IMAGE // Via Dharma Karma Arts

Hello, Reader!

I was remarking to Ross just now that I am unsure of what to write about here, since so often, I use this blog to write about things happening in Austin, or to talk about myself. The only problem is, I:

A) Haven’t been doing too much lately, culturally-speaking, and

B) Sometimes, I get tired of talking about myself. (But only sometimes.)

The truth is, I started my yoga teacher training at Dharma Yoga, and it. Is. Awesome. I can’t even tell you the amount of self-restraint I have to exercise to not put “awesome” in all caps or italicizations or a blingy colored font. (Oh alright – I will!)

With training starting up, my weekly schedule now is:

–yoga sessions five times a week,

–teacher training twice a week,

–and because I am an insane person, I decided to sign up for aerial silks four times a week. This week was my first to attempt all four and now all of my body parts are screaming in agony and berating me like, “WTF? We were just sitting here calmly enjoying some ham and pecan pie and now you’re telling us to climb up and down this freaking cloth and drink boring water, rather than eggnog?? Psh!!!”

It’s bad.

But it’s good, too. Yes, I can hardly walk, and yes, my climb is all messy and my inversions are a joke and YES, I have totally fallen out of more yoga balances than I care to admit…but oh well. When I’m not moaning and pointing meekly to my shoulders to Ross and whimpering, “will you rub these? PLEASE?” and when I’m finally still and calm, it dawns on me how damn lucky I am. That I live in this city, with all of these teachers, and that my parts are still working well enough for the time being to take advantage of them.

It wasn’t always this way.


Seven years ago, I was celebrating my 23rd birthday when things suddenly took a turn. And by “turn” I mean a vodka shot (I don’t even like vodka) after an evening of steady, prolonged champagne consumption. You can probably already see where this story is going.

Anyway, a couple of friends were kind enough to drive me home, and lay me out on the living room futon in my shared condo. After they left, this was the thought process that went through my brain:

BRAIN: You need to throw up.

ME: I realize that — but — I can’t move.

BRAIN: No problem! Just throw up on the carpet!

ME: What? No. That’s gross.

BRAIN: It’s right there.

ME: I realize that, but, then I’ll have to sleep next to it all night and furthermore, I’ll ruin this relatively attractive floor and then my roommates and I will lose our deposit.

BRAIN: You’re thinking about this way too much. Just throw up, and, the throw up will sink down into the carpet.

ME: Ew, you’re disgusting.

BRAIN: Tolly, I swear! Nobody will notice.

ME: They won’t notice a huge pile of vomit lying a few inches away from my face in the morning?

BRAIN: No, swear to God, it’ll be just like water. It’ll sink down into the carpet and you won’t even see it. If you want, you can give the spot a few spritzes of cleaner in the morning.

ME: Really?

BRAIN: Really!

ME: Well…alright.

And with that, I took my brain’s advice.

Turns out, my brain was completely wrong. Apparently it’s totally noticeable when you vomit next to your face! And contrary to popular belief, it actually doesn’t sink down into the carpet just like water.

I was in grad school at the time in California, and though I had actually taught yoga before, I all but abandoned it when I moved out there. Ironic, right? Who moves to California and GIVES UP yoga?

Anyway, none of us in grad school had any money, and the way we entertained ourselves was primarily through drinking. I still tried to take care of myself, sort of, by going to the gym and squeezing every subsidized dime possible out of my student health care (the University of California system has amazing health insurance) — I went to the dentist, the dermatologist, a psychologist who was incredibly nice to me in his office, but actively avoided my eyes whenever I saw him on campus. I even convinced myself I had some sort of horrible stomach issue like Crohn’s Disease, and went to a stomach specialist for a short while. Our relationship turned chilly after she started requesting stool samples.

It was such a bizarre time in my life. Have you ever lived in a place where you just know, right off the bat — “uh oh. This isn’t me.” That’s how I felt about grad school, and even the town where I lived during grad school. An incredibly cute, biker-friendly, farmer’s marketed town in Northern California — but something about it felt off. A frame that tilts ever so slightly downward, a shirt sleeve that pulls at the elbow.

So, I drank. Not violently so. But regularly. Enough to feel relaxed and woozy, enough so that my inner, quiet voice telling me, “this isn’t really your home or your life path, Tolly,” could well and truly shut up. Because yes it was. I had worked too hard to get here.

