Breathe In, Breathe Out

Who thinks about breathing, ever really?  Unless I guess you are choking, in active labor, or spent your whole adult life smoking, I think most people don’t think much about breathing, BUT I’m learning that people who are learning yoga think about breathing, a lot.  I can’t begin to count the number of times a day that I find myself thinking about getting air into my body.  This would be strange to the “old” me, like thinking about swallowing, for example, but the “new” me thinks about breathing many times throughout the day and not just the many hours each week that I am learning how to move my body and use my brain in these new ways.  I’m finding, discovering I suppose is a better word, that since Thanksgiving, when I first signed up for classes, my propensity to lose my cool is fast becoming a thing of the past.  My way of flying off the handle and then assessing the situation has given way to thinking first about the situation, and then thinking about breathing, and then contemplating whether or not flying off the handle would be the right course of action.  Generally it isn’t.  I’m not, by any stretch, implying that I’m no longer ever mad, nor alluding to a better version of me who is always mellow, but the man I love will tell you this if you ask him, “she is on her yoga high” if you were to ask him about my general mood or manner and overall disposition almost every day…

It’s certainly possible that this better, mellower version of R* is simply growing older and wiser, and with that gaining a calm and serenity that she did not have when she was young and perhaps less evolved, but I suspect it’s more than that. I seem to find that so many of the things that always annoyed me seem somehow less annoying…for example, I drive a very big, ridiculously long, heavy truck with a cap, and so for all the years I’ve driven this truck, when fools who don’t understand the most basic rules of physics and speed and weight and braking, pull out in front of me, I used to get so angry.  Lately I find myself braking sooner, meaning as soon as I see their foolishness in action, rather than seconds before it appears I might plow into the rear of their car, and think to myself, “it’s the universe telling me that I need to be here and not there at this second” and then tell myself stories while I take a few deep breaths about how that jerk who turned right on red without stopping, into traffic moving 50 miles per hour, right in front of me driving a 9000 pound truck, is maybe saving my life by making me be 12 or 20 feet farther behind than I would have been had he not cut me off…it’s a silly mind game, so many mind games are, but I play it with myself as I take those necessary calming breaths and it seems to make me a much less angry driver.  It might seem like a poor example, but if you have ever been a passenger with me in any vehicle you would likely say, “oh, how nice that her lead foot is lighter, and she does not scream up behind the tail of those who annoy her anymore!  Oh joy!” 

I’m certain, had I learned about yoga at 18, or even 28, 38, or 48, my life would have been much different.  I have always called myself a silver lining seeker, that hasn’t changed, but I’m a much less upset person it seems about everything, and I like that.  I certainly would have been a better mother while raising my daughter.  I was not a “No More Wire Hangers!!!” kind of mother, but I certainly was not as good as I could have been, or should have been, to a small growing learning little girl.  Had I been better at taking the necessary breaths to assess situations, instead of flying off the handle, I would have had a far less stressful home in which that little girl lived.  It seems she didn’t suffer too badly, she sure turned out fabulous, and she lets me help her raise her girls, so I was not THAT bad, but we live and learn, and like that expression ‘when you know better, you do better’ and so I’m doing better in just about every area of humanness.

I also think about breathing when I walk into a store or building where a person does not know how to measure 25 feet from the door as the allowed space for smoking near an entrance.  And when I walk through the stink I think about my lungs, I think about breathing, and I think “how on earth did I do THAT for so long and what on earth must I have been thinking??!!”  And I say a little prayer to the universe that I quit in enough time to heal that damage and I don’t end up like that disgusting “we can help you quit” commercial, where the man is sitting at his dining room table gasping for breath with lungs that make a sound like pebbles being raked and wearing an oxygen tank…when you know better, you do better

