Lynne’s Blog

Memories of Mom

 Lynne and her 4 siblings collaborated on childhood memories and Lynne delivered this eulogy at their mother’s celebration of life.

I think we can all agree on two things about Mom, Lil … that she loved to laugh, and that she exceeded our expectations on her longevity!

And those two may actually have a lot to do with each other. We know that laughter is the BEST medicine and mom always took her minimum, and often maximum daily required dosage of laughter right up to her last waking day.

She also inherently knew a truth that I believe comes with wisdom, that there are IMPORTANT things in life but very little that needs to be taken SERIOUSLY. She could laugh at herself and frequently did. In fact, in our last conversation on the telephone she did just that.

My call woke her up and she was disoriented. “What happened to me?”, she asked. Cindy had mentioned that this could happen and how to prompt her to feel safe, so I responded, “Nothing happened mom, you’re in your room. Do you see the family photos on the wall?” She said, “ oh yes, I see my daughter”. I said, “yes and soon someone will come to help you get dressed, and then Thom will come for a visit and take you out of the room for awhile”.

She paused and then said with a laugh, “Well I guess I’m just NUTS!” And we both started to laugh so hard that my husband Jim caught the vibe from the other room and started laughing too.

Mom liked to make others happy. From surprise birthday parties to surprise gifts, to fun family vacations we, her children , benefited from her desire to make us happy. Just one of many stories is from my younger sisters, Julie and Margie. It was a hot summer day in July , about the time when they were in middle school and some vacation boredom had set in. They were out in the yard talking to a teenage neighbor who was out sunbathing. Mom came out with a big brown grocery bag. She, reached in, took something out and hurled it at Julie. The bag was filled with snow balls that she had kept in storage in the freezer from the previous winter. You can imagine what happened next, the unarmed neighbor may not have appreciated it quite as much as mom and the girls did ;-).

Mom was resilient. All of us at one time have commented that mom was such an inspiration in her ability to never complain. She would pick herself up and take charge of her life despite having MS or in the face of the difficulties and adversities she faced in her lifetime.  I recall one conversation from when mom found herself middle aged and single. She said, I’m going to travel. I want to go to Hawaii and China and I’m going to date for a while but within 5 years I’m going to meet someone for a serious relationship and remarry. She did all of those things! (the latter, more than once!)

Mom could be endearingly spacey.  When she finally got her first cell/ flip type phone, she was caught in frustration trying to get it to respond to her commands. Julie looked up and was able to clear up the problem by telling her, “Mom, that’s the TV remote.” Well who hasn’t done that right?

Mom was creative. She played piano and cello, and brought an artistic sense to our home and childhood. The first house that I remember living in, in Hales Corners had a basement play room. It was your typical cement brick walled Midwest basement with exposed pipes. Mom spruced it up with a hand painted mural depicting the counting nursery rhyme. See if you remember this: One Two….buckle my shoe, three, four…shut the door, five, six…Etc. Did I mention, that mom was a kindergarten teacher?

And, If you happened to be on the Christmas Card list, you may remember her hand drawn cards with our cut out heads attached (an early version of Jib/Jab) that we all loved until the ‘tween years when they were EVER so embarrassing.

Mom was supportive. She encouraged our individual interests and studies and celebrated our successes. From dance, to travel, to horses, to swimming, to scuba, to starting a business she was our cheerleader. I can remember several times being woken up after my bedtime because there was a program that mom thought would inspire me to further pursue a current hobby. I remember getting excited watching Juliet Prowse dance on a late night program. Sadly, the dream of professional ballerina did not pan out for me.

Mom knew when to set boundaries. We didn’t get away with being rude, or lazy. Household chores were always part of the weekly routine with a family of 7. The want ads were on display the year we each turned 16. We WOULD find a job.  Although we may not have been grateful at the time, we all grew up to be independent and self reliant as a result.

Mom was a beautiful woman. Lilian Fuss, Kosikowski, Cole, Geisler says it all. She was never long without male admirers or attention. Right up to our wonderful friend and her beloved companion Thom. She didn’t come off as needing the attention, she enjoyed it, but her genuine ability to make her companions feel happy in her presence and her delight in them, drew them to her.

Was she perfect? No, but who is? And today, we’ll forget any imperfections, because we want to remember her and send her on her new journey lightly and unencumbered by heavy thoughts. Let’s take a moment in silence to send her our unconditional love, and know that she is both receiving it and sending it back to us. (Moment of Silence)

Mom was fun. And she loved to Laugh. So, although we’ll have lots of tears today, we’ll soon remember the laughter and join together in that laughter in the memory of our mom and friend, Lilian.

