neither did I dominate or submit to her might
But weightless I traveled, flashing fast and light

This evening I floated atop the Arabian Sea
I let her gentle current have its sway on me
While the sun, a burning bindi, descended in the sky
The salty water separated me from myself and I

Tonight I was lulled to sleep by the Arabian Sea
A cool kiss and sweet dreams she whispered to me
Though the cycles are never ending, this day on Earth is done
I let sleep take me over as the sea swallows up the sun

Today is our last day in India. We’re back in Mumbai, spending the day eating with some of Steven’s friends, touring the market one last time and packing it all in and up before we fly home. Our departure after nearly a month in India has me thinking about how an extended trip with three other people is a serious commitment. Involving more people and lasting for a shorter period of time than (most) marriage vows, it’s a test of one’s stamina, patience, willingness to compromise and good humor.

For better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, until the end of this trip you do part.

I’ve had a wonderful time. It’s been terrific traveling with my Spatilloman family! I’ve learned a lot about myself and my family. I’ve also learned a lot from each of them. I’ve really appreciated their companionship, friendship, support and unique perspectives.

Steven makes friends everywhere he goes. Perhaps a little shy at first, it’s no time before he’s collected a crew of academics, jugglers, yogis and other friends. He’s also really hilarious. Don’t let his more serious, reserved academic persona fool you; this guy has had me rolling in laughter on numerous occasions across India. He’s been a generous, accommodating host, travel companion, Hindi tutor and juggling coach. Oh yeah, he’s also a really great poet!

Courtney has inspired me to be more willing to share myself with the world, even the more creative and vulnerable parts of myself. She’s a great writer and poet and, unlike myself, she’s eager and confident sharing her creativity. It’s been inspiring and enlightening to hear her descriptions and interpretations of our travels and experiences. I admire that she’s true to herself in every situation. We’ve had a lot of fun traveling together and getting to know one another, and I’m looking forward to reliving this adventure and embarking on future fun with her when we get back to Oklahoma.

Stacy and I have traveled together before, so I think I know her pretty well. Nonetheless, she never ceases to amaze me. She has more energy than anyone I know, and it’s contagious! With Stacy I’ve gotten over a lot of fears and had a rocking good time in Asia. She has an eternally young spirit and she’s always up (early!) for the next adventure. Her take charge, decisive attitude gets things done and it’s a valuable asset. She was responsible for getting us from one destination to the next in an efficient and economic manner. Also, if you’re feeling lousy, there’s really no one better to have around. She’s the right combination of caretaker and whip-cracker.

Below are a few photos from our trip to Rishikesh. It seems like so long ago! I’ll post pictures from Arambol after I get home. Cheers!

The Ganga from the banks of Laxman Jhula.

There's a person under all that green!

Bathing in healing waters

Nani selling flowering offerings

Our offering to the river.

Ear cleaner

Looking so stern for being so young.

Red on the river

Standing in the Ganga

Spatillomans in the Ganga

Keran and Mungal

Wahoe Travel, Mehar and Hari

Consider yourself warned

Ganga and foothills of the Himalayas

Hitching a ride

3/4 of the Spatilloman family in Rishikesh

Jaipur style shave n' go!

THE Taj Mahal

Yours truly posing in front of the Taj

Taj from below

3/4 of Team Ashtanga Oklahoma modeling our tres cool Taj booties.

TAO in our booties before entering the Taj

We left the relative calm and cool, crisp air of Rishikesh on Thursday 2/9. We had to catch a plane from Delhi back to Mumbai on Friday 2/10. We made arrangements to take an overnight train from Haridwar, an hour cab ride from Rishikesh, and arrive at the Old Delhi train station in plenty of time to take a metro to the airport for our afternoon flight.

We made our train arrangements in Laxman Jhula at a travel agent/internet cafe a few days ahead of time. There had been discussion of paying for a taxi to Delhi, but we decided on an overnight train to save us the price of accommodations in Delhi. None of us being too eager to spend any more time in Delhi, we agreed the train was the best and most economical option. For at least a few of us, travel by train seemed an iconic means of seeing India and we were glad to be participating so fully in the nostalgia and culture.

We weren’t able to secure tickets for the upper class air conditioned sleeper cars, so we booked four bunks in the second class sleeper car.  The second class car didn’t seem like a big step down from the AC car. Who needs air conditioning in the winter in Northern India anyway? We inquired about the difference, and we were warned that the ride would be freezing. Unlike the passengers in the AC cars, we would not be given blankets or pillows. We shrugged off the freezing warning. After all, we had been told Rishikesh would be freezing this time of year and that hadn’t turned out to be exactly true. Cold? Yes. Freezing? Not really. Additionally, we were already equipped with blankets. We would wear our warmest clothes and multiple layers. It would be fine. We paid for the tickets and left satisfied.

We slept in Thursday, ate a delicious breakfast at the Oasis Restaurant across the river from our hotel, hiked toward a waterfall and killed some time shopping and checking email. Finally, around 8:45pm it was time to cross the bridge to meet our taxi. All went according to plan and we arrived at the Haridwar train station around 10:00pm.

