pithy-rants of Renée Roehl.com site

yoga boo boo


I’ve been practicing yoga for about 40 years along with lifting weights and working out in gyms. I’ve seen trends come and go in both arenas. Changing it up can make it fresh, especially gym classes. But with yoga, the shift has been from listening deeply to the body, holding an asana/posture while allowing the body to release on it’s own terms, into a westernized bullying practice.

Popular yoga forms:

  • Ashtanga: succession of tedious asanas (series 1, 2, 3) for weight loss, can’t-find-your-breath work
  • Power yoga: restyled Ashtanga from the 80′s for aggressive westerners
  • Birkrim: repetitive overkill in high heat to torture the body, developed by a said-to-be sociopath; not surprised if that were true
  • Kundalini: constantly moving, energizing, no genuine breath work except for the out-of-breath kind
  • Vinyasa Flow: also adapted from Ashtanga (and other traditions) for weight loss and aerobic work

You get the drift: it’s more about a workout, losing weight, being fit, etc. and not so much about focus, stillness, being or breath. Unfortunately, these unkind types of yoga now dominate most studios. Good luck finding one that regularly offers (more than once a week) a yoga class of yesteryear that is varied, centered and truly cares about the breath/body/spirit like these adaptations:

  • Hatha: what we used to think of as yoga but originally meant the physical aspect of yoga practice
  • Yin: more like the old “hatha” but not quite challenging enough and often seen as a compliment to “yang” (the above yoga types) rather than a practice of it’s own
  • Iyengar: similar sequences enacted, inclined to more standing poses and use of props

Seems to me that if a “major workout” is what you’re looking for why not do TRX, Zumba, Parkour or Crossfit? Much “yoga” appears as a disguised gym class. Maybe it’s just trendy to say you take yoga. I don’t know.

In my day, if you had back injuries, insomnia or other maladies, yoga was prescribed (think Lilias Folan here). Anymore, I hear from doctors/PT practitioners that more and more people are regularly being treated for yoga-related injuries. Something feels wrong about that.

I’m not against “vigorous” yoga styles; I’d just like options. I dislike the ‘either/or’ atmosphere of a punishing toughness or the “newbie” too gentle/old people yoga. How about ‘and & both?’ A variety of asanas besides the same 20-ish. Instead of a facetious nod to breath work there’s an actual incorporation of it.

I’d like more respect of the body, not the badgering it. Trust it to know itself instead of the continual, callous imposition upon it—in exercise, in food. Listen with deference and understanding and then…let go. Yoga taught me that years ago. I no longer see that message sincerely conveyed in today’s classes (O, the words are spoken but the undercurrent and movements don’t back it up) which is why my yoga practice is mainly done at home.

Our culture does enough manipulating, hustling and shoving of our spirits, minds and bodies. Can we please have yoga back?


usa fashion: men are just taller boys

In the USA (unless you live in big cities, particularly the coasts), many men dress like little boys: ball caps, striped shirts (not the hip type), dumpy pants, sports jerseys, warm-up “suits,” button-downs seemingly snatched off the floor, sneakers, flip-flops, t-shirts with literally stupid words on them.

It doesn’t get much better when guys “dress up.” Boring characterless suits of cheaper fabrics like polyester that are too tight, too large, ill-fitted across the shoulders and with wrists gangling out; they look like their wife or mom scored them at Goodwill. Same goes for tacky sport coats. Even most ties have no pizzazz. Payless “fashion” shoes, bland socks, generic belts. Bad haircuts and errant hairs emerging from…orifices.

boulder jersey-shore pittsburghbuffalo

And then there are “international men,” regardless of age: sweaters, dashing overcoats, masculine scarves and cravats, hats of all types, boots, shoes and belts of fine tooled flair that one can’t help notice and admire. Hair is styled whether there’s a little or a lot that befits their face and head. There’s thought and care, yet comfort and allure. In other words, they’re as attractive and fetching as most women are.

We women like to gaze at beautiful humans, too, and we’d like some of them to be men.

10913Neg6960Web 10913FabR6950Web 11813JNWATNBE3385_web 10813StrPld6034Webshutterstock_60745798

The word “romance” originally meant things Roman. Maybe there’s a reason that the Italians and Spanish are considered the most romantic. They certainly dress the part.

With many birds, the males are stunningly more colorful, gorgeous, plumed to the nines than the females. I swear human chanteuses take their cues for boas and headdresses from peacocks, pheasants and ducks. Male birds perform lovely dances and Bower birds build impressively decorated homes to charm the female.

