“Shoulder Stand” Original Drawing by Becky Kazana. Please do no reproduce without permission.  

Finding the right yoga studio is like choosing a church. You are looking for something intangible, a mood, a vibe. All of these places are pretty similar; usually clean, bare rooms with polished wood floors, maybe a wall of mirrors, maybe plants, maybe candles, maybe a singing bowl. Some use music, some don’t. Some are hot, some warm, some cool. The teachers are important, but you will learn something from every person you take class with. The style of yoga is part of it- but you will learn something from every practice, from Hatha to Bikram.

Since arriving in Minneapolis, I’d gone the Groupon route, trying out Heat Yoga, Core Power, Minnehaha Yoga, Your Yoga, and Yoga Studio. I’ve barely scratched the surface of studios in my area- there is Life Power, Iyengar Yoga and a Bikram studio, all within easy walking distance of my apartment.

So far, One Yoga has definitely been my favorite. They offer a wide variety of classes in many styles, almost every hour, so there is always a class that is convenient. But the intangible something is in the air. Bold letters on the door announce “YOU ARE ENTERING A CALM PLACE.” and it’s true. You can feel it when you walk in. The rush and bustle drain away as you pull off your wet boots and hang your coat on a peg, find a spot to unfurl your mat and go inward, slowly and deeply.

During practice recently, I had an idea to make this drawing. I love looking at my legs and feet in shoulder stand- they always look so tiny and far off up there, and it’s nice to send all the blood flowing in the opposite direction from feet to head for a change. I often have a dream that I am looking at my hands, feet or body from a distance as they slowly swell gigantic and then shrink back down to teeny tiny, and somehow this pose reminds me of that. Everything in your life is a matter of perspective, plain and simple.

Do you practice yoga? What’s your favorite pose right now? What do you look for in a teacher? A studio? Do tell!

Having babies has been on my “Maybe Someday” list for a long time. But something is shifting.

Eric surprised me with tickets to Verdi’s La Traviata at the Cowles Center. It was a stripped down production with no sets or costumes. One of the sopranos was gloriously, Venus of Willendorf-ishly pregnant. She stood in the spotlights in her black evening gown, hair spun into a French twist, neck and wrists dripping with glittering jewelry. I couldn’t stop looking at her belly as she sang- watching it lift and pulse as she belted out arias. I imagined the little baby inside of her, listening to those sounds vibrating all around her body, comprehending none of it, but understanding it perfectly.

A few weeks later, we went to see the James Sewell Ballet at the very same theater. The dances ranged from traditional to modern, the performers wearing tutus in one sequence and leopard spotted spandex in another. One of the dancers, long and lanky with acres of neck and legs, was also pregnant. She wore a sheer black blouse over a black bra and tiny shorts- her belly sitting low and oval, like an ostrich egg. Her pregnancy was unmistakable and yet not the first thing you noticed. Her confidence and self possession shined out of every movement she made. She leaped and jumped all over the stage, so light and free in her changed body. I wondered the about her and her baby- what was their life like? How had she decided to get pregnant? Was this her first baby? Did she ever feel nervous moving like that with a baby?

I thought about these two women for weeks. How strange see two hometown performers in different mediums both pregnant at separate shows only a few weeks apart. Both women were doing creative work that demanded so much from their bodies- they had to be completely engaged in what they were doing. Both could have opted out, maybe were even advised to, yet neither one did.

You can choose to become lost to yourself. You can ignore the lessons life offers you by looking at the wrong things, avoiding pain, deadening your feelings, zoning out. So it must be the same with parenthood. Children can either be something to lose yourself in, or something to discover yourself through.

Entering into parenthood feels even more sacred than marriage to me. You are guiding a spirit into a body, teaching it how to be human, how to move through the world. You must be worthy of imitation, in the words of Rudolf Steiner. It fills me with awe to even think of it- bringing something from the void. By mixing my soul with my husband’s, we can bring forth a new being- it’s such an honor and tremendous responsibility.

That’s why seeing those Mamas up there touched me so much- I couldn’t look away. For them, motherhood didn’t stop their work, it enhanced it. It pushed them further into the mystery of living, pushed them deeper into the reasons they make art to begin with. At it’s best, art puts you in touch with the unknowable, the awesome, the deep possibilities. And at it’s best, parenthood offers you the same lessons. I wonder why I never understood that before.

“A Murder of Crows” original illustration by Becky Kazana. Please do not reproduce without permission. 

Crows don’t migrate like some birds, and there is a massive group of them circling in Minneapolis this winter. You can see them fluttering through the air like bits of singed paper, especially in the evenings at dusk. I’ve seen them roosting in different places- always in tall trees and often in loosely formed clusters, not too near one another, but most definitely in a group.

The other night as we were starting dinner, I noticed their calls outside the window and went to look out. Sure enough, they were all settling in the tall oak trees that line our street. These glossy black birds are so associated with Gothic literature and bad omens, (a group of crows is called a “murder” after all,) that it felt a little eerie. On the other hand, Eric loves to tell me how they are among the smartest animals on earth, able to solve complex problems, use tools and recognize and distinguish human faces. It’s not their fault Edgar Allen Poe decided to immortalize one in a spooky poem.

Their acrid calls and awkward shuffling is rather endearing when you imagine them as a gaggle of cranky old men. They certainly were striking up there silhouetted in the tangle of branches as the sky darkened around them. In the morning, they were all gone, a spray of splintered branches on the sidewalk and snow the only evidence of their night spent on our street.

“There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.” -Scandinavian Proverb

For a few weeks, I tried to make do with second hand boots in a Minnesota winter. Two sizes too big meant swinging them along like leaden anchors and my hips quickly felt the toll. Wearing ordinary shoes is a terrible option as well, leaving your socks soaked and toes instantly turned icy, red and numb.

I decided to invest in a pair of Sorel boots. Thanks to a coupon code from Piperlime, I paid $75 for them. What a wonderful pleasure my walk to work has become! If it’s snow and ice, the grippers dig in and give me sure footing. If it’s slush and puddles, my feet arrive at their destination dry and toasty.

Though these boots aren’t exactly fashion forward, they have the sort of ugly cute quality that seems to be in vogue right now, and have the added benefit of being enormously practical. (How I pity the fools I see in their tennis shoes or ballet flats full of ice!) Between the right gear, the necessity of a daily walk and my strict policy of not complaining, my time outside each day has become a true joy. I look forward to my walk, knowing it will clear my head, invigorate my body and connect me with this place I call home.

P.S) This original illustration is available for $20 if you’re having a love affair with galoshes as well! It will easily fit in a standard 8×10 frame. Email me at thefabulousmissbATgmailDOTcom if you’d like to purchase it for your house!