Mother by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

When I told my mother

I wanted to be a veterinarian

when I grew up, she told me

that vets kill puppies and kittens

and stick needles into horses

and bunnies with cancer.

When I told my mother

I wanted to be a zoo-keeper

when I grew up, she told me

that animals in captivity

are still wild animals, and hence

could attack even the friendliest

of caretakers, usually tearing them

to shreds and eating their remains.

You see, my mum and I

had a lot of time to talk

about these things: I was the last

of the Aptowicz brood.

Always too young and too small

to go on the backpacking trips

and nature hikes that formed

my brother and sister: the scientists.

Mum never liked my career choices much,

but I knew I was on the right track

when one day, over a bowl of alphabet soup,

I asked her:

Hey Mum,

how come there are such things 

as bad words?

And she said:

Honey,

there is no such things

as a “bad word.”

Only words that aren’t 

appropriate for all situations.

For instance,

you should never say

the word “shit”

in front of a nun.

You see, she gave me that:

she gave me the gift of words;

she gave me the power of words,

and I never considered it a privilege.

But my mum grew up in a time

when words were being redefined,

words like gender, power, class,

and revolution.

So though she was top of her class,

editor of the school literary magazine,

editor of the school newspaper,

the National Merit Scholar with

the three-newspaper-a-day habit,

she still had to hear them tell her:

The scholarship

is not going to be for English

If you want to go to college at all,

it’s going to have to be for science.

So my mother, the biologist,

met my father, the chemical engineer,

and together they produced three beautiful kids,

one of which my mum would make sure

wouldn’t feel the burn she was forced to feel.

People always ask me

why I make such a big deal

correcting them, saying:

No, it’s not

Cristin Aptowicz.

It’s Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz.

It’s just one word, they say,

it shouldn’t make that much difference.

But I know the differences words make.

It is a gift my mother gave me.

And I honour her

every time I put pen to paper,

every time I put word to lip,

and every time I sign my name,

My mother says she’d never trade

any of us kids in for a novel, or

a job at the New York Times,

though the way we behave sometimes,

she says she’d consider it.

But I know she’s only joking,

because I have never seen her

look so proud, or smile so bright,

as when I finally told her

what I wanted to do,

and she said:

You know what, honey?

I think

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

is the perfect name

for a writer.

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Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.   

I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.   

I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.

I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.   

’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

my inbox killed my darlings

She hurtles after him. A single neon street lamp barely reveals the aftermath of a road attacked by storm clouds.Wind bellowing through her hair. Full flight beneath her feet. Anticipation burning in her chest. Stealth glowing behind her cat eyes.

My eyes flutter open.

She is gaining on him.

Roll over.

His hair slicked with sweat.

iPhone reads 4:56am. Unplug it.

His heart roars.

Roll over beneath the covers.

He’s losing ground.

Swipe screen.

And still, he runs. Crying out to his thighs, his biceps, his blood to CUT JUMP MOVE NOW! But –

Flashing number seven, hovering over my mailbox icon.

But he –

Nibbling rodents of unusual sizes: Qantas Travel and AirBnB spam-mites.

Dear Erin, Have you renewed your subscription to…DELETE; Dear Erin, Unfortunately, Michael has revoked his application but the good news is that mould would like to continue squatting…NEXT; Hi Erin! This incredible raw food offer expires…NOW.

Dear Alison, Do you think Mr Mould would consider signing a five to ten year lease? Fuck knows he’s in arrears as it is. Might as well grow some balls while he’s at it. Actually stake his claim to that shoebox of steaming green gunge that we call ‘My Asset of Intelligent Potential Wealth’ and see if we can take him for everything he’s got.

BACKSPACE BACKSPACE BACKSPACE SELECT ALL DELETE

Ooh…hang on…

It’s that petulant child, LinkdIn. (LinkDin? LINKDin?)

Do you know this guy?

I dunno – do I?

He thinks he knows you.

