Following Feud: Bette & Joan

“We were two different types entirely. I can’t think of a single part I played that Joan could do. Not one. Can you?”
– Bette Davis

Following Feud

I was almost late to the party.

I’ve never been much of a TV watcher. No longer a cable subscriber, I cut the cord last year and embarked on an Internet television adventure. At first it was a bit disconcerting and laborious, having to “program” my own entertainment. I struggled to find my way through a mire with B-level and C-level channel content, combined with standalone pay-per-view premium options. But once I got used to being in charge of my viewing destiny, I quit whining and began to navigate the webby waters using my old TV career strategy of checking out the trades first for network and cable launches and then adding them to my searches and feeds.

imgres-6.jpgThis is how I stumbled upon Feud: Bette and Joan. I was reading a short piece in Variety announcing that FX was launching a new series, the first featuring Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The show would focus on their time spent filming the film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane and continue until Joan’s death. Ryan Murphy, creator, is the driving force behind this and all the hot new shows that I have seen clips of but never actually explored.

Now I’m intrigued.

(And in the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that Bette Davis and I share a birthday. So I’m already biased). 

Watching the pilot as part of an internet channel promotion, I must say, I was initially a bit underwhelmed. The story centers around the ongoing professional and personal battles between the two Hollywood legends. Much is made in Feud of Bette and Joan’s rivalry against the backdrop of women’s limited opportunities in Tinsel Town, how they were pitted against each other by the studios and the ways in which they survived.

The Download
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Susan Sarandon’s Bette Davis eyes make her an obvious casting choice. And Bette herself even thought so, asking Susan early in her career to play her at some point. Jessica Lange, as much as I love her acting, seemed less of a natural fit. She wasn’t angular enough, her makeup and eyebrows not as extreme as Joan’s were in real life. Forgetting Faye Dunaway’s operatic portrayal in Mommy Dearest for a minute, Lange, by contrast, didn’t have the same kind of authority in her face that Crawford held onscreen. From what I could hear, she sounded like Jessica, not Joan. It was also strange that while Sarandon may have nailed the physical characteristics on the surface, thanks to good genes and a great plastic surgeon, at 70 she looks too young to play the hard-drinking, chain-smoking Bette who was at the time a couple of decades younger. Couldn’t they have aged her up a bit? She also didn’t do “The Voice”; I mean, if you are going to be Bette Davis, isn’t that one of her most distinctive traits outside her bug-eyed demeanor?

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Well.

It was unsettling; I didn’t want to watch two actresses I love fail at playing two actresses I love. So I wasn’t convinced I wanted to follow Feud: Bette and Joan into the FX sunset. Still, I loved the premise so I loaded up an unused Christmas iTunes gift card I was saving for something special and decided to take a leap of faith and purchase the full mini-series. Maybe iTunes would provide a refund if it didn’t deliver.

Thankfully, the subsequent eight episodes of Feud: Bette and Joan did not disappoint. I couldn’t wait to download an episode each week on my MacBook Pro.

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Frothy & Filling

After working several years for a company that produced Emmy-winning graphic design for television, I predict that the opening sequence of Feud: Bette and Joan is about to win some awards. It is that effective and compelling, exquisitely setting the tone for the whole show.

As the story builds, the audience is gently rewarded by an installment of splendid storytelling, lush cinematography, candy-colored decadent sets, camp and just plain old binge-worthy dishy fun. And as Bette and Joan (Susan and Jessica, respectively) start to do their ‘thing’ it all begins to come to life. The casting suddenly makes sense. Jessica has gained a few pounds more than Joan would have carried, but her eyebrows grow in size and stature as the series progresses. What makes her performance special is that her Joan Crawford shines more light into Joan’s humanity and deeply disturbing childhood. Susan’s portrayal is a flat-out refusal to impersonate – until she gets the opportunity to snap and fight. Then all the mannerisms come flowing out of her as she spits out an accent and clips her words in a way that needs no reminder of the titan actress she is playing.

