Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wow, you are so HUGE!

During prenatal yoga class yesterday, our teacher asked us to share how we were feeling about the changes happening to our bodies. Most of us felt pretty good overall, but were finding it really difficult to handle the comments we receive from people - many of whom, but not all, are complete strangers - about our pregnancy. That conversation inspired me to write this little post about the....

Top five things NOT TO say to a pregnant woman:

1. "How much have you gained already? I only gained 7 pounds 6 ounces when the baby was born and I lost it overnight because that's exactly what the baby weighed. "

Ok, I'm exaggerating a little here but all you skinny ____ who think it's nice to share (without us having asked) that you only gained 10 pounds and lost it overnight, well, it's not. It just makes us think that you cared more about your looks than the health of your baby. (Whether or not that's true is completely irrelevant.)
2. "Are you sure it's not twins?!"

Yes, because I don't live in a third world country. We have these things called ultrasounds. Have you heard of them? Yeah, they've been around for a few decades and we get to take a peak inside our womb to see what's up. There's only one baby in there, and this is how much room he needs. So shut the ___ up.

3. You look big for only X months. That's going to be a big baby!

Translation: "You're going to have to DELIVER a GIANT baby." What every first time mom wants to hear.

4. Wow, you are HUGE!

Translation: "Lay off the jelly donuts!"

5. I mean, really, HUGE!

Translation: "Wow you are REALLY FAT! I mean, WAY fatter than any human being I've ever seen! You'll probably going to be fat FOREEEEEEEVVVVVVVVVVEEEEERRRR!"

A message to my fellow pregnant ladies: When people say these things, try to blow it off. As my prenatal yoga teacher reminded us: "These people, while clueless, are just trying to connect with you. They may not even realize it, but they are drawn to the miracle that is happening in your body."

Top 5 things TO say to a pregnant woman (if you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is most certainly pregnant and didn't just have a super burrito for lunch. I can't recall which comedian said this, but they are good words to live by: "Never ask a lady if she is pregnant unless you can actually see the baby coming out of her vagina.")

Ok, on to the good list:

1. You look beautiful!
2. How are you feeling?
3. You are going to be a great mom.
4. Your belly is so adorable!
5. Let me massage your back. (Unless you are just some random dude in the freezer section of Whole Foods.)

And that's pretty much it. Any variation from the above list should be strictly avoided. Do you know how sensitive the average woman is? Multiply that times a bazillion and that's how pregnant ladies feel. Sounds are louder. Smells are more pungent. Feelings are MUCH more intense (like the urge to cry and/or smack you when you say something stupid.)
And one last message to my pregnant ladies: Try to love your belly, knowing that what's inside is the most precious gift you will ever be given.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rage against the [man on the two wheeled] machine

As I strolled along a gorgeous California beach sidewalk yesterday, I couldn't help but pause for a moment to contemplate the beauty of the ocean, the sun and my life. And as a magnificent humpback whale breached not very far from where I stood, I felt overwhelmed with awe and gratitude...

...until some nasty old dude on a bike slowly wheeled by me muttering these words, "Mmm, mmm, mmm, sexy, so f___ beautiful. What I wouldn't do to..."

First and foremost, let me tell you that I scanned the entire perimeter to make sure he was talking to moi. Being in my fourth month of pregnancy (basically the stage where you just look like a chubbier version of yourself) "sexy" is about the last word in the English dictionary I'd use to describe myself. When I realized there was no one else near, and that this pervert was indeed speaking to me, I felt a wave of heat rise in my chest and then rush through my entire body. I mentally scanned the small items I held in my hands and decided there was only one I was comfortable losing, dog treats. I grabbed a fistful and hummed them at his head and muttered the words, "F__ you, mother______."

When I relayed the story to Matt later that evening, he laughed (thankfully, for some strange reason,  my incredibly zen-without-trying-to-be husband finds my bouts of rage/passion amusing). And when I added,  "Had I had a rock in my hand I would have thrown it at his ____ head!" he laughed even more.  Because I knew this addition would turn his admiration to worry, I didn't tell him that: as I continued to walk down the sidewalk, I imagined old dude passing by me again, and myself, running full force to knock him off his shitty bike.

Yes, my friends, this is RAGE. Next to jealousy, the least "sexy" of all emotions. Especially if you're a yoga teacher, and expected by your community and colleagues to be a living example of patience and compassion.

So how do I reconcile these feelings and my position? First, I will not give in to the oh-so-tempting excuse that "my hormones are reeking havoc on my body during pregnancy, leading me to say and do irrational things." Why? Because my closest friends would be the first to comment "Bullshit" below this post. They know me well enough to know two things: 1) I am a pretty patient and laid back person, 2) however, when someone pushes one of my few buttons?


And secondly, part of my reconciliation involves simply being honest and sharing my experience. How can teachers inspire current and future yogis if we are constantly hiding our dark sides?


When I went to bed last night, I felt the need to ponder my reaction and my buttons. First, I imagined walking along the same stretch with a few of my closest friends, wondering how they'd react in the same situation. Tory? She'd make a quick comeback that would have me dying of laughter. Raven? She'd roll her eyes and say, "Ugh, disgusting," and continue our conversation. And Cathy? Well, let's just say the guy would already be on the ground and there would be a crowd of people confused as to why some crazy lady just pushed a nice old man off his bike.

Next, I wondered why we would all have such different reactions. After some reflection, I realized that my (over)reaction was much deeper than this particular instance. In fact, if I had to estimate, I'd say my rage is nearly a quarter of a century old, stemming from too many instances when a member of my family made lewd and inappropriate comments in my presence. I never felt comfortable speaking up and sharing how it made me feel; I never felt safe to express my fear, anger and disgust.

During yoga teacher training my instructor, Ana Forrest, pointed out that I was holding unexpressed anger in my body and that I needed to learn how to get rid of it. At first I didn't know what she was talking about, but the fact that her comment irritated me was a clue that she was pretty tuned in and  I'd better pay attention.

So I did. And I asked questions, like "why" and how" and she responded with answers like anger isn't always a bad thing, it is also the source of your passion and you just need to learn how to transform it. I listened. And I've watched myself shift from the very seemingly calm on the surface Melissa who buries things in my gut to the, "F__ you, mother___" Melissa. I'm not happy with either of them; what I need is a balance between the two.


Imagine that, in between your index finger and thumb, you are holding a spring that has been pinched tight for twenty five years. The expansion of your two fingers is the only thing that will release the coil... also imagine your body, hunched in a tiny airplane seat for a five hour flight from San Francisco to New York. What is the  first thing this coil and your body will do when released from this tension? They will first stretch as far as possible before relaxing to find a more comfortable, sustainable position, somewhere in between the contraction and expansion.

This is the stage I am in right now with my anger. I am stretching beyond my natural comfort zone, I am springing further than the coil needs to be at its resting point. This, I hope, is the first step (at least on my journey) to finding balance.

I offer this up to my readers and yogis who may too be on the same path with anger or some other repressed emotion. I just hope that - for your sake - your unexpressed feelings aren't of the pervy nature, and that you're not riding a bike in my direction.


Photo borrowed from

PS - Thanks to my other dear friend Marcie for helping me process this experience and for the visuals...for the record, had she been there with me, she'd have just laughed at the old fart.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The art of floating on da baya

Below is the transcript of a recent online chat with one of my favorite cousins (ok, ok, you're all my favorites!). Enjoy ;)

[Cousin] 7:16pm
Your book was the first book i ever read! U did a great job!

[You] 7:16pm
you just made me laugh out loud!!!

[Cousin] 7:17pm
I was trying to! Lol. Its true though

[You] 7:18pm
which is why it made me laugh even more!

Who has the time to read all those books

[You] 7:19pm
i know right? ;)

[Cousin] 7:19pm
I read yours in the deer stand

[You] 7:20pm
haha....did you have an alarm to tell you when to look up from the book, in case a deer came by? :):)

[Cousin] 7:22pm
I was so into it i forgot i was hunting

[You] 7:25pm
Will you put that last sentence on Amazon? I'm pretty sure this is my favorite feedback yet...

[Cousin] 7:26pm
Just remember ya cousin when u make those millions

you know it. we're gonna go ride down the bayou in a yacht instead of a blow up raft with duct tape over the holes

[Cousin] 7:29pm
In a raft w friggin Alligators

[You] 7:30pm
remember that thing? god we were nuts. i just remember asking you, "um, ya think it's safe to be floating in the bayou in a blow up raft with that gator over there." and you looking over at the gator and saying, "Yeah, we'll be aiiight."