What I didn’t know was that eventually, I’d call my dad in tears, and tell him that I wasn’t going to get this PhD. after all.

What I didn’t know was that I’d tell my program’s advisor, and that he said he would help me get my Masters, so my time so far wouldn’t be a waste.

What I didn’t know is that Ross would fly up to California and pack up all my things in my car, while I dashed off my Master’s thesis on that same, poor futon.

What I didn’t know is that I’d say goodbye to all of my dear California friends and drinking buddies.

What I didn’t know is that we’d drive back home to Texas, breaking down every eighth hour or so, with all my little things packed up in a tiny, ill-equipped-for-multi-state-transit Ford Escort.

What I didn’t know is the sigh of immense relief I’d let out driving down my beloved Park Boulevard in Hyde Park, like it trees, its little colorful bungalows, Waller Creek, and that hundred-year-old water well next to the house had been waiting for me all along.

What I didn’t know is that my old Austin friends actually had been waiting for me to come back home, or how immensely happy I would be to to see them.

What I didn’t know is that I would start writing again, doing real, Tolly writing, writing that wasn’t very good but at least it was mine.

What I didn’t know was that I’d ever be interested in any other exercise ever again besides dutifully getting on the elliptical  5x/week and zombie-ing out to Dancing with the Stars and that, you know, even that has its place sometimes, but that eventually I’d want to do weird things like chant when I exercise.

(What I also didn’t know was how seriously hilarious chanting would seem at first. Or that I’d finally stop giggling.)

What I didn’t know was how tight I was, not just in my hamstrings, but in my mind too.

What I didn’t know was that sometimes this tightness would make me laugh, and other times it would make me cry.

What I didn’t know was downward-facing dog. Seriously. I had been doing it wrong for years.

What I didn’t know was that this thing would feel like me.

What I didn’t know was that that inner, tiny voice was right all those years ago, and that I should listen to her more often.

  • http://www.spangledparaphernalia.com/ Chelle Lynn

    Being able to listen to that voice is how I know I am finally, truly becoming an adult. Trying to fit into a prefabricated, idealized notion of ourselves can seem like the only option sometimes, but that little voice of truth will always speak up, however meekly, when sometime is wrong. Sometimes it’s hard to listen and make huge, life-altering decisions when all you know is, “This isn’t right.”

    Now in my late twenties (officially – I’m 27 today!), I finally, finally get it – THAT’S HOW LIFE WORKS! And, the sooner I start cultivating a healthy, loving relationship with that inner voice, the better.

    I would love to hear more about your yoga experience. Do you practice on your own as well, or primarily in class settings? I’ll be first in line for a lesson when you get your studio all set up! :)

    • http://www.austineavesdropper.com Tolly Moseley


      And yeah — it’s so, so hard to pay attention to that voice, when we have been training to deduce the right answers to hard choices based on the information available to us (i.e., using our brains, rather than our hearts).

      It’s so funny. I used to giggle whenever somebody imitated George W. Bush and all his “I make decisions from the GUT!” proclamations, because he seemed so dumb. But now I try so hard to listen to my gut! I’ve been ignoring it for a very long time.

      And speaking of that idealized notion of ourselves…I do this all the time with annual salaries. Like for example, I’ll say to myself, “OK! By age 30″ (now) “I need to be making X amount annually. By age 35, I need to make X amount” and so on and so on, going off of what seems “normal” for a middle to upper middle class American. I even go so far as to study average mean incomes in my age group and city…yikes.

      I’m slowly starting to realize that it’s a game I’ll never win, because no matter what, there will always (*ALWAYS*) be someone out there making more than me. I’m a writer for God’s sake, and my husband is a music teacher. We didn’t choose these professions to become wealthy. ;) And secondly, my poorest days/weeks/months are wildly rich compared to whole populations out there in other parts of the world — it’s just that I happen to live in a very prosperous country, so my expectations are skewed.

      Anyway — thank you Chelle Lynn for giving me a little mini soapbox to stand on ;) And I hope you have a magical birthday.

  • http://www.artofguesture.com/ layla guest

    Tolly, thank you so much for writing this today. I woke up and this is exactly what I needed. It’s such an interesting thing to realize that “this is not the path.” Though, taking ownership of that decision is another task completely. In addition to the notion of “working so/too hard to get here,” I sometimes (in my less attractive and frustrating moments) find myself thinking “I have too much education/training for this.” Both are such disheartening feelings. So I applaud you for your vulnerability in all these realms. And next time you’re in LA, I’ll hire you as a Special Guest Yoga Instructor at our space!

