Hey friends ❤️ I have some giant travels coming up and I think they are really going to alter the course of my life.
December 29th I am so grateful to return to India (where I was here in this photo after a blessing from a pandit along the Ganga in Banares) to study The Yoga of Sound in Rishikesh in Swargashram at Nada Yoga School. This is a rigorous 28 days from 6am to 8pm of study, music, mantra, asana, and purifying practices at an ashram with 7+ Indian faculty.
From there I’ll do some traveling with my partner Dylan for awhile (back to Varanasi!), and then head to Bali, Indonesia for 2 months. I’ll be working on writing my eventual book (my fave psychology professor Dr. Bud McClure as editor!), yoga of sound teaching curriculum for Yess’ advanced training, and e-courses in creativity, yoga + music, and then leading the first Creativity & Yoga Retreat on Bali’s west coast!!
As a performing songwriter for over 20 years, and yoga instructor for 10 years, been doing this creative entrepreneur life for awhile. Lots of hustles and no clear path to follow. I’ve kept my options open w/o having kids or stable jobs to “follow my bliss” as it were. I’m over the moon that my retreats sold out to allow for this time of deeper study and solitude to reflect, write, and plan.
I can’t say exactly how the life will look upon return, however I will have my 8th album “The World is Your Lover” to release officially into the world!
I don’t have much space to hang before I go as I have to finish my kickstarter fulfillments and work and see my family and beau. But if you wanna come to a show, I’d be SO GRATEFUL TO SEE YOU before shipping off to India!
BIG LOVE & THANKS! ❤️ Mary
Nov 20th Hook & Ladder Mission Room -7pm solo w/ special guests Tara Sherman for mantras & goddess stories & Julia Floberg on cello
Dec 1st Dusty’s Bar NE Minneapolis – 8:30pm solo w/ Bev
Dec 18th – Hook & Ladder MAIN stage w/ full band and special guests – exciting new details TBA!
Dec 27th – Minnesota History Center 1pm show – in support of the “First Ave, Stories of Minnesota’s Main Room Exhibit” solo on the baby grand piano!
MAY 22nd 2020 Hook & Ladder Theatre – The World is Your Lover Album Release Party with Superior Siren & guests
Aspiring to conquer the marathon? 26.2 miles / 49.195 KM of pain and suffering, many might say. I don’t think it has to be … however the two marathons I ran before yesterday’s Twin Cities Marathon kinda sucked. What changed? I got a little older and wiser … here’s the story and I hope it inspires you to get there — or closer to there — be it couch to 5k, or walking every day, or strengthening your heart with mantra and conscious breathwork. Not all of us have the desire or a structure to support / enjoy (??) many hours of pounding the pavement. But if you do aspire to run one, if I can do it, you can do it. Seriously. Here are some things that worked for me, and a lot of it was in my mind. I am not a running coach or anything, this is my personal journey with it! Also, I’m so happy to work 1:1 with you to talk about training, private yoga lessons to support your aspirations, and vegan coaching should you like to transition! More info about that here.
I love that this race comes from a Greek legend, that of the messenger Philippides. He ran to deliver a message that the Persians had been defeated in the battle of Marathon which he himself fought in, 490 BC. He supposedly ran approximately 26.2 miles to Athens without stopping, possibly climbing Mount Pentelicus to get there. He burst into assembly and cried “We have won!” and then he collapsed and died. Please note that he just fought a battle, ran non-stop, and may have climbed a mountain in this journey. So, that could for sure kill you.
While death actually IS a risk factor in marathon running, death is a risk factor in everyday life. Who knows when we’ll croak. We can’t live not doing things for fear of death (within reason, lol) because then we might be housebound. But even there we have dangers of choking, or falling down the stairs, or random violence, dear goddess, I pray not … Anyway that is morbid AF, but just to demonstrate that we can die anytime.