So, men—wherever you live—take a cue. Get a clue. Most females aren’t expecting hand built homes but, geez, couldn’t you take a little time with yourself so we might think you’d take a little time with us, too?

We women do want to be wooed and wowed with some “plumage” action. You don’t have to have a plethora of clothes or shoes; it’s more about effort than financial investment:

  • Get a pleasing haircut and then style it in the morning. Don’t just gel or paste it. Ask your hair stylist for a tutorial.
  • Buy quality fabrics in shirts, pants, suits that FIT. Experiment with colors, patterns or sophisticated “simple.”
  • Wash your clothes, then IRON THEM. Sorry, you must.
  • Graduate to real shoes. Unless you’re jogging/running or at the beach don’t wear sneakers or flip-flops. There are many types of snazzy/smart comfortable shoes, sandals and boots.
  • Accessories ‘make it’ as mentioned above: scarves, belts, hats but also a simple silver bracelet, modest gold earring, patterned vests, classy socks, tasteful satchels…
  • Go for elegance whether it’s for nighttime chic or easy-going.

who’s an artist?


“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it” ~Vonnegut

What makes an artist? Maybe the ability to deep listen to the subconscious/collective unconsciousness of the zeitgeist to reveal something fresh. By my definition, they’re pushing the envelope of the unseen to illuminate, soothe, disturb, delight.

Not all artists (by this I mean writers, songwriters, filmmakers, etc.) are doing this. Many of us know who is and who isn’t, except everyone has different “levels of vision.” Hence: Art is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe. But there’s quite a bit of narcissistic crap passing as art, particularly in film and most know it when we see it. [see: wolves & liars & cons, so what?]

A few craft-people do create art, but most don’t. Most go for safe. Nothing wrong with safe; it sells. And it’s art-like. But I think the idea for what they make is just that, an idea. From the head. I think artists hear/see something beyond anything the head can conjure. This opens up the can of worms whereby the more you do something the more layers you see and explore. If you do safe, you usually don’t, see more, that is. I wish we had a distinctive word—that’s not derogatory—for “prudent” art, one definitely not defined by the elitist art world or academia, those experts at marginalizing.

Moving on: there are those who must have the perfect desk, computer, pen to begin writing or the ideal studio space to paint. Every duck in an uptight row. They collect tools but rarely use them. Are they artists?

The trick is to be in the middle:

  1. Hold true to your vibratory vision. When it’s “right” you’ll know. There’s no short cuts/easy ways out. No artist does this. Easy is the refuge of fools.
  2. No perfectionism, believing those critical voices that if we only did X, acquired Y, explored Z…we’d do it then. Unfortunately the bar gets pushed farther and farther out by unrealistic “head lies.”
  3. Accept “good enough.” This doesn’t mean settle. As William Stafford says: Lower your standards. He wrote a poem a day and felt blessed if he got 12 good poems a year. By just doing. That’s how we get better and better and thwart the unfeasible, unreasonable voices within.

So, do whatever level of “art” calls you. My teacher noted we only know the level we’re on and the ones we’ve already done. This is where faith that we’ll be able to tune in deeper and deeper as we immerse ourselves in listening, doing, listening, doing, listening…

A friend’s current healing plan away from his childhood coping strategy of delusion may be helpful:

“Faith is doing what you have to even though you can’t see it. It’s not about religion. Whatever we’re doing in our lives which appears immutable and real—like being in the business world—the leap of faith is to realize that what seems true is not, and leap toward that part you trust is right.”

It won’t be easy, may even be painful but just keep on.

wolves & liars & cons, so what?


I often denounce the banality of our United Statesian juvenile-boy culture but today’s post specifically targets “entertainment.” If it’s been done, it’s been done ad nauseum.

I want movies, TV, books and art to inspire. That doesn’t mean they have to be uplifting or saccharine. But most films/TV shows are based in stimulation not inspiration. What’s that Georges Braque quote? Art disturbs, science reassures. ‘Disturb’ doesn’t have to denote degrading or doltish.

Yes, people can be greedy, violent, criminals. They cheat, fuck, lie and con. And so? Do we have to be subjected to it over and over with no experimental depths, no new inner regions to explore? Breaking Bad, for instance, dealt with all the above in mostly fresh non-gratuitous ways.

People also pick their ass, eat boogers, punch toddlers, pop juicy pimples, splurt diarrhea and I don’t want to watch any of that either.

Recently, I had two new subscribers to Rant-ology! I checked their profiles and found a bevy of boobs and shaved pussies. Ho-hum. What’s the thrill in sending out porn spam? Why must others see it with you? I forgot—it’s that sophomoric “Look At Me” bullshit.