Feud is frothy and filling..different writers and different directors contribute, some more dramatically than others. Although Episode 5 highlights the arc of the story, fellow Oscar winner Helen Hunt ‘s direction of Episode 7 is easily one of the best.

imgres.jpgThe supporting cast members are no slouches either. Judy Davis, playing Hedda Hopper (whom I just watched chew scenery in the kooky indie The Dressmaker), tries hard and it shows. Then there are characters you learn about that have a lot of influence but likely didn’t a lot of visibility, such as Mamacita and Bob Aldrich. Stanley Tucci’s devilish Jack Warner, twisting his dastardly moustache, speaks for the entire movie industry’s misogyny. I’m not sure why she is a talking head, but Kathy Bates gives a decent portrayal of the brassy Joan Blondell. The girl playing Bette’s daughter B.D. is sufficiently bland and spoiled enough so you can see how Bette lost control of her early on by treating her as an adult. And let’s not forget the man playing Victor Buono, little known young British actor Dominic Burgess. imgres.jpg
Scary good with mad acting skills…he actually made me remember watching the original What Ever Happened to Baby Jane and Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte. And not in a good way.

My only quibble was with Catherine Zeta Jones (I know I’m not alone because I’ve seen the reviews). Sorry, but Catherine has way too much sex appeal to playimgres.jpg Olivia de Havilland convincingly. And she, unlike all the others, never aged throughout the series. This might have been deliberate, maybe a fun choice for the writers, but it honestly felt just weird.

Karma is a Bitch

My understanding is that Ryan Murphy intended the plot points in Feud: Bette and Joan as commentary on how opportunities and roles for women in Hollywood have both changed and remained the same. It’s also about missed opportunities: Two powerful women, at the expense of their petty egos and professional jealousy, drive their own downward spiraling destinies.

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In my mind, however, this feud boiled down to choices. Karmically, there’s a good reason why Olivia de Havilland is still kicking it in Paris at 100 years old. She wisely bowed out of the game gracefully, leaving no blood and all goodwill behind to pursue the rest of her life, as valuable as any movie career. By contrast, the series illustrates how the choices that Bette Davis and Joan Crawford made in life, relationships and movies affected not just their lives, but the lives of everyone they were supposed to love. And as Feud: Bette and Joan shows us, this turns out to be the most fascinating plot point of all.

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My Beautiful Life

Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.
Franz Kafka

The Power of a Pedicure

The beauty industry knows something that I’ve only recently come to appreciate: There is power in a pedicure.images.jpg

Everyone has a friend who, in the midst of chaos is happening around them, will indulge in something frivolous. You know the type: When there’s an earthquake and the electricity is out and pandemonium in the streets, they will go and get their hair done. Or, maybe it’s the BFF with limited resources who has several small children to feed who blows her entire food budget for the month treating herself to a sushi dinner. Or, if there’s no chaos around them, there’s always the girlfriend who will simply HAVE to get her nails done, even though she just got them done a week prior.

Why? For no reason other than it makes her happy.

I used to scoff at such behavior, believing myself to be a practical, reasonable human being. Now, however, I see there is a method to the madness. There’s something hopeful about continuing on in the face of potential uncertainty and adversity, as if nothing adverse is going on. Grasping and clinging to what feels good and comfortable distracts from the underlying knowledge that perhaps things are not so great, not so secure.

Grounding in Ritualimgres.jpg

Being a low-maintenance girl, my beauty ritual gets less and less consistent as the years go by. These days I’m more inclined to choose comfort over creating a wow factor, opting for ballet flats over sky-high heels.

Recently I attended a focus group on a popular skin care product, knowing I have no real issues with my skin other than the inevitable loosening of the facial muscles. The women participating in the group were of “a certain age”. They were discouraged and skeptical. They had been trying, unsuccessfully in most cases, to slow the aging process with creams, masks and rejuvenation products. Few, if any, saw tangible results.