Aren’t you supposed to tell me this stuff?

He’s been looking at your profile.

Ok. Interesting. Young?

Your age.

Handsome?

Naturally.

Industry?

Film.

Come on… ‘Freelance’?! Does that really count?

He knows you’ve looked at his profile now.

Shit. Fuck you, linkdin.

Wait –

Does that make me more or less interesting? My profile has nothing on it. Why are all these strangers asking to ‘connect’ with me and my nothingness?

I should update my profile.

Make it worth their while.

Hey. When did she become a ‘Copywriter’?

I should apply for that job.

Make my life worth my while.

I can’t really be bothered though.

Oh dear God…

Oh…holy fuck.

FUCK YOU LINKDIN

How the fuck do I spell that anyway?! (I should check before I post this…should I post this?)

SHUT UP! Look!

Oh no…no no no no no…NO

Cat Girl and Lion Heart Boy lie splattered across the highway of my mind.

What have I done?!

A horrific homicide of dreams haemorrhaging into the dark, intangible interweb.

But I only took my eyes off them for a moment!

That’s all it takes.

Help! Somebody?! Anybody?! Please!! Help me!

An ambulance wails a distant cry.

It pierces my heart.

Yes! Yes! Oh, thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Come! Quickly!

It’s coming closer…

Hurry!!

But it’s too late.

No!

I know it.

No! No! No…oh, no…

I stand over them for that short instant, watching the light drain out from behind their eyes. Almost as fast as they came into being, they are gone again.

Man…

Life is so short. So unfair.

My poor darlings…

A heavy breath falls out of my nostrils.

Well…

iPhone reads 4:58am.

I’m up now.

Plug it in.

I should make the most of it.

Roll over.

Maybe go for a run.

Eyes flitter and close.

But sleep never comes.

cut. reset for the wide

And if there is a trapdoor will it lead me into the deep, winding corridors of an underground fairground?
Where aluminium horses dance in circles, and mouths agape on clown faces that gulp at the sweet scent of soft pink fairy floss. And tall, tall men walk in wide, wide shoes and short, fat women rise high above on skyscraper stilts and smile down upon us with a secret in their soul and a stench in their chests. Where the taste of cheap bourbon floats on our taste buds as we swim through lion-hearts and snickering monkey minds, hand in hand under a sea of stars. A dangling killer python swinging recklessly beside me, haunting me with its’ neon sugar striped rage. Your heart, a thunderous city of blood and sweat and tears crashing against the distant sound of waves. But our own secret lies with that snake and heart and sea as they lie in wait, poised to lasso any freak or fool who dares to take us down. And so we fearlessly take our seat atop the penny-farthing wheel of life and cycle through the dawn of ages.

Is that where we will be?

Or if it’s not in a fairground, can it be a long walk down to that rocky shore, beneath the rollicking waves and into our seabed upon the ocean floor?
Where we can leave this airborne world behind for our deep sea farming destinies, growing great muscles of courage that form calluses and mould into hard shells upon the rock face of our love.
And when the fishermen come to carve our love away and feast upon their hard earned cash, we’ll flex and bend with indulgent supply, and watch as their souls start to burn with that beautiful aphrodisiac of delight.

Or are you on that speeding train holding out your hand as I slowly lose ground, my legs burning, my chest heaving my bones, my skin, my heart forwards,
Until you charmingly adorn the drivers cap and make proud racket with bursts of steam and hooting laughter so loud that it calls all the world to a halt?

Or is that you in disguise upon that small throne in the corner of the dark, wooden coffee shop, nose sniffing the pages of a novel, neck deep in the mist of another world entirely? If I dive into that paper bound locket and poke my head out from the other side will your eyes see for the first time that treasure chest of adventures that you went searching for? Will we still act surprised when the trees between those pages melt back into the earth, flesh falls away from bones and the sun stands still just long enough to dissolve that mirror between us into a pane of glass, so that we can finally stand face to face with the truth?

