How to make a marathon as blissful as possible

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.

The Marathon

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.”

KRISTEN GEILA sweat life

Please enjoy a stream and a free download of “The City Trees” that came to me on a run many years ago …

Training

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

I also like the Complete Book of Women’s Running by Runner’s World training guide for beginners.  This goes by time rather than pace and I followed this pretty religiously my first two marathons. 

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. 

WEEK OUTLINE

  1. Three 3.5 milers,  long run 7 miles
  2. Three 3.5 milers, long run 8 miles
  3. Three 3.5 milers, long run 9 miles
  4. Three 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 10 miles
  5. Three 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 11 miles
  6.  Rest,  a couple 2-4 milers
  7. Three 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 12 miles 
  8. Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 13 miles
  9. Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 14 miles
  10. Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 15 miles
  11. Rest with cycling & yoga & 2 short (2-3 mile) runs
  12. Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 16 miles
  13. Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 17 miles
  14. Two 3.5 milers w/ some hills & speedwork, long run 18 miles
  15. Taper (barely running,  some biking,  some gentle yoga)
  16. Race

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. 

Saying hi to Scott McKeil and Ann Helm at mile 17!

DIET

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.

THE RACE

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

ASANA – Postures that supported these 26.2 miles: apanasana, dynamic salabasana (locust), dvipadipitham (dynamic bridges), eka pada rajakapotasana (pigeon), virhabadrasana (warrior), ardha ustrasana (half camel / low kneeling lunges), navasana (boat) supta baddhakonasana (reclined bound angle pose), savasana

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!

If you enjoy these writings, songs, teachings of mine, I’d be SO grateful if you’d support my work on Patreon! I’m offering a special through October for all Patreon members $5+ — my first LIVE recording — Live at the Mission Room recorded by Henri Minette. It’s a compilation of songs from my band’s Fall Residency at the Hook and Ladder Mission Room in Minneapolis. Next show is Oct 16th, and Oct. 17 at Reif Center in Grand Rapids, MN.

Tell me, where does that mantra come from? Thoughts on gratitude

Please enjoy a listen and free download of yoga inspired songs here while you read!

I’m at a beloved studio where I teach yoga.  Two classes in a row this morning, 9:30 and 11am Beginners class.  During our breath centering practice at the beginning of each class, I chant a mantra for peace and protection.  It is in Sanskrit, and I offer the translation to students so they know what they are chanting. The translation loosely means, 

“May we be protected;  may we be nourished; may our intellects be stimilated;  may we practice together with enthusiasm; may we practice together without animosity.  Om (the primordial sound of the universe).  Shanti, Shanti, Shanti (peace peace peace).” 

sahana vavatu 

Saha nau bhunaktu 

Saha viiryam karavaavahai 

Tejasvi nau adhitamastu 

Ma vidvissavahai 

Om shanti shanti shanti

I usually chant the whole thing one time through and then offer it as a call and response.  I learned it in my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification program at Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, WA (2009). I always make sure to say that chanting is optional, that they can simply let the sound wash over them. I’m always surprised and humbled at how many students chant in response.  It is so beautiful, and the feeling in my heart and the traces left in the room feel calming and palpable, at least to me. 

When I returned from India this past March,  I was deeply struggling with appropriation. Is it appropriate for me to teach yoga,  as a “white, spiritual woman” as they say? How can I possibly know enough to offer these ancient, sacred teachings?  I talked to a few of my teachers who told me that it is good that I am questioning this and it shows that I have compassion and deeply care.  I also revisted a few books from reknowned yoga masters, like The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar and Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda.  In Autobiography,  Yogananda speaks of how he was instructed to bring the teachings to the west as,  well, we sure could use them! 

What I finally settled on in my heart was that the teachings of yoga benefit all of humanity.  They help us to find comfort and ease in our bodies. The yamas and niyamas provide guidelines to stand in alignment with our morals and ethics.  Breathing practices are cleansing, centering, and may lengthen lives.  The progress inward towards deeper states of meditation can translate to what yoga ultimately means – union,  yoking, uniting with that which is so much greater than us. Oneness, our true self, our higher self, the divine.  

Today after class a student approached me,  very sweet and complimentary. And then she asked if it would be possible to offer gratitude or some information about where that mantra came from as she thinks we should honor and respect its history.  My heart sank and I felt like I failed terribly. I thanked her so much for this feedback. I offered that Sanskrit is an energetic language and that this mantra is for peace and non-denominational. I knew I sounded flustered and was trying my best not to be defensive in my white fragility because she was absolutely right and I feel sad that I didn’t offer any teaching about where that mantra comes from.  

As she was putting on her shoes I approached her again and thanked her and told her about my experience in India and how I often feel conflicted about teaching yoga for reasons of appropriation,  not knowing enough, etc. She said that now she is doing social work at a college and reading so many articles about cultural appropriation and learning and speaking out when she feels called to.  I think this is great and we must do this, and major kudos to her for speaking up. And I just have to know that I have soooo much to learn. She also said that in this modern day, there is so much fusion of culture and we are all changed from the interconnectedness of the human planet.  She said, she’s not an Indian woman and she loves yoga, so she gets it … 

And I’m about to travel back to India in just four short months to study The Yoga of Sound / Nada Yoga. To get deeper into mantra and Sanksrit and the music and culture of India.  I need to be prepared to break wide open from this learning. I need this humbling, all offering deep lessons. I need to be offering gratitude for the root of what I love so much.  SO much.

In my meditation this morning I had asked my higher self / divine guidence to show me how to grow my container,  to show me how to study, to show me the way to learning in that I may be a deeper vessel of service to others. So that I may speak clearly and share my love in a way that grows that love in others.  I think this was one of those divine messages, and I’m grateful for this student speaking up after yoga class this morning, all the way over in Minneapolis, Minnesota where these ancient, humbling,  beautiful teachings have traveled. The spirit in me honors the spirit in you.

Would love to practice with you sometime! My current teaching schedule is here.

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Online diary: thoughts about being a vegan human, yogi, and musician

Please enjoy this blog (or online diary!) with a soundtrack! Click play to listen above 🙂

I was recently out to dinner with some loved ones (all omnivores) in a hip, busy new restaurant in a midwestern state. There was a cauliflower steak with mediterranean orzo on the menu. I asked the server if it was vegan and was assured that it was. When all the food arrived, my plate definitely had cheese alll over in it. I had to send it back — much to my dismay because part of why I am vegan is to not waste food (I’m sure someone in the kitchen ate it). The gathering got quiet and super awkward. When my food finally arrived 10 minutes later, there was the cauliflower steak with a blob of white rice on the plate. Nothing else. All white. $17. To fill the void I said, “I know you all think I’m crazy, but I’ve been vegan for 6 years and just don’t want to kill things.” More silence (more on this later!) A few minutes later, someone dear to me starts talking about how they are a member of a CARNIVORE CLUB at a butcher shop, how they “save big if they buy big.” I excused myself, went to the bathroom, and bawled my head off.

I’ve been vegan coming up on 6 years. Veganism means choosing to abstain from consuming or supporting animal products including meat, dairy, poultry, and fish, purchasing leather goods or other clothing & accessory items that have animal products in them, and taking good care to make sure that my products are vegan and not tested on animals.

During this time, I’ve run a marathon, opened and closed a yoga studio and continued to teach yoga throughout, completed 300 additional hours of yoga teacher certification, traveled to Bali and India, recorded and released a few albums and did a bit of solo / duo touring around the country, and have stayed / stabilized at my current weight in a healthy BMI pretty range much the entire time – definitely not wasting away. My energy stays consistent to fuel all of my work and activities and my relationship with food went from disordered (struggled with some binge / purge behaviors in my young adulthood …) to pretty loving of my body and my diet.

