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niyama flow

I was in the crowd at a concert and a 22 year-old called me That Older Blonde Lady and I heard her 22-year-old upspeak sitcom twang in my head for two weeks. That Older Blonde Lady? I was like, WHAT—EVER?


One night this kid on the street took our picture and when we teased him a little he recoiled, visibly shaken, and we teased him a little more, asking his age, and he said Nineteen. I was nineteen before he was born. I didn't say it. I only thought it but he recoiled again and snapped back What are you guys, like, THIRTY?

He laughed meanly, satisfied, and we laughed and I don't know why. Trading looks. And he read our laughter wrong and cringed, figuring that he'd just crossed some kind of line, because it's like, totally overboard to call a bunch of women, even old ones, THIRTY, and he apologized.



I look like that most of the time. Not the redefining-hot part. The unrecognizable part, except it's most of the time, so it's all flipped backwards. Sleeplessness, sadness, bloat, or some other ordinary crap fog that anybody gets. Cold sore + preschooler midnight bed-sandwich + four days without a single damned drink of water + $20 chewy sushi + That Older Blonde Lady = unrecognizable. Or maybe none of that. Maybe I just took a nice long shower the night before and woke up all warm and clean and had nowhere to be, so I tumbled onto the floor and into my grandpa's curling sweater and bagged-out leggings and a toque pulled down over overnight dreadlocks because why brush? My office is nine steps from the kettle. It's nice to slum sometimes. Makes it that much nicer, when you choose, to do otherwise.

I stared and stared at that picture of Goldie Hawn. I'd like Goldie Hawn. I'd pretty much do whatever Goldie Hawn told me to do because she's Goldie Hawn. She doesn't owe it to me, you, or anybody else to appear fabulous because there's nothing wrong with her, other than maybe a cold sore and bagged-out leggings.

I miss watching What Not To Wear, though, because the most persistent things in life never add up.



Sound it out. Say the sing song slip-slippery loveliness. (Eight limbs of ashtanga: relationship to others. Self-purification. Postures. Breath control. Sense withdrawal. Concentration. Meditation. Contemplation.) I wrote out the very same thing this time last year and only just realized it: wrinkliness, douchebag tonsils, tinsel, yoga porn. A panicked, apparently annual declaration at year's dusk, like making a significant life change in November and it turns out to be a tax bonus. A status that applies for twelve months despite the significant life change having only been six weeks. As though if I commit to something—a front-page niyama blitz with a hot pink starburst and a daily primary series—2012 could count, just under the wire, as A Year Of Doing Something Different.

I whisper while stirring, practicing, breathing it in and out, because one point among others is drishti: correcting your gaze to direct energy and focus. The punctuation after the work of breath and muscle. True wellness instead of fleeting hotness. You can't ski with grace, either, without leaning head and shoulders aggressively into the downhill. The body knows how to follow.

What makes you recognizable? Unrecognizable? Does it matter? If it were as simple as correcting your gaze, where would you look?


Reader Comments (28)

I try to focus my gaze straight ahead. Unless I'm reading blog posts. Then I get distracted.
December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNeil
I hate when my words make me unrecognizable. Breathe, think, respond. I would turn my focus on saying what I really mean, instead of all the blah, blah, blah that usually comes out. Air pollution. I feel most recognizable when I'm on my own, adventuring and when there's some magic around. It probably matters only to me.
December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce
Where I am most recognizable to myself is a place rarely shared by anyone else. So most of the time the way people recognize me, isn't really me at all.
December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMisty
I didn't think I'd recognize myself if I saw me, but then I stop and shake my head and realize the core, the essential bits, the slouchy hats and clunky boots and drawn out english tragedy loving parts of me are still there, as they were when I was 17. I have to look a little harder and draw her out like a timid kitten sometimes, but she's there. It's what makes age so confusing and to me, not so bad. I'm all ages, all here at once. As ever.
December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJada
Oh, Goldie. She just looks like a person. Isn't this all so surreal?
I'm taking care of someone who is very very ill right now. She doesn't look like her photos; she is unrecognizable to her friends, or would be if it weren't for that when you're in the room with her, she quite naturally is the very same person she has always been. These bodies. These ridiculous shells. I'm fascinated by my obsession with mine.

