The matriarch of the Chavez clan has left us

Photo: bundled-up woman against snowy backdrop
Teresa’s mother, Maria Luisa, dur­ing a snowy visit in 2008

Yes­ter­day, Teresa and I received the painful news that her mother, Maria Luisa Car­rasco de Chavez Del­gado, had passed away after a long, grad­ual decline in her health in Peru. Teresa had been down to Lima to see her mother three weeks ago. Tomor­row, Teresa will fly down to Lima again, but this time to join her three sis­ters in lay­ing her mother to rest.

As the matri­arch of a clan  of sisters, Luisa (or Celeste to her inti­mates) wel­comed me into her home 43 years ago when I first fell in love with her daugh­ter. For more than 15 years, she lived right next door to us in Miraflo­res,  She is inter­twined with my mem­o­ries of Peru. When we moved back to the States in 1996, she came up for Christ­mas almost every year to visit with us and her other daugh­ters, grand­chil­dren and great grandchildren.

A critic’s eye

Photo: a bearded man and mature woman critique a painting
While we were out in San Fran­cisco, Matt showed us his art stu­dio at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley. Teresa exam­ines his lat­est work.

My son, who now goes by the name of Matt Smith Chavez,  is on his home stretch for a Mas­ter of Art Prac­tice at Berke­ley. He’s teach­ing an under­grad­u­ate course this semes­ter, and will do another one in the sum­mer. Grad­u­a­tion is only months away. Then, he’ll have to give up his funky, Bay-​​front art stu­dio and fig­ure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life. Mean­while, he just has to create.

This is another brief entry to show that I am still alive, but unable to carry coher­ent thought for more than a paragraph.

When at a loss for words, use a picture

Photo: sunset on the Pacific Ocean
The mag­i­cal moment on Half Moon Bay just south of San Fran­cisco, Novem­ber 2014.

I have not been writ­ing here much recently. I’ve been work­ing too much, not get­ting enough rest and exer­cise, and try­ing too hard. Hark­ing back to our fall trip out to see our son, Matthew, at Berke­ley, is the equiv­a­lent of send­ing a post­card on the Internet.

Dock on the Bay

Photo: woman poses with San Francisco skyline behind
The sky­line of San Fran­cisco can’t com­pete with my wife’s smile.

Of course, Maria Teresa is not in Cal­i­for­nia, but in Lima, Peru, deal­ing with her mother’s declin­ing health. We won’t be together for St. Valentine’s Day, but she’ll be in my heart.  The photo is from our trip in Novem­ber to visit our son, Matthew, at Berkeley.

Fall foliage among sculptures and cafe sippers

Photo: people seated in museum open-air cafe at the museum in autumn
Court­yard cafe at the DeY­oung Art Museum’s sculp­ture gar­den in Novem­ber in San Francisco 


Yellow leaves like lotus petals at Buddha’s feet

Photo: statue of Buddha with tree behind
Bud­dha in the Tea Gar­den in Golden Gate State Park, San Fran­cisco. Novem­ber 2014.

This photo is grac­ing my page.

Fake, Evil, Spiritual, Commodified; What’s the Truth About Popular Yoga?

An inter­view with Andrea R. Jain who wrote Sell­ing Yoga: From Coun­ter­cul­ture to Pop Cul­ture lays down some pretty heavy tim­ber on pop analy­sis of yoga’s intro­duc­tion into Amer­i­can main­stream cul­ture and even the snip­ing from India about West­ern yoga being a bas­tardiza­tion of yoga’s true essence:

Fake, Evil, Spir­i­tual, Com­mod­i­fied; What’s the Truth About Pop­u­lar Yoga? | Reli­gion Dis­patches.
The key mes­sage for Sell­ing Yoga’s read­ers is that yoga has been per­pet­u­ally context-​​sensitive, so there is no “legit­i­mate,” “authen­tic,” “ortho­dox,” or “orig­i­nal” tra­di­tion, only con­tex­tu­al­ized ideas and prac­tices orga­nized around the term yoga. In other words, the inno­va­tions unique to pop cul­ture yoga do not de-​​authenticate them sim­ply because they rep­re­sent prod­ucts of con­sumer cul­ture.
Pos­tural yoga is a transna­tional prod­uct of yoga’s encounter with global processes, par­tic­u­larly the rise and dom­i­nance of mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism, indus­tri­al­iza­tion, glob­al­iza­tion, and the con­se­quent dif­fu­sion of con­sumer cul­ture. To reduce its inno­va­tions to bor­row­ings from, or the mere com­mod­i­fi­ca­tion of, oth­er­wise authen­tic reli­gious wares, how­ever, would under­mine the nar­ra­tive and rit­ual func­tions and mean­ings of yoga for many of the prac­ti­tion­ers I engage with in my study — the insid­ers to mod­ern pos­tural yoga.