And yet they are part of the demographic that keep trying, keep buying, spending thousands of dollars on products that basically do the same job as an egg white, apple cider vinegar, a rare steak and a dollop of extra virgin olive oil. When asked why, most conceded that it temporarily made them feel as if they were still trying, making an effort to erase the wear and tear of time.  The women who had money felt it was a good emotional and physical investment. The women on a budget felt the treatments were a treat. In either camp, the consensus was that keeping themselves together made them feel good, raising their self-esteem.

Looking around the room, I could also see that at least half had their nails done professionally. Another investment, another treatment. Having spent the majority my childhood  at the hairdresser all day on Saturdays, the idea of spending more time in a nail salon never appealed to me. I do my own nails and it shows.

Beauty is (sometimes) imgres.jpgin Eyes of the Beholden

What most intrigued me was that, of all the women in the room, only a couple would qualify by Hollywood standards as remotely pretty. The rest appeared attractive at best, plain at worst. Perhaps in their youth they turned heads, but in middle age, the inner beauty didn’t radiate any more than their outer appearance. A few of the women expressed in depressed, angry terms that they felt invisible. They only felt validated by society or a significant other. If men don’t notice them they don’t feel they have any self-worth. A single participant, not the most attractive but possibly one of the more polished, stylish women in the room, positively embraced her age and appearance, saying it was natural to age. Might as well embrace what comes with it. She was just happy to be alive. And then she asked, why would you want to turn heads? Aren’t you married?

Loving What Is

At the end of the session, I had a strong urge to change my nail polish, dye my grey hair and buy some new clothes. I went home and realized that I only one colored nail polish (the other is clear), all of my clothes are worn out, out dated are don’t fit and I am running low on hair color. I began to panic a bit…could this be why I’m not engaged, married or otherwise in a relationship? Is a makeover in my future?images.jpg

Perhaps. Hopefully, however, I’ve grown into the woman who has learned that no matter how many products I use, no matter what I’m wearing, the fact that I’m alive and breathing spiritually on the planet is the best and most beautiful gift of all. Because the better I feel about myself on the inside, the more beautiful my light will shine to the world.

May you walk in beauty.

Namaste.

 

Facing the Fire

This post is dedicated to my beloved father Leonard Ross
July 16, 1934-February 5, 2017

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When my Dad passed away a few weeks ago I was grateful: He lived long enough to see the dawn of a New Year. He was able to have his Thanksgiving Dinner, his Christmas dinner, his New Year’s fireworks and even his beloved Superbowl. He said his hellos and goodbyes. He lived purposefully and died peacefully. It has been a privilege to love him and to know him. 

The Opening Door

When one door closes, another opens they say. I hope so. This has been a surreal time in my life. I’m trying to find my moorings in shifting sands. And I’m not used to feeling this level of insecurity. It is palpable.

My father, an inventor among other things, used to say he got every morning and challenged himself with what he wanted to accomplish that day. This ritual sustained him through a lifetime of successful and not-so-successful missions and adventures. And in my mind that is the backbone of any fact-finding endeavor, any justice-seeking vocation. You don’t have to be a big splashy player to be heard…sometimes you just have to set an intention to be heard and let others find you. It is now that I listen to the lessons of my parent who looked toward each day as an opportunity to bring more love, more discovery, more understanding into his day-to-day living. Now, as I look in the mirror, my daily question becomes, “How can I make a difference?”

Looking Forward to the Past

One thing that grounds me in times like these is to review moments in hisimages.jpgtory. Over the last several years, I’ve become a big documentary fan, gravitating toward stories of people whose singular lives have impacted the lives of others.