Back to the marathon, you could just choose to run it on your own and stash water or have a camelbak pack with water, or bring money and get snacks and water as you go … or pay around $100-200 to register for an official one. At the Twin Cities Marathon, this gets you support with water, gatorade, and snacks all through the race, a nice finisher long sleeve athletic t, a free 10 min massage at the end, lots of snacks at finish, spectators cheering you on, and a free summit beer. They photograph along the way and you get a video of when you run through the finish line. It was a good value. The only other thing you need to buy is a pair of running shoes and comfy clothes to run in. Run in them a LOT to make sure they work on race day. I also invested in Body Glide (a deodorant-like substance that prevents chafing) because I chafe like a mofo and it is very unpleasant. I brought my phone along to listen to tunes and carried a packet of extra fuel, clif bar and some gummies. Not the fun kind, just the sugary kind. 😉
What the hell does this have to do with music?
I am a musician, always have been, always will be, and I run. When I run, I get song inspirations. I hear lyrics, I hear melodies. Many a song has come. Running gives the body a task so that the mind can be more free to roam, but not ruminate. The heart pounds a lively beat, the sweat cleanses what is bogging us down, the scenery moves and the fresh air fills our lungs. When I don’t run, I get depressed. True story. I’ve been on anti-depressants before. It’s no joke. Exercise is a natural mood booster. Our sedentary lives are new to us since these “modern conveniences” freed up our physical bodies from plowing the fields and harvesting the berries and of course running from predators. Now that flight response shows up in our anxious minds and sleepless nights.
I’m grateful to announce that I’m in the “running” to be an Artist Ambassador for Mizuno Running– they graciously noticed my music life and my running life and enthusiasm for both and they sent me a pair of badass shoes (Waveknit). I’m sooo hoping this ambassador program launches and I can be in cahoots with them to spread the good news of the linking of creativity and running.
“… running (like all physical activity) produces an increase in dopamine, the chemical that’s most often associated with creativity. That, combined with a relaxed mind, can create the ideal environment for new thoughts.”
Please enjoy a stream and a free download of “The City Trees” that came to me on a run many years ago …
There are many ways to train out there. I loosely followed Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk program although I don’t walk nearly as much as he advises. But let this bolster your spirit – you can run a few minutes and then walk 30 seconds, and repeat this as long as it takes you. Here’s his guide for run-walking:
Run Walk Run ratio should correspond to the pace used (Runners). 8 min/mi—run 4 min/walk 30 seconds 9 min/mi— 2 min run/walk 30 seconds 10 min/mi—-1:30/30 11 min/mi—1:00/30 12 min/mi—-1:00/30 or 40/20 13 min/mi—-30/30 14 min/mi—30/30 or 30/20 15 min/mi—15/30 16 min/mi—10/30
The first two marathons (Seattle Rock and Roll, 2011, Twin Cities Marathon 2017) I totally overtrained and fucked my knee up. I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to finish that during training I ran 24-26 miles just to make sure I didn’t get picked up by the bus.
This year I only ran up to 18 miles for my longest run.
My training looked like this. It took about four months.
I had a base running fitness where I had been running 3.5 miles 4-5 times per week.
Three 3.5 milers, long run 7 miles
Three 3.5 milers, long run 8 miles
Three 3.5 milers, long run 9 miles
Three 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 10 miles
Three 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 11 miles
Rest, a couple 2-4 milers
Three 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 12 miles
Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 13 miles
Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 14 miles
Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 15 miles
Rest with cycling & yoga & 2 short (2-3 mile) runs
Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 16 miles
Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 17 miles
Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 18 miles
Taper (barely running, some biking, some gentle yoga)
Also, I have switched to barely driving a car this year, weather permitting. I bike commute almost everywhere and sometimes I’d bike 20+ miles in a day, and typically 5-10 miles/day. And I teach yoga, so I get to enjoy memberships at the studios I teach at so I incorporate at least 1 yoga class a week, plus my personal practice, which I’ll explain a bit more below.
