Friday, July 23, 2010


I can't do a headstand.

It's true. When I first began to practice yoga eleven years ago, every class wound down with headstand. I was getting close, and then, all of a sudden, headstand was out and everyone was ending class by teaching handstand against the wall. Don't get me started on that.

When I began practicing with Sherman a year ago June, and he taught pincha mayurasana in the center of the room, I decided inversions weren't going to stop me anymore. Like an inchworm I crept up on the pose. Until, a few days ago, Sherman instructed those of us still finding the pose to begin with headstand and then press up into forearm. I froze. He noticed and, from across the room, told me to try it the new way.

I was forced to confess the gaping sirsasana-shaped hole in my practice.

It doesn't make sense that I can't stand on my head at this point. So I decided to go at it with fresh eyes, and asked a friend, the inestimable Taylor Spearnak, for some help before class. For months I've watched her press carefully and deliberately into headstand after class, and I know she practices like a demon at home. A zen demon. She advised me to stay in my tuck for a while. I don't mean a few minutes. More like, a few weeks. I have trouble getting my legs off the ground into the tuck, and I sense that this is because my hips need to be an inch or so further over my shoulders.

I know where I'm going. I've had the feeling of perfect balance, where my feet seem to float off the ground on their own. And I love that feeling of balancing in the full pose -- which is in no way static -- more like a stalk of wheat swaying with the revolution of the earth.

I know where I'm headed. I know the steps necessary to get there. Putting it together has me stuck.

So, Taylor advises me to press down with my wrists and I realize it's not about my literal wrists, but rather the first three or four inches of my forearms. I press down as hard as I can with the "wrists." I remember a tip from Jerry Bianchini, who put a soda bottle a few feet behind my mat for me to focus on while upside down -- because I tend to forget where I am in space like a lost diver, who forgets to follow the bubbles toward the surface. And then Sherman tells me to stay forward on my head (Really?!! Revelation.), and not to grip my hands so tightly together. I tend to clutch my fingers behind my head as if my hands are my brakes, which, in this case, they aren't. The hands don't do much at all -- what a coincidence -- another opportunity to LET GO!

I got into my tuck, balancing, and awesome Taylor screamed like Coach Taylor on Friday Night Lights -- "Suck in your gut! Suck it in! Suck it in!" And I do. The fact that I could find my gut while upside down was a breakthrough. I compacted myself, and remained conscious, all the while balancing on my head. Awesome.

It makes perfect sense that I am challenged by forearm stand. I skipped from A to D. Now I have to go back and fill in B&C. Humbled once again, I meet myself on the mat, the sum of all my teachers. (Whether or not they choose to claim me.)


On another note: I feel like crap. I'm on my third day of a migraine -- it feels as if my brain is sloshing around my skull like the bubble in a carpenter's level.

In addition to the headache, the spots in my vision, and the nausea, I'm battling a heavy case of stinkin' thinkin'. Do any of you walk around the streets -- or drive them -- arguing with people in your head, defending yourself to them, stressing yourself out via your own imagination? If these arguments do come up IN REALITY, it's not like solo practice is going to make any difference. This self-inflicted angst is not doing the pain in my head any good.

I know how to heal myself. Yoga, obviously. I tried today, but left after 55 minutes because the floor was pitching like the deck of a Bering Sea crab boat. I'm already known at Yoga Sutra as The Girl With the Vuvuzuela Fart. I'd hate to be The Girl With the Coconut Water Puke All Over Her Mat. I have enough problems.

But I think my weight is out of control, and the extra 60 pounds hanging off my frame is pulling everything out of whack. Including my spirit. I wish I could just let it be -- I'm proud of myself in most areas of my life these days. But my body? Despite its strength and flexibility, I am ashamed. I never look in a mirror anymore. Sometimes I don't go out because I'm embarrassed about the way I look. It was one thing when I had the stress and demands of writing As the World Turns keeping me in my chair around the clock. That is gone. I'm all out of excuses.

I need to return to the original Yogini Bikini mission. I have 5 months left. And the bikini's still hanging on the closet door.

I have a vision of myself speeding along Manhattan streets on my pretty pink bicycle, sundress blowing out behind me, feeling pretty and free. The dress doesn't fit right now. Most of them don't. And buying new clothes won't help. Anything looks good on a body in balance. And conversely....

