Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fail to plan...plan to fail.

I am the first person to admit that I am a dreadful planner. I have no idea what I need to do, where I need to go, and who I'm going to disappoint. The fact is, I tend to be a spontaneous person. I hate making reservations because it feels like a albatross laden commitment. I adore 'just happening' upon an unknown-until-now restaurant. There is something magical about the power of synchronicity that never fails to excite me. Some of the most extraordinary experiences I've had have been ones that have just been allowed to unfold on their own. I've met wonderful people, dove into brand new experiences (for which I had no time to become nervous) and experienced adventures without any sense of preparation of apprehension. I marvel at the twists and turns my paths will take, if I am open to any possibility.

While I think of myself as a free spirit, I certainly don't appear that way to others. I have a horrible feeling that, where I see a joie de vivre, others may see a carelessness. When I envision myself as extroverted and spontaneous, others may see as foolhardy and irresponsible. I have been open to exceptional adventures, simply by being in the right place at a specific moment. But, I have let others down. I have forgotten appointments, I have spaced out commitments and I have been impetuous when caution was merited. I have been disorganized, while trying to explain that my methods might "appear" to be unstructured but that there is order within the chaos. Few people actually buy that malarkey from me....and those are very close to me will call me on my lack of prior planning.
For the most part, I truly want to be more organized. I would prefer not to disappoint anyone I care about. I would love to know where every important item is when I need it. I would like to have a yearly calendar that I simply update every December for the following year. Numerous friends have tried to 'teach me' their systems but their methodology just gets lost in my creative process (otherwise known as laziness). I like to believe that I have an artistic temperament and that I need a certain amount of chaos to flourish for me to see the larger picture. I feel stifled when in the presence of someone overly regimented....such as the Queen of Order herself: Bree Van DeCamp from "Desperate Housewives". One area I find fascinating, as well as entertaining, about Bree is that the more she pulls in the reins of her scheduled perfection, the more her life begins to unravel. While I enjoy using that extreme as an example, I believe that deep down, I have a fear of the very same thing happening to me: if I structure my life, I will stifle myself and everything for which I'm responsible will fall apart.

The single area in which I have discovered the ideal balance is in my yoga classes. I teach 4 to 5 classes per week. Because I teach Ashtanga Yoga, I have created a rudimentary outline for the form the classes will take. My students find this to be extremely comforting because they are able to expect what general poses will come next. This outline also allows for a few spaces in which to 'add in' some new asanas to try. While I try to offer at least 4 new poses each month, these experimental times are still 'scheduled' within the framework of the traditions of our class. My students are able to prepare for a time to try poses that are far more challenging during these blocks, or far more restorative. We allow ourselves to be open to the possibilities that these new asanas will offer us, individually and as a group. There are some that are more successful than successful that I will continue to develop our course design with these new poses to become a regular part of our day. There are others that bomb miserably, and all of us can't wait to be done with them forever.

I have begun to set more realistic goals for myself. I realize that I will never be a color coded system Mom. I may still lose track of an important paper or two. I will overlook a project I had been sure I'd get to. But, I plan on attacking my firm commitments more immediately. I believe that the sooner I am able to finish an assignment, the more quickly I will have to move onto the next train of thought I'm being pulled towards. By giving myself the idea of "no more procrastination", I may just be able to fulfill my responsibilities, while still having time to drift towards an art exhibit I was delighted to discover. Who knows? A more proactive me may still retain the same light heart.

I just hope I can remember where I left my shoes because I'm eager to get started.

Is life not a hundred times too short for us to stifle ourselves. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wedding Belle Blues

My 15 year old daughter and I have fallen in love with a television show. TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress" is a journey with several women, each of whom is on a quest for the perfect wedding gown. Some of these brides will choose a slinky, sexy number. Others will want to look like a fairy princess, with yards and yards of train in the gown. Some brides will be contemporary, modern and simply chic, while others will want to evoke an old fashioned air of womanly loveliness. To find dresses to fit each of these women's taste and appeal, they head to Kleinfeld in New York, and try on a variety of gowns. There are more than 30 bridal consultants working at Kleinfeld, and each one of these "happiness specialists" may meet with upwards of a dozen clients per day. What always impresses me about these consultants is their ability to find what the bride dreams of in a gown, and then does her best to make that dream come true. Sometimes this means the consultants will suggest gowns that are of a different style, or more often, a different price range, than the bride came in desiring. This usually has positive results. The brides will be utterly overcome at seeing themselves as their "dream selves" emerge in the mirror's reflection. The show is pure escapist fantasy, but it's also great fun, watching brides find the dress that will make them feel the most beautiful.

