Outside, Inside, and UpSideDown

A few Saturdays ago I came home from a hot-power-yoga class and felt stronger than I had felt in decades. I was literally tingling from my head to my toes. The way that my brain chemicals delight me in and after that class is something that I do not have the vocabulary to describe; it could be the endorphins are so powerful that I lose the ability to think about words, but the description that people often use about a “runner’s high” seems perfect to describe the hot-power-yoga class thrill. That my Saturday morning yoga teacher is the same age as my daughter, and yet she thinks I’m pretty cool (at least she tells me so) and doesn’t make me feel like an old-lady-middle-aged-just somebody’s mom taking up mat space in her very popular class, makes me feel pretty fabulous every Saturday in and of itself, that I am mostly able to keep up with the younger or mad-fit folks who attend is like icing on cake! My granddaughter one day said to me, “Nana there are women your age who can’t even touch their toes” when I was talking about this particular class and how it makes me feel, and I thought, well, I have a long way to go but she’s not wrong!!! …and so the point of my story is that I walked into my house after class that Saturday and decided to get over (no pun intended) right that second, my fear of going upside down.

You see, years ago, shortly after I started taking yoga classes, I bought a “feet up trainer” which is basically a short chair with a hole in the seat and a wide leg base and it is designed to help strengthen the abs and the core and to assist your practice by going upside down into any sort of inversion but gives you the stability of not putting pressure on your neck and having your shoulders supported. I guess it is basically made so that you are less likely to fall over, or fall down, into a back bend or, worse, a back break, and the gist of this is that one is less likely to be injured when one is using this trainer to go into headstands. However, despite watching many instructional videos over many years I had not yet tried it!!! I had been, since its arrival to my door, too chicken! For people who fly right up into headstands or handstands or who with incredible strength and control slowly lift into them, they might think I am ridiculous, but chicken I was!! Both of my granddaughters went right upside down the day I showed it to them, but for some reason, as noted above, I was scared…so the long story short, which you might know is hard for me, to make a story short, is that I had been too frightened of getting injured to use my bench, but THAT Saturday I felt so strong and so capable and so awesome that I went right upstairs into my loft and got out my bench and went right into a headstand!!! The joy that I felt, upside down, was indescribable!! It made me feel like a kid!! AND it made me decide right at that moment, that every single day I was going to practice going upside down to get my core stronger and my heart stronger and, if the hype has any truth in it, my face looking younger over time from extra blood flow! Every single day since that Saturday afternoon I have gone into a headstand and every single time I am finished with being inverted I feel stronger and am no longer scared at all.

Feelings of being strong, both in my mind and my body, are EXTREMELY important to me at this time. On August 24th, 37 years after one of the saddest days of my life, I said to myself, “I have had 37 years since the worst time of my life and I don’t likely have 37 years left of life, so whatever I want to change I need to change now” Making my inside and my outside stronger, in ALL ways and better in ALL ways, and more in line with who I feel I am in EVERY way at this stage of my life has become a priority and so for the last five months it has been my focus and some days, if I’m being honest, all I think about…I just want to keep this momentum going and the only way to get to where I want to be is to make small efforts every day to get there…there is no other way. Deliberately changing-up or breaking-up with old habits that no longer serve me well, or will help me to achieve my goals, is real work. Like the old tv commercial “saying it and doing it are two different things” which I think was for a learning center offering tutoring for teenagers, and it turns out that the words are applicable for middle aged ladies too! I can’t rub a lamp to conjure a genie, I don’t have the means to hire a chef or a trainer, I can’t wiggle my nose like BeWitched, and I can’t wave a magic wand to “POOF!” make myself and my life the way I want it to be…all that I have is the desire to make better choices and change myself in small but measurable ways, day after day after day…

Where I wanted to “be” at this stage of life, and where I found myself, as I reflected upon all of this at the end of the summer, was not the same, and so changing my thoughts and actions is the only way to get THERE from WHERE I was, and it has at times been a really difficult challenge…my progress is slow, but it is progress nevertheless. It is not only how I look or how I feel or if I think I’ve accomplished some goal. It is, to sum it all up, my NEED to have alignment of my thoughts, my actions, my inside and my outside. I still struggle with a sugar addiction from time to time, and I still ate too many (WAY too many) of my family favorite orange rolls at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but giving up alcohol has proven to be very easy for me, and eating cleaner has been expensive but not at all difficult, and kicking my excessive shopping for things I don’t actually need and really can’t afford has been easier than I expected as I simply don’t go to Target and when I am on Amazon I put things in my cart and then turn off my computer!!! Changing a little bit every day is still change!

As we moved into a new year I still felt that I needed to do more or try more things and so I had my first acupuncture session last week. I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t google it either because I didn’t want to see the needles or see any sort of video of how the needles go in. I have no pain, I have no chronic illness, I take no medicines, I have no disease, but what I do have is a desire to be a better version of THIS, this vessel that is my current human body and all its parts. From what I read, acupuncture is an ancient tool for moving energy through the human body or to address needs of certain parts of the body, and in my thought process, if I have felt “off” or stuck (well, I guess to be brutally honest with myself, for 37 years) moving some energy more efficiently through my body seemed like a reasonable thing to try. One of my yoga teachers calls it “stuckness” when we hold onto feelings or memories or anger or regret or sorrow or well ANYTHING I suppose that we are holding onto inside, when we could just release the stuckness and move on…I told the needle lady about this, that I wanted to get rid of any blockages inside of me that were jamming up my changes…I said to her, “like if I was on I95 trying to get from Florida to Maine and I want to just blow right on through.” She totally “got me” and said that I was in the right place. She covered my eyes with a lavender pillow, she warmed up a blanket under me and started…I did not count but the needles started in my left ear and went down my left arm to my left foot and up my right side and then she told me to just relax and that the energy do its thing. I just let the feelings wash over me, of strength and change and openness and repeated to myself that I wanted what was stuck to get out…I think I must have fallen asleep but I don’t know for sure. Frankly after it was over I felt just fine but no better and no different, but I also know that stuckness does not flow after one hour when it has been in me for 37 years, so I know it might take time and I am okay with that. At least I made the effort…

I find myself sitting here at my desk ready this morning noticing that I will be turning my calendar to the next page in a couple of days and will start another month. Another month of trying to do better and trying to be better. Another month of making choices that support my wellness and my stability. Another month of thinking before I act, before I eat, before I speak. Another month of modifying behaviors that get me nearer to my goals. I already have a strong work ethic and I already exercise at least six times a week and I have a physical job, so there is not much to change there, only to improve, and I suppose if you are already accomplished at clean eating, diligent at meditating, maintain a non-negotiable fitness regimen, have no unease about your financial stability, and your relationship is solid, all this is just jibber-jabber about nothing to you, but to me, it’s pretty much everything right now! AND regardless of how long it takes me to get to the point where clean eating is common place and not something I have to think about, and meditating is daily rather than occasionally, and miraculously my finances and relationships become more stable, rather than the most worrisome aspects of my life, the fact of the matter is that I now can contemplate these inside and outside things while UpSideDown, with my feet over my head, and with visions of stuck-ness flying right out of the tips of my toes! (which, in case you wondered, in my mind’s eye, I visualize as stars…shiny, glittery, stars...)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s