Cat From The Mat

Ready, Steady, Grow

I was first introduced to downhill skiing when I was three years old, while in Switzerland.    Over the next four decades, I only had a few chances to revisit my snow legs.  From the lack of practice, I have never truly gotten the hang of it. However, I love to watch the fluid beauty of skiers who know how to intimately carve into the snow and waltz down the mountain.

Earlier this year, I was invited to teach yoga in Switzerland.  During my visit, I surprisingly found myself once again wearing a pair of skis, facing the fear of how to safely get down an intermediate level ski run in the Swiss Alps.   I had an excellent guide to show me the ropes, but negotiating the descent brought up the challenge of how to accommodate an ever-changing terrain.


My general understanding of skiing is simply this:  when I point my skis downhill, I pick up speed.  When I traverse and/or move up the mountain, I can slow down and even stop.  This makes me wonder about my relationship with the topography of life.

When things are moving along with velocity, how do I adjust?  If it’s moving too quickly, do I get taken along for the bumpy ride and perhaps feel disempowered?  Do I dig my heels in and refuse to move, to my own detriment?  Or can I find a way to tap into the pull of gravity while knowing that I have the capacity to regulate my own journey?  

Trust and security seem to be key factors.  When I can confidently handle the acceleration, I welcome the ups and downs.  Knowing that I have the ability to slow down, change direction, or even stop, helps me maneuver such mountainous relief with balanced participation.  This nurtures self-assurance and agency.

A yogin is someone who learns to ski along the territory within.  That prowess is also applied to the external world.  There are times to resist or halt, in order to regroup.  There are also opportunities where letting go to move quickly can be exhilarating and bring relinquished ease.  Ultimately, it’s a practice of knowing what any context demands, pressing both the accelerator and brake in optimal amounts.

In ski terms, a fall line is the path of natural descent from one point on a slope to another.  The journey of life can be just as uncomfortable, circuitous, and even treacherous.   Yoga invites you to carve your own trail with discernment.  In any season, I encourage your inner skier to hit the slopes and venture along the peaks and valleys, one inner ascent at a time. 

Happy Trails,

Cat From the Mat

June 2016

When Did I Become a Ma'am?

Years ago, when on-location for a film shoot in southern California, I was directing my crew through the walkie-talkie.  After completing a request, my production assistant responded by saying "Yes, Sir," followed by an apologetic "I meant Ma'am."  After a momentary pause and a giggle, my rebuttal was, "I prefer Sir."  Although it was a joke, I wonder if that term was too feminine for my producer persona within the male-dominated industry.  I valued respect but wasn't ready to embrace my ma'am-dom.
Cut to a decade later, now with a full head of silver locks (along with current colorful streaks of blue and purple), I'm noticing my reaction to this language again. When exactly did I become a ma'am?  Was it overnight or did it occur gradually?  Why do I still feel like a cheeky monkey when others might see my natural hair color before my youthful energy? 

In early February, we crossed the threshold into the Chinese Year of the Fire Monkey. Like Curious George, monkeys have an inquisitive nature. That, added to the element of fire, represents bold and bright authenticity to help illuminate any intentional direction. Born in a monkey year myself, I have already felt a surge of power, play, and curiosity as I delve into this new year with my fellow primates dressed as humans.

Based on a blog at, there are two mindsets that most humans assume: Fixed or Growth.  A person with a fixed mindset is usually set in stone, where his/her actions are based on being a success.  Therefore, the motivation is always one of proving oneself with an unsatisfied hunger for approval.  This 24/7 attempt to avoid failure seems exhausting and yet might be all too familiar.

Seeing conventional failures as lessons to be learned, a growth mindset focuses on learning.  The goal of succeeding is replaced with the process of discovery.  Instead of being motivating to prove self-worth, there's more room for creativity, wonder, and constructive challenge.  This mindset thus sees defeat as a lack of growing rather than being unsuccessful.  To me, this is a more healthy and rewarding way to live.

Are you open to learning or settled in your ways?  Are you growing or just getting older? Is your journey finished, slowing down, or is it just getting started? Yoga is about being adaptable, so that every situation you experience can be full of lessons and opportunities in which to expand your sense of self.  When you are more compassionate towards yourself, you can be more curious and compassionate with others. 

To celebrate this Fire Monkey Year, I encourage you to check in with your inner-ape and see how you wish to relate to your challenges and still manifest your fullest potential. As a full-fledged Ma'am and ongoing Sir these days, I do not wish to waste any more of my valuable time on self-doubt or undermining my sense of trust.  I hope to monkey around my inner terrain in more empathic ways, with childlike awe that I never want to lose.   

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."  Ralph Waldo Emerson


Cat From the Mat

February 2016

Don't just do something, Stand there

Isn't it funny that we ask our fellow human beings, "How are you doing" rather than "How are you being?"  For most of my life I have been a human-doer, where my be-ership has been somewhat secondary.  I'm a pro-active person, and I love to make things happen.  However, when I am confronted, I get busy.  My "something must be done" default kicks in.  Just because I am distracted with doing doesn't mean that I am actually getting anywhere.

My tendency has been to jump into the gumbo of life and figure it all out amidst the thick roux.  This year, I am marinating in the broth of clarity and self-connection.  2015 was a very tumultuous yet fertile year, so it's time to repattern.  This takes patience and stillness.  I have to remind my busy, fast-moving self that just because nothing appears to be happening on the outside, doesn't mean that things are not shifting within.  When a snake eats, it appears still.  Yet on the inside, it is digesting, so much is occurring.  As a human being, I too need motionless time and space to assimilate life.  From a fixed clear stance, I can move forward with more ease, laser precision, and economy of effort.  Then my favorite well-warn path of manifesting can begin!

As I embark upon a fresh slate of the new year, I am not so interested in what specific resolutions I wish to install in my life.  As much as I love concrete details,  I am already setting myself up to fail by not crossing off all the items on my endless To-Do list.  Instead, I am placing my focus on the intention beneath any resolutions.  That way, the dreaded term "failure" isn't even on the table.  For example, if I want more rest in my life, I can resolve myself to a schedule of daily naps.  But what if I miss one day? Will I then be unsuccessful in my set plan of action?  What if I could have a plethora of ways to gain more rest…like meditating, listening to nourishing music, or going to bed earlier?  This gives me options and more innovative approaches besides that single method.

I grew up in a very creative family, where I inherited the genes for singing, languages, travel, visual arts, and humor.  My father was an avid audiophile.  We had quadrophonic speakers projecting music throughout the house 24/7.  My mother was a graphic artist, from whom we learned to not only draw and intuit composition, but we were encouraged to use our imagination.  We made thoughtful gifts, rather than to just buy them.

I still appreciate being a creator, and not just a consumer.  I love to make something out of nothing, whether a yummy meal, a dark comedic film, a connection in a different culture, or a yoga workshop about how we are rewriting our own narrative each time we step off the yoga mat and back into the world.  For the new year, I prefer to manifest qualities of being, rather than just being productive in completing a chore with a finite end.  

The strategies we choose are designed for survival.  And at any given moment, we have met and unmet needs, even within an inhale and exhale.  This is the chaotic dance of life that keeps us going.  So shift your depth of field and look not to the tasks at hand, but rather keep on your eye on the more profound desires below the surface.  Besides the basics of food and shelter, how will you feed your need for Trust, Self-expression, Adventure, Intimacy, or Contribution, to name a few?  One tactic is just one way.  What if you had several hundred game plans to get your human longings met?  What a grand design you could manifest in 2016!


Happy New Year!