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Lynne consults with an expert on her Cow Face Pose.

Book II. Sutra 41
“When the body is cleansed, the mind purified, and the senses controlled, joyful awareness needed to realize the inner self,  comes.”

From Light on Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by BKS Iyengar

Some of this blog is excerpted from one I wrote 10 years ago, June of 2008.  Revisiting it now has reinforced the significance of this sutra in my life.

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The Value of Samyama

Book III Sutra 4 – When the three (last 3 limbs of yoga*) are performed together, it is called Samyama.
*Concentration, meditation, integration

When riding the skytrain in Bangkok, Thailand the loudspeaker announces at every stop to “mind the gap between train and platform”. One day, with a smile, my inner voice said, “mind the gap between brain and thoughtform”.

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Runaway Truck Ramp

On a recent van camping trip where we racked up over 5000 miles seeing the beautiful west coast of the USA we passed several runaway truck ramps.   Most of these were on steep downhill grades where heavy machinery could suffer from overheated brakes or loss of power.   They are engineered to slow a fast moving heavy vehicle by diverting them onto an uphill grade with several inches of gravel and often a berm at the end.   There was one however, that seemed to counter all laws of physics and safety in this arena.   We were at first a little shocked and then helplessly laughing at the absurdity of this ramp’s design.  Not only was it slanted downhill, but it had a mere 3 barrels at the end of it after which it dropped off over a precipitous cliff.   Jim said it had to be a ramp designed by the roadrunner for Wiley Coyote!

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Affirmative Action

My feet have been gathering no moss for several months now.  A little frost, some sand between my toes but very little hometown dirt has stuck to my shoes since last fall.   Teaching, family and wanderlust have kept me on the move since well before the fall elections and only now do I have the time and desire to settle in and reflect on what appear to be major shifts in the national landscape.

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Settling for Less

Do you think that yoga can change society? Can it help those who are marginalized or disadvantaged in their society, particularly women?

This question was posed to me in a recent Skype interview with a woman who is working on her Ph.D thesis on Women and Yoga at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. My response to this, and to many questions regarding the effects of yoga practice, is that it depends on the motives and sincerity of the practitioner. For yoga to be transformational the student must be willing to settle for less.

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Being Complete

To have negative traits is not to be flawed, but to be complete. – Deepak Chopra

This quote reminds us that expressing our authenticity means to embrace all of our ambiguity as human beings.  How many times have we pledged to be kind, stay calm, or get up early and do our practice and then lashed out, stressed out or slept in the very next day?  Being authentic, not perfect, is a quality of self acceptance, of being comfortable in our own skin and often, needing to find the humor when we fall short of self imposed rules and regulations.  Authentic joy fills the space of our inner witness when we are neither attached to our perceived good qualities or repelled by the “bad” ones.   This is often followed by a big belly laugh of recognition of our wholeness.

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Calm amidst the Crowds

Yogas Chitta Vrtti Nirodha

Most of you who have studied yoga for any length of time are familiar with this definition of Yoga by Patanjali. Yoga is the calming of the whirlpool of the mind.

At times the mind feels like a busy shopping district crowded with panicked last minute shoppers 3 days before Christmas. Every thought is bumping and jostling for first place in line. All the while trying to find that special something that will grab you with its need for attention, fulfillment, and gratification.

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GOING WITH THE INWARD FLOW: lessons from four legged friends

Book Three, Sutra 2 of Patanjali’s Yoga sutras states: “The continuous inward flow of consciousness is meditation” (Nischala Joy Devi translation).

When I was a child we adopted our first dog, a spirited toy poodle.   Predictably, the care, feeding and training that was promised by us kids, failed to materialize and fell onto mom.  With 5 children and little extra time on her hands, dog training became a low priority.   As a result we spent many hours frantically trying to find, catch and retrieve “Pepe” who took every opportunity to escape the home front and run free.  At the time we thought of this as people with a “bad dog” problem, but looking back, I see it was a dog with “bad owners” problem.  We were too preoccupied to give the dog the attention, discipline and love it really needed.

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Delving into Our “Super” Natural Gifts

Book III of Patanjali’s Yoga sutras can be intimidating and vexing to our logical linear way of thinking. There are layers of meaning and even practical ways to look at the seemingly miraculous powers that Patanjali says are bestowed on the adept practitioner of yoga.

Although the outcomes may be super, the process is natural; Tapas the spark of interest and enthusiasm, Svadyaya, the deep and childlike curiosity to learn about our true nature and Isvara Pranhidhana, the realization that there is no end to the profound and awe inspiring nature of our own Being.

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