I still get mad about a lot of things, sure, but I seem to be less mad about all of them.  Last night for example we went out for Mexican food and I asked for some more pico and the server instead brought guacamole, and I said, “that’s okay, I’ll have that” and then she charged us $4 for it.  $4 for two tablespoons of guacamole would have made the old me super angry, but the new me just calmly said, “well, we won’t make that mistake again.” I can’t know for sure that learning how to breathe differently and move differently and think differently because I am learning yoga is WHY this is happening, I can only know and observe that it is happening.  Next time somebody pulls out in front of you, blows stinking smoke in your face, or overcharges you for something you didn’t even order, just try to see if some really deep breaths, in through your nose, out through your nose, helps you think about how to react, or even to react at all… I think you’ll be glad you did.  I mean really, we have to breathe to live, it makes each day possible, we might as well try to do it in a way that also makes each day better.

 

 

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I.R.L.

I think of myself as an imaginative day-dreamer; not the kind of person who wastes or whiles away her day with her head in the clouds, but the kind of person who manages to get all of her daily work and chores done but with her head somewhere else much of the time, and yes, often in the clouds.  I would go as far as to write that for all of my life I have been a dreamer; always thinking about things that are not, that likely never would be, or couldn’t be, and forever creating scenarios, and even dialogue of situations, that are nothing but thoughts, and not at all part of what is.  On NPR the other morning, I heard the term, I.R.L., In Real Life, during an interview with one of the world’s greatest computer hackers.  He said it’s a term common to gamers or programmers and they use it, IRL, to briefly identify the difference between what is imaginary and what isn’t.   As a woman who is currently using a photo-shopped profile picture on social media from an app that’s to see what “you will look like as a Hollywood star,” it should not be a surprise to learn that the fake world of my brain, as opposed to reality, is not an unpleasant place for me, rather, it’s really quite comfortable for me to be there for extended lengths of time…

In the imaginary world of my head, the man I love, regardless of brand, size of tube, or fullness of said tube, squeezes toothpaste from the bottom only, every single time.  I.R.L. he squeezes right in the middle, no matter the time of day or type of tube, and it really frustrates me, but that is the real life.

In the imaginary world of my head, when I’m driving my new Camaro, blasting music from the Hair Nation channel and singing my heart out,  I’m as hot as that blonde in those cut off Levi’s shorts in the She’s My Cherry Pie video, and could, if I so desired,  drape myself all over the hood of that car like Tawny Kitaen from  Here I Go AgainI.R.L. anybody who looks in the yet to be tinted windows, can see very clearly it’s not some young, big-haired, blue eye-linered 80’s hottie, and it frustrates me that I now occupy this middle-aged vessel,  but that is the real life.

In the imaginary world of my head, when I am in squat at yoga, I elegantly wrap my left arm behind my back, and then my right arm around the outside of my right knee to join my hands, and I slowly and carefully get my right knee into the crook of my right elbow while my left hand is still wrapped around myself, and with the strength of my left leg, begin to stand, and then straighten up into the bird of paradise pose,  or Svarga Dvijasana.  I.R.L. I squat, over the floor and with my knees as wide as they will go with my hands at my heart, possessing neither the skills nor the strength to move like my teacher demonstrates, and it frustrates me, but that is the real life. 

In the imaginary world of my head, the man I love, regardless of the time of night, gets into bed beside me and reads, and turns off his night table lamp when I do, and the room is silent and dark as we fall asleep, and stay asleep until morning.  I.R.L. he likes the tv on and tosses and turns and kicks, as he loathes my tightly made perfect hospital cornered linens, and his inability to be still wakes me up, and then I become devastatingly aware that my skin is hot like lava, and I too begin to toss and turn, he often simply  gives up to sleeplessness and goes to the sofa, and then I lie there overheated and frustrated that the sheets are now messy,  but that is the real life.

In the imaginary world of my head, I put the required time and attention into my friendships and let people know how much they mean to me by picking up the phone when I think of them, and making time for them, and having regular dinner parties and gatherings.  I.R.L. I put so little effort into my interactions and feel bad about myself every time I think fondly of somebody, or have a joyful or funny memory about fun time spent together, and it makes me feel frustrated that I am so lazy in the arena of maintaining friendships, but that is the real life.

