Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fun Facts

Instead of trying to summarize my entire spiritual and physical (emotional / mental / energetic!) journey into YOGA, here are a few, quick FUN FACTS I learned this month during my intensive training:

1. The definition of YOGA: UNION / to YOKE
To yoke an animal means to harness it, control it, work with it.
The mind flutters about, all the time. Millions of thoughts churn in our exhausted brains on a daily basis. To study yoga is to stop the churning of the mind. 

2. The yogic journey is towards your Purusha (SOUL / HIGHER SELF). 
Take an empty jelly jar and place it upside down on the floor. You are the jelly jar. The space inside the jelly jar is your Purusha. The space outside the jar is the Divine (Brahma, God, the cosmos etc etc). The study of yoga allows us to purify and clarify our body/mind, so that we might see our Purusha / Higher Self more easily and clearly -- enlightenment happens when the jar lifts off the floor completely and our soul becomes one with it's source.

3. We all have Samskara (habitual patterns in mind/body/lifestyle). Our duty is to become aware of these habitual patterns and eventually detach ourselves from them, to let them fall away.

5. According to Ayurveda, we all have a dominant DOSHA (are you quick to anger? get jealous? or have trouble committing? This is not YOU, this is your DOSHA out of balance!) An imbalanced dosha is the cause of disease! Want to know your dosha? Take the quiz:

4. Most of us have very shallow breath.  We breathe into our chests and give short exhales. This breath pattern signals the body to signal to our brain that we are in a "Flight or Flight" situation. PANIC! So, if find yourself at 4am, unable to sleep and a slave to your restless mind: Reach your hands over your head. Then breathe normally. With your arms over head, your inhales go straight to your belly. This will enable your body to tell your brain that you are calm and there is no reason for panic (because really, there is no reason to panic at 4am in bed!). Before you realize you feel better you'll probably be asleep.

On that note, here's the skeleton who teaches me anatomy on Sunday afternoons. 
He's in Shivasana (Corpse Pose):


Monday, September 10, 2012

I have thought so often in the past few weeks- "oh, I'll write about that in Daily Dance" and then all that inspiration gets bottle-necked and I end up not writing at all.  These are fantastic problems, I realize.
A few of my inspirations: 
My hour-long talk with Laurie on her birthday-- I FELT like I was on the beach with her -  after which she sent me pics of her aglow under the BLUE MOON. HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAURIE, you beautiful, magical woman - I love you.

Visiting my Muti in Ocean City and resting my head on her body and feeling safe, so safe and for the first time in my life, able to hold a conversation about having kids... with my mother... and my husband... in the same room.  I'm sorry if this seems normal to the rest of you, but it blows my mind. Here's a pic of me, mama (blonde super model in the middle), Jack and aunt and uncle on the stormy jersey shore:
The big news that I am actually reporting on? I started Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) this past weekend. And Oooooooooooh I'm diggin' it. I've never had the experience of being such an eager student. Really, I'm so happy to learn yoga--- to learn how to feel right now, all the time- - this is the master lesson, this is the goal.
And one of the homework assignments that I immediately had major resistance to (had? bah! HAVE) -- is developing a "home practice." This means, among the dust bunnies and distractions of my apartment, I'm supposed to sit myself down and lead myself through yoga, daily.
As a ceremonial preparation, I was asked by my teachers to create an alter that would inspire and remind me to return to the mat. Here it is (features mama, Maddie, Jack, Mount Joy, 2 inspirational books, the Dancing Shiva that I got from Nick and of course, my favorite flower).

Tomorrow morning I begin my practice. Why is something so simple, so difficult? I imagine because in a class, it's easier because a teacher is taking responsibility as well as the fact that I feel other people can SEE ME practicing. 
In the age of facebook and twitter, if no one sees me, is it real? 
I have a feeling, if I commit to the home practice, this question will seem like a joke to me in the not-too-distant future. Please God, Divine Mother, don't make it too distant!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Birthday Blog Entry

"Happy Birthday to youuuu Happy Birthday to yooouuuu Happy Biiiirthday dear katieeee...."
Today I keep hearing my Grandmom Jackie singing to me, with her bubbly sweet voice. No one sounds like Jackie, I still hear her so clearly.