You probably know that I’m vegan, following a plant-based diet. I do eat gluten, and carbs are a distance runner’s friends. I get plenty of protein because there is protein in everything and I believe it is a myth that we need shit tons of protein to function. I eat beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains. I try to eat as much fresh produce as possible, lots of kale, cruciferous veg like cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts. Lots of peanut butter and oatmeal. I have found that switching to a vegan diet, my recovery time is pretty swift and my energy is very steady. I also feel spiritually aligned with this diet because I am not harming animals, and it has far less environmental impact. There are some incredible vegan athletes who have written books with lots of recipes — check out Eat & Run by Scott Jurek and No Meat Athlete by Matt Frazier.
Yesterday’s race was really beautiful. The rain got out of the way, torrentially, the day before. The October sunrise was red and pink, standing overlooking the stadium from my boyfriend’s downtown condo (one of my motivations for racing again this year was that Dylan lives only a few blocks from the starting line!). A breeze, but the wind didn’t pick up til the race was over …
My fave parts were basilica bells ringing as well zoomed through downtown Minneapolis, the sweet high school (?) band in front of the Walker Art Museum, curving around all the beautiful lakes, all the cool spectators saying “Go Vegan!” cuz that’s what it said on my bib, the T. rex costume with the “Run Bitches” sign, and Dylan biking all over town to see me, 7 times! And my amazing parents meeting me at the end. Oh and the free 10 min massage at the end by CenterPoint school of massage.
It was VERY hard, at mile 21 my legs turned to rocks. I could easily walk them but to pick them up felt TERRIBLE! I’m not quite sure how to remedy this. Only that at this point it gets spiritual …
Finding the bliss …
That picture above is what it takes to sit in easy seated pose today (even after a 20 minute asana practice!) – a zafu, and two blocks under my thighs. Quadriceps are SORE after running the Twin Cities Marathon yesterday! I am grateful to the many limbs of yoga practice for the support:
🙏🏼 YAMAS & NIYAMAS Ahimsa – nonharming – kind self talk when the going gets rough and deep respect for runners & organizers + plant based diet that replenishes my cells and reduces suffering for all beings //Svadhyaya – self-study – knowing when to rest // Isvara Pranidhana – Surrender – offering the intention of this race to higher good – running for the animals, for my dad, for the beauty of the earth
PRANAYAMA – Conscious breathwork – breath is key in running. Settling into a smooth even rhythm and monitoring when it gets ragged. Via mantra, I’ve been developing deeper breath capacity. Also using exhale technique (drawing navel up to spine on exhale for slight core contraction, almost mula bandha-like) which helped keep my core strong I think …
PRATYAHARA – withdrawing of senses – The first half of the 26.2 miles were extremely stimulating – tons of spectators and excitement and I found myself running WAY faster than I trained. Around mile 18 had to draw that energy in and discontinue the external. It felt like putting a protective bubble on, going more internal
DHARANA – single pointed meditative focus (very simplified explanation) – goal was JUST FINISH. One foot in front of the other. Started walking more around mile 21. Focus on each moment, each careful step.
DHIYANA – meditation / absorption (simplified) – at mile 23 put the headphones on and let music be a balm. Got shivers of joy and unitive bliss. Truly!
SAMADHI – Union w/ Divine – Speeding up to cross the finish, a celebration of life and effort. Amazing race, the human race!
Thank you SO MUCH for reading about my race.
Did you run? Do you want to? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below or shoot me an email at the contact link!
I recently reached out to friends on social media for blogging prompts. What follows in the coming weeks will be responses to all of those amazing suggestions & questions. THANK YOU!!! I plan to release a blog every Monday or Tuesday. Fingers crossed for consistency! Here goes nothing / everything! Please enjoy with an angsty rock soundtrack 🙂
“I find you to be inspired and self motivated to just walk through life and take on new challenges. How do you do that? I’d love to know your inner process because I’m sure it takes courage to be you. Share the courage with the world!”
I’d first like to respond to this delightful and — dare I say — flattering question with a quote by Brené Brown:
“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”
I often don’t feel very courageous … or even strong. For much of my youth / young adult life I felt vulnerable, swayed by peer pressures and the insecure desire to be liked. However, looking back, above all I have followed my heart and its yearnings, sometimes to my detriment.