[Cousin] 7:30pm
We were weren't we
The good ole days

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Across the universe (which is hella far because it won't stop growing)

As some of you may know, I've recently become a little obsessed with NPR's radiolab, a podcast where "science meets culture and information sounds like music." I love it so much that I've considered taking up knitting a sweater for my boy dog that reads "Bitches love me" so that I have something productive to do while listening.

Yesterday, I tuned in to Radiolab's episode on space. I was so inspired by what I heard that I subjected last night's yoga class to a mini science experiment, creating a playlist called "Space Yoga" with songs like "Across the Universe" by the Beatles, and "The Scientist" by Coldplay.

In case you don't have an entire hour to spend downloading these songs or listening to this fascinating podcast, I'll give you the Cliffs notes version and cut to the juicy parts...which I read before and after class (with my eyes open, curious about what sorts of funny faces my students might make at my feeble attempt to drop some wisdom. What the hell does the final frontier have to do with yoga??? Thankfully, no one tried to knock me out with a block or strangle me with a strap.)

"Einstein's General Theory of Relativity says: If you live in an expanding universe of this fabric of space and time, no matter where you are, it will look like you are at the center. Which means there is no center. Every center is an illusion because space is constantly expanding." And, he continues, "We may not even be the principal stuff of the universe, that's how insignificant we are...what we can see or detect of the universe is about four percent."

Translation: From your vantage point, YOU ARE THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE! But, well, it kind of doesn't matter because it's an illusion because the universe keeps growing. Sub translation? It seriously doesn't matter whether you meet that deadline, reach all of your goals or lose those last five pounds because you are a speck on a speck on a speck!

Conversely, the podcast continues with this quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet: "What a  piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving, how express and admirable."

Translation: We humans are incredibly fascinating creatures!
Sub translation: We humans are incredibly fascinating creatures!

So I asked my students whether they could ponder both concepts during amazing it is that our bodies can do really cool things like sun salutations and warrior poses, but how really truly insignificant it is whether or not we can rock bakasana or viparita dandasana because in the grand scheme of things, who gives a shit??? Certainly not the universe, that's for sure!

I didn't preach a word for the next hour and fifteen minutes, but, after everyone was warm and fuzzy from savasana, I ended class with this quote:

"We are mostly water, which is made up of mostly hydrogen. The number one ingredient in the cosmos? Hydrogen.

Next in the universe is oxygen, next on earth and in life? Oxygen.

Next in the universe, carbon. Next in life? Carbon."

Translation: "We are not simply in the universe, the universe is in us."

Sub translation: Keep eating your veggies y'all, because "we" are all still growing...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A little culture on this Tuesday morning

Bach - Cello Suite No.1 (Yo-Yo Ma)

It's really cool to look at Dali's artwork with the music, but you must close your eyes and listen carefully to feel perfection (which begins to peak a bit after the 2 minute mark). I don't know if it makes me want to stand up and clap or cry...

Thank you Mr. Bach. Thank you Mr. Ma.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How to play

How to Play
a message from Bacchus the Poopy Dog to all humans

Step 1: Unleash your spirit. (Literally, take the leash off. It's way easier to run that way.)

Step 2: Chase after your dreams with abandon. (You can't see it, but I'm chasing after a seagull in this video.)

Step 3: Fly. (Or have someone stop the video when you're in mid air so it looks like you can.)

Kind of like this:


Rules of Puppy Play
a message from Bacchus's Mom to all puppies

Rule 1: Do not poop in the ocean. It's really funny in Marley and Me, but not at all in real life.


Friday, January 14, 2011

"Ophiuchus," the red-headed step-child of the zodiac.

While scanning news headlines (on Facebook) yesterday, I came across a post that read, "Zodiac signs have changed...there's now a new one." My right (intuitive) brain has always found it utterly fascinating and totally plausible that the position of the earth, moon and stars could have an impact on how we perceive the world and how the world perceives us. My left (analytical) brain thinks Astrology is a load of crap.