Recently, I had the opportunity to screen I Am Not Your Negro and The Lost City of the Monkey God.  Two more different films you will never find. One is the biography of the brilliant, once famed but now fading in history story, of James Baldwin told in his own voice. The second is a post-production wildlife documentary film based on a best-selling true story about a group of adventurers led by Steve Elkins, a cinematographer and explorer, and Doug Preston, author and writer for The New Yorker.  Together they assembled a quasi-professional team of rogue cinematographers, researchers and archaeologists and spent a couple of decades trying to penetrate seemingly impenetrable jungles in Honduras and Nicaragua. Complete with a mysterious malediction, the story follows them through to a discovery filled with artifacts from a long-lost indigenous civilization…and then a quasi-personal tragedy as they experience first-hand the real-life, deadly “curse”that wiped out an entire population. imgres.jpg

In my mind, it’s not such a stretch to draw comparisons between the subjects of these films. Both are personal stories. Both illustrate the struggle of people trying to enact change in circumstances where the odds were against them. The through-thread for me is the passion and persistence in Baldwin’s voice as he writes to find the truth while Elkins and Preston used technology and the media to uncover not only intellectual truths but also definitive, concrete results.

Facing the Fire of the Future

imgres.jpgWhen confronted with the unknown, we always have a choice:  To move forward toward what is possibly fearful and uncertain or to hide, run and duck for cover. There’s no judgement on which road to take; one only hopes there is an awareness of the consequences. Where we feel compelled to take action, we face the fire of life, the heat of the battle, because we feel we have no other choice, regardless if there is actually another option.

In I Ain’t Your Negro James Baldwin embodies the idea that he had to be heard. He was a son of a minister, black, poor, gay, emasculated. He demanded to be treated as a man despite what society was telling him about himself. He confronted what he felt was a vast, white, anonymous audience, eventually leaving the country for his own safety and well-being. Still, he shared his story with the world. And in doing so, his books gave all nationalities, all colors of people, the inside of him, the truth of what it is is like to be in his shoes. And so we who read his works became witnesses and collaborators in his cause.

By contrast, in The Lost City of the Monkey God Steve Elkins and Doug Preston’s journey is one of desire. Yes, they had a story but it wasn’t necessarily theirs to tell. And in fact, mainstream researchers and historians tried very hard to stop them, saying they weren’t legitimate archaeologists and so had no business digging up the history of indigenous people for material gain. And yet that didn’t stop them from believing and striving toward finding a way to educate and enlighten the world, releasing a burden that had overshadowed a tribe of people for hundreds of years.

Karmic Victory in Action

For every action, there’s a reaction. This is Universal Law. Even in victory, the war can continue on. James Baldwin is having a rebirth because someone saw his influence during the Civil Rights movement waning and decided that the truth of today’s world is worryingly beginning to backslide into the America of Baldwin’s time. After uncovering The Lost City, its team of adventurers continue to struggle to help the country maintain and protect the integrity of the archeological findings.

There is no recipe for making a mark in this lifetime. You can strive and strive and still not see an immediate result. But as my father, James Baldwin and The Lost City crew found out, you can get up every day and try to make sense of what’s in front of you and what’s inside of you. You can throw a pebble in a pond and know the water will ripple. You can add your voice to the choir and know the volume and tones will swell. You can join hands with others and feel the collective rise up and connect. You can also get up in the morning, make your coffee and complain about having to work that day. Or you can get up, wake up and ask yourself how to make a difference in the day and see how the Universe rewards your actions.

A subtle shift in perspective perhaps. But I would deem it a worthy one.

Namaste.

 

 

 

Birthing An Activist

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
Elie Wiesel

I’ve never signed so many online petitions in my life.

Less than two weeks into the new presidential administration and I’m already firing off emails and sitting in on conference calls so that I can better understand the rapid-fire changes in policy that the current U.S. government has unleashed on our country.

(Note that throughout this post I will pointedly refrain from using anyone’s actual name so as not to give them additional psychic fire to fuel what on the surface looks like insanity).

You may be one of those people who passionately marches and supports causes dear to your heart.

I salute you.