A privileged, middle class white girl growing up in small town midwestern America to parents who are still alive and together, my childhood was somewhat provincial, safe, and supported. We never moved when I was growing up. I think that this stable background really did set me up for feeling safe to act out my heart’s desires. I would say that part of my urge to go out and get it came from boredom from small town livin’ and a deep curiosity to see the big world out there.
In 11th grade I was urged by my German teacher, Frau Siewert, to become an exchange student in Germany. She all but signed the papers for me, I feel like she organized it so well. I think her wise eyes could see that I was falling into some troubles. I loved raves and would often drive with my friends an hour into the city (my hometown had 4,000 people in the middle of forests and cornfields) to go to parties. I think my teacher could see the path I was heading down and I hand it to her for helping me away from it. Not that raves or clubbing is bad, but I was getting pretty wild with it! So when I was 16, I flew to Tübingen in the state of Baden Württemburg with just a few years of high school Deutsch under my belt. It was terrifying. Thankfully my exchange partner was incredible and became a dear friend. But I was very shy and a perfectionist and could barely speak German without turning beet red. And yet, thus began the desire to travel, which truly has been a guiding light in my life.
Fast forward many years later. I got a bachelor’s in Psychology. Studied and taught yoga intensely for 10+ years and got my 500 hours of teacher trainings. I’ve moved to the east coast, the west coast, a 9 month stint in England and some time in New Mexico, Duluth 4x’s, and Minneapolis twice. I only had a “straight job” once – a clinical research assistant at Rhode Island Hospital and prison – and realized that while I was rapt & interested to interview inmates about their substance abuse and sex lives, I surely didn’t like data entry. So I quit and booked my first month long music tour from Rhode Island to Austin, Texas and back (this was 2004, before google and smart phones). Many small music tours followed, and 7 albums have been independently released since 2000. In my recent past I also opened, and closed, a small yoga studio in Minneapolis.
I question if all of this moving around and changing my focus has been courageous, or driven by fear of that early boredom, or fear of intimacy, or fear of planting roots, fear of becoming “normal.” Every time I moved, it seemed like my music career was JUST getting a foothold and some recognition and then I had to start ALL over. Same with yoga – starting to teach in Seattle, then Duluth, now Minneapolis and with each new move starting from scratch. I wonder if there weren’t some threads of self-sabotage or fear of success in there … or fear of failure might be more like it. My motivations were cloudy, sometimes impulsive and whimsical, or driven by crushes and relationships, but truly above all, there has been a deep desire to see more of this world, and meet more of the world’s people.
These words by Chani Nicholas ring SO true: “Being afraid is no excuse for not trying. Being inexperienced is no reason not to go to the lengths we must to get a little time in the saddle. Being green and growing is far more powerful than sitting on the sidelines, choking with envy.”
I’ve always been uninterested in committing to a stable job or going to grad school because I want to keep space open for music and art to take its course. Opening and running the yoga studio was about the most rooted thing I’ve done since my bachelor’s degree (and I even would leave the studio to travel as much as I could). And so, it didn’t work – probably because it wasn’t my full time passion like some people who open yoga studios have — and I leave it to them, with gratitude!
The space I leave for the songs to come is a wily thing. I want to allow room and time for inspiration to come, without forcing it. Financially, I am not at an awesome point when compared to many people my age. So part of this courage to do what I desire has to do with being okay with not having a ton of money. And also trying to find ways to make money that won’t hurt the love of my passions. When I have relied on music as my sole money maker (which I did full time for a few years), I would be playing background music in restaurants for hours and over time my soul was sucked and the love for the music would start to dissipate. I am grateful now to have a manager who controls my booking, although we have pulled back from performing so much, so I feel a little isolated these days as I’m allowing the new norm to unfold.