In the imaginary world of my head, these two gorgeous granddaughters of mine will get through their teenage years and grow into women without suffering excruciating boyfriend sadness, or heart breaks, or having their feelings stomped on.  I.R.L. they will likely experience the same teary upsets that their mother did, and I did,  because the sob stories of our youth are what make us so much more grateful for the relationships we later build and cultivate in our adulthood, and I know I will feel frustrated when I can’t soothe their distress, but that is the real life.

Life is sometimes messy, often super messy, inexplicably cruel and total crap, and things don’t go as we wish, and for some life goes wonky far more often than it goes well, and that too seems grossly unfair.  THAT is real life.  Work, relationships, friendships, the “stuff” that makes up our lives simply sometimes stinks, and difficulties frequently  amplify before they diminish.  I am learning, the older I get, that frustration with real life is pretty much pointless, and that nothing lasts for too long to not be able to handle it.

In the imaginary world of my head, I am surrounded by love, even when I don’t feel lovable or very loving.  I.R.L. I am surrounded by love, even when I don’t feel lovable or very loving.  When I take the moments to reflect and reboot when I need to, it’s almost laughable how much wonderfulness the universe has dropped into my lap, year after year there are far more good times and good experiences than there are bad.  Life is as beautiful as we make it, and we can daydream all we want about what it ought to be, or could be, or we can accept all that is in real life and make the best of each and every moment.  Despite my frequent frustrations, it is a wonderful life, and I bet yours is too, you just have to sometimes take your head out of the clouds to see clearly…

 


Personal Jesus

I always felt, at least I guess I feel like I’ve always thought this way; that, if there is a god, or God, then he or she will know I am a good and loving person, and that I try always to be guided by a strong moral compass, and that if there is ANYthing even remotely like heaven, then I will surely go there because I am “good.”  My brain never could understand how an “all loving god” would be loving to only some.  The word “all” seemed to be misconstrued or misunderstood, in my ever so humble opinion.

Nothing that was ever read from the bible to my ears spoke to me.  Nothing about catechism class ever spoke to me.  I went to the classes because my parents made me, and I questioned early on how there were any more people on the planet if god supposedly only made Adam and Eve and they only had two sons.  Then later in 5th grade questioned a catechism class mom as to why it was any of her business whether a woman wanted to have a baby or not when she tried to recruit me for a right to life march and wanted me to glue gruesome pictures onto poster board.  Both of those childhood experiences got me a ‘talking to‘ from the priest, who never made me feel anything like I thought church should make a person feel, so to say that by 6th grade I was finished, is true.  Nothing about the religion, or the mass services, the man speaking from the book, or the CCD classes ever made me feel at all included or connected to any god, if there was or is one.

I feel like I always believed that there was something much bigger than just us, or just this solar system, that earth can hardly be the only one like this in such a vast unending universe…if there are billions of galaxies, how can anybody believe we are the only  which sustains life??  I don’t know how old I was when I began to use my free will to think the way I wanted, and not think much, at all, for what was being taught to me.

I believe in a myriad of ideas, concepts, and beautiful loving notions about what it means to be a human, and interact with others on this planet that we call home, but my daily “mantra” if you will, my one true commandment, comes from my father, and has been a part of me for all of my life.  Despite being brought up in the catholic church and being an altar boy as a child, and making me start life as a catholic person, my dad used an expression and still uses it,  “make plenty of deposits in your karmic bank” that forced him to have to explain to a wee girl, what is karma,  w and I truly believe THAT, more than anything I was ever taught by anybody, is what has influenced me, been my one true goal, and has been the basis of my “faith” in this life.  It seems that I was, unintentionally guided by my dad perhaps, to be a Buddhist if anything!!!