I would search the ends of the earth for you and leave no stone or wave or fish or wheel or star or page unturned.

But love…?

What if I just missed you for the rest of my days?

Where would I be then?

yoga flash mob 3pm today!

Very excited to be a part of this flash mob! While the adults get hot and sweaty with some power yoga, I’ll be having lots of yoga fun and games with the kids. Thank goodness London has put on a brilliant day for it, so if you’re around grab your mat (and your kids) and come along!

SB and Lumi poster6

project mind: journey to the core

“The physical body is not only a temple for our soul, but the means by which we embark on the inward journey toward the core.”

BKS Iyengar, 14 December 1918 – 20 August 2014

This is week three of project mind. Each week, I select an image or an idea to focus my daily meditation practice, inspired by this article in the Huffington Post, titled Everything Changed When I Started Meditating Every Day.

BKS Iyengar: Best of

“We were just coming out of the ’60s change-your-consciousness thing, and many of us were in our heads, and wanting to meditate, and reach Samadhi,” or enlightenment, Patricia Walden, a longtime student of Mr. Iyengar’s, said in an interview in 2000. “Iyengar was, like, ‘Stand on your feet. Feel your feet.’ He was so practical. His famous quote was, ‘How can you know God if you don’t know your big toe?’ ”

Upon reading Patricia’s comments in this New York Times article, a burst of lightness giggled its way out of my body. What fabulous simplicity, and yet enormous profundity. I quickly realised these are also the exact ingredients that draw me to working with children. Iyengar’s journey with yoga started when he was a very young, very ill little boy. Little did he know at the time that he would grow into one of the great fathers of yoga of the modern world by taking this ancient practice to the west. Iyengar’s system of yoga opened up the practice to anyone and everyone. Although he was insistent with his students about perfecting poses through principles of alignment, earning him a reputation as a particularly stern teacher, he was also a pioneer of therapeutic yoga. He designed special exercises and equipment, like blocks and straps, for pupils struggling with postures or who suffered physical problems or disabilities.

As a student, Iyengar studied anatomy, physiology and psychology which invariably showed up in his work as a teacher. I have selected some of my favourite quotes that have given me insight about yoga and about life. Even with his passing, Iyengar’s legacy will continue to reverberate for many years to come. And for that I am ever grateful.

As you found happiness in life, now see your majesty in death. Namaste.

IMG_0048.JPG

Iyengar on yoga…

“Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.”

“In order to find out how to reveal our innermost Being, the sages explored the various sheaths of existence, starting from body and progressing through mind and intelligence, and ultimately to the soul. The yogic journey guides us from our periphery, the body, to the center of our being, the soul. The aim is to integrate the various layers so that the inner divinity shines out as through clear glass.” – Light on Life

“Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.” ― Light on Life

“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open.”

“As breath stills our mind, our energies are free to unhook from the senses and bend inward.” ― Light on Life

“Yoga allows you to rediscover a sense of wholeness in your life, where you do not feel like you are constantly trying to fit broken pieces together.” ― Light on Life

“It is through your body that you realize you are a spark of divinity.”

Iyengar on life…

“Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be.”

“Before peace between the nations we have to find peace inside that small nation which is our own being”.

“As animals, we walk the earth. As bearers of divine essence, we are among the stars. As human beings, we are caught in the middle, seeking to reconcile the paradox of how to make our way upon earth while striving for something more permanent and more profound.” ― Light on Life

“One’s spiritual realization lies in none other than how one walks among and interacts with one’s fellow beings.” ― Light on Life

“You must purge yourself before finding faults in others.
When you see a mistake in somebody else, try to find if you are making the same mistake.
This is the way to take judgment and to turn it into improvement.
Do not look at others’ bodies with envy or with superiority.
All people are born with different constitutions.
Never compare with others.
Each one’s capacities are a function of his or her internal strength.
Know your capacities and continually improve upon them.” ― Light on Life