This means I’m going to have to buy another yoga book on Ama­zon for my Kin­dle. At least, it will not crowd my book­shelves or weigh down my shoul­der bag. It was pub­lished in December

Jain also points to another book, Heaven’s Bride: The Unprint­able Life of Ida C. Crad­dock, Amer­i­can Mys­tic, Scholar, Sex­ol­o­gist, Mar­tyr, and Mad­woman by Leigh Eric Schmidt. He tells the story of of a mod­ern hero, Ida C. Crad­dock (1857-​​1902), “whose life, though tragic, reveals impor­tant themes in the early his­tory of mod­ern yoga.” Schmidt has writ­ten about the Amer­i­can reli­gious expe­ri­ence.  Reli­gious Dis­patches posted an inter­view with Schmidt when the book came out.

A setting made for photography

Photo: mother and grown son stand together in Japanese garden
Teresa and Matt at the Tea Gar­den at Golden Gate Park in San Fran­cisco. Point a cam­era in any direc­tion and frame a great perspective.

Sunset on Half Moon Bay

Photo: sunset on the Pacific, near SF
The mag­i­cal moment on the Pacific Ocean: surfers on the lazy waves, the sun kisses the sea and the light turns golden.

I’m just begin­ning to process my pho­tos from my Novem­ber trip to San Fran­cisco to visit with my son, Matt. On Thanks­giv­ing Day, after vis­it­ing the SF wharves and the Golden Gate Bridge, we headed down Inter­state 280 and then cut over to Half Moon Bay, arriv­ing just in time to catch the evening light show.  It was worth the trip.

Where I’ve been spending my time

Photo: a work station in an office cubicle
It’s not the same as a yoga mat.

It’s not as wel­com­ing as a yoga mat, but it’s where I spend most of my wak­ing hours, learn­ing the ropes at LCG Inc., build­ing work­ing rela­tion­ships with my peers and ply­ing my trade as a writer-​​editor-​​researcher. The com­pany is about a tenth of the size of my pre­vi­ous employer, but I prob­a­bly do 10 times more work. I used to say that I worked in the Prop Shop; now I am the Prop Shop. Even though we have not pre­sented a pro­posal since I’ve been here (mid-​​November), mainly pre­lim­i­nary responses, I always got a clogged to-​​do list and a stack of tasks. There’s all kinds of writ­ing and think­ing that needs to go into prepar­ing to bid for a Fed­eral contract.

LCG is a dif­fer­ent kind of cor­po­rate ani­mal. It’s small busi­ness work­ing in the Fed­eral health IT sec­tor and grants man­age­ment. It’s a chal­lenge to under­stand­ing the details of each field. We’re work­ing with 17 agen­cies on the IT side and even more on the grants  man­age­ment side. I have to cre­ate a kind of score­card to keep track of all the clients, acronyms and play­ers. It’s also in Fed­eral gov­ern­ment so there’s all  kinds of chang­ing tak­ing place in the way that infor­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy is handled.

Just as with DMI, the com­pany gives me a lap­top that I can take home with me, usu­ally on week­ends. Most work days, I don’t have time to check my per­sonal mail, Twit­ter or Face­book accounts dur­ing busi­ness hours. I don’t even think about it. It’s a height­ened focus that can stretch over sev­eral days. I some­times have to force myself to pack up my bags and leave the office.

Yoga slows down

For the past four-​​five months, I backed off my prac­tice and focused on restora­tive or yin yoga classes. Plus, the hol­i­days were par­tic­u­larly dis­rup­tive of my nor­mal rou­tines, get­ting to the gym and class. I’ve had to take time off work to deal with den­tal surgery and that time has to be made up, assign­ments deliv­ered on sched­ule, and lessons learned. Thrive Yoga is on my way home, not 10 min­utes from the office, but I still find myself dri­ving past it because my dis­ci­pline has been sapped by my work­load.  But that’s pre­cisely when I should be going to class.

I wrote this entry last night, but my blog secu­rity sys­tem locked me out after mid­night so I could not post it until now.