I have so much gorgeous fabric waiting just across the room to be made into sundresses for biking, dancing, brunching.

I guess I'm asking for help. I'm not sure what kind of help I need, but I'm hoping you, my friends and readers, have some words of wisdom for me. All comments welcome.

As I start over... again... I thank you for being part of my yoga adventure. Namaste.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Missing Link

I overslept (again) on Friday morning. Set my alarm for Sherman's class every day last week, and missed every single one. Not all of them due to oversleeping. I'm working on a bunch of projects and sometimes I want to sit and work first thing rather than fight the sidewalks of New York. I practiced in the afternoons instead, and it was nice, for a change of pace.

For months now, I've been toying with the idea of returning to my ashtanga practice. Not replacing Sherman's power yoga class, but supplementing. When I looked at the Pure schedule for Friday afternoon, in search of a class, there it was: 90 minute Led Ashtanga at 5 pm.

I used to practice Mysore-style ashtanga -- a self-practice in a group setting. It's hard and extremely personal. Ideally, you can't fudge anything, because you are alone with your practice, working your way through the series, asana by asana, counting your breaths. I find it deeply centering in the way I find lap swimming centering. As I swim laps, I inevitably find myself counting with each stroke: one, one, one, one. Then two on the second length, and so on. It quiets the noise in my brain. Ashtanga does this, too, as I count one through five breaths in every asana.

My teacher, Christopher Hildebrandt, left Yoga Sutra soon after I farted like a vuvuzuela when he gave me a superhero assist in Marichyasana B. In order to fully grasp the experience as I lived it, you should know that the room was dead silent but for the sound of ujjayi breathing. I crumpled and capitulated: "Oh my God."

"That's what it's for!" Christopher crowed, as if announcing a winning goal.

Never, ever, ever eat sauerkraut at midnight before a 7 a.m. yoga practice.

Needless to say, I have post-traumatic gas issues with finding a new studio for my practice. With the added worry of not remembering the sequence (as if no one else in the room will be doing the same asanas in the same order) -- I hadn't gotten around to trying ashtanga at Pure.

I made it there Friday at five, and the moment the teacher began counting in Sanskrit, it was as if I could here the voices of all my previous teachers calling out "chatwari," and, as if by muscle memory alone, I was in chaturanga, just as I had been thousands of times before. My body and my breath remembered everything. I had missed this practice.

After the practice, in savasana, I felt like my body was more compact -- hugging the midline -- burning away the things I didn't need. I'm sure the extravagant number of twists in the primary series creates this phenomenon. After power yoga, I feel awesome, but because, with Sherman, we do a lot of backbends and arm balances, I feel spent in a different, looser way.

Yesterday, Saturday, I went to Sherman's 11:15 class at Yogaworks -- and I felt strong, still and centered, like I hadn't for a long time, despite the classroom being overcrowded and steamy -- too crowded to work on my forearm stands with confidence, for lack of falling room.

This morning, my quadriceps woke up before I did, then demanded to be heard. Ouch. But it was good to feel them still there, still strong. Between Sherman and ashtanga, I feel balanced -- and stiff -- but as if I've found the missing link in my practice.

Life evolves. Practice evolves. Thank goodness.

I've been feeling a bit lost without my weekly script deadlines to mark the passage of my days, so this week, I've got 7 yoga practices in the book. I'm going to let the daily mat milestone pull me through, and remind me which way is forward, when I get turned around.

But right now, it's time for some more Advil. Lots of Advil.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Same Words, Different Voice

The plan was to get up at 5:30, drink my coffee, pack my goggles and meet Quilty in the hallway at 6:45 to bike to Central Park's Lasker Pool to swim laps outdoors for the first time in decades. I woke up with excuses and fear on the pillow beside me. I haven't been on my bike since my last bout of unemployment, two summers ago. I had been so excited about going. I'd googled every available byte of info about adult lap swimming in NYC parks. Despite all that, I wimped out via text. I went back to sleep and slept through Sherman's class, too. I woke up feeling like a failure.