My reasons for transitioning to veganism are a trifecta: for the animals, for the environment, and for my health. During the winter of 2013, I geeked out on numerous documentaries that both terrified and saddened me regarding the state of the planet and the horrors of factory farming. Also for health reasons – how living a plant based lifestyle can be very anti-inflammatory which is great for recovering from exercise (i recovered quickly from my marathon training!), great for heart health, good for the skin and bones.

Back to the dinner party

So there I am, a 38 year old woman, bawling in the bathroom about my seventeen dollar cauliflower steak … but really I was bawling with the conflict of 1) how can I not stand up for myself 2) why don’t restaurants get it? train their staff about these things? 3) why did i speak in such a shaming way to my loved ones, as they are all eating dead animals? 4) why did someone start talking about a carnivore club just moments after i announced that i’ve been vegan for 6 years? … There is some deep psychological stuff going on here, or maybe it’s just the elephant in the room and someone was looking for something to talk about and that was the first thing that came to mind? Regardless, it is SO clear to me that this lifestyle is super important to me and I have to find ways to be stronger about it, and present it in the loving and beautiful way that I feel about it.

Veganism is not doom and gloom

There are many protesters and activists (thank you!) who fight for animal rights front and center. I protest animal cruelty with what I buy or don’t buy, with the music that I write, and also weave ahimsa into yoga classes that I teach. When I owned Imbue Yoga Studio we hosted Plant Based Yoga classes – a yoga asana class followed by a compassion meditation (tonglen) and then a vegan potluck. Ahimsa means non-harming. When paired with Satya – truthfulness – it is sharing a compassionate truth. The truth is, there is SO much suffering and harm done in the current state of our food system. How can we be compassionate when faced with so many horrors, both in the animal and the human world? And yet how can we tell the truth about it, while still honoring each other?

When I say to a table of people eating meat that I don’t want to kill things, there is some shaming going on. Yes it is bold, and it gets people to think, however those people also might want to kill me. How could I have handled that better? I’m going to talk to my therapist about it … I want to be a light and an example of fun and love and health when regarding my veganism. I want to show how easy it is to do this. But I also hope for people to consider where their food is coming from, and all that it takes to arrive on a plate, in a leather belt, in a down comforter, in a bottle of lotion.

And yet I also have compassion, as I was not fully vegan until I was 31 years old. It was a long journey of learning for me, and it is still unfolding … and I’m proud to be me and I don’t need to go cry about it in some restaurant bathroom. WOW!

And so, I would like to share some resources!!

The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine has some great vegan kick-start resources. Download recipe and meal plan ideas here!

A typical day of eating in my world looks like this – a few sample meals:

  • banana or apple + peanut butter or oatmeal w/ maple syrup + soy milk + hemp or chia seeds
  • salads with kale, peppers, tomatoes, avocado, nuts, beans like chickpeas or black beans
  • burritos with tons of beans, maybe a nut based cheese, onions, guacamole, salsa, rice … or a curry with potatoes, tofu, broccoli … or vegetable stir fries with seitan (wheat gluten / mock duck) and rice or quinoa …

Some cookbooks that I love are Eat Feel Fresh by Sahara Rose, The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone (yes, the actress!), Mistress Ginger Cooks by Mistress Ginger / Justin Leaf, and so many more are coming out allll the time. Minneapolis is SUCH a hotspot for plant based eats, too. If you live here or are visiting anytime soon, check out Fig + Farro, Trio Plant Based, J. Selby’s, Vegan East and some other spots that aren’t totally vegan have wonderful options: Pizza Luce (their rinotta for pizza is SO YUM), The Howe, and many asian restaurants have vegan options – get tofu or mock duck and you are golden.

Happy Cow is a great app / website for finding vegan spots wherever you live. And Barnivore is great for finding vegan alcohol. Yes, sometimes egg whites or fish bladder are used as filtering agents. WUT NOW???

What to wear to the show

I used to love leather boots and jackets. Over time, I felt terrible about it. Wearing a dead animal around felt like such a heavy weight to me. I now even seek out vegan running shoes. How weird, that even running shoes wouldn’t be vegan!

I just did a purge of some lingering items and they await for proper burial and release in the garage, waiting there like sad ghosts. Some of you may agree and some may disagree, but rather than give away the items to goodwill or pass along to friends as I used to do, I’d like to have a ritual to honor the creature in a big ceremonial fire. So, if you’re having a fire soon, let me know. It may seem wasteful, however to wear these items means to perpetuate the use of animals for clothing — people might like what you’re wearing and want to go buy it for themselves and demand creates supply and then more beings are harmed in the making. There are so many cruelty free designers of shoes, clothes, bags, and gorgeous things. Here is a blog about 10 of them, including Stella McCartney.

What to put in the rider

Here is a fun blog about How to survive tour as a vegan musician by Chris Rookie. I’m just about to talk to my manager about updating my rider to include things like no bottled water or single use plastic items like plastic plates or forks, as well as providing vegan snacks like nuts, fruit, clif bars, hummus. When I tour I always bring food. Pack a cooler and have lots of those previously mentioned items on hand. Checking those apps like Happy Cow and Barnivore help with dining out and vegan booze.

How to carry on with love

I’m in recovery from trying to make everyone like and love me. Hence the shame and running for cover when faced with conflict. Hence pouring my heart into art because I need a platform to express it since I sometimes haven’t been able to speak for shyness. It is a privilege to have the options in the United States of America to speak our truth, and to have choices – SO MANY CHOICES of what to eat, what to buy, what to wear, and who to love. I am grateful every day for this freedom. Because I have so many options, I choose to do the least harm. I want to do this without shaming people, I want to shine light on dark truths to ultimately lift us up into a more compassionate, cruelty free world. Thank you for reading. Thank you for moving in any direction that leads you towards less harm, more compassion, and more love for yourself, your neighbor, and all of the beings winged, four legged, finned, and feathered. Namaste!

If you enjoyed this blog, please share with your friends 💘 If you would like to support my work in the world, I have a small and mighty online community with Patreon that gets exclusive content and utmost gratitude. Check it out here to join! Patreon.com/marybue

Courage to be you

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.

photo by Jason Huntzinger

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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Settling into the new norm: travel stories, recording update, Homegrown Fest Recap, and Upcoming Creativity + Yoga Retreat in Bali

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.  

“I Have Wrestled With The Angel And I Am Stained With Light” – Mary Oliver / April 2018 Newsletter

Good morning, sunshine …

To begin,  a quote by Mary Oliver from a stirring article twitter brought to my awareness via Brian Pickings:

“It is six A.M., and I am working. I am absentminded, reckless, heedless of social obligations, etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt. My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.” – Mary Oliver

 

Uke Fest, Subscribe to MEEEEE, Replacements Tribute, Supporting NPR Tiny Desk Winner Gaelynn Lea: October Newsletter

Hey there music lover!

And how blissful it is to love music!  I’ve been digging in deep,  running with it,  crying with it,  feeling elated by it.  It’s been awhile since I’ve been so excited by listening to music.  Weird,  huh?  I feel like all my senses are hyper lately and the world is fresh and new,  my ears are PERKED.  I hope yours too!

Lots of stuff going on, as usual.  I went to some conferences,   am launching a subscription fanclub thing so you can get hot-of-the-press exclusive song demos and things,  and have some really rad solo shows coming up to round out this CRAZY ASS YEAR.  Read on if you wanna!  xoxoxox

Quality over Quantity

In 2015 I played 90+ shows.  In the Midwest, on the west coast, in the south.  This is nothing compared to the more seasoned full time musicians,  non-stop touring,  living in their vans & buses,  300+ shows a year.  However for me,  doing my own booking and promoting and holding down rent and some yoga teaching in Duluth at the time — it was quite a lot.  I have so many great memories (and alas,  some not so great!) and especially love the travel aspect and connecting with new and old friends.  This country is incredible and huge and its inhabitants vast and varied.