Saturday, December 31, 2011

No Fear in 2012

I love New Year's Eve.

Especially THIS year, which has been one of the most significant, hardest, and happiest years of my life. I'm telling y'all, if I keep the momentum I've gained in 2012, I fully expect that by the end 2012, I will be able to FLY.  You just watch me!

To recap:
I quit drinking officially on New Year's Day 2011.
I found yoga and fell down a lot.
I lost weight.
I found acupuncture and broke my toe.
I began to deal with the scars of having lived with chronic pain for so long.
I walked down the beach.
I celebrated my yogaversary.
I took my yoga to an entirely new level. (Well, I'm TRYING to do that, anyway.) (Today I went to the Power class at 9:30.  I came home so spent, I had to nap before I could even clean my kitchen.)

Amidst all of my personal growth and gratitude, our family sold our house, moved to a rental, enrolled BOTH girls in private school, took some trips, planted a garden, decluttered a large amount of useless stuff (well, we're TRYING to do that, anyway) and in general, found a new rhythm to our life here in New York.

It's been an extraordinary year.

I've loved looking back at it.  It wasn't an EASY year, really.  I feel sort of like I am emerging from the cocoon I've been in for the past five or so years.  Yes, I feel like I am coming into my own--becoming the butterfly I was meant to be.

It turns out that becoming a butterfly?  Is pretty dang PAINFUL.

No one tells you that part.

It's painful for everyone. I feel like I've been renegotiating the terms of all of my relationships.  I am less of a pleaser, but kinder.  I am fundamentally changed by having lived with chronic pain--in ways I don't fully understand yet.

Recently, I realized that I spend a lot of my time living in fear.  I am afraid of embarrassment.  I am afraid of pain.  I am afraid of exerting my own will/opinion/freaky sense of humor on others for fear they won't like me, or respond positively.  Part of my growth process for 2012 is to step out of that fear.  To feel it, acknowledge it and send it packing.

So, that's it, really.  That's my resolution for 2012.  I'm letting go of fear as often as I possible can.  To put myself out there as big as life, risking rejection and falling down (yoga) and making mistakes.  2012 is MY year.

Watch me fly.  I dare you to come with me.

I DOUBLE-DOG dare you.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Irony

Monday, December 26, 2011

This morning, my husband went on a bike ride.  It's very cold out and windy and he really didn't want to go, but he made himself because he knew it would further his fitness, and that he would feel better afterward.

It is in that same spirit that I decided NOT to go to yoga this morning.

I know, what?

I've been on something of a yoga binge --pushing my body in a more advanced class, taking multiple classes in one day, occasionally dropping to the ground to do a headstand in my bedroom.  (It's the latest thing I've learned to do! It's super cool!  I can hold it for minutes without crashing!)

(I mean, you'd do that, too, right?)

(RIGHT?)

Anyway, yeah, yoga BINGE is no misnomer.  I just love it so much. I can't get enough.

Except, my body is protesting the excess.  My shoulder hurts, I've got a small strain in my lower right back and a larger strain in my left glute. Nothing serious, but warning signs that I need to throttle back for a bit before I hurt myself and have to take a REAL break from yoga.

The thing is...

Um.

I'm afraid to stop.  (I guess we can just add this to my legion of psychological issues.) I'm AFRAID to go slowly, because what if I'm unable to start again?

I've written about this before, but basically, I think one of the legacies of my chronic pain/immobility adventure is this feeling that if I stop moving, my mobility will be taken away from me.  I fear that every yoga class is my last one, so I have to push harder, go deeper. I can't afford to have a bad practice because what if it's my last one?

Which is flawed thinking on many levels, not the least of which, it's not yogic.  Dharma Mittra himself says, "Do all postures very slowly, without pain or straining. [...] Do not overhold any posture. Break posture whenever it becomes uncomfortable." It's supposed to be about achieving a meditative state naturally; the union of the mind and body.

Which is not the way *I* approach ANYTHING, really.

So, today was a big step for me. A chance to practice what I preach to my daughters about listening to their bodies and practicing moderation and how life is a marathon, and not a sprint.

It didn't stop me from doing THIS in my bedroom, but I don't think you can blame me for THAT.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Musings: We Are Blessed

This morning, I had to go have my blood drawn for my annual thyroid test. (I've been hypothyroid for almost 30 years.)

Yes, I had to go on Christmas Eve.

I would have gone earlier this month, but that might have meant missing yoga and you know how I feel about THAT.  (As it was, despite the fact that my forty-six year old body was screaming for a break, the twenty-year-old in my head was MASSIVELY pouting.)

So, because I had to fast (also not my favorite thing), I went when the lab first opened this morning. I was in a bit of a dark mood, because my family had stayed up late watching a movie and the living room looked like a bomb had gone off.  Ditto the kitchen.

Anyway, pre-coffee and grumpy, I sat in the waiting room, waiting my turn.

I noticed the family across from me, two parents and their little girl, roughly the same age as my eleven-year-old, Jane.  As I watched them, the realization dawned on me that this was a family dealing with a catastrophic illness of a child.  The little girl looked terrible--drawn and listless--and she was dealing with the repeated calls for more tests like a veteran. Her parents were studiedly upbeat, but the father's hands were shaking as he pretended to read his newspaper.

And there it was, see.