When I regained consciousness, I decided to reverse the plan and go to afternoon yoga at Pure, then head to lap swimming at 7 pm.

That's how I ended up in Matt Giordano's 4:30 pm hot power class. I've been practicing fairly exclusively with Sherman Morris at Pure and Yogaworks for 13 months now. But sometimes hearing the same words in a different voice wakes you up to an aspect of the practice that may have gone unconscious.

I didn't go to Matt's class blindly. He assisted at Marco Rojas's Inversion Workshop a few months ago, and coaxed me into doing a somersault when I was frozen in panic. I liked him, and I remember his assists being just right. Not wimpy. Not afraid to break the big girl.

Hot yoga, on the other hand, is one of my least favorite things. But this was not a Bikram class. And it was only scheduled for 60 minutes. I can endure anything for an hour, especially if I station myself near the door, where the oxygen accumulates.

Surprise. The class was perfect. Steady and measured. Simple but deep. Basic poses with optional advanced variations, all of which I took, because -- instead of causing me to circle the drain of consciousness the way it usually does -- the heat made me feel juicy. My chaturangas felt especially strong and controlled. Sometimes in Sherman's class I psych myself out, because I know how many dozens of chaturangas and bona fide push ups lie ahead. Rather than take them one at a time, I hold back early -- in a very subtle way -- rather than letting myself be tired down the road, when it happens, and trying to move the point of exhaustion later and later in the class. Perhaps the difference yesterday was that I had no idea where Matt's class was going, so I couldn't ration my energy for what I knew was coming. That helped me stay in that moment on the mat, as Matt asked us to do in our opening meditation. I was forced to take the ride down an unknown road.

What a mirror for my life these days.

I had a strange experience in Vasisthasana (Side Plank). I've been working on advanced variations in this pose. On the left side, I can bind my right toe and lift my leg up fairly high. Once I get there, I've been playing with keeping my balance, keeping my butt tucked underneath but not too far, so as not to fall backward into an inadvertent Rock Star/Wild Thing. As a Sherman veteran, I know that's where he's going after Vasi, so I frequently weasel out of going back into Vasi and stay in Wild Thing, waiting for the rest of the class to catch up. Or take a time out for water. Truth is: I'm faking it. Thinking ahead. Cheating.

But isn't Wild Thing the best name for a pose you ever heard?

Doing Vasisthasana on the right, I'm glued to the earth. I can get my right leg into tree pose and stick it there, but the minute I try to bind my big toe I come crashing to the ground.

Yesterday in Matt's class we moved into Vasisthasana unexpectedly... Both feet together. Classic. Basic. And I couldn't do it! My mind was all over the place trying to find the basic form of the asana. I'd forgotten the building blocks. (Like my feet...)

I was stressed. Magically, Matt -- who was nowhere near me in the studio -- talked about meeting stress on the mat -- not avoiding it -- and then conquering it with the breath. Great practice for the rest of life. Yoga can be stressful. We evolve by moving through that stress to see what's on the other side. And that is an amalgam of the Matt Giordano/Sherman Morris philosophies, as interpreted by me.

Toward the end of class, I had a significant breakthrough. Handstand is my nemesis. Sherman has begun to include two sets of handstand prep into class -- he asks for 5 kick-ups -- middle of the room -- and I do my best to oblige, although I'll admit I usually manage only 3 or 4. My kick ups are so earthbound I must look like a tortoise in the high jump. My inner monologue: I can't do it. I'll never do it. Handstand is impossible.

Just as I began to mentally check out, Matt took Child's Pose and said: "Those of you who do this when handstand comes up -- this is what I want you to do." He raised a leg in standing split and lifted it from there, the bottom leg leaving the ground for a moment as all the weight rocked onto his arms. "Ugh," I thought. Then I tried it. Suddenly, I suspended! Not for long, but it was better than never. And I had a sense that, eventually, I might be able to stand on my hands. It was an awesome moment.

So awesome that, after class, when I made it to the pool in Central Park only to learn lap swimming was canceled, I didn't much care, because the smell from the wildflower meadow I'd just passed was so intoxicating.

It's good to know that, just because I've overslept and missed Sherman's class, there's still yoga to be had. And always something new to be learned.

The Hindi word "Samskara" means impressions. Impressions made on you by the actions and reactions of your past. These impressions form pathways. Habits. Default settings. Sometimes it's important to step off the path to find it again.

Tomorrow morning, when Sherman asks us to kick up five times, I plan to start from standing split and practice hanging in the air for one suspended second. I can't wait. And that is something brand new.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Superfreaks Only

Saturday morning, Independence Weekend. My heart is heavy. It feels physically heavy in my chest, weighing me down. Most likely this can be attributed to an acute case of PMS, exacerbated by the vacuum in the middle of my life where As the World Turns used to be. I feel like there is a rogue wave of tears waiting just behind my eyes -- needing to come out. Tears of release. I know from experience that the only way to climb out of this funk is to hit the mat the way I've planned and surrender to the practice.

Sherman's 11:15 a.m. Saturday class at Yogaworks is my favorite of the week. It is, in fact, the only reason I still go to Yogaworks, and well worth it.

I'm very happy that I've created the kind of life where there's no room for stasis. It's not easy at times like this, but what an opportunity I have now.... again.... to reinvent my world, rather than living in a mold I cast for myself, without knowing it, at the age of 21. I'm so much braver now. I speak up for myself. I trust my choices. I love my friends. I've got no time for bullshit. And I have so much left to say.

So why have I been sitting at my desk in a tshirt and a pair of boxers, watching Seasons 1-4 of the BBC's Waking the Dead nonstop for three days? Hey, nobody's perfect. And it's an excellent show. It's British.

The sad truth is -- Season 5 is not yet out on dvd. So I guess that means I'd better get back to work. I'm excited about the future. I think the reason I've been sitting here staring into space since landing back at JFK on Monday afternoon is that I'm a bit afraid of what may happen next. The good stuff.

I have a framed copy of Marianne Williamson's famous quote on my wall. We've all heard it. I pass it a million times a day and, rather than think about it, nod a "yeah, yeah, I know" nod. But it's a classic for a reason. And I need it now.

"Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some; it is in everyone. And, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

I'm trying to live up to this today. And the only way I know to do it is to go back to basics. Yoga practice. Writing practice. Breathing practice. Love. But first, I'm going to turn up the music and dance.

In honor of my ten year old doppelganger, Olive in Little Miss Sunshine... I bring you my theme song:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Yoga Sells (Out)

7:30 a.m., Monday, June 21

I began last week at Mind Over Madness, the Times Square Alliance's annual Summer Solstice Yoga event. That's Douglass Stewart in the Yellow t-shirt, leading the class, and there I am, third yogi from the left, wearing all black. My warrior two should have have been deeper, but hey, it's Times Square. Apologies to the photographer. I nabbed this from the official website, and am looking for a name to credit. Please don't sue me. It would be a waste of effort, and you don't want to see me ugly cry. Namaste.

The event was awesome. The sun was bright. The sky cloudless. The Times Square neon was brighter than the day itself, and that is just as it should be. Douglass -- a new teacher for me -- was extraordinary. He built the class around the fact that, on the solstice, the sun is at its zenith, and asked us to open our hearts as we moved from asana to asana. Standing there in the vast open space of Times Square -- loved by me since my first visit with Mom at the age of seven -- there was nothing between me and the light, and the more I opened my heart in each asana, the more my surroundings melded into a kaleidoscope of brilliance (and commerce) but mostly energy. I felt the yoga.

Kudos to the organizers. The event was flawlessly handled. Sound and crowd control, security, ticketing, distribution of swag -- brilliant. There wasn't a false note, and because of that, we were all able to breathe deep and feel secure at the crossroads of the world. The class wasn't easy. Even better. And the corporate sponsors were mostly yoga studios and yoga companies. Douglass read a brief sponsorship blurb -- mercifully brief -- and we moved on to our practice. That was the reason we were all there, after all.

Then there was Flavorpill's branded-within-an-inch-of-its-life Yoga on the Great Lawn.

5:30 pm, Tuesday, June 22

Epic fail.

I was so looking forward to being one of 10,000 yogis and yoginis to practice together on the Great Lawn.