I have done some wrong in this life.  I have done things for which I am sorry, ashamed, and that have hurt other people.  My one darkness that I kept a secret for more than 25 years finally broke open when I gathered the courage and accepted the consequences of the “telling,” and in shame and apology I asked the universe to free me from the cloud that hung over me.   I feel pretty confident that if, when I die, there is really a god, or God, or anything remotely like what my Nana believed to be true, that my goodness and rightness will be enough…

Some believe that you have to accept that a good and kind man in history called Jesus is the son of God, and that he is your savior, in order to get to heaven.  Some believe that you have to be one of a select chosen few to get to heaven.  Some believe that you have to get “right” with God, whatever that must mean…I suppose all of them are perfectly valid for those who choose to believe what they believe…What I think is that IF there is God and IF there is heaven, then surely he, or she, is not going to turn anybody away…even the bad guys, because, from what I have been told there is a whole lot of forgiveness going on up there in the unknown, and even the most despicable humans can be forgiven…it seems too confusing and contradicting to me and therefore, it never sat right with me as anything to believe in.

For many young adults, going off to college and being around professors with different ideas and beliefs and theories, and peers from other kinds of families and communities, is what sets us onto our own paths and ways of thinking as grown-ups…we finally get to be around adults who are not our parents with ideas that are new and they share.  While this was true for me in so many ways, particularly as I began the study for my second of two majors, in feminist theory and women’s history, it was a children’s book that I think moved me the most towards the way I think still to this day.  I bought it when I was 22 for my little girl for her fourth birthday, called “The Mountains of Tibet”  In this story a little boy dreams to see the world but he grows up, works as a woodcutter, has a family, grows old, and thinks about how he never left his valley and as he nears death realizes that he never went anywhere he dreamed to go…and upon his death, in a place that is ‘both very dark and very bright,’ he hears a voice asking him questions about the life he has just finished living and what might he want to do next…you really must read it if you have not, and the illustrations are exquisite and the story is superb…and the fact of the matter is, a preschooler and a college student, on the same cold January night, reading together at bedtime, discovered a way to think about living, and death, that has stuck with us both ever since.  (The Mountains of Tibet, by Mordicai Gerstein, published in 1987, if you are interested)

This horrific school shooting in Florida on Wednesday is what got me thinking about life and death and beliefs and ideas about what might be next, if anything.  I found myself thinking with sadness from the perspective of a teenager, shot and bleeding and perhaps knowing, that moment, that she is not going to live to do any of the things she dreamed of doing.  Or a boy as he is falling to the ground, maybe trying to remember when he left the house and hoping that he told his mom he loved her.  Or a teacher, terrified for his own life but knowing those kids were counting on him to be brave and somehow in the most unknowing of circumstances, know what to do.  Or the cops, how scary it must be to have no idea how bad it’s going to be and what they will encounter upon arrival.  Or the parents, seeing and hearing the news and waiting, the inexplicably painful number of minutes it must have been for the text message or phone call to come through that their child is okay.  Or the parents who did not get that call or text…I can’t imagine that anguish, my child has not yet been accounted for, my child is dead, how will I take one more breath in this life when I have to now think about burying my child…and I find myself thinking too about the shooter… Where was his moral compass?  What did he believe?  How could he DO something like that?  and so on, and so on, and so on…

I just have found myself having these thoughts, with every news story, press conference, or gun control discussion I read…thinking about each of these perspectives and what it means to be alive, and then soon not to be alive, and what do we believe about “what’s next.”  What I know for sure is that my wish for each of those victims is that, at that final moment, they were not afraid.  I hope whatever comes to us, at the moment we move from the alive to the not alive, is beautiful no matter what we believe.

I have friends who are deeply faithful Christians, I have friends who are Jewish, I know someone who is Hindu, I know a few who are Buddhist,  and I have friends who are agnostic and atheist, and I don’t believe that any one of them is more right than the others, and I have loving feelings for all of them.  I also believe in my heart that if there is anything perfect and eternal after death, other than just being fired to ashes, or decomposing in a pine box, they all, we all, get to enjoy it.  They let me be free to be me, and I let them free to be them.  I feel pretty strongly that trying to be a good person, an honest person, a loving person, a kind person, an empathetic person are all tenets that I can get behind, and I suppose any religion would think these principles for living are what’s important.  I hope I’m right.

 

 

the Effort with the Ease

Relationships are often difficult.  It warmed my heart and settled my mind recently when I heard these words, read aloud during my morning yoga class, to balance the effort with the ease and I thought it might possibly be the best description of how to be in a relationship that I’ve ever heard. Surely there have been countless ways people have described how to be a partner, how to BE human with another human, but these words, so profound, yet simultaneously simple, touched me.  Being part of a pair, this conscious coupling in which two people choose to participate, every day, not just on a day that is “supposed” to be romantic or loving, but EVERY day that we make a choice to BE WITH another person, is what Valentine’s Day means to me.  This February day is a reminder to myself that I am choosing this person to be my person and recognizing that truly, the only thing that really MAKES two people a couple and KEEPS them together is the choice they make to remain so.  Argue all you want if you like about shared assets, expenses of splitting up, housing affordability issues, who will take the pets, distribution of retirement funds…whatever, the fact to me is that we decide daily we are going to share our life with this person, we choose, and that is the only thing that makes a couple, a couple.

I am the daughter of a man and woman who have loved each other for almost 52 years and the older I get, the more I understand, it is a choice they made, over and over, to continue to be together.  I have some girlfriends from high school who now love men they first loved as boys, and have grown up and grown in love with the same person for thirty years.  I love that I know these women, and I sometimes envy what they found when they found it.  When you fall in love late in life, as I have, you miss most, if not all, of the magical moments of firsts…picking out our first sofa, announcing our engagement, planning a honeymoon, deciding where to buy a house, watching with fear and joy, as a recently peed upon plastic stick turns from clear to blue…all of those firsts, this man I love right now, my person, he shared all of those magical moments with somebody else.  It’s sometimes very hard to handle, if I find myself thinking about it, so I try not to think about it too much, but it’s a loss of sorts; meeting somebody who seems so perfect for you, but you met them too late to share any of those magical moments and experience any of those firsts.  The loss does not diminish the present joy, it’s just an observation that sometimes makes me long for what was not and never could be now…

I’ve learned over time and lessons in living, that being content in your present is another choice, and for me, trying not to dwell too much, if at all, on what could have been or wasn’t, is very important to my level of happiness.  I try to accept all of my life as a culmination of the choices I’ve made and accept my present tense without much regret, and that too is a choice.  It’s EASY to focus on the negative, it is EASY to fall into the shoulda-woulda-coulda, and the wishing for other things, but I think, in the big picture, ALL aspects of relationships are essentially boiled down to this; what we choose to think about and how we choose to think about it…as she said, the effort with the ease…

I find that my life is more beautiful when I focus on the positives and the pluses and try to let the negatives go in one ear and out the other.  I like what my teacher read, to balance the effort with the ease…We can find ourselves consumed with how we’ve been hurt, what went wrong, why so-and-so made such a terrible decision, why so-and-so failed us, and that ends up taking a lot of effort on our part to accept, forgive, move on, but when we zoom in on the good, the fun, the joyful times, it is so easy…so easy to choose love and be positive.  I think the more happy thoughts you have, the more you find you can be happy about, and at least for me, in this later phase of my life, it seems to be the way things are going.

I’ve found over these chapters in this love story that I’m in, when I focus on the times we laughed together, ate great meals together, remembering his face, and oh that smile, the first time I ever saw it, my brain immediately brings me back to the overjoy.  When I think about the simplest things, like the first time he made coffee for me, or the not so simple things, like when he nursed me in unimaginable ways after unexpected complications after surgery, my brain immediately brings me back to the overjoy.  There are, if we try, far more beautiful things to think about and dwell on that are happy and loving, but we, each of us who choose to be part of a couple,  have to choose to think that way.  We have to balance the effort with the ease, because you see, I know this much is true; if you focus over and over on the negative, the annoying, the frustrating, the angry, the times that were not good the times that were sad or hurtful or painful in any way, those negative thoughts are so powerful, for some reason often so much more powerful than the lighter and happier thoughts, that they take over your gray matter so fast and the relationship disintegrates, a bit more day by day, until the sound of them chewing or the way they squeeze the toothpaste becomes the final straw.

The stores were filled these last weeks with mushy romantic cards with bad illustrations and corny wording, and none of the cards said what my teacher made me think about; I choose you, I will continue to try every day to do what I can to show love and be love, and balance the effort with the ease.

 

 

1st and Ten, do it again (clap clap)

Last night I watched as the man I love worked his way through every emotion known to football fans world wide…excitement, anticipation, nervousness, stress, worry, anger, frustration, sadness, and annoyance sprinkled with dread, culminating in a climactic rush of pure youthful joy and life-long prayers answered, and then inexplicable bewilderment, as the clock ticked down to :00 in the fourth quarter. The man I love waited his whole life for the moment that arrived last night, at around 10:15 pm EST, in our flu infested living room, in front of our new flat screen television, with us donning our NFL apparel, and it did my heart good to see him that happy.

I was a cheerleader…for all of my youth, and throughout my teens and senior year of high school, I was a cheerleader, and do you want to know a secret?  Not until the fall of 2012 did I know what that cheer meant, “1st and Ten, do it again!”  I joined Pop Warner sports as a young child and tried out for the cheerleading squad every season, every year, for all of my wonder years, and it was not until I was a middle-aged woman with grandchildren, that I learned anything at all about football; you see I grew up in a non sports oriented household,  and fell in love, late in life, with a man who LOVES sports.  My father could think of a dozen things (or more) off the top of his head that he would rather do than sit inside and watch some sort of sport on television, and my boyfriend could think of a dozen things (or more) off the top of his head that he would rather ignore so that he could sit inside and watch some sort of sport on television.

In the 5.5 years that I have loved this man there have been more sporting events on my television than in the entire 40 plus years of my life prior to my meeting him, and none have made him as happy as watching his beloved Eagles win the Super Bowl last night.  We met, this sports lover and I, in the wee morning hours of a hot July, and indeed I think that September he was shocked, or might have thought I was joking, when he learned that I did not watch football, did not follow football, and knew nothing, at all, about football.  “I thought you were a cheerleader?” he asked one day, and I explained that yes, we just did the cheers based on what the coach told us was happening on the field behind us.  Sure, many of the girls probably knew the sport well or understood what was happening on the field upon which we were jumping and cheering, but I wasn’t one of them.  I had never watched a game on television until that fall of 2012, and despite a youth lived clapping gleefully about offense and defense, I could not have given you any bit of information about the game itself, other than that I did know that ‘offense’ meant you/your team/the team, whatever… had possession of the ball and was trying to make a touchdown.  I did not have a father interested in sports, and did not have brothers, and never had a boyfriend who was into sports, so it was not that I didn’t like sports, I simply didn’t know sports.

I only knew two of the songs from the super hyped half-time show last night, and thought it a rather funny turn of events, that I knew more about the football game going on, and the season that had just ended, than of the entertainment…my how the times have changed!  This was my 6th season as a football watcher/Eagles supporter and last night’s game was so exciting to watch.  After this many seasons I now yell/clap/and loudly say things like “Come On!” and since that very first game, I ask questions, if not every game, indeed throughout the season, so that I now understand, quite a lot, about the rules and what is happening, and I admit that I do enjoy watching much more than I EVER imagined I would.  To be honest, if we were to break up tomorrow, this sports lover and I, I doubt I would ever watch a football game again, but as long as I love this man who loves the Eagles, I am going to continue to cheer, and at least now I finally know what the words all mean!

No Place I’d Rather Be

I don’t care much for winter, at all.  Yes, fresh fallen snow is beautiful for about an hour and I do love listening to The Nutcracker for all the weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, but other than my great love of decorating for Christmas and enjoying the most splendid and cozy ambiance of my gas fireplace, there is very little that makes me feel really “happy it’s winter.”  I’m pretty sure I have never uttered such a sentence.  I don’t like to be cold & I prefer my windows to be open, so during these short biting months of the year I find myself mostly just wishing for the end of it.

A raw January morning 32 years ago, a perfectly round & pink & healthy baby girl was born, and that first winter of her life, oh good lord that was dreadful…a poorly insulated house on a cold empty island with nothing much to do, and my job being closed until April, and a bad husband and a bad marriage; it’s a wonder really we made it through to the spring, but we did, that perfect little baby and I, and we grew together from that winter on.  While it’s true that we ebbed and flowed in and out of the other’s schedule and life for a short while after she graduated from high school, we have otherwise been a fixture in each other’s world for all of the days of her life.  When my daughter texts me something like, “please come help me” be it because of a mouse (once), a mess (many), a bird in the house (twice), a spill, some blood, an injury, a husband, a child, a dog, or troubles or tears, I can be there, to help her, in about 117 steps.  I can also be there to celebrate any achievement or joy, or kitchen creation or copied from Pinterest perfection.  The point being, I am here, right here next door for her, no matter what.  We have been neighbors for more than eight years now, and while I don’t care much for winter, I do care, a lot, for my proximity to my daughter and her daughters.

When I built this house on this piece of land it was with the knowledge and intention of helping my daughter to raise her children and while her house was finished four months before mine, there was no question that we were doing this together.  Despite the cold and snow, the bitter blowing winds, and too early for my liking sunsets, and bleak gray days that fill the weeks of winter, there is always a bit of sunshine in my heart knowing they are so close to me.  I feel glad knowing I am there for any of them if they need me and I am content here at the back-end of our compound when they don’t.  Any woman who is a mother knows that the feeling of helplessness and agony one has, how positively heart-wrenching it is, when a child, be it a wee one or a grown one, is hurting and there is nothing to do to help…so while I don’t like upset or troubles, or messes or mice or blood and injuries, I do like, very much, that when I am needed I’m more often than not, able to respond immediately…no matter how old your baby grows, she is always your baby, and wanting to soothe and comfort your baby, however necessary, is part of the job of  ‘mother,’ and it never goes away.

There are mornings that I really don’t want to go to the bus stops at 7:02 and 8:02, but taking the children to their buses gives my daughter extra minutes for herself every work day, and it allows me to be the last kiss and kind words each little girl receives as she begins her school day.  My daughter’s job as a teacher gives her the summer off and paid holidays, but it does not afford her the flexibility with her time that my job does.  In fact, the few times I have been away, my daughter’s thanks and gratitude is overwhelming when she realizes how much I do that helps her.   Being available to help is part of my job right here right now, but I’m also well aware that it’s temporary…we all grow, and circumstances change, and soon none of those three will need me, and I will know that this phase of my life’s purpose, and my place on this earth is complete, and I will move onto my own next chapter.

EVERY time I have traveled south of south Jersey I think the same thing; why don’t I live here?  And while I love this house I’m almost certain that when I’m an old lady I don’t want to be near cold and snow, and bitter blowing winds, and too early for my liking sunsets, and bleak gray days…when I am an old woman I want to be where it’s hot, sunny, with palm trees and warm breezes and sunsets that don’t arrive until dinner time…but as long as this woman next door is raising her children and I am needed, no matter the weather, there’s no place I’d rather be…

Start where you are and do what you can

While it’s been miserably, bitterly, teeth-chatteringly cold these last two weeks, I feel a warmth in my heart and bones that is becoming, day after day it seems, my new normal…AND I love it.  For months I have been making changes to make my physical self better, ergo, making my whole being and whole life better, but change is slow, and I am terribly impatient, and have, since the new year, been beating myself up a bit when I stumble…which is often, and that doesn’t make anything better.

I woke up the other morning thinking about tomatoes; it takes six weeks, OR MORE just from the time you put a seed into a bit of dampened soil, for it to germinate and grow enough to be even planted outside, let alone thrive, and then it takes almost three months after the seedlings are in the earth, under the sun, with daily care and maintenance, to actually have a fully ripened, big fat glorious orb of reddish-orange goodness that is ready for you to eat!!! So why, I ask myself, am I so impatient for the changes that are taking place in me?  …certainly a more complex living thing than a tomato??!!

I’m pretty sure that you are not supposed to ‘Yadda Yadda Yadda’ yoga, and I won’t tire you with all of these feel-good hippie-dippie words that keep pulsing through my brain, but I will write that I have felt “better” since joining yoga classes than I have felt in a long while, and honestly, I feel pretty fabulous most of the time anyway!  In August when I started to eat cleaner and drink less alcohol I knew I was on the right path for me, I just felt like a better version of myself.   I have fallen off the wagon a number of times since, too many to count, but I’ve not fallen so far that I’ve not been able to climb back onto said wagon. My pretend husband and I had a wonderful vacation in November to celebrate my birthday, and palm trees and hot sun really are good medicine for just about anything as far as I’m concerned, so that trip to Mexico certainly got the ball rolling for all of this joy, these uplifting sensations, that seem to be part of my new normal, however, starting yoga seems to be the icing that my cake of life was lacking.  Icing and cake that I’m not supposed to eat, but icing on cake nevertheless!!!

In a number of classes the yoga instructor has asked, “you didn’t drive yourself home from the hospital the day you were born did you?” and goes on to discuss the ‘crawl-walk-run’ way of growing and learning and evolving, and it is a VERY good reminder, particularly for somebody like me, who used to be much more fit and much more bendy, and who is basically starting from the very beginning, where fitness or stamina is concerned, that I should not expect to do things right, or well, from the start.

Sometimes when I am supposed to be concentrating on my breathing and maintaining a high plank, or some other strange uncomfortable pose where my legs are bent in ways that seem like it can’t possibly be beneficial to the body, or conducive to positive thoughts, I find myself thinking about how I used to be…how athletic and strong, and fit and thin I used to be, and then I feel myself getting annoyed…but then this magical thing happens, my brain says, “PSST!!! hey, lady!! you are supposed to be thinking about breathing… in through your nose and out through your nose, four counts in, eight counts out,  and do you know what?  You are 50 years old, and a Nana, and some woman’s mother, and here you are doing push ups, and oh wait, look here, here you are bending your left knee over your right knee, and now you are lifting your legs up in the air and grabbing on to your own feet, and now you are pushing your legs up in the air and still holding onto your feet! and guess what?!!   it doesn’t matter what you used to do, how you used to be, how you used to look…all that matters is that you are doing  THIS right now!!!”

The yoga instructor says, “you can’t be 100% 100% of the time” and that really resonates with me.  I am the first to admit my greatest character flaw might be that I hate to be wrong, so the “fear” of doing something wrong, or not well, or not as well as the person standing next to me, is one of those issues I have to deal with…but half of my brain beats myself up every class, and the other half of my brain lifts me high in the air, on the shoulders of the universe and praises my every bend and every breath.  I feel on some days that I can do anything I set my mind to, and some other days I feel like I will never, ever, get to where I want to be.  In those moments I  think about this quote I once read;  Start where you are and do what you can.  In those few words I feel so free, so capable, so confident.  I never like to tell anybody what to do, but I feel pretty comfortable telling you this; if you feel stuck in any way…in any situation, just do this right now…Start where you are, and do what you can.