So, movies. Sigh. If a director keeps making the same film again and again just altering details, maybe said director should see a therapist each week instead of subjecting the world to his neuroses/disorders. Psychologists are paid to listen—and deal with narcissists.

What I’m saying is that dysfunction doesn’t necessarily translate into art.

The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle are new films about rapacious sociopaths, brimming with humping, lies, indulgence, nimiety and over the top sexism. Yawn.

Christina McDowell, daughter of another piece of shit Wall Street psychopath wrote a courageous open letter to Scorsese about his veneration of the above redundant monotony. Her father was “business partners” with Jordan Belfort—self described Wolf in the first film. [BTW, I resent this scumbag affiliating himself with actual wolves]:

“You have successfully aligned yourself with an accomplished criminal, a guy who still hasn’t made full restitution to his victims, exacerbating our national obsession with wealth and status and glorifying greed and psychopathic behavior. And don’t even get me started on the incomprehensible way in which your film degrades women, the misogynistic, ass-backwards message you endorse to younger generations of men.”

I won’t be seeing either of these films; I don’t need to…because there’s nothing new here, just more and longer.

It’s often said: you vote with your dollars. If you want higher quality entertainment, stop paying for crap: the worship of greedy-white-guy “values,” special effects (not special when excessive), shoot-em-up-chase, male fantasy fucking/sucking, manic all-noise-no-rest animation (must all talking be yelling?), misogyny, exalting war in make-believe or real life. The zeitgeist of the day could use some fresher, restorative images that appeal to more than one demographic.

What if we created women-friendly shows? NOT chick lit/flick; this is what the “establishment” thinks women like. What if we explored the profundity and complexity of humanity instead of the depths of depravity? 

how to get sh#t done in 13 steady steps

Revised-Resolutions, Dan Zevin

  1. Make a priority list with End-dates for each thing; write them down. Yes, each thing. Don’t be delusional. We all think we’ll do our taxes early, find an ending for that piece we’re writing, update our website, master that song, have lunch with friends, work out, practice trumpet…but we don’t. Try not to betray your Self. If you go past an end-date, re-set it. Strive to do what you say.
  2. Begin again and again until you’ve accomplished it. Consistency is key; a little time given most days. Again don’t be delusional; just because you’ve done it once doesn’t mean you’re actually doing it. True, it is one step above many Generation X-ers who believe that wanting to do something is the same as doing it. [see: there is no there there, and i’m not talking about oakland or how not to be delusional].
  3. Don’t be mean to yourself with this list. It’s your wish list not a dictator. If you only have time to practice guitar for 15 minutes, do it. Stop with needing everything lined up/cleaned before you start. Ask the Mr/Ms-perfection-ducks-in-a-row-person within you to sit down, not criticize/analyze and present you with “Brilliant Brutal Plan #347″ that makes you want to quit from the sheer weight of it’s unrealistic expectations.
  4. Chose something you’ll never be done with: playing piano, mastering a new language, being kind to other people. End-date? When you die.
  5. Focus on what you’ve chosen. Regardless of appearances in this culture, you really only do one thing at a time. Be present to that thing no matter how small. The fewer objectives you have in the Now, the better you accomplish them.
  6. Do the difficult thing first. Acknowledge your inner resistance but leap right into activity anyway. This is the kind of challenge that builds new pathways in the brain and allows for stronger more inspiring choices in the future. The complex things usually involve more than one or two “sessions.”
  7. Conversely, intersperse and perform simple things that give small endorphin hits from achieving: washing dishes, hanging up your clothes, cleaning your car, paying bills.
  8. Put down your smartphone. Only check it twice an hour; you won’t miss anything. Not like how you’re actually missing your life right now snared in this dependency. Same with Facebook. Try this for ONE week. Your fantasy of non-addiction will pop ingloriously.
  9. There are rarely real shortcuts. Stop wasting finite life energy looking for them and just do the thing.
  10. Read more literature and less one-hit media gratifications or “news.” Books make you smarter and more compassionate. Plus, you’ll be less of a dick since most of us don’t simultaneously read books and “talk” with friends.
  11. Play. Play games, play with kids, go on walks or stretch/yoga–not to accomplish anything but just for fun, play darts or Tiny Wings, shoot pool, dance, sing, fiddle in your shop, doodle. Every day, something! Even for 10 minutes. See #3.
  12. Meditate/Be In the Now. Just do it. Not like Nike, but like Demeter
  13. Breathe.
*cartoon by Dan Zevin

how to really save the planet


It seems that many people, particularly emerging adults to those in their mid 30s, want a career or to conduct some sort of service to “save the planet.” I can relate, as our earth does appear to be dying. Take any issue from deforestation, world-wide clean water shortage, melting ice caps, acidification of the oceans, invasive species take-over, loss of animal habitat, extinction of various flora and fauna, and logically follow it out. Even if we stopped “the madness” right this second, there’s no cogent ending but the death of planet earth.