The event was HEAVILY promoted. Shoved down my e-gullet, it would be fair to say. I registered the first day for a "chance" to "win" a ticket to this record-breaking event. I don't give a damn about record books, and I doubt many yogis do, but Flavorpill was all worked up by the Guinness Book-ness of it all. When, a few days before the event, I heard that I'd "won" a place, I was invited to bring three friends. Translation: we don't have enough people.

The day of, under threatening skies and the pull of inertia, I received a 5 pm update. I paraphrase: "Come to the park, yogis! Those clouds above are a mirage. It's the revenge of the pilates people. It's not going to rain. We have a drummed up weather report that says so! And by the way: DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BRING YOUR OWN MAT!"


There was no way I was going. Rainclouds, my impending trip to Vegas, and irritation about something unrelated had me horizontal. Then my friend Quilty came downstairs and began pushing all my buttons. He knows yoga always makes me feel better. And he used the magic words: gift and bag. So off we went to Central Park West and Yoga on the Great Lawn. I assume.

We never saw the great lawn, actually. We were on line at the 81st Street entrance by six o'clock. Except the end of the line was already at 83d. By 7 pm, when the class was supposed to begin, we were still JUST INSIDE THE PARK ENTRANCE! Nowhere near the event. The unsupervised but polite, fit, and heavily-tattooed queue snaked along pathways as far as the eye could see. We barely moved. There were no helpful Flavorpillies with walkie-talkies to give us updates.

The only way we could tell how far we were from the Great Lawn was by mentally triangulating our position with the Jetblue helicopter hovering midway over the park. How do I know it was a Jetblue chopper? From all the impatient yogis streaming out of the park with their free Jetblue promotional yoga mats. There is nothing more centering than practicing yoga on a mat that reminds you of narrow airplane seats, interminable airless runway delays and the use of alien toiletries because your brand doesn't come in a 3.5 ounce container.

While we waited, I assume the sea of "complimentary" Jetblue mats was arranged on the Great Lawn for the benefit of the photographer in the chopper high above, shooting an ad, teeming with extras bought for the price of a piece of molded rubber. I was getting cranky.

It began to drizzle, then rain fat, sloppy drops. Still no Great Lawn. Not even close. And then, out of nowhere, a Flavorpillie appeared, waving her arms as if calling off an airstrike. "No more mats! Go home! The Parks Department called it."

"No more mats?" This was me.

"No more. Go home." A woman ahead of me emitted a "What?" of disappointment. The Flavorpillie hugged her.

"We don't need a hug. We want our mats!" Quilty. Pithy as ever. The chick shrugged and evaporated. The crowd began to disperse, heading toward CPW, since, apparently, the middle of the park was "too dangerous." Quilty and I looked at each other. There was no need for words. We headed for the Great Lawn.

Allow me to digress for a moment. We had freakin' reservations! We jumped through hoops to get our bar codes. We were way early. How can it be we never even got to see the venue? I can only assume from what I saw next that there were two or three chokepoint entrances to the Lawn. In keeping with the Jetblue theme -- one was cavity searched for foreign mats -- i.e., mats sans corporate logos -- then handed the swag and ushered through. The bottleneck was for the sponsor not the yogi. I call bullshit.

When Quilty and I reached the entrance, there were still thousands of mats. Box upon unopened box of them. One dude was handing them over a snow fence into a spray of outstretched hands. We moved to a calmer person standing beside a head high stack of boxes.

"May we have our mats?"

"No more."

"What about those?"

"They're for charity." (And by charity, they mean the encore event in September. We grabbed mats from the righteous dude a few paces back, then forged ahead for the Flavorpill-stamped gift bags. We'd earned them after 2 1/2 hours on line. We'd been duped, and we wanted our pound of yoga coupons. But they, too, were for "charity." And the cute cardboard boxes filled with chocolate muffins from new carbon-free restaurant Otarian? Dear Otarian -- you should know the Flavorpillies left your swag out in the rain to be destroyed. We grabbed a few, though, and they were delish.

But the worst were the people manning the barricades. I confronted one of them with "We waited on line for 2 1/2 hours! We deserve at least a mat!" -- by the way, I said this as attendees were passing by with -- literally -- four or five mats per person. The alleged yogini 's reply was an insipid smile and "Have a nice day!" I went into a fugue state at that moment, but the bit of my reply I can remember consisted of "Bite me!"