It was a sight like none I had ever seen. An open air station, there were people everywhere. Some standing, some sitting or sleeping on the floor. All were bundled in blankets. Our train didn’t board for its 11:10pm departure until 10:45, so we had some time to kill. Steven sought out the platform from which we would depart and our assigned car. Stacy used the world’s wettest and least hygenic bathroom, and I purchased snacks for the ride.

A curious crowd gathered around us as we waited at the station.

There were two guys selling giant sheets of uncut candy bar foil wrapping for 10 rupees. Observing that the Indians were using them to cover the dirty floor and rest, we purchased one and spread it out on the floor to sit on. As we sat there, we began to realize just how cold it was and how cold our ride was likely to be. We decided to buy several more of the foil wrappers for extra layers on the train. Our selection that evening included Oreo, Butterfinger and Fiber One Bar wrappers. We ended up with three sheets of the Butterfinger wrappers.

Courtney wrapped in her Butterfinger wrapper sheet!

When 10:45 rolled around, we went to find our car S8. As previously mentioned, Steven had, upon our arrival, located the platform and car, but now our car was no where to be found. There were the first class AC cars. There were the disabled-luggage cars (I’m still not clear on what that means. Is there such a thing as disabled luggage? Steven would say yes, as his luggage broke early on in our trip. Is this where they store the luggage of the disabled? Or, is it possible the disabled share this car with the luggage? I have no idea…) There were the cars labeled S1, S2, S3 and S4, but no where to be found was S8 or, for that matter, S5-S7.

We began to panic somewhat, frantically inquiring with anyone who looked informed or like an employee of the station. They would point beyond the S4 car. We would tell them there was no S8 beyond it. Finally they would walk the line of cars with us, discovering for themselves what we’d already told them. There was no S8 car. In response to S8’s absence, they would give us the side to side head nod.

Steven has decided this gesture means, “Let’s not make a big deal out of this.” That deciphering seems to be correct quite frequently, and it certainly applied in this situation.

Finally, we were instructed to follow a fellow passenger to the end of the line, and we slowly started to understand that more cars were on the way and would be attached to the train. Shortly, the missing cars, including S8, arrived and we boarded.

I didn’t have high expectations of the sleeper car. Really, I didn’t. And, to be fair, we had been warned that it would be freezing, so I had ratcheted down my expectations a little further. Truly, though, I wasn’t expecting prison cell style bunks in a meat locker. Each car was divided into several units of eight bunks. Parallel to one wall of the car spanning two windows were two bunks, across from those set perpendicular to the wall were two sets of three bunks.

The four of us were sharing a unit with two gentleman and their mother, sister or aunt. I’m not sure what the exact family configuration was, but they were equipped with sheets and heavy wool blankets, in the midst of making up tidy little beds for themselves. Already cold and tired, I began taking stock of my supplies:

  • 1 thin cotton “sheet”
  • 1 shammy like yoga towel/blanket
  • 1 “borrowed” Lufthansa airplane blanket
  • 1 giant Butterfinger candy bar wrapper

I was wearing my warmest clothes, and I had a second layer packed at the top of my bag. I had a feeling I was going to need that layer.

As soon as the family had their bunks made up and were tucked in, the four of us followed suit. I spread my yoga towel/blanket along the bunk. I covered myself with the sheet and the airplane blanket and laid back, resting my head against my airplane neck-rest/pillow thing.

“Ok, not so bad,” I thought. I pulled out my kindle and read a few pages.

I was on the bottom bunk, my head next to the window. I wasn’t thrilled, but I was still optimistic. One of the gentleman sharing the unit with us turned out the lights and the train started to roll down the tracks. I might as well have stuck my head out the window, because the steady draft of icy air chilling the top of my head had it feeling like the equivalent to a scoop of ice cream atop a cone. I realized freezing was, in fact, an apt description of this ride, and donning my second layer of clothing was necessary if not life saving.

Modesty be damned, I slid out of my jeans and yanked on my tights, a second pair of socks and shimmied back in to my jeans. When I had dug out my second layers, I remembered I had a hat and a towel within easy reach. I put on the hat and used the towel as the munchkin to my donut-holed neck pillow. It was pretty comfortable, but it wasn’t going to work out. As I laid down, I realized someone had lit a cigarette, replacing the icy oxygen with carcinogenic fumes.

“Unbelievable,” I thought. I wrapped the towel around my head, which insulated me from both the smoke and the cold.

I laid on my left side on my prison bunk, trying desperately to make five feet of blanket cover 5.5 feet of body. Though I was practically suffocating from the towel, my head was warm. My feet, however, were freezing. I unfolded the candy bar wrapper and laid it over me, tucking it under my feet.

I crinkled and crunched my way to my right side this time, facing the sleeping family across from me. I willed my feet to get warm, certain that I could sleep if I could just warm them up a degree or two. That’s when I heard it, a symphony of snores from a thousand slumbering Indians.

The next morning when the four of us would recount our night in the freezing train, Steven would call it a snorus and Courtney a snorchestra. That night, I thought of it as a symphony, because try as I might to ignore it all I could hear were the various snoring sections coming in and out of the composition at the behest of an invisible conductor.

There was the soft, consistent snore of the woman next to me. There was the man above her whose snore was throatier and slower. And, there was the guy in the unit next to us who had apparently forgotten his sleep apnea machine and who, I was sure or perhaps prayed, would succumb to suffocation by his own tongue. These three players were joined intermittently by numerous other congested, log sawing, soundly sleeping people who were about to drive me over the edge of sanity.

Fortunately, I had a pair of ear plugs and a quarter of a xanax buried in my bag. I crinkled and crunched my way upright and dug through my bag to find them.

“OH HELL YES, this is happening,” I thought as I swallowed the wee bit of sedative and poked the plugs in my ears.

While I was at it, I abandoned the notion of using the yoga towel/blanket as a barrier beneath me and the bench that hosted an innumerable number of snoring, sleeping passengers. Why was I wasting an extra layer beneath me protecting myself from phantom germs when the likelihood of hypothermia was far greater?!

I laid back once again, crinkling and crunching all the way. I was now wearing two pairs of socks, shoes, two pairs of pants, a shirt, a jacket, a hat, a towel-turban-face-mask, a sheet, a yoga towel, a Lufthansa blanket and a giant candy bar wrapper…and I was still freezing my ass off. Laying in the dark, rocking, snore filled train, I began to laugh maniacally, mostly to myself since it was the middle of the night. I laid in my candy bar cocoon and I had exactly one thoutht, “It could be worse.”

At some point, I fell into a frigid, restless, sedative produced sleep-like state. It was sufficient, and I was grateful for the lack of consciousness.

Steven filming our train accommodations in the light of a new day!

The next morning, new light was shed on the train ride. My experience could certainly have been worse. As I peered out the train window, I saw dozens upon dozens of little shacks constructed out of whatever materials were available lining the tracks. Occasionally we passed much larger communities of these shacks. I wondered if the inhabitants lived in a permanent state of cold/discomfort. Or, had they become so accustomed to their conditions that they were oblivious to them?

I felt foolish and grateful at the same time. I had endured a cold, uncomfortable eight hours, but they would endure much more for much longer. I had an eye-opening, amusing story to tell. Their stories would likely go untold.

It’s hard to know what to make of the contrast. It’s hard to know how to comprehend my dumb luck/good fortune at being born into such a state of privilege. So, I don’t try too hard to make any sense of it. If anything, I’m just reminded again and again to be grateful and compassionate and maintain a good sense of humor.

sugar cane fields * crumbling buildings * bare and sandaled feet * cow patties *throngs of people * bright sarees * street dogs * burnings heaps of trash * terrifying traffic * heads nod on the third axis * punjabi music * mughal architecture * BLOW HORN * amputees * vehicles of every type piled high * chai * staring men * motor scooters * couch surfing at wahoe cottage in Delhi * chapati * street vendors * apka nom kia hey * “one snap” * camels * three headed shiva on elephanta island * cricket in the park * oxen * yoga on the terrace * “if you tinkle when you sprinkle, don’t be mean, wipe it clean * squat toilet * H20 * TIFR cantina * bicycle rick shaw * bahoot echah * deep fried potato sandwich * kingfisher airlines * “if we overload the boat, it’s gonna sink” * Mumbai * prunes, thank goodness! * elephant trunk in car window * spatilloman family * humayun’s tomb * metro crowd crush * “we’ve learned to brush our teeth without a bathroom, now we just need to learn to use the bathroom without a bathroom * acroyoga at the red fort * playing chicken in the car for 12 hours * slums * uniformed school children * bought a beard * wahoe travel * mischievous monkeys * motion sickness * muslim call to prayer * men’s saloon * missing teeth * bollywood jams * holy cows * bus – car collision * hotel moon light palace * hari * “hallo” and handshakes * cafe coffee day * kundalini energy balance * women carrying bundles on their heads * amber fort * limping dogs * lime soda * men tossing bricks * smiling faces * choking smog * Narhargarh * celebrity tourists * sparkle sweaters * parantha * howling honking horns * towering hanuman * pigs, goats, chickens, donkeys, horses * sikhs in turbans * bucket bath * bangles * women’s only train * “welcome to incredible india” * taj mahal * women side saddle on motorcycles * temples * yak cheese * there ain’t no personal space in india * channa masala * westerners biking cross-country * post card stamp scavenger hunt * children motioning hand to mouth * heating water by submerging an electrical appliace — SHOCK of a lifetime * lines of colorful laundry * road trip hindi lessons * zombie guy * goods carrier truck * fruit stands * lysol lemon lozenge * fresh mountain air * yoga overlooking the ganga……………………………………………. what’s next?