Now, what do the following cruelties and atrocities have in common? Plastic gyro islands of trash [see: you’re garbage!], Fukishima, acid rain, amazon clear-cutting, leaking radioactive barrels, pornography, Canary Reed Grass slurping up waterways, rape, mountain top removal, fracking, war, pythons in the everglades? They’re “man”-made.

The source of these obscenities springs from our unconsciousness, our lack of presence to our-Selves and ultimately to any beings here on earth. If you want to save the planet, start within—then and only then move outward.

It all sounds hopeless and depressing if we think we should or even could fix it. There’re weak or nonexistent solutions to many things that are the koan of human existence, and any effective answers won’t be found outside ourselves.

We’re always looking in the wrong place. I once read a fable where the gods are discussing where to hide the soul from man [sic]. They debate, reject various fathomless places, like bottom of the sea, inside a mountain, near the stars. Finally, one god suggests placing the soul within man himself. They chuckle knowing that’s the only place he’ll never consider.

Any movement coming from the predominant state of [un]consciousness derived from our “either/or” competitive paradigm will inevitably create the same result, no matter how “benevolent” the action. Here’s Einstein: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

Example: Orwell’s Animal Farm (a metaphor for Communism). The farmer, Mr. Jones, is a cruel tyrant so the animals rebel, take over the farm and the pigs set up an egalitarian government where “all animals are equal.” Soon this new government turns into a repressive regime and is as totalitarian as Mr. Jones’ was. The new motto: “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others.” Sound like the Egyptian revolution of 2012-2013? Or maybe U.S. Congress?

So, even if the world is desperate, waiting and tired, even if it has epic urgency, even if it feels illogical like love can, deal with yourself. BE with your Self. Don’t try to repair. Perform the “effortless effort.” Leap into the unknown.

Our central responsibility: be in the NOW.

Awake, my dear./Be kind to your sleeping heart./Take it out into the vast fields of Light/And let it breathe…  ~Hafiz

As you live deeper in the heart, the mirror gets clearer and cleaner. ~ Rumi

There’s no job, no service, no quick fix. There’s no shortcut for being present.

the reason for the season is jesus, and other lies


An earlier but still timely message.

Originally posted on Rant-ology!:



Children depend upon us to give them accurate information about the world they come into. See: whispering (not so) sweet nothings. They’re so easy to dupe or take advantage of—over and over—because their hard-wiring is set to trust. This doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy a good trick or can’t distinguish between most of what’s real and what’s imaginary—if we help them. They do love to be included in any festive hoodwinking.

Jesus wasn’t born in December. That construct—according to biblical scholars—started mid fourth century and though there’s no definitive answer, the best guess is Jesus was born April-ish. Also, the main thoughts concerning Christianity’s two biggest holy days are that Christmas & Easter were taken from pagan holidays (Saturnalia & Ostara) or Jewish holidays (Chanukah & Passover). Quite a bit of evidence supports these ideas. For instance, the Christmas tree with its lights and decorations is linked to Druidic…

View original 357 more words

“when he got there, I talked to him about it.” huh?????


Our culture villianizes teenagers for narcissistic incoherence in communicating but I witness it in many adults. Why is there such difficulty when speaking, in journalism, on-line? Here’s a few communication muddles:

  • Use of  pronouns. My quasi-spouse loves them: *”They had what I needed and I picked it up.” As if I know which ‘they’ he’s referring to and what ‘it’ he bought. Or, “He didn’t like what I’d said.” Who?? What had he said? At least I knew who the ‘I’ was. The Quasi starts in the middle of a story—one that he’s having alone in his head.
  • Stonewalling is a refusal to communicate fully (or at all)—think of the stereotypical teen or husband grunting one word “answers” to questions. More men than women regularly employ this non-action in stalled relationships. No resolution can be had using this “technique” as no one knows what the stonewaller wants because…they won’t tell you. Lots of rationalization is given for their disinclination, but the bottom line: they eliminate any possibility of getting what they need.
  • Evasiveness. Pretty self-explanatory but here’s a subtle example: “Has everyone paid you what they should have?” “I have been fairly compensated by all.” The answer suggests that everyone did pay but it’s equally possible that “fairly compensated” is an ambiguous cover. A direct “yes” would have left no ambiguity. Why obfuscate?
  • Illegible writing and SIRI-garbled texts go together. Sloppy writing, sloppy mumbling to SIRI. If you’re attempting to leave a note for someone or send a text, read over what you’ve written or dictated. Is it legible to you? Does the text make sense? The object is transmission, is it not?
  • Passive-aggressive is more complex [see: how to deal with pass-agg aggro] but suffice to say that this one often involves all of the above and more, like: agreeing to one thing then doing another, being sullen, surly, defensive. It’s awfully thorny finding accountability with these slippery people.