When Quilty and I finally stumbled out of the park clutching our cheap mats, I stepped off the curb into a whirlpool, a vortex of surprising suck. My treasured peacock-patterned Haviana flipflop floated off my foot and under a moving car. I dove after it, narrowly avoiding death, as my other flip flop floated away, to be rescued by a similarly soggy stranger.

We found subway seats across from an obvious tourist in polo shirt and khaki shorts, holding ten mats. I'm sure he was taking them home to the orphanage he runs in Cabrini Green.

Wet and irate, Quilty and I emerged from the subway looking like Flavorpill's Most Wanted. At the turnstile, a slim, black clad woman spots our mats and asks us how "it" was. We launch into a duet -- ranting against the corporatization of Central Park, the Selling of Yoga, the disorganization and disinterest of Flavorpill... When we calmed down, she asked us for a swipe of our Metrocards. She was crazy. We just thought she was vegan.

That was our yogic moment. We laughed hysterically all the way home.

The past week, I've read many self-congratulatory articles by Flavorpill and the other event sponsors. They are patting themselves on the back for breaking the yoga record. Paging Bikram Choudhury.

I'm going to say it right here. Yoga on the Great Lawn SUCKED. It was a lie, a sham, a debacle -- and the rain had nothing to do with it. There were more yogis left outside the Great Lawn than actually made it to the field. Hey, but as long as Jetblue got their shot....

But my week's not over yet, friends.

Saturday morning I flew (Jetblue, sigh) to Las Vegas for the Daytime Emmys. I was part of the team nominated for Best Writing for As the World Turns. Despite the comically unfair nominating procedures, I'm always proud to be there, because I'm proud of much of the work I do, even if nobody knows I do it, which is, more often than not, the case in the soap genre.

Soaps ARE the stories. Whether you like them or hate them doesn't matter. The viewer is reacting to the stories, and the stories are written by writers. The actors are playing characters conceived by writers. In fact, characters endure while the actors playing them often move in and out of the roles like relief pitchers in the world's longest baseball game. Roles make stars. Writers make roles. And when a wonderful actor inhabits a role, and adds his or her magic to the text -- it's alchemy. (Colleen Zenk Pinter, I am talking about you.) I admit, there are some dreadful soap writers out there. But without dedicated, skilled, passionate writers as well, the genre would have died out long ago.

Unfortunately, in most cases the daytime writer is treated like the mentally-challenged cousin who can't be taken anywhere because she likes to hump table legs while singing the National Anthem. Of Russia. The lobotomized Kennedy. Tennessee Williams' retarded sister. The pregnant thirteen year old altar girl.

So imagine my unbridled joy when I check in at the hotel, and the nice young man with the Emmy credentials points me toward the Gift Suite! Finally! My friend/fellow nominee and I are escorted by a youngster with a walkie-talkie toward the golden door. "I'm bringing in Cheryl and Leslie from As the World Turns," she broadcasts. I stand a little straighter.

We reach a table staffed by youngsters with lanyards and clipboards. There is an audible buzz coming from the swag room and -- even better -- people I do not recognize -- people who are definitely not soap stars -- are coming out of there with bags FULL of Lululemon Yoga Wear! My favorite! And being just unemployed, I can't afford to buy it anymore. The swaggees are laden with shopping bags of all shapes and sizes, but all I see are the Lulus. I feel appreciated.

Until I realize none of the doorkeepers will look at me.

"Where are you from?" they ask again, as if I have said, "The planet Gallifrey. My Tardis is parked outside." (Dr. Who reference.) They pretend to scan their lists, but their eyes glazed over back when I said "We're nominated writers." And then they said it.

"The gift suite is for talent."

Profound humiliation does not begin to describe the feeling -- the shrinking, spreading feeling of being a puddle of stinky, fly-covered diarrhea blocking an Upper East Side sidewalk on a sweltering New York City afternoon. I was Carrie at the Prom. I don't know what Cheryl was doing because it was all I could do to stand there, ears buzzing, cheeks burning, eyes welling with angry tears.

I didn't try to make the youngsters feel better at my expense the way I would have a few years ago. Instead, I made it worse.

"Are you saying, we're not talent?" Our perky escort began twirling her lanyard and babbling about being responsible for the Lion King company all week. How they were going to be in the show and -- can you believe it -- they would have to leave the Emmys and go do the Lion King right afterward! Isn't that awesome? No. The Lion King isn't on TV, much less on Daytime, but , being "presenters," I'm betting they got their Lululemon.

But hey, why advertise on a writer's ass? It's always in the chair. EXCEPT WHEN IT'S IN YOGA.

After barring the door, lanyard boy spoke slowly and clearly -- as if to a deaf-mute -- "I guess you can go in and look around, but you can't take anything." Thanks, but I'll head over to the waterboarding suite instead.

I've wondered if this anger makes me a brat, a whiner, a greedy, petulant bitch? But it's not the free stuff that's the issue. It's the inequity. It's the ignorance. It's the unabashed playground-level cruelty. It's the ghettoization of the writer - the very engine of the genre. I get it. Mine is not the ass that will be photographed -- or maybe it is, but you deem it unacceptable. There are days when I feel the same way. That's why I do YOGA.

Thank God, I do. On the mat, I've learned, like the lotus flower, to seed myself. And survive.

Being turned away from the gift suite was indescribably painful, burdened, as it was, with eleven years of soap opera baggage. Those who have encouraged me know who you are, and I love you for it. And the As the World Turns company was, more often than not, an exception to the rule. But this dis from a stranger in the name of yoga made me cry. Great, heaving, stomach-churning sobs.

And then I picked up my pen and got back to work. In my new favorite Zobha yoga pants.

I'm Back, and I've Got a Whole New Life

I have been absent. Not from my mat. I've made it to practice, which has given the last few months a through line. No matter what chaos was happening outside the studio, I hit my mat with varying degrees of sanity, but committed, even when balancing on the lunatic fringe.

My yoga practice is always there for me. As soon as I roll out my mat -- gently and silently, not with the "look at me" thwack and gust of the more aggressive Upper West Side yogi/nis -- I know where I am. More often than not, I surprise myself there. On a hairy morning with not enough coffee and insufficient wake-up time, I ache. My muscles grip for dear life. Nothing gives. Then all of a sudden I do something I've never before been able to do, and I'm reconnected to myself. The trick is getting to the studio. Or at least the floor.

I am now officially unemployed. As the World Turns taped its 13,859th and final episode eight days ago. I flew to Vegas to celebrate the Daytime Emmys -- sadly, we didn't win, but three of our actors took home golden statues. I spent 41 hours on the ground in Nevada, then jetted back home, to wake up Tuesday morning with nothing but possibility staring me in the face. I've been staring back ever since, waiting for one of us to blink.

The past few months have been about wrapping up eleven years of writing for daytime. I put more of my heart into it than I knew until this weekend. And now, all that energy has been freed up. I have no safety net. And no savings. Seriously. None. I'm scared witless.

Fear is not a bad thing. In fact, it's inevitable. Eleven years is a long time to fill any mold. On last night's "So You Think You Can Dance," Bruce Lee reminded me to "Be Water." I'm water spilling out of a broken glass. Where to? Back to the mat. Always we begin again.

So what now?

I signed up for my dear friend Stacy's July Project: 31 Days of Experiencing New Things ( I invite you all to join me. It's summer, after all. I'll start tonight with evening yoga practice -- I'm a morning practitioner, and if I feel up to it, I'll grab a coconut water and stroll over to Lincoln Center afterward to listen to Midsummer Night's Swing. I put MNS on my calendar every year, but somehow I never get there. Time to change that.

Who knows? There may be a tango class in my future. And I'm fascinated with the idea of AcroYoga -- talk about facing your fears -- but I'm afraid no one would partner me at this size... I want to swim laps in Central Park in the early mornings, and ride my back home. And I want to write so many things. There's nothing standing in my way except my brain. But isn't that true for all of us?

The cool thing is, I have no choice but to move forward. The past couldn't be more over. I couldn't take refuge there, even if I wanted. I don't. I'd rather look ahead, and take the wonderful people I've met in my eleven years in soaps along with me. You know who you are. And you know who you aren't. Only adventurers need apply.