I don't recognize myself in pictures, and I try not to ask people what they think of my shell. I want my daughter to care what she does, be respected for the things she does for people, and not so much how she looks doing them. So tired of hearing her tell me that she's ugly. She's 8.

I work with dying people. I think everyone is beautiful.
December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSummer
I feel like very few people see me as I see myself. A friend told me once that I was the most calm parent she'd ever seen, and oh, how I laughed. Because of all the adjectives I use to describe myself, 'calm' is only slightly ahead of 'deranged axe murderer'.

I see myself in pictures now, and the face that looks back at me is my mother's, from when we were all kids. Comfortable sneakers, sensible jeans, shapeless t-shirts stained with things. On the rare occasions when I 'dress up', my kids barely recognize me.

The me that I am right now, at least on the outside, is transitory. I hope. I HOPE. I hope that the day will come when I can peel off this 'mom of little kids & daycare lady' shell, and inside will be a beautiful butterfly of something else with a zingy haircut, clothes that fit, shoes with heels.

The story of the boy who took your picture made me giggle.
December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHannah
Jada, I really love your comment.
December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMisty
Jeezuz woman. You are a monkey wrench.

Drishti: I stopped and listened to waves on the shore today but had to force myself out the door & down the hill and over the sidewalks one leg after another, foot, foot, foot, dog, breathe, run downhill, dog!, lift core, but watch your knees, yes, keep going, keep. going. Then there they were. Whoosh.

I'm leaving this open. I'm gonna get back to you. Before the year is out.
December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEarnestGirl
Whoosh. (and then there I was too.)
December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEarnestGirl
See, Kate, the thing I love about your blog is that I get to read the brilliance of your writing and then the wonderful insight of those who respond to your post.
Thank you, Jada and Summer.
"I'm all ages, all here at once. As ever." (Jada) Yes - that is exactly how I feel. I am the 10-year-old tomboy, the 12-year-old victim of bullies, the 35-year-old journalist, the 57-year-old grandmother, and all stages in between. These are all me, a Rubik's cube, where all facets must line up to correctly make the cohesive whole.
"These ridiculous shells;" and "I work with dying people. I think everyone is beautiful." (Summer) I work in palliative care, as well. Yes, thank you. Our bodies ARE shells. Why do we value the container more than the contents?
And Kate, you, who started this whole discussion. "Goldie Unrecognizable." I saw that headline as well and avidly turned to the page which showed Goldie, looking very much like the 67-year-old she is in full-sun glare. So what? I bet her giggle is just as whimsical and charming as ever. But why was I attracted to the negative headline? For reassurance that even the cute girls age, as I have? Why, even though I have accomplished so much more than I had at 35, do I feel like so much less? We have bemoaned this for generations, the supposed "loss" of beauty. Yes, there is so much beauty in youth, the promise, the optimism, the power, dear God, the FIRMNESS. But when does beauty morph to negligible, ignorable, laughable, worthy of derision? Thank you, Kate, for opening the discussion.
December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie
So, I was out with some girlfriends one night last year. We ran into some young ahem, kids and they were being snide. My friend said to this one young punk, "I used to be cooler than you will ever be." I never thought I'd stop laughing. I'm happy to hand it over, I feel good most of the time and I wouldn't trade the experiences and depth of a few good friends for anything in the world. Focus on the good.
December 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle C
My 18-year-old self would not recognize me. Until I talked. Then she would.

Goldie looks fine. She looks like a person. Which she is. She made that expression for about a tenth of a second. I'll bet she has real problems and I certainly hope that's not one of them.

A week or so ago I stopped by my daughter's house, and I hadn't taken time to put on makeup. All I wear is mascara anyway, but I'm a redhead so it makes a difference. My 16-month-old granddaughter Coraline, who usually turns inside out with glee when she sees me, was suddenly shy. Today my daughter was bringing Coraline over to spend the evening. I didn't have any mascara on. I almost put some on so she wouldn't be uncomfortable and then I called bullshit. She was fine. I was almost stupid.