All of this personal life story aside, I’d like to say that all who wander are not lost. Everyone I’ve met and every place I’ve been has a part in my life story and has altered my reality. Some in harsh ways, some in gentle unfolding ways, some in big beautiful loving ways … and sometimes a little of all of these things. I was listening to an Oprah Super Soul podcast featuring Marianne Williamson who said she prefers to think that she is a wave amongst many waves all in one big ocean, rather than a wave alone in the ocean that can be dissolved and crushed by the others. Our actions, our paths, our unfoldings all intersect and ring out into distant edges unknown.
I used to be frozen by indecision and anxiety. Never knowing what my true life purpose was, what my calling was, what I am meant to do on this earth. I sunk into deep depressions that therapy helped to even out eventually with some SSRI’s and talking. Now I’m trying things and seeing what works, and if it feels too hard and starts to create pain and suffering and anguish like the pursuit of a successful career in music (aka fame) sometimes has, I back off and follow a path that feels healing, like how yoga has been to me. When the yoga studio started to kill my love for teaching, and was draining my savings and I was in the red, I let it go and went back to just teaching for other studios. I will sit in discomfort for awhile as I know that often is what makes us grow, but I have no tolerance to hang out there for too long as the angst and sorrow from perceived failures has a negative ripple effect on all aspects – health, community, cosmos. And so, I let go.
To wrap up, I’d like to leave a few things that have worked for me in being self motivated and feeling like I can pursue new things:
having support to talk things through: family, therapist, lover, friends
a spiritual practice that involves witnessing the mind (meditation, mantra, asana, pranayama, journaling/morning pages)
researching before leaping into something new – i am a book junkie and google is my friend
talking with others in the field i’m interested in (i always offer to pay to pick people’s brains because their time and history is valuable)
solitude to reflect
gratitude for all that has brought me to this moment, good and bad
Thank you for this beautiful question – I love you! And thanks for reading, friends. I wish all of you the heart to follow your passions and let go of that which is causing you anguish. I wish you beautiful, fulfilling lives! Big love, Mary
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Hello friends! This is gonna be a kind of long blog – a synthesis / digest of the last few email newsletters (please sign up for the newsletter here if you’d like an email from me once a month or so)! Feel free to skim to what interests you!!!
I spent the month of March 2019 traveling in Bali, Indonesia and a few cities in India. I’d been home just a weeks when I wrote this … and honestly felt a bit in a cloud. So much to process. This was not a “vacation” per se, but kind of an adventure travel, cultural experience, spiritual pilgrimage, and most definitely an escape from winter.
Gaelynn Lea’s Learning How to Stay cuts through the fog
It’s the eve of the fall equinox and my self-diagnosed SAD is kicking in. The past week has been all rain and thunder and bluster. More chances to stay inside with the tea kettle and contemplate the cold cruel world. I keep returning to a song, over an over, and it is Gaelynn Lea’s Moment of Bliss.
Last weekend I took a trip out west with my new beau. It wasn’t super far west, but a good 9 hours from Minneapolis to Western North Dakota where the landscape changes to plateaus and buttes and miles and grasslands. Majestic beast roam: Bison, Elk, Wild Horse, and Coyote howls. The moon switched to new, and a full day was spent walking to get water from a spring and then walking back to camp. For some people, this is their life …
Thoughts on the trail during my artist residency …
I just crested staying over two months in Taos, New Mexico as an Artist in Residence at the Wurlitzer Foundation. A few days after I arrived here I sought out the Devisadero Loop Trail, a section / foothill of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. It begins around 7,000 feet above sea level and makes its way to 8,300 feet. Needless to say, my Minnesota lungs were winded. I was such a PILE on the first hike. Took me 2.5-3 hours and I was exhausted on those early days of being here. Now I’m run/hiking it, and just had my best time at 1:10.
“Devisadero” has a few searchable meanings – could be from the Spanish word for ‘division.’ The forest service says it means “lookout place” and that “the peak had once been used by the Taos Pueblo Indians to stand guard against the Apaches who would come down Taos Canyon to raid the Pueblo.” Or it might be from the word divisar, meaning similarly ‘to gaze at something from a distance.’