I am more of the lazy armchair type, the person who gets riled up and then forgets why I was so heated to begin with. Once a battle rages on for too long, I will admit that I get distracted, turning my short attention span to other pressing issues.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

So it shocks me that I’ve managed to stay this engaged with the un-presidential antics of this campaign. Sure, the guy I didn’t want to win, won. I’m over that part. But it is almost as if he began rubbing his hands together in glee, tweeting, “And let the games begin!” Whatever agenda is playing out seems to have no sense of consequence, just a serious desire to wreak havoc in the most dramatic way possible.

From what I’ve read, many of the government and political players have changed and will continue to change. That’s not what’s new. In fact, even though some of the current policies put forth sound horrendous, they are not new either. The attention paid to them is simply conducted differently. And with different leaders in place, of course the concern is that the outcome will change things.images.png

I’m not even mad at the incumbent for leading with his strongest skill set. Being a ‘deal maker’ is not bad skill to have in government. Being a liar and a poor communicator, however, is a liability in any field.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
R. Buckminster Fuller

I’m no longer opposing the current administration. I’m turning my energy toward something more positive and uplifting, something that will enable me to remain engaged, concerned and involved in my country. Little does the current president know that his residency has given birth to something in my heart that I hope never leaves: The right to fight for my country and my countries freedoms.

So let the games begin.

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The Price of Soaring

I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly
I believe I can fly
– Lyrics from “I Believe I Can Fly” by R Kelly

I must admit I’m not upset about saying goodbye to 2016. In fact, I’ve been feverishly organizing my calendar for 2017, trying to pack as many positive, aspirational personal self-care parties as I can in advance so that I’ll be prepared for some really great times and spectacular adventures. Unlike 2016 which seemed so much like loss and endings, I’m determined to make 2017 the year I dust off my dreams and get back in the saddle.

Artistic Aspirations

When I think about the New Year, I’m reminded of my childhood. Every year I would make a New Year’s resolution centered around my hopes for the future, how I was going to be successful and make my family proud. My parents weren’t the type to tell me I could do or be anything. They were more like, if you can’t do and be what you want, find the next best thing.

From an early age, I wanted to be an artist. I loved to draw, paint, write. My disposition was foreign to my analytical, practical parents. And while they didn’t necessarily discourage my potential, they would point out some outcome I hadn’t thought of. For example, in school I was considered a decent sketch artist and watercolorist. I dreamed of being a female Picasso or Matisse. My parents said, well your art is good but it looks like advertising. Fine art it isn’t.images.jpg

Believing they knew best, I took my art to the streets and began creating posters for friends and painting storefronts for money. I designed board game packaging with gothic themes as templates for toy designers. My parents were totally down with that type of expression, especially if I was earning something. Little did we know in our tiny suburb that ad agencies in big cities pay lots of money for graphic artists. By the time I figured that out, I was on to my endeavor.

When I graduated from college the one talent I had been cultivating since I received my first piano at age 8 was music. I had taken lessons, learned to play by ear but because I’m essentially lazy at practicing, I never developed my skills beyond a rudimentary grasp of theory and chord structure. Instead, I used the piano as an emotional prop, composing songs and writing melodies. My adult dream was to sing and write songs professionally. I had been told I had a pretty enough voice but I had never tested it in public. I didn’t necessarily want to be famous, just flush. So I started vocal training with a series of coaches, trying to find my ‘voice’ in different techniques. In my spare time I studied music and songwriting. One night I jumped onstage at a local supper club and began singing with the jazz quartet. Surprisingly, the band invited me to come back and soon I had a regular weekend gig. Inspired, I began plotting my escape from suburbia into the music industry, while supplementing my income with random modeling gigs in San Francisco.

