Saying thank you (with slightly clenched teeth) for crow pose


If all I had to do was stand there for crow pose, I'd be quite content. Image download from

If all I had to do was stand there for crow pose, I’d be quite content.
Image download from

I am not what one might call adroit in any yoga pose other than shavasana, a.k.a. corpse pose, where the only requirement is to lie still on your back. I have finally come to look forward to downward dog, have reached an agreeable truce with chair pose, and do OK with balance poses like tree and airplane. Of course, I can say that unequivocally because I don’t have to watch myself stumble through these.

But the one pose we try in class that I cannot, simply cannot get any close to mastering is crow. If yoga instructors everywhere will pardon my saying, I do not like crow, not one little bit. I will channel my father here (who, by the way, could get into lotus pose as easily as he could make enchiladas), and phrase my thoughts like this: “Crow pose rubs me the wrong way.”

At this point, you might be asking, “If The Grateful Runner doesn’t like crow pose, why is she saying thank you for it?”

Fair question, which I will answer, as I tend to do, by backing into it. On Saturday, for the second Saturday in a row, class was almost over when my beloved instructor announced we were going to work on crow. The first week, I focused on arranging my blocks (to help steady myself) and blanket (to catch me when I would no doubt fall) and then on cheering for Chrissy Cortez-Mathis, an every-other-Tuesday instructor who made the pose look so easy. (So does my friend Karol, who wasn’t there on Saturday, but who I know practiced at home every night till she got it).

This past Saturday though, I just felt sort of paralyzed. And then — this is embarrassing to admit, but whatever — I felt like I was going to cry. The week hadn’t been the best (save for an evening with my sisters and my mom), and my immature and petty self thought (which I could demonstrate right now with melodramatic facial expressions and maybe make both of us laugh) “I CAN’T DO ANYTHING!”

But I breathed into my frustration, admiringly ogled aloud those who could do the pose, and settled onto my mat for Shavasana. After class, my dear yoga pal Cindy and I went to Starbucks, where she bought my coffee, shared her croissant and lifted my spirits.

The world has its share of anguish; it has plenty of sorrow. But crow pose? C’mon, Leslie. Not being able to do it ranks about 9,857 on that serious-life-issues list. And the good parts of this life I’m blessed to lead trump crow shortcomings over and over and over again.

That morning, lying on my mat; feeling the energy of everyone around me (which isn’t just yoga-speak; it really does happen); and, finally, walking into the sunshine after spending a where-did-that-hour-go? with Cindy, I felt lucky. And I felt grateful.

So for situations that make us doubt ourselves, and for the perspective they show us, and, yes, for crow pose, The Grateful Runner says thank you.

new crow


Saying thank you for Starbucks


This is not, needless to say, the sign you want to see when, for the last two miles of your run, you’ve had to go to the bathroom. But you’ve consoled yourself by focusing on what’s ahead; namely, the sturdy concrete toilet-containing building in the park that’s on your route.

And then you see the park, and the building and — WHAT?! Yes, the sign. Of course you try the door anyway because, though you could sort of see your breath when you started out, you can’t any more. So the temperature really isn’t freezing…is it?

But 32 degrees or not, the door was locked on my run this morning. Fortunately, a desperate glance across the street yielded this vision:

starbucksAh, it might as well have been a neon sign pointing to Atlantis, or to a castle in the sky, or to the end of a rainbow. I slipped in the back door; blessedly, the restroom was open. Moments later, I resumed my run.

So for unlocked bathrooms, for not being irritated at myself for needing to stop, and, above all, for Starbucks...The Grateful Runner says thank you.

Saying thank you for being looked after

Coffee tastes especially good when someone makes sure you get the kind you like

Coffee tastes especially good when someone makes sure you get the kind you like

I love my neighborhood Starbucks. There is something very nice about knowing the names of the baristas whose shifts coincide with your stop-by time. Having them call you by name, too, makes the visits doubly nice.

The manager, Jason, recognized me from the times I used to stop by the Preston Forest location after dropping my son at school. His memory is much better than mine; he brings up names of his former co-workers, but none ring a bell. Still, it’s nice to have that connection, that bit of shared history.

I don’t get by my Starbucks nearly as much as I’d like. My stops tend to be after a swim, which is also after yoga on Saturdays and after running and church on Sundays. I am a boring order. I look steadfastly up at the menu above the bakery items, noting the seasonal drinks as well as the tried and true.

When it’s my turn, if Jason or Susan (whose visor-wearing prowess I alternately admire and envy) is working, they’ll say, “Tall bold today, Leslie, or grande bold?”

What size, yes, my big decision.

I went in on Friday and the store was pretty busy. Jason was doing managerial things and Susan wasn’t there. But when Jason saw me, he said to the young man who was working: “Grande bold for Leslie. No room.” (As in no room for cream)

The barista (baristo?) dutifully filled the cup. As he popped a green mermaid stick into the hole on top so coffee wouldn’t slosh onto my lap as I drove home, Jason suddenly turned from what he was doing, looked at the label on the coffee urn and then at me.

“Wait!” he called. “That’s Italian Roast! You don’t like Italian Roast. I don’t like Italian Roast!”

He was right. I love dark, bold coffee…but not Italian Roast.

He told the young man, “Make her an Americano.”

I handed Jason my Starbucks card. He took it and said, “I’m only charging you for a tall bold.”

So there you have it. Something seemingly small, but also pretty big in my book. Yes, I am a big girl, one perfectly capable of looking out for myself. But sometimes…sometimes…it’s nice to know someone has my back. Or at least my taste buds.

And for the times when that happens…The Grateful Runner says thank you.

Saying thank you for secrets of the sky

Sky Jan 26 14

For the first time in quite a few days, I wore no jacket when I ran, capris instead of tights, and I almost took off my gloves after a few miles. Though I donned a denim jacket to wear to church (yes, my church attire is about as fancy as most of my other outfits), by the time I walked out of the chapel, I didn’t need it.

I stopped at Starbucks, then sat on my patio drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. After yoga a few hours later, I was driving home and could hardly keep from staring at the sky. Every few hundred yards, it seemed to change, becoming just a bit more breathtaking.

As I may have mentioned once or twice or 497 times, I am a weather watcher. So I know that less than 12 hours from now, today’s and Saturday’s warm temperatures will seem like a sweet spring dream.

This is the kind of thought that makes me harken back to pioneer days, when there was no Traffic & Weather Together on the 8s, no Weather Channel, no

The Cartwrights and Rowdy Yates and those bonnet-clad women on wagon trains probably savored such warm temps thinking, “Ah, spring is here” — only to be awoken by blustery winds that all but knocked over the cattle they were herding and blew their corn pone several counties away.

My father, God bless him, had a fascination with and an inherent knowledge of clouds, of storms, of sunshine. Among his many catchphrases was this one: “Ah, honey,” he’d say, “the weather is always changing.”

We can look at the sky — at ourselves; at our lives — and see what we think will stay the same for a long time, perhaps even forever. But everything is always changing, at times in ways we’d choose; at others, leaving us a bit perplexed.

Dad for his part, could probably have looked at today’s sky, let out a big sigh of gratitude and amazement and, without even seeing the five-day forecast, remind me to enjoy today’s warmth now. I however, cannot; thus my relying on — well, you know — those chief meteorologist types, especially since my dad is no longer here to offer his observations.

So for looking to the sky, and for the secrets and the magic it holds, The Grateful Runner says thank you.