In honor of my birthday, Jack and I gifted ourselves the morning and went to a nice breakfast, we took a few snap shots:

My mom sent me a birthday box in the mail and in it was an old children's book "The Velveteen Rabbit" -  a copy I received on my 5th birthday (thank you Mrs. Delcarlino!).

I cracked it open and read a conversation between The Velveteen Rabbit, a new toy quickly forgotten on Christmas Day -- and the Skin Horse, the wisest toy in the nursery, tattered from age:

"What is REAL?" asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day.
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse, "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

So I've got another year under my belt and yes, I do feel more Real as I mark another year's passing. I feel deeper in my life. I'm getting to know myself better. And a lot of it has to do with love. Loving myself enough to take care of myself. Loving Jack more and more. Loving New York. Loving my friends and artists in arms. Loving my family and taking the time to visit with them and stay connected. And I'm creating work that is meaningful to me, that I'm willing give patience and perseverance, even when the clouds of doubt surround me.

And sure, some of that elasticity around my eyes is loosening. (You'll never see a grey hair, a girl's got her limits.) But I hope when I'm an old lady, singing a birthday song to my grandchild - my laugh lines will be deep. And my heart will be swollen and open and ready for more.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Neeeeeed the Dough

Impromptu Baking Session for Nana and Pop Pop

In the beginning chapters of The Path of PracticeBri Maya Tiwari talks about rediscovering the ways of your ancestors -- especially the meals they typically prepared.  I don't know about maaaaaany generations ago, but one thing I do recall from my childhood is mom's tollhouse choco chip cookies (hi mom! I tried to get granola in the store, but second guessed it and made them plain!). 

So then the thought beckoned... When was the last time I created something not from this damn computer?!? Sorry. I don't mean damn. My computer, like it or not, one of the biggest tools in my artist tool box. I love you computer (do not even think about misbehaving!!!) 

But dear God, sometimes a girl needs to get her hands dirty in some cookie dough.

And speaking of ancestors, Jack and I have two left... and Jack's Nana is turning 93 this weekend and my Pop Pop has a new apartment. Both of them have a sweet tooth. So I baked a batch. 

Tonight I am a grand daughter. A role I don't usually assume. Feels good! Care packages go out in the morning!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Exploring < Space >


The first pic from NASA's Curiosity

Jack and I have been a little obsessed about space lately -- with the newly found Higgs Boson and those crazy awesome CERN physicists who are smashing particles together in a giant 16 mile, underground Collider. Holy shit?!?

Photo of Large Hadron Collider @ CERN By DENNIS OVERBYE

The newer concept of "space" has struck awe in us. We talk about it a lot: That space is not Nothing (no-thing) but Something (everything??!)! And space is the largest component of our universe. There is soooooooooooooo much more space than there is matter!

We might as well throw out the old science text books (aren't they all going digital anyway?) and tell the students to take a break from science class this year -- we'll get back to them once we investigate what the hell is really going on.

So the scientists of the world are not only saying, "Kate, you are space with a little bit of matter mixed in," but yoga also tells me the same thing!

Yoga creates more space within the physical body (let's go spelunking in those hips!) but more importantly it creates space in the mind. What's in that space between my persistent babbling thoughts? A yogi, I think, would tell me I'm in there.

I am the vast expanse.

Yes please. Sign me up.

I'd like to announce (announce? bah! who's listening? hi mom!!!) that I've signed up for my yoga teacher certification (200 hour training starting in 3 weeks).  Not quite sure if I have any ambition to teach yoga (except to Jack, we do a nightly session on the roof) but what I do want to do is explore that space!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dark Side of the Moon

It's been a very concentrated time over here at Indie City Headquarters, aka - Jack and my Williamsburg pad. Right now, I'm sitting at my desk, reviewing my master Mount Joy To-Do List, which for years now has remained dense, but ever changing and evolving. I've learned that all I have to do is cross things off this list. Every day. A few check marks. Some parts of the list are mandatory and annoying and filled with dread. Others are ideas, avenues I think we should explore. Sometimes I add the name of a new indie movie to my list and I hold myself to attend a screening. Part of what I've recently added onto my Mount Joy list is blogging. Because I'm starting to feel more vocal again - let me explain why:
I'm going to turn around in my chair right now and take a picture of Jack.
Here it is:

In the past year, if you were to question (any day, any month), "I wonder what Katie and Jack are doing right now?" You'd have a 50/50 chance of being correct that some version of the above picture was taking place.
It's been an intense and quiet year. We have taken a look at every angle of our movie, Mount Joy. We have done our best to make enough cash on the side to afford to exist while we continue to hash it all out. Spread it wide, really mold it according to our truest intentions.
A few days ago, Jack pulled his earphones off, turned to me and said, "Can I show you the first 20 minutes again? I changed some stuff."
I sat down beside him (was it the 900th time?) and watch a cut of the new first act, with a new opening. After 20 minutes he paused it and we turned to face each other.
"You did it," I said.
Jack burst into tears. We hugged we cried we whooped for joy.
Mount Joy is going to be great! I feel like shouting it from the mountaintop!
We continue to jump the hurdles and check off the list.
We are close now.
We've shot ourselves through space, been to the dark side of the moon and we're emerging on the other side. We can see you on earth now and we're bringing this baby home.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Shiva Takes a Piece Of Me

The post is not for the faint of heart. AKA: Me. 

I am apparently the "faint of heart" kind of gal...


Yesterday afternoon, I arrived home from yoga pretty sweaty so I turned on the air conditioning and as I tried to shut the window, I slammed my hand onto my dancing shiva statue (pictured above).  
I cradled my right hand, the palm gashed and gushing a fair amount of blood, bright red, oh God I feel dizzy just typing it out...
I managed to get my hand under running water, enough to inspect the cut - it was deep - but it was entirely within the boundaries of a birthmark I have on my hand - a tuft of rough skin that runs from my thumb to my wrist - so there was no pain, miraculously, only blood. Loads of blooooooooooooo 
Get a grip, Kate. Seriously.
I soaked a cotton ball with alcohol and pressed it onto the cut and that's when my vision started to get cloudy.
I knew I had 2 priorities: #1 Get to the couch pronto and #2 Keep the cotton swab pressed onto the gusher.
I must have made it to the couch because that's where I came to.
I had fainted.
And this is where it gets weird.
When I opened my eyes, I sat up, looked around, and had no idea where I was. I didn't recognize anything around me. I didn't know what day it was and I began to panic because the only thing I seemed to be aware of was that I my brain wasn't working.
Then I began hearing the firing of synapses. Very similar to the sounds of the old dial up internet --- My brain was rebooting! 
I realized my hand was cut. The cotton ball lay on the floor. Shiva was the culprit. Jack is at work. My cat's name is Russia. It all came flooding back.
I promptly went to the bed and slept like a rock for 2 hours.
The computer woke me up with a ping. My friend Samantha, who I studied acting at NYU with, was replying within our 10-year strong facebook thread -- I hopped on and we started chatting and soon I disclosed my medical situation. Being a mom, Samantha knows all kinds of stuff that  I simply do not.
Like: wash the cut with soapy warm water to unstick the cotton from the wound (I told you this post was gross!)
As I soaked my hand in a bowl of warm soapy water, my computer continued to ping with attention from my wonderful friend Sam.

"Be Without Fear," Shiva gestures with one of his hands.  And the lotus petal on which he dances is the symbol of the creative forces of the universe.

The Shiva took a bite from my birthmark.
I woke up with no recollection of my life.
And a dear friend helps me tend the wound.

Today my hand is healing and I am being more careful with my actions.
Today I remember not remembering and I remember remembering.
Today I feel like writing again, because for a while there I forgot I have a lot to say.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Only with Stillness Can you Grow Roots

I haven't written in 5 months!

To sum up what turned out to be the best half-year of my life: Mount Joy, our feature film, is officially in the can. We shot for 25 days, spaced out over July and August. And it was heaven.

And to think it all started with Jack and I looking each other in the eye and saying, "We're doing this, no matter what." And then we pulled a random date from thin air: July 9th.
For months we did everything and anything to make it happen and lo and behold (and not too soon), people -- amazingly talented and incredibly wonderful people -- started appearing before us. Whether they be new producing partners, cast, crew or investors... they began to show up and offer themselves to our vision.

And then it was no longer a vision. It was a real event. It started, a year ago, being the heaviest, most impossible thing to carry and with every step, it got lighter and lighter... and once production began, once we were in Pennsylvania, all 30 of us checked into the Travelodge... it became an event of the highest realm. It was bliss. The momentum and collaboration on our set was always present. Sure, we were thrown incredible curve balls -- earthquakes and hurricanes -- but I felt totally safe, never before so alive and unafraid.
With a brilliant team surrounding me, all of us excited to be in charge of something so great and so much fun -- I knew, without a doubt, that we were all on some victory ride. Life was exactly the thing I want it to be, always... it was the reward. I was not a regular person anymore, I was Superwoman.

Then production ended. We came home and unpacked all the articles that surrounded us for weeks: the costumes and props, the receipts, the equipment and enough styrofoam cups until I die....
I promised myself, during the last days of production, when the tingle of fear began to enter my mind -- that once I got back to NYC, I would NOT lose momentum! I would clean out the apartment, file all paperwork immediately, jog 5 miles a day!! I was afraid to go back to being regular... afraid of being in the constant state of wishing to be Super again.

Then, because I am not a pro-jogger but was acting like one, I hurt my ankle. Something about having loose ankles and my tendon being inflamed. So for three weeks, it's been difficult to even walk. So while dealing with regular people stuff -- overdue dentist appointment, prep for 2011 tax season, look for more work so we can pay off debt -- the longing inside me is screaming - "I'm losing momentum! God, WHY are you making me literally SIT here, unable to even move?!?!?!"

And then in yoga yesterday, I heard my teacher say, "only with stillness can you grow roots."

Which makes me think of a tree.
Which makes me think that what I just experienced on the set of our film was the budding of the flower on the tree.
Which reminds me that it's now autumn.
And it's time to sit still and grow deep into what I have no choice but to experience -- winter.

And just knowing this, comforts me. I can slow down. It's necessary.

Jack says, with all the casual confidence in the world, "this is part of it."
There was pre-production /fundraising (hell, agony and incredible breakthroughs) . Then there was production (bliss! drama! collaboration! In the moment!). And now there is post-production (I'll fill this in later, once I live through it). And then there's a fourth and final stage: distribution and festivals.

So I will sit here... with "the goods" mind you -- we shot a beautiful film!!! And I will use my time to give more loving care and attention to our movie... and I can imagine new adventures... Or at least a grande finale for this one.

Because after winter, the tree buds again.

More info on our film:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hot Hot Hot!

Now is when things get interesting.
I began this blog feeling stuck, creatively and professionally. Now, I couldn't feel more opposite... and yet, good ol' resistance is still with me... matter of fact, he's a bit louder and a bit more in my face. He's telling me this time... failure could REALLY sting.... Why is the fear of failing so present, when I can't really name a time when I've ever truly failed?
But that's when we know we're getting warmer, right? Like that game we all played in childhood.... when we're seeking an object and our opponent let's us know how we're doing... how close we are.... cold... cold... and then their volume raises.... as we get closer.... warmer!!! WARMER!!! HOT HOT HOT!!!
So if you haven't heard the big news yet, here it is: Jack and I are in full-on pre-production with our feature film: Mount Joy. We shoot in Lancaster PA starting July 9!
7 weeks!!!!!
Life at the Lewars household is 24/7 movie making. I swear, I never thought anything could be so hard... and so rewarding... and so defeating... and so surprising... and I'll say is again: hard. Some days we literally have to just look at each other and say, "Well today sucked. Today was the worst. Today was a complete rejection." But low and behold the next day yields rewards and the wind is at our backs and something seemingly impossible falls into place. We're building an empire. The to-do list is longer than our brains can imagine it is... only time will tell how many things have to be done in order to bring this project onto it's feet. And every night, when the resistance is shouting, whispering and otherwise convincing me that I can't possibly... that it's too much to try... then I have trained myself to say, "I'm tired" and I stop for the night. And the next morning, with the sun... everything is possible again. It's a CRAZY RIDE.
And at the end of the day, we're working on a project we believe in. The script is amazing. The cast we're attaching are real up and comers... people we believe have a real future. The crew is excited to be on board and communicating fresh ideas to us, daily. The puzzle pieces aren't all there... but we're getting close.
More to come!