There are other episodes that make me very sad. Kleinfeld only carries the most elegant in their selection of bridal gowns. I do have to admit that these are stunning examples of art. Yet, I'm overwhelmed by the prices on most of these dresses. Please do not misunderstand my intent: I am not criticizing the makers of these gowns, especially since an enormous amount of time and effort are necessary to create each magnificent piece. Still, I wonder about spending $30,000 on one it really necessary? The vast majority of brides are not J-Lo. They do not have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on their dream gown. And so, they go into debt in order to pay for a dress that they're positive will make them the most elegant bride in order to guarantee the happiest start to their marriages.

Little girls dream of wearing a long white dress, walking down the aisle on their fathers' arms, and hosting a lavish party. These are wonderful dreams that most of us have had. I can vividly remember dancing around with a white pillowcase on my head, carrying a potted fern, and pretending to walk up the aisle. These are magical ways that many girls use their imagination. Still, when that imagination runs wild, girls grow up and truly believe that without a gown by Vera Wang, or Pnina Tornai, their weddings, let alone their marriages, are doomed. I find this both immeasurably sad and deeply disconcerting. A wedding should be a beautiful celebration of the joining together of two lives. It shouldn't have to be a method of bankrupting a bride or her family just to have to particular look.

One of the nicest weddings I've ever attended was that of my parents. I was in the unusual position of being their flower girl. My mom bought her dress (and mine) off the rack in New York, and we didn't hear the words 'wedding consultant' once. My father had the food delivered from his business, and it was simple and elegant. Music was provided by family and friends and the focus on the outdoor picnic in our own yard was casual and joyful. Since few children can be in their parents' weddings, I was fortunate to be with them as they took their vows before their guests. Although they had been together for a number of years before their wedding, this public declaration of their commitment stayed with me all of my life. I never viewed a wedding as an end, but rather of a continuation of a life already shared, and a promise to be there for another person, regardless of the paths life would take. My parents created a lovely wedding for my husband and me 22 years ago, and I wouldn't have changed a thing. My mother made my gown, my father set a budget, and we created just as special a day for me to begin my married life, as they had created for themselves 20 years before. At no time did I feel short changed that I missed out on wearing a big name. I wore a stunning gown, stitched with love for over a year, and was far more proud to wear a "Mama" original, than one that had been reproduced hundreds of times. The emphasis on our wedding was on our life together, not on the extravaganza itself. I feel incredibly blessed to have been a lifelong witness to what a true marriage partnership looks like. I also feel honored to have been my parents' guest of honor at their wedding.

I still enjoy watching wedding shows on television. "Bridezilla" makes me want to cringe and run away at the horror of some women's dreadful behavior. "Whose Wedding is it Anyway?" takes me into the fast paced world of a wedding consultant. Most of all, "Say Yes to the Dress" is simply great fun in a junky magazine sort of way. These programs are entertaining. They're not great art, but they don't need to be. I just hope the brides watching the programs understand that a wedding is far more than a dress...and a marriage is far more than a color scheme. Entertainment, imagination and daydreaming are delightful pastimes. They help us to dream big, to set goals and to create lives for ourselves. We just have to realize the method of how we make those dreams come true for ourselves says a great deal about our character. We need to set our intention to create the spirit inside our inner bride that will match our beautiful gowns. When we can behave the way in which we want to reflect, we'll have a much better chance of a successful marriage, than if we see our dresses as the only way to achieve beauty. We need to learn to 'act as we dress' and create lasting beauty that will far outreach our wedding day.

Women are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only when there is a light from within. ~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross