Cat From The Mat


If there’s anything we have learned from pandemic life, it is that we affect one another.  We share the same air, space, and sources of food and water.  We have similar emotional experiences like fear, anger, sadness, joy, and pain.  And whether you have been solo in quarantine or busting at the seams in a full household, you might also have been experiencing a  sense of isolation.  As social beings, we humans live in relationship with others.  We thrive in community.  And during this pandemic “pause,” we have been forced to contend with the relationship that we have with our own selves.

Before Covid, I was often on the move.  The grass did not grow beneath my feet.  I was flying all over the world for work and adventures.  Even when home,  I was on the proverbial gerbil wheel of life, as if running as fast as I can and still not keeping up.

Then overnight, the world slowed down and came to a standstill.  The spinning wheel stopped, and I was grounded.  Cancelled gigs, no socializing, and work segued to an online format.  This abrupt halt has been jarring.  It’s also demanded a practice of adapting to constantly changing terra ferma, if solid at all. 

Grounded like a teenager, I was unable to enjoy the freedoms that I once had. And yet,  I found new liberations.   I had time to sleep without setting an alarm.  I finally had the chance to sift through my long “to do” list.  Besides completing tasks, I finally had the bandwidth to address my metaphorical pile of stuff to process.  At the bottom of the stack, I discovered all sorts of emotional issues with which I had yet to contend.

I began to excavate outdated belief systems that were fueling my behavior for most of my life.  I found parts of myself that I had exiled or had been ignored.  And rather than having contempt for my fearful, sad, angry, or lonely selves, I got to know them.  Befriending my pain helped me not only metabolize undigested experiences still living in my tissues, I also found company and solace in my whole persevering self.

I learned that I had value, not because of what I had accomplished, but because I merely existed.  Until now, I thought that I had to earn my place in the world.  Maybe my busyness translated into me feeling worthy or important? If so, it’s no wonder I have been so exhausted on that damn gerbil wheel, rarely feeling satiated!

The world is beginning to open up again and I want to make sure that I do not fall prey to my old beliefs.  I do not want to go back to where we all were.  The global issues we are facing have been revealed.  We can no longer use the excuse that we did it know about the glaring inequities in the world.  Change is never comfortable, but if we are to grow with new shared awareness, then we all can transform as a society.

Yoga is often defined as “Union.”  This involves awareness, attunement, and most of all relationship.  If you look at the body as a whole, each part plays a role in the functioning of the whole organism.  Every part contributes and has an effect on another part.   When there’s an injury, the body compensates to keep you functioning.

As community members, our actions impact others.  Cultivating compassion is learning to be curious about yourself and others.  It’s an endeavor of understanding what might be motivating another’s behavior.  It doesn’t mean you have to agree.  Being complacent and complicit never makes change.  And these shifts need to occur simultaneously on intrapersonal, interpersonal, and societal realms, if we are to evolve as a species.

In what ways can you make friends with and celebrate all the parts of yourself? How can you make room for a full spectrum of experience, especially the unfamiliar aspects of yourself?  Which ideas about your inner and outer worlds can you question and test to see if they are hindering or helping your personal growth?  Most of all can befriending yourself open up the space to be curious about others?

As you blossom into spring, I encourage you to take the lessons learned from the past year of grounding and integrate them into what’s next for you.  Your life might have changed drastically or subtlety, but I can guarantee that you are not the same person from a year ago.  May we be thankful for such movement and growth.  Happy Earth Day!

Cat From the Mat

April 2021

The Remedy Within

(* This blog was written before the Jan 6, 2021 storming of the US Capitol, for which I have no words…but rest assured, they will be coming soon.  Please enjoy this contemplation for now.) 

From the left and from the right come vilification and blame, but you stay filled with compassion.  ~Rumi 

It’s a new year!  We made it through 2020, wearing a badge of courage!   Although, I feel both relief and hesitation to celebrate.  A hauntingly familiar narrative from 2005 evokes a memory from when Hurricane Katrina devastated my hometown of New Orleans.  Offering instant hope, the communal mantra of “Come January, then...” has been in the ether.  I am also reminded of how long it takes to recuperate from the shock of unprecedented events.   While we defrost our frozen collective nervous system, we also segue into continued unknown territory of what is to come. 

I am glad that this year is over.  However, I do not espouse anti-2020 sentiment.  It was an extremely clarifying year that brought many things to light. I was lucky enough to persevere with a roof over my head,  a stronger compromised immune system, and nutritious food, clean water, and healthy thoughts to digest.  I have befriended parts of myself that I didn’t have time for in my previously busy lifestyle.  Rather than pushing them away, I am curious to hear what my loneliness, sadness, and fear have to tell me.  Leaning into the pain, I am a more resilient and humbled listener than ever.   

Even though it’s officially 2021, it is another year.  The sun still rises and sets.  The flora and fauna continue on, perhaps unaware that there’s a global pandemic.  As we move forward, we are invited to choose how to be, inside and out.

Covid-19 itself has nothing against me, you, or any of us.  It is not to blame.  It’s just doing its viral thing, so it’s not personal.  What I do though take personally is the slow erosion of our infrastructure which could have prevented the unnecessary death toll in the US, not to mention the blatant caste system that persists.  

Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus MaguireOur country was created with a power-over paradigm, whereas I want to live in a power-with structure.  Yoga for me is not about a hierarchal pecking order.  It’s about a horizontal, democratic sharing of the seat of power, for the benefit for all, not just the few.  Last year was extremely honest on many levels.  I was so worn out recovering from cancer that I wasn’t paying attention.  A reflection of my privilege, I can no longer afford to do so.  The question remains:  who do we want to be in all that we do?  Our actions speak louder than words, and words do matter.

My outrage isn’t directed towards some specific source.  That would be too easy.  When I project my judgment on to things/situations/others, I am actually divulging my own inner assumptions, expectations, and disappointments.   It’s much easier to blame others for my discontent.  I can either remain a victim or take 100% responsibility for my participation.  Accountability is actually empowering.  It takes effort to build emotional maturity.  And it makes a difference.

Hindsight is 2020.  We are at a historical tipping point.  As we delve into another year of uncertainty, I encourage you to look within while keeping your eyes open.  Your choice of where you place your attention is your greatest currency.  As we systemically refocus our collective gaze towards reparations and equity, we each have the opportunity to shift our individual perceptions, one interaction at a time.    

Can this be the year to consider the needs of all, to truly manifest a democracy? In order to attempt to heal this divided and wounded home of the brave, we can empathically observe our own habitual patterns and choose accordingly.  When I bear witness to this immeasurable inner movement, I have been surprised by how revealing and fertile post-pandemic life can be.  Let’s wake up, grow up, and speak up…with gratitude, compassion, and dignity for all!


Happy, healthy, and globally healing new year!


Cat From The Mat blog

Jan 2021



Sacred Solitude

“Solitude stands in the doorway
And I'm struck once again by her black silhouette
By her long cool stare and her silence
I suddenly remember each time we've met
And she turns to me with her hand extended
Her palm is split with a flower with a flame”
~ Suzanne Vega

From January through March 2020, I was fortunate enough to complete a teaching residency in Japan.  Living in a new environment had its challenges, especially when my Japanese (Nihongo) was not up to snuff.  I love their cuisine, culture, and customs, but I do not look Japanese.  In fact, with blue and white hair, I might resemble an Anime character.

As much as I connected with local friends and colleagues across the country, I spent lots of time alone, while teaching throughout hospitable Nihon.  At times, I felt isolated, ranging in degrees of discomfort.  Right as the US was closing its borders, I completed my work commitments and returned to NYC, the then epicenter of Covid, from the frying pan into the fire.  My initial two-week quarantine expanded into months on end.  It’s now September, and my isolation continues.

I used to consider myself an extrovert, but I have learned that I also really do like my own company. Spending so much time alone, without making it problematic, has been a practice.   I am actually quite an ambivert, equally introverted and extroverted.  And yet, I am yearning for that parallel balance around me.  I miss the energetic presence of others.  I want a hug.  We humans need touch and social community.

What is the distinction between loneliness and being alone?  I know what it’s like to feel lonely in a marriage or in a crowd.  When I have that lonely feeling, it’s perhaps because I am not embracing ALL parts of myself, especially those which are unfamiliar or unpleasant.  But being alone is something different.  One of my wise Japanese yoga friends suggested to consider solitude to be a sacred practice.   

Loneliness is often considered an undesirable state, marked by a sense of separation.  However, solitude is an experience of being alone without feeling lonely. It is a constructive state of engagement with oneself. Solitude is a desirable state of being alone while providing sufficient company.  It takes awareness to shift the current mundane into the sacred.

The word solitude has its roots in Latin, from solus “alone.”  It can mean seclusion, remoteness, retirement, and even peace of mind.  Solitude is also defined as wilderness, unspoiled area, or emptiness.  

In some eastern thought, emptiness is not considered a cavity, but rather space held for expansive potential.  It’s a container for creativity, a pregnant void.  The question then is how am I to participate with this great empty pause we are in?  Am I being more creative by slowing down, seeing more, and doing less?  Can this be a much needed reset?

Many of us are spending time alone and need to connect with others.  Some of us are in spaces filled with too many people/roles/duties, that we wish to escape and be quietly solo.  The key is to embrace these polar parts of ourselves without labeling them as right or wrong. They wish to be acknowledged just as they are.

I have many parts that cohabitate inside.  There’s the relieved part of me that appreciates the lack of triggering of my FOMO (fear of missing out) during the shutdown.  There’s the depleted part of me that is getting rest after being kicked off the gerbil wheel of decades of busyness.  And there’s the anxious freelance part that is worried about paying bills or failing to maximize this timeout.  My petulant teenager inside finally has the chance to be inefficient and just have fun.  The angry, shocked, and devastated part of me cannot believe the divisive state of my country.  Yet,  I return to my familiar self full of gratitude, for the immeasurable abundance within.  It's as if  I am anything but alone!

Are you tired of the hustle of doing and want to enjoy the fruits of your labor?  Are you slowing down enough the identify what truly matters?  Whether you are home alone or busting at the seams to get space, I encourage you to find what brings gracious self-connection, while making room for all of your parts. With breathing room,  self-compassion and clarity can arise.  From this place, skillful action is possible. This is the invitation of yoga, off the mat and into the world.

Happy Labor Day and "Quarantigue" (quarantine fatigue)!  Change is the constant, so let’s band together and shift our internal and external communities.  We can all be alone together…solidarity in solitude!

Cat From the Mat blog

September 2020