One afternoon I head into a gas station and an African American man in his 40s is pumping gas behind me. He tells me he’s a psychic and that I’m a singer. I say, “Hi”. We begin talking and he calls me out as an Aries (I am). Says there were lots of successful singers that are Aries. I tell him I’m going to model as I had an audition in a few weeks at the Ford Models black division in New York City. He gets really annoyed, goes to his car and pulls out an astrological calendar. On the March/April pages are listed the names of black women entertainers who are Aries: Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Mariah Carey, Billie Holiday. He tells me if I go to New York, I will never be famous. I need to go to Los Angeles. images 11.12.35 AM.jpg

At this point, I thought he was crazy but because it’s me and I’m forever intrigued by crazy people, I give him my number. Initially I thought he was hitting on me. Then I realized he really was hell bent on trying to influence me. For the next few weeks we would talk, sometimes at 3 a.m., arguing about my fate and astrology.  At some point, he gave up and said, “I’m done with you. You’re stupid. Do what you’re going to do.”

I never heard from him again.

My parents, unsurprisingly, were not encouraging. “You should have started earlier (I was 23). Musicians starve”. My grandmother was a little more menacing: “Don’t let me see you singing on a street corner.” Because that was akin to prostitution.

Making It Happen

I never thought of the consequences of making it or not making it in the music business. I simply wanted to try. So I did. Once I returned from New York, I decided that although I loved the city, it was too harsh a climate and environment for me to thrive in. So I headed to Los Angeles and never looked back. Over the years, my progress was impeded by a lot of excuses and obstacles, a shortage of free time and money, general support, illness, proper playmates. But I managed to sing in sessions, films and commercials, front a band, get featured in Rollingstone and become a BMI and Grammy member. Perhaps that psychic was right and I should never made that detour. But what I did manage to accomplish was all as a hobby. Imagine if I had really tried.

I never stopped wanting to sing or earn money from my craft. But along the way, I began to notice that there was something rather sinister in the business that made me less and less enthusiastic about pursuing it full time. I knew going into it that many great artists die young, get taken advantage of. But as I began to work behind the scenes and behind the microphone, I started to see some serious tragedy: Artists who were illiterate, artists who were bipolar and suicidal. Major front people with not just the garden variety drug addiction but who also had phobias, who didn’t like to be touched. I met artists who could not count change and therefore had to pay a manager to buy things for them. Others couldn’t carry on a basic conversation that didn’t involve them or their needs. I didn’t meet anyone like me, from a relatively normal, middle-class, educated family. Instead, I  witnessed a lot of lonely, desperate creative people who seemed to have it all but instead felt unloved and would do anything, including act out on stage, to get that feeling. The world witnesses these people crash and burn every day, often way too young. Yet in their art, they soared. Their gifts far transcended their flaws. Flying high on the wings of creativity, they are in the enviable position of, for the space of a concert, able to become who they’ve always wanted to be.

images.jpgI Believe I Can Fly

There is a price for soaring. My father, a chemist, used to suggest to me when I was young and partying and eager to dive headlong into chaos, was that the nightlife has its own special siren song, playing to the emotional fibers of people who worship by the light of the moon. He would say, “Babe, entertainers stay out late, putting their body through a process that is unsustainable. The human body wasn’t meant to be nocturnal. These people burn out quickly because their bodies don’t get enough sunlight.” Based on his theory I would imagine a lot of artists who left us before their time in 2016 didn’t get enough sunlight.

I’m equally sure there are a number of happy, creative, successful people in the world, in all walks of life, who will lead long, balanced lives. As for my dreams in 2017: I have a few left in my pocket. I still believe I can fly and hope many others do as well. And if we find ourselves soaring into the stratosphere, let’s hope we get enough sunshine in the process.

To You and Yours, A Very Happy New Year!

Finding Your Holiday Yogi

The week before Thanksgiving, I woke up every day doing yoga in bed.

That’s right…I found a video online of a woman running through a series of ten asanas or yoga poses, executing the smoothest moves in traditional Hatha yoga style…before she left her bed. As she called the poses, I moved through the sequences with her, imagining I was on my mat, using my mattress to gently but intentionally guide me into my day.

20161201_085050.jpgIt was a particularly hectic holiday so I’m hoping for a more chill Christmas this year. I’m taking this opportunity in times of calm, chaos or crisis, to connect with my inner holiday yogi, the self that seeks to find peace in the middle of season’s greetings madness. I find yoga to be a good path to the eternal and the internal. A strong downward dog or a slow-release, languid bridge pose can go a long way toward easing the body of stress.

Finding Your Inner Yogi

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned yoga warrior, finding your tribe can be a path unto itself. Because there is a yoga studio on every corner these days, yoga’s popularity means that many people are priced out of participating, with subscription-based, restricted memberships requiring a long-term commitment in order for you to take a 90-minute class. Thankfully, there are still plenty of yoga companies offering sessions ad hoc and by donation at reasonable prices all over the world, including community classes for those on a budget (Note: Yoga in Bed = Free).

If you enjoy reading about yoga as much as doing it, below are a few of the more mainstream yoga magazines in circulation:

images.jpgSample Online Yoga Magazines
http://www.yogamagazine.com/
http://www.ommagazine.com/
http://mantramag.com/
http://layoga.com/

Have you tried online yoga? The internet yoga market is exploding, opening up a whole new, convenient world to those on the go or simply just want to practice at home. New videos are being loaded all the time so instead of sitting down to the same video over and over again, you can take search for fresh classes with new perspectives. Many of the online classes have a pay wall, however, but there are a few that offer free classes, including  on YouTube (Some yogis subscribe that all yoga should be freely given. However, I’m not averse to someone earning a little “dana” or donation on the side for their teachings). Note that each of these sites have different levels and styles so be sure to check them out before trying them out to ensure you are practicing at the appropriate level for you. Here are a few resources for those looking for a peaceful movement to join:

Free Online Yoga Classes
https://www.doyogawithme.com/yoga_classesimgres-1.jpg
http://www.myfreeyoga.com/
https://www.bemoreyogic.com/
https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene
https://www.youtube.com/user/lesleyfightmaster
http://yogameditationhome.com/

Back to my Sleepy Girl Yoga Practice. May your inner yogi find joy this holiday season.

Namaste!

It Takes A Country

“The sun will rise in the morning” – President Barack Obama

In the wee hours this morning, I heard two people down the street, cheering. Yay! Yay!

Later, I awoke to the sound of one of my neighbors, weeping. Or maybe it was me.

It is no coincidence that it’s 90 degrees on this November day in southern California. If I were a doomsday predictor I’d take this as an indicator that this is the beginning of the end. But I’m an optimist at heart and I believe all things, good and bad, always happen for a reason.

A New Normal

imgres.jpgWe have a new ‘President’. Now I know how the Republicans have been feeling – how depressing it must have been for them for the last eight years to have a mixed race, elegant, eloquent, thoughtful leader of the free world. One who eradicated many of the so-called bad guys, while attempting to create some much-needed infrastructure with climate change and healthcare.

Yes, I’m now starting to feel their pain. The difference is I’m not going to get as good a deal. Instead, I get an orange-skinned, reactive, ego-inflated, fascist buffoon five years past his retirement bedtime who cannot complete a thought, much less a policy.

Not overtly political, my view as the lineup of candidates was whittled down in the debates, was that either this was a completely rigged election or the politicians we have representing us are senile. Bernie, Hilary and Trump are all at the cusp of being septuagenarian. In theory, that should mean they bring some sort of dignity and wisdom, not the carnival show to which the general public has been subjected. That the collective majority chose to focus on the ‘show’ and not the ‘business’ speaks volumes.

It takes a country to do that.

I was totally down with Hilary a few years ago, before all the leaks and smears began. I thought not only would she be cool and collected as POTUS but we would get Bill back and he could play his sweet saxophone again…hopefully behind the scenes and not with a white house aide. My Dad loves to root for her; in fact, she and Halle Berry are two of his favorite ladies. But even he wasn’t confident about her winning this election, which is saying something.

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Chump Politics

As for Trump, it’s hard to take him seriously under any circumstances. When he called Carly Fiorina ugly, I had to laugh…loudly. Pot calling kettle black? What are we, in kindergarten? That’s the last time I can remember a bully discussing my appearance – in grade school. So for a candidate with his credentials to insult an opponent (a woman who is likely more ugly on the inside than outside, IMHO) on a national stage is beyond misogyny and sexism. It’s a serious case of arrested development and the portrait of a man with no moral center. He’s clearly not playing with a full emotional deck.

Which is why I’m not terribly surprised that middle America wanted him. Evidently he has important friends like the KKK in his pocket. What a guy. Yet I’m baffled when unlikely people are supportive of him. Susan Sarandon is a good actress but she’s batshit crazy and all over the map with her politics. As liberal as she claims to be, I felt like he was the last person she would endorse and she did it out of spite for Hilary and what she stands for, mainly her campaign on war. But guess what – she’s 70 too. (Not to be ageist, but just sayin’…there’s something about a generation of people in their later years stirring up bitterness and hatred that doesn’t exactly motivate younger generations, nor give them any hope.) My brother and I keep each other amused by trying to find continuity in the “policies” he’s supposed to be creating. “He can’t complete a thought, did he complete that thought? Nope, there he goes, off topic again!” is our new mantra. What are his ‘ideas’ on making America great again? I’m still waiting.

imgres-1.jpgAlthough I never followed him as entertainment, I have a sliver of first-person insight into Trump. I was attending a rather popular woo-woo New Age church service here in Los Angeles. A blonde woman to my left and I were holding hands in a prayer circle. She looked familiar; but I was more fascinated by her nose as it appeared to be surgically altered. Like, she would look weird in person but good on camera. As the group prayer ended, we were encouraged by the pastor to share something about ourselves with the group. The woman next to me began to share her story of how she came to the church, through a broken relationship. She met and fell in love with a powerful and successful business man. She wanted to start a family and all he wanted to do was make business deals. Soon they were spending less and less time together. She described how when she became pregnant, she wanted a natural birth at home. So she hired a doula to help midwife her baby into the world. He promised to be by her side when she gave birth but in fact he didn’t show up and she and the doula brought the baby into the world without him.

As the story ended, I must have still been staring because she turned to me and said, “I know you think you know me. I’m Marla Maples.” Actually, even after that information, I didn’t recognize her but at least now the possible nose job made sense. Back then I thought, well maybe he couldn’t catch a flight. But my overall takeaway was witnessing a genuinely nice, devastated person who was still grieving over what she felt was the love of her life. Now I see his actions are in line with who he is as person, not just the loud braying jackass you see on TV. In fact, I’m surprised he’s allowing the kid in question to stand with him on the podium.

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Our Country Did It

Fast forward to this election: This is the only time in my adult life that I recall not see anyone in my neighborhood backing…anyone. In my small corner of the world, there were a few Bernie signs out and about. A flood of local political ads. But I can count on one hand how many Trump OR Clinton signs/campaigns/bumper stickers I’ve seen this election. Everything has been all about shaming debates on television or online espionage. If Trump’s contenders and supporters can’t contain him, I feel sorry for the people working for him in office. Despite conventional wisdom or tradition, he won.

It takes a country to do that and that’s what happened.

And not by just a hair – the entire electoral map was red throughout and blue around the edges. Hillary may have won the popular vote, but unfortunately that’s not the one that counts. I anticipate it will difficult, even more than in Bush’s reign, to watch this man govern our nation. Yes, we did just vote an inflammatory, force of foolishness into the American political psyche, giving him access to all our classified information so he can babble incoherently over coffee with his beloved Putin while they trade secrets and resources. Now we can watch him build a wall that will be hacked through by technology and align himself with all the countries who will be happy to continue hating us, no matter what kind of deals he cuts.

Why not? Because in four years, if we are satisfied with his performance, it will be a moot point. But if not? Guess we’ll go back to electing a non-Republican to clean this Republican’s mess up.

This November Juice! post is dedicated to the historic 2016 election.