Sunday, July 22, 2012

if you don't listen, your body will shout

I sustained my first yoga injury early last week. I came out of what felt like an amazing headstand and was greeted by not-very-amazing neck pain. Within 20 minutes, my range of mobility was limited. By the next morning, I couldn't look left to right, up or down, any direction really. Convinced I just slept on it wrong after a rigorous class, I drove to my desk job and started crying as I tried to check my blind spots.

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the week working from home, getting chiropractic and acupuncture care and not doing yoga. Or getting on my bike. Or running. Or driving.

It was torturous, forced stillness.

Throughout the week I experienced a lot of anger and frustration. Some of it was a product of the pain, but most of it was directed at myself. I've been flitting around like a kindergartener the day after Halloween for a few months now. I've experienced several gentle reminders physically and mentally that have told me to slow down. But I've all but heeded these kind little warnings. In fact, I think I greeted them with the same courtesy as a horse fly.

So, my body turned up the volume.

"Yeah? You think you can ignore me, babe? Not an option. If you're gonna make me yell, Imma yell. Nice and loud."

Oh, and she did. And listening sucked.

It's been almost a week since the message over the loudspeaker told me, "Be more mindful of how you spend your time. Be honest with yourself about your energy levels. You need to stop planning every minute of every day because you're scared to sit still. Being random and free-spirited is fine, but cut the impulsiveness down a little. Don't be afraid to keep saying no and say it more often. Create a healthier routine not just for your body, but for your heart."

Here's the rub, I'm really great at making it seem like I've got a lot things under control and that I'm living with a hyper-sensitive level of awareness. I used to be an actress. I'm a fantastic storyteller. I can spin just about anything, including the reality I want people to perceive about me.

Boo, lemme tell you sumfin. I been screwin' up all over the place. But I ain't mad. I'm just funna git better.

Slowly. Mindfully. And with heaping doses of forgiveness.

I have full range of mobility back in my neck now. You know what I wanna do more than anything? Get on my bike and ride until I vom. Then run. Then swim. Then go to yoga. Then make plans with everyone I know.

But I'm not gonna do that. I'm not even going to think about planning out time to do that. I'm just going to go to sleep and be so thankful that tomorrow morning, I probably won't cry when I try to lift my head off my pillow like I did a few days ago.

And that, is an amazing thing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

one year

One year ago today, I started on a journey that has led me to corners of my being that I never knew existed. On this day last year, a significant, tumultuous relationship came to a crashing halt. Both of us knew it was coming. For quite some time, the relationship mirrored the path of a rock skipping over water. Bouncing quickly on the top of a frighteningly calm lake. Each time the rock hit the water it was closer to plummeting to its scary, unknown depths.
Unbeknownst to me, I found the depths to be unexpectedly cool and soothing. Icy and dizzying at first, the journey to the bottom was imperative to my growth and development. As the rock hit the bottom, it transformed into a lotus flower seed. These seeds grow from the gooey, muddy bottom, digging their roots into the mucky muck. As the flower’s stem grows, it arcs toward the surface of the water, only to bloom into a many-petaled beauty, feeding its firmly grounded roots with the sun’s inviting and blissful warmth.
Both of us knew that despite previous claims, what we shared was not meant to last a lifetime. The lessons therein, however, will last that long, if not longer. At times, it seems like my lotus flower has cracked the surface and started blooming, and other times it feels like I’m still working toward that barrier. Even if it has bloomed, there are still stormy days that test the petals’ resolve.
I’m in awe of how much has changed over the last year. I never expected to be where I am today. I remember vividly how I felt a year ago. I felt like the rug of my life had been ripped out from underneath me. I was 27 years old, working few hours a week, unable to buy my own groceries or pay rent. I looked at myself in the mirror with disgust. It was nearly impossible for me to see the blessings in my life. Fathoming happiness and love was a mighty feat.
I remember what my former beau said to me before I moved out, “You can do anything. You will be fine.”
The man was right. Further, I am fine even when I think I’m not. Because no matter how terrible I think I’ve had it, there are many millions of people in this world who struggle to simply survive. I am so thankful that even though I couldn’t see it, he could and he was bold enough to say that.
Slowly but surely, with the help of extraordinarily amazing friends and family, I picked myself up, piece by piece. I found that the puzzle no longer fit together as it once had and I realized that I had to start anew. I had an opportunity not to start over, but to absorb this experience and learn from it.
Throughout the course of the last year, so much has changed:

