I was in the middle of a very detailed blog post about October and autumn and pumpkins and Halloween when, oops, I ran out of space in my Blogger account and was denied any more picture-uploading privileges until I paid a small fee and waited ever-so-patiently for my privileges to be restored.
So I muttered some choice words and went to take a yoga class.
My first yoga class since we moved to Long Island in early 2008, actually.
I think it may have changed my life.
If you follow this blog, you know that I've been trying to make some changes lately. I decided that I've been living with a victim's mindset for almost four years now since my reconstructive foot surgery and (oddly enough) nothing has gotten better. Maybe it was time to get off the dang couch and try something new. So, I went off of my lobotomizing anti-depressants, I stopped drinking alcohol (mostly --still like a glass of wine with friends sometimes), I've been trying to start a meditation practice, and I've been adding some exercise daily.
I KNOW --what the heck? I'm trying to embrace MODERATION-- a kinder, gentler way of living, rather than my usual "run head-on into a brick wall at full speed, get up and do it again" approach to life. What has gotten into me?
Enter the yoga class. I'd been thinking about taking a yoga class for a while, but I was sort of scared to walk into some place I didn't know, given my disabled foot and all the explaining that I have to do before I can undertake anything physical. (Seriously, if there was any justice in the world, people would either be disabled OR shy but not both.) However, I knew and was already impressed with the man who was going to teach the class because, y'all, it's hard not to be impressed with a guy who can balance his entire body on one forearm. It turns out that he's also really knowledgeable and really gentle about encouraging those of us with recalcitrant appendages that will NOT bend, thank you very much. (Okay, maybe that's just me.) His name is Chris Gates and he's the founder of the place when my older daughter Ana (12) takes Tae Kwon Do.
I love this place. Seriously. I'm not sure how they've built something so special in a strip mall in Greenlawn, New York, but it's remarkable. Out of all of the places we've sent our children for their various lessons and sports and music and other extracurricular classes, this one has the most unique vibe to it. It seems like a lot of places, particularly sports places, hire people who are good at the SPORT but not so great with the KIDS.
But at Chris Gates' place, I love the emphasis on mutual respect and discipline, without being all militaristic and overly officious. (Y'all know how I usually have this negative knee-jerk reaction to that type of authority.) I love that there are enormously high expectations of the students, but that there is also enormous positive reinforcement. I love the fierce loyalty that the instructors show to Chris and each other. I love that there is understanding of where each student is on the journey to health and strength and self power, and that the instructors manage to custom-fit the curriculum to match each student's needs. Somehow, they've created a very safe, nurturing atmosphere where, not only is it okay to ask for help, it's okay to OFFER it. I think this is very unusual and Ana is truly thriving there. She's developed a lot of self confidence and I've seen her step outside of her Quiet to really reach out to other students --both child and adult. This is powerful stuff.
I like to go there with Ana and sit while she does Tae Kwon Do, just to absorb that positive energy. I would have liked to have signed up to take Tae Kwon Do myself (there's another mother-daughter team there) but the fact that I can't stand on my left foot, nor kick anything with it, seems to make that impossible. The classes have a lot of strength training and calisthenics --squat thrusts and these kicking stance combination things that are beyond my physical limitations.
But I CAN, it turns out, do a very slightly modified form of the Dharma Mittra Yoga that Chris has just started offering at his studio. (If you click on that link, there are a few videos of Sri Dharma Mittra doing his yoga practice. I'd really like it if you could just envision ME doing yoga that way instead of picturing the reality, which is...um...well...different from that. Thanks.)
Anyway, I made it through the class without doing anything REALLY embarrassing and I felt so GREAT afterward that I just had to marvel at the mind/body/spirit connection. I'm not sure why yoga has this effect on me, but after every class I've ever taken, be it Hatha, Ashtanga, Bikram or now Dharma Mittra, I have had this amazing sense of calm and well-being.
And, frankly, it's been missing in my life lately because the chronic pain from my foot seems to have ratcheted up a notch. Ana asked me last night, "I don't understand. You had the surgery to fix your foot. Why does it still hurt?" Which is a good question, even if the answer to it isn't one that very many people can accept, me included.
The answer is that Western medicine, as amazing and miraculous as it is, simply can't fix everything. I think there is this pervasive idea that if things go wrong with us mechanically, a doctor can fix them --that's how things are supposed to work. Unfortunately, it's just not true. In my case, the doctor restored my ability to walk but was unable to remove the pain I have with every step. In fact, every doctor I have seen so far has told me, in various words, that this may just be as good as it gets. I get a lot of suggestions for new doctors from people after I tell them this and I guess I should try to find the energy to get yet another opinion, another MRI, another perspective. It's just exhausting, though, to get my hopes up again and go through the rounds and rounds of appointments. I feel like I could better use that energy to explore some alternative pain management strategies. (Well, I did ask about just cutting the damn foot off, but my doctor said that elective amputation wasn't an option.)
In the meanwhile, I keep thinking that part of what I'm supposed to be learning from this adventure with chronic pain is how to dwell in another sort of...head space, somewhere above the extreme noise level that is unbroken pain. I want to explore how to find the discipline to go there when the pain gets bad. (Okay, I probably shouldn't post this because it sounds so...hippy-dippy, free-love and pot brownies. People. I'm NOT going to shave my head and start handing out leaflets at the airport, nor am I going to begin every dinner party with a rousing version of Kumbaya or anything.) I'm just trying to find a way to live with this pain without it becoming my whole life, if that makes sense. And yes, I wish someone had an answer to my foot effed-uppedness, too, so that I could continue with my formerly happy, if more shallow, life withOUT chronic pain. But there ya go.
I'd also like to win the lottery.
Anyway, that's my story of how blog failure can change your life and how you can find meaning even in the most minuscule of technology failures.
PS: I seem to be spending a lot of time on Facebook these days. If you are similarly addicted and would like to find me, here's a link: Barb Cooper