What would help?

  • Start communications with details, with nouns. Set the story up whether you’re talking or writing. If you don’t—unless you’re an actual child—you’re just revealing your solipsism. Most of us like a good story but more often than not we’re subjected to boring ones.
  • Speak up and ask for what you want regardless of your perceived hopelessness in being heard. It’s logical; it’s effective—whichever way it goes. Otherwise you’re apparently choosing to be a martyr.
  • Give a clear” yes” or “no” preamble in answers, especially if you don’t like to “process” much. There’s little sense in being vague. Expound if you wish but without defensiveness (smells of martyr, too).
  • Don’t blame SIRI for getting your dictation wrong. “She’s” not god.
  • Write so legibly that a beginning reader can interpret it.
  • Most importantly, communication isn’t just about you. Paint your ideas, stories, dreams, fears, loves with all the palette colors so another can almost see them as you do. Others may not agree but they just might understand.
  • Lastly, don’t be passive-aggressive. Sigh.

*actual true conversation starting points

betrayal is the new “connection”


As a counselor, stories of betrayal are relayed to me regularly from the minor to the heinous: gossip, political scandals, longstanding infidelity, drinking secretly, gambling away copious amounts of money, etc… Regardless the form, there are commonalities:

  • they’re clandestine, often long-term
  • lies and/or denial
  • the deceived abruptly discovers a split life, half of which they’ve never experienced and must now integrate

The deceived has unknowingly written a fraudulent story. The deceiver holds the complete history; no incorporation necessary. Even if the betrayer has remorse, their narrative—delusional though it may be—is sound, so they usually have an easier time moving on. They made decisions all along in keeping with their skewed sense of self and those invisible choices were within their control. As Anna Fels writes, “…after the discovery of a longstanding lie, the victims are counseled to move on…stay focused on the future. But it’s not so easy…when there’s no solid narrative ground to stand on.”

The survivors of this deceit feel an unrealistic humiliation for being duped even though they often did sense discordant things but were systematically gaslighted [see: now we’re cooking with gas(lighting) ] into believing they’d “gotten it wrong.” They’re commonly embarrassed because others knew the truth and the sufferer now feels in “exile.” Picture Elizabeth Edwards. Everything is second-guessed. What really happened?

This is why my clients who’ve experienced deception want to know the gruesome details. It’s not that they want to wallow (as others sometimes cruelly say) as much as they’re trying to reconstruct counterfeit memories, struggling to integrate this previously unknown reality.

But the miscreant? S/he’s redeemed and ready to start a new life, make better choices leaping from villain to reformed sinner. And everybody loves the reformed; movies revere them; Judeo-Christian morés press forgiveness. It gives us the righteous chance to feel good about ourselves (maybe justify our mistakes). They change! They’ve repented! Loser to winner in a single bound! To paraphrase Anna Fels, our culture has a soft spot for tales of people starting over.

But for the others who’ve systematically been lied to, the picture is much grimmer. Nobody likes a victim—even the victim. People want to align with the winner.

Addiction is all about disconnection: from Self, from family, from community. And it is fabulous when someone creeps out of the alley of self-delusion into the light of reality. They probably should be forgiven—at some point—but that point comes after accountability, amends, sincere understanding of damage done, empathy, mercy. In other words, connection. Bestowing facile forgiveness, so that we can feel saintly isn’t any more real than the brutal twaddle the deceiver pulled.

We need authenticity before forgiveness and we need to have compassion, not contempt, for the marginalized casualty who unfortunately reminds us of our inability to have control over our lives instead of affiliating with the asshat perpetrators. Maybe we worry that we could be that “loser” at some time in our lives and we despise the “victim” for that inadvertent disclosure. Betrayal shouldn’t warrant an oversimplified amnesty “connection” without ethical culpability.

complete instructions to enlightenment



Post Navigation


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,030 other followers

%d bloggers like this: