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Good for you!

Marie-Eve Boudreault, Writer

Zen Journey Blog Becomes a Journal starting a new marie-eve boudreault author blog facebook twitter

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
― My favorite Mahatma Gandhi quote

Some days, no matter how hard we try, we can’t stir our life the way our ego would want it. And I’m growing to believe it’s a good thing.

I’ve been blogging for nearly 5 years, and signs show me now is the time for new.

The Zen Journey blog some of you knew had a major hack, so it was [first frustrating, then] easier to start anew than continue on the old. It’s a lesson on the impermanence of things. We can pour our hearts out into our projects, and we will all lose them someday. At this point, it’s a question of attitude, of going back to our core, following our hearts in our actions, and deciding to be happy in the here and now no matter what tomorrow is made of.

At the same…

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My son received the signed baseball from Stephanie Izard yesterday, Friday, 8-5-2011. Not sure when Steph signed the baseball, but consider the following:

–As of Friday midnight, the Cubs have won 6 straight games

–The streak began with a victory over the Cardinals on 7-31 (sorry about that Cardinal Nation)

Just saying…..

Funny how things work out, almost as if everything is in alignment. We just returned from a week’s vacation in Chicago. Our son, Ry, is an aspiring chef. He will graduate early this December with a bachelor’s degree and then wishes to attend culinary school. We planned our vacation partly so Ry could check out Cordon Bleu in Chicago. Ry is also a baseball nut and a bicycle nerd, so Chicago sounded like a good match.

Early on I bought tickets for the Cubs/Phillies game on Tuesday night. We also had a copy of Chicago Magazine listing the best of the new restaurants. Obviously, the aspiring chef was put in charge of choosing restaurants, and Ry identified a “Girl and the Goat” as a must do. I only wish he had thought of making reservations at the time!

On Monday morning, we made a personal appearance at GATG seeking reservations during our stay. We were politely informed that the restaurant was booked solid for the week but they did accept walk-ins every now and then as tables became available. Not being especially fond of waiting in line, we accepted the bad news and went off in search of other Chicago culinary delights.

Tuesday night was reserved for the Cubs game. And lo and behold, Stephanie Izard, the Girl of “Girl and the Goat”, the chef and owner, the Iron Chef champion, was the special guest who led the crowd in singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”. My son recognized her name instantly and couldn’t believe it! My wife and I began to think, “This is a sign; this must be some kind of sign…..”

With renewed confidence, we planned a second visit to GATG. This time, we would also bring a baseball and ask Stephanie to sign it. Not only might we get her autograph, but it would give us an edge in reserving a table for dinner!

Late Thursday afternoon we arrived at GATG. The restaurant was packed, and the bar was already overflowing with people waiting and hoping to get a table.  This would be difficult, and for a few minutes – er seconds – I felt a little guilty about having a baseball in my pocket. Was it a bribe of sorts? Was I trying to impress Stephanie? Myself? My family?

Nahhhh, I was just being me – trying to be clever. I approached the reservation desk and presented the bait – er, the ball. But Stephanie had left just 10 minutes earlier and would be out of town the rest of the week. There would be no ball signing tonight; no special pictures with Stephanie and the family; no chef’s table in the restaurant; no Dad saves the day and the world is a better place to live in!

Ah well…..my wife and I took this as another sign, “We will just have to come back to Chicago and dine at GATG some other time; maybe this means Ry will go to culinary school in Chicago?”

When we returned home, I contacted Stephanie via the Internet and relayed the story. She is now awaiting a package from us with the baseball to sign. I have the ball neatly placed in a box, addressed, and ready to mail.

But this presents quite a dilemma for a St. Louis Cardinals fan. If the chef/owner of the “Girl and the Goat”, an upscale trendy restaurant in Chicago, returns a signed baseball to a Cardinals fan, will the curse of the Goat be lifted forever? Will the Cubs win the World Series? Is this all it takes?

The fate of the Cubs rests with Stephanie, me, and the United States Postal Service.

I thought long and hard about it. Forgive me Cardinals fans – I dropped the baseball in the mail to Stephanie this morning.

Tag USPS……it’s up to you and Stephanie!

I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been spending time on several projects including working on my chops on the double bass. A few days ago, I was reading an article about soloing on double bass and ran across some comments from Jason Sypher, bassist extrodinare, that immediately made me think about the mental benefits of Kundalini. I’ve long thought that musicians should take Yoga classes for the relaxation and physical benefits – in fact, classes could be geared toward musicians to help them with posture, breathing, and stamina while performing. Jason’s comments below steered me in another complimentary area with Kundalini and music – that of becoming the fearless warrior while soloing.