  • I went through and completed yoga teacher training.
  • I started teaching yoga, something I wasn’t sure I’d ever actually want to do. Turns out, from what I’ve been told, I am a natural.
  • I landed my first, full time, benefits included, well-paying job as a writer. While I’m not always comfortable with the content I write, I am writing. Something I never thought I would make money doing.
  • I’ve been on countless dates and had a few run-ins with a few dreamy fellows. They haven’t either come to fruition, or they were short-lived.
  • I’ve visited New York City twice and I have the green light from my job to move there next spring, keeping my job as I work remotely.
  • As of next month, I will have moved three times. Each place I’ve lived has carried incredibly valuable lessons regarding cohabitating.
  • I’ve become an avid cyclist.
  • I quit smoking.
  • I changed the way I view food.
  • I gave up alcohol for extended periods of time.
  • Virtually every friendship I have has experienced a significant shift and I have made many new friends, all of whom I am very grateful for.
  • I’ve found, that despite previous claims, that I love Minneapolis. A lot.

I think, a year ago, I said to myself, “A year from now, I better be moved the [expletive] out of this place, never to return. I will be over this [expletive] and peaced the [expletive] out.”
What a funny thought. What I now know is that the work is hardly over and guess what? It never will be. There is no, “If I do this, and this, get this and then that, I’ll be set. Then things will be better.” I will always be working on myself.  My list of things to work on is as long, if not longer than the changes I’ve been through:

  • I will not allow my life to become stagnant or filled with complacency. I want to look, feel, behave and interact differently every day. Not in an erratic way, but in a compassionate, growing, lively way.
  • I want to become a better runner.
  • I want to grow my knowledge about yoga and how to teach it.
  • I want to be more okay with being single. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a happy gal. But damn, I sure could use a good cuddle every now and then.
  • I want to be more okay with being alone and present. And I mean, really being alone. Not on the phone. Not texting. Not watching a movie. Not on Facebook. Alone. For realsies alone. Just me and my thoughts and the world around me.
  • I want to care less about what people think of me.
  • I want to stop assigning other people’s problems as my own. I cannot fix anyone. I am in charge of myself and only myself.
  • I want to get even better at being okay with being wrong.

The list goes on. These are things that I will be working on for-ev-er. I gladly accept the challenge.
On my walk to where I am currently sitting and writing this, a woman with a video camera stopped me. She was in a film class and was walking around filming individuals who had stories to tell. She asked if I would like to share something. I was happy to.
“What do you want to talk about?” she asked.
“Well, hmm,” I thought. “I’m a yoga teacher. I like riding my bike. I’m a writer.”
Then I smiled.
“Actually,” I said. “The reason I’m here right now is to write. A year ago I went through a very difficult break-up and I’m here to blog about how much is changed and how happy I am.”
She gasped.
“Can—can we talk about that? Can I film you talking about that?”
“Absolutely,” I said. “I wouldn’t have brought it up if I wasn’t okay sharing it.”
So she started her camera and I talked for a few minutes about how much I’ve grown and changed and how blessed I am. As I spoke, she beamed. When she was done filming, she thanked me for sharing my story and told me, “I’m so happy for you. It’s so nice to hear people talking about their happiness.”
I hope you feel the same way. But if you don’t, I know that has nothing to do with me and I earnestly wish you all of the peace and blessings you seek.