It was precisely this dichotomy that, with furrowed brow, fueled me to navigate to Google in an attempt to verify the accuracy of this breaking news story. Apparently, Minnesota astronomer Parke Kunkle says that "As the Earth and Sun slowly move the signs gradually change, as expected." According to this guy, there's a new sign, called Ophiuchus.

I have a few problems with this new addition to the zodiac, which I'll outline for you here.

1. First and foremost, I am a lover of good words, my favorites being "behold" (because I think we should all behold things, with reverence, much more often than we do) and "poo" (because it always makes me laugh when I say it.) The problem I have with "Ophiuchus," is thus: the only way to pronounce it correctly is to roll up a dollar bill very tightly and place it between your nose and the impossible-to-clean space between your carpet and baseboards. Inhale as deeply as possible, and force yourself to sneeze. "Ophiuchuuuuuus!!!!!"

2. Furthermore, what the hell kind of name is Parke Kunkle? The kind of name that's made up!

Pieter Van that sounds like a name of a real astronomer, right? That's because he is! And at Yale no less. Instead of making up bogus astrological signs, Pieter spends his time discovering important things like the observation that there are likely three times more stars than we originally thought, and that, "There are possible trillions of Earths orbiting these stars." Hell yeah! And you know what that means right? Trillions more Snookie's and more episodes of Jersey Shore!*

(As a side note, if the idea that there are trillions of Earths orbiting the stars sounds a little out there to you, consider that Pieter accurately predicted that Carrie Underwood would win season four of American Idol and become a huge success. I can't verify this information via a major news source, but I can tell you that I was there with him and his awesome wife Hester, throwing marshmallows at the screen when Simon pissed us off.)

3. Thirdly, have you seen the image that depicts the grand sneeze? (Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Ok, I know that I'm a 32 year old woman with (sometimes) the sense of humor of a 13 year old boy, but does this not look like a dude gyrating a snake? Or a dude hoping to gyrate something with his snake? Ugh. My stomach turns at the thought of how many X-rated tattoos of this guy we are going to see spilling over low rise jeans (a.k.a. the worst invention ever, next to carpet).

4. Here's a direct question from me to Mr. Kunkle...Rather than spending your time messing with  everyone's lives by discovering a new astrological sign, how about you come up with something relevant and important, like a new day of the week? I propose we call it "Funday" where we all sit around making stuff up about the world around us, like astrological signs and days. We can even play dress up! I'll let you borrow my pink leotard and unicorn headband.

5. According to this new astrological breakdown, I'm no longer a Scorpio, but a Libra. What??? So instead of being:
+ Analytical, passionate, determined.
- Intense, compulsive, obstinate.

I'm supposed to all of a sudden be:
+ Charming, sociable, playful.
- Indecisive, gullible, flirtatious.

Impossible! My best friend is a Libra (or was, I suppose she's now a Virgo) and she's always been the sociable, playful flirtatious one. When we were in high school I actually asked her to teach me how to flirt because I was such a dork around boys. I'm pretty sure her answer was something along the lines of, "I don't know. Maybe you should try to stop thinking so much."

I know I'm not the only one experiencing an identity crisis. Status updates all over Facebook today range from, "I"m still a Virgo" to "NOT CHANGING" and "To hell with the zodiac, I'm ME."

Ok, everyone, let's pause for a minute before we get our panties in a bundle. Take a deeeeep breath. (Don't worry, I'm a professional.) Feel the coolness of the inhalation as it passes through your nostrils, down through the back of your throat, your chest, and into your abdomen. Breathing new oxygen into your body. On the exhalation, let go of your thoughts, your worries, feel the breath moving from the abdomen and up towards your chest, your throat. Feel the change in temperature - the warmth of your breath - as it flows back out through your nostrils. Letting goooooo.....

of your astrological sign.

Feel better now? Ok. Now that we've calmed down a bit and prevented ourselves from having a total meltdown, we'll move on with our Friday. Until Parke Kunkle responds to my request about Funday.

Melissa Bourgeois

*Disclaimer, I have never ever ever watched an episode of Jersey Shore because I fear the loss of critical brain function.

Ps - To Mr. Kunkle, this is all in good fun. I'm sure you're a brilliant man! But I am hella serious about that new day of the week...make it happen bro.