I probably wouldn't recognize my 90-year-old self either. Until I talked.
December 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterReticula
i recognize myself too often. it makes me uncomfortable when i do because i have a crafted imagine of myself as still flexible, lithe, engaged, un-aged. and then i see myself in a mirror with a softened chin, loosened upper arms and belly. i have nothing terribly against these things because they are there....i just do not like to recognize them.

where i feel most present is in class, on the mat, free of self recognition. that is where i just feel, movement and flow and challenge. and in my combat class it is vicious flailing at a non-existent opponent. both complete me somehow. now just trying to find how to carry that out of class and keep it in all the other moments.

keep breathing through it all. it is sometimes the only thing we can do. namaste, love.
December 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteramiee
Illuminations along the grave-bound superhighway:

Yesterday, first ever a Twinkie touched the kids' lips. But, Twinkie Demise Considered, somehow we couldn't live with never offering them that experience. (Questionable.)

[Is everyone in Canada sweeping the shelves for that one, last, precious Hostess Cake? Or do Canadians have better sense?)

Something happened along the way from my ten-year-old-self. New recipe? New taste buds? Old taste buds? Perspective? Lard?

I attempted a Twinkie, too. And it was Not Good. Not even a little good. Not even a little,* little* good.

Death of childhood happy hazy (and much skinnier) memory #590,227.

Also: hip actresses from my memory years are now cast as the wicked stepmother. Or the matronly aunt. Or the drive-thru Fry Lady.

Meanwhile, blessed Summer: "I work with dying people. I think everyone is beautiful."

Dying people are the best company there is.

December 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCathy in Missouri
What fun! Loved reading this. Although if some 10-year old thought I was 30 I'd be in heaven all day long!
December 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Brasket
The invenerate procrastinator in me loves the idea that I still have a chance to turn over a new leaf in 2012, I can still squeeze in a new me, now with healthier attitudes, raw kale for breakfast and a reduced dress size! You are an inspiration Kate! And now I need to go and start fresh, just before 2012 ends...
December 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMartha
I recognise myself in who Jesus is and who i am in Him. Sounds cliche maybe, but since i met Him a few years ago, my life has never been the same. I never knew that He spoke and wanted a relationship with me. Hearing His voice is the most precious thing i have and fills me daily with peace, love and joy.

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGuest
Hi all.., thank you for all these angles, for your own versions of the same thing. I've been pretty much shut down the past couple of days but thank you.
December 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkate
One day I returned to a sweet | salty place and
there it wasn't.

Oh...! I said, and understood, but still so sharp
the missing

already ~ even though it had only
slipped round the


But, then

found again!

it (no, She) came
...naturally I had to

and when niyama flowed

this heart was so


It's no use saying I won't care if you go. But reasons never kept a writer
freedom is yours for the taking.

Write you are,

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCathy in Missouri
Can I say, I agree? Not as eloquently as Cathy in Missouri, but like her, I came here yesterday and it seemed like you were gone. And if you decide that you need to go, please go, but know that I will miss you.
December 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMartha
Cathy and Martha, I took it down because I wanted to disappear. I've been tired of being seen. I've felt like I haven't deserved for people to be as nice to me here as they have been over the years. What gave me the right to share anything at all, given that there are other people who can claim aspects of this story as much as I can? At what point does writing become manipulation? Of the truth, of other people? At what point does writing turn into hiding and running away, despite looking like some kind of get-up-in-the-grill courage or soul work? And shouldn't I be working on manuscripts instead of being here?

There are threads and contexts of various stories that all came together and pointed to taking it down. Suddenly I felt wrong to be here at all. I wanted isolation because I've had enough years of company, and I'm almost 40 and still have no idea what I should want in life, or what the first 40 years have amounted to other than two scruffy-mopped children and one scruffy-mopped phantom, which is a lot, and I'm very blessed in so many ways. But somehow, writing publicly connotes a confidence. It implies that you know something, or at least that you know something about not knowing anything, and I don't, anymore. I'm out of gas in every possible way. I don't trust myself, and you shouldn't trust me either.

The only reason I put it back up again is because the next morning, I got an email from a bereaved parent who'd been looking for one of the Walk To Remember speeches to send her neighbour's friend, who'd just had a stillborn baby. It's just a website, and honestly, re-reading the older stuff—even the stuff about Liam—makes me cringe sometimes for all kinds of reasons. It's hard to look back, and it's hard sometimes to accept that other people might be looking back. Especially when the last thing I feel like is any sort of example of how to live, think, or heal. But apparently there are some pieces on here that are, at the least, some form of company for traumatized people who feel alone. I felt like a jerk making those pieces disappear, even though I wanted to.

I'd like to feel better than I look. I don't know what to do with this space anymore. I've deleted a bunch of stuff that felt insensitive or pointless, or that leaned towards topics that I don't ever intend to write about, because those topics are not mine to write about, and because as soon as I start believing my own angles, I'll drown in that reflective puddle. I just don't get that Oh I Should Write About This thing anymore. I still want to opt out and be invisible. I want to be invisible and wildly productive. And healthy. Some of it's good intention but some is penance. Some of it's in reaction to being exhausted of truthfulness. Some of it's shame. I want to leave because I want to escape. Which is ironic, because I arrived here in the first place for the same reason.

Thank you for caring, and for such thoughtful comments, as always.
December 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkate inglis
I'm glad that you came back. You are a wiser and kinder soul than I will ever be. But I understand about wanting to disappear. But you didn't and I am grateful for that.

I can't say it better than Cathy and Summer and Danielle C. and everybody else already did.

Write you are, Kate (apologies CiM) whatsoever you wish. But I'm holding your book to my heart. I'm waiting to read that book, those Dread Crew adventures, with my first-born-second-born daughter, my Jessica. Who wants to be a pirate. Who will have a dead twin and super powers and be . . .well . . . whatever she decides to be.

I will be clinging to that book.

And I trust you. No pressure to lead the way . . . but you haven't led me amiss so far.

Please don't feel ashamed.

Leaving or escaping. The necessary spaces. As a wise woman wrote.

Catherine W. xo
December 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine W
But somehow, writing publicly connotes a confidence. It implies that you know
something, or at least that you know something about not knowing anything, and I don't,
anymore. I'm out of gas in every possible way. I don't trust myself, and you shouldn't
trust me either.


Soar, eat ether, see what has never been seen; depart, be lost, but climb.

{― Edna St. Vincent Millay}


It is
the way of writers
best loved
oft pondered
hit hard {and hard hitting}
to depart {in the end}

They, You, Niobe, Others
and I know some-of-why;
I never-started
for shadows of
reasons quite

although I never was one
of You
by rights


The longest absence is less perilous to love than the terrible trials of incessant proximity.

{― E St.V M}


Sweet | Salty Kate
who empty
or full
fills hearts
still ― now
you must


December 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCathy in Missouri
I don't recognize myself a lot these days. I see that I have become some weird mashup of my dad's face and strategically sarcastic mouth, and my mom's neck and legs. It's so creepy. I'm still very much recognizable to my friends though... matter of fact, mildly funny, and always down for sushi and chicken wings.
December 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEva
Why doesn't anyone talk about Goldie's shoulders, or her arms? He shoulders are way more sexy than mine. Her breasts are looking pretty good - even if they've been worked on, so what? How old is she? She's almost 70 years old. In that photo where she's not wearing make-up, if she were looking up and smiling... no one would have even noticed.

Anyway. I found your blog through a series of other blogs, and I can't remember exactly, but Hi. I like your writings, and I just had to say, Goldie Hawn looks great. High five to all the "older blonde ladies".

Also, I'm 31 and a 3rd grader called me "that lady" a couple months ago. Which... was... so. weird.
December 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Foust
I googled "mommy blog" the other day and came across this (http://mashable.com/2012/05/08/mommy-blogger-infographic/). Your blog was the last I checked out but the first I loved.
I am in love with your voice. I want to steal a little of it and make it my own, truth be told. Your voice sounds a lot like another one I fell in love with last year (Ann Voskamp's in "One Thousand Gifts"). I'm disappointed that you don't have an "adult" book out for me to soak in. Soon?
I'm new here but looking forward to reading more. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSummer
I just now read above your thoughts about truth and wanting to escape and can relate so much. Blogging is a funny animal. But I so hope you stay around.
January 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSummer
i think what makes me recognizable to others
is what makes me unrecognizable
to myself.
i am always surprised to hear that other think of me as
being creative or competent,
i recently joined a writing group
and was blown away by the writing they shared
and surprised that they even allowed me to stay.

most of the time, lately, what would make me recognizable to myself
would be the constant look of puzzlement on my face,
as i wander around
trying to figure out
who i am...
who is this person trapped in a 40-something body...
and when is this person going to catch up to all the ideas in her head?

anyway...what i meant to write here is that your writing
inspires me.

March 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergkgirl

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