    • http://www.austineavesdropper.com Tolly Moseley

      And thank YOU for your awesome blog, Layla…I am so thrilled I know about your beautiful, thoughtful little corner of the Internet now! This is being bookmarking.

      Anyway, I think of a lot of us who have gone through the traditional education system, and especially college and graduate school graduates, have those thoughts sometimes…for me, it’s just a remnant of my old smug ways. ;) Like, “do these people even REALIZE how much I know about Oscar Wilde?!?!” Haha. And then every once in a while I’ll actually try to talk about Oscar Wilde, and it’s instantly clear how much I’ve forgotten!

      But seriously though — I love your blog. Congratulations on moving to WordPress, and I will totally hit you up next time I’m in LA! One of my freelance clients, as well as some dear friends, are based out there, so it’s a once-in-a-while journey.

  • Kathlyne

    Great Post!

    I feel like we’d really hit it off if we met in person, which we might eventually–I just started taking classes at Dharma Yoga and my husband, Ross, wants to get into silks. We are currently trapeze addicts.

    I completed my medical degree, but was very unhappy as an intern. Making the decision not to be a “real” doctor was long and hard. The guilt over my school loans and being told that I was a waste of space (or wasting my education) made things even more difficult. I have finally come to terms with it.

    Teaching yoga was one of the happiest times of my life. I know I’ll eventually get back to it, the way we both got back to Texas. Good luck with your teacher training.

    • http://www.austineavesdropper.com Tolly Moseley

      Whoa! Small world, Kathlyne. How are you liking Dharma so far?

      (Also — freaky that your husband’s name is also Ross! I’ve tried to get mine on the silks but he’s a “no” for now. ;)

      Yeah — I’m still paying student loans, too. It’s funny, you know. Even though I’m not on my way to being an English professor anymore, just like how you aren’t on your way to being a traditional doctor, I don’t necessarily regret my time there. I got to know 2-3 people who were truly gifted teachers, and they inspired me later on with this yoga teacher path. It was also a time when my dad was so gracious to me — he was so, SO proud of me going to graduate school, and I was scared of breaking his heart once I told him the news. But he’s still my cheerleader! And he was a champ throughout the whole thing. He told me about wanting to become a journalist when he was younger, and how he eventually became an attorney, advocating for poor Mexican immigrants. People’s paths change…and I like to think that folks like you, me, and my dad, who have made dramatic left turns, are the richer for it.

      (This is what I tell myself anyway when I’m staring down my loan balance. ;)

      • Kathlyne

        I like Dharma so far. I’m used to intense 90 minute hot yoga (not Bikram), but the lower intensity is sort of good right now–I’ve got a shoulder “thing” going on.

        My parents are great too. They tell everyone I’m a doctor and work(ed) at Johns Hopkins, which is a lot less glamorous than it sounds. They are just so proud.

        If you have time please check out my blog: http://browncatbakery.blogspot.com/

        • http://www.austineavesdropper.com Tolly Moseley

          I did check it out, Kathlyne – very cool! Looks like your dad had a great birthday. :-)

  • robert march

    As always Tolly, you rock. And your Tolly writing is VERY good and makes my day 100% of the time. Thanks for sharing.

    • robert march

      This post reminds me of my year in St Louis, a town i love and where i had a great support group and was getting to know my mom’s side of the family in a very rewarding way. the whole time i felt that imperfect sleeve tugging at my elbow and ran back to Austin.

      • http://www.austineavesdropper.com Tolly Moseley

        Bob-o! Hey! You’re welcome. You’ve always been so supportive and wonderful.

        So, yeah — it’s odd when you find yourself in an objectively cool place, and you’re like, “hey, wait…WAIT. I don’t fit!” I remember talking to this girl at Southwestern right after she came home from a semester abroad in Paris, and of course, I fell all over myself asking her about it. “Paris! How was it?!?”

        “It was ok,” she said.

        You could tell she was already *so* over it. And I wanted to shake her and say, “but you lived in PARIS!” Ha. So, maybe places have their own specific energies that jive or don’t jive with our personal energies? (The more I write this comment, the more I realize I sound like a damn hippie. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/mary.k.garvin Mary Klaren Boyden

    You’re hilarious. I love it.