Also try a bit of soloing by the seat of your pants, totally “by ear”. Open your ears wide, breathe, and start playing. When you combine that “open/listening/fearless” way of playing with a sense of moving tonal centers (rather than the cumbersome “chord to chord” thinking) you’ll find that you hit more than you miss and, eventually lose the fear of “missing” at all. In my experience this is the best way to hear your own voice and develop your sound…..Jason Sypher

Here’s a call to Yoga enthusiasts and musicians. Are there any special combination of kriyas and mantras that musicians can use to help develop this open/listening/fearless way of performing music? Are there chants/kirtans that can reinforce the linear approach to music as Jason describes in “moving tonal centers”? As a musician, are there regular routines you use to help you reach this state of mind?

BTW, do yourself a favor and check-out some of Jason’s work on YouTube and with various groups. He’ll make your socks roll down and roll back up again!

Nothing’s quite like a mid-March trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and Oaklawn Park – other than a trip in April when the dogwoods are in full bloom. On the same day as our wedding anniversary, a date that has awarded us in previous racing trips, Barbara and I, along with a number of gambling-starved friends, headed west for the horse racing, hot baths, and massages. (I usually pass on the later two and find my way to a local bar to soak up some gin and tonic. Something about waiting in line with naked men just makes me cough…….)

As usual, I had prepared and looked the part. My sleek cognac jacket concealed the results of my pre-race analysis. No bulky racing news papers under this dude’s arm. No cheap tip sheets in my back pocket. No one could possibly mistake me for anything other than a middle-aged, sharp dressed, wannabe, professional gambler in search of a gin and tonic.

My pre-race analysis had suggested that I wager my full day’s allowance on the number three horse in the sixth race should the odds be at 4 to 1 or higher. One of my favorite jockeys, Calvin Borel, would be riding and guiding the horse through the pack to the finish line. There was lots of buzz around Hot Springs about Borel riding Rachel Alexandra in an upcoming race at Oaklawn against rival Zenyatta. I felt confident. This would be the best bet of the day. Dinner on me tonight!

I thoroughly enjoyed the first three races, spending much of that time catching up with friends, sharing a corned beef sandwich, and soaking up a gin and tonic or two. Before the beginning of the fourth race, I decided to mosey over to paddock to get a close look at the horses, and to see if I could tune-in to any energies the horses, trainers, or jockeys might be sending.  A very fortunate visit was to await me.

To be continued…….

My 18 year old daughter wants to have a party next week and invite some boys. Barbara and I said “Sure, instead of a Toga Party, we’ll have a Yoga Party. Invite them over at sunset, and we’ll do sun salutations, chants, and such. I’ll bill myself as ‘Big Daddy Down Dog’. We’ll burn candles and incense in the backyard! The neighbors will call the cops thinking something illegal and perverted is happening in Cordova. The cops will come and join us in final relaxation. We’ll film it all and turn it into a documentary.”

My daughter is stunned. She is used to this sort of thing from us, but at the same time she’s a bit afraid that we’re totally serious. And if we are, what a hoot!

Every since I started attending Vinyasa Yoga four years ago and more recently Kundalini Yoga, I’ve been real curious about the music I hear in class. As a musician, I notice that my flows and breathing naturally align with the rhythms of the music. I adjust as necessary – speeding up – slowing down – doubling the pace – whatever makes me feel that I am in sync with the music. I do not know if every student does the same or feels the need to adjust. In fact, when I play music before a live audience, I’m always amazed at the number of dancers who appear to have no awareness of the beat, whether the upbeat, the downbeat, or somewhere in the middle?

Many questions come to mind – How does the instructor select the music? Does the instructor choose music based on a particular set of criteria? Does the music selection affect the way a student relates to the instructor? Do instructors adjust music based on class experience levels? Does the music selection support an overall air or feeling?

Here’s a call-out to Yoga Instructors across the country.  Let’s take a stroll along this path.  What’s the scoop?

I know placing bets at the horse track may not seem to fit within the scope of this Blog, but if you read along you’ll find out that it is quite relevant. Connections abound. As I plan my annual Spring pilgrimages, I’ll fill you in on what strategies you may want to consider. And even if you don’t win, you’ll feel like a winner! A few items we’ll discuss:

* Preparation * Attire * What to eat at the Track * Mojo * Energy Spots * Confidence * What the Racing Form Won’t Tell You * Tipping * Jockeys * The $50 Window * and more!

Preparation is crucial. The first questions to ask yourself are what is my plan and how will I know if I’ve been successful. If you are going with the idea of betting on several races, then you are going for fun and not to win – which is fine – but recognize that the odds say you will lose money. If you are going because you have prepared, are focused on only one or two races, and you have defined success, you are headed in the right direction.

Preparation means knowing which race you are going to follow and why. Have you seen this horse race before? Is the horse moving up or down in class? Has the horse raced at this track in the past 30 days? Does the horse race better on grass or dirt? Has the rider changed? Is the horse coming off of an injury? Is the horse carrying more or less weight? What do you “sense” that makes the horse attractive for a wager? I cannot tell you what criteria to consider, or which are more important – that’s for you to decide. Just tune in to your feelings.

Regardless of your answers to the questions above, come to the track with a plan and a specific race or two in mind. Are you planning on betting on this race or only observing? If you are likely to wager a bet, decide the amount before you go to the track. Determine the odds that would slide the wager to favorable or unfavorable. If you place a wager, bet the horse to “win” or do not place a bet. If you do not sense that you have selected a horse that will win, why place any wager at all?

Success may be that the odds were not favorable for you to place a wager. However, you had an overwhelming feeling to place the bet. Whether you won the wager or not, you tuned in to your feelings. We will loop this issue back in when we discuss confidence.

Attire is an important decision for me whether I’m playing music, exercising, or going out on a hot date with my wife. It’s not that I dress to impress anyone – other than my wife on James Bond nights – but rather that I need to feel comfortable and efficiently dressed in order to stay focused on the task at hand. For the horse track, this means casual comfort with lots of pockets. I prefer jeans, with a white shirt, and a black or kakhi sports jacket. I feel good whether seated inside, standing outside against the rail, hanging around the Paddock, or drinking a martini in an inside bar. I fill the jacket pockets with two pens and my visual aids – both sun readers and clear reading glasses, and something to wipe the crud off the lenses. I look pretty good for me, and I’m beginning to feel confident about winning.

Deciding what to eat at the track is a delightful challenge. For me, a head first dive into a dozen fresh oysters on the half shell with lots of lemon and horseradish (naturally) just can’t be beat. If there’s a fried oyster poor boy or salad in the house, I’ll make this part of the daily double. If I feel like some red meat and a visit to TUMS City, I’ve got to find a corned beef or reuben sandwich. Regardless of what you eat, it just tastes better at the track. The fresh air and smells, the sounds, and the excitement of the crowd, all contribute to a heightened awareness of the senses.

More to follow…..

This is the first of a several posts I hope to publish on Waiting In Line. I have had much experience in this area over the years, and I am still looking for better ways to learn and grow while waiting in line.

Part I – The Early Years

I admit it, I hate to wait in line. Even as a young kid, I associated waiting in line with fear of the unknown. I did not like waiting in line to see Santa when I was seven years old. I had successfully avoided personal contacts with him before – why did I need to talk to him now, face to face in Lowenstein’s Department Store, with my mother lurking in the background? I was worried that he knew about the stink bomb I had made in Andy’s back yard. And the dart I threw at my brother that stuck in his rear. And the cats that had parachuted from the roof of our house. I waited and rehearsed my lines. I wondered – was anyone else in on this caper? Was my run of great Christmas Day experiences about to end?

When I was 10 years old, Dr. Campbell, DDS, found a record number of cavities in my mouth. So many that my parents had to take out a second mortgage. I spent many hours in his office that summer watching the lava lamp and listening to cheesy Tijuana Brass numbers on the radio. All of the appointments were scheduled in the afternoons when I would have been playing baseball. I can still smell the Lava Soap in the rest room and hear the high whine of the drill. I always thought the left over pieces of Lava made their way into Dr. Campbell’s tooth cleaning powder.

In 1969, I stood in line with 50 or so teenage males to register for the draft. I thought it odd that we were completely naked and everyone was coughing as the military doctors walked the line. I silently practiced a low, manly, throaty cough. And when the Chief Doctor stood before me, and I was told to turn my head to the right and cough, I let out a violent thunderous roar that could have awakened Mothra and Godzilla from their deep monster sleep. I don’t know who was more surprised – me, or the Chief Doctor. Regardless, I was spared from the “big squeeze”.

In the role of the Instructor, you set the stage, the tempo, the rhythm of the class, the overall feel. In that sense, are you like the artistic director and the lead actor in a live theatrical performance?