The ultimate reminder of how blessed we are.  That in the midst of all of the noise of the holidays and the frustrations with the hurried rudeness of people, the good fortune of having our healthy, funny, smart, merry little band of Coopers almost slipped past me.

I inhaled the gratitude and exhaled a prayer for the little girl and her family, ashamed of my petty grievances when others are battling my worst nightmare.

May you all enjoy good health and an abundance of family (assuming that's a good thing) this holiday season.  If you (or a loved one) are battling illness or addiction, may there be healing and hope today. Whatever your struggles, may you also be reminded of your blessings, and may you find a quiet moment to reflect on the bounty of this world.

And if you can spare a kind thought for a sick little girl in Huntington, New York, I know it will not be in vain.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

love,
Barb

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On a Yoga Bender. (Hah! Pun.)

I have so much to tell you.  Ana got her braces off.  We went to get our Christmas tree and decorated it. Coop had a birthday. We gave a little UN-Thanksgiving party. I ran into a Sydney doppelgänger. I finished my last freelance article of the year, all about polar dinosaurs --which was fascinating.

But honestly?  All I really want to talk about is yoga. (In fact, this whole blog post is about yoga, so if that is of no interest to you, you can skip right to the bottom to see my gorgeous older daughter with the straightest teeth on this planet.)

Um.

I'm a little obsessed with yoga at the moment.

A few months ago, my yoga instructor introduced me to another yoga studio and a woman named Yvonne, who teaches the same kind of yoga that he does. Actually, I was too shy/terrified to go by myself so he MET ME THERE and took a class with me. Is that just...incredibly kind?  He knew I was looking to augment my practice with him (he is unable to offer as many classes as I need because he runs a thriving martial arts center) and he knew that I would never have gone by myself. I am just...pathologically shy. I hate having to explain my situation and the FULF and everything. But this woman teaches the same kind of yoga that I already take (Dharma Mittra) so I think he knew it would be really good for me and then he just kind of made it happen. How did I get lucky enough to have a friend like THAT?

Anyway, I've been taking Yvonne's 8:00AM class on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays for eight or nine weeks now.  It's a lot harder than the other classes I was taking, because those are beginner classes. This is YVONNE'S beginner class, but if I had taken it when I was newly off the couch, it would have killed me.

So, for a couple of months now, I've been going to Yvonne's studio on MWF at 8:00 and then going to Chris's studio on Wednesday and Fridays at 11:00.  Five yoga classes a week.

In eight weeks, I've seen some positive changes in my body, and I've certainly seen some increased strength.

Then, about a week or so ago, I tried taking the Power Yoga at Yvonne's.

Which, y'all, is the hardest exercise class of any exercise class I've ever taken in my LIFE.  I'm not even exaggerating.

And something snapped in me--in a good way, I mean.  I think.

Now I just want to do yoga and think yoga and BE YOGA all of the time.  I want to be one of those super-bendy people.  I want to be able to hang with the true yogis.

I guess it's like high-school: I want to sit at the bendy people's lunch table.

I'm taking as many classes as I can (on Friday I took three classes on one day!) and at least once a day I WATCH some yoga on youtube. I guess I'm going to need an intervention before it's all over, because it's two days until Christmas and I haven't ordered cards, done any baking, or decorated outside.  The girls and I haven't even made our traditional gingerbread house.

Obsessively compulsively loving yoga seems sort of...well, wrong.  Not in the spirit of true enlightenment, if you know what I mean. I can't help it--I am dreaming yoga dreams! I think part of it is that I seem to have some natural yoga ability (I'm pretty flexible) so my dreams seem within my grasp if I can build my strength.

I'm on it.

Everything else?  Not so much.

Here, look at the pretty girl and don't judge me:


Also, tell me this dog doesn't look exactly like Sydney (scroll down if you visit the link--there's a picture of Syd.):

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dispatch 3: San Francisco, The Final Chapter

I know, I know, I know: where have I been?  Thanks for writing, but I'm not actually dead yet. I just kind of got sucked into the holiday/deadline/laundry vortex. I've emerged, not broken exactly, but bowed.

This time of year brings out the crazy in me.

When last I left you, we were still in San Francisco but had yet to take a cable car to Ghiradelli Square.



Jane has totally found her spiritual home.
Coop: "Yeah, that ought to shut your pancreas right down."
After loading up on chocolate, we went to a neighborhood beach that Coop runs by when he's in San Francisco to do a little sightseeing and we saw the most wonderful thing. There were a bunch of dogs and their owners playing fetch and we watched this one dog drop the ball he was fetching, make a bee-line for this couple's picnic bag, reach in and gobble up a sandwich. And the people were so incredibly cool about it. We talked to them afterward and they said they were pretty much done with the sandwich and they were very impressed with how fast the dog got into the sandwich container. I laughed very, very hard. We ALMOST got the theft on video...



(Why, yes, we HAVE become those scary people who write dialogue for animals.  What?)

The next day, we took the girls to the Exploratorium, which has to be one of the coolest museums on the planet.  Everything was hands-on and so interesting.  At one point, I came around a corner and found Coop deeply engrossed in a display about how the differential works on a car.

I took a LOT of pictures.  I will spare you all of them. Suffice it to say that this museum was so cool, we saw couples there on DATES.  I love that.

And the next day, the